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The Feast of Tabernacles

Hello and welcome to this week’s Devotional Moments. How are you going with the 90 Day’s Challenge? Keep going. I know that life throws curve balls at us, so where possible keep reading. Depending on which day you are reading or watching this we are up to Day 25 which is John chapters 7, 8 and 9. Today, I’ll be sharing the background to what was going on in chapters 7 and 8.

In chapter 7 you’ll notice that John talks about Jesus’ teaching during one of the Jewish festivals. Now, depending on what version you read from it was the Feast of Tabernacles (NIV). This feast is a week-long festival remembering the 40-year journey of the Israelites in the wilderness. Along with Passover and Pentecost, the Feast of Tabernacles is one of three great pilgrimage feasts recorded in the Bible when all Jewish males were required to appear before the Lord at the Temple in Jerusalem.

Throughout the week, Jews back then as well as many today, observe this time by building and

dwelling in temporary shelters, just like the Hebrew people did while wandering in the desert. In the time of Jesus, the Jews would sleep in them. Today, the Jews who observe this Festival mainly eat in them

during that week. In Jerusalem there would be thousands of makeshift tents. It was and still is a joyful occasion as it is a reminder of when God led the Israelites by his presence in the Sinai desert as they lived in tents and that the Lord provided for their every need.

There were a couple of symbolic happenings during this week. First, the Priest would pour water over the alter inside the Temple as a symbol of Israel’s hope for future rains to produce an abundant harvest. It was during the height of this ceremony, on the final day of the feast, that Jesus chose to stand up and say in a loud voice: “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them” (John 7:37-38 NIV). John himself interpreted this to be the Holy Spirit flowing through those who spiritually thirst for God.

There was also another symbolic happening during this week. The four golden oil-lamps in the Court of Women that stood 75-feet high, and candelabras were all lit as a reminder the pillar of fire that had led the Hebrews in their wilderness journey. The light was so bright that it is said to have illuminated the entire city. This was the context for Jesus' declaration: “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12 NIV).

I hope that as you read John chapters 7, 8 and 9 as part of the 90-Day Challenge that this information about the Feast of Tabernacles gives you as it did for me some context. Jesus is the Light of the World who has now blessed us with His Holy Spirit flowing through us.

Let’s pray. Dear God, thank you for the rich symbolic history of our faith. May You come and fill me with river of living water – your Holy Spirit. I acknowledge You are the light of the world. Please help us to reflect Your light whether You place us. In Christ’s name. Amen.

David Moyes

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