Word from Scotland
by Sandy Shaw
Leviticus 23verses 33to 43 - where we read about The Feast of Tabernacles.
What is the significance of the Feast of Tabernacles - for the Jews - and for those of us who are disciples of Jesus Christ? Well - for us - this is the time of year when probably Jesus was born - but also - this is a season of year when we can take time to remember that our roots are in Israel - and this Feast begins on Friday 29 September.
In the centre of the camp of the Hebrew people was God's Tabernacle - God's tent - a largish construction which was used for worship and sacrifice - and around the Tabernacle were the tabernacles or tents in which the people of God lived.
All over Israel - people will have constructed booths or tabernacles - on their balconies and verandas - or in their gardens - or in the grounds of hotels - and the roofs will be covered with palm branches.
For eight days, they will have their meals in the tabernacles or flimsy temporary shelters - and some will sleep there - where they will be able to see the sky - and remember that God led them in the wilderness for 40 years.
They are designed to be uncomfortable and temporary. The people will give thanks. It is a season for remembering and giving thanks to God.
This has always been a time when the chosen people of God have remembered - when they have praised and worshipped and given thanks. These days are set apart - holy - that is what the word means. God has an appointment with His people.
Verse 39 – The harvest should be gathered in by this time - and they remember that the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob has provided rains for the crops to grow.
Around the world we are presently experiencing what might be called unusual weather - so for us too it is a time to give thanks for what we have.
This week was to be given to God for Praise and Worship. It is a sacred week - no regular work was to be done - only essential work - and it is a time for bringing offerings.
Verse 39 – The people are to CELEBRATE - and God guides them how they are to celebrate. It is to be done in a meaningful way - "with choice fruits".
Over these days, the people will have been seeking and purchasing the finest of fruits and palm fronds. They will buy a large lemon - called an ETROG – palms and myrtle branches and willow branches. These will be carried to the Western Wall in Jerusalem - and waved as prayers are offered to God.
Willow - has no fragrance and no fruit.
Myrtle - is fragrant but bears no fruit.
Palm - is not fragrant but bears fruit.
Lemon or ETROG - is fragrant and fruitful - but also has bitterness.
Verse 41 . This is to be a lasting ordinance. You are to celebrate this Feat from generation to generation - and for over 3,000 years these people have kept and observed this Feast – and there is a reason - so that your descendants will know - all about Egypt - and how I set you free.
We remember as we come to worship that God so loved the world that He sent Jesus into the world - to save us from our sins - to rescue us out of bondage - and set us free from various chains. We come to give thanks for His unfailing love - and His faithfulness.
We are a sign to the world which reminds people of God - a sign that there is a GOD. God chooses ordinary men and women to be a sign to the world.
What a privilege to be a sign - what an honour - what a responsibility.
That sentence at the end of verse 43 is so stark. "I am the Lord your God."
These Feasts were never intended to be observed out of mere formality or empty ritual. The prophets had sharp words for those who reduced these celebrations to what we could call ‘parties’. The purpose of the Feast was spiritual - a glorious meeting of God and His people. Deuteronomy 16 verses 13f . - strong stuff.
John Chapter 7 - Around a million Jews would be camped around Jerusalem - and during the Feast on the last day - the High Priest would leave the Temple carrying a container. He would walk down to the pool of Siloam - fill the container - return to the Temple - where he would pour out the water - remembering these days in the wilderness when they Jews had no water and Moses struck the rock out of which water came forth.
They also prayed for water for the crops - and - they were looking for the day when the Messiah would come and refresh them.
As the Feast was drawing to a close - Jesus stood and cried out - "If any man is thirsty let him come to me and drink - Jesus is thinking of the future - when He would pour out the Holy Spirit - Living Water.
Drink from ME - prime your pump and rivers will flow from you. Drink from Jesus Christ - and then you can pour.
It is the last day of this eight-day Conference - and Jesus saw people about to return home and they are thirsty - unsatisfied - and Jesus calls out. Are you still thirsty? Did you not receive what you came for? Again, it is predictive and prophetic.
Let those who are thirsty drink deeply. Let the Holy Spirit well up inside you - overflow - and pour from you. You take a sip and He transforms it into a well.
Only those who are thirsty will drink. No matter how sumptuous the Feast is - or how well it is laid out - if no-one is hungry no-one will eat or drink.
There are not many who are hungry and thirsty for God. It has always been so.
Be among the few - drink deeply - flow - pour out upon others - let it gush out from you - His Love - Compassion - and Mercy. Come and eat and drink - and be filled and satisfied. Then overflow and touch the needs of those around.
What a challenge - these are challenging days - perhaps the most challenging I have seen. How do we encourage people to want to eat and drink?
This is a time of remembering and thanksgiving - and eating and drinking with purpose - so that we can serve and minister to others.
First - let us eat and drink and be satisfied by Jesus.
“Faithful God – Holy Father – as we too remember the Feast of Tabernacles – we give thanks and praise for the ways in which you have kept believing people over these four thousand years. Teach us Gentiles the lessons we need to learn and appreciate – the spiritual truths from Old and New Testaments – foundational teaching not to be found anywhere else in the whole world. Thank You for our Saviour and Lord, Jesus Christ – who brings to life what is in Your Holy Word. Amen.”
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Alexander 'Sandy' Shaw is pastor of Nairn Christian Fellowship in Nairn, Scotland. Nairn is 17 miles east of Inverness - on the Moray Firth Coast - not far from the Loch Ness Monster!
Gifted as a Biblical teacher, Sandy is firmly committed to making sure that his teachings are firmly grounded in the Word.
Sandy has a weekly radio talk which can be heard via the Internet on Saturday at 11:40am, New Orleans time, at wsho.com.
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