Feast of Booths/Feast of Tabernacles/Festival of Shelters — these are the common names used for the commemoration that is taking place in John 7. If you are like me, when you read these stories, you probably wonder what on earth all of these Jewish feasts are about. Well, the one we encounter today has some pretty cool significance.
“Jewish men were required to come to the Temple for the Festival of Shelters (Exod 23:14-17; Deut 16:16), an annual seven-day autumn harvest festival in Jerusalem six months after Passover (6:4). People lived in temporary shelters for the seven days as a reminder of the tents Israel used for forty years in the wilderness.” – NLT Study Bible
A great passage of scripture that briefly explains this comes from Leviticus:
And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the people of Israel, saying, On the fifteenth day of this seventh month and for seven days is the Feast of Booths to the LORD….” “On the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you have gathered in the produce of the land, you shall celebrate the feast of the LORD seven days. On the first day shall be a solemn rest, and on the eighth day shall be a solemn rest. And you shall take on the first day the fruit of splendid trees, branches of palm trees and boughs of leafy trees and willows of the brook, and you shall rejoice before the LORD your God seven days. You shall celebrate it as a feast to the LORD for seven days in the year. It is a statute forever throughout your generations; you shall celebrate it in the seventh month. You shall dwell in booths for seven days. All native Israelites shall dwell in booths, that your generations may know that I made the people of Israel dwell in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.” (Leviticus 23:33-34, 39-43 ESV)
Why is this such a big deal?
Simple: Jesus is the fulfillment of this festival.
It was a sign to the Israelites of God’s provision in leading them out of Egypt. It was a sign of the Lord’s divine protection. Jesus, the Messiah who was about to be crucified, would lead us out of death and into eternal divine protection through a relationship with Him. That’s the incredible significance of this story! Yet, in the Temple at this historic moment, the Jews that gathered missed the point. They argued with Him, desiring to put Him to death.
Sometimes, I wonder if we see Jesus for who He really is. I wonder if we really believe in His power as God. As you read today’s passage and process through this Jumpstart, my hope is that your faith is strengthened in Him. I hope that you see that the entire Bible and the entire cosmos is about Him. Live for Him today!
By: Todd Thomas