Rejoice! And again I say, rejoice!

Sukkah in the desert in Israel (Photo: Zachi Dvira Pikiwiki Israel)

Rejoicing is the spiritual atmosphere of the Feast of Tabernacles/Booths.

Deut. 16:13-15

You shall observe the Feast of Booths seven days, when you have gathered from your threshing floor and from your winepress. And you shall rejoice in your feast, you and your son and your daughter, your male servant and your female servant and the Levite, the stranger and the fatherless and the widow, who are within your gates. Seven days you shall keep a sacred feast to YHVH your God in the place which YHVH chooses, because YHVH your God will bless you in all your produce and in all the work of your hands, so that you will surely rejoice!

Why should we greatly rejoice during Succot? What makes this an especially joyful holiday which the God of Israel has given to His people, and eventually also to the nations? (Zech. 14:16-19)

In God’s calendar of redemption which He gave to Israel, the Feast of Booths/Tabernacles follows the Day of Atonements in the seventh month. The Day of Atonements is the day of judgment, based on whether one accepted God’s sacrifice that day or not. It was (and remains) a national, and an individual response to the Holy God, in order that He could dwell in the midst of His people. (Lev. 23:28-3016:29-34Heb. 9:7-8Zech. 12:10-14) Yom Kippur looks ahead to the salvation of the full remnant of all Israel in that day when they look upon Him whom they have pierced, and individually and collectively mourn for Him as for an only son, as their souls are afflicted for their sinfulness against YHVH their God. What a great celebration of rejoicing it will be when the Lord and King Messiah Yeshua returns to dwell among His holy people in the Kingdom of God!  The war is over!  Comfort ye, comfort ye, My people.  All their sins, transgressions, and iniquities are forgiven.  Lift up the cup of salvations!

It is during Succot that the Jewish people remember God being with them, as He led them through the desert for 40 years after delivering them from slavery in Egypt at the Passover. During those 40 years their clothes and even their sandals did not wear out! (Deut. 29:5) God provided food, water, and protection throughout their sojourn to the Promised Land. He commanded them to remember this each year by constructing booths (succot), and to rejoice as they remember the liberty that He brought them into to serve Him. It is also the time of the fruit harvest – the third and final harvest — in Israel.  Yet we read in Nehemiah that the children of Israel had not built booths for themselves since the days of Joshua, almost 1000 years earlier!  (Lev. 23:40-43Neh. 8:13-18)

So what does this mean for us who believe now in Yeshua, whether we are Jewish or Gentile? We can greatly rejoice in our salvation already, knowing that atonement has been made for our own sinfulness by the sacrificial death of Yeshua and His shed blood of the New Covenant. God dwells within and with those who have accepted the Lord’s sacrifice on the cross that historic Passover, and we can daily remember His care and provision for us all the years as we sojourn towards that promised city of the New Jerusalem, with all of those who have gone before us! (Heb. 11John 14:22-24Rev. 21:1-4) We remember that He has redeemed us from slavery to sin and unrighteousness, and freed us to serve Him in His kingdom of righteousness. And as we abide in the true vine, Yeshua, we will produce much good spiritual fruit unto the Lord.  Despite all the increasing manifestation of evil in the world, we have a peace that surpasses all understanding, and a living hope that sustains us through the pain and trauma and loss for a better day that God has promised when Yeshua comes again.

A succa (booth) is a temporary, weak, fragile structure. It can blow away or fall down in a strong wind. It is not permanent, nor intended to be. It is not a long-term dwelling place; it is only a place of temporary residence. The living God dwells within every born-again believer permanently, forever. The temporary tabernacle (mishkan) which is our earthly body will go (2 Pet. 1:13-14), but the Holy Spirit’s dwelling place within us will remain with us into eternity in our new bodies, and God Himself will dwell among us in the person of Jesus (by whatever new name He will have – Rev. 3:12) forever and ever! Is this not reason even now to greatly rejoice?! What great and precious promises we have because of God’s redemptive plan of salvation!

Phil. 4:4-7

Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Jesus Christ.

This article originally appeared on Streams in the Negev, October 3, 2017, and reposted with permission.