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Sukkot and Freedom

Sukkot and Freedom

Living in newness of life...

It's been said that while it took the LORD 40 days to get Israel out of Egypt, it took 40 years to get Egypt out of Israel.... When Israel first left Egypt, they took with them only enough food and water to last for a few days. When these provisions ran out, so did their trust in God.  Therefore Sukkot recalls the miracles that God provided to keep His people from returning to Egypt. These miracles - the water from the rock (i.e., "Miriam's Well"), the manna from heaven, the Clouds of Glory - were surely as great as the judgments upon Egypt and the splitting of the Sea of Reeds, and yet the exodus generation never took hold of their new identity as God's redeemed (and therefore free) children...  Tragically, the Israelites regularly vacillated between fear and rebellion and thereby forfeited the promises of God. They could not take hold of God's blessing because of their unbelief.

Sukkot remembers the journey of the redeemed people of God - first from Egypt, then to Sinai, and then into the void of the desert places.... The repeated failures of the Israelites in the wilderness was meant to reveal the insufficiency of "Egyptian thinking" by demonstrating God's faithful love and ongoing care. The entire ordeal in the wilderness was a "Sukkot experience" that pointed beyond Sinai....

The holiday of Sukkot symbolizes the journey of this life by means of erecting a sukkah - a flimsy shelter that we are to "live in" for seven days.  The sukkah is meant to help us ask ourselves: Where is the true home we seek? Where is the true shelter of our lives?  The first Jew (Abram) was called ha-ivri (הָעִבְרִי) - "the Hebrew," a term that means "one who has crossed over" (עָבַר) from another place.  When he heeded the call Lekh lekha (לך־לך), "go for yourself," it was Abram's walk of faith that made him into a Jew....  He left the comforts of Ur to become a tent dweller who became a "stranger and sojourner" with God.  Similarly, the Jewish people as a whole were forced to leave the "security" of Egypt and journey into the unknown in order to realize the promises of God.  Sukkot ultimately reminds us that our security is neither found in political power structures nor in the concrete walls of our homes, but solely in the Presence of God. Our freedom as God's children is at stake in the matter of redemption, and God takes it very seriously when we seek to exchange any supposed source of security for the venture of true faith....

So where is the true home you seek?  Are you clinging to hope in this world and its counterfeit security?  Are you willing to sacrifice your dignity as a child of God for the protection of the "State"? When God redeemed Israel from Egypt, it was a rebirth experience. Passover represented the means of redemption (the blood of the lamb), Shavuot represented the revelation of the holiness of God (the Sinai experience), and Sukkot represented the walk of faith as reborn and redeemed children.  God took Israel out of Egypt (i.e., out of the world) in order to reveal to them who He is -- and who they were in relationship with Him.... The pattern remains the same. The world system is a form of slavery, and Sukkot reveals how God bypasses the world to care for His people...


The holiday of Sukkot reminds us that slavery is not an option for the redeemed people of the LORD.  God wants us to be free from the bondage of our past. We must leave behind our old identities and foreswear our sense of victimization and dependency on anything other than God himself.  That is the wilderness experience of faith. God calls us to walk in the Presence of His love, not in the fear of man.  We are new creations in the Messiah, reborn to take possession of the promises God has given to us. "For our citizenship (πολίτευμα) is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, Yeshua the Messiah our LORD (אֲדנֵינוּ יֵשׁוּעַ הַמָּשִׁיחַ), who will transform the body of our humiliation (τὸ σῶμα τῆς ταπεινώσεως ἡμῶν) to be like his glorious body, according to the working of His power that enables Him even to subject all things to Himself" (Phil. 3:20-21).

Note: The midrash says that the etrog (i.e., the citron fruit, sometimes called the "Persian Apple") was the fruit in the orchard of Eden that Adam and Eve ate in disobedience, resulting in exile from paradise... It is significant, then, that during Sukkot we reclaim and sanctify the very means of our downfall and greatly rejoice that our sin has been atoned through Yeshua the Messiah!

Shalom and Sukkot Sameach, chaverim....

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