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Celebrating Sukkot

The Old Testament holiday of Sukkot (or The Feast of Tabernacles, or The Feast of Booths) begins Friday night, August 29th and continues through Friday day, October 6th. Sukkot one of the three major pilgrimage feasts given in the Tanakh. It is a feast of celebration and remembrance. This year, Asheville Hope will join in celebrating this ancient ancestral party. (Sign up to participate here and keep reading below for more!).

In Leviticus 23, the Lord instructs the Israelites to construct a sukkah (a booth / tabernacle / hut). "Sukkahs" or "huts" were what the Israelites were forced to live in while they wandered through the wilderness for 40 years in the Exodus story. The Levitical instruction is to constructed similar sukkahs and live in them for 7 day. This yearly practice included a pilgrimage to Jerusalem where they would have a week-long festival.

During the Feast of Tabernacles in the Bible, two important ceremonies took place. The Hebrew people carried torches around the temple, illuminating bright candelabrum along the walls of the temple to demonstrate that the Messiah would be a light to the Gentiles. Also, the priest drew water from the pool of Siloam and carried it to the temple where it was poured into a silver basin beside the altar.

The priest called upon the Lord to provide heavenly water in the form of rain for their supply. And during this ceremony, the people looked forward to the pouring out of the Holy Spirit.

In this way, the Israelites remembered that they were once sojourners in the wilderness; they remembered God's faithfulness to them during their sojourn; and they remembered his deliverance.

In the Gospels, we see Jesus joining this celebratory feast. Then, on the last day of the feast, we are told Jesus speaks the words,

"If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him." (John 7:37-38, NIV)

The next morning, while the torches were still burning Jesus proclaimed,

"I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." (John 8:12, NIV)

As followers of Jesus the Messiah, we also know they we are sojourners on this earth (1 Peter 2:11). We recognize that on this side of Eden, we look to God to continue to be our Provider, and our Guide. And we look with eager anticipation to the day Jesus will return with a New Jerusalem, a New Heaven, and a New Earth. Sukkot points to the truth that Israel’s life, and our lives too, rest on the redemption which is in Jesus Christ and his forgiveness of sin.

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