Andy wondered if it would be possible to rent St John Fisher to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles and would Celebration Church like to be involved. My first thought was: ‘This is a bit Jewish and what will people think?’ Having spoken to Andy, prayed and looked at what the Bible says, I see no reason why we shouldn`t be involved. In fact, if it teaches us what it meant to them and its relevance to us then, it will be good for us. Here are a few thoughts that I gleaned (no pun intended) from looking at the Feast of Tabernacles.
This feast was held at harvest time, so it was a celebration, but it was far more than Harvest Festivals of today. It not only celebrated how God had provided for his people but the fact that God dwelt among them. “I will put my dwelling place among you, and I will not abhor you. I will walk among you and be your God, and you will be my people”. (Lev 26:11-12). They were a people always going astray and yet their God had covenanted Himself to dwell with them. Amazing!
When King David wanted to build a permanent house, a temple, for God he was told, “I have not dwelt in a house from the day I brought the Israelites up out of Egypt to this day. I have been moving from place to place with a tent as my dwelling”. (2 Sam 7:6). Why was this? Although they were in the Promised Land, as the people of God, that wasn`t their final dwelling. So when, during the Feast of Tabernacles the Israelites dwelt in booths rather than in their houses, it was to remind them that they were a pilgrim people who hadn`t reached their home. As a kingdom of priests they were to take the presence of God with them everywhere they went, but sadly, the focus became the temple itself and not the God who said He would dwell there.
Even when they were in exile, after defiling God`s dwelling, God`s promise was, “My dwelling place will be with them; I will be their God, and they will be my people. Then the nations will know that I the LORD make Israel holy, when my sanctuary is among them forever”. (Ezekiel 37:27-28).
You are probably thinking, ‘Surely that was only until Jesus came. Didn`t He make the Jewish festivals unnecessary? What relevance has that to us?’ Paul says, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching”. So let us see what these passages teach us. John`s gospel account begins, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God”. (1:1). Followed soon after by these words, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us”. (1:14). His name “Immanuel” means God with us.
On the mount of Olives, before He returned to His Father, Jesus final words were, “I am with you always, to the very end of the age”. (Matt 28:20). The promise still stands. “Those who believe in his name,” have been given that same privilege of access to God who dwells with us, by the Holy Spirit. “You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” (1 Pet 2:9). We take the Lord with us where ever we go. We don`t have to dwell in “booths” to show God is with us but we do have the responsibility to demonstrate that we are His by the way we live and witness for Him thus declaring His praises.
We are the same pilgrim people, although we can know God with us, our home is not here. We are “longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.” (Heb 11:16). The Feast of Tabernacles is a case of what the theologians call ‘the now and not yet’ . It is fulfilled, in that, we have God the Holy Spirit with us always. Yet the fullness of its fulfilment is still to come.
John saw the fulfillment of that promise, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Rev 21:3-4). The Holy city, the Heavenly Jerusalem, where the people of God will enjoy His presence forever. The place where “The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him”. (Rev 22:3).
What was John`s response to this? “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.” It is something that I eagerly await. I hope you do too. That is what the Feast of Tabernacles says to me.
I would like to thank you all for the love and support you have extended to us. It is much appreciated.
And finally, something to make you smile :
An English professor wrote the words, ‘a woman without her man is nothing’ on the blackboard, and directed the students to punctuate it correctly.
The men wrote: ‘A woman, without her man, is nothing.’
The women wrote: ‘A woman: without her, man is nothing.’
Punctuation is everything!
Every blessing be yours in Christ Jesus.
John & Hilary