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The Annual Feasts of the 7th Month
Part 3 - Tishrei 15: 1st Day of Feast of Tabernacles
Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, The fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the feast of tabernacles for seven days unto Yahweh. On the first day shall be an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein, Lev. 23:34-35.
And thou shalt rejoice before Yahweh thy Elohim, thou, and thy son, and thy daughter, and thy manservant, and thy maidservant, and the Levite that is within thy gates, and the stranger, and the fatherless, and the widow, that are among you, in the place which Yahweh thy Elohim hath chosen to place His name there, Deuteronomy 16:11.
So, what Feast is Yahweh speaking of here? Let’s look at the verse before it.
And thou shalt keep the feast of weeks unto Yahweh thy Elohim with a tribute of a freewill offering of thine hand, which thou shalt give unto Yahweh thy Elohim, according as Yahweh thy Elohim hath blessed thee, Deuteronomy 16:10.
Wow. We are commanded to rejoice at the Feast of Weeks, or Pentecost. You all thought we were celebrating Tabernacles. Now look at verses 14 and 15:
And you shall rejoice in your feast, you and your son and your daughter, your male servant and your female servant and the Levite, the stranger and the fatherless and the widow, who are within your gates. Seven days you shall keep a sacred feast to Yahweh thy Elohim in the place which Yahweh chooses, because Yahweh thy Elohim will bless you in all your produce and in all the work of your hands, so that you surely rejoice.
The proceeding verse 13, reveals the Feast that it is describing:
You shall observe the Feast of Tabernacles seven days, when you have gathered from your threshing floor and from your winepress [meaning grape juice press], Deuteronomy 16:13.
The word, Rejoice – samach – means to brighten up; to be, cause to be, or make blithe [carefree, casual or unconcerned] or gleesome [delight, merriment or laughter; to be glad].
Again Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the sons of Israel, saying, ‘On the fifteenth of this seventh month is the Feast of Tabernacles for seven days to Yahweh. On the first day is a holy convocation; you shall do no laborious work of any kind. For seven days you shall present an offering by fire to Yahweh. On the eighth day you shall have a holy convocation and present an offering by fire to Yahweh; it is an assembly. You shall do no laborious work. These are the appointed times of Yahweh which you shall proclaim as holy convocations, to present offerings by fire to Yahweh —burnt offerings and grain offerings, sacrifices and drink offerings, each day’s matter on its own day— besides those of the Sabbaths of Yahweh, and besides your gifts and besides all your votive and freewill offerings, which you give to Yahweh. On exactly the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you have gathered in the crops of the land, you shall celebrate the feast of Yahweh for seven days, with a rest on the first day and a rest on the eighth day. Now on the first day you shall take for yourselves the foliage of beautiful trees, palm branches and boughs of leafy trees and willows of the brook, and you shall rejoice before Yahweh your Elohim for seven days. You shall thus celebrate it as a feast to Yahweh for seven days in the year. It shall be a perpetual statute throughout your generations; you shall celebrate it in the seventh month. You shall live in booths for seven days; all the native-born in Israel shall live in booths, so that your generations may know that I had the sons of Israel live in booths when I brought them out from the land of Egypt. I am Yahweh your Elohim.’ So Moses declared to the sons of Israel the appointed times of Yahweh,” Leviticus 23:33-44.
Verse 40 says,
You shall rejoice before Yahweh your Elohim for seven days.
With that command, we are simply to rejoice. But, what, exactly does that mean? Rejoice.
I suppose we could divide human emotion into two camps: love and hate. We could just as easily call one camp “Joy” and the other “Sorrow.” Most people would agree that these are, indeed, separate or opposite entities.
Would you agree with me that hate, be it extreme anger or extreme sorrow, is fostered by feelings of fear, disappointment, betrayal, guilt, shame; a sense of worthlessness, powerlessness, disconnectedness and hopelessness? Would you also agree with me that love, or joy, on the other hand, is fostered by feelings of security & safety, satisfaction; a sense of innocence, courage, personal power, intimacy and hope?
If so, then do you know that all of these feelings are generated by our thoughts, beliefs or perceptions? Fear, for example, is generated when one believes that something terrible is going to, or is about to happen. Disappointment is generated when we expect something good to be given to us, or to happen to us, and do not receive it. Feelings of betrayal arise when someone breaks a vow or covenant with us. We feel guilty when we know or think we’ve done something wrong, and we feel ashamed when we believe that there is something wrong with us or think we are bad. We feel worthless when we perceive that we are not important to others or that we make no difference to those we wish to be connected with. We feel powerless when we believe we should be able to do something, but discover that we are unable to accomplish it. We feel disconnected when we look to others within our family, assembly or community for support, shared-activities and care, but do not receive it, and so view ourselves as having no similarity or use to that group. We feel hopeless when we see no positive vision of the future.
The same is true for the feelings of joy. We feel secure when we believe that no harm will come to us, satisfied when we get what we expect or want, innocent when we see that we did something right, courageous when we know there is something good about us, worthy when it’s clear that we are important to others and make a difference in their lives, powerful when we attempt something new or difficult and eventually accomplish our goals, encouraged when we are looked up to in our community, intimate when we are of the same mind and treat the other (or each other) as we would treat ourselves, and hopeful when we can envision a blessing or reward for a job well done.
Joy and Rejoicing
Let us focus on Joy and Rejoicing because, if Yahweh commands us to rejoice at His Feasts, and, IF joy is comprised of the thoughts we choose to think and the resultant primary feelings described above, then by examining these things more deeply, we might just learn how to create more joy.
First, what does Scripture say about feeling safe and secure when we believe that no harm will come to us? Here are some amazing verses filled with many of the emotions described above.
I hate the double-minded [vain thinkers or sceptics, those who disbranch a tree], but I love Your law. You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in Your word. Depart from me, you evildoers, for I will keep the commandments of my Elohim! Uphold me according to Your word, that I may live; and do not let me be ashamed of my hope. Hold me up, and I shall be safe, and I shall observe Your statutes continually. You reject all those who stray from Your statutes, for their deceit is falsehood. You put away all the wicked of the earth like dross; therefore I love Your testimonies. My flesh trembles for fear of You, and I am afraid of Your judgments, Psalms 119:113-120. OK. Let’s examine this emotion-laden verse line by line:
Verse 113a - I hate the double-minded [translated as “vain thinkers” in the King James. It means sceptics or those who “disbranch a tree”].
The word “hate” says a lot, but not all of what the writer is expressing. When I listen to these words, I imagine feelings of betrayal and fear. After all, to whom is the author referring? The word “double-minded” must be in reference to people who once knew, understood and were obedient to the Laws of Yahweh. But now, through their vain or prideful thoughts that are contrary to the Torah, they oppose those who are obedient. Is the writer seeing the beginning of Phariseeism? Or of Judaism? If David foresaw the Messiah, is it not possible that he is also seeing the advent of churchianity? He’s describing people of Israel, because the enemies of Israel are NOT double-minded! They are not confused about the Law of Yahweh; they completely disregard His Word. And, behind King David’s feelings of betrayal, I can hear fear; fear of rampant disobedience – and the inevitable punishment that Yahweh will exact on a nation that continues in blasphemy.
Verse 113b - But I love Your law.
Can we imagine that under these words are feelings of courage and intimacy, in that he has the confidence of knowing what is right and wrong to make right choices? And, the feeling of intimacy as his relationship with the Almighty allows him to receive from and give blessings to Yahweh?
Verse114a - You are my hiding place and my shield.
I once read in Malachi 4:2 and pondered the phrase “unto you that fear my name shall the Sun (s-u-n) of righteousness arise with healing in his wings.” We looked up the Hebrew meaning for “Sun” and discovered that its archaic meaning was “a notched embattlement.” And, in verse 114, similarly, we find that the notched shape of the top of a walled castle might well be a good “hiding place.” The two Hebrew words, however, are not the same. Nevertheless, what would we feel if we had a good hiding place, away from harm? Safe? Secure? Hopeful? – entertaining the notion that one will survive a harsh attack? The next part of the verse reveals such a feeling.
Verse 114b - I hope in Your word.
In other words, if I may paraphrase, “I see clearly the blessings, now and in the future, that are given to those who obey Yahweh. When I see you all departing from His Word, I have no vision of blessing.” Again, I can hear the fear that drives the writer to have hope in the eternal promises of Yahweh. The next verse reveals this fear.
Verse 115 - Depart from me, you evildoers, for I will keep the commandments of my Elohim!
Now, why do we command others to leave us? Picture someone approaching you with an active, virulent case of the flu, sneezing into their hands and holding a hand out to shake yours. What’s the first thing that enters your mind? “Get away from me!” Why? The answer is obvious, I’m afraid of catching the disease. And, why would we feel the need to declare our intentions of what we are going to do, as opposed to what others are inviting us to do, if we were not feeling tempted to do something wrong and dangerous? Again, fear comes to mind.
Verse 116 - Uphold me according to Your word, that I may live; and do not let me be ashamed of my hope.
Can you hear, again, the fear underlying his humble request? The writer seems to be envisioning that he may not be granted the help and support he is counting on, and that he is somehow defective or even wrong. He wants to maintain his courage in order to press on.
Verse 117 - Hold me up, and I shall be safe, and I shall observe Your statutes continually.
I don’t know for sure, but doesn’t it sound like his fear is rising? Now, he almost seems to be bargaining with Yahweh, again attempting to be reassured that he can count on His promises. “Uh, listen to me, Father, I ... I will continue to obey You, You know, if You keep me safe from my enemies.” It sounds like the bargaining that someone might do who has disregarded leading a righteous life, and having been caught in a very troubling situation, now turns to the Creator, saying, “OK, I know I haven’t been the best person in the world, but if You help me out of this fix, I promised I’ll start reading the Bible.” Oy! I can certainly imagine the confusion, fear and powerlessness within these words. David, here, is either bargaining or simply speaking the truth, perhaps to shore-up his own faith.
Verse 118 - You reject all those who stray from Your statutes, for their deceit is falsehood.
Now, the writer seems to be trying to encourage himself by reminding himself what will happen if he were to stray from Yahweh’s teachings. Not a pretty picture. Sometimes, the fear of NOT doing something can act like a stimulus to do that which we are afraid of. Ironic, huh? And, what a terrible bind to be in! How much stress can we therefore rid ourselves of, if we only DID what Yahweh tells us to do ... and make a habit of it.
Verses 119 – 120 - You put away all the wicked of the earth like dross; therefore I love Your testimonies. My flesh trembles for fear of You, and I am afraid of Your judgments.
The Scriptures are FILLED with descriptions of stressful events, and within each event we can search out the feelings and emotions that underlie the actions of those individuals. Like the author of the Book of Ecclesiastes says in 12:13-14:
Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear Elohim, and keep His commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For Elohim shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing,
whether it be good, or whether it be evil.
May we strive to do good. For, in doing good, as Yahweh commands, there shall be JOY, because we shall be satisfied, having obtained our heart’s desire. We shall be declared innocent because we did what was right; and courageous, knowing there is something good within us, namely the Holy Spirit, upon hearing the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” We shall know our worth when we see others in the kingdom of Yahweh to whom we made a difference in their lives. We shall know the power of Yahweh, when we see how He empowered us to attempt something righteous and difficult and eventually accomplish those purposes for which He called us to do. We shall feel the intimacy of His embrace as we received the mind of Yahweh and forgave others as we were forgiven by Yahweh through His Son, Yahshua, His Messiah. Someday, we shall not equivocate about hope, for we will behold that vision, that blessing and reward promised by Yahweh. We shall be carried away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and be shown the holy city Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from Elohim, having the glory of Yahweh.
-Elder John Fisher
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