A Sukkot Message

[Thoughts from a Message I gave at Sukkot]

Lev 23:33-44

As we’ve been seeing, all the feasts have to do with time of the Exodus. The pattern and meaning deepen for those of us who have also come to Messiah; if there was time, I think I could show that we each go through all of the feasts as individuals as we experience the covenant of God, and also I think the entire people of YHVH experience this pattern corporately, and as individual communities. The same cycles repeat until they come to fullness. 

Pesach we are told commemorates how YHVH delivered us from Egypt and from death by the Blood of the Lamb, redeeming us out Egypt which symbolized the world. We are told at that season that we, as part of Israel became a people.

Matzah (Unleavened Bread) happened literally right after Pesach, and commemorates how we left the world (Egypt) in haste, rejecting the leaven of the world in favor of a journey with YHVH.

Shavuot appears to commemorate when we came to Mount Sinai; there our people became a nation, by receiving a shared covenant and a shared Torah.

Yom Teruah (the day of the Blast) tells us of how that nation, having received the covenant and the Torah, then were able to meet with God, who descended the mountain in fire, to the sound of a louder and louder shofar. So great was God’s presence that when the people saw the thunderings (Exo 20:18), and saw the lightnings, and saw the sound of the trumpet, that we became so frightened that we didn’t want to talk with God directly, but through a mediator.

Yom Kippur then tells us of how, we had placed too much faith in a man in that specific time it was Moses, and because we had not wanted to speak with God directly that now we felt we needed to ‘make us gods’. We sinned. Some of us as individuals, but at the time we also remembered that we are one people and that we are each connected to the sin of our neighbors. Thus we must seek atonement, first on our behalf, but also the guiltless for the guilty, as Yeshua taught us.

So now we come to the seven days of Sukkot (Tabernacles or Booths). In a sense, Sukkot actually has to do with the entire time of the Exodus; it’s kind of like a recap, because when did God make our people to dwell in booths? Ever since we left Egypt. We left from houses living in the world (Egypt) to living in tents in the wilderness with God. In this, I find particular significance because what might have happened had we stayed in Egypt another generation or so? We were working there. We probably had houses there (certainly some permanent camps). And if you stay in one place, living within a system long enough, eventually just because we want to make the best of wherever we are. We start to accept the system. We start to take ownership of it, and then . . . we become the system. I wonder if God chose to save us when he did because we might have been Egyptianized in another generation? If God’s desire is to make a people to show his glory, then stands to reason that God moves when He does to make his light brighter. If so, then perhaps not to move would make his light dimmer?

I’ve been wondering in this last year, if perhaps that’s why anti-semitism and anti-Messianic sentiment abounds, because perhaps without it making life difficult, we might forget that we are a separate people. A Kingdom in the world, but not part of it.

So Sukkot is a time of great joy. Because when God made us to dwell in tents, it was because He had brought us out of slavery. In fact it should have been a long vacation, because other than some minor shepherding (which I imagine God helped with, because he did everything else, even the shoes on their feet, Deu 29:5), they had nothing to do but listen to God, learn his ways, and practicing being a holy nation. No gardening. Even war was ‘easy.’

All because YHVH provided for them, at every turn. He was their shade in the day time (like a tent roof) and a light by night. They didn’t even have to light candles. It was like a year long camping trip with people who were all family, all of the same religion, all taken care of so rich and poor were almost meaningless distinctions (certainly some had more and some had less, but everyone’s needs were met and the truly important part . . . YHVH was present!). No wonder this was a time of such great joy! I pray for this kind of thing all the time. Just to be able to relax with God’s people without being tempted to worry about anything, certainly not CNN or Fox News.

It makes perfect sense than that Yeshua would be born at this season. If you haven’t looked into it, I’d suggest it. Though there are some secular or traditional records that suggest otherwise, if you consider that Zachariah was a priest of the course of Abiyah (the 8th course, and the mention of the course suggests that his service was during one of his scheduled two, non-consecutive, weeks of service). You find that Zachariah could have been serving during Shavuot (which explains the great crowd outside the temple). With a conception of John the Baptist shortly after his return, would have had John born about Pesach. Which as he was in the Spirit of Elijah, would have fulfilled prophetic understanding that Elijah would precede the Messiah. Which John was six months older than Yeshua so that would have brought Yeshua to Earth at . . . Sukkot.

Interesting timing since this would have been a feast celebrating the giving of Torah (since Moses came down with the Torah after Yom Kippur after the Golden Calf). Also it was already considered a season of joy because, remember, that it wasn’t just about dwelling in booths after Egypt. At Yom Kippur, Moses begged for mercy on behalf of Israel, and as a sign that Israel was indeed truly going to remain God’s people, he asked that God would make his presence go with the people and not only send an angel. So Sukkot was also the feast celebrating that Atonement had happened and YHVH would also travel with them. Remember the Tabernacle where God met with the people, was also a Sukkot.

No wonder than that Messiah came now, to Tabernacle with us! John 1:14 says that the Word (including Torah) became flesh and dwelt among us. The word dwell means tenting or camping, or a temporary dwelling.

That is why we celebrate Messiah’s birth at this time. A day when God himself set up, a day of this exodus pattern when God agreed, that despite our congregational sin, He would continue with us. That while we were strangers in a land that was not ours, He would not leave us. He would not forsake us. He would not be where we could not reach Him. And a day to remember that it is His provision, back then, throughout centuries of the enemies attacks, and even today in a secular and pagan world as we live by day to day miracles, as we gather in the harvests at the end of the year; we remember that we are not preserved by our own efforts, but by God’s lovingkindness. And if you think about it, Israel could only dwell together in the wilderness because of YHVH’s provision. In that we see, that YHVH made us to dwell in Sukkot. Only around YHVH can we be together. Only with His presence can we have peoplehood, and nationhood, and community, and brotherhood. He is the gravity that holds us, not any effort of our own.

Truly, this is a season of our great joy!

Carols

 

 [Post Script: During these fall feasts, this train of thoughts was building with each feast. And it left me with a ‘closing’ though. The quotes are because we’ve still one convo to go.

But the question occurs to me? Do we have such a hard time functioning as a people and a nation/kingdom of Heaven, because we haven’t really left Egypt? That we’re still at Passover? Maybe we’re still there because only through slavery did Israel become ready to be delivered? Perhaps we continue to suffer in the bondage of the world because we aren’t ready to keep Torah as a people, and thus we cannot have the kingdom?]

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