Just Passing Through

Travelling VanThe Feast of Tabernacles is almost here.

Are you excited?

Of course you are. That was a silly question. I don’t know that I’ve ever met someone not excited about the Feast. So here’s a better question:

Why are you excited?

Is it because of the site you’ll be attending? The hotel where you’ll be staying? The people you’ll see or the things you’ll do or the gifts you’ll buy?

Or is it because of what the Feast pictures?

Don’t get me wrong. The other things are fantastic, and God designed the Feast so that we could enjoy them in a special way for one week. We’re told to “Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared” (Nehemiah 8:10). We’re told to take our second tithe and spend it on “whatever your heart desires” (Deuteronomy 14:26). We’re told, in no uncertain terms, to “rejoice before the Lord your God for seven days” (Leviticus 23:40, emphasis added). The Feast of Tabernacles is to be a feast of gladness, of rejoicing and celebrating as we enjoy the things we could never afford to do the rest of the year.

But it’s not just that. If the Feast is only those things to us, then it’s just a vacation—a very nice vacation, but a vacation all the same.

The Feast of Tabernacles, like all God’s other holy days, serves as a reminder, pointing our focus back to God’s plan for us. God told Israel that the temporary dwellings of this feast would remind all who kept it “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” (Leviticus 23:43).

Israel had been brought out of slavery from a land where they had absolutely nothing and led into a promised land where God gave them absolutely everything—”large and beautiful cities which you did not build, houses full of all good things, which you did not fill, hewn-out wells which you did not dig, vineyards and olive trees which you did not plant” (Deuteronomy 16:10-11). The booths of Tabernacles were to serve as a reminder of where God had taken the Israelites from and where He had taken them to.

For us, Tabernacles is a little different. You and I, we’re still in the wilderness. God rescued us from bondage to sin (John 8:34-36), but we’re not in the promised land yet. That’s still ahead of us. That’s in the future. So when you check into your hotel room or your campsite (maybe you already have!), remember where God is directing our attention. This life—this world that seems so real to us—is temporary. We’re just passing through; strangers and pilgrims on our way to something better. For a week—one glorious, fleeting week—we’re getting a taste of that “something better.” Then it’s back to the pilgrimage. Back to the temporary, the ephemeral, the trudge through the wilderness.

The Feast of Tabernacles gives us hope. A vision. A reminder of where we are and where we’re going and why it matters. So yes, enjoy the Feast! Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet. Spend your second tithe on the things your heart desires. Rejoice before the Lord your God—but remember why you’re doing all these things. God doesn’t command us to keep this feast because His plan hinges on us having a weeklong vacation every year. He gives us the Feast of Tabernacles to keep us focused on the prize: an age, at long last, of peace. An age where the resurrected saints (that’s us) will reign with Christ a thousand years (Revelation 20:4), where the human race will have Godly teachers (us again) who cannot be ignored (Isaiah 30:20-21), where the streets will be filled with boys and girls playing without fear (Zechariah 8:5), where the wolf and the lamb will peacefully coexist while a whole contingent of formerly dangerous animals will follow harmlessly behind a little child (Isaiah 11:6-9).

That’s the world the Feast of Tabernacles pictures, and it’s a world we need more desperately with every passing day. We’re awash in news stories that add to a growing list of tragedies, depravities, perversities, and problems that mankind remains unable to solve.

Tabernacles is a promise. As the world grows darker, God’s truth shines that much brighter. Tabernacles fixes our gaze on the light instead of the darkness, on the hope instead of the despair, and on the eternal instead of the ephemeral.

The Feast of Tabernacles is almost here.

Are you excited?

Until next time,

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