My third point is this, to walk in the light of the Feast of Tabernacles means to be willing to let go of the seemingly substantial and depend wholly upon what C.S Lewis calls the unseen real.
You will have to think about that for a moment. I am talking about the willingness to release the seemingly substantial and embrace whole-hearted dependence upon the unseen real. Let me elaborate.
A sukkah or booth is a very fragile temporary dwelling. In Leviticus 23, God says to Israel in effect, it is perfectly fine with me that you live in your houses fifty-one weeks of the year, but on this one week I want to remind you of a deep, spiritual truth. To do that, I want you to leave the protection of your thick, man-made substantial dwellings and I want you to dwell in a shelter covered by my wings.
What is the lesson here? He wants us to understand that our security is not in edifices but in Immanuel. Our only real security is in divine protection, not in the size of our bank account. Whatever power and prestige we have can vanish like a vapor on a hot summer day. What truly endures is the unseen real, namely God and his purposes. Anything you do unto him, says Paul, has eternal value and will endure.
To walk in the way of Tabernacles is to expose our vulnerability by dwelling in fragile, open booths from which we recognize that we need God, his provision, his protection, and his presence. It is not an easy way, it was not easy for Israel. But the rewards are enormous.
One day they walked out and saw the stuff lying all over the ground that they were supposed to eat and said, what is this (manna)? The word manna means, what is it? Israel went forty years eating, what is it? It may not be what your taste buds are used to, but it is sufficient for the day.
During Israel's wilderness journey, they lived in these little booths, and they experienced the manifest glory of a Holy God. Moreover, he led them to a place of divine appointment for service and for prosperity. To walk in the light of Tabernacles means to look solely to God for the provision and protection of his very presence.
We almost instinctively find security in walls, in buildings as did ancient cultures like in Israel. Yet the prophets told Israel over and over that your safety is not in your walls. Your walls can be breached, your ramparts can be overrun, but the LORDyour God will not fail you if you walk in humility and faithfulness to him. The natural man finds security in dwellings made by human hands, security in accumulated wealth, security in other people. Koheleth, the writer of Ecclesiastes, says that this is vanity, my friends; it is emptiness.
And Koheleth was a man who had everything substantial. At the end of his life, he says to everyone that it is empty, meaningless, vanity. What really counts, he says, is to stand in awe of the Holy God of Israel and to keep his commandments. That is true security. Every other type of security is an illusion.
Have you been in a tornado or witnessed the aftermath? I grew up in northeast Oklahoma, part of what is known as Tornado Alley. A tornado is an awesome thing. When you go out after a tornado, you see things like a piece of straw driven through a telephone pole. Do you really think your walls are going to protect you? All is meaningless if you are not growing in the fear of the LORD by seeking to do His will on earth as it is in heaven.
Even your life is not your own. A few years ago a loved one of mine got up and said to his wife, "I'm not feeling well." By the time they arrived at the hospital, he had gone to be with the Lord because of an aneurysm. To walk in the way of Tabernacles is to find your security, not in the seemingly substantial, but in God; he is the unseen real. Beware of giving lip service to trusting God, but not practicing it.
That being said, let me clarify one thing. Walking in the light of Tabernacles does not mean renouncing worldly wisdom or worldly accomplishments. Instead, it is to recognize their limits. Did you get that? God does not say that he wants Israel living in booths fifty-two weeks out of the year. He wants you to be reminded of these things one week of the year. The rest of the time it is fine for you to live in your dwellings, remembering and practicing the real security and provision that comes from him, not from the labor of your hands. He is the one who gives you the power to earn what you have.
To receive the very best from God, we must be vulnerable, we must have a childlike trust. With it comes a liberating release from intellectual pride and the idolatry of self-sufficiency. With it comes a radical commitment to worship God as the Holy One of Israel—worshipping him simply for who he is, independent of whether he does something for us.
You see the sukkah challenges our intrinsic fear of not having shelter. We suffer from a sense of propriety, of identity rooted in place: this is my house, my village. Tabernacles says to you, "No, this is not your house, this is not your village, you are a pilgrim people. This earth is not your home. The world's values are not what God wants you to have, he wants you to have heavenly values that are eternal in the light of which everything in this world becomes of fleeting significance, useful only to do God's will and receive gratefully as God's blessing."
This devotional study is from a professionally produced transcription
of Dwight's audio message. It is a full and accurate transcript,
formalized and edited for readability and clarity by JC Studies.