The Biblical feast most associated with joy is Sukkot, the week-long Feast of Tabernacles/Booths which begins on the 15th of the month of Tishri on the Hebrew calendar (October 16-24, 2016). Twice the Torah (first 5 books of the Bible) tells Jews to rejoice during this week, and Deuteronomy reminds them that with God’s blessings they will rejoice again in the future. Torah instructs them to dwell in booths (sukkot) for seven days to remember that they dwelt in booths when the LORD brought them out of Egypt (Leviticus 23:43). Today they don’t all live for an entire week in the sukkah, but many still spend some time outside in that temporary home.
Imagine dragging the wood, hammering the nails, setting up the walls, laying branches as our roof, spacing them just to let in the sun and view the stars at night. Most are simple and very fragile. Maybe that’s why they bring to mind the awesome reliance on God the Jews had during this time – for food, shelter and protection in a harsh environment. Also, they draw to mind the miraculous ways in which God protected them, providing manna daily, and the cloud of glory which led them on their way. Even their sandals and clothing miraculously remained intact. The review of the travels in Numbers 33 describes the journey leg-by-leg, over 41 verses. God led the Israelites (Jews) each step of the journey and that is one of the reasons for rejoicing.
As Messianic Jews and Christians – in the New Covenant, the booths remind us of the Son of God coming to live among us, “tabernacling” with us. John 1 tells us that “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” God through His Son comes to our “tents”, to our experiences, and shares in them intimately. He and His talmidim (disciples) went from house to house, sharing in suffering, in loss, having no place to rest their heads.
Moreover, as Yeshua (Jesus) came to our “tents”, He promised eternal dwellings, saying “In my Father’s house are many mansions . . . I go to prepare a place for you.” (John 14:2) He promises another kind of eternal dwelling in the promise of the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit), saying “I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper. . . He dwells with you and will be in you.” (John 14:16, 17) Sha’ul (Paul) gives us more depth into this intimacy, telling us, “we have the mind of Mashiach (Messiah)” (1 Corinthians 2:16), and “your body is the temple of the Ruach HaKodesh.” (1 Corinthians 6:19) This is God dwelling among, with, and in us.
Perhaps the deepest reminder within this week of booths is that God Himself tabernacled in the flesh in becoming man; the great miracle that “the Word became flesh” and that our Savior is “the fullness of the godhead bodily.” (Colossians 2:9) God did not merely set up a tent in human flesh, but united in intimate union with the human soul.
The holy and infinite Creator did not deal with our sin in an unseen or incomprehensible way. Rather, the God of Glory became man, to save man, and to suffer the infinite indignity in experiencing suffering and death. “For, inasmuch as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death.” (Hebrews 2:14, 17)
Finally, because Adonai (God) has set up the sukkah in humanity, He will send us our final dwelling place, the New Jerusalem. Heaven itself will come down to meet us. Her light will be “like a most precious stone, like a jasper stone, clear as crystal” (Revelation 21:11) and the names of the tribes of Israel will be on its gates and the names of the apostles of the Lamb on its foundations. Its light will be the glory of God itself, the Lamb. God leads us on our way—Jew and Gentile in the Messiah Yeshua. He joins us on our way and He brings us a final home with Him.
From an article by Thomas Ackerman, MJAA
To read about customs and traditions associated with Sukkot, visit my post from 2011: The Feast of Tabernacles Is Here!