Life Under the Stars
Sukkot is the 7th and final feast of Israel given by the Lord. It is by far the most joyful feast in all of Israel! I was in Israel a couple of years ago during the season of Sukkot, and it was like being in another world. You could feel the excitement in the air. All around the city families had sukkahs set in place for the event. A sukkah is a temporary shelter, and so this feast is also known as “The Feast of Tabernacles,” or “Temporary Shelters.” But, it is also known as the “Feast of Ingathering,” or “Final Harvest”.
“You must celebrate the Festival of Weeks [Pentecost or Shavuot] with the first grain from your wheat harvest, and the Festival of the Final Harvest at the end of the season.” Ex 34:22
Like the modern-day practice, so in biblical times this feast was also celebrated with great joy. There was joy for God’s faithfulness in the past, as well as faith that God’s goodness would sustain them for another year as well.
Tabernacles takes place in the autumn of the year. On the Hebrew calendar, it occurs on the 15th day of Tishri (which on our calendar begins September 27, 2015 and lasts through October 4). These are eight days of celebration, music, dancing, the sharing of communal meals, and thankful hearts lifted-up before God!
According to Leviticus chapter 23, no work of any kind is permitted on these days.
Because of all the joy and festivities of Sukkot, it became the most prominent of the holidays and was simply known as “the holiday” by the ancient rabbis.
The primary focus of this celebration was the sukkah. It’s true. A sukkah was to be constructed of materials to allow its visitors to look up and see the heavens. They were to celebrate this event with a clear view of God’s domain. The sukkah is the main focus because it is the physical reminder of what God did spiritually for His people. He was their shelter and protection during a time when His people probably felt pretty insecure. Think about it: they were wandering through a desert they had never ventured in before. They didn’t know how long the journey would be or even where they would end up. Just a hope for a better tomorrow … a place where they could be free from tyranny and oppression. Three thousand years later, I think God’s people are still looking for that place. A place where their neighbors aren’t actively trying to destroy them. Nevertheless, each year, for eight days and nights, they camp out, celebrate, and gaze up into the sky remembering that God has their back.
I believe that the time of Sukkot has great implications for us as well. We can take eight days and remember that God also has our backs. It is God who has supplied our past needs, and it is God Who will supply our future ones.
Living “life under the stars” is not just a reminder that we were once pilgrims without a place of permanence, but that we were a people without God. We wandered through the deserts of waywardness, hoping to find an oasis, but now we’re home. Now there is heavenly water to quench our thirsts, and the Messiah Who takes our hand and guides us into the land of promises.
I am thinking that after these eight days are over, I am going to keep a thankful heart, continue looking to God, and persist in living my life under the stars.
Keep looking up because your redemption is drawing nigh,