We are approaching the end of the wonderful season of the High Holy Days. This is a great time of reflection, repentance, and celebration. I am so grateful to our Father that He gave us appointed times to remember and reflect! In my time of personal reflection during this season, I was thinking about the reason why we do what we do. Is it just tradition? Or is there something much deeper?
In reality, it’s easy to get lost within the tradition and rituals of anything. This is especially true of our spiritual lives. We can spend much time focused on the do’s and don’ts, the meals that we eat, the clothes we wear, the prayers that we say, the way we build the Sukkah (Booth or Tabernacle), and can easily forget one of the main purposes for this season. Even in our prayers, which are very important, and in our time of reflection, repentance, and celebration, we can lose sight of one of the main purposes for this season: this time is not just an opportunity to reflect, but rather to change.
During this season of Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles), we sat in our Sukkah, we sang and celebrated, and I reminded my family of the wonderful verses from Leviticus 23:39–43:
On exactly the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you have gathered in the crops of the land, you shall celebrate the feast of the LORD for seven days, with a rest on the first day and a rest on the eighth day. ‘Now on the first day you shall take for yourselves the foliage of beautiful trees, palm branches and boughs of leafy trees and willows of the brook; and you shall rejoice before the LORD your God for seven days. You shall thus celebrate it as a feast to the LORD for seven days in the year. It shall be a perpetual statute throughout your generations; you shall celebrate it in the seventh month. You shall live in booths for seven days; all the native-born in Israel shall live in booths, 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 the LORD your God.’ So Moses declared to the sons of Israel the appointed times of the LORD.
The fact that we can do this very thing today in our home just outside of Jerusalem, in the Land that was promised to Abraham, Isaac, & Jacob is nothing short of a miracle! It is also a reminder of the incredible privilege we have to serve the Living God, who is the same God that delivered our people out of Egypt, and who provided for the children of Israel during their time in the wilderness when they lived in temporary booths on their way to the Land of Promise. This is the same faithful God that we worship and serve today!
Sukkot is also a time when we remember that our time here on earth is short and temporary; we are just waiting for the ultimate promise, which is Messiah Yeshua’s return and His eternal reign from the New Jerusalem. How does this knowledge affect the way we live? Do we take it for granted? Or does it truly change how we live each and every day?
For us followers of Yeshua, do we understand that God did not bring us from darkness to light in order that we can wave the flag of salvation for ourselves, or in order for us to manifest His Glory and draw more people to Him?
It is His work of salvation in our lives, and it is for His glory alone! When we understand what He has done for us, we can read Sha’ul’s exhortation to the Philippians with a new understanding:
So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.