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Vayikra/Leviticus 23:40 You shall take for yourselves, on the first day, the fruit of a tree of splendour
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So begins the commandment to take the lulav and etrog on the first day of the feast of Sukkot. ThePesikta de Rab Kahana uses a psalm to explain some of the traditions of Sukkot: "I shall wash my hands in innocence, and I will go about Thine altar, O L-rd, that I may proclaim with the voice of thanksgiving, and declare all Thy wonders" (Psalm 26:6-7, NASB). The first phrase implies that the arba minim must be bought openly and honestly, without theft or deceit; the second phrase is a reminder that on each day of seven days of the feast, men would circle the alter crying out to G-d to save the people. The third phrase is seen as a reference to all the festal offerings, offered in the sight of and on behalf of the nations, while the last phrase speaks of the Hallel psalms (114-118) that were recited many times during the excitement and festivities that took place in Jerusalem.
The feast of Sukkot was a time of great rejoicing and excitement in the city of Jerusalem as people gathered from all over Israel - from all over the known world by 2nd Temple times. Bringing their tithes and offerings to the L-rd and bringing money to buy "whatever your heart desires" (D'varim 14:26), the people would sing, dance and rejoice far into the night as the feast built towards its climax on the last day. "Now on the last day of the festival, Hoshanna Rabbah, Yeshua stood and cried out, 'If anyone is thirsty, let him keep coming to Me and drinking! Whoever puts his trust in Me, as the Scripture says, rivers of living water will flow from his inmost being!'" (John 7:37-38, CJB). The food and drink in the city were starting to run down, the resources even of Jerusalem were being exhausted by the mass of pilgrims and visitors, but Yeshua make the point that those who come to Him will never run out of resources for they will be tapped into the infinite resources of G-d. As G-d said through Isaiah: "For I will pour out water on the thirsty land and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out My Spirit on your offspring and on your descendants" (Isaiah 44:3, NASB).
As we celebrate Sukkot this year - as believers in Messiah Yeshua, eagerly awaiting His return - we too must observe the traditions of the feast. We must come openly and honestly before G-d, having confessed our sin and sought His forgiveness in Yeshua. Each day we should surround Him - "give Him no rest" (Isaiah 62:7) - and cry out for the salvation of our people and the Land as we "pray for the peace of Jerusalem" (Psalm 122:6). We must not forget to intercede for the nations: that they should come to know Yeshua and that the gospel may reach to every corner of the world so that people "from every tribe, nation and tongue" (Revelation 5:9) can praise Him. Lastly, we should praise and acknowledge our G-d: not only does He reign, but He has done great things for us - we must proclaim His goodness "for His loving kindness is great towards us and the truth of the L-rd is everlasting" (Psalm 117:2, NASB).
Further Study: Isaiah 55:1-5; John 7:14-18
Application: As you celebrate Sukkot today, remember that you are taking part in a prophetic enactment both of events to take place in this age, and also in the Olam Haba - the world to come - our dependence on G-d and the return of Yeshua.
© Jonathan Allen, 2006
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