SS Lesson for 02/28/2016
Devotional Scripture: Deut 8:1-11
The lesson reviews the Jewish festival of The Feast of Booths. The study's aim is to realize that the appointments of the Lord will help us understand our present standing in the Lord. The study's application is to make rejoicing in the Lord our constant spiritual habit.
(Adapted from the Bible Expositor and Illuminator Commentary)
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.
The final three “appointed feasts of the Lord” all occurred in the seventh month (Tishri, October-November), marked the end of the agricultural year, and anticipated the two rainy seasons to begin the new year. This same month became the beginning of the new year in the civil calendar adopted in postexilic times.
Silver trumpets were blown on the first day of every month (Num. 10:1, 10) but trumpet blasts on the first day of the seventh month were probably a special reminder of the approaching Day of Atonement (cf. Lev. 23:26-32). The Feast of Trumpets was a day of rest, a sacred assembly on which no occupational work was to be done and on which special offerings were to be presented to the Lord (cf. Num. 29:1-6).
The Day of Atonement was on the 10th day of the seventh month. The major features and sacrificial details of this great day have already been given (cf. 16:1-28; Num. 29:7-11). The emphasis in Leviticus 23 is on how an ordinary Israelite was to observe the day. Verses 26-28 summarize the overall features of the day: Hold a sacred assembly and deny yourselves, and present an offering made to the Lord by fire. And do no work. Not only the special offerings of the atonement ritual (16:3-28) but also designated festival offerings (Num. 29:8-11) were to be offered at the sanctuary. The prohibition to do no work was absolute (cf. Lev. 23:30-31). In contrast with the prohibition against occupational work (e.g., v. 7), this prohibition appears to forbid even minor household chores such as lighting a fire or cooking (cf. Ex. 16:23-30; Num. 15:32-36). The meaning of deny himself (cf. v. 32) probably includes fasting and possibly other penitential exercises such as wearing sackcloth and ashes (Isa. 58:3, 5). The penalty for violating the rule to deny oneself and to abstain from all work was severe—to be cut off from his people, which was seen as a direct judgment from God (I will destroy from among his people).
The importance of this day as a lasting ordinance (cf. v. 21) is affirmed and its character as a Sabbath of rest reiterated.
The Feast of Tabernacles was the final and most important feast of the year, lasting for seven days (from the 15th through the 2lst of the seventh month). This feast functioned not only as an agricultural thanksgiving at the end of the fall fruit harvest (v. 39, and so was called the “Feast of Ingathering,” Ex. 34:22; Deut. 16:13-15), but also as a commemorative celebration of God’s protective care during the 40-year period in the wilderness between Egypt and Canaan when Israelites lived in tents (thus the name Feast of Tabernacles, or “booths,” Lev. 23:43). On both the first day and the eighth day (the concluding day of the annual feasts following the seven days of the Feast of Tabernacles), the Israelites were to hold a sacred assembly and were to do no occupational work. The offerings to be brought were the most elaborate and impressive of the entire year (cf. Num. 29:12-38). This parenthetical section indicates that the scheduled festival offerings for the feasts of the Lord (cf. Num. 28-29) were to be in addition to the weekly offerings (those for the Lord’S Sabbaths) and the voluntary offerings of individual worshipers (e.g., freewill offerings). They were also in addition to the special monthly new moon offerings (Num. 28:11-15; 29:6; etc.). Following the digression in verses 37-38, the calendar of the Feast of Tabernacles was restated (v. 39) and the particulars of the thanksgiving festivities announced (vv. 40-43). The choice fruit from the trees, and palm fronds, leafy branches and poplars may have been used in constructing the booths in which the people were to live for seven days as a reminder of the tents they lived in when they first came out of Egypt. The importance of this festival is indicated by the statement, This is to be a lasting ordinance. The divine pronouncement, I am the Lord your God, concludes this section on the feasts of the seventh month (cf. v. 23).
The Feast of Booths, or Tabernacles, known as Sukkoth on the Jewish calendar, takes place in late autumn. It falls at the end of the general harvest. This puts it at the end of September or beginning of October, during the Jewish month of Tishri. This sacred festival lasts one week of the Hebrew calendar. During this week, Jewish people are commanded to make and live in small huts (Lev. 23:41-43). The huts commonly consist of four poles with walls of cloth and a roof of leaves and branches. During Christ's time on earth, families would flock into Jerusalem and set up their booths in a street or on a house roof. During His time on earth, Christ observed this feast with the Twelve (John 7). The celebration commemorates the period of wilderness wandering in Israel's history. It reminds God's chosen people that they were once tent dwellers, a people without a homeland. God chose to free them from captivity and bless them with their lands because of His covenant with the patriarchs (Deut. 29). The people recall the wanderings and how God sustained them in temporary dwellings. This feast was one of celebration. During the feast, people worshipped God and offered prayers of thanksgiving for His provision. Sacrifices were also made (Deut. 16:16-17). After the seven days of living in their booths, the people gather together for one last day of worship. This eighth day is a solemn day of assembly. No work is permitted, and the people are called upon to spend the day in praise to God (Lev. 23:36). This festival reminds believers of our transient earthly nature. Though we dwell here on earth, our physical bodies are merely transitory, brief, and fading. Paul reminded us that there are such things as earthly bodies that perish (1 Cor. 15:35-49). Like the booths, these bodies will fade away. However, we are still called upon to treat them with dignity and respect. Our bodies are God's temple on earth, where His Spirit is lodged (2 Cor. 6:16). It is through us that His work is accomplished for His kingdom (1 Cor. 3:9). To disrespect our physical forms is insulting to God. Like the temporary booths, our bodies decay. There is great news for the believer, though. One day, we will be free of our corruptible bodies. On that day when we pass from this earth, we shall receive a body that cannot perish. We will be raised with Him and be as He is (1 Cor. 15:20-23). So, how do you treat your earthly "booth"? Do you respect it as God's earthly temple? Are you careful about how you use it? Is it truly dedicated for His glory? We should be careful to maintain our bodies, knowing that they are set aside for Christ's work in us. We need to remember, though, that they are not permanent. Each has been specially designed for His glory. That means we should rejoice in the booths we have been given and look forward to the ones we will receive.
The farmer is able to track his progress visually as he plants fields. He can see at a glance how many acres are yet to be sown, and he may experience a sense of accomplishment as each section is completed. After God gives the increase, the harvest is next. An abundant harvest may result in a good feeling in knowing that the work for the year has been done properly. Farm families of the past prepared for winter by accumulating and storing foods and fuel (usually wood) for the months ahead. The preparations could include storing hay and grain for livestock; preserving vegetables and fruits by canning, drying, or freezing; and curing hams. As the winds of winter began, the family could have a good, secure feeling of having prepared properly. Today’s lesson is about the third of the three major annual festivals for Israel: the Festival of Tabernacles. This festival has parallels with the situation of the farmer who has come to the end of the harvest season, just before winter begins. That good feeling of a finished harvest was a positive emotion for the ancient Israelites in the fall of the year. It was a time to celebrate with others. But there was more to it than celebration of “harvest home.”
The first day of every month on the Hebrew calendar was to be observed by the blowing of trumpets and offering of special sacrifices (Numbers 10:10; 28:11-15). The seventh month—known as Tishri, which is late September and early October—was different, however. Its first day was designated for blowing of trumpets (Leviticus 23:23-25; Numbers 29:1-6), and regular labor was forbidden on that day. That was the first of several special events in this special month. The Day of Atonement (see lesson 12) occurred on the tenth day—the most sacred day of the year—and again normal labor was prohibited. The Festival of Tabernacles added two or three more days of rest to the list (see discussion on Leviticus 23:35, 36 in today’s lesson). Beginning five days after the Day of Atonement, this festival replaced the Day of Atonement’s solemnity with a joyful atmosphere of thanksgiving. The Festival of Tabernacles, like Passover (lesson 10), had a distinct historical connection. For Tabernacles, that connection was the 40 years that the Israelites lived in tents during the wilderness sojourn. The three major pilgrimage festivals are mentioned together, in highly condensed form, in Exodus 23:14-17 (compare Deuteronomy 16:16). The Festival of Tabernacles is also known as the Festival of Booths (in older versions of the Bible) or the Festival of Ingathering. The latter designation recognizes a harvest motif (not the harvest of barley or wheat, but of olives, dates, etc.)
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.
3 There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: 2 a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, 3 a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, 4 a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, 5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain, 6 a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, 7 a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, 8 a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.
12 Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
7 To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life.
14 For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father's family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?"
12 Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come and the years approach when you will say, "I find no pleasure in them"—
21 Surely you heard of him and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. 22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
21 Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. 22 But now he has reconciled you by Christ's physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation
15 But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16 for it is written: "Be holy, because I am holy."
17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.
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.
44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need.
34 There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales 35 and put it at the apostles' feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need.
34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' lend to 'sinners,' expecting to be repaid in full. 35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
42 And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward."
14 "Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your forefathers worshiped beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. 15 But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord." 16 Then the people answered, "Far be it from us to forsake the Lord to serve other gods! 17 It was the Lord our God himself who brought us and our fathers up out of Egypt, from that land of slavery, and performed those great signs before our eyes. He protected us on our entire journey and among all the nations through which we traveled. 18 And the Lord drove out before us all the nations, including the Amorites, who lived in the land. We too will serve the Lord, because he is our God." 19 Joshua said to the people, "You are not able to serve the Lord. He is a holy God; he is a jealous God. He will not forgive your rebellion and your sins. 20 If you forsake the Lord and serve foreign gods, he will turn and bring disaster on you and make an end of you, after he has been good to you." 21 But the people said to Joshua, "No! We will serve the Lord." 22 Then Joshua said, "You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen to serve the Lord." "Yes, we are witnesses," they replied.
30 Moses said to the heads of the tribes of Israel: "This is what the Lord commands: 2 When a man makes a vow to the Lord or takes an oath to obligate himself by a pledge, he must not break his word but must do everything he said.
21 If you make a vow to the Lord your God, do not be slow to pay it, for the Lord your God will certainly demand it of you and you will be guilty of sin. 22 But if you refrain from making a vow, you will not be guilty. 23 Whatever your lips utter you must be sure to do, because you made your vow freely to the Lord your God with your own mouth.
4 When you make a vow to God, do not delay in fulfilling it. He has no pleasure in fools; fulfill your vow.
41 Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. 42 But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny. 43 Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. 44 They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything — all she had to live on."
4 Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, "Why this waste of perfume? 5 It could have been sold for more than a year's wages and the money given to the poor." And they rebuked her harshly. 6 "Leave her alone," said Jesus. "Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. 7 The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me. 8 She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial. 9 I tell you the truth, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her."
8 And now, brothers, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. 2 Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. 3 For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, 4 they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints. 5 And they did not do as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with God's will.
10 I rejoice greatly in the Lord that at last you have renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you have been concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. 11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do everything through him who gives me strength. 14 Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles.
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.' "
18 My people will live in peaceful dwelling places, in secure homes, in undisturbed places of rest.
5 Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him.
28 "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
2 Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song.
23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth."
12 saying: "Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God forever and ever. Amen!"
15 God also said to Moses, "Say to the Israelites, 'The Lord, the God of your fathers — the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob — has sent me to you.' This is my name forever, the name by which I am to be remembered from generation to generation.
4 So Joshua called together the twelve men he had appointed from the Israelites, one from each tribe, 5 and said to them, "Go over before the ark of the Lord your God into the middle of the Jordan. Each of you is to take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites, 6 to serve as a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you, 'What do these stones mean?' 7 tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever."
10 While Samuel was sacrificing the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to engage Israel in battle. But that day the Lord thundered with loud thunder against the Philistines and threw them into such a panic that they were routed before the Israelites. 11 The men of Israel rushed out of Mizpah and pursued the Philistines, slaughtering them along the way to a point below Beth Car. 12 Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying, "Thus far has the Lord helped us."
26 "That is why we said, 'Let us get ready and build an altar — but not for burnt offerings or sacrifices.' 27 On the contrary, it is to be a witness between us and you and the generations that follow, that we will worship the Lord at his sanctuary with our burnt offerings, sacrifices and fellowship offerings. Then in the future your descendants will not be able to say to ours, 'You have no share in the Lord.' 28 "And we said, 'If they ever say this to us, or to our descendants, we will answer: Look at the replica of the Lord's altar, which our fathers built, not for burnt offerings and sacrifices, but as a witness between us and you.'
Five days after the Day of Atonement, the Feast of Booths (or Tabernacles) begins. The principle element of this celebration is “living in booths” for a week. The actual practice among the Jews consists of building a “hut” in the backyard or on the porch. They make the hut by tying branches together, because it is not to be nailed or constructed in any way that suggests permanence. In fact, the properly made hut will leak. This virtue permits the occupants to see the stars. Although the Jews do not actually live in these things, they will share meals in them and sometimes spend at least one night camping out. I know of a Jewish family that sometimes takes a backpacking trip during this time.
I like to call the Feast of Tabernacles, “The holiday of the manifest presence of God.” Here is why. Leviticus says, “Israel shall live in booths, so that your generations may know that the sons of Israel lived in booths when I brought them out from the land of Egypt.” The hut lets children pretend to be Israelites in the wilderness. So, what was it like in those days? The twelve tribes had their camps on the north, south, east, and west. In the center stood the tabernacle. Over the tabernacle appeared the manifested presence of the Lord.
The Lord said to Moses, “How long will this people spurn Me? And how long will they not believe in Me, despite all the signs which I have performed in their midst? I will smite them with pestilence and dispossess them, and I will make you into a nation greater and mightier than they.
But Moses said to the Lord, “Then the Egyptians will hear of it, for by Your strength You brought up this people from their midst, and they will tell it to the inhabitants of this land. They have heard that You, O Lord, are in the midst of this people, for You, O Lord, are seen eye to eye, while Your cloud stands over them; and You go before them in a pillar of cloud by day and in a pillar of fire by night. Now if You slay this people as one man, then the nations who have heard of Your fame will say, ‘Because the Lord could not bring this people into the land which He promised them by oath, therefore He slaughtered them in the wilderness.’ But now, I pray, let the power of the Lord be great, just as You have declared, ‘The Lord is slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, forgiving iniquity and transgression; but He will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generations.’ Pardon, I pray, the iniquity of this people according to the greatness of Your lovingkindness, just as You also have forgiven this people, from Egypt even until now.”
So the Lord said, “I have pardoned them according to your word; but indeed, as I live, all the earth will be filled with the glory of the Lord” (Numbers 14:11-21).
What an incredible sight to see everyday. “They have heard that You, O Lord, are in the midst of this people, for You, O Lord, are seen eye to eye, while Your cloud stands over them; and You go before them in a pillar of cloud by day and in a pillar of fire by night.” When the Lord wanted them to move, the pillars moved. When the Lord wanted them to stay, the pillars stayed. This is the tale parents can tell their children during the dinner meal in the hut. When the sky gets dark and you can gaze at the stars, the parents can tell their children how the universe manifests the presence of God. It is a good time to read Psalm 19.
The Feast of Tabernacles also looks ahead to the Messianic Kingdom. It looks ahead to the time when the presence of God, through the reign of His son, is as manifest on the earth as it was in the days of the wilderness travels. In fact, according to Zechariah, the Feast of Tabernacles will be an international celebration during the Kingdom.
And the Lord will be king over all the earth; in that day the Lord will be the only one, and His name the only one. … Then it will come about that any who are left of all the nations that went against Jerusalem will go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to celebrate the Feast of Booths. And it will be that whichever of the families of the earth does not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, there will be no rain on them. If the family of Egypt does not go up or enter, then no rain will fall on them; it will be the plague with which the Lord smites the nations who do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Booths. This will be the punishment of Egypt, and the punishment of all the nations who do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Booths (Zechariah 14:9, 16-19).
It should be clear, by now, how the fall holidays of Leviticus track the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. The blowing of trumpets speak of the warnings and shaking on the earth to call all mankind to repent. The Day of Atonement speaks of the day that Jesus will physically return and the day that Israel as a nation will find salvation. The Feast of Tabernacles speaks of the Millennial Kingdom.
Memory is a special gift from God. The word remember has been used in slogans to make sure that events and the lessons they impart remain in a nation’s memory. Sometimes the word remember is used to stimulate people for a determined effort in a war. Two rallying cries that were popular in that regard in years past are Remember the Alamo! and Remember Pearl Harbor! Sometimes remember is substituted by never forget, as in Never forget 9/11! Two famous “remember passages” in the Bible are “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy” (Exodus 20:8) and “Remember Lot’s wife!” (Luke 17:32; compare Genesis 19:26). Combining both remember and never forget is Deuteronomy 9:7: “Remember this and never forget how you aroused the anger of the Lord your God in the wilderness.” God designed the Festival of Tabernacles precisely so that the Israelites would keep in their hearts that 40-year period in their nation’s history. It is helpful to have a way to remember significant events of the past. For Israel, the holidays that were scattered through the year helped to achieve this, but the evidence is that the flow of events pushed the past out of their minds. The same temptations and tendencies are still with us. It is easy to allow the tyranny of the urgent to overwhelm what is really important: remembering God’s redemptive act through Jesus Christ. If we become too busy to remember what God has done, then we are too busy. A reordering of priorities is in order! What examples in this regard are we setting for the next generation?
1. God's words to Moses speak to us as well (Lev. 23:33)
2. Today's Christians could spend more time worshipping and celebrating God (vs. 34)
3. A day of rest from normal routine allows us to focus on what is really important (vss. 35-39)
4. God provides for us in our desert experiences; thus, we should rejoice (vs. 40)
5. God's blessing should be shared and celebrated with others (vss. 41-42)
6. Humans are prone to forget; we need frequent reminders of God's goodness to us (vs. 43)