1. SUCCOT (“FEAST OF TABERNACLES”) BEGAN AT SUNDOWN LAST WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 4TH AND WILL CONTINUE THROUGH THURSDAY, OCTOBER 12TH.
Succot is plural for succah (or sukkah), which most often in Scripture refers to a small, rude, temporary shelter. Although often translated in English “tabernacles”, this is not the same Hebrew word as is used for the Tabernacle in which the Levites ministered to the LORD in the wilderness (That is Ohel Moed—”tent of meeting,” or Mishkan-“dwelling place”.)
Sukkot in Israel facing the Mount of Olives
In ancient times, succot were used as
* Sheds for cattle (Genesis 33:17),
* Overnight shelters for warriors in the field (II Samuel 11:11).
* Guard shacks for watchmen over vineyards (Isaiah 1:8).
* Jonah built for himself a succah outside Nineveh (Jonah 4:5) from which to observe what God might do to that city.
* In Psalm 27:5 David trusts that God will hide him in His succah in the “evil day”.
As part of an annual fall “ingathering” festival, after she had entered the land and was living in nicely constructed houses (Exodus 23:16), Israel was called to rejoice and feast before the Lord for seven days, resting on the first and eighth days. For that occasion, she was also called to build and spend time in succot.
ONE OF THE PLACES IN THE TORAH GIVING INSTRUCTIONS FOR THIS CELEBRATION IS LEVITICUS 23:39-43:
“On the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you have gathered in the produce of the land, you shall celebrate the feast of the LORD seven days. On the first day shall be a solemn rest, and on the eighth day shall be a solemn rest. And you shall take on the first day the fruit of splendid trees, branches of palm trees and boughs of leafy trees and willows of the brook, and you shall rejoice before the LORD your God seven days. You shall celebrate it as a feast to the LORD for seven days in the year. It is a statute forever throughout your generations; you shall celebrate it in the seventh month. You shall dwell in booths [Hebrew: sukkot] for seven days. All native Israelites shall dwell in booths, that your generations may know that I made the people of Israel dwell in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.”
A DESCRIPTION OF THIS CELEBRATION OCCURS IN NEHEMIAH 8:14-15.
This was centuries later after a large community of Jews have returned to Jerusalem from captivity in Babylon:
“And they found written in the Torah, which YHVH had commanded by Moses, that the children of Israel should dwell in sukkot during the feast of the seventh month, and that they should proclaim it and publish it in all their towns and in Jerusalem, saying, ‘Go out to the mountain, and bring olive branches, branches of oil trees, myrtle branches, palm branches, and branches of leafy trees, to make succot, as it is written.’ Then the people went out and brought them and made themselves succot, each one on the roof of his house, or in their courtyards or the courts of the house of God, and in the open square of the Water Gate and in the open square of the Gate of Ephraim. And all the assembly of those who had returned from the captivity made succot and lived in the succot. and there was very great rejoicing!”
TO RETURN TO LEVITICUS 23:40:
“And you shall take on the first day the fruit of splendid trees, branches of palm trees and boughs of leafy trees and willows of the brook, and you shall rejoice before the LORD your God seven days”. Jewish tradition has identified the “fruit of splendid trees” with the etrog (English “citron”) —a fragrant, lemon-like fruit; the “branch of palm trees” with the lulav—the unopened leaf of a special palm; “boughs of leafy trees” with the myrtle. Although originally, as implied in the Nehemiah passage, these fruit and branches were (and still often are) the materials for making and decorating the sukkah, one way of “rejoicing before the LORD” practiced from ancient ties is that of waving them together. The palm, myrtle and willow branch are bound together, and held in one hand, while the etrog is held in the other. The user brings the two hands together and waves the species in four directions, then up and down-attesting to God’s mastery over all of creation. When shaken, the lulav makes a sound reminiscent of rain—so waving the lulav is also seen as being a prayer for God’s provision of rain over the coming season. The “Former Rains” begin in Israel during late autumn —
TODAY, October 9th, Jerusalem received its first rains of the season!
(Please join with us in praying for mercifully heavy rains this year. The nation has just experienced four years of severe drought.)
We still build these tiny shelters for use during the festival. Besides blessing the Lord with the lulav, we also gather leafy, fruitful boughs of foliage, and bright fragrant fruit to decorate the succa. This brings to mind how when Israel was out in the desert moving from place to place in these temporary dwellings, God’s presence with them was a source of life and beauty. Setting up and decorating the succah is a happy family affair—perhaps in some ways similar to that of Christians in the nations when they decorate a Christmas tree! (Regarding the possible relationship of Succot to the birth of Yeshua, see below). As we rejoice in thanksgiving before the Lord for His provision and sustenance, we remind ourselves that we are in fact still abiding in temporary dwellings—that, as goes the old American spiritual, “this world is not my home, I’m just a-passin’ through!” –or,
“If our earthly house, this tent, this succah is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavenlies!”
(II Corinthians 5:1)
“Yet while we are here, the living presence of this same LORD who accompanied Israel through the desert will be with us all the way. And when we face the “evil day,” He will hide us away in HIS succa!” (Psalm 27:5). It is significant that during this season, it is a Hebrew tradition to read through the book of Ecclesiastes—that strange, poetic, unflinching examination of passing “vanities” to which we are tempted to attach our eyes and affections during our journey through this earthly passage “under the sun”.
The feast begins and ends with a special “sabbath” (Thursdays 5 and 12 October this year). Since these are “holy” (i.e. set apart) days, the days in between are called chol—”ordinary”. During chol ha’moed (the ordinary part of this special season) many people in Israel will have abbreviated work days, and children will be out of school for the entire week.
Finally—amongst Messianic Jews this is generally considered to be the season in which the Holy One Yeshua (Jesus) came into the world in Beit-Lehem (“House of Bread”, Bethlehem)—when the Son of God took on human flesh to “tabernacle” among us. He has now returned to His Father’s house to prepare eternal dwelling places for us with Him!
2. “WELCOMING THE KING OF GLORY” — PLEASE PRAY WITH US!!
We want to share with you an urgent burden regarding a unique, we believe historical, event taking place this week in Israel, near and in Jerusalem:
A “Gathering to Welcome the King of Glory” grew out of the visit of a group of leaders from the South Pacific, who have prayed for some 30 years into the vision given to an elder statesman prophet, a vision of a “tsunami” of the Lord’s glory starting from the “end of the earth” in the Pacific, and finally settling upon Jerusalem. They felt the Lord told them that this Succot Hebrew Year 5778 was a key time in the release of that tsunami. They also said they felt that if a gathering were to be held to “welcome back” that glory, it was important that it not be called and organized by them, but rather by the local messianic Body, as representing the “covenant people of the Land”. Many Messianic leaders and ministries from the Land are convening this Gathering. The meetings begin Tuesday night at a location outside of Jerusalem. They will continue morning and evening, ending at a venue within Jerusalem itself Friday morning. Many hundreds of visitors from the nations, especially the Islands of the Pacific, will be joining at the invitation of the leaders of the Body of Messiah in Israel to minister together three days before the Lord—and to invite His glory to be manifest in the Land and to return to His city. The worship together will reflect a number of ethnic expressions from the different nations and Israel.
In the midst of, and in connection with this Gathering, there will be an Elav youth and young adult event on Wednesday afternoon. Young Jewish and Arab believers from around the nation (and some from Judea, Samaria and the Kingdom of Jordan) will come together to worship the Lord in Hebrew and Arabic. In the evening they will join with the adults, for a session focusing on inter-generational worship and ministry to the Lord in the land— restoring the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers.”
A core of Israeli leaders have been gathering regularly for months in preparation for this—the emphasis worship and seeking the face of the Lord.
We believe it to be something new which God is doing. Of course, since Israel’s birth almost 70 years ago, there have been gleams of His glory, manifestations of His presence released here. There have also been many “moves of God” in which men and women from the Nations have come to celebrate and worship in Israel and Jerusalem. Some have invited local Israelis to take part, some have not. On many occasions, these have been events of great blessing.
This is, however, the first event of which we are aware in which leaders from abroad have approached those of the Body in Israel, sharing a vision they felt was from God—but which would only come to fruition if the Body here felt it was God’s word and His timing—and took the initiative preparing a way for it.
Please join with us in praying for this “Welcoming the Return of the King of Glory” gathering!
One thing which adds to confirmation that it is from God is the degree of spiritual warfare which has and is being required for its coming to birth! The Evil One does not want the Glory of God to return to Zion. His attacks have been intense, concentrated and relentless. Yet, God’s grace has continued to rise up in power; there are continual clear signs that it is His doing! We believe that His desire is GOING to take place this week!!
A Hebrew prayer from the Siddur—prayed by Jews in synagogues from ancient times —
“OUR EYES SHALL GAZE UPON YOUR RETURN WITH MERCY TO ZION
BLESSED ARE YOU, ADONAI
WHO BRINGS BACK HIS DIVINE PRESENCE (SHEKINAH) TO ZION!”
May a strong manifestation of that “returning” be witnessed in Israel during this Succot!
* That that which God has planted in the hearts of His people from the ends of the earth, and which has been shared with and mantled by His servants in Israel, will be manifest in opening a gateway for the King of Glory this week in Israel.
* That Hell will not be able to thwart God’s purposes. That angels be released to guard those preparing the way for the Glory of the LORD. That anti-Messiah (anti-Christ) emissaries will not be allowed to come near to nor to operate against the venue, or those who are drawing near.
* That God’s blessing, favor, and protection be over all logistics for this event—sound systems, security systems, buses and other transportation bringing worshipers to and from the venue.
* That God’s favor, provision, blessing and protection be over all those who have journeyed from the nations to Israel to take part in this.
* That God’s guidance and holy insight attend the Israeli leaders who are hosting the gathering.
* That blessing be over the Elav [i.e. “Unto Him”] youth gathering on Wednesday. That the Holy Spirit release light, power, and holy inspiration over all these young people—over those facilitating the worship, the prayer, the waiting on the Holy Spirit. That the Lord God of Israel bring a unification between the generations in their worship and walk in HIM…which will protect the Land and its people from curses (Malachi 4:6).