The Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot) begins at sundown tonight. The information below about the holiday, which came via e-mail from two faithful prayer warriors living in Jerusalem, blessed me today and gave me a way to pray. Perhaps it will spark some prayer in you as well:
In ancient times, sukkot were used as sheds for cattle (Genesis 33:17), as guard shacks for watchmen over vineyards (Isaiah 1:8), as thrown-up overnight shelters for warriors in the field (II Samuel 11:11). Sukkah is Hebrew for the “shelter” Jonah built for himself outside Nineveh (Jonah 4:5) from which to observe what God might do to that city. In Psalm 27:5 David trusts that God will hide him in His sukkah in the “evil day”. As part of this fall “ingathering” festival (Exodus 23:16), Israel, after she had entered the land and was living in built houses, was called to rejoice (see Scripture passage above) and feast before the Lord for seven days, resting on the first and eighth day-but for that occasion she was also called to build and spend time in sukkot-decorating them with leafy, fruitful boughs of foliage, recalling that when out in the desert moving from place to place in temporary dwellings, God had nevertheless provided her with life.
Today, we still build these tiny shelters during this festival. As we rejoice in thanksgiving before the Lord for His provision and sustenance, we remind ourselves that we are nevertheless still abiding in temporary dwellings-that, as goes the old spiritual, “this world is not my home, I’m just a-passin’ thru”-that “if our earthly house, this tent-this sukkah-is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavenlies!” (II Corinthians 5:1). Yet while we are here, this same LORD who accompanied Israel through the desert will be with us all the way.
Pray that each of those celebrating will discover that in order truly to “rejoice before the LORD for seven days”, they must come first into relationship with the One who came that their “joy might be full”.