The Feast of Joy!!!

Oct 04, 2017 No Comments by

free_israel_photos_jerusalem_davids_tower_240This week the International Christian Embassy of Jerusalem (ICEJ) will host the spectacular Feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem. More than 6000 visitors will come from over 40 nations to participate in a whirlwind of joy. In fact, biblically, the Lord commanded the people ‘to rejoice’ and He included everyone. “You shall rejoice in your festival, with your son and daughter, your male and female slave, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow in your communities.” (Deuteronomy 16: 14)

In ancient times all the nations of the world arrived in Jerusalem to ascend the Temple Mount and make sacrifices.

The Scriptures described the Feasts as times appointed by the Lord (Leviticus 23: 2). The Feasts of the Lord, His appointed times, are Passover, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, First Fruits, the Feast of Weeks (Pentecost), Trumpets, the Day of Atonement and Sukkot, also called The Feast of Tabernacles.

Right now Israel is preparing for Sukkot, which highlights four major components.

  • Chag Ha’Asif – meaning the holiday of ingathering. It is time to recognize the blessing of harvest. The Lord (Hashem) is faithful and we reap His generosity.
  • Zman Simchateinu – This is ‘the time of our rejoicing.’ True joy is found in a warm fellowship with Hashem. He is the source of our good things. It is the time of OUR joy and the wisemen teach there are two expressions of joy to be expressed. A) Psalm 149: 2 says ‘the Jews should rejoice in their maker.’ And B) Psalm 104:24 “May the Lord delight in His works.”
  • Hallel – we relate to this with the word ‘Hallelujah!” This part of the celebration is linked to The Egyptian Psalms 113-118 and they are all about the deliverance of the people out of slavery in Egypt. The Feast calls the participants to rejoice over the Exodus and to celebrate the coming of Messiah. Christians and Jews can both relate to Hallel.
  • Booths called Sukkot (singular sukkah). Today throughout Jerusalem, sukkot have been constructed alongside homes, apartments and even hotels. They are meant to be fragile in structure and serve as a reminder to the tent-dwelling years in the wilderness. People will eat and sleep in their sukkah. They will host guests and experience the elements of rain, wind and whatever to recall why the circumstances of this day are to be appreciated.

We must mention Geshem which means rains or showers. For Israel rain is an obvious sign of blessing, for it brings flourishing farms. Geshem meaning rain is in the Hebrew Gashmiyut which infers  the blessings by Hashem on Israel.

Abbah Minim – The Four Species.

200px-Arbaat_haminimLeviticus 23:40 “You shall take for yourselves on the first day the fruit of the citron tree, the branches of a date palm, twigs of a planted tree and brook willows” This verse refers to the Lulav, Etrog, Hadas and Avavah…. The Abbah Minim.

  1. a) The lulav is a branch from the centre of a date palm.
  2. b) The etrog is a lemon-like citrus fruit.
  3. c) The three branches are from the myrtle tree
  4. d) Two willow branches complete the lulav and the etrog

The four species represents four different types of Jews.

i) The Etrog, which has a beautiful taste and scent, represents someone who learns the Torah but does Midot Tovot – good deeds.

ii) The Lulav, has no scent but a nice taste, represents someone who learns the Torah but does no Midot Tovot – good deeds.

iii)The Hadas, has a beautiful scent, but no taste, represents a person who does good deeds but has no Torah.

iv) The Aravah, has no scent or taste, represents a person who has no Torah or good deeds.

These types all exist within the Jewish nation. By bringing all four together the four species represents all types of Jews together. The important lesson is unity – Achdut. The Jewish tradition teaches, when this coming together is achieved, the final redemption of the Jewish people will come.

Living Water

There was another special element to the celebration of Sukkot, and it involved living water. The Celebration of Water Drawing called Simkhat Bet Ha-Shoeva. On a normal day, sacrifices offered by the priests were accompanied by wine libations poured over the altar. On Sukkot, water, along with wine was poured over the altar in a special ceremony which unleashed great joy, song and dance.When the seventh day of the feast arrived, the courts of the temple were packed with worshipers. Chants of praise are heard throughout the city, and thousands of lulavim waved in the air.

The priestly procession went to the living water of the Pool of Siloam. As the massive crowd waited expectantly, the sacrifices were offered, and the priests chanted, “0 Lord, save us! 0 Lord, grant us success!” (Ps. 118:25). The procession returned and entered the Court of the Gentiles, then went through the water gate into the priests’ court.

As hundreds of priests chanted the Hosanna (“Deliver us! Save us!”) and thousands of people jammed into the temple courts, the procession circled the altar seven times (remembering the walls of Jericho, which fell after seven circuits because of God’s great power). Then there were three blasts on the trumpets, and the crowd grew still as the priest poured the living water into the tunnel. Now the chanting became even more intense: “Save us, hosanna! Help us, hosanna!” and the next verse: “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD” (Ps. 118:26).

The waving of the lulavim reached a frenzy as branches were beaten against the ground until the leaves fell off. Gradually, the people fell silent as they returned, exhausted, to dismantle their booths before journeying home. God had blessed them. They had celebrated joyously his presence, thanking him for his gift of land and the bountiful harvest. They had prayed for his continued blessing of the rains and pleaded for political freedom as well. They were now prepared to face another year.

thIn the context of Sukkot, the water ceremony, and the menorah blazing with light, Jesus dramatically presented the message of His new kingdom. He had gone to Jerusalem for Sukkot (John 7:10) and had spent time teaching the great crowds who thronged the temple (John 7:14).

On the “last and greatest day of the Feast” (John 7:37), in the midst of the water ceremony, the chanted prayers, and the plea through the offering of living water, Jesus stood and said, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him” (John 7:37-38).

Did he say this during the silence that fell as the priest poured the water? Was his shout heard above the chants of “Save us”? Or was it as the crowd began to leave that Jesus explained his ministry in the symbol of living water, streams that flow from within those who believe?

Jesus is “living water,” as taught during the water ceremony, and he is the “light of the world,” in the context of the great temple lights.

Conclusion

The importance of the Jewish background to Jesus’ work cannot be exaggerated. It gave him the context he needed to make his teachings relevant, powerful, and practical. There were solemn times in temple worship, reminding the Jewish people to be sober, holy, and serious about their faith. But they also had Sukkot. It reminded them God wants his people (including us) to celebrate before him (Lev. 23:40). How many modern-day Christians truly celebrate with this kind of joy before the Lord?

Sukkot is a feast that will be fully realized in heaven. There will be living water (Rev. 7:17), the eternal presence of God (Rev. 21:22), and the light (Rev. 22:5).

Sukkot taught the Jewish people to be joyful, in anticipation of heaven. Take the most joyful celebration that ever existed and imagine it lasting forever. That is heaven. No wonder some Jewish Christians (and some Gentile ones, too) celebrate Sukkot.

Bible Blog, Faith, Jewish Roots

About the author

Ron Ross worked as the first Sports Editor at WINTV. In Wollongong. He ran The Hamburger Hut an outreach and discipleship program for youth. He served with Youth With a Mission in Hawaii, Philippines and Australia. He was senior pastor of the Noosa Baptist Church, Queensland for 9 years. He reported news from Jerusalem for five years and is now the Middle East correspondent for United Christian Broadcasters and travels regularly preaching and teaching.
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