And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the people of Israel, saying, On the fifteenth day of this seventh month and for seven days is the Feast of Booths to the Lord.
“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 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.” Leviticus 23:33-34, 39-43 ESV
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:1-4 ESV
Do you know people who celebrate their wedding anniversary? This is a day to remember the day they were first married, and to be thankful for all the good things that have come to them in their marriage. Sometimes people might play the same music that they played at their wedding, maybe one special song. Or they might go back to a restaurant or visit a place that they had been to together when they first met, or were first married. These things help them remember their past and to be thankful for all the things their marriage means to them. An anniversary is also a time to be thankful for each other and for all the time of being together.
After the solemn festival of the Day of Atonement, there was a very joyful festival for God’s people that lasted for a week. It was called the Feast of Booths, or Sukkot in Hebrew. Sukkot came at the end of the late harvest, and was a time for God’s people to be thankful for God’s gifts. They would live outside in tents or other shelters decorated with the leaves of different trees. Jewish people today still celebrate this festival, and they might decorate their booths with berries, fruits, and vegetables as well as leaves. Jewish people might not live in these booths for eight days, but they spend time in them every day with their families. It’s a time to remember when the people of Israel lived in tents in the wilderness, and how God was with them all the way.
Christians know God’s faithfulness that he showed us in Jesus. Jesus came and lived among us for awhile, teaching and helping people. Finally he died on the cross to win us the forgiveness of our sins. While we look back and remember what Jesus did for us in the past, we look forward to the day Jesus comes again to live with us in his new kingdom forever. When Jesus comes again, it will be the final harvest, as all God’s people from all times and places are gathered together into his kingdom. We have God’s promise that he will be with us forever, and there won’t be any death or pain or sadness. We will live joyfully forever in a new heaven and a new earth with our Heavenly Father.
Dear Jesus, Thank you for coming to live among us for awhile so that we could live with you in heaven forever! Amen.