It is interesting to me how little attention we pay to the seasons of life. While it is certainly easy to see the seasons of weather all around us, I believe we often think that a true healthy Christian should always been in some sort of “summer.” What if God intended us to enjoy each season as a symbol of what He does within us? What if God sometimes intends us to grieve, and other times to party? Read Ecclesiastes 3, it seems God works in a variety of “seasons.” In fact, the festivals of Israel worked much this way. God commands rejoicing during the time of Harvest when it would be natural to do so.
This week we are celebrating “Feast of Tabernacles,” just as Jews and Christians are doing in Israel. I know for many of us with protestant backgrounds, this seems strange. Rest assured, it is very much a command of scripture. He told Israel to reside in “booths” or tents once a year to be reminded of their sojourn between being released from bondage in Israel, and inhabiting the “Promised Land.” Aren’t we in the same place? Christ has graciously “saved” us from the bondage of sin, yet we have not arrived in Heaven. We live in the temporary dwellings of our bodies until Christ fully redeems us and we see Him face to face! It is a beautiful reminder of our temporary dwelling as we camp out in tents once a year. Is it comfortable? No. That’s the point. I am a little too comfortable with this world, and often see only material blessings. What a great reminder not to get too attached to the pleasures of this life, or too discouraged by its sufferings. This Festival was a party reminding us that what is to come would make us forget both! Not a party to celebrate self, but to celebrate God! So he gave them this command in Deut 14:22-26:
22 "You must set aside a tithe of your crops -- one-tenth of all the crops you harvest each year. 23 Bring this tithe to the place the LORD your God chooses for his name to be honored, and eat it there in his presence. This applies to your tithes of grain, new wine, olive oil, and the firstborn males of your flocks and herds. The purpose of tithing is to teach you always to fear the LORD your God. 24 Now the place the LORD your God chooses for his name to be honored might be a long way from your home. 25 If so, you may sell the tithe portion of your crops and herds and take the money to the place the LORD your God chooses. 26 When you arrive, use the money to buy anything you want -- an ox, a sheep, some wine, or beer. Then feast there in the presence of the LORD your God and celebrate with your household.
In case you are wondering, yes… God commanded Israel to set aside an extra tithe of their earnings to buy “anything you want!” Imagine taking 10 percent of your ANNUAL income to spend in ONE WEEK! That’s right, its party time. Enjoy the Feast of Tabernacles!