A Special Celebration!
I missed a holiday... I missed Yom Kippur this year. Somehow when I looked up the date I thought it started the evening of the 5th. Well, it was the 4th. I was so bummed when I found out. I am thankful that God extends GRACE when these things happen. I don't live in fear that I will be locked out of Heaven because I messed up. I know that I can come before Him ALWAYS and experience HIS LOVE and forgiveness.
Tonight another special celebration begins. Although I won't be setting up a Sukkah, I will do my best to find JOY and a reason to celebrate ALL He has blessed me with.
The Fall Feast
Feast of Tabernacles
All names for a festival that God established and requires participants to be filled with JOY. Deuteronomy 16:13-15 says…
13 “You are to keep the festival of Sukkot for seven days after you have gathered the produce of your threshing-floor and winepress. 14 Rejoice at your festival — you, your sons and daughters, your male and female slaves, the L’vi’im (Levites), and the foreigners, orphans and widows living among you. 15 Seven days you are to keep the festival for Adonai your God in the place Adonai your God will choose, because Adonai your God will bless you in all your crops and in all your work, so you are to be full of joy!
The Feast of Tabernacles is a 7 day feast. These 7 days are a great time spend with friends and family. It is almost like outdoor camping. Sound fun yet?
If you notice, even the “foreigners” living month them were to celebrate! That means EVERYONE!
I love the last phrase, “so you are to be FULL OF JOY!”
The first idea is to plan a sukkah, which is like a tent or a three-sided structure. It is called a tabernacle or booth. This three-sided "tent" is usually covered with cloth, but if it rains where you live a water-proof material might be a better option. The inside you can decorate with all kinds of ornaments, paper chains or fruits and vegetables. They can be hand made or you can buy them at the store. It is colorful and should make you happy.
Some people run an electrical cord and have lights inside. You could also use candles or flashlight. There are also battery operated lights that are fun.
This sukkah represents the tents that the Israelites lived in when they wandered in the wilderness for 40 years. During that time they had to move around to find food and always had to be ready to leave at a moment's notice. They were not able to build a house.
The "roof" of this structure is the most important. It is supposed to made with palm branches just laying on the top. It is great if you can find large branches to put on top. If not, find something that you can see through. The object is to be able to see the stars through the roof of your sukkah.
Why are you supposed to see the stars? To remind you of how great God is. When you see the night sky through the roof of your tent, you should be reminded of all that God created! He has truly done great things for His people.
During the seven days of Sukkot you are supposed to eat meals together in this tent. You can choose to play games if you want too. Some people enjoy sleeping in theirs.
The Jewish people carry with them a “lulav.” This is a a portion of a date palm, myrtle, willow and an etrog (similar to a lemon). You can Google for pictures. Each one represents a person.
The lulav (date) has taste but no smell, symbolizing those who study Torah (the Word) but do not possess good deeds.
The hadass (myrtle) has a good smell but no taste, symbolizing those who possess good deeds but do not study Torah.
The aravah (willow) has neither taste nor smell, symbolizing those who lack both Torah and good deeds.
The etrog (citrus lemon) has both a good taste and a good smell, symbolizing those who have both Torah (the WORD) and good deeds.
God said in Zechariah 14:16 that one day "all nations of the world will one day come up to Jerusalem to keep the Feast of Tabernacles." This is the one feast that is mentioned as ALL nations will celebrate.
For those who believe in Jesus we know that He came as a baby and lived among the people. Did you know that Jesus was most likely born during this season? Most of us know that He wasn't actually born on December 25. If you study and learn about the Festivals and Feasts that God commanded, these "holidays" will point to Jesus. He fulfilled Sukkot by coming and dwelling among the people. Personally, I believe He was born on close to Rosh Hashana and will return again around Rosh Hashana (we do know the season, just not the day or hour).
31 He will send out his angels with a great shofar; and they will gather together his chosen people from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.32 “Now let the fig tree teach you its lesson: when its branches begin to sprout and leaves appear, you know that summer is approaching. 33 In the same way, when you see all these things, you are to know that the time is near, right at the door.
We also believe that He is coming again and will take us to the most glorious feast that we have ever eaten. Wouldn't it make sense that He would come again for this feast during the season that God established?
We can celebrate knowing that our Father has taken care of us and provided for us. He has given us everything. We should remind ourselves all the time of this great love He has for us.
As you spend time as a family in the sukkah - your temporary dwelling - you can look at the stars. You can read about the greatness of God in the Bible. You can be thankful for the house you live in and the food you eat. I think that will bring all of you JOY.
Feast of Tabernacles begins this year at sundown tonight (Sunday the 9th). I pray you find a way to celebrate HIM during this time of Feasting…
Chag Semeach Sukkot