The Feast of Tabernacles is instituted in Leviticus 23 as the fever pitch of the Fall Feasts.
”For seven days you must live outside in little shelters. All native born Israelites must live in shelters. This will remind each new generation of Israelites that I made their ancestors live in shelters when I rescued them from the land of Egypt. I am the Lord your God.” Leviticus 23:42-43.
It is striking to me that God gives the Israelites the decree to celebrate and commemorate the time that He “made them live in shelters” while they were still living in those shelters!
The Lord commanded them to remember His faithfulness to them in the wilderness even before the wilderness was behind them.
This is not the first time we see this happening. In Exodus 12, God not only commands the Israelites concerning what they have to do to be saved from the angel of death on the first Passover, He simultaneously scripts out the ordinances for celebrating the Passover as “a day to remember” forever.
The Lord calls us to remember His faithfulness to us now, even while we a still in the midst of our trial.
The Feast of Tabernacles in modernity is called Sukkot or Succoth.
In Exodus 12:37, when the Israelites had just experienced the first Passover, Pharaoh begs for them to leave Egypt, and they head for a place called “Succoth.”
Succoth is a borderland. Exodus 13:20 says, “the Israelites left Succoth and camped at Etham on the edge of the wilderness.”
Interesingtly, even though Sukkot/Feast of Tabernacles was established in the wilderness at Mt. Sinai, it is again given attention in Numbers when the Israelites are on the border of the promise land. Numbers 27 sees Joshua taking over leadership and Numbers 28 finds God commanding Moses to reiterate how the feasts and festivals are to be celebrated.
There on the edge of the wilderness, again, God commands “remember me” before He commands “go forth.”
To celebrate being housed while you are still homeless is an act of faith.
Have them celebrate to remember when— but Lord we’re still here in these tents!
The Feast of Tabernacles/Sukkot calls to remembrance God’s faithfulness in the trial.
The establishment of Sukkot at the “borderland,” reminds us that God wants our praise in the midst of the prayer, not just after it’s answered.
He is just as faithful in the wilderness as He is in the borderlands as He is in the promised land.
Regardless of the changes in your circumstances, He is still the same.
We worship Him for His ability to act, just as much as we praise Him for acting on our behalf.
“I go to prepare a place for you.” – Jesus
Feature photo credit: Lund University. Photo of Refugee camps representative of those erected in Egypt, Lebanon, and Jordan for Syrian refugees from March 2011 on.