We are talking about the divine design behind the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot). These principles are to be walked out long after the festival has come and gone. The first point for those wanting King Jesus to lead them through life was the need to learn how to walk in the insecurity of our freedom. (Click here to read that installment).
The second point is that Tabernacles teaches us to walk in the way of humility.
In Deuteronomy 8, the LORD God makes a powerful revelation through his prophet Moses. “Be careful to follow every command I am giving you today so that you may live and increase and may enter and possess the land that the LORD promised on oath to your forefathers. Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commandments."
In Jewish thought, humility is the supreme virtue. It is the crown jewel of all other virtues because in a real sense it is the basis upon which all other virtues build. What is humility? In Hebrew, the root word comes from the idea of affliction, of hardship. Moses in Number 12:3, is called the most humble of all men, the meekest of all men. Jesus in Mathew 11:19 says “I am humble and gentle, learn of me.”
Humility is like the Spirit of God, which Jesus associated with water at Tabernacles (Jn 7:37). Knock over a cup of water and watch how it leaves the high places, seeking the lowest place it can find. That is a type of humility. The Spirit of God leaves the high places and seeks the low, the contrite, the humble. That is why Messiah’s coming was (and is) a blessing to the poor and poor in spirit but a challenge to the powerful, the proud, the wealthy, the self-secured.
The LORD says to the prophet Isaiah, “I, the high and Holy One of Israel, keep my distance from the proud but I draw near to the humble.” Proverbs 16:5 says, “Everyone that is proud in heart is an abomination.” The whole earth is to be full of the glory of God; there is no room for yours or mine.
“This is what the high and lofty one says, he who lives forever and whose name is holy. I live in a high and holy place, but I also dwell with him whose contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble and to revive the heart of the contrite.” - Isaiah 57:15
It is not a coincidence that Isaiah can speak so powerfully about humility, he is the one who had an all-consuming vision of the One who is kadosh, kadosh, kadosh. Holy God.
"Thus says the LORD:
'Heaven is my throne,
and the earth is my footstool;
what is the house that you would build for me,
and what is the place of my rest?
All these things my hand has made,
and so all these things came to be,'
declares the LORD.
'But this is the one to whom I will look:
he who is humble and contrite in spirit
and trembles at my word.'" - Isaiah 66:1-2
How many of you would like to be esteemed by God? Do you know what the opposite of humility is in the Biblical text? Iniquity. Iniquity is described by Isaiah with a picture in chapter 53, “All we like sheep go astray, we go to our own ways." Iniquity is self-centeredness, doing my thing, my way. Yahweh takes our iniquity and puts it on the back of his Son, Israel's Messiah.
The world is easily impressed by proud people but God humbles the arrogant, and he exalts the humble. He is impressed with those who are humble, lowly, and contrite. As the Creator of heaven and earth, there is nothing you can build or do that will impress him, except walking in humility.
If you feel that God is distant, check your humility quotient. "Draw near to him, and he will draw near to you," say our apostles. Repentance is the way of humility dear friends, and that begins with recognizing that our very lives are a gift from a good Father who is holy, holy, holy. This can happen when we move into our temporary booth because of the Feast of Booths.
Who are the humble? Scripture teaches that humility not only seeks God but learns to wait upon him. To be guided by God, to obey his will, to keep his commandments, this is the heart of the humble. “Christianity is a condition of complete simplicity costing not less than everything,” wrote T.S. Elliot. Humility is pictured in John the Baptist's desire to decrease that Messiah Jesus may increase.
Humility is a condition of total and radical dependence upon the holy character of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
We all preach humility yet few of us practice it (myself included). Why? Because it is tough stuff. It requires an effort of the will to daily make decisions to surrender, to depend upon his transcendent power. That is why the Almighty sent Israel into the desert, why Jesus went into the desert, why Paul went into the desert. Not to be tempted as much as to be empowered. In the desert, you learn to go by way of Tabernacles. Moreover, make no mistake about it, though we live in this beautifully created world, it is a desert of human sin that resists divine grace.
Culture values the strong, the powerful, the aggressive. However, there is nothing more potent than humility. True humility is not human weakness; it is divine strength. “Not my will Father, but yours be done" is Jesus' example of the most powerful reality the world can know.
Humility is a total consuming passion for God in which what matters most to you is not yourself, your accomplishments, your achievements, your possessions, your wealth, your degrees, your connections. What matters most to you is to see God's glory revealed in the midst of his people. To see God’s holy name sanctified by the way you conduct yourselves. That is the way of humility, the way of Tabernacles.