§243 SukkotOctober 12, 2008
Another week gone. Tomorrow, Sunday, a regular working day. And then Monday “WHAM”, the next holiday comes up. It’s Sukkot. The Feast of Tabernacles. We have already finished building the Sukka. We’ll do the decorations on Monday with the kids. The kids must be a part of decorating. It’s our christmas tree. Basically, when we decided to get rid of the christmas celebrations, we divided the different traditions into four. Pagan related – put a stop to it. Jesus birth related – move to Sukkot. Decoration related – move to Sukkot. Winter related – move to Hannukka. Why Jesus birth at Sukkot you asked? You’ll see. Keep reading.
After Yom Kippur, when we ask for forgiveness, we can see ourselves as righteous. Shouldn’t that be celebrated with a feast of happiness? “Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart.” (Psalm 97:11). The basic commandment of Sukkot is in Leviticus 23:39-43:
“Also in the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when ye have gathered in the fruit of the land, ye shall keep a feast unto the LORD seven days: on the first day shall be a sabbath, and on the eighth day shall be a sabbath. And ye shall take you on the first day the boughs of goodly trees, branches of palm trees, and the boughs of thick trees, and willows of the brook; and ye shall rejoice before the LORD your God seven days. And ye shall keep it a feast unto the LORD seven days in the year. It shall be a statute for ever in your generations: ye shall celebrate it in the seventh month. Ye shall dwell in booths seven days; all that are Israelites born shall dwell in booths: That your generations may know that I made the children of Israel to dwell in booths, when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.”
So, the feasts of the fall are all celebrations of the future – Rosh haShana – the feast of trumpets. The day of the return of Jesus. Yom Kippur, day of atonement – Judgement day, and finally Sukkot – when we sit with the Lord in his kingdom. Sukkot is also one of the three feasts of pilgrimage to the temple. It closes a circle that way. Sukkot – birth of Jesus. Passover – death on the cross. Shavuot – Holy Spirit, and finally Sukkot again – kingdom of heaven.
Agriculturally it’s the feast of the fruit harvest. The harvest of the firstborn fruits. Firstborn fruit. Also a picture of the Messiah.
So why do we need to have this Sukka? First of all, the obvious, written answer – because we dwelled in sukkot in the desert. It’s related to the Exodus. It’s about trusting God to lead us to where we need to be. It’s about God with us. Imanuel. It’s in the fall, when it starts to get chilly outside. We’re thrown outside by God at the time of the year when it’s starting to be cold. Because we shall do it for the mitsva’s and the tradition’s sake, not because it’s pleasant. It’s about remembering that God is in charge, and we need to trust him to lead us right. It’s a temporary building to remind us that our life is a short temporary time. It’s also about the Messiah who took his temporary dwelling among us. Yeshua was, with a little New Testament math, probably born on Sukkot. He was born in a Sukka.
Also, the Sukka is the only mitsva that you have all around you. When you enter a sukka on sukkot, you’re inside the mitsva. It’s like a divine hug. This symbol of Yeshua our Messiah – all around us. For seven days.
There’s also the ushpizin – we have make believe guests every day of the sukkot week. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Josef, Moses, Aaron, and David. What do they all have in common? They all lived like nomads at some point in their life (or their entire life). This ushpizin gets its final climax in the Messiah who travelled all over Israel to preach and teach. This could explain Peter’s reaction when he saw Jesus together with Moses and Elijah – he wanted to build a sukka, one for each. Did that happen at sukkot…?
Sukkot is the holiday of the holidays. Whenever the bible states “the holiday” without saying which, it is Sukkot. It’s harder to relate to it than to Passover as we don’t have a specific historic occurence to tie to it. Because it’s tied more to the future. But we can still relate to the birth of the Messiah which was in the past, we can look forward to what God has promised us in the future, and we can look around us in the present and see that we are not nomads, we have a pretty good life. It could be much worse. We can see that we are dependent on God and vulnerable to the environment. Back then, the wheather. Nowadays to the USA stock market. We are never protected. We always need God. And as a people that has lived as nomads for so long, it is good to remember.
If I can finish this with a zionistic tone, I also wish to state that we will live in our sukkas for seven days. And then go back to our real houses. It is to remember, it is not for real. For we are no longer nomads. We are Home. We are in Israel. And we will never ever ever be moved again. The USA can make up as many road maps they want, and they can make up plans to steal our land to create a 23rd arab country as much as they want. We will not move. If God is with us, who can go against us?