I love the feast of Sukkot or Tabernacles, and especially God’s commandment to rejoice: “you shall rejoice before the Lord your God for seven days” (Lev. 23:40)!
Now you might be asking, “How can I rejoice when there are so many things that aren’t “right” in my life — my relationships, my work, my health, my family, my hurts, etc.?” I believe the answer lies in the key theme of the feast itself – God, the creator of the entire universe, desires to dwell with us, and dwell intimately with us! That is, since the beginning (Gen 3:8, Ex. 25:8; Ex. 40:34), now (1 Cor. 6:19; 1 Cor. 3;16), and forever in the future (Zech 14:4-9, 16-19)! The first commandment God gave to His people after they received the Law was to “make Him a sanctuary that He may dwell among them (Ex. 25:8). His heart has always been to make a way to dwell with us, a sinful people, even though He is pure and holy. Just thinking about this fills my heart with such awe, joy and thankfulness!!
We will never experience joy in lives if our eyes are on ourselves, our circumstances or other people. All of these things can and do change by the minute! The ONLY thing in life that will never change is God’s nature, His love for us and His desire to dwell intimately with us. Every morning we have to re-boot our thinking and remember that our purpose here is first to KNOW GOD and then to make Him known to others.
When we are focused on our purpose — to experience intimacy with Him, and that He desires to dwell with us intimately — and we are committed to using our weapons of warfare to deal with anything that blocks that intimacy (strongholds, misperceptions of Him, barriers such as fear, unforgiveness, bitterness, performance, self-condemnation, etc.) then we can experience true joy no matter what is going on in our lives.
This morning I awoke thinking about financial issues, problems at my husband’s work, my daughter’s school, our upcoming move, all the items on my to-do list still not crossed out after weeks and months, recent deaths in the family, friends battling cancer, what’s happening in the Middle East, what’s happening to our country, etc. Now if I were to continue to focus on these things, I would never experience the joy of Sukkot. But God would not command me to rejoice, if this were not possible.
So in my quiet time, I pictured the Temple and God in all of His Holiness, and His perfect Shekinah Glory that would dwell in the Temple. I thought about how wanted I was, how much God desired intimate relationship with me, that in all of His Holiness He would take on death for me in the person of Yeshua so that I could be with Him. I thought about Sukkot and pictured the Sukkah and how it reminds me that He wants to dwell with me. I can trust Him! He rejoices over me with singing! He sees me as pure and cleansed in the Holy of Holies, I am protected there, I have nothing to fear. I am a daughter of the King!
If the God of the universe who is so holy that He commanded purification of anything related to death before even coming near the Temple, would take death upon Himself for ME, I can trust Him with every aspect of my life. I feel so loved, so secure, protected, safe, valued, provided for, wanted, desired, and accepted in the midst of my life circumstances. He just wants me to stay focused on that one thing, HIM (Matt 6:33; Luke 10:42)! He will take care of the rest. I have joy and I have hope for the future (the topic of my next Sukkot blog — be on the lookout!).
It’s SO important that we have a daily quiet prayer time in the morning, or else our day and mood just takes off in the direction of whatever comes to our minds when we wake up. Beware, there will ALWAYS be distractions and excuses from having a quiet time because Satan wants us focused on our circumstances and not on our true purpose so that we’re ineffective and stressed out just like everyone else. Having a daily quiet time requires discipline, but our lives depend on it, just as much as on food each day!
The next time you allow a person or circumstance in your life to rob you of joy, confess this as sin, forgive whoever has wronged you (even if it’s someone/some group in the news – forgive and intercede, pray for them instead of harboring “justified” bitterness in your heart), cancel Satan’s authority, and ask God to show you His truth about the situation.
Like it or not, you will experience change, disappointment, pain, “things not being right” in your life in this sinful world (your body, relationships, jobs, families, circumstances, environment, country, world), but when you focus on the one thing that will never change — God’s desire to DWELL with you intimately — then you will experience the joy of Sukkot! Rejoice!
For more detail and teaching on this topic, please click this link.