The Festival of Booths

One only needs to read Zechariah 14 to know that the feast of Tabernacles has a strong connection to the Kingdom of G-d. We are told that all the nations of the earth must come up to Jerusalem to worship Melech HaMashiach (King Messiah),

“And it shall come about that all the nations which remain who invaded Jerusalem shall go up every year to worship the King- the L-rd of Host and to celebrate Chag HaSukkot”

And those nations who refuse to keep this festival G-d will strike with horrible plagues and will not allow rain to fall on their land (Zech. 14:18-19). The primary message of this festival is to trust in the L-rd and rejoice in the fact that we are His people.  The Torah tells us to dwell seven days in sukkot (temporary booths) as a reminder of the forty years that the Children of Israel were in the wilderness (Lev. 23:43). During these forty years G-d proved Himself faithful to Israel. Why forty years? The first time the number forty appears in the Bible is in connection with the flood, for it rained forty days and forty nights. The number forty represents purity. This tells us that HaShem brought destruction upon the earth, not to do away with creation, but to purify it.  In Judaism the mikveh (immersion pool) must contain at least forty seiot (a liquid measurement) of water. This reaffirms the purpose of immersion, to purify.

Hence, Israel was in the wilderness in order to purify us from our unfaithfulness. Over and over G-d showed Himself faithful to impart in His people faithfulness. Why? Because it is impossible to enter the land of Israel without faith. So too is faithfulness required to enter the Kingdom of G-d. The sukkah is a temporary dwelling structure to remind us that we are only in this world for a short time, but those who enter into the Kingdom shall be there forever and ever.  Because we are citizens of the Kingdom, we should not live according to the standards of the world, but in obedience to the Word of G-d. All too often believers invest too much in this world and almost forget about storing up treasures in heaven.

The Festival of Booths is one of the three pilgrim festivals that, during the days of the Temple, every male twenty years of age and older would have to go up to Jerusalem to observe.  Today without the Temple, the requirement to celebrate these festivals in Jerusalem is not in force. But building a sukkah is a wonderful thing to do. Rabbinical law mandates it. In regard to building a sukkah rabbinical authorities disagree whether one should decorate to increase the beauty of the sukkah or whether one should build a very plain sukkah without any decorations whatsover. The reason for the later view is to emphasize that the sukkah is related to this world and one should not place too much emphasis on the things of this age, but on the coming Kingdom.

Sukkot is a great time to think about your walk with Messiah. Are you demonstrating faithfulness to Him or are you struggling in this area? Does your financial stewardship show an emphasis on the Kingdom or on this world? Take the time during this seven-day period to think about your spiritual location and make the necessary changes. The Holy Spirit is always available to teach you, convict you, and guide you in repentance. If you submit to Him, then truly this will be as our sages teach, ” the festival of our gladness”.

Chag Semach!

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