tabernacles | John 7.14
14 About the middle of the feast Jesus went up into the temple and began teaching. John 7.14 | ESV
Let’s let Alfred Edersheim set the stage for this week’s devotional journey by putting us right in the middle of this feast (the book is Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah; just a bit of a classic)…we need to be transported just a bit…
This was pre-eminently the Feast for foreign pilgrims, coming from the farthest distance, whose Temple contributions were then received and counted…
They could come at this season of the year – not during the winter for the Passover, nor yet quite so readily in summer’s heat for Pentecost. But now, in the delicious cool of early autumn, when all harvest-operations, the gathering in of luscious fruit and the vintage were past, and the first streaks of gold were tinting the foliage, strangers from afar off, and countrymen from Judea, Perea, and Galilee, would mingle in the streets of Jerusalem, under the ever-present shadow of that glorious Sanctuary of marble, cedarwood, and gold, up there on high Moriah, symbol of the infinitely more glorious overshadowing Presence of Him, Who was the Holy One in the midst of Israel.
How all day long, even till the stars lit up the deep blue canopy overhead, the smoke of the burning, smouldering sacrifices rose in slowly-widening column, and hung between the Mount of Olives and Zion; how the chant of Levites, and the solemn responses of the Hallel were borne on the breeze, or the clear blast of the Priests’ silver trumpets seemed to waken the echoes far away! And then, at night, how all these vast Temple-buildings stood out, illuminated by the great Candelabras that burned in the Court of the Women, and by the glare of torches, when strange sound of mystic hymns and dances came floating over the intervening darkness! Truly, well might Israel designate the Feast of Tabernacles as “the Feast,” and the Jewish historian describe it as “the holiest and greatest.”
Early on the 14th Tishri (corresponding to our September or early October), all the festive pilgrims had arrived. Then it was, indeed a scene of bustle and activity. Hospitality had to be sought and found; guests to be welcomed and entertained; all things required for the feast to be readied. Above all, booths must be erected everywhere – in court and on housetop, in street and square, for the lodgment and entertainment of that vast multitude; leafy dwellings everywhere, to remind of the wilderness-journey, and now of the goodly land. Only the fierce castle, Antonia, which frowned above the Temple, was undecked by the festive spring into which the land had burst…yet for all this, Israel could not read on the lowering sky the signs of the times, nor yet knew the day of their merciful visitation. And this, although of all festivals, that of Tabernacles should have most clearly pointed them to the future…
And into the midst of this massive celebration stood Jesus, the Name on everyone’s mind, if not their lips…and he began teaching.
Edersheim laments that in the midst of all this activity, Israel of old missed the entire “reason for the season” of Tabernacles. How can we keep from missing the reason for this season we’re in right here and now? How tuned in are you?
Abba, such busy days, such brisk months and seasons and years. In the midst of all that is going down around me, help me to stayed tuned into your presence in the here and now; to truly understand the times and to be ready to hear you when you suddenly stand up to speak. Through Jesus.