On the first day of the seventh month, Yom Truah, the day for sounding the shofar, also known as Rosh HaShana, we prayed and blew the shofar and considered the important things the shofar reminds us of. For the Yamim Nora’im, the 10 Days of Awe from Rosh HaShana to Yom Kippur, we confessed our sins and turned to the Lord.
Now we are preparing to celebrate the last holiday of Tishrei – Sukkot: Shelters, Tabernacles, Booths.
God is a great mathematician. He designed numbers and mathematical equations and relationships throughout creation. Numbers are also found in God’s calendar and holidays – particularly the number seven, which represent completion.
Sukkot is about completion and fullness.
Sukkot is not a one day holiday, but a full seven day holiday.
Sukkot takes place in the seventh month. Sukkot is the seventh of the seven annual holidays. It completes the holidays.
Sukkot begins on the fifteenth day of the month, when the moon is full.
Passover starts on the 15th day of the first month, in the spring. Sukkot takes place exactly six months later in the fall. Six months from Passover to Sukkot. Six months from Sukkot to Passover. Sukkot takes place in the middle of the calender, in the fullness of the calendar.
Sukkot celebrates the fulness of the harvest. For the third and final time of the year, Jewish men were required to go up Jerusalem and celebrate the Lord’s goodness to us, particularly thanking Him for the harvest. We thanked Him for providing for us, for giving us a productive land to grow crops, seeds to plant, sun to shine on them, rain to water them, strength to harvest them.
We took the fruit of beautiful trees, and willow, palm and myrtle branches and joyously celebrated with them.
We built shelters and lived in them. These booths that go up one week and come down the next remind us of the Exodus from Egypt. They remind us that our God rescued a nation of slaves from a much more powerful nation.
The shelters remind us of 40 years of wandering in the wilderness. They teach us about the consequences of disloyalty to God and disobedience and unbelief.
These temporary, frail structures teach us that we are like them. We are frail and our lives are short. In this fallen world, we have no lasting home.
These shelters also point us to a greater exodus which is to come, an exodus from these ages of sin, rebellion, transgression, disobedience and sorrow, and our domination by the forces of Satan and the demons, sin and the sin nature, and death.
These booths point us to the golden age of mankind, when Messiah returns to Jerusalem His capital, to Zion His dwelling place, and gathers the harvest of humanity into His glorious Kingdom which will last for 1,000 years.
And these shelters look forward to the eternal state, when there is a new universe and a new Earth, and the eternal God will tabernacle among us. Rabbi Glenn will be talking to us about that.
Sukkot teaches us that God wants to be close to the people who belong to Him.
The Word of the living God reveals that He created the universe, and then this wondrous planet, and then made a special place for Adam and Eve to live in. There, in the delightful garden of Eden, He appeared to them and spoke to them. He was close to them.
The Fall of Man changed all that. By choosing to listen to the Adversary and disobey God, Adam and Eve joined the rebellion of the fallen angels. One of the consequences of their disloyalty was that they were no longer close to the Lord.
When they heard the sound of the Lord walking in the garden in the cool of the day, they hid from Him. They were alienated from Him. They were far from Him. And, so was the rest of humanity that came from them.
The Lord wanted to restore our closeness to Himself. That’s why He created the Chosen People. That’s why, after rescuing us from Egypt, while we were in the wilderness, He instructed us to build the Mishkan, the Tabernacle, the place where He could live among us. And He said: I will dwell among the Israelis and be their God. They will know that I am the Lord their God, who brought them out of Egypt so that I might dwell among them.
There, in that holy, special, set apart tent, the Creator of the universe manifested His glorious, dwelling, Shechinah presence in the most special way.
Later the tent became the temple in Jerusalem.
The tent and temple existed for 1500 years. Then something amazing happened which brought the presence of God to Earth in the greatest way. The Son of God left Heaven, and through the incarnation, became a man. He lived among us. He tabernacled among us. He templed among us.
The Messiah was the ultimate temple. Destroy this temple, Yeshua said, referring to Himself, and in three days I will raise it up.
And it gets better. The same time the Son of God died on the cross, the veil to the most holy place was torn from top to bottom. That was God’s way of letting us know that because of Yeshua’s life and death, a new and better way to get close to God is available to mankind – when we know who Yeshua is, and loyally follow Him.
Then, 50 days later, on Shavuot/Pentecost, another Jewish holiday, the risen and ascended Messiah sent His Spirit to live in His first Messianic Jewish followers. They became the temple of God, the place where God lives on Earth.
Do you not know that you are a temple of God, Rabbi Paul asked the Corinthians, and that the Spirit of God lives in you? In his second letter to them, he added: We are the temple of the living God; just as God said, “I will dwell in them and walk among them; and I will be their God, and they will be my people.”
Amazing! Wonderful! Fantastic! By means of His Spirit living in us, God is living in us. He is very close to us and we are very close to Him.
Since we are the temple of the Living God, let’s be holy and pure, like the temple was holy and pure.
Like the temple was devoted to serving God, let’s be devoted to serving God. Let’s put His will, His goals, His agenda, His priorities, His mission ahead of our own.
Anything we love or serve more than Him is an idol in the temple that needs to be removed.
Sacrifices and offerings were brought to the temple. Let’s give Him the best of our time, talents and treasure. Let’s offer our lives to God as living and holy sacrifices. That’s truly the way to worship Him.
Father, thank You that although we were far from You, You made it possible to be close to You and Your Son and Your Spirit though the life and death and resurrection and ascension of Your Son, and the giving of Your Spirit.
Thank You that Your Spirit lives in us. Fill us with Your Spirit. Help us walk in the Spirit, live in the Spirit.
Help us be good temples, holy temples, devoted temples, God-centered, God-honoring temples, God-serving temples. Remove any idols from our lives.
Help us be close to You, stay close to You, live in Your presence – constantly, continually, moment by moment, all the time.