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Feast of Booths


John 7:1-9

Starting here in John 7 the hostility of the Jews toward Jesus steadily grows. In fact, in vs. 1 John tells us that the Jews were seeking to kill Him and this hostility will eventually lead to Jesus being crucified.

But this may seem a little strange but what I would like to do this morning is focus on vs. 2 and the Feast of Booths or the Feast of Tabernacles or the Feast of the Ingathering.

The Feast of Booths or Feast of Tabernacles is a pilgrimage feast meaning it was required of Jewish males living within a certain distance to travel to Jerusalem to celebrate the feast.

Did you pick up on that: Jesus has brothers!

The Feast of Booths is a fall festival intended to honor God and for celebrating the final harvest of the year; it was celebrated in the 7th month starting on the 15th day of the Jewish calendar or for us it would be about mid -September.

Not only was it a celebration of the final harvest of the year but it also commemorated the 40 years that the Jews wandered in the wilderness after the Exodus.

Lev 23:39-44 ‘’On exactly the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you have gathered in the crops of the land, you shall celebrate the feast of the LORD for seven days, with a rest on the first day and a rest on the eighth day.

40’Now on the first day you shall take for yourselves the foliage of beautiful trees, palm branches and boughs of leafy trees and willows of the brook; and you shall rejoice before the LORD your God for seven days.

Now, vs. 41: ‘You shall thus celebrate it as a feast to the LORD for seven days in the year. It shall be a perpetual statute throughout your generations; you shall celebrate it in the seventh month. 42’You shall live in booths (tabernacles, tents, temporary shelters)  for seven days; all the native-born in Israel shall live in booths, 43 so that your generations may know that I had the sons of Israel live in booths when I brought them out from the land of Egypt. I am the LORD your God.’ ” 

So, the Feast of Booths was to celebrate God’s blessing them with a good harvest, but it was also a reminder that God had the people live in “booths when God brought them out of Egypt.”

Now, why did God have them “live in booths when He brought them out from the land of Egypt?”

When God brought His people out of Egypt it should not have taken anywhere close to 40 years for them to get to the “promised land.”

These people had been living in Egypt for over 400 years and they had been influenced by the Egyptian culture; perhaps picked up on some Egyptian ideas and practices.

So God, through Moses had a lot to convey to the people.

So, for over a year God, through Moses, taught and prepared these people and finally, on the 20th day of the 2nd month (Num. 10:11) and the 2nd year after they left Egypt they broke camp and set out for Canaan.

And after a period of about 50 days they reached the wilderness of Paran and God instructed Moses to send spies into the land of Canaan to see what it was like.

And that is how the Feast of Booths came to be. The people were to live in booths, small tabernacles, small rudimentary shelters perhaps made of tree branches (Lev. 23), as they wandered in the wilderness.

Now why would God require them to remember those 38 years? Why would He require them to remember all those days and weeks and years of wandering in the wilderness?

First of all, I think God wants them to remember the fact that we bring so much unnecessary hardships, problems, and turmoil into our lives through our simple unwillingness to trust and obey the LORD.

How much grief, and pain, and turmoil do people, perhaps even some of us, bring into our lives because we refuse to trust in and obey the Lord?

And the grief and pain and turmoil often lasts and lasts for years and years.

And for those who were younger than 20 years old, and even the few that were faithful to the Lord (Joshua and Caleb and their families) for 40 they still suffered the consequences of those who refused to trust God before God finally led them into the Promised Land; Numbers 14:26-35.

And the tragedy is they were so close to the Promised land!

And that is what God wanted these people to remember when they celebrated the Feast of Booths.

And there is another reason why God wanted them to commemorate the Feast of Booths and that was even in their unbelief, God remained faithful.

Look at what the apostle Paul says in 2 Timothy 2:13: If we are faithless, He remains faithful; for He cannot deny Himself.

God doesn’t just act faithful; He is faithful; even when we aren’t.

God will keep His promise! His word is trustworthy! If He says that your unforgiven sins will condemn you to die eternally…you know the will.

But like these people, if we refuse to trust in God then we too will eventually die in the wilderness.

The tragedy is, we don’t have to.

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