About Yvonne BielI’m here to journey with others to the feet of Jesus through creative soul care and mind/body healing work. I am the Formation Pastor at South Fellowship Church
The Lord said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites: ‘On the fifteenth day of the seventh month the Lord’s Festival of Tabernacles begins, and it lasts for seven days. The first day is a sacred assembly; do no regular work. For seven days present food offerings to the Lord, and on the eighth day hold a sacred assembly and present a food offering to the Lord. It is the closing special assembly; do no regular work.
(These are the Lord’s appointed festivals, which you are to proclaim as sacred assemblies for bringing food offerings to the Lord—the burnt offerings and grain offerings, sacrifices and drink offerings required for each day. These offerings are in addition to those for the Lord’s Sabbaths and[a] in addition to your gifts and whatever you have vowed and all the freewill offerings you give to the Lord.)
So beginning with the fifteenth day of the seventh month, after you have gathered the crops of the land, celebrate the festival to the Lord for seven days; the first day is a day of sabbath rest, and the eighth day also is a day of sabbath rest. On the first day you are to take branches from luxuriant trees—from palms, willows and other leafy trees—and rejoice before the Lord your God for seven days. 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. Live in temporary shelters for seven days: All native-born Israelites are to live in such shelters so your descendants will know that I had the Israelites live in temporary shelters when I brought them out of Egypt. I am the Lord your God.’”
So Moses announced to the Israelites the appointed festivals of the Lord.
God-appointed festivals were designed to remind God’s people of past events and foretell of future events. The entire Festival of Tabernacles, celebrated during autumn harvest, commemorates God’s presence with his people during the wilderness wanderings and also looks to the coming return of Christ when God’s presence returns to be with his people in a particular way once again.
It is prophesied when Christ returns, we will gather at the Wedding Feast of the Lamb celebrating the triumph of the Savior over all things, much like a final harvest festival (Revelation 19:7-10).
This festival begins with the Feast of Trumpets (Rosh Hashanah) which ushers in ten days of penitence for the people to prepare for the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur). This holy day commemorates the annual moment when the high priest would enter the presence of God in the Holy of Holies (Leviticus 23). The Feast of Tabernacles is considered the holiest of days in the festival and begins five days later to celebrate the final harvest day and foreshadow the final harvest of souls.
Just as God instructed them, Jews continue to set up shelters on the Feast of Tabernacles and dwell in them for seven days. Notice how God specifically instructed them to pull from luxuriant trees and build beautiful booths. As they look forward to feasting in the fullness of God’s presence, God wanted his people to long for his presence in a playful and beautiful way. God purposely invited his people to camp out every year to remind them of how he too, longs to dwell with them.
In what way can you enjoy God’s presence in a playful and beautiful way? Could you go camping or create an event with beautiful hospitality? Use your creativity to enjoy God’s presence today and remember how much he longs to dwell with you.
The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
He refreshes my soul.
Psalm 23 drops us into a desert scene. The desert is not a place of abundance. It’s a place of great need and a place of just enough. In this desert, we meet a shepherd and a poet. The shepherd leads his sheep with compassionate care through the difficult terrain. The poet likens himself to a helpless sheep yielding to the shepherd’s guidance during a season of great need.
When we enter poetry like Psalm 23, we find ourselves caught up in this imagery as well. We, like this poet, long to have our needs met, especially in seasons when provision is scarce. We yearn for our deep hunger to be cared for by someone who dearly loves us, who can see beyond our immediate needs, and who can lead us to a healthy future.
During desert times, we learn to trust the one who leads us. We learn to trust in the provision of the good shepherd. The one who guides us to places where we can graze, even if they are only tufts of grass. The one who guides us to a place of refreshment, even if they are only muddy pools of water from last month’s rain.
Jesus wants to eat with us in times of abundance and in times of scarcity. He wants to provide for our needs no matter which season we find ourselves in. Today, spend time in gratitude looking back at when God has provided for you in abundance and in scarcity.
Walking is a strong, repetitive theme through the scriptures, and the first moment we witness walking is in the context of God slowly making his way through his garden.
God walks. We catch a glimpse of him walking in Genesis 3.
“Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden.” (Genesis 3:8)
Perhaps this verse is too familiar to really note how unusual this sounds. How does God walk? Does God have legs? How would God’s walk sound? What was his experience like that day enjoying the garden during the coolness of the day?
Although we might not be able to answer every question that arises from the various descriptions of God in the scriptures, we can get curious about the importance of God walking.
When we walk…
- we have to get up and get moving
- we notice more of the world around us
- we can process thoughts using both sides of our brain
Walking often slows us down, keeps us healthy, and draws us into the present moment. And, this is what God does too. God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He’s not in a hurry and he’s always present with us moment by moment. In God’s walking, God offers us himself.
“I will put my dwelling place among you, and I will not abhor you. I will walk among you and be your God. And you will be my people.” (Leviticus 26:11-12)
Today, ask God to go for a walk with you and notice what walking does for your body and your brain.
Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. Genesis 1:2
Stop and imagine this scene. Let your mind’s eye develop a picture of what this would have looked like. Place yourself in the scene to feel what it might have felt like for the earth to be formless and empty, dark and deep, with only a sense of a divine spirit existing over it all.
Yesterday, Ethan described the common thought of creation in early Mesopotamia. These creation stories in mythology pictured chaos, violence, and gods waging war to prove their strength and divinity. However, Hebrew thought introduced a new creation story where the divine spirit brought forth life, order, beauty, and goodness.
Where the world believed humans were created out of chaos, the Hebrews believed God ordered human existence. Where the world believed the divine spirit caused violence and death, inciting fear in mankind, the Hebrews believed God’s spirit animated life and offered tender loving care.
The simple invitation today is to remember the magnificent creation story. Look around as you go throughout your day and note any evidence of chaos as well as evidence of the Biblical creation story.
“We hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?”” – Acts 2:11b-12
Imagine yourself amidst the crowd of Galileans staying in Jerusalem that day. Jerusalem is swarming with God-fearing Jews from across the known world and you are feeling the energy in the city. The Jews are gathering for their traditional fe”stival of Firstfruits. Perhaps you don’t understand the meaning of this festival but are mesmerized by how this one day has gathered people from every nation.
As you’re enjoying the sights and taking in the wonders of this festival, all of a sudden, something unusual starts to happen. The crowd bursts into laughter and tears start flowing. The sound of this massive crowd causes an uproar. You can see them. People of differing colors and ethnicities are connecting in ways you didn’t think were possible. All because they were speaking in each other’s native language. You were among a crowd of diverse people, but that day you truly felt “with” them.
No wonder the Scripture notes how the crowd was amazed and perplexed – wondering what all this means. All separation that once existed from language barriers was gone, in the blink of an eye.
This is precisely what the Spirit of God does. He breaks down barriers so he can be “with” his people and his people can be “with” one another. God is sometimes called Immanuel, “God with us”. Yet, there are three Greek words for “with” in the New Testament – meta, para, and en. Over the next few days, we will explore the nuances of all three.
Today’s word for “with” is meta, meaning together or among. Think about how many barriers we create between people – divisions of race, gender, political positions, socio-economic status, etc.. Truth is: humans create division but God’s presence includes. God’s Spirit brings humans together. Separations among us cease to exist when God’s presence enters the room. Find at least one person today with whom you can break down barriers because you walk with the Spirit. Ask God what creative actions you might take which would allow for the Spirit to be “with” or among your relationships today.