Continuing from my notes, from a sermon I preached during the Feast of Tabernacles at the Bundaberg Baptist Church
I want to focus on THE FEAST OF TABERNACLES and open it up, so we might find our Christian connection. This year SUCCOT which is another name for the Feast of Tabernacles was October 12-20.
Sukkot, known as “Time of our Happiness,” marks the crescendo of the Jewish year. Throughout the seven day festival, Jews have a Divine mandate to be completely and exclusively joyous (Deut. 16:15)
Just to add to its colorful character Succot also called THE FEAST OF BOOTHS. And each one of these distinct titles highlights a specific part of the celebration.To show its Christian significance lets read about it from the New Testament.
John 7:2-3 “Now the feast of the Jews, the Feast of Booths, was near. Therefore His (Jesus) brothers said to Him, “Leave here and go into Judea, so that Your disciples also may see Your works which You are doing.”
My wife and I lived in Jerusalem for five years. This was a very special time. We came to enjoy our Jewish friends. One memorable feature was being invited into the ‘sukkah.’ Of our Jewish friends. The sukkah is the booths.
This is the Lord’s instruction to the Israelites.
Deut. 16:15 “Seven days you shall celebrate a feast to the LORD your God in the place which the LORD chooses, because the LORD your God will bless you in all your produce and in all the work of your hands, so that you will be altogether joyful.”
It’s something special when the divine instruction is that ‘you will be altogether joyful.’
What if my circumstances are difficult?
What if I am burdened by worries, anxieties and concerns.
What if world peace is unlikely?Or the economy is fragile?
“You will be altogether joyful!’ God is saying I am the source of your provision. I am Jehovah-Jirah your provider. I am with you.
This is not a time to focus on personal problems or worldly concerns. God’s direction is clear. The believers were to worship Him and to glorify Him and be excited about the personal relationship, faith and destiny to be found in Him.
The teaching goes further, even to embrace a brilliant show and tell experience in The Sukkah!
What is it?
Lev. 23:41-42 ‘You shall thus celebrate it as a feast to the LORD for seven days in the year. It shall be a perpetual statute throughout your generations; you shall celebrate it in the seventh month. You shall live in booths for seven days; all the native-born in Israel shall live in booths.”
The word Sukkah means ‘tabernacle.’ It’s nothing more than a hut and significantly it was to be constructed with intertwined boughs. These include the palm, the willow, the myrtle and the olive.
The palm tree is symbolic of victory (remember it was palm fronds waved before the Lord as He entered Jerusalem), the willow for weeping, the myrtle for joy and the olive for anointing.
The Sukkah was to be built on the roof of your house or in the courtyard, and the people were told to live in these fragile structures for seven days.
In Nehemiah 8 (15) we read: “Go out to the hills, and bring olive branches and wild olive branches, myrtle branches, palm branches and branches of other leafy trees, to make booths.”
Picture yourself living in a Sukkah for seven days. You leave the cozy security of your home and move into a flimsy, fragile, leafy hut, complete with natural air conditioning. The wind can sweep through. If you look up you can see the stars, or maybe you even experience rain. This is meant to be a reminder of how dependent we are on the Lord.
During this holiday, the Israelites recall their ancient captivity in Egypt. They are aware that enemies surround them today and they acknowledge that their lifestyle is constantly threatened just as it was back in bible times.
How fragile is our time on this earth? Sitting in a structure like the Sukkah, makes us focus on whether we really embrace our security in the Lord.
We are living in volatile days. We all face constant enemies. Circumstances test us from time to time. Bundaberg experienced such a test this year during the floods. Some people are still in the process of recovering from personal trauma of some kind. In Australia bush fires are always a threat. For some the tragedy caused by such disasters do not end when the fires are finally quenched.
This Sukkah experience gets very personal. No matter how bad you have been hurt in your past, and no matter how many people have hurt you in your past – you must now learn to fully trust God with both yourself and with your entire life. Bottom line – not only can you not trust anyone else with your life, but you can’t even trust yourself with your life because of your own imperfections and character flaws.
Only God is “perfect,” and only God can “perfectly handle” your entire life for you.
I’m reminded of the old song – ‘This is not our home, we’re just passing through.”
The Bible says that all men and women have sinned and have fallen way short of the glory of God. All men and women are thus flawed and imperfect to one degree or another.
As a result, we are always going to be running into people who will hurt us and who will continue to hurt us throughout this life. There is simply no getting away from it. We may be thinking about these conditions as we reflect for seven days in the Sukkah.
The Sukkah process is designed to remind the Jews that their true security and future hope is in the Lord. The Bible is filled with Trust in the Lord exhortation. You’ll recognize some of them, I’m sure.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5)
“Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass … Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him …” (Psalm 37:4-7)
“Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but abides forever. As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds His people from this time forth and forever.” (Psalm 125:1)
This verse describes the Lord as our strong, reliable Sukkah. He surrounds His people. There is no place for the enemy here.
I met Jewish hero Nathan Sharansky who was locked up in a Russian prison. He said he survived by speaking out the Book of Psalms from memory.
This is he said kept him strong and lifted him above his prison cell.
We can consider this time in the Sukkah to be a regular health-check ourselves. It’s a time to get life into perspective and to ensure that we have the Lord on the throne. Be sure He is in charge. Be reminded of His great and mighty power and compassion.
“Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who trusts in Him! Oh, fear the Lord, you His saints! There is no want to those who fear Him … But those who seek the Lord shall not lack any good thing.” (Psalm 34:8-10)