THE FEAST OF TABERNACLES IS FAST APPROACHING
The Day of Atonement is behind us now; and The Feast of Tabernacles is just a few days away!
Finally we are coming to the season of our joy!
Does last year’s feast seem like it was forever ago to you?
It does to me and I am so excited about this year!
A BUSY TIME OF ANTICIPATION LEADING UP TO OUR JOURNEY
The days right before the feast always swirl by so fast; maybe because we have all been so busy paying close attention to the activities leading up to this last of the three major Fall Holy Days of God.
The season of Elul and the day of Rosh Hashanah/Feast of Trumpets found us so busy looking inside our souls and examining the paths of our daily lives and getting ourselves ready to become the people that God has always intended that we should be. It has been a season of time for actually beginning those transitions we discovered we needed to make during those long hours of humble prayer and repentance and talks with God. Now we have turned that fresh new page and we are beginning our journey. First destination; The Feast of Tabernacles!
WE ARE DRESSED AND READY TO GO
The Days of Awe found us constantly thinking and pondering; while turning and trying to be sure we had done all we should to be ready to honor the amazing gift of salvation and atonement that comes so graciously to us from Our Messiah Jesus Christ. Now we are covered in His blood and ready to move on.
We have all been fasting and praying, worshiping and studying and participating in all the ways that we can to grow closer to God while trying in all our human clumsiness and imperfections to put these things we have discovered into a steady and constant daily practice in our lives. We have been sitting before God and allowing Him to prepare our souls to be ready, and we have thanked Christ for His Atonement that has covered us just in time; right before this great last culmination of the Fall Holy Days that occurs at the very end of each year which we call The Feast of Tabernacles.
By now; we have laid all our burdens down at the foot of the cross and now we are beginning to feel so very free!
This is the peaceful blessing that comes from keeping the steady rhythmic patterns of God’s holy days.
They sustain us in life and give us hope and energy and anticipation.
They build one upon another until we come to a this long anticipated time of complete joy.
Now we approach The Feast of Tabernacles with light and happy hearts. We feel so ready to worship. We look forward to giving God all of our praises. We come running to this feast of God with great joy and great abandon. There is now nothing to hide; nothing to dread; we are ready to revel during this beautiful season in the perfect love of Our Father.
WE COME OUT OF LOVE FOR GOD AND LOVE FOR OUR FELLOW MAN
Finding a strong desire to share this time, we come with the acts of love and fellowship for others. We rejoice with all of God’s people who have come together to celebrate the Great, Awesome God that commanded us to always keep His Feast. Every face is a little different. Every personality is a little unique. None of us are exactly alike; except in the love of the Father and in the unity of our faith. This brings us under God and makes us all One. Though we are all different; we are yet all the same.
As usual, everything seems to want to keep us from achieving this journey. Right before the time to leave we find out that we need to put the car in the shop. What bad timing! Then the washing machine breaks and every person we know from out-of-town suddenly wants to come for a visit. It is almost comical these last-minute scenarios that we go through right before we are to leave for the feast; but we laugh it off and keep on going! We have made it this far; and now nobody is going to steal our joy!
We are about to embark on a journey to God’s feast!
ADVENTUROUS, EVENTFUL AND WONDERFUL
We are all about taking this long, exciting journey with our Papa; and we know it is going to be adventurous, eventful and absolutely wonderful. It is not a duty at all; it is our pleasure and honor to go.
Our glad hearts are now overflowing with a new spirit of the welcome and the fanfare of this huge celebration. We will be spending seven whole days in a temporary place of which God has placed His name. We look forward to living in a completely new state of being; one that resembles the time of the coming millennial reign of Christ.
What could ever be better?
SO EXACTLY WHAT DO YOU DO THERE?
So; for those who have never done this; you will probably want to ask the obvious question; just exactly WHAT do you do when you get there?
I can simply start by telling you that The Festival of Sukkot is a very happy occasion. There will be singing. There will be music. There will be dancing. There will be worship. There will be feasting!
So; you reply, you eat; you sing, you worship, you listen to music and you dance.
Is that it?
No – that isn’t even close to ……..”it.”
“It” is almost more amazing than words can describe.
I can’t even tell you.
You just have to go!
Every year of coming to the Feast of Tabernacles is a different blessing for every person who comes.
Every year is different; but every year is good.
God always shows up.
He meets us from where we are.
While we are there; we celebrate the great harvest of souls that we know is coming one day to God’s Kingdom!
We think about and act out the day that God will set the world back into the proper order, and all will be living in peace and harmony and love.
There may be a few sermons and teachings and stories about all of this.
All the time is not spent on study though; there is lots of time for fun and leisure activities. It is a time to receive your heart’s desire. God wants to shower you and yours with His blessings when you come to His feast. His hospitality is amazing and overwhelming.
THINKING ABOUT HARVEST
In ancient days this festival was actually more about bringing in the physical harvest of the crops and thanking God for His provision.
We too will be thanking God for the way He has provided a harvest for us; both physically and spiritually; but there is more than can be put into words here.
It is like I said in an earlier article about obedience; it is something you have to DO to UNDERSTAND.
It requires stepping out in faith and trusting God and going wherever He leads you to go.
It requires leaving the cares of the world behind and focusing on what goodness and joy God brings.
Yes; that little word “go” would definitely be a good word to describe one of the things that we do.
A TIME OF “GOING”
We leave our permanent dwellings and we go to places set aside and prepared for us.
We travel to a land that is unfamiliar, and we trust God for what He is going to do with us when we arrive. Honestly; we never know EXACTLY what is going to happen; but God does and we simply trust God with the outcome. It is always better than our human imaginations.
When we arrive in our temporary places, we begin to take a look back and we remember how God’s people dwelt in temporary dwellings called tabernacles. We remember how they faithfully and willingly traveled to the places where God was leading them to go. We remember these things while we are there; and we often read that scripture found in Leviticus 23:43: That your generations may know that I made the children of Israel to dwell in booths, when I brought them out of the land of Egypt; I am the LORD your God.
A TIME OF REMEMBERING
So we remember our humble beginnings; when God formed a people from a people who were not a people and made them into a great nation who set the pattern for God’s ways to live; and made them the nation that brought us Messiah!
We remember how Moses was used of God to bring us the law in order to show us the best ways to live; and how Jesus came to show us an even higher way to keep that law; a way that is written inside our hearts and minds and souls that just overflows and spills out of us in the form of love. Sometimes we go beyond the law and we come to that place of grace and mercy. These three are partners in God’s Kingdom. We will find them all at the feast.
A TIME OF MAKING NEW MEMORIES
As we remember and are thankful to God for the past; we also are grateful to God for the time of the present.
We practice mindfulness and we try to be more intentional in our actions toward God and one another.
We practice “presence” in all that we do in this feast; honoring God with worship and praise as He comes to tabernacle among us. We show that same love for one another.
We do simple, yet amazing, things that illustrate the presence of God within our lives.
LIKE A FAMILY REUNION
It is actually a lot like attending a huge family reunion for all of God’s family.
Like most family reunions; there are family traditions that we love to honor.
Some of us actually build sukkahs and we observe the spiritual significance found in the waiving of the lulav and the citron.
On The Great Last Day some of us observe The Water Ceremony and we remember those words of Christ on that day at the time of another feast so long ago: “whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life. (John 4:14).
There are so many vivid lessons to be learned from carrying out all of these old family traditions.
We hear about and observe them over and over again, every year the same; but every year a bit different. Somehow we never tire of hearing of them; and they never grow old to us.
We have found that each year God builds on the things that He teaches us at the feast; layer upon layer; precept upon precept; and each year we gain a greater understanding of why we have all of these old family traditions. We appreciate the wisdom of our Father in giving them to us; and we marvel at the ways of our Great God!
WE CELEBRATE THE WONDER OF THE BIRTH OF CHRIST
Most of us believe this is the actual time of the year when Christ was born. That is yet another thing that we remember and that we traditionally pay attention to. The bible does not say the exact date of Jesus’ birth but we know it was not during the winter months because the sheep were all put up in the shelters and out of the pasture during the winter. They were not out in the fields during the cold. (Luke 2:8)
If we do a study of the time of the conception of John the Baptist it reveals that he was conceived about Sivan 30. We know this by the designated course times that Zechariah was ministering and serving his time as a priest at the temple. This was when he received the announcement from God of a coming son. The eighth course was when Zechariah was serving in the temple. This would have been the week of Sivan 12 to 18. Adding 40 weeks for a pregnancy time reveals that John the Baptist was born on or about Passover time in the spring. We know six months after John’s conception, Mary conceived Jesus. (Luke 1:26-33) That means Jesus would have been conceived six months later during the month of Kislev on the Jewish calendar (the one that God uses – they got it from Him; He didn’t get it from them.)
Kislev 25 is the usual time of Hanukkah. Jesus, the Light Of The World was CONCEIVED during this time – which is also about the same time of the Christian celebration of Christmas. Notice I said CONCEPTION; not BIRTH. Starting from Kislev 25 at the CONCEPTION and counting nine months forward, which would have been the duration of Mary’s pregnancy; one arrives at the approximate time for the birth of Jesus being around the time of the Annual Festival of Tabernacles (always in the time of the early Fall.)
We know that Joseph and Mary were unable to find a room in Jerusalem because of the influx of people taking the required religious pilgrimage to Jerusalem. They were coming in large numbers to celebrate the harvest festival. It was also common during this harvest festival season for governing officials to declare tax time during this period of festivities because of the difficulties that people had in traveling in those days. When the times were the same; the faithful good citizens only had to make one journey. This assured the officials got more money in their pockets.
So we celebrate Christ coming to us during the time of this Feast of Tabernacles. It was the beginning of Christ coming to tabernacle among us. Emanuel; God with us! This is yet another family tradition to celebrate during our time of great joy!
CELEBRATING THE DAYS TO COME
We also look to the future and we celebrate the things that we have read in the holy scriptures about the days that are still to come.
There will be a day when Christ will return to earth a second time. This time He will not come as a little baby; but as a Mighty King. He will set up His government and He will appoint His people to rule and reign with Him. This festival represents what that time means to us. In Micah 4:1 the scriptures actually speak of this future time:
But in the last days it shall come to pass, that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills, and the people shall flow unto it. And many nations shall come and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among many people and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore. (Micah 4:1)
We can find another description of a future time in Zechariah 14:8-19:
And it shall be in that day, that living waters shall go out from Jerusalem, half of them toward the former sea, and half of them toward the hinder seas. And the Lord shall be king over all the earth; in that day shall there be one LORD and his name one….And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came up against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of Hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles. And it shall be that whoso will not come up of all the families of the earth unto Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord of Hosts, even upon them shall be no rain. And if the family of Egypt go not up, and come not, that have no rain; there shall be the plague, wherewith the Lord will smite the heathen that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles. This shall be the punishment of Egypt, and the punishment of all nations that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles. (Zech. 14:8-19)
IT IS GOD’S WILL THAT ALL COME TO KEEP THE FEAST
Apparently, even after Christ returns and is King of Kings there will be those who still refuse to see the necessity of keeping the Feast of Tabernacles. However; it is clear that it will be God’s will for ALL to keep this commandment.
After all the joy I’ve found in keeping the feast in the past; it is amazing to me that anyone would ever want to stay away!
So we will all go up this year; and sing and dance and praise The LORD; for He is good!
This will be an awesome time.
We are doing a dress rehearsal of the latter times each year at the Feast of Tabernacles; until the time that God makes it actually happen.
Therefore; Let us keep the feast!