Tabernacling, hiding away, and encountering God:
This Wednesday begins the Festival of Tabernacles. This is an 8 day time of hiding away. It is a festival wherein you draw away from the world and you draw into the Lord. Many Christians feel they do not need to celebrate the Jewish holidays because they are no longer under the Law. However, this is not about salvation, grace, or anything of that nature; it is about doing the things that please the Lord, and getting closer and more intimate with him.
As Christians we should be eager in our desire to do what pleases God. We should be in love with him so much that we want to make him happy. The Hebrew name for Tabernacles is Sukkot. Sukkot is an eight day festival. In the traditional Jewish culture, they wouldn’t work on the first and last day of the festival. The other six days they would work, but when they came home they would honor the Lord in a special way.
The reason it is called “Tabernacles” is because the family would build a Sukkah or in English, tabernacle outside the home. It was a special meeting place wherein they would eat as a family and meet with the Lord. Who doesn’t want that? Who isn’t looking for more of God; for a deeper intimacy level with the Lord?
Aside from the time of drawing away to the Lord, this is also a time of remembrance. For the Jews, it was a time to remember that God drew them up out of Egypt and brought them into the Promised Land. For us as Christians, it is a time to remember how God brought us out of Sin (our Egypt) and into abundant life (Our Promised Land) We rejoice and reflect about the gift of God which has brought us out.
Now we as Christians obviously have a lot of difficulties following the ‘rules’ of tabernacles. I mean if we are honest most of us cannot just go to Jerusalem for the festival. Its just not feasible. What our church has done is to build a Sukkah in the sanctuary. Every night of Tabernacles we will have services in the building which will focus on worship and prayer much in the style of the international house of prayer. On the First and Last day of the festival as well as the Sunday in between we will be having family dinners at the church. The whole week the church will be open for people to come and worship and pray, and even camp out in the sanctuary. To escape from the normal life even if it is just for a portion of time.
There are specific scriptures you read on each night of Sukkot. There are also special blessings that you recite during this time. A detailed list can be found here: Hebrew 4 Christians – Sukkot