We just had the privilege of celebrating the Biblical feast of Sukkot! We celebrated the feast by camping on the roof of a building with other believers. It has been an amazing time, and we have experienced and learned so much.
The feast of Sukkot is indeed multi-faceted. It is a festival of rejoicing before YHVH for His provision. At the same time, we experience a taste of the millennial Kingdom, in that we dwell together with brothers and sisters in love and unity. We also get to live in booths in order to remind us of the Israelites dwelling in booths, while wandering through the wilderness. There is even more to this feast, but it is on this last mentioned facet, the dwelling in booths, that we would like focus in this post.
Living in Booths
The feast of Sukkot is an appointed time of YHVH. We are commanded to live in booths or temporary dwellings for seven days. The reason is given in Leviticus, “so that your generations may know that I had the sons of Israel live in booths when I brought them out from the land of Egypt”
42 ‘You shall live in booths for seven days; all the native-born in Israel shall live in booths, 43 so that your generations may know that I had the sons of Israel live in booths when I brought them out from the land of Egypt. I am YHVH your Elohim.’ ”
When we live in booths, we experience a little of what the Israelites experienced when they left Egypt. We also leave Egypt (slavery to the system) in a way when we dwell in booths for seven days. We are away from all the comforts of life, no nice warm, comfy bed, no well-stocked pantry and no modern kitchen, sometimes even without the luxury of hot water to shower with. It stretches us a little. It is like going on a training camp; for just seven days you have to endure, but during these seven days we learn valuable lessons, sometimes without even knowing it. The question is will we learn the lesson the first time or will we have to learn it again?
There will be a second exodus
Speaking of dwelling in booths and lessons learned, we believe there will be a second exodus; a time will come when we have to leave our comforts and live in temporary dwellings. For this reason, we believe that celebrating sukkot, in temporary dwellings, will furnish us with valuable experience for that time. There are many passages in Scripture that alludes to this second exodus. Here are a few:
14 “Therefore behold, days are coming,” declares YHVH, “when it will no longer be said, ‘As YHVH lives, who brought up the sons of Israel out of the land of Egypt,’ 15 but, ‘As YHVH lives, who brought up the sons of Israel from the land of the north and from all the countries where He had banished them.’ For I will restore them to their own land which I gave to their fathers.
18 “In those days the house of Judah will walk with the house of Israel, and they will come together from the land of the north to the land that I gave your fathers as an inheritance.
11 Then it will happen on that day that YHVH Will again recover the second time with His hand The remnant of His people, who will remain, From Assyria, Egypt, Pathros, Cush, Elam, Shinar, Hamath, And from the islands of the sea. 12 And He will lift up a standard for the nations And assemble the banished ones of Israel, And will gather the dispersed of Judah From the four corners of the earth.
On a side note, please take note that all twelve tribes will be gathered together, because people from all tribes are still in the dispersion. The book of James also alludes to this.
1 James, a bond-servant of Elohim and of the Master Y’shua Messiah, To the twelve tribes who are dispersed abroad: Greetings.
The exodus – an example for us
A letter Paul wrote to the Corinthians teaches us that what Israel went through is an example for us. We should learn through their experience.
1 Corinthians 10:6-12
6 Now these things happened as examples for us, so that we would not crave evil things as they also craved. 7 Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink, and stood up to play.” 8 Nor let us act immorally, as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in one day. 9 Nor let us try YHVH, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the serpents. 10 Nor grumble, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer. 11 Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. 12 Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall.
We have now determined that there will be a second exodus and that which the Israelites experienced are for us as examples and instruction. From past experience I can see how living in booths during Sukkot could help us gain experience for a future exodus. Everything the Israelites experienced, we will experience and Sukkot trains us in a way for that.
We have consistently experienced Sukkot as a time of testing and learning. We are invariably challenged in some way every time. We have experienced severe weather conditions, conflict situations between people, uncomfortable living conditions (including cold showers), fighting mosquitoes, sleep-deprivation and the results thereof. These are simply a few examples.
This Sukkot we were confronted with noise. We were camping on the roof of a building in a very noisy street. The people around the building were feasting until the early hours of the morning and when they eventually stopped all the other street noises took over from them. What a challenge! We had a choice, we could go to our room and sleep there or we could persevere in the tent for these seven days. We decided to stick it out, armored with ear plugs. We still didn’t sleep well, but the earplugs made it more tolerable. Our next choice was whether or not we would complain about this and so we can go on and on. These are all little things and they have a cumulative effect, but we have a choice how we react to all this…
We have past and presently been challenged in a number of areas. Some of the things that we have learned through the years of celebrating Sukkot in temporary dwelling are:
- Love your neighbor; in everything consider and accommodate others first.
- Resolve any misunderstandings immediately. A lack of sleep and all the other challenges can easily result in misunderstandings. We have to be cognizant of this and sort it out; it might otherwise cause discord or damaged relationships. This lesson we learned at our very first Sukkot, years ago. The misunderstandings were not dealt with in a correct way and it resulted in severe heartache.
- Do not complain, instead be grateful even if you can just be thankful for only having to live uncomfortably for a set time. Complaining is like a very contagious disease, it creates negativity and very soon the focus is transferred from the feast to the people and their lack of comfort.
- Give and share; that just comes naturally as a result of loving your neighbor. That is part of rejoicing together. We have experienced it every time we have celebrated Sukkot. What a blessing to be able to give and share!
- We choose how we react to all the challenges presented to us, and our choice will determine the outcome…
There is something else we experienced, that I would like to share with you. We have been blessed, to celebrate Sukkot in the land for the second time this year. We believe that the commandment to go up to Jerusalem is still in effect, and should be kept, if you are able to. I am sharing this because it has been such a blessing to us. Being in the land and meeting other believers from all over the world expands your horizons; It changes you. You cannot go to Israel and come back the same person.
Going up to Jerusalem
Celebrating the feasts with people outside your normal group or fellowship will invariably stimulate spiritual growth. It expands your horizons, as I said before. You are stimulated to think broader, to study more and are sometimes confronted to such an extend that you have to change your point of view after studying it through.
It made me think of the scientific principle that states: “any closed system will tend to deteriorate over time”. A spinning wheel will stop spinning if left on its own, without adding energy to it. My point is that it is good for us to come into contact with other believers outside of our family, group or fellowship. We have experienced this every time we go up to Jerusalem for the feasts.We get to meet people from all over the world, all with slightly different beliefs, or viewpoints, in some areas. Being confronted with this, forces us to go back and study and pray about this and that is how we grow. Sometimes we change our thinking and other times we are strengthened in our point of view.
If we are never challenged, we might hold on to wrong beliefs our whole life. We can become so entrenched in our interpretation or theology that we will never change. Therefor, I must add that we will only grow if we remain humble and teachable. However, there could also be danger when we just take on whatever we hear without proving it for ourselves. The Scripture teaches us to “prove everything” and “to search everything out to see if it is so”
1 Thessalonians 5:21
21 But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good;
11 Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.
We would like to encourage you to consider a temporary dwelling for your next Sukkot, and if you are able, next year in Jerusalem!
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