As we drove down a winding country road one day, a few years ago now, admiring the breathtaking views of hills ablaze with summer-ripened trees making ready to drop their sun-kissed leaf offerings for a rich next year, my son proclaimed to me with satisfied air of how glad he was that Fall had arrived. “It’s my favorite season!” he announced jubilantly. “Oh, mine too!” I agreed, “for so very many reasons.”
I love the coolness in the air, so vibrantly felt after summer’s long, hot days… I relish the excitement of beginning a new school year, diving into booklists and educational endeavours with our children with renewed vigor, the aromas of harvest, baking bread, pies and ripe apples dipped in fresh honey, the rich earth from the garden that’s been freshly turned and all other general preparations for winter… I do enjoy all of the anticipation intrinsic in celebrating the closing of one year’s toils and the beginnings of a new year.
This is also the season that the Jewish calendar begins to mark the time of a new year, which to me just feels so right, and makes sense. As a family, we’ve come to appreciate the Fall Feasts of Adonai, along with all of the other Feasts and Holidays which He gave to His people, Israel, so long ago… We rejoice in the opportunity to partake of their meaning and celebrations now, even as our own inheritance, being grafted into this amazing family tree of God’s.
And being the end of one year, and therefore also the beginnings of the next… It has always seemed like a time of renewal to me, a shedding of the old… like so many falling leaves, bejeweled as they surrender themselves to death, thereby becoming the fertile ground of next year’s blooms. It also so happens to have been the season of my births, both physical and spiritual, as well as the season that I was full with the lives of my two winter-born babies growing inside of me. Yes, I love this time of year… for so very many reasons.
This season has posed a wonderfully appropriate time for us to purposely re-dedicate ourselves, both as a family and individually, to the Lord, as we look forward to the next season/year(s) of our lives together. It has been a wonderful time to remember His faithfulness to His people a long time ago, now today, and His promise to one day return and “tabernacle” with us again.
These Holy Days, as given by Him to ancient Israel,
… have provided such meaningful avenues for us to
There is an ancient Jewish custom associated with Rosh Hashanah, called tashlich, in which one recalls their sins of the past year, and prayerfully offer up their desires to better obey and honor our Lord and His statutes in the year to come as they symbolically throw pebbles or bread into living water, as if they are casting off their sins, asking Him for His forgiveness, for redemption in Yeshua, the Messiah. We did this one year, and the kids still fondly recall it. I do believe that it made an impression.
All of the Biblical holidays are bursting with meaningful traditions, potent object lessons by which one can impart abstract Biblical truths. I believe that Adonai designed them this way, to meet our innate need for tangible ways to express and savor the universal Truth of God’s Word, His plan for mankind.
Chris read the following Scripture:
Who is a God like You,
And passing over the transgression of the remnant of His heritage?
He does not retain His anger forever,
Because He delights in mercy.
He will again have compassion on us,
And will subdue our iniquities.
You will cast all our sins
Into the depths of the sea.
You will give truth to Jacob
And mercy to Abraham,
Which You have sworn to our fathers
From days of old.
~ Micah 7.18-20
After Rosh Hashanah and then Yom Kippur, comes Sukkot, which is this week this year (it varies, with the Jewish calendar being based on the lunar cycles). In years past we’ve had a wonderful time camping out with fellow Believers, together celebrating the Feast of Tabernacles/Ingathering, aka. Sukkoth, with friends new and old. We’ve also helped our local Messianic congregation to build a little sukkah (a booth, or temporary dwelling place) to stand in front of the church building where we would meet at for for Sabbath services, as a testimony of our dependence upon YHVH for all of our sustenance and shelter, for all who see it. At home our kids have fashioned their own sukkahs for fun, from salvaged building materials, or erected tents.
Matthew Henry’s commentary explains well the significance of this, one of the most joyous of our Lord’s Feasts, and exactly what its remembrance called His people to long ago, and even still today:
2. As to the design of this feast,
(1.) It was to be kept in remembrance of their dwelling in tents in the wilderness. Thus it is expounded here (v. 43): That your generations may know, not only by the written history, but by this ocular tradition, that I made the children of Israel to dwell in booths. Thus it kept in perpetual remembrance, [1.] The meanness of their beginning, and the low and desolate state out of which God advanced that people. Note, Those that are comfortably fixed ought often to call to mind their former unsettled state, when they were but little in their own eyes. [2.] The mercy of God to them, that, when they dwelt in tabernacles, God not only set up a tabernacle for himself among them, but, with the utmost care and tenderness imaginable, hung a canopy over them, even the cloud that sheltered them from the heat of the sun. God’s former mercies to us and our fathers ought to be kept in everlasting remembrance. The eighth day was the great day of this feast, because then they returned to their own houses again, and remembered how, after they had long dwelt in tents in the wilderness, at length they came to a happy settlement in the land of promise, where they dwelt in goodly houses. And they would the more sensibly value and be thankful for the comforts and conveniences of their houses when they had been seven days dwelling in booths. It is good for those that have ease and plenty sometimes to learn what it is to endure hardness.
(2.) It was a feast of in-gathering, so it is called, Ex. 23:16. When they had gathered in the fruit of their land (v. 39), the vintage as well as the harvest, then they were to keep this feast in thankfulness to God for all the increase of the year; and some think that the eighth day of the feast had special reference to this ground of the institution. Note, The joy of harvest ought to be improved for the furtherance of our joy in God. The earth is the Lord’s and the fulness thereof, and therefore whatever we have the comfort of he must have the glory of, especially when any mercy is perfected.
(3.) It was a typical feast. It is supposed by many that our blessed Saviour was born much about the time of this feast; then he left his mansions of light above to tabernacle among us (Jn. 1:14), and he dwelt in booths. And the worship of God under the New Testament is prophesied of under the notion of keeping the feast of tabernacles, Zec. 14:16. For, [1.] The gospel of Christ teaches us to dwell in tabernacles, to sit loose to this world, as those that have here no continuing city, but by faith, and hope and holy contempt of present things, to go out to Christ without the camp, Heb. 13:13, 14. [2.] It teaches us to rejoice before the Lord our God. Those are the circumcision, Israelites indeed, that always rejoice in Christ Jesus, Phil. 3:3. And the more we are taken off from this world the less liable we are to the interruption of our joys.
You may also go here to read more about why we, as New Covenant Gentile believers in Jesus as our Messiah, Celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles. It’s a time for worshiping our King under the sukkah… as we remember the greatest miracle of all, that He tabernacles within us, His people!
And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God.
…and it’s a time for remembering Who is our shelter… as we do dwell in Him.
For in the time of trouble
He shall hide me in His pavilion;
In the secret place of His tabernacle
He shall hide me;
He shall set me high upon a rock.
And truly we’re just practicing, because according to the prophet Zechariah, someday soon…
And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south. And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to WORSHIP THE KING, the LORD of hosts and to KEEP THE FEAST OF TABERNCLES”
Yes, in the midst of this cool and brisk season, my Creator is greeting me with gloriously brilliant, bright promises of wonderful blessings to come, both in this world and in the hereafter. This Fall I will have breathed on this earth for 36 years… and I am reminded that even though our family is in the midst of another season of huge transitions, moving again, and not knowing what job will sustain us in the coming years, nor where we’ll even be living in the next few months for that matter… our Lord, the Ancient of Days has us in the palm of His hands and does stoop down to meet us daily, even in the midst of the minutest details of our lives!
Somehow just basking in remembrance of His larger plan at work over the eons has comforted my worried brain these last couple of crazy months, and in years past as well. Maybe its that deepening realization of the extent to which He has already gone to make His love and Way known, and does continue to reach out to His most beloved creation… you, me. Us.
We have learned so much from these ancient Festivals over the years, discovered anew and freshly appreciated every time we’ve applied ourselves to learn a little bit more, dig a little deeper and listen longer. Their object lessons have been living water to our hungry pilgrim souls, quietly drawing our roots deeper into Him, as our understanding of the great heritage we’ve been grafted into grows. Yes, life with our Lord is rich… I do hope and pray that it will be a fruitful year, a faithful year… for my family and I – and for you and yours as well.
But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And in His law he meditates day and night.
He shall be like a tree
Planted by the rivers of water,
That brings forth its fruit in its season,
Whose leaf also shall not wither;
And whatever he does shall prosper.
:: Artwork is “Tomorrow” by Edward Raymes, from allposters.com
Embracing the adventure,