The Deep Sigh of Sukkot
by Eitan Shiskoff, Executive Director, Tents of Mercy Network
In Leviticus 23:42 the generations of Israel are commanded to dwell or "sit" in temporary shelters ("tabernacles") for one week of the autumn season to identify with the existence of the children of Israel when they lived in temporary shelters ("sukkot") in the wilderness.
I like God's experiential approach to things. He knows that memory is linked to celebration is linked to activity. Sometimes just sitting in a sukkah and drinking coffee in the shade provided by the thatched roof, helps achieve the frame of mind the Lord is after. And just what is that frame of mind?
Bottom line, it's a frame of mind free from worry and full of trust. In Deuteronomy 8, Moses reminds the people of Israel that God who took care of them for forty years in the wilderness. One of modern life's most besetting plagues is "worry." How can we pay all of our bills, put our kids through school, support our aging parents, pay our taxes and give our tithes and offerings? What about urgent repairs? Medical costs?
Not surprisingly, Yeshua also addressed this essential issue. "...do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body..." (Matthew 6:25)
Celebrating the "Feast of Tabernacles" is meant to free us from worry. It's a seven day opportunity to return to the essential ingredient in our relationship with the Most High-trust. If I am not trusting Him to provide on the material level, how can I possibly trust Him on the spiritual plane? If He was able to provide for a few million people tromping through the Sinai desert, He can certainly provide for me.
Let's face it - we need reminders. Building a sukkah out of simple wood framing, hanging blankets for walls and resting branches overhead for a roof, we remember the vulnerability of our past-but also of our present. We are indeed vulnerable, as the natural disasters and sudden wars of our era brutally demonstrate. So how, in a world we cannot control, shall we gain any security, any peace of mind, any sense of promise for the future?
While I sit in my sukkah and give thanks for all that God has given me, I can see the stars through the not-fully-covered "roof" over my head. I enjoy the early autumn breeze that blows in off the Mediterranean Sea after the heat of summer. I heave a deep sigh, releasing the accumulated pressures of modern life: rapid transportation, busy streets, pumped-up stores, and digital communication. Where does my focus need to be? On this never-pausing, pulsating, technology-driven rhythm? Or on a more elemental, Creator-oriented approach to life? During Sukkot we are invited to slow down, to return, to consider, to re-evaluate life in light of eternal truth. Am I really so much in control of circumstances? Am I emphasizing those aspects of existence that will endure beyond the next meal, the next work day, the next day off?
Here is the genius of God. He knows how to take mundane stuff like wooden boards and branches and blankets, to bring us back to Himself. It's a heart thing. He's always after our heart. By taking seven days and disrupting our normal routine, the Lord says "Hey, aren't you forgetting something in your mad rush to function in this world? Remember me? I'm the Author of all this. You will not succeed in the truest sense of 'gaining a satisfying life' by acting as if you are responsible for all that you have and use. I'm the Supplier. I'm the Source. Look to me and be at peace. Come back to me and I will give you true rest."
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