Sundown tonight marks the beginning of Sukkot the Jewish Festival of Booths (Tabernacles), marking the forty years of wandering in the dessert.
33 The LORD said to Moses, 34 “Say to the Israelites: ‘On the fifteenth day of the seventh month the LORD’s Festival of Tabernacles begins, and it lasts for seven days. 35 The first day is a sacred assembly; do no regular work. 36 For seven days present food offerings to the LORD, and on the eighth day hold a sacred assembly and present a food offering to the LORD. It is the closing special assembly; do no regular work. (Leviticus 23:33-36)
According to Deuteronomy 16:16, all men were to go to one designated place of worship three times a year; Passover, the Festival of Weeks, and Sukkot. The Community of Faith was called together to recognize the salvation of God regularly. It was also every seventh Sukkot that the cancelling of debts was to be observed. I wonder if the National Student Loan Service Centre would take this seriously? Not likely.
But I’ve always wondered why Christians can’t take the Old Testament festivals and other Jewish celebrations seriously. I’m not suggesting we must or even should practice these things (if we aren’t Jewish, these observances are not “ours”), but maybe it’s at least worth being knowledgeable about these things, and they shaped the earliest Christians. If we lose the connection to our roots, we lose something of our faith, I think. Part of my intro to Hebrew class curriculum was celebrating a Passover together, and it was a really blessed experience.
For most of us, Sukkot would probably be the most difficult to observe fully- the inconvenience of living in a booth for a week, and doing a week-long Sabbath is not congruent with the Western lifestyle. But that’s kind of the point- get out of the routine to understand the wondrous power of God to work for the redemption of his people. Our Jewish friends consider Sukkot a blessing and a time of joy, recognizing what God has done, not just long ago, but also Sukkot is also a recognition of harvest and provision from God- interesting that it falls right after thanksgiving this year. It’s worth contemplating and reflecting on.
Blessed are you, LORD our God, King of all, for giving us life, sustaining us and enabling us to reach this season. (Part of the Kiddush for Sukkot)