Celebrating the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot) in a Difficult Year
For the past two years, I’ve had the incredible blessing of being in Israel for Sukkot, specifically in Haifa.
This photo is from two years ago at Beit Eliyahu with Pastor Shmuel Aweida, my “home congregation” when in Israel. This year, the holidays look very different as Israel is under a strict lockdown. While I’m not under the same lockdown here in Georgia, there’s nothing like celebrating the Feast of Tabernacles in the Holy Land!
We see in John 7:1-24 (ESV) that Jesus went to Jerusalem for Sukkot.
After this Jesus went about in Galilee. He would not go about in Judea, because the Jews were seeking to kill him. Now the Jews' Feast of Booths was at hand. So his brothers said to him, “Leave here and go to Judea, that your disciples also may see the works you are doing. For no one works in secret if he seeks to be known openly. If you do these things, show yourself to the world.” For not even his brothers believed in him. Jesus said to them, “My time has not yet come, but your time is always here. The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify about it that its works are evil. You go up to the feast. I am not going up to this feast, for my time has not yet fully come.” After saying this, he remained in Galilee. But after his brothers had gone up to the feast, then he also went up, not publicly but in private. The Jews were looking for him at the feast, and saying, “Where is he?” And there was much muttering about him among the people. While some said, “He is a good man,” others said, “No, he is leading the people astray.” Yet for fear of the Jews no one spoke openly of him. About the middle of the feast Jesus went up into the temple and began teaching. The Jews therefore marveled, saying, “How is it that this man has learning, when he has never studied?” So Jesus answered them, “My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me. If anyone's will is to do God's will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority. The one who speaks on his own authority seeks his own glory; but the one who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and in him there is no falsehood. Has not Moses given you the law? Yet none of you keeps the law. Why do you seek to kill me?” The crowd answered, “You have a demon! Who is seeking to kill you?” Jesus answered them, “I did one work, and you all marvel at it. Moses gave you circumcision (not that it is from Moses, but from the fathers), and you circumcise a man on the Sabbath. If on the Sabbath a man receives circumcision, so that the law of Moses may not be broken, are you angry with me because on the Sabbath I made a man's whole body well? Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.”
These Jewish feasts are not just meaningful times with family or historical markers, they are very important symbols in God’s grand scheme of eternity. Passover signifies Christ’s sacrifice as an umblemished lamb, Shavuot celebrates his resurrection, Rosh Hashanah points to his second coming, Yom Kippur points to the coming judgement day and Sukkot celebrates our eternity in the presence of our God!
We may not be able to celebrate like we usually can, but God is still sovereign and this is only a season. We have all of eternity to look forward to. Praise Him!