Those community gatherings that invite such fun traditions such as bobbing for apples, bumpy hay rides and children tilting their heads trying to bite into pink clouds of cotton candy.
As we casually stroll along, the cool crisp air surrounds us with the delightful aroma of deep fried funnel cakes, lightly dusted with powdered sugar. And who can forget the sounds and smell of those searing sautéed onions and green pepper steak “gyro’s” tempting the best of us.
Why even the toughest disciplinarians with their steeled will-power have a hard time passing by that particular food booth without relenting, and throwing down the bucks as they wait in line with mouth watering anticipation.
Traditionally, most festivals have rows and rows of food and craft booths with many different kinds of games and activities going on. But there are some other kinds of booths that I’d like to talk about. These are the booths that are described in the Jewish celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles.
The Feast of tabernacles is one of the oldest and most joyous of Jewish holidays. It is also referred to as the Feast of Ingathering and today is called by its Hebrew name, Sukkoth.
The word Sukkoth means “booths,” and is reminiscent of the type of huts in which the ancient Israelites dwelt during their 40 years of wandering in the desert after the Exodus from Egypt, and reflects God's benevolence in providing for all their needs in the desert.
It is expounded upon in Leviticus 23:43
That your generations may know that I made the children of Israel to dwell in booths, when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.
Matthew Henry’s commentary explains the purpose of the memorial,
”The meanness of their beginning, and the low and desolate state out of which God advanced that people. Those that are comfortably fixed ought often to call to mind their former unsettled state, when they were but little in their own eyes. The mercy of God to them, that, when they dwelt in tabernacles, God not only set up a tabernacle for Himself among them, but, with the utmost care and tenderness imaginable, hung a canopy over them, even the cloud that sheltered them from the heat of the sun. God’s former mercies to us and our fathers ought to be kept in everlasting remembrance. The eighth day was the great day of this holiday, because then they returned to their own houses again, and remembered how, after they had long dwelt in tents in the wilderness, at length they came to a happy settlement in the land of promise, where they dwelt in goodly houses. And they would the more sensibly value and be thankful for the comforts and conveniences of their houses when they had been seven days dwelling in booths. It is good for those that have ease and plenty sometimes to learn what it is to endure hardness.
As I read this commentary, I could not help but think about how God has faithfully “hung a canopy” over me, just recently in my own personal life. I had the unfortunate experience of going through some very trying circumstances, where I virtually had to leave my home with just the clothes on my back.
Looking back, I could see how the Lord had covered me in my very humbling and lowly state. He lead me every step of the way, as I had to make 3 temporary moves (booths if you will) until at last He made a way for me to walk right into my own promised land.
That of a beautiful, affordable, apartment looking over the most scenic waterfront you could imagine. Now, you need to understand something about me. One of my deepest hearts desires before I exited this planet earth was to live somewhere (anywhere) as long as it was on or nearby the water.
Well, God heard my prayers and counted my faith as righteousness…and despite many years of being oppressed with the burdens of Egypt, God has brought me into my own personal promised land. Now I know that to many people, this would not be that big a deal. But for me, it’s tremendous! Not so much for what I now enjoy as far as my physical dwelling place, but more importantly, that I’ve seen and experience the awesome faithfulness of my God. I can now celebrate my own personal “Feast of Tabernacles” as I remember where I came from…and where I am now!
All Glory to the Most High God!
And ye shall keep it a feast unto the LORD seven days in the year. It shall be a statute for ever in your generations: ye shall celebrate it in the seventh month. Ye shall dwell in booths seven days; all that are Israelites born shall dwell in booths: That your generations may know that I made the children of Israel to dwell in booths, when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.(Leviticus 23: 41-43)