We hope you are blessed through this special devotional for Sukkot, October 13-21, 2019/5780.
Day 1: Why Sukkot (Tabernacles)? God tells us the purpose of Sukkot is “that your generations may know that I made the people of Israel to dwell in booths [sukkot] when I brought them out of the land of Egypt; I am the Lord your God.” (Lev. 23:43.) As He did with ancient Israel, God blesses you daily with His sheltering presence and provision. Your Father cares passionately for you. Daily He delivers you anew from a sin saturated life and world. He meets all your needs in the love of Messiah Jesus. You have just emerged from a season of repentance, culminating with Yom Kippur. This week, be blessed in renewed, deepened fellowship with your Bridegroom King. Engage with Him, if you can, in a sukkah. (Lev. 23:42) Whether you’re Jewish or Gentile, I believe you’ll discover something special there.
Day 2. Rejoice! Sukkot is known by the Jewish people as “the season of our joy.” It is the only biblical feast on which God repeatedly tells us to rejoice. (Deut. 16:13-14, Lev. 23:40) This is because our fellowship with Him has just been renewed through a season of repentance, culminating on Yom Kippur. On Sukkot, you gladden the heart of God, and somehow increase His joy, by rejoicing in Him. Moreover, His joy is your strength. This week, be intentional about accessing the joy of Yeshua’s own heart. And enjoy Him; He is worthy!
Day 3: Thanksgiving for harvest. In Temple times as well as today, Sukkot was a feast of thanksgiving for the past year’s harvest. In faith, the Israelites also gave thanks for the harvest to come. For this reason, Exodus 23:16 refers to Sukkot as the Feast of Ingathering. Today, your harvest may or may not be agricultural. In either case, your loving Father nourishes you with food and drink for your soul, spirit and body. If you’re a follower of Messiah, be blessed to realize His love has drawn you into the harvest of His Kingdom. Be blessed to serve Him in the final spiritual harvest or ingathering of the Kingdom. “Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink …your heavenly Father knows what you need. But seek first His kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:25, 32-33)
Day 4: Sacrifice and offering. Throughout the week of Sukkot, God instructed the ancient priests to sacrifice a grand total of 70 bulls. (Numbers 29:12-38) The rabbis have long taught that because the number 70 in Scripture represents the nations, these sacrifices were made in priestly intercession not for Israel, but for the nations. This is one reason Sukkot has always held special meaning for the Gentiles. In addition, other animal sacrifices were made, as well as national and individual offerings, on behalf of the Jews themselves. These included the wave offering of “choice fruit from the trees, palm fronds, leafy branches and poplars.” (Lev. 23:40) According to Deut. 16:17, “No man should appear before the Lord empty handed. Each of you must bring a gift in proportion to the way the Lord your God has blessed you.”
Today, believers can still worship God with a special Sukkot offering. To start, you can “offer your body as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.” (Romans 12:1) You can offer up some of your material blessings, sacrificially giving to the poor or to ministries that move your heart. You can sacrifice intercessory prayer on behalf of Israel and others. And you can worship the Lord in song, music and dance. Engage anew in the privilege of sacrifice this Sukkot. He’ll love it, and I think you will too!
Day 5: Promise of Rest. The first and last days of Sukkot are special Sabbaths. We cease from our regular work and engage in the beauty of His rest. (Lev. 23:35-36; Numbers 29:12, 35). So this Sukkot hear the call of your Savior’s love, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavily burdened and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30) Be revived in the intentional rest of simply being with the Lover of your soul. Tabernacle today in His rest.
Day 6: Mystery of Messiah’s Birth. A growing number of Messianic scholars believe Jesus was likely born during Sukkot. The reference point for this interpretation starts with the conception of John, born to Mary’s cousin Elizabeth and her husband Zechariah. John was conceived after the angel Gabriel visited Zechariah in his priestly service in the Temple. Zechariah would have been serving according to the rotation of ministry, based on family lineage, set forth in 1 Chronicles 24-28. Because he was of the division of Abijah, he would have finished serving and gone home to Elizabeth in late June or early July. (Luke 1:5, 13-19, 23-26) Elizabeth was six months pregnant with John when Mary conceived Yeshua. This means Yeshua was likely conceived in the winter, perhaps even at Hanukkah. Nine months later would coincide with Sukkot.
Messiah’s birth during Sukkot would explain some hard questions associated with a winter nativity. First, Caesar Augustus presumably would not order a census during the winter, when harsh weather would make travel difficult. Second, because Sukkot is a pilgrimage feast, it might well have been impossible to find shelter in the Jerusalem area, which includes Bethlehem, other than in a stable. Third, the weather would still be warm enough for shepherds to sleep outdoors with their flocks.
Sukkot is the time of year God told His people to tabernacle with Him. Perhaps the apostle John had Messiah’s birth during this feast in mind when he wrote, “The Word became flesh and did tabernacle among us.” (John 1:14, YLT) In 2019/5780, Sukkot can be a meaningful time to celebrate the birth of Yeshua and party with His people. Glory to God in the highest!
Day 7: Prophetic Foreshadowing. Sukkot is a prophetic foreshadow of the coming rule and reign of Messiah on earth, when He gloriously tabernacles among us. (Rev. 20:1-6) Jews call this period the Messianic Age. Christians often call it the Millennium. At that time not just Israel, but all nations will celebrate Sukkot. “Then the survivors of all the nations that have attacked Jerusalem will go up year after year to worship the King, the Lord Almighty, and to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles.” (Zech. 14:16)
The Messianic Age will marvelously bring worldwide peace, righteousness, justice and joy. God’s glory will cover the earth as the waters cover the sea. During that time, you will soak in the saturating brilliance of pure, divine love. Celebrating Sukkot now can serve as a type of rehearsal for your future, but if you’re a believer, the future is now. The Kingdom of God is already, to a real extent, within you. So this Sukkot, soak in His mercies, His peace and faithfulness, His delight in you, and yours in Him.
Day 8: Day of Great Supplication. The eighth day of the Feast of Tabernacles (Shemini Atzerit) came to be known as the Hoshana Rabah (Great Supplication or Salvation). The Hoshana Rabah was marked by an elaborate intercessory ritual for the provision of rain in the coming year. But the Jews of Yeshua’s day knew the prophetic Scriptures associated abundant rain and and living waters with the coming of Messiah. So by then the Hoshana Rabah was actually a prayer for spiritual, as well as literal, rain. How appropriate, then, that “On the last and greatest day of the feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice: ‘If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture says, streams of living water will flow from within him.’ By this He meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were later to receive.” (John 7:37-38)
This last day of Sukkot, be blessed to drink deeply of the Spirit. Immerse yourself in His living waters. Then go out in the world refreshed, with streams of living water flowing from you to those in need of eternal life. As you do, I hope you’ll remember to pray for Israel’s Great Salvation, her ultimate Hoshana Rabah.