Oct. 9-16, 2022
14 “And they found it written in the law, which the Lord had commanded by Moses, that the people of Israel should live in booths during the festival of the seventh month,
15 and that they should publish and proclaim in all their towns and in Jerusalem as follows,
‘Go out to the hills and bring branches of olive, wild olive, myrtle, palm, and other leafy trees to make booths, as it is written.’
Around 445 BC under the reign of Artaxerxes, king of Persia, Nehemiah, his cup bearer won royal approval to return to Jerusalem to rebuild its walls. He governed for 12 years and then returned to Susa. He later returned to Jerusalem and found the people had fallen into evil ways. Nehemiah purified the temple and enforced observances from the law of Moses. Leviticus 23:33-34 instructs the children of Israel to celebrate the Festival of Tabernacles or Booths annually. That festival will start October 9 this year. Each year they were to celebrate the harvest and the 40 years of wandering in the wilderness by cutting branches and trees and building shelters in their yards to live in for a week. It is also called Sukkot.
Most of us do not cut down trees and live rustically every year but we do need to take seriously God’s desire that we set aside time to celebrate. We don’t designate a week but our government designates Thanksgiving when we have a holiday to go to our house of worship and thank God for his blessings. We have been through a couple years with the pandemic, with fear of recession, with political haggling and it might do us well to spend a few minutes counting our blessing. One way to do that might be to make an acrostic out of the word THANKS. T is for…, H is for …., and so on. We are a blessed people even when we think we are in the wilderness. Let us not forget it!