As Rudy Ross and I were recording the YouTube videos for the week today, he reminded me that from sunset of September 15 (today) to nightfall on September 16 (tomorrow), Yom Kippur is celebrated.
Yom Kippur is also called the Day of Atonement, “For on this day atonement shall be made for you, to cleanse you; from all your sins you shall be clean before the Lord” (Leviticus 16.30).
Today’s study, the Festival of Booths, will begin at sunset next Monday, September 20 and end at nightfall on Monday, September 27.
What is the festival and why should we pay attention to it?
The Festival of Booths
As God’s people were about to enter the promised land, Moses reminded the people of certain festivals they were to observe. The festival of booths was one of them.
— Deuteronomy 16.13-15 – You shall keep the festival of booths for seven days, when you have gathered in the produce from your threshing floor and your wine press.
Rejoice during your festival, you and your sons and your daughters, your male and female slaves, as well as the Levites, the strangers, the orphans, and the widows resident in your towns.
Seven days you shall keep the festival to the Lord your God at the place that the Lord will choose; for the Lord your God will bless you in all your produce and in all your undertakings, and you shall surely celebrate.
It is dangerous to forget what God has done for us, especially when we obtain a measure of success.
In one of eleven instances in Deuteronomy Moses told the people to not forget.
He said, “But take care and watch yourselves closely, so as neither to forget the things that your eyes have seen nor to let them slip from your mind all the days of your life; make them known to your children and your children’s children” (Deuteronomy 4.9).
Forgetting leads to self-sufficiency and trust in what is not reliable or true. Annual festivals were reminders of the nation’s dependence on God.
From Yom Kippur to the Festival of Booths
The Festival of Booths is a time of rejoicing, but it is preceded by a very serious time of reflection and worship.
Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) takes place before this festive celebration.
Fasting, reflection, prayer, and worship are features of the Day of Atonement or Yom Kippur. Leviticus 16 describes what God wanted to take place on this day.
The Internet site, http://www.learnreligions.com, explains the Day of Atonement as follows:
“Atonement means ‘covering.” The purpose of the sacrifice was to repair the broken relationship between humans and God by covering the sins of the people. On this day, the high priest would remove his official priestly garments, which were radiant vestments. He would bathe and put on a pure white linen robe to symbolize repentance.
“Next, he would make a sin offering for himself and the other priests by sacrificing a young bull and a ram for a burnt offering. Then he would enter the Holy of Holies with a pan of glowing coals from the altar of incense, filling the air with a smoky cloud and aroma of incense. Using his fingers, he would sprinkle the blood of the bull on the mercy seat and the floor before the ark of the covenant.”
The Festival of Booths was a contrast to the solemnity of the Day of Atonement. It was a time of happiness. The command to “rejoice during your festival” (verse 14) was welcome by all.
The festival involved spending seven days in four-sided huts with no covering for the roof. They rejoiced in God’s goodness to them in the Exodus and his provision of a bountiful harvest.
Both the Day of Atonement and Festival of Booths renewed the Hebrew’s relationship with God. Their spiritual experiences included repentance, fasting, prayer, worship, and joy in the Lord.
Meaning for Christians
What would happen if we took a week off from all distractions and spent it in repentance, fasting, prayer, worship, and rejoicing? How would our inside condition be enriched?
Most people who read my articles don’t celebrate Yom Kippur or the Festival of Booths. However, we all would be blessed to spend quality time with God.
E. Stanley Jones was possibly the most influential missionary to India of the past era. In the 1940’s he graced the cover of “Time” magazine because his contribution to the people of India.
Jones so valued un-distracted time alone with God that he established retreat centers in India. He was a very busy man, but one who knew the source of his spiritual power was a vibrant relationship with God.
He frequently devoted days in solitude, prayer, and worship, so his ministry would reveal the character of Christ.
Let’s consider these festivals in the light of our need to remember God’s goodness and to re-connect with him. Possibly, we will want to follow the example of Hebrew festivals or E. Stanley Jones.
About This Blog
Rudy Ross has forgotten more about Jewish festivals than I know. I encourage you to view a short video that Rudy and I have recorded on this topic. It can be found on the Bob Spradling YouTube channel.
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