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Sukkot: The Real Manger Scene?


Mary & Steve in the Sukkah with the Lulav 10-09-2012

Mary & Steve holding the Lulav (4 Kinds of Branches) in Our Sukkah from 2012
To see the outsides and insides of some amazing sukkah designs, click on the image to go to a Flickr image search of the word, Sukkah. There are even some from the big building contest called “Sukkah City” which I think is in New York.

What if everything you’ve ever believed about Christmas was off by about 2-3 months? What if you found out that Yeshua’s birth was the fulfillment of one of The Lord’s feasts? And what if the fulfilling of that feast turned the holiday into a holy day, and brought all the joy of its celebration to you in abundance?

Today’s reading from Leviticus 23:33 through Leviticus 23:44 (the end of the chapter) gives us the information about the feast of Sukkot which means “booths,” and learning of this feast made the birth of Our Messiah more special to me than ever. I wrote a detailed article about it on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/notes/crystal-a-murray/sukkot-why-would-a-christian-celebrate-a-jewish-feast/10150361954688703 and I covered a little bit about it on my first post in this Torah commentary series at https://crystalwrites.wordpress.com/2013/09/28/the-joy-of-the-word-simchat-torah/

Our reading today begins with Yahveh telling Moses to mark the 15th day of the 7th month. You’ll recall that he has just told Israel to mark the 1st through the 10th days of the 7th month, so this is all happening right after the highest holy day of the year, Yom Kippur. The year starts brand new, the sins are wiped clean, and now it’s time to celebrate by remembering exactly what God has delivered Israel from. Oddly, they are still living in tents in the wilderness at this time, but the holiday is being established, so they will never forget.

The reading explains exactly how God intends for them to celebrate this feast, including days of rest and days of sacrifice. The children of Israel are also required to dwell in a sukkah (Hebrew singular for “booth” or tent, which is why the holiday is also called “The Feast of Booths” and “The Feast of Tabernacles”). They are to dwell in this temporary shelter for seven days, and God says it is a permanent regulation, so that generation after generation will know that He is God, and that He delivered them from Egypt.

A sukkah is a temporary dwelling just like our bodies on this earth. Our Messiah chose to live in a temporary body as well, so that He could deliver us from our own type of Egypt–living in sin without Him. My other articles give more detail about Sukkot being the real manger scene, but I’ll try to sum it up in a few bullet points…

  • A sukkah is a shelter built outside a permanent shelter, and many businesses put them up as well.
  • Because Sukkot is one of the feasts where all people were to go to their homes, Bethlehem was filled with homecoming celebrants, so there would have been no room in the inn, but the sukkah would be acceptable for dwelling.
  • The top of the sukkah was open where starlight could have shined through.
  • Yeshua is called the “sukkah” or “tabernacle” of men, and this fulfills Revelation 21:3.
  • It would have been too cold in December for shepherds to have been in the fields at night.
  • Caesar would have been smart enough to hold a census when he knew people were headed home rather than trying to declare one and gather people together from all over.

There is so much more, but I’ll write more later this year when we’re actually having our own celebration of this day. This is by and far my favorite feast day to celebrate because it seems I see more and more of Messiah in the celebration each time we gather. We build our own sukkah in the back yard, and we invite friends and neighbors to join us in the celebration, as we did with our friends Mary and Steve in the above image. If you live in the Kentuckiana area and want to learn more, please let me know to send you an invitation and a map for Sukkot 2014–Lord willing and the rapture don’t come. In the meantime, may all your days be blessed with the holy presence of Our Wonderful Creator.

April 24, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Days of Wine and Rose-Colored Glasses


Hand Painted Wine Glasses by Flickr User Southern Lady's Vintage, CC License = Attribution, No Derivative Works

Hand Painted Wine Glasses by Flickr User Southern Lady’s Vintage, CC License = Attribution, No Derivative Works
Click image to open new tab/window to view original image and to access user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

Wine and roses are considered romantic, and someone who views the world through rose-colored glasses is said to see things too romantically and not realistically enough. So, if we pair rose-colored glasses with wine, we get a good-looking false reality. But false or not, it’s usually more comfortable there, so we rarely want to stop and examine our lives to see where we are headed, or if there is anything we should change. We are so interested in the headlong pursuit of happiness that we will stop to smell the roses (because they represent the romance of beauty and comfort), but we rarely stop to pray.

In today’s reading from Leviticus 23:23 through Leviticus 23:32, we read about the preparation and celebration of the holiest day of the Jewish year, Yom Kippur, which means “Day of Atonement.” Our reading starts nine days before this high holy day, on the first day of the seventh month (Tishrei). We’re not told yet that this is Rosh Hashanah, meaning “Head of the year,” but only that it is a day of complete rest for remembering, and its start is signaled by a blast of the shofar (ram’s horn).

Rosh Hashanah, or as we often see on US calendars, “Jewish New Year,” is the beginning of a 10-day period of remembering and self-examination. These days, called “The Days of Awe,” are a time when people take off their rose-colored glasses and look for things in their lives that require repentance and forgiveness. They spend those first nine days with a focus on cleansing their hearts, forgiving each other, asking forgiveness from their neighbors, and trying to become blameless before the “Sabbath of Sabbaths” when they will wait to see if God has accepted the offerings of the high priest and forgiven the sins of the people.

On the tenth day of the month, God tells Israel to deny themselves and bring an offering to Him. This would be the realist of the days of reality; a day where fear and hope are equal partners. If a person does not deny himself (go without his desires, comforts, pleasures, etc.) on this day, he will be cut off from his people, so this is not the type of feast where you will find celebration. Instead, this is the day where all must bring forth real fruit of real repentance. It is a sabbath of complete rest, self-denial, and last ditch self-examination to strive for as much holiness as possible.

Like our salvation in Yeshua gives us at the time of our repentance, this ten-day period is a time when people have the opportunity to start over with a clean slate before God. It’s the time when the children of Israel would leave their gifts on the altar, and make amends with anyone they had given reason to hold an accusation against them. It didn’t mean they could do whatever they wanted for the rest of the year, but if they had wasted their days with not thinking about God and instead gotten lost in a stupor of wine and rose-colored glasses, this was their chance to stop the wild ride and try to make things right.

A current tradition for celebration of Yom Kippur is to wear all white to represent purity. For those of us who have been washed in the blood that makes us “white as snow,” we can have these days of self-examination every day. For each new day we deny ourselves, take up our crosses, and follow Yeshua, we get the opportunity to exchange our rose-colored glasses for crimson-colored glasses that allow us to see ourselves through the eyes of Our Loving Creator and Savior. And that’s a romance that will carry us throughout eternity.

April 23, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

From Pigeons to Pancakes


Pancake Face by Flickr User Kevin Severud, CC License = Attribution, Share Alike

Pancake Face by Flickr User Kevin Severud, CC License = Attribution, Share Alike
Click image to open new tab/window to view original image and to access user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

I had planned to go to Salem, Indiana, today for the last day of the Maple Syrup Festival, but we had the beginnings of an ice storm, so hubby and I stayed in. I wonder, though, if the griddle cakes Israel prepared in the desert–both for meals and for offerings–were the catalyst for what we now call pancakes or griddle cakes. Of course, I doubt anyone brought their offering with a happy face on the offering itself, but hopefully, they had a happy smile on their own face in thankfulness for God’s mercy.

Today’s reading from Leviticus 1:14 through Leviticus 2:6 begins with information for those who would make an offering of birds. The birds are to be either dove or pigeon, and this time, the priests do most of the work in giving the offering. I am thankful that God provided ways for everyone to be able to give an offering even if they didn’t own a flock or a herd to choose an animal from. God made it possible for all to come to Him to receive mercy and grace.

Most of us have probably heard or read the story of Yahshua turning the tables over in the temple in Matthew 12:12-14. And I’ve heard a lot of people use that Scripture to explain why nothing should be sold in a church. But some years ago, I had an interesting fact pointed out to me about this Scripture. In verse 14, after the famous statement about turning the temple of God into a den of thieves, Scripture says that the blind and lame came up to Yahshua, and He cured them. Apparently, those who were both sick and poor were being kept away from the priests and the chance to receive prayer. If they couldn’t provide their own offerings, and if they couldn’t afford to buy from the sellers, they were restricted to the courtyard. This is the scene The Savior walked in on, and–I believe–THIS is why He called them thieves, They were stealing the grace and mercy of God away from those THEY felt did not deserve it because of their financial situations. Scary huh?

Our reading continues with God providing yet another way for anyone to bring an offering to God. I think there may be specific reasons for grain offerings as well, but I believe they were also provided for those who had nothing to offer but what they could glean from the grain harvest. I found it interesting that God said they could bring fine flour mixed with olive oil and frankincense, or they could bring flour cakes or matzah baked in the oven or cooked on a griddle. All of it had to be unleavened, so I’m thinking that since matzah is like a cracker, the cakes are probably like our pancakes.

The important part was that which went up to God as a sweet aroma. I think He is greatly blessed to see us separated from our sins, however briefly. His word says, in Galatians 5:1 (GW), “Christ has freed us so that we may enjoy the benefits of freedom. Therefore, be firm in this freedom, and don’t become slaves again.” He desires that we would have both freedom and joy. As He says in John 15:10-11, He wants us to have His joy that our joy will be complete.

Speaking of joy–well laughter really, I was thinking about the fact that the priests got to eat part of that offering. Do you suppose they only put the frankincense on the parts they knew they wouldn’t eat? Or do you think there’s a recipe out there for potpourri pancakes that tastes better than it sounds. LOL

March 2, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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