Chag Sameach (KHAG sah-MAY-AKH)—Joyful Feast!
Robbed of Our Roots!
I was robbed at the end of August. Thank God it was not at gunpoint, and I was not involved in person, but all my credit cards, driver’s license, condominium ID, car keys, house keys, Medicare,
AARP cards, etc. were stolen. It happened at Panera Bread while I was fixing a cup of coffee and juggling too many things. I put my card case with attached keys on the counter, and when I went to pick up my food order, I must have left that one item on the coffee bar. I did not notice it was missing until I finished ministering to a young believer who had asked me to meet her for lunch. No car keys. No card case. Stolen at some point during my lunch meeting.
My first thought was that the devil is good at his job. The Bible says: “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (Jn 10:10). I decided to dwell on the second part of the verse while we checked all security cameras and garbage cans in Panera Bread. No sign of anything. I called my son Jonathan, and he told me to check to see if my car was still there. It was. I called my bank and during my hour and a half lunch no charges had been made. Perhaps the thief just wanted cash, of which there was none in my card case that day. I know the Lord; this story has not ended!
While researching for this newsletter, I came upon an article by Dwight Pryor on Sukkot, the Feast of the Lord celebrated this year from September 29th through October 6th, with Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah following and ending on the 8th. Celebrate the Feast! begins: “‘I’ve been robbed!’ declared the godly senior pastor to an assembly of several hundred ministers. ‘I went to seminary, and I’ve preached the Gospel for more than thirty years.’ With tears in his eyes, he added, ‘Why have I never been told before about this rich Hebrew heritage of Christ?'”
Sadly, this is not an isolated case. There are thousands of ministers throughout the world who have been robbed of the knowledge of their rich, Hebraic roots through ignorance, apathy, pride, deception, religious spirits, and even anti-Semitism. Sukkot, or the Feast of Booths (Tabernacles), is perhaps the feast of the Lord which is the most joyful, prophetic, insightful, meaningful, and universal. It is connected in multiple ways with the Messiah Yeshua and with our lives in Him.
Command to Dwell
This year, the Lord is leading me to focus on the word “dwell” as it relates to His moed מועד (moh-ED), appointed time, of Sukkot. God said, “‘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. You shall dwell in booths for seven days. All who are native Israelites shall dwell in booths, 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‘” (Lev. 23:41-43). God was present with His people in their wilderness wanderings after freeing them from Egyptian bondage. My husband Neil always said that God was never closer nor more intimate with His people than in the desert, as He warmed them with fire by night and covered them with clouds of glory by day. Wilderness Love. Consider Jeremiah 2:2-3: “‘Go and cry in the hearing of Jerusalem, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord: ‘I remember you, the kindness of your youth, the love of your betrothal, when you went after Me in the wilderness, in a land not sown. Israel was holiness to the Lord, the firstfruits of His increase…‘” The pillar of cloud that covered God’s people in the desert is symbolized today by the sukkah—סכה) SUE-kah)— that covers them during the feast. As with many aspects of Sukkot, there is also a future connection: “then the Lord will create above every dwelling place of Mount Zion, and above her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day and the shining of a flaming fire by night. For over all the glory there will be a covering [huppah]. And there will be a tabernacle for shade in the daytime from the heat, for a place of refuge, and for a shelter from storm and rain” (Is. 4:5-6). Clouds of glory will again appear!
Dwelling: The Essence of Sukkot
There is a deep significance in the word dwell for both Jews and non-Jews, believers and nonbelievers alike. Dwell appears in 343 verses in the NKJV. Dwelling appears in 109 verses, and dwells in 66 verses. Dwell is one of God’s favorite words! The God of Israel has always desired to dwell among His people. He said to Moses, “‘And let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them‘” (Ex. 25:8).
When King Solomon dedicated the First Temple, that had been in his father David’s heart, he prayed, “But will God indeed dwell with men on the earth?” (II Chron. 6:18a). God answered with “Yes” by filling His temple with His shekinah, שכינה) sheh-khee-NAH), during the Feast of Sukkot. “When Solomon had finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of the Lord filled the temple” (II Chron. 7:1). God had come to dwell ON EARTH. In the future, He would come to dwell IN EARTH (in us).
Dwelling in the Sukkah
The Hebrew word used most frequently for dwell is yashav, ישב) yah-SHAHV), which literally means “to sit down.” That explains why the following prayer must be said while seated in the sukkah: “Blessed art Thou, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who has made us holy through His commandments, and has commanded us to dwell in the sukkah.”
Dwelling in the sukkah reminds us of the special ways that our God dwells with us, as He did with His ancient people. He protects us. He provides for us. He covers us with His love—like a talit or like a bridal huppah. He clothes us and feeds us. He is our shelter in times of storm. His blessings are new every morning. He hides us in the cleft of the Rock, in the secret place of Messiah. He is our security. HE IS FOREVER FAITHFUL.
When God is with us we have all we need. Dwelling in a flimsy sukkah made of branches, palm fronds, and wood is meant to be an escape from materialism and a return to a simpler life. It is interesting that God calls this appointed time the “Season of Our Rejoicing.” True joy is not found in possessions or palaces, but in God and His Presence. Sukkot is a season to be liberated from oneself and to focus on dwelling in God and God dwelling in us. I found a quote in my files (no author) that said, “Sukkot is a season during which we feel particularly vulnerable, when we recognize that all of our material goods are a feeble defense against the evils of this world.” SELAH.
There are many wonderful promises in the Holy Scriptures about dwelling in God and God dwelling in us. “My eyes shall be on the faithful of the land, that they may dwell with me…” (Ps. 101:6).
“Surely the righteous shall give thanks to Your name; the upright shall dwell in Your presence” (Ps. 140:13). “‘But whoever listens to me will dwell safely, and will be secure, without fear of evil‘” (Prov. 1:33). “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever” (Ps. 23:6). “My people will dwell in a peaceful habitation, in secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places” (Is. 32:18). “He who walks righteously and speaks uprightly, he who despises the gain of oppressions, who gestures with his hands, refusing bribes…He will dwell on high…” (Is. 33:15-16). “Those who dwell under his shadow shall return; they shall be revived like grain, and grow like a vine. Their scent shall be like the wine of Lebanon” (Hos. 14:7).
Two special dwelling promises for Israel: “Then they shall dwell in the land that I have given to Jacob My servant, where your fathers dwelt; and they shall dwell there, they, their children, and their children’s children, forever; and My servant David [refers to Messiah] shall be their prince forever” (Ezek. 37:25). “‘Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion! For behold, I am coming and I will dwell in your midst,’ says the Lord” (Zech. 2:10).
Two favorite promises are found in Psalm 91: “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty” (v.1). (A perfect picture of dwelling in a sukkah!) “Because you have made the Lord, who is my refuge, even the Most High, your dwelling place, no evil shall befall you, nor shall any plague come near your dwelling” (v.9-10).
From the Brit Hadasha—referring to God, who made the world and everything in it: “And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us” (Acts 17:26-27). “…’I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people’” (II Cor. 6:16).
A final dwelling promise that looks forward to Sukkot in the future when Messiah returns to earth: “And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God‘” (Rev. 21:3).
Yeshua, God’s Sukkah
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (Jn 1:14). When the Messiah humbled Himself
and came to earth, He took on a temporary sukkah, a human body, to live and die as a man in order to purchase our salvation. While we don’t know exactly when Yeshua was born, we do know that it would not have been in December, since no shepherds were out in the fields in Israel at that time of year. There would be rooms at the inns in the winter, but lodging was difficult during the three Pilgrim Feasts, of which Sukkot was the last and most joyous one. Additionally, the events of Luke chapter 1 which include the time of the pregnancies of Elizabeth and Miriam (Mary) and the timing of Zacharias as a priest, all point to the Messiah’s birth in the fall, probably during Sukkot. From The Messianic View of Christmas by Rabbi Calev Goldberg for your consideration:
• Mid-June, during Zacharias’ term of service, the angel Gabriel announces that Zacharias and Elizabeth will have a son, Luke 1:8-13.
• Early to mid-July, Elizabeth becomes pregnant, Luke 1:23-24.
• Late December, in the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy Gabriel appears to Miriam to announce that the Messiah would be conceived in her.
• Late December, Miriam conceives the Messiah, possibly during the Feast of Hanukkah. There are nine months between Hanukkah and Sukkot.
• Early January, Miriam visits Elizabeth who is six months pregnant, Luke 1:39-45. Miriam stays for a three month visit and returns home in early April.
• Early to mid-April Elizabeth gives birth to John.
• Late September, early October, the time of Sukkot. Birth of Yeshua.
(Neil and I always celebrate Yeshua’s birth during Sukkot. You decide.)
Yeshua’s birth, regardless of timing, signified God coming to dwell bodily with mankind. The incarnation is explained as follows, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Messiah Yeshua, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross” (Phil. 2:5-8, see also Heb. 10:5).
Rachmiel Frydland, of blessed memory—a renowned Messianic scholar, believed that there was a secret Sukkot message in Amos 9:11 where the prophet says, “‘On that day I will raise up the tabernacle [sukkah] of David, which has fallen down, and repair its damages; I will raise up its ruins, and rebuild it as in the days of old.‘” He stated that Sukkot is not merely a place or tabernacle, but a person. The prophet Isaiah referred to this “person” sixty years later when he wrote, “Behold, a king will reign in righteousness, and princes will rule with justice. A man will be as a hiding place from the wind, and a cover from the tempest, as rivers of water in a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land” (Is. 32:1-2). The true Sukkah, the real shelter and protection for all of us on earth and into eternity, is Yeshua, our Messiah.
Yeshua’s earthly body, His temporary sukkah was a stumbling block to many of His fellow Israelites. They said, “‘…we know where this Man is from; but when the Messiah comes, no one knows where He is from‘” (Jn. 7:27). Their carnal minds could not comprehend a God wrapped in human
flesh. The truth is: Yeshua was His Father’s Sukkah. He said, “‘Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works‘” (Jn. 14:10). In referring to Yeshua, the Bible says, “For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” (Col. 2:9). (A deep thought to ponder and process.)
We are Yeshua’s Sukkah!
When we are born again, God’s Spirit comes to dwell within us, within our earthly bodies which are temporary. As the Scripture says, “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us” (II Cor. 4:7). Let’s meditate this Sukkot on the glorious truth that God does not only dwell with us, He dwells within us in Yeshua. Yeshua promised His disciples the indwelling Holy Spirit before He left the earth, “‘If you love Me, keep My commandments. And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever— the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you‘” (Jn. 14:15-17).
The Apostle Paul (Rabbi Saul) asked believers, “‘Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?‘” (I Cor. 3:16). I encourage you to claim the following promise this year as you sit in your sukkah or just celebrate God’s final feast in your own way: “But if the Spirit of Him who raised Yeshua from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Messiah from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you” (Rom. 8:11). Believe it. Receive it. And don’t let the enemy steal your joy! Sukkot is the “Season of Our Rejoicing.”
Let’s pray: “Dear Abba Shebashamayim, Heavenly Father, thank You that my life on earth is a ‘soujourn under God’s wings.’ I rejoice to have Your Ruach, Your Spirit, dwelling in me, working in my soul, heart, mind, and emotions, transforming me into the image of the Messiah Yeshua. Thank You that in the time of trouble, You will hide me in Your sukkah (Ps. 27:5). Help me to dwell on the fact that I am a pilgrim on this earth, on the way to my eternal home in heaven. In Yeshua’s Name, Amen.”
Love in Messiah,
P.S. Our God restores! Before this letter was finished, the Lord had covered ALL the expenses caused by the robbery. (New key fob $561! New door lock $79.) I stand amazed at the faithfulness and timing of God. Unaware of what had happened, a friend from California sent me $100. A stranger at Publix paid for my groceries and would not identify himself. Then God told a pastor in Georgia to send me $500. Yeshua sent me more than the devil stole!
Supernatural restoration from a Supernatural, Loving God!