Friday, October 14, 2011
Rejoice - It is Sukkot!
Deḇarim/Deuteronomy 16:13-17 / Wayyiqra/Leviticus 23:33-44
Shalom everybody, It is Sukkot – the Feast of Rejoicing! Tonight marks the beginning of Sukkot or also commonly known as The Feast of Tabernacles or rather the Feast of Booths. So, as we begin this joyous Feast of יהוה I want to share briefly with you a short message (if that is possible) called “IT’S SUKKOT – REJOICE, REJOICE AND AGAIN I SAY REJOICE!”
Turn with me to Wayyiqra/Leviticus 23:33-44 (read).
Well, here we are – on the 15th of the 7th month and we are together as commanded in having a set-apart gathering, doing no servile work - this day as well as the 8th day is a ‘Shabbaton’ – that is a ‘Sabbath-like’ day. The 1st & 8th days are treated like the weekly Sabbath. As you will clearly notice that this Festival is to be celebrated for 7 days and is a law forever! In Zeḵaryah/Zechariah 14 we are told that this Feast will still be celebrated during the Millennial Reign, as those nations that do not come up to Yerushalayim will not receive rain. In Scripture rain is also symbolic for provision, as well as speaking about the two comings of Messiah as the former and latter rains – the latter rains symbolising this time of year when our Provider comes and dwells with us – Forever! Now in also understanding rain as pictured for provision, as we rehearse each year this Feast I too believe that prophetically it also carries for us the promise of His faithful provision in our lives, and so to neglect to keep this Feast would not be very wise as we continue to grow in knowledge and with joy keep His Feasts in expressing our love for Him through our diligent obedience.
Let us be reminded that this is not a ‘Jewish’ feast, but rather it is a feast of יהוה – it is His Feast and we are to keep it – His Feasts, our rehearsals – rehearsals of His Good plans for us – shadow pictures of Good things to come! Celebrating Sukkot is an annual reminder of יהוה’s provision, protection, presence and promise during the 40 years in the Wilderness from Mitsrayim/Egypt to the Promised Land – the land of milk and honey! For it was during these years that Yisra’ĕl lived in tents; and during this journey יהוה gave them water from the rock, manna from heaven in the morning and quail in the evening (all symbolic pictures themselves of the coming Messiah). During that time יהוה was before them on their journey in a pillar of fire by night and pillar of cloud by day.
Sukkot is a festival of REJOICING! And the reason for this is:
1 – It commemorates יהוה’s goodness and provision during the wilderness wanderings of Yisra’ĕl and reminds us that we too are sojourners here as we await the Promise of dwelling in His Presence fully when He comes again.
2 – It commemorates יהוה’s present goodness and provision with the completion of the harvest and reminds us of His daily provision and that we are truly not to worry, but place our full trust in Him
3 – It looks forward to the future and the fullness of the harvest that is to come – He is coming again – יהושע has offered up a first fruit offering of the harvest that is to come, and so as this is also called the feast of ingathering as it was the culmination of the years harvesting of fruits that we have the assurance that we too will be gathered together to dwell with Him forever!
Sukkot, as we see in Scripture, was celebrated at the dedication of the Temple under King Shelomoh/Solomon, as well as at the time of the rededication of the Temple when Neḥemyah/Nehemiah brought Yisra’ĕl back and the fulfilment of this festival will take place when the New Yerushalayim comes down from Heaven and יהוה dwells permanently with His people! And as the voice declares from Heaven as recoded in Revelation 21:3 “See, the Booth of Elohim is with men, and He shall dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and Elohim Himself shall be with them and be their Elohim.”
This is certainly something to rejoice about!
The command to dwell in ‘booths’ or ‘tents’ is that we are reminded how יהוה made Yisra’ĕl dwell in booths when He brought them out of Mitsrayim. The frail sukkah, or temporary booth reminds us of the frailty of life, and so surviving the winds and elements reminds us of His great love and His favour for us as we become living testimonies of the work of יהושע in our lives as we too are living in a body that is temporary, the flesh which will one day be changed in the twinkling of an eye, and how now as we go through the storms and winds of life, we are guarded by His great love!
The Sukkah is a testimony of our confidence, hope and faith in יהוה Yireh (our Provider) – who is the source of our strength and salvation, and reminds us once gain how we are to depend on יהוה for provision of food, water and shelter, just as He provided Yisra’ĕl in the Wilderness journeys! For יהושע is the Bread of Life, He is the One who satisfies the thirsty through giving of Living Waters and he is our refuge and shelter, aměn!
Sukkah’s/Booths were typically made very rough signifying man’s weakness and they would be made out of branches that Yisra’ĕl had gathered on their journey that would symbolise the various aspects of their journey from Mitsrayim to the land flowing with milk and honey. 1 - Palm branches symbolised the oasis in the wilderness – those places of refreshing and rest from the sun amidst the hot dessert – showing provision in the hottest climate. 2 - The myrtle branches that were in the mountains which reminded them of the rough terrain and mountainous routes that were taken and how יהוה was with them through the rough and hilly times. 3 - Willow branches that typically found at the places of streams or ‘wadi’s’ in the desert – places that they could find refreshing and restoration. ‘En Gedi’ were Dawiḏ found refreshing is a ‘wadi’ in the dessert – a place where there is a waterfall, lush trees and pools of running water where one could find fresh living water and be strengthened for the road ahead and 4 - fruit of good trees from the fertile hillsides – reminding them of יהוה’s provision and the Land they were Promised would be fruitful, as well as the abundant fruit they were to produce in righteous living being offered up before Him with praise. All of these reminded them of the various terrains that had been travelled in the wilderness.
Sukkot is the culmination of all the appointed times and it is to the other feasts what the Shabbat is to the other 6 days of the week, and so it is a fitting foreshadow of the great celebration when we will live in peace under the reign and rule of the Righteous King, יהושע Messiah. Just as Shabbat foreshadows the Millennium, so Sukkot also looks forward to that great age to come, and like all His Feasts, Sukkot foreshadows Messiah.
Turn with me to Deḇarim/Deuteronomy 16:13-15 (read)
Once again the commands regarding the keeping of this feast – and one thing that you will notice here in both passages we have read – there is a command to rejoice!!!
We are to celebrate! Now people typically celebrate that which they are happy about – well, we celebrate the joy of יהוה and we celebrate the coming of our Redeemer and King – יהושע Messiah! Let me ask you – “Is it a joy for you to celebrate Him?” Again let me ask you, “When you come to celebrate His Feasts – who are you appearing before when you celebrate His feasts - are you just making sure that you are seen by others, so as to appease your conscience that you were there and can tick of a to do list, or are you truly coming to worship the maker of Heaven and Earth?”
What are you bringing to the Creator and King? When it speaks here of an offering made by fire – it speaks here of a worship with passion – wholehearted worship is an offering made by fire to יהוה. It is an all or nothing deal – once again I ask – “Is it a jot for you to worship and celebrate יהוה our Maker?”
We get to rehearse each year the Great Wedding Feast where we His Bride rehearse that Great Day! Often you may see some of the rich today having wedding rehearsal meals where they have an entire function with invited guests as a rehearsal!
Now we as a royal priesthood get to do this at this Feast of יהוה – how awesome is that! יהוה does not want miserable people at His Wedding Feast – especially the Bride!
The essence of Sukkot is joy – being joyful in His provision – joyful in our deliverance.
I am tired of people who have no joy in coming to worship our King and sit under His Word. I am tired of people with the wrong attitude in their approach to worship – יהוה’s Feasts are His Feasts that He has given us and commanded us to partake in. I am tired of people who say things like, “Oh, I will see if I can make it!” Who are you trying to impress? It is about worship unto יהוה, coming before Him with great joy and expectancy – for His joy is our strength and so as we are here to celebrate this Feast, may our joy be complete as we come and rejoice before our Maker!
Rejoice is a command and we know that His commands are good! The Torah is perfect, Sha’ul/Paul tells us – His Torah is good – it is for our good as it keeps us within His provision, protection, presence and promises. If we love Him we will obey His commands! It is as simple as that!
This is a season to celebrate the very Word that was made flesh and ‘tabernacled’ with us. It was at this time when יהושע Messiah was born in a Sukkah – which certainly makes this a time to rejoice. He brought us deliverance which will be fully revealed to us in the culmination of these 7th month Feasts, causing us to enter in to the Wedding of all Weddings!
This is a Feast where we are mandated to rejoice – regardless of what your situation or current circumstances are like.
Just imagine this for a moment – your circumstances suck - you have no home, you are an orphan or a widow, it feels like you have no future, you have financial woes, health issues, relational issues and you are instructed to be joyful!!! You see this is a reminder to us that joy is not determined by circumstances – it is something that is yours because of יהושע Messiah, aměn! They were told go and be joyful – listen up - the joy of יהוה is our strength, not good circumstances!
In those days as well as today we find many people without joy, and do you know what? They are looking for joy, whether they realise it or not, but sadly they are looking in the wrong places – bars, brothels, casinos, shopping malls, exotic holiday destinations; or they are losing themselves in their work – thinking the harder they work and the more they achieve success the more joy they will have. Many today run from relationship to relationship or in a new hobby or false religion seeking fulfilment and joy – and of course these are all the wrong places. We all need to fully come to the realisation that joy can only be found in Messiah!
At the time of יהושע, booths were still being constructed as commanded, however there were some additional ceremonies that were added and carried great prophetic significance. The first of these was the Water Pouring Ceremony. This ceremony involved the priests, accompanied by a procession of singing people that would go down to the pool of ‘Shelaḥ’ (H7975), a word that means ‘sent’ and this was one of the principle sources of water supply to Yerushalayim that originated from the ‘Giḥon’ spring which emptied into this pool.
יהוה was the provider of water and rain and so this abundant source of water was sent by יהוה for His city. The priest would fill a gold pitcher with water and march back to the Temple where it would be poured upon the altar and was symbolic of יהוה’s salvation as described in:
Yeshayahu/Isaiah 12:3 “And you shall draw water with joy from the fountains of deliverance.” which was prophetically speaking of the Messiah.
Prayers were offered up with the pouring of the water to thank יהוה for His provision in watering the land as well as asking יהוה for rain for the next season’s crops – so Sukkot was a time to also ask for rain and from Scriptures we know that rain was יהוה’s provision for obedience to His decrees, and in effect they would declare their obedience to Him and ask Him to once again bless them with rain. This ceremony also carried with it a deeper spiritual meaning – it signified the hope of the Messiah for the Yisra’ĕl throughout the ages and was also a symbolic picture of the outpouring of the Rûach haqôdesh (Set-Apart Spirit)
And right here at the Feast of Sukkot, perhaps after this water pouring ceremony listen to what Yoḥanan writes:
Yoḥanan/John 7:37-39 “And on the last day, the great day of the festival, יהושע stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me, and let him who believes in Me drink. 38 “As the Scripture said, out of His innermost shall flow rivers of living water.” 39 And this He said concerning the Spirit, which those believing in Him were about to receive, for the Set-apart Spirit was not yet given, because יהושע was not yet esteemed.”
Here יהושע was fulfilling this ceremony at the Feast by declaring that He is the One who gives the water of life!
Now see the fulfilment of this being prophesied as seen by Yoḥanan again in:
Ḥazon/Revelation 21:6 “And He said to me, “It is done! I am the ‘Aleph’ and the ‘Taw’, the Beginning and the End. To the one who thirsts I shall give of the fountain of the water of life without payment.”
Here we see יהושע at the fulfilment of this Feast in a revelation that was given to Yoḥanan that He will give a drink to whoever is thirsty without cost and in Revelation 22 you can read about the River of the water of life that flows from the very throne of Elohim. The pool of ‘Shelaḥ’ – יהוה’s sent water is a prophetic picture of His provision in Messiah to be fulfilled at Messiah’s return where both the Spirit and the Bride will once again say, “Come, whoever is thirsty let him come!”
This Feast is a joyous celebration of What He is doing, has done and will still do in restoring the Tent of Dawiḏ, symbolising a tabernacle of praise and worship – where there is pure rejoicing! I am so excited for His feasts, and my hope is that you too will share this excitement that we may truly experience His great love and joy filling us to overflowing, amen!
And as we are commanded to REJOICE, I would like to briefly share with you some of the Hebrew and Greek words used that speak of our ability to rejoice and be able to fully embrace the need for an obedient rejoicing at this Feast.
First of all in Wayyiqra/Leviticus 23:40 we see the word for rejoice in the Hebrew here is שָׂמַח ‘samach’ H8055 and means, ‘to rejoice, be glad, be joyful, delight in and be elated’. A derivative of this word is שָׂמֵחַ ‘sameach’ H8056 and carries the same meaning as well as implying ‘to be merry’. Both of these words are used in the command to rejoice in Deḇarim/Deuteronomy 16:14 & 15.
The word ‘samach’ can also carry the meaning ‘to brighten up’, giving us the picture how we are to carry His joy as the light of the world and let praise and rejoicing abound!
Other words that we find in Hebrew which we translate as ‘rejoice’ are:
1 - עָלַץ ‘alats’ H5970 meaning ‘rejoice, exult, be in a state of joy which includes verbal expressions of joy and praise’ and in essence can carry the meaning ‘to shout or jump for joy’, used in:
Tehillim/Psalm 9:2 “I rejoice and exult in You; I sing praise to Your Name, O Most High.”
Both ‘samach’ and ‘alats’ are used here
2 - גִּיל ‘gil’ H1523 meaning ‘rejoice, be glad, tremble with exceeding fear’ and also can give us the picture to ‘spin around under the influence of an emotion’ and is used in;
Tehillim/Psalm 9:14 “So that I declare all Your praise In the gates of the daughter of Tsiyon. I rejoice in Your deliverance.”
3 - שׂוּשׂ ‘sus’ H7797 meaning ‘to be bright, cheerful, exult, rejoice, display joy’ used in:
Tehillim/Psalm 40:16 “Let all those who seek You Rejoice and be glad in You; Let those who love Your deliverance always say, “יהוה be exalted!”
Both ‘sus’ and ‘samach’ is used here.
Tehillim/Psalm 68:3 “But the righteous are glad, They exult before Elohim. And they rejoice with gladness.”
In this verse you have ‘samach’, ‘alats’ and ‘sus’.
4 - רָנַן ‘ranan’ H7442 meaning ‘to overcome, cry out, shout for joy, give a ringing cry, sing aloud’, often also translated as praise, and is translated as ‘rejoice’ in:
Tehillim/Psalm 98:4 “Raise a shout to יהוה, all the earth; Break forth in song, rejoice, and sing praises.”
Yeshayahu/Isaiah 61:10 “I greatly rejoice in יהוה, my being exults in my Elohim. For He has put garments of deliverance on me, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.”
This wonderful declaration will be fulfilled at this Feast, and this verse uses both ‘sus’ and ‘gil’. What a wonderful day this will be when we are together as a body dressed in the completed garments of deliverance!!!
Why all the words? Well I believe it is necessary to understand true rejoicing and all it entails and I love this next verse in:
Tehillim/Psalm 5:11 “But let all who take refuge in You rejoice; Let them ever shout for joy, because You shelter them; And let those who love Your Name exult in You.”
In this verse we see the word ‘samach’ as well as the Hebrew word סָכַךְ ‘sakak’ H5526 which is translated for us as ‘shelter’ and in other translations as ‘defend’ as this word carries the meaning ‘to overshadow, screen, cover, hedge or fence about or to entwine as a screen’ which speaks of not only as יהוה being our defender and protector but also picture for us His Booth or dwelling with us that brings that protection.
This is wow in terms of this Feast as the word for Booth is the Hebrew word סֻכָּה ‘sukkah’ H5521 which comes from the word סָכַךְ ‘sakak’ which we have just looked at and so this Feast of Sukkoth (Booths) is a wonderful picture of יהוה hedging us in and dwelling with us and so not only do we build booths to realise and recognise the ‘wilderness journey’ of our forefathers as well as our sojourning here in tents and that we place our full trust in Him who now dwells by His Spirit inside of us as a deposit giving us the full hope of our expectation of dwelling with Him forever in person at the fulfilment of this Feast where He makes His Booth here with us and hedges us in for which we can rejoice exceedingly in, aměn!
Now in the Greek, we too see the expression of this rejoicing, giving us a much needed understanding in our ability to rejoice – rejoice and rejoice as we are commanded to.
Kěpha/Peter in describing how we are to allow this sure expectation we have in Messiah’ return and our dwelling with Him to result in praise says:
Kěpha/Peter 1:3-8 “Blessed be the Elohim and Father of our Master יהושע Messiah, who according to His great compassion has caused us to be born again to a living expectation through the resurrection of יהושע Messiah from the dead, 4 to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and unfading, having been kept in the heavens for you, 5 who are protected by the power of Elohim through belief, for a deliverance ready to be revealed in the last time, 6 in which you exult, even though for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by manifold trials, 7 in order that the proving of your belief – much more precious than gold that perishes, and proven by fire – might be found to result in praise and respect and esteem at the revelation of יהושע Messiah, 8 whom having not seen, you love; in whom you exult with unspeakable and esteemed joy, yet not seeing, but believing, 9 obtaining the goal of your belief: a deliverance of lives.”
The Greek word translated in verse 6 & 8 here as ‘exult’ and often translated in other translations as ‘rejoice’ is ἀγαλλιάω ‘agalliaō’ G21 and means ‘to exult, leap for joy, to show one’s joy by leaping and skipping denoting excessive or ecstatic joy and delight, and it is often spoken of as rejoicing with song and dance’ and comes from the word that means to leap or jump as well as to gush forth like water!
Let me ask you – “How often have you expressed true rejoicing by jumping and skipping with great joy and delight in song and dance?” If not often or perhaps never – then now is the time to start expressing true rejoicing!!!
Just think for a moment how ecstatic Dawiḏ was when he brought the Ark of the Covenant back – he was dancing and skipping and enjoying a great time of rejoicing. He even took off his outer garment so as to have no hindrance in expressing true and pure rejoicing of having the Ark, which represented the very presence of יהוה, back in their midst! This I believe is a wonderful picture for us in throwing off those things which so easily entangle us and quickly restricts our joy-filled worship!
True rejoicing is not a hidden matter – it should be something that is evident to all. I encourage you, especially this week – to not get bogged down with trivial matters or things that often so easily tick you off and steal your joy – throw them off. Even when colleagues or clients or even a member doesn’t like the joy you show and the ability to express pure rejoicing – do not stop. Dawiḏ didn’t let his wife cause him to stop his rejoicing because she was all bitter inside!!! This week is especially the time to hold on to joy and rejoice – it is a command!
Another word in the Greek in giving reference to the rejoicing at harvest time is χαίρω ‘chairō’ G5463 meaning ‘to be full of cheer, be delighted and be glad’ and is used in:
Yoḥanan/John 4:36 “He who is reaping receives a reward, and gathers fruit for everlasting life, so that both he who is sowing and he who is reaping rejoice together.”
This Feast is known as the Feast of Ingathering as it is a picture of the harvest being brought in with great joy after the threshing and winepress phases are completed and the true fruit is offered as accepting. First Fruits was already offered guaranteeing us the harvest to come where we will rejoice with our Maker and Husband, aměn!
Will you obey the command to rejoice? This will mean putting aside your worries and fears; as it is time to throw off all the excuses and simply worship יהוה as He has commanded us too, and embrace delighting in יהוה. Come and give Him your all – do not come empty handed, come rejoicing and let us make this Feast truly a Feast of note – we don’t need pagan festivals of giving, we have יהוה’s – it is now time to rejoice – it is a command – will you obey? It’s Sukkot – Rejoice, Rejoice and again I say Rejoice!
Let us together enjoy this Feast! Can I please have volunteers to read Tehillim/Psalm 113, 114 and 115!
Let us Rejoice – aměn!
יהוה bless you and guard you;
יהוה make His face shine upon you and show favour to you;
יהוה lift up His face upon you, and give you peace!