In our post-modern world, we are surrounded by things that can often take most of our attention and time. It is easy to loose a connection with the natural beauty of God’s creation and even more significantly, the supernatural world around us.
The holiday of Sukkot aka Feast of Tabernacles, (which you will recall is one of God’s appointed times or feasts described in Leviticus 23), gives us a good opportunity to reconnect with both of these important things. Sukkot is a holiday with many rich traditions and the Jewish people refer to it as “the time of our joy”.
At the center of the holiday is the sukkah (Hebrew for booth) from which the holiday gets its name (Sukkot is the plural form of the word sukkah). It is based on the biblical command “You are to live in Sukkot for seven days. All the native-born in Israel are to live in Sukkot, so that your generations may know that I had Bnei-Yisrael to dwell in Sukkot when I brought them out of the land of Egypt. I am Adonai your God.” –Leviticus 23:42-43 TLV
The sukkah represents a reminder not only of God’s deliverance, but it also His sustenance.
During the time that the Jewish people wandered in the wilderness, they relied on God’s supernatural provision. Once they were settled in the Land of Israel, possessed land and had gardens, fruit trees and fields as well as permanent dwellings to live in, they would face new temptation to forget the reliance upon God that they had experienced.
The sukkah is a very temporary home and is also a reminder of just how fragile the things that we can touch and see really are.
Our comfort and security that we feel in a warm and dry house with four strong walls and a good roof, doors and locks is brought into proper perspective when one dwells in a flimsy sukkah with a roof of branches with glimpses of the heavens visible through them.
The celebration of Sukkot provides a strong experiential way to learn to rely on God and remove many of the daily distractions that surround us.
God had also instructed the Jewish people that this holiday was to take place after the fall harvest. In this regard, we see a theme that would be common to any North American reader.
In the USA and Canada, Thanksgiving is a traditional holiday that is used to express thanks to God for his provision. There is such a similarity that some speculate our celebrations were inspired by the example of Sukkot.
Most importantly Sukkot also is a powerful reminder of God’s presence, that God tabernacles (dwells) with His people. As easy as it would be to forget his provision, while dwelling in the land, Sukkot also provided inspiration during times of exile.
The Jewish experience has been one defined by wandering and a lack of stability. From God’s call to Abraham to the Exodus to the Babylonian Captivity and 2000 years of experience wandering in the diaspora, the Jews have wandered more than they have dwelt in the Land of Promise.
The wandering in the wilderness was significant because God dwelt with His people during this time. Realizing this offers great hope for the future, that although we may face times of uncertainty, God’s presence is certain and reliable and we can take joy in this fact that in our wanderings, we are being moved towards the place where He will dwell with us for eternity.
Other traditions during Sukkot, include prayer for the beginning of the fall rains in Israel.
Rain is not mentioned in the Torah portion about Sukkot, but it is found in the Haftorah reading in Zechariah 14:16-17 TLV
“Then all the survivors from all the nations that attacked Jerusalem will go up from year to year to worship the King, Adonai-Tzva’ot, and to celebrate Sukkot. Furthermore, if any of the nations on earth do not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, Adonai-Tzva’ot, they will have no rain.”
These verses describe a future day when not only the Jewish people, but all the peoples of the earth will come to worship the One True God in Jerusalem.
Rain and water also inspired a practice during the days that the temple stood, of offering water once a year on the last day of Sukkot. People would gather, sing and celebrate as the priests poured water over the alter. This event was described as being so joyful that it was said one had never experienced joy until they had witnessed it.
It was at this water libation ceremony that a remarkable event happened as recorded in chapter 7 of the Gospel of John.
“On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Yeshua stood up and cried out loudly, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture says, ‘out of his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.” — John 7:37-38
What a wonderful answer to the prayer with expectation of the people of the day and for all time…a life transforming promise to those of us who have committed our lives to believing in and following Yeshua!
So this Sukkot, take the opportunity to disconnect from all the distractions of life, enjoy family and friends, the beauty of the creation around you. And most of all be immersed in God’s Presence and love and thank Yeshua for his daily provision (both physical and spiritual)…. and for the future hope that we look forward to in Messiah when the entire world will gather in Jerusalem to acknowledge the one true God.
Your feedback is always appreciated. Please feel free to contact Jesse Corey, the author of this blog, with any questions or comments you may have.