Once again, it’s time to hear from our sister in Jerusalem about what she is witnessing there as a believer in Yeshua. Put your prayer shawls on and pray for Israel and Sister J. Now here she is —
BELOVED Sisters and Brothers,
Fellow travelers who KNOW that He is the same, yesterday, today and forever, I greet you and ask for His grace and mercy to write what will edify and bless you and will also glorify HIM.
ALMOST missed writing to you before Sukkot begins tomorrow night!
Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles:
Leviticus 23:33 “Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 34 “Speak to the children of Israel, saying: ‘The fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the Feast of Tabernacles for seven days to the Lord. 35 On the first day there shall be a holy convocation. You shall do no customary work on it. 36 For seven days you shall offer an offering made by fire to the Lord. On the eighth day you shall have a holy convocation, and you shall offer an offering made by fire to the Lord. It is a sacred assembly, and you shall do no customary work on it.
37 ‘These are the feasts of the Lord which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, to offer an offering made by fire to the Lord, a burnt offering and a grain offering, a sacrifice and drink offerings, everything on its day— 38 besides the Sabbaths of the Lord, besides your gifts, besides all your vows, and besides all your freewill offerings which you give to the Lord.
39 ‘Also on the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you have gathered in the fruit of the land, you shall keep the feast of the Lord for seven days; on the first day there shall be a sabbath-rest, and on the eighth day a sabbath-rest. 40 And you shall take for yourselves on the first day the fruit of beautiful trees, branches of palm trees, the boughs of leafy trees, and willows of the brook; and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God for seven days. 41 You shall keep it as a feast to the Lord for seven days in the year. It shall be a statute forever in your generations. You shall celebrate it in the seventh month. 42 You shall dwell in booths for seven days. All who are native Israelites shall dwell in booths, 43 that your generations may know that I made the children of Israel dwell in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.’”
44 So Moses declared to the children of Israel the feasts of the Lord.
(For a few of the MANY other references in scripture see: Deut 31:10,Zech14:16, John 7:37, 2 Chron 5:3 and 2 Chron 7:8-end (amazing celebration)
Ok, yes! It makes me laugh! The world is upside down, spiraling into a chaotic quicksand bog and we STOP (FULL stop, for this is one of the THREE commanded feasts when The Lord, The Lord of Hosts, The Creator, God Almighty, commanded the children of Israel to come together IN JERUSALEM and to present themselves TO HIM with an offering of Thanksgiving. It doesn’t matter whether UNESCO says we existed here as a people or not because GOD has said we did and do.
We are to REJOICE before Him for 7 days while living and eating in a frail hut made of leafy branches, decorated with fruits and flowers, with a roof of palms through which we can see the sky, so that we can REMEMBER JUST HOW SMALL AND FRAIL WE ARE AND HOW HUGE AND BIG AND COMPLETE IS OUR TRUE PROVIDER AND LOVING FATHER. Now THAT is something only God Himself could design.
Of course, we as the stiff necked people that we are, are totally able to pervert that beautiful command into customs galore, however I love this holiday and enjoy sharing with you how it is observed here in Jerusalem, Israel.
The Sukkas (or booths) begin cropping up immediately after Yom Kippur.
During the week of Sukkot rain is prayed for and so often arrives to the joy of everyone, even when we are suddenly drenched inside of our sukkas. Israel, being a Middle Eastern desert country, is sunny and hot all summer and hopefully rainy and cold all winter. Now that we have desalination it may not seem as urgent, but nothing is a substitute for God’s gift of rain, waters from above, and it remains a sign of His blessing.
This is a celebration of His gifts, the foods that He provides for us, the fruits of the land, but ALSO a time to remember HIS great deliverance of Israel from the bondage of Egypt and the fulfillment of all of His promises.
Although I celebrated the holidays when I was a child, the celebrations were in a way empty of the experience that is felt HERE IN THE LAND OF ISRAEL. The earthly fulfillment of His covenant promise to the Jewish people: this land. It remains a mystery, and yet a revealed one, only made more beautiful as the scriptures come more and more alive with each successive reading.
WHY would The Lord promise this land to this people? I don’t know, but He surely has done just that and His faithfulness to keep that promise becomes more humbling the more I understand what He has promised, has done, and is doing.
I was touched tonight when my son in law told me that he had built a sukka at his uncle’s apartment down the road – for me. His uncle’s apartment has a garden while our apartment does not have an appropriate place for a sukka. He asked if we could eat there and I was overjoyed. Once again, it will be a festive meal. The shuk will be a mad house tomorrow as everyone buys sprays of dates and pomegranates with stems and leaves, grapes and green clementines, apples and persimmons, dried fruits and nuts.
And then there are the 4 species: a palm, a willow, myrtle, and etrog. They are shaken or waved together in the 4 directions – north, south, east and west – while a blessing is spoken. An etrog is a citron, which looks somewhat like a lemon.
Of course, at the shuk, there IS a lively four species market, a BIG tent is set up, with tables galore selling the 4 items. The tent is jammed with people inspecting the branches and fruit with magnifying glasses to make sure that they are perfect. The more perfect the offering, the higher the price. Many people travel to the Western Wall inside the Old City daily during the feast to present their offering of the four species blessing.
One day during the feast, at the wall, there will also be the blessing of the Cohenim (the priestly blessing). The blessing of Aaron will be prayed over the nation by everyone who can trace themselves back to the priestly tribe of the Cohenim. AND, one more major event is the Jerusalem march or the grand parade of blessing through the streets of Jerusalem. Over the years, the Christians from various nations who have gathered to take part in the Christian Feast of Tabernacles’ activities take part in this march. They have become the main attraction with their God given joy and desire to bless the people. They walk in their native dress according to the country that they represent and throw candy and flags to the delight of the citizens lining the streets. Israeli groups are also well represented, from the banks to the armed services, and from the phone company to the street cleaners. It is a parade of blessing and joy and looked forward to by nearly everyone.
And yes, I have written this letter while being talked to so it feels very much like another poor offering. Our children as yet have not found a place of their own, but I KNOW that HE Who provides, WILL provide and I am filled with joy to see HIS GRACE as we are stretched for His purposes.
I hope that you are all familiar with the insane UNESCO ruling at the UN this week. If not, please look it up. The days are surely running through scripture and we are witnessing His Word coming to life. Hag Sameach or Joyful Holiday, may you be BLESSED with His Presence!
your sister J