Celebrate the Festival of Tabernacles for seven days after you have gathered the produce of your threshing floor and your winepress. Be joyful at your festival—you, your sons and daughters,… — Deuteronomy 16:13-14
The Feast of Tabernacles is quickly coming to an end once again this year. It ends this weekend as we celebrate Thanksgiving.
The tabernacle, or Sukkah, was a temporary dwelling reminding the people of their past, the 40 years of wandering because of unbelief and disobedience, and God’s fulfilled promise of bringing the Israelites into their promised land with permanent structures. It was an important reminder of this life being temporal. They would look up through the sparse roof to remind themselves that they are mere pilgrims passing through this life awaiting the great promises of God for their future. It was a time of anticipating the coming of their Messiah. The Feast was also the end of the agricultural year and therefore a joyous harvest celebration of ingathering. It was marked with great rejoicing for the abundance God had provided. It was a time of seeking God for the much-needed rain for the next planting season. It was the most joyous of all the Feasts that they were to keep.
Some may ask, what is the relevance of the Feast of Tabernacles for Christians? I was in that group many years ago before I knew what this celebration was. Long ago, I had the fortune to tour Israel, and I couldn’t believe my eyes while walking down a street in Jerusalem and looking up at the terraces of apartment buildings housing these booths! At that time, I did not understand the significance of the sukkot and, more so, I did not know Jesus as my Lord and Saviour yet!
Thanksgiving can be a time when we join the celebration of The Feast by looking to our past and remembering all that God has done for us. We can look at our present and look forward to our future with thanksgiving. As a believer we can thank Him for rescuing us, delivering us from the dominion of darkness, sin, and death. We can thank Him for being our great Saviour and rejoice knowing that we have access to His throne of grace. We can anticipate with thankfulness to these temporary earthly tents (bodies) being clothed with our heavenly permanent body. We can with joy look forward to God tabernacling with His people. We can with hope look to Christ’s return.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says to “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you”. Paul was so correct, our joy, prayers and thankfulness should not fluctuate with our circumstances or feelings. Obeying these three commands – be joyful, never stop praying and be thankful – often goes against our natural inclinations. When we make a conscious decision to do what God says, however, we will begin to see people in a new perspective, and we will have an easier time being joyful and thankful.
We have a choice this Thanksgiving. As our society becomes increasingly secular, the actual “giving of thanks to God” during our annual Thanksgiving holiday is being overlooked, leaving only the feasting. My choice is to love my God with all my heart and with all my soul and with all my mind and with all my strength and to be thankful. (Mark 12:28-30 paraphrased).
One of my joys in life that I am constantly grateful for is my loving and faithful wife. She prayed for me in those days before I knew the Lord, that I would come to know him, that I would come to have a heart for him. I celebrate and thank God for her and her fervor for the Lord!
What is your choice this Thanksgiving, and what is one of your great joys to celebrate and thank God for?
Chairman of the Board of Directors
Christian Virtual School