Each year the Jewish people would make three trips to Jerusalem to celebrate at the times set by God. One of those celebrations, the Feast of Tabernacles, took place about the 15th of Tishri, about September/October on our calendar. The Feast of Tabernacles was an opportunity for God’s people to celebrate His faithfulness at the time of the Fall harvest of the crops. The celebration was also a time to remember how God had been faithful in leading their ancestors out of bondage in Egypt. In Leviticus 23:41-43 we read where God told Moses what to tell the people.
41 Celebrate this as a festival to the LORD for seven days each year. This is to be a lasting ordinance for the generations to come; celebrate it in the seventh month. 42 Live in booths for seven days: All native-born Israelites are to live in booths 43 so your descendants will know that I had the Israelites live in booths when I brought them out of Egypt. I am the LORD your God. (Leviticus 23:41-43 NIV)
So, those Jews who came to Jerusalem in the generations which followed built shelters out of limbs and Palm branches and they lived in them for seven days. They also lit candles to remind them of the “pillar of fire,” God’s holy presence, that led them through the darkness of the unknown and into the Promised Land. I love Exodus 13:21-22!
21 By day the LORD went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night. 22 Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people. (Exodus 13:21-22 NIV)
Where would those freed slaves have gone if it weren’t for the Lord’s presence that went before them? How would they have known where to go or what to do if it had not been for the Lord’s presence to guide them?
The Feast of Tabernacles was alive and well in Jesus’ day. He saw the candles and said, “I am the Light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” Where would we be if it weren’t for the Lord’s presence to lead us and guide us? How would we make our way through the darkness of uncertainty and confusion if it weren’t for the Lord’s presence with us? Jesus is the Light of the world and you and I don’t have to walk in the darkness any longer.