Category: Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles)

Sukkot – so soon? Yessssss!

Shalom!
The following is this week’s letter from FFOZ – First Fruits of Zion – an organization headed by my friend, Boaz Michael.
I receive this service every week – love it!
I would like to point out that Messianics (and Jews) outside the Land (Israel) are NOT required to spend nights sleeping in a sukkah. Sukkah is the singular of the Hebrew word “Sukkot”, which is pronounced sue-COAT with the accent on the last syllable, as most Hebrew words are. Please note the requirements for building the sukkah are rabbinical rather than Biblical. There are not many requirements given in Scripture, so we have to rely on the rabbis for instruction. If Y’shua wanted to change things, He would have when He was here. Jews have been keeping these commandments for thirty-seven hundred years (?), so I guess we can in our generation. Common sense still rules. Can you imagine an Alaskan, under 2 feet of snow, sleeping in a sukkah? “Do the best you can with what you have” certainly applies here.
My sukkah is a cube – 8’X8’X8’. I think G-d likes cubes. The Holy of Holies is a cube – 15 ft square. Mine has three sheets of 4’X8’ painted plywood lying on their sides, nailed to 2’X4’s. Two door hinges on the back 2X4s hold it together. When the holydays are over, just pull out the pins and you have three sides to stack and store. The top sides are left open and the back wall has bamboo shades. We can decorate on that, hang fruit and other décor from the lattice covering the top. I use Jewish calendar pictures and whatever else suits me, to decorate. I have a small table and two benches to complete the furnishings. A menorah and an etrog sit on the table. It’s so refreshing to just sit and sip a hot cup of coffee and contemplate the goodness of the Lord and the blessings He has given me. I believe the first day of Sukkot is the birthday of the Messiah and the eighth and last day, the day He was circumcised. I have been singing, “Joy to the World” and “Little Town of Bethlehem” for several days now! Drives my non-Messianic kids crazy! Here’s the story:

Parashat Hashavuah (Portion of the Week)

Sukkot : “The Feast of Booths”
Torah : Leviticus 22:26-23:44
Haftarah : Zechariah 14
Gospel : Luke 2

Sukkot: Camping Out with God

Thought for the Week
The Feast of Tabernacles is the culmination of all the appointed times. It is to the other festivals what the Sabbath is to the other six days of the week. It is a prophetic picture of the coming kingdom. It foreshadows the great celebration when the entire world will live in peace and brotherhood under the reign and rule of the righteous Messiah King. sukkot: Camping Out with God

Commentary
Speak to the sons of Israel, saying, “On the fifteenth of this seventh month is the Feast of Booths for seven days to the LORD.” (Leviticus 16:34)

Five days after the Day of Atonement, the Feast of Tabernacles begins. It is seven days long. The first day is a special Sabbath. The Hebrew name of the festival is sukkot (סוכות, pronounced “sue coat”), a word that means “shelters, stables or huts.” The same word is often translated into English as “tabernacles” or “booths.” The name is derived from the commandment for all Jews to dwell in temporary shelters for the seven days of the festival as a reminder of the post-exodus years when Israel lived in huts and booths, following God in the wilderness:

You shall live in booths for seven days; all the native-born in Israel shall live in booths. (Leviticus 23:42)

The temporary shelter is referred to as a sukkah (סוכה), which is the singular form of the plural word sukkot. A traditional sukkah must have at least two and a half walls made from virtually any material. The walls don’t have to be solid. They could be plywood, canvas, latticework or just about anything. One wall can be part of a permanent structure. For example, the wall of a garage would work. The rest of the booth has to be temporary and disassembled after the festival.

The sukkah booth can be any size, so long as it is large enough for the family to eat and sleep in. The roof of the sukkah is supposed to be covered with some sort of foliage or vegetation that grows from the ground: tree branches, cornstalks, bamboo reeds, sticks or even lumber. The roof material has to provide adequate shade yet be sparse enough so rain can get in and stars can be seen through it. The sukkah should leave a person vulnerable to the elements.

The process of building and living in a sukkah is a great adventure for children. It’s like building a fort and camping out in the backyard. People commonly decorate their sukkot. It’s fun for the kids, often more fun than decorating a Christmas tree. Families hang harvest decorations and handmade artwork from the walls.

During the course of the seven days of sukkot, it is appropriate to eat one’s meals in the sukkah, and if the climate permits, to sleep at night inside the sukkah. Hosting guests in the sukkah for special holiday meals is a big part of the festival. It’s a great time of fellowship.

The sukkot is a time of joy and celebration, a time to celebrate the harvest and revel in God’s goodness. The festival of sukkot comes at harvest time. The joyous mood of sukkot is a dramatic shift from the solemn and austere tone of the high holy days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. The celebration of sukkot is so joyous that Jewish liturgy often refers to it as “the season of our rejoicing.” The commandment to move outside of one’s comfortable zone and live in a booth is meant to remind us that God is our provider, sustainer and protector. On the cycle of sanctification, sukkot is an annual opportunity to revel in God’s goodness and take delight in our redemption.

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The temporary shelter is referred to as a sukkah (סוכה), which is the singular form of the plural word sukkot. A traditional sukkah must have at least two and a half walls made from virtually any material. The walls don’t have to be solid. They could be plywood, canvas, latticework or just about anything. One wall can be part of a permanent structure. For example, the wall of a garage would work. The rest of the booth has to be temporary and disassembled after the festival.

The sukkah booth can be any size, so long as it is large enough for the family to eat and sleep in. The roof of the sukkah is supposed to be covered with some sort of foliage or vegetation that grows from the ground: tree branches, cornstalks, bamboo reeds, sticks or even lumber. The roof material has to provide adequate shade yet be sparse enough so rain can get in and stars can be seen through it. The sukkah should leave a person vulnerable to the elements.

The process of building and living in a sukkah is a great adventure for children. It’s like building a fort and camping out in the backyard. People commonly decorate their sukkot. It’s fun for the kids, often more fun than decorating a Christmas tree. Families hang harvest decorations and handmade artwork from the walls.

During the course of the seven days of sukkot, it is appropriate to eat one’s meals in the sukkah, and if the climate permits, to sleep at night inside the sukkah. Hosting guests in the sukkah for special holiday meals is a big part of the festival. It’s a great time of fellowship.

The sukkot is a time of joy and celebration, a time to celebrate the harvest and revel in God’s goodness. The festival of sukkot comes at harvest time. The joyous mood of sukkot is a dramatic shift from the solemn and austere tone of the high holy days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. The celebration of sukkot is so joyous that Jewish liturgy often refers to it as “the season of our rejoicing.” The commandment to move outside of one’s comfortable zone and live in a booth is meant to remind us that God is our provider, sustainer and protector. On the cycle of sanctification, sukkot is an annual opportunity to revel in God’s goodness and take delight in our redemption.

Shalom! Chag sameach! See ya next time!

Birth of Y’shua (Jesus) …

When was Y’shua REALLY born?

Most scholars have now concluded that Y’shua (Jesus) was NOT born on December 25th. Even so the “church” continues to celebrate it then – no matter what. So when WAS He born? It is a little known fact but one that can easily be found right in the Bible.

1. We can start with Zachariah the priest. It was his lot that was picked to burn incense in the Holy of Holies when the angel Gabriel appeared to him, informing him of the coming birth of his son and that he was to name him John. (Luke 1:8-13) We know what time of year he was there. We learn from the Book that his son, Yochanan the Immercer (John the Baptist,) was six months older than Y’shua. (Luke 1:26– 33) So when was John (Yochanan) born? Zachariah was a priest, a Levite of the course of Abijah – the eighth course. (Luke !:5) I Chronicles chapter 24, tells us about the courses or groups into which King David had divided the priests. Each course served in the Temple for one week in the beginning of the year, (Ex 12 says the beginning of the year is at Pesach in the Spring) one week in the last half of the year, and all priests served for one week during each of the three Pilgrimage Festivals, which are: Pesach, (Passover) Shavuot (Pentecost) and Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles) as shown in Lev. 23 . He would have served the 10th week. (He would have served the eighth week, but we need to add the two weeks for Pesach and Shavuot, making it the 10th week) It can be determined that he served in June/July. Counting for the two weeks of separation, (Lev) John would have been born at Pesach (Passover) in March or April. Y’shua, being six months younger, would have been conceived on Chanukah (November or December), and counting the nine months of pregnancy, been born in September or October. Remember, the Jewish calendar counts the months by the moon, each new month beginning on the new moon, whereas the Gregorian (Catholic) calendar month is calculated by the sun. It can be determined that Y’shua was born on the first day of Sukkot in the Fall. Sukkot is called “the season of our joy” and all are commanded to be joyful! Why not!? The Saviour of all mankind was born and the world needs to rejoice at that! Since Sukkot is an eight day celebration – it would be natural to assume that He was circumcised on the eighth day. A must for all Jewish males who kept G-d’s law.

2. The only time the sheep were kept out in the fields in Beit Lechem, would have been at Sukkot. They were kept there in readiness for the sacrifice of Simhat Torah at the conclusion of Sukkot. Angels were said to proclaim, “Glory to God in the heavens and on the earth peace and good will toward the earth.” Sound familiar? This is recorded in the Talmud. (Hallel Five) Incidentally, all sheep raised for sacrifice at the Temple had to be raised within five miles of the Temple. Migdal Eder (Tower of the Flock) was in Beit LeChem. The shepherds there were not unlearned men, they were Levitical priests who would have known about the Messiah being born there. They would have heard this proclamation every year! But this time it was said by a host of angels. No wonder they readily accepted the angelic message. He only comes where He is expected ….

3. Then there is King Herod. We know that “wise men” from the “east” came to him in Jerusalem, asking about the birth of the new King. The “wise men” were Jewish scholars who came from Babylon. Babylon is always referred to as “the east”. Remember when Daniel and many others were exiled to Babylon when Israel was conquered by the Babylonians? When the Jews were allowed to return to Israel, most chose to stay in Babylon, where they had jobs, families, houses and lands and had grown very comfortable. Why would they give it all up to go back to desolate Israel and start over? The “wise men” were their descendents. Who but a Jew would know the Jewish Scriptures and know enough to look for the Jewish Messiah coming out of Bethlehem? Another thing – we don’t know how many there were and certainly not their names. Some guess three because there were three gifts, but my guess is there were many more. Why travel all that long way unless you were in a larger, safer group? At any rate, they came and inquired of King Herod and you know the rest of the story. In those days a child was counted to be one year old at birth and so Herod really commanded all baby boys in Bethlehem one year and under be killed. History tells us that Herod died after a transgression against the Jews. Josephus, the Jewish historian, records the death of Herod around September, of 4 BCE (B.C.) So we are still in the right time frame. Put all that together and you have to know that Y’shua was born on the first day of Sukkot!

Whenever He was born, it wasn’t in December. We can chose not to believe a lie and celebrate His birth at Sukkot. We can keep the day focused on Him and not all this crass commercialism that we see in December. However, let’s be patient and kind to those still blinded to the truth and let the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) do His work. One day when Messiah comes, He will bring us all truth! And I think ALL of us will be surprised!

See you next time!
Shalom, Sharaka

Migdal Eder

The Watchtower of the Flock

Many of you celebrate the birth of Christ at “Christmas”. Literally “Christ Mass“. Most scholars today agree that He was NOT born in the winter, but in mid-Autumn. Most Messianics believe that He was born on the first day of Sukkot. (Sept – Oct) Our family celebrates His birth at that time. We believe He was born in a sukkah (temporary dwelling, hut or stable). We can celebrate His birth without all the trappings of Saturnalia (the ancient Roman celebration of their god by bringing in evergreen trees, holly, mistletoe and other greenery, feasting, drinking, the giving of gifts and time off work to party – all happening on December 25th). At Sukkot we can focus on Y’shua and the real meaning of His birth without all these distractions and the taint of pagan Saturnalia. But that’s another article!

Scripture tells us that Y’shua was born in Bethlehem (Beit l’chem – or house of bread). He lived there only a short time. His family soon went to Egypt and then returned to their hometown of Nazareth, where He was raised. When He started His ministry, He left home, and moved to Kfar Nahum (Capernaum).

So what was Bethlehem all about?

Scripture tells us that the Messiah, G-d’s anointed One, would be born of a virgin in Bethlehem, the town of His ancestor, King David. Scripture also says the lambs for sacrifice must not have any blemishes. With that in mind, Rabbinical law said that all Passover sacrifices (sheep/lambs) must be raised within five miles of Jerusalem, which Bethlehem is. A group of Levites were appointed to raise these sheep just outside of Bethlehem near Migdal Eder. They were the shepherds to whom the angels appeared. They were not lowly, uneducated men. They were Torah-trained Levites. They should have made the connection to the Messiah, the Lamb of G-d. Perhaps some did.

A watchtower was built to aid the shepherds in watching for predators, human or animal. These watchtowers were common all over the land. They were also found in vineyards for the same reason. The watchtowers were built of stones and had a covered platform on top where a guard could be posted.

The watchtower of Bethlehem was called Migdal Eder – Watchtower of the Flock. Isn’t it wonderful to know how very accurate our G-d is and that He caused Miriam and Joseph to travel to Bethlehem so Y’shua could be born as predicted and within the limits of the sacrificial lambs? Y’shua is our Passover Lamb and had He NOT been born there, He would not have been eligible as a sacrifice. Every letter of the Law was followed though out His whole life.

G-d thinks of everything and you can be sure He thinks of everything in your life. There are no coincidences. G-d has a reason and a purpose for everything that happens. We can trust Him to take care of us in all situations.

Think of Noah’s ark. It was dimly lit; the inhabitants were most likely sea-sick many times and it must have smelled pretty bad. As bad as it must have been, G-d preserved their lives and we are here because of them and their faith. For Noah and his family, it must have been a terrible year and yet they were the only ones that made it through alive.

Let’s take heart, no matter how bad it gets, G-d has a plan. Let’s trust in Him and keep His commandments. The Word says if we love Him, we will. And it will be worth it all!

See you next time!
Shabbat Shalom,
Sharaka
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The Ushpizin, the Guests


The Patriarchs or Shepherds of Israel

It is said a father has no greater joy than to see his sons walk in his ways. The seven great men of Israel all wandered from place to place at one time or another in their lives. They knew the hardships of the nomadic life. It is said they come, in spirit, as special guests to every sukkah to rejoice in the fact that we are still following in ‘their ways’.
(old Jewish tradition…) One after the other taking the lead each night and the others following. It is traditional to welcome the “guest of the evening” by recalling his life and how we may learn from it.
You may want to give them a chair of honor in your sukkah.
They are:

Avraham, who was told to “Go to the place I will show you.”
He represents love and kindness.
Itzchak, (Isaac)”There was a famine in the land and Itzchak went…”
He represents restraint and personal strength.
Ya’acov, (Jacob) “Arise and go…” (when he fled from Esav)
He represents beauty and truth.
Moshe, “(Moses) …and He caused His people to journey like sheep.”
He represents eternality and dominance through Torah.
Aharon, (Aaron) “…and He caused His people to journey like sheep.”
He represents empathy and receptivity to divine splendor.
Yosef, (Joseph) was sold for a slave and went to Egypt..
He represents holiness and the spiritual foundation.
David Hamelech, King David) “…when he was in the wilderness.”
… the establishment of the kingdom of heaven on earth.
It is a good thing to speak of the good qualities of our fathers. Perhaps this would be a good time to recall the good deeds of your own ancestors and how you can strive to be like them. If nothing else, let us follow in the footsteps of our Messiah and strive, above all, to be like Him. It is good to call in the poor to share in your joy and your bounty at this season. Sukkot was the origin of the first Thanksgiving Day. We are to be thankful and share what we have. In this way, we are following our heroes of old and better yet, we are pleasing our G-d as we recall the good things of the past and look forward to what G-d has promised us in the future.
fjc- ’01

For those of you following the Hillel or traditional Jewish calender –
Chag Sameach! Enjoy your holiday!!! It’s the Season of our joy! “Eat the fat and the sweet and send portions to your friends and family!”

See you nect time!
Shalom, Sharaka
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Sukkot – Feast of Tabernacles

Sukkot (sue – COAT)
The Festival of Booths/Feast of Tabernacles


Exodus 12:37 tells us that:

When G-d’s people left Egypt with Moses, they camped and put their animals into a shelter called a “SUKKAH”, which means “booth”, “stable”, “hut”, “shelter”, or “tabernacle” in the Hebrew language . “SUKKOT” is the plural of the word. Moses called that place “Sukkot”.

Leviticus 23:
G-d gave the Children of Israel Seven Feasts. He called them “Holy Days” – “holy unto the Lord”, but we have changed the word to “holidays” and most Christians do not celebrate them. We have chosen to honor other days instead. Now many have once again begun to celebrate these Feasts or Festivals. They are not “Jewish” Feasts – the Bible calls them “the Feasts of the Lord”. Starting at sunset, (G-d’s day starts at sunset – Genesis says “the evening and the morning were the first day”) on the 15th day of the seventh month, which begins at sunset the night before, Jews all over the world and many Christians will celebrate this Special Holy Day.

SUKKOT – is given by G-d Himself, and lasts for eight days. God gave us a special calendar and it is not the same as the one we use, so we find SUKKOT comes on a different day every year on our Gregorian calendar. On the Jewish calendar, each month starts on the first day of the new moon. In 2004, Sukkot began on the evening of the full moon, September 29th (Tishrei 15). Next year it will be on another day on our calendar but still the 15th of Tishrei.

II Timothy 2: 15
You might be thinking, “OK, so G-d gave all this to the Jews – what does it have to do with me? Why should I care?” G-d loves all of His people, Jews and Gentiles alike. He chose Jews to write His Book and it was written to them. But every thing in His Book is for everyone who loves G-d and wants to read His Word. We ALL can learn something from EVERY THING in the Bible if we will only ask G-d to show us what He has in mind. He is trying to teach us. Let’s open our hearts to Him and learn all He has for us. “Study to be approved..”

Nehemiah 8
Notice that the sukkah (sue-kah) is only a temporary shelter – built to last only one week. It is not very sturdy. A strong wind could blow it all over. It is not built to last at all. Every year, the Jewish people build a sukkah wherever they live. It’s funny to look up at apartment buildings in Jerusalem and see sukkot on the balconies! In our State, it’s too cold and usually too wet to sleep out, so Jews and Messianic Believers here just eat in them. The Jews in Israel and warmer countries also sleep there.

Psalms 91:1-5
Sometimes it has a door – but there is no lock. People eat and sleep in this place for a whole week. This is the way they lived all the years of their wanderings through the desert. They had to rely on G-d alone for their needs. We can learn from this that it isn’t the lock that protects us – it is G-d! It is always G-d! We all really live in a house of sticks and the “big bad wolf” could blow it down if it wasn’t for G-d, our Mighty Protector. We should remember how G-d’s people lived all those years in tents and flimsy shelters. We can understand that He took care of them then and believe He will take care of us now! Our protection is from Him and Him alone! We must never forget to thank Him for His love and care.

Deuteronomy 16:13-15
It is to be built after the crops are gathered in. The people were to gather together and rejoice and be thankful. They were to share with others, especially the poor. Sound familiar? This was really the first Thanksgiving! When the Puritans came to America, they only continued what God started way back in the Brit Chadasha (Older Covenant or Testament). It is still a time to rejoice and be thankful. Why not write a `thank you’ note now to Someone Special in your life? We need to be thankful to people and to G-d.

Zachariah 14:16 -17
The sukkah is to be re-built every year – generation after generation for all time. We will celebrate this festival during the Millennium. Our family decided not to wait, we celebrate it now! We have some of our meals in it and sometimes we invite friends. We sing songs, listen to beautiful music and read the Scriptures. We try to think about the beautiful place that our G-d is preparing for us. Our bodies are like a sukkah – an earth-suit – a temporary dwelling until we get the real one.

Building a sukkah is one way He helps us remember. It is said we retain 10% of what we hear, 50% of what we see and 90% of what we “do” or act out. G-d knew this and I believe this is why He asked us to “do” these things. He wants to make sure we remember His teachings and apply them to our daily lives as well as show us what’s coming up ahead in the future.
Another interesting thing about a sukkah – remember that the word can also mean “stable”? It is written that Y’shua, the Hebrew name for Jesus, was born in a stable. Was this stable really a sukkah? After all, this is the Feast of Tabernacles and we know that Y’shua was sent to “tabernacle” with us. What better time for Him to appear? All Feasts of the Lord have a New Covenant (Testament) fulfillment. The actual date of His birth has been lost. In Biblical times birthdays were not celebrated by the Hebrews. We were to remember the death and resurrection of Y’shua, but never actually told to celebrate His birth.

I believe He was probably born on the first day of Sukkot – 15 Tishrei, 04 BC. If we note the time of Zachariah’s service in the Temple, we can pinpoint the time of the birth of his son, John the Baptist which was about the time of Passover in the Spring. His cousin, Y’shua, was born six months later. That would make it during Sukkot. If He was born the first day and circumcised the eighth day, that would take care of the whole eight day Festival time.

Whenever it was, we know He was born, He did die and die for you and me in our stead. We have only to accept His sacrificial death, give our hearts to Him and make Him Lord of our lives. Then this `sukkah’ or temporary earth suit – this body of clay – will be changed forever into an eternal one that we might live forever with Him…
Baruch HaShem! Blessed be the Name of the Lord!
In the meantime — get ready to rejoice and be glad!

Chag Sameach! – Happy Festival! © 1994

See you next time!
Shalom, Sharaka
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