Month 7:19, Week 3:4 (Revee/Shavu'ot), Year:Day 5937:197 AM|
SUKKOT V, Dedication of Solomon's Temple 5/8
Gregorian Calendar: Wednesday 23 October 2013
Sukkot V 2013
The Season of Our Joy
Continued from Part 4
Chag sameach Sukkot kol beit Yisra'el and welcome to the fifth day of our celebrations.
The Wonder of Rainbows and Supernatural Clouds
Can you imagine what it must have felt like as the Israelites wandered through the Sinai desert to be able to see, day by day, the cloud of glory that accompanied them wherever they went? I don't know about you but I am one of those persons who is always looking up into the sky in the hope of seeing something beautiful to reassure me of Yahweh's continuing ahavah (love). How many of us rejoice when we see a rainbow, for instance? Are they not one of the most glorious sights in the heavens? Some of us may be reminded of Elohim's (God's) Covenant with Noah never to send a destructive flood on the earth again. I think everyone is taken with the splash of colour but those seven colours arranged in a giant bow reminds me also of a covering or a sukkah (tent, tabernacle, booth). One thing is certain: we were created to react positively every time we see it.
The Mystery of Joy
Even in this technological age, understanding the physics of the phenomenon, we are still filled with marvel which makes little sense from an evolutionary point-of-view since according to the Darwinian paradigm there is no purpose in anything. I can explain to you the physics of the way a collection of suspended water droplets in the atmosphere serves as a refractor of light that makes the rainbow. But what scientist can explain the mystery of simcha (joy)? Sukkot (Tabernacles) is, above all, the festival of our simcha (joy).
Complaining Even in the Middle of a Miracle
We don't see rainbows every day but the children of Israel saw a cloud of glory following them wherever they went. After a while they probably thought nothing of it and indeed we read in Exodus that in spite of there being a daily miracle above them in the sky they still took Yahweh's Presence for granted and complained. Can you believe that?
Forgetting the Miraculous
"And Yahweh went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so as to go by day and night. He did not take away the pillar of cloud by day or the pillar of fire by night from before the people" (Ex.13:20-22, NKJV).
They had no idea how spoiled they were! Nearly every time I look up into the sky I see chemtrails and it makes my blood boil because I know the wicked powers-that-be are laughing at us while their poison us to death - at our stupidity, gullibility and inertia. For one thing most people never look up into the heavens. They're too busy looking at their feet on the ground. So, yes, the ancient Israelites - carnal, sensual and devilish though they were, still steeped in their matriarchal Egyptian culture - were blessed beyond what they deserved. They were the recipients of Elohim's (God's) undeserved loving kindness - His grace - and became insensitive to it. Somewhere along the line they forgot about their miraculous deliverance from Egypt and were focussed on the heat and the rumblings of their bellies. They were even ungrateful for the provision of manna even though they didn't have to hunt or till the ground to raise their own food. They didn't have to sew or cobble to mend their clothes and sandals because nothing ever wore out - they didn't even have to labout to get flax and wool to make anything at all! Talk about a pampered people. You'd have thought the contrast with their former slavery would have made them cobnstantly grateful.
Why the Tabernacle Was Built
Whenever we see a rainbow, indeed, whenever we see a commonplace cloud, it is a reminder to us that not only is Yahweh with us all the way in our journey down here on earth but that He desires to be with us on GROUND LEVEL too. He could have just left things the way they were - supernaturally-generated clouds far above our head but He knew we'd soon take Him for granted and would need something more intimate and at hand. So He ordered the construction of the Mishkan or Tabernacle, which would be the tent version of the glorious Temple later built by Solomon:
Of Cleansing and Purification
"So I will consecrate the tabernacle of meeting and the altar. I will also consecrate both Aaron and his sons to minister to Me as cohenim (priests). I will dwell among the children of Israel and will be their Elohim (God). And they shall know that I am Yahweh their Elohim (God), who brought them up out of the land of Egypt, that I may dwell among them" (Ex.29:44-46, NKJV).
This Mishkan was no empty structure like the temples of paganism. It wasn't supposed to be a reminder of what it might be like were Elohim (God) to be residing with His people. He was actually there - His presence filled it. He wanted us to be with Him close up. But the Mishkan (Temple, Tabernacle) was not just a housing for His presence - it was also one of the most potent teaching aids ever designed by a Master Teacher, much like the festivals we have been discussing. It teaches us how we must purify our hearts in order to approach and then experience Him. The apostle James admonished the talmidim (disciples):
The Mishkan and Our Physical Bodies
"Therefore submit to Elohim (God). Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to Elohim (God) and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded" (James 4:7-8, NKJV).
Approaching Yahweh-Elohim requires some effort. You don't just walk into His presence - you're not suddenly in the Throne Room of the Almighty upon a whim. You have to cleanse your hands - that is to say, your deeds - and you have to purify your hearts by cleansing your thoughts and feelings. And it is a double-minded person who thinks he or she can walk into Yah's House without having done either. Under the New Covenant there is no further need of a Temple or a Tabernacle in the form of a building, even though the divine tavnith (pattern) of its structure is still an essential teaching tool for learning about spirituality, the Plan of Salvation, and the nature of our Elohim (God), for today our physical bodies are that same Mishkan or Temple. Paul reminded the Corinthians:
The Importance of Caring for Our Body
"Do you not know that your body is the mishkan (temple) of the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) who is in you, whom you have from Elohim (God), and you are not your own?" (1 Cor.6:19, NKJV).
We're not accustomed to viewing our physical body as a mishkan or a set-apart structure for worship that is on loan to us, are we? We're not accustomed to thinking that this belongs to Him, are we? Yet we ought to be. We ought to have trained our minds and hearts to say: 'Wait, this isn't my body, it's His. I am a steward of something wonderful!' We have already got a taste of how wonderful our bodies are when they are healthy and working properly, especially after a bout of illness, and we eagerly look forward to the day when it is returned to us not only in perfect working order where we have neglected it but also in an immortal state in the resurrection. Deep down no one wants to remain a disembodied spirit in the spirit world and when you get back there - assuming you're not changed in the twinkling of an eye when Yah'shua (Jesus) returns - I guarantee that after you have delighted in being free from pain and the ravages of old age, you'll want to have it back again!
Remember His Grace
Please, let us not forget Yahweh's grace toward us in all the small miracles around us to remind us of His nearness and interest in us. Paul pleads:
The Eternal Day of Salvation
"We then, as workers together with Him also plead with you not to receive the grace of Elohim (God) in vain. For He says:
"Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation" (2 Cor.6:1-2, NKJV).
'In an acceptable time I have heard you,
And in the day of salvation I have helped you.'
Every day is the day of salvation because He wants our original day of salvation - the day of our personal Yom haBikkurim (Firstfruits) - to be real and alive for us always and growing. And we grow in salvation and in His grace by washing our hands daily in doing good deeds to one another and by washing our hearts daily to ensure that our motivation for doing this good is not based on selfish reasons but on pure ahavah (love).
Meaning of the Clouds
Actually, those clouds moving along with the children of Israel in their desert wandering didn't just represent Yahweh's kavod (glory), interest in, and care for us. They're actually a reminder that they are us as we ought to be, walking with Him in the heavenly realm as the redeemed even while earth-bound. To those ancient Israelites those clouds would also have been a reminder that their righteous forefathers - Adam, Abel, Seth, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob - were walking with Elohim (God) in kavod (glory) and that the invitation remains for us to be with them. The writer of Hebrews says:
Later Yah'shua (Jesus) would testify to John in the Book of Revelation:
"Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Yah'shua (Jesus), the author and finisher of our faith, who for the simcha (joy) that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of Elohim (God)" (Heb.12:1-2, NKJV).
The Brethren Who Went Before Us
"'Behold, He is coming with clouds (faithful witnesses, overcomers), and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen. I am the IAlef (Alpha) and the Taw (Omega), the Beginning and the End,' says the Master, 'who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty'" (Rev.1:7-8, NKJV).
Remember the symbolism of clouds, and when you next look up into the sky and see natural clouds (as opposed to those poisonous man-made chemtrails) be reminded to all those who went before us - not just Adam, Abel, Seth, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but Moses, Joshua, Caleb, Samuel, David, Elijah, Elisha, Job, Ruth, Deborah, Sarah, Leah, Rachel, Jeremiah, Isaiah, Peter, James, John, Paul, Barnabas, Titus, the Centurion, Stephen, Dorcas, Priscilla, Antipas and all the thousands of righteous qodeshim (saints, set-apart ones) who await our joyous homecoming. That is a part of the simcha of Sukkot (Tabernacles).
The Season of Our Joy
The simcha (joy) of the third and final autumnal (fall) feast in the seventh month of the sacred calendar is a huge contrast to the somber, sober tone of the potentially fearsome Yom Kippur or Day of Judgment. There was rejoicing at the Second Coming of Messiah at Yom Teruah (Day of Trumpets) but that simcha (joy) soon gave way to the realisation that Judgment had to preceed the kavod (glory) of the Wedding Supper of the Lamb. Sukkot (Tabernacles) marks the end of the season of teshuvah (repentance) and of redemption.
Sins Forgiven and Body Prepared
What is the chief cause of this simcha (joy)? It is the knowledge, given to us supernaturally through our emunah (faith), that our sins are forgiven us when we repent and forsake them, to be followed by the simcha (joy) of walking in the presence of Elohim (God) that comes from performing selfless deeds (washing our hands) and getting right with Yahweh (purifying our hearts) through obedience to the Torah. The two are, of course, closely intertwined and ought really to be inseparable and indistinguishable. Taking care of our temples - our bodies - includes eating in moderation only what Yahweh permits (it is He who determines what is, and what is not, proper food in His Kashrut Law), keeping it clean and therefore disease free, and sufficiently exercised. There is nothing quite as frustrating as wanting to serve Yahweh and finding that your body cannot respond because of fatigue or illness because you have neglected it. And as you get older you must of necessity take greater care of it.
We Cannot Journey Victoriously Without Yahweh
Historically, Sukkot commemorates the days in the wilderness after coming out of Egypt. Why? Because had they tried that wandering without Elohim's (God's) grace they would almost certainly have perished early on. Yet instead they were divinely provided for and protected, as are we today in what is a hostile world that often seeks our ruination and destruction. We can have simcha (joy) in knowing that in spite of the world's sometimes murderous hostility, we can be protected provided we wash our hands, purify our hearts, trust in Yah'shua (Jesus), obey the mitzvot (commandments) and listen carefully to Him for our instructions.
Season of Dancing
Yesterday while we were waiting for everyone to gather for assembly we played some music and one of the brethren spontaneously got up and danced in the middle of the assembly room while the rest of us who were there clapped our hands. We need to remember that the Hebrew word for festival, chag (as in Chag haMatzah) literally means to 'move in a circle', to 'march in sacred procession, to 'celebrate' or to 'dance'. Indeed, the simcha (joy) of Sukkot became so great when the people walked in obedience that it soon became known as 'The Feast' or 'The Chag'. So when we speak of the Chag Sukkot or the 'Feast of Tabernacles' we should also remember that it is also the DANCE OF THE MISHKAN - the 'Dance of the Temple', the 'Dance of Sukkot' or the dance of our sanctified bodies. It is celebration time and you can be quite sure that there will be a huge dance at the Wedding Supper of the Lamb - a grand celebration in thankfulness for our redemption in Messiah Yah'shua (Jesus) and for the Great Reunion of the Blessed in Yahweh!
May your Sukkot continue to be likewise. Amen.
Continued in Part 6