Background: The Israelites took their first step in returning to their Living God after many years of disobedience. They read the Law of God given to Moses and realised how far from the mark they were. Now they are ready to follow the written Word of God, to observe the feasts, to worship God and to obey. Nehemiah 8:13-Neh 9 shows us the beginning of their walk in obedience to the Word of God given to them, through Moses.
Nehemiah 8: 14-17 says "14 They found written in the Law, which the LORD had commanded through Moses, that the Israelites were to live in booths during the feast of the seventh month 15 and that they should proclaim this word and spread it throughout their towns and in Jerusalem: "Go out into the hill country and bring back branches from olive and wild olive trees, and from myrtles, palms and shade trees, to make booths"-as it is written. [b]
16 So the people went out and brought back branches and built themselves booths on their own roofs, in their courtyards, in the courts of the house of God and in the square by the Water Gate and the one by the Gate of Ephraim. 17 The whole company that had returned from exile built booths and lived in them. From the days of Joshua son of Nun until that day, the Israelites had not celebrated it like this. And their joy was very great.
Lesson I learnt
The Feast of the Booths is also known as Sukkos or Sukkot meaning booths. I love the meaning of celebrating this festival. It was to imitate their ancestors' walk with God and living in tents during their time in the wilderness as they undertook their journey towards the promised land. This festival serves as a reminder to the Israelites, of God being their sole provider in the desert and how God sustained them in the desert for 40 yrs; they lacked nothing, their clothes did not wear out nor did their feet become swollen. Isn't that a wonderful reminder.
We as believers of that same Living God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, have this episode to remember quite a number of lessons
(1) Living in tents- It shows a temporary arrangement. The life we live on this earth is temporary, we're here one day and then we'll be gone tomorrow. There is nothing permanent this world can offer to us.
(2)Promised Land-Like the Israelites we're also on our journey to the promised land. "2In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. 3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am".(John 14:1-3 )
(3)Getting rid of unbelief/flesh-Among the Israelites who started the journey many died on the way for they longed for fleshly stuff more than the promised of God and obeying Him. Longing for their slave homes in Egypt, or for food or for false gods which will say nothing do nothing ...They all died. Before we reach our promised land, our flesh must die too, nothing from the flesh can enter the promised land.
And in all these lessons I find one glorious thing, the hope of following our Living God. Our God does not take us through the wilderness like abandoned children or slaves or vagabonds, but our God takes us through with love, with provision, with abundance, with strength and health and even wealth.
To me this means that no matter what kind of wilderness we're going through in life, God is able to provide, not just enough to get by the wilderness but such that the wilderness lifestyle does not even reflect through our journey.
Conclusion: What is it that the Lord has done for our ancestors, for our families, for our lives, let us bring our selves to remember it. Let us remember all that the Lord has done for us in the past, for therein lies our strength and hope in our neverfailing God.
Psalm 103:2 "Bless (affectionately, gratefully praise) the Lord, O my soul, and forget not [one of] all His benefits--"