‘So beginning with the fifteenth day of the seventh month, after you have gathered the crops of the land, celebrate the festival to the LORD for seven days; the first day is a day of sabbath rest, and the eighth day also is a day of sabbath rest. On the first day you are to take branches from luxuriant trees—from palms, willows and other leafy trees—and rejoice before the LORD your God for seven days. Celebrate this as a festival to the LORD for seven days each year. This is to be a lasting ordinance for the generations to come; celebrate it in the seventh month. Live in temporary shelters for seven days: All native-born Israelites are to live in such shelters so your descendants will know that I had the Israelites live in temporary shelters when I brought them out of Egypt. I am the LORD your God.’ ” Leviticus 23:39-43 NIV
Sukkot, the Festival of Booths, which began Sunday September 23rd at sundown and will continue for seven days until sunset on Sunday the 30th. Last October the post entitled "Tents," explained what Sukkot was and why I love it. This year, I would like to take it a step further, a few more details with a picture of Christ celebrating Sukkot. Most of the Jewish festivals and holy days are times of rejoicing and celebration. While they may be a remembrance of sacrifices and difficulties, like the slavery in Egypt and wandering the desert for forty years, they are also times to celebrate gratitude for the wonderful acts of the Ancient of Day's faithfulness.
Celebrate the Festival of Tabernacles for seven days after you have gathered the produce of your threshing floor and your winepress. Be joyful at your festival—you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, and the Levites, the foreigners, the fatherless and the widows who live in your towns. For seven days celebrate the festival to the LORD your God at the place the LORD will choose. For the LORD your God will bless you in all your harvest and in all the work of your hands, and your joy will be complete. Deuteronomy 16:13-15 NIV
In a nutshell, the celebration of Sukkot calls for God's people to remember this world is not our permanent home, our existence here is temporary, just as the Children of Israel lived in "huts" while wandering the desert for forty years before Yahweh gave them the Promised Land as a permanent inheritance (Exodus 32:13). Sometimes our life on the earth is uncomfortable, we may get rained on and the sun may heat thing, but the "booth" provides shade and simple shelter. Sukkot is also a time of thanksgiving for the crops that have just been gathered from the field as Elohim's children recognize the provision for their lives.
“If you follow my decrees and are careful to obey my commands, I will send you rain in its season, and the ground will yield its crops and the trees their fruit." Leviticus 26:3-4 NIV
Winter in Israel is the rainy season that fills pools, cisterns and aquifers to sustain the people, livestock and crops for the coming year. Man can live for about three weeks without food, but less than three days without water. It is vital to all living things. At daybreak during the Temple period celebration of the Festival of Booths, a group of Levites and priests would descend from the Temple to the Shiloach stream, a spring outside the city wall, to draw three large jars of water which would be poured on the altar after the daily morning sacrifice. As the priests ascended back to the Temple, their arrival would be announced by trumpet blasts. Every night, excitement escalating each night, the pilgrims in the Temple area would celebrate the pouring of the water. Large caldrons would be lit , lighting the Temple mount as in mid-day. The people would dance, play symbols and lyres, juggling torches as onlookers join in the excitement. Simchat Best HaShoeivah, or Joyous Water Drawing Ceremony was the name of the last night of Sukkot. It was the pinnacle of the week-long celebration of God's abundant provision for their lives.
On the last and greatest day of the festival [Festival of Tabernacles], Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to Me and drink. Whoever believes in Me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” By this He meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified. John 7:37-39 NIV
Can you picture the scene, kind of like Times Square on New Year's eve? Amongst the noice, our Jesus stands and asks if anyone is thirsty? The participants were celebrating water being poured on the alter while the Living Water was standing right in the middle of all the celebrations! Oh, that we would celebrate our LORD's sacrifice the way these God's people celebrate water from the Pool of Siloam.
Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” John 4:13-14 NIV
Precious LORD, You are our absolute provision, the Holy One who provides all we need on they earth and our eternal Promised Land. May we celebrate Your sacrificial love for us as You poured out Yourself for our redemption. Help us to celebrate You with abandon, joyously giving continuous praise and thanksgiving to our loving Father, the Savior and the Holy Spirit, the Living Water that satisfies. Amen.