Feast of Tabernacles
Read: Exodus 14:10-14 and 1 Peter 2:24-25
10 As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up, and there were the Egyptians, marching after them. They were terrified and cried out to the Lord. 11 They said to Moses, “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? 12 Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians’? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!”
13 Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. 14 The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”
1 Peter 2:24-25
24 “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.” 25 For “you were like sheep going astray,” but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
A perfectly mild, Spring, Florida breeze swept through the outdoor dining area. I looked down at my table to find written on it the title of Jimmy Buffet’s massively famous song: “Changes in latitudes, changes in attitudes.” Isn’t that the truth? Sometimes a change of scenery invokes a change of focus. Whether it’s traveling halfway around the world to witness nature’s beauty or an impromptu picnic on a beautiful day, a change of location and landscape can change our thoughts as well.
The sukkot are the very change of location used to hearken the nation of Israel back to their days of wandering out of Egypt before entering the Promised Land. “Booths” in English, the sukkot are constructed according to specific guidelines that include using four distinct plant species and a roof sparse enough to allow for view of the stars at night. Jews eat and sleep in the sukkot over the course of the Feast of Tabernacles. This physical change of location out of the comfort of their brick, steel and beam-enforced homes, is enough to shift their perspective. But it doesn’t stop at remembering the wandering. The wandering ultimately points to the Protector. And the Protector eventually becomes The Way. Deliverance is the ultimate cry of the sukkot symbolism.
In a way, the cross isn’t all that different from the sukkot. We are wanderers who do well to use symbol to point us to our Deliverer. Next time you walk by a cross, see it on your wall, or drive by one on a building, take a minute to consider the symbol. We have been delivered. We are set free. And this is the work of our God who has fought for our freedom from Exodus through now.