When Erin Davis told me she was meeting with a Rabbi, I was intrigued. Why this meeting? Then she shared that she was writing a Bible study on the Seven Feasts of Israel—and her enthusiasm over what she was learning was contagious! So, I’ve asked her to give us a brief intro to a feast that we don’t hear as much about. (To learn more, watch for her book. It will be available next summer from Moody Publishers.) —Hayley Mullins, True Woman Blog Content Manager
If I’d skipped the book of Leviticus, I would have missed it. Today would have whizzed by with the same amount of attention I gave to National Cream Puff Day (January 2) or National Miniature Golf Day (observed the second Saturday in May). But thanks to the wise friends, mentors, and pastors who have encouraged me to read the whole Bible, I didn’t skip Leviticus. I’ve learned not to avoid the other difficult-to-read-parts of God’s Word, and because of that, I know . . .
Today is Sukkot, the Jewish holiday outlined in Scripture as the Feast of Tabernacles or Booths. The Feast of Booths is not another insignificant moment on our already fully calendars. It is worthy of a pause.
Seeing God’s Word Through a Gospel Lens
The Seven Feasts of Israel are found in Leviticus 23. Though tucked inside one of the oldest books of the Bible, the feasts are much more than antiquated rules and rituals. They were planned as constant object lessons on the character and faithfulness of God. Established more than 2,500 years before the birth of Christ, the gospel is showcased in every single feast, if we know to look for it.
The Feast of Booths is the seventh and final feast. In addition to commands to sabbath (rest from work) and present food offerings, God’s people were given these unique instructions.
“You shall dwell in booths for seven days. All native Israelites shall dwell in booths, that your generations may know that I made the people of Israel dwell in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.” (Lev. 23:42–43)
Imagine if everyone in America camped out for one week of the year. If your back hurts just thinking about it, you’ve got the context you need for a primer on the Feast of Booths. The feast was a reminder of God’s deliverance in Egypt and attentive care while the nation of Israel wandered in the desert.
If I’d plucked The Feast of Booths out of context or failed to think of it through a gospel lens, it wouldn’t make much sense to me. But studying the whole Bible helps me see that God didn’t send His people to sleep in tents to give them a taste of the great outdoors. He sent them to give them a taste of Himself, to remind them of the shelter and covering He always provides. God said it Himself when He declared, “I am the LORD your God.” The purpose of the feasts was to showcase who God is.
Romans 15:4 tells us, “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”
The old stories tucked in the pages of our Bible aren’t there for nostalgia. They’re there to remind us who God is and what He has done. We’re just as prone to forget as the Israelites and therefore just as much in need of constant reminders of God’s faithful care. We need God’s Word daily to remind us who God is.
Learning to Look for the Bigger Story
The Feast of Booths tells an important story. One worth telling and re-telling. But this feast is like all of Scripture in that it was always designed to tell a bigger story, the story of God’s character.
Listen to the psalmist’s words,
For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble; he will conceal me under the cover of his tent; he will lift me high upon a rock. (Ps. 27:5)
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the LORD, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler. (Ps. 91:1–4)
God Himself is our shelter. In every desert, He protects and preserves us. He tucks us safely in the covering of His wings (Ps. 17:8).
You don’t have to pitch a tent to do it, but today you can pause and remember who God is. The Lord Almighty is your covering. He always has and always will protect and care for you.
Why not honor this sacred day, set apart on God’s redemptive calendar by taking a moment to pray,
I will say to the LORD, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” (Ps. 91:2)
And then open your Bible again and consider turning somewhere new. Train your heart and mind to look for the character of God in every passage. He is showcased on every page if we look. Today, let’s not miss Him.