Sukkot – The God Who Want To Be Close To Us

////Sukkot – The God Who Want To Be Close To Us

We finished Rosh HaShana/Yom Truah, the first day of the very special seventh month, the month of fulfillment, and we blew the shofar, and considered the things that the shofar reminds us of. We searched our deeds and our souls for the Yomim Nora’im – the 10 Days of Awe between Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur and confessed our sins and turned to the Lord. Now we have come to the last holiday of Tishrei, the seventh month – the Feast of Sukkot – Tabernacles.

God is a great mathematician. There are numbers and mathematical equations and relationships throughout nature. Numbers are found in the holidays, particularly the number seven. The number seven symbolizes completion. Sukkot is the seventh holiday in the seventh month, the holiday and the month of completion. This holiday begins on the fifteenth day of the month, when the moon is full. This particular Sukkot full moon is even more special. It completes a tetrad – four blood moons connected to the Jewish holidays over the past two years, and this final blood moon occurs with the moon at its closest point to the Earth. It’s a super blood moon that is 14% bigger looking and 30% brighter than when it is at it’s farthest point from Earth.

Is there special significance to this? A divine warning of imminent danger to Israel? A warning to the nations? I’ve been telling you for years that we are heading into a multi-generational economic crisis, and it’s getting closer and closer, but other than that, I don’t know what the blood moons are signifying – if anything. If you know, please tell me.

Other mathematical relationships connected to Sukkot: Sukkot comes in the very middle of the year, dividing the year in two – six months before Passover, which is the beginning of the year, and six months after Passover.

According to the Torah, for the third and final time of the year, Jewish men were required to go up Jerusalem and celebrate God’s goodness to us, particularly for the harvest. We were to give thanks to God for providing for us, for giving us land to grow crops, seeds to plant, sun to shine on them, rain to water them, strength to harvest them.

We were commanded to build booths and live in them for seven days. We were required to take willow, palm and myrtle branches and fruit and wave them and be happy.

These booths that go up one week and come down the next remind us of the Exodus from Egypt. They remind us that our God is the kind of God who can save a nation of slaves from a powerful nation like Egypt. The booths remind us of our 40 years of wandering in the wilderness and teach us about the consequences of disloyalty to God and disobedience. These impermanent, weak structures teach us that we are frail and our lives are short. Here we have no permanent home.

These tabernacles also help us look forward to a greater Exodus, an Exodus from these ages of sin, rebellion, transgression, disobedience and sorrow, and our domination by the forces of Satan and the demons, sin and the sin nature, and death. These booths point us to the golden age of mankind, when Messiah returns to Jerusalem His capital, to Zion His dwelling place and gathers the harvest of humanity into His glorious 1,000 year Millennial Kingdom.

Sukkot reminds us that even though God is not close to human beings because we joined the rebellion of the fallen angels, He hasn’t given up on us. He is working to redeem us, so that He can be close to us, and we can be close to Him.

The Lord’s nature also tells us that He wants to be close to us. All other beings, including men and angels, are restricted to being in one place at a given time. When they are “here” they are not “there.” The nature of God requires Him to be everywhere. There is no place where the Creator is not present. He is present in every place at every time. Where can I go from Your Spirit? David asked, or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend to Heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the dawn, if I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, even there Your hand will lead me, and Your right hand will lay hold of me.

“Am I a God who is near,” declares the Lord, “And not a God far off? Can a man hide himself in hiding places, so I do not see him?” declares the Lord. “Do I not fill the Heavens and the Earth?” The answer to the Lord’s questions, recorded by Jeremiah, is that God is indeed present everywhere. That is His nature. He is all-present. He is present throughout the entire universe, the billions of galaxies with their trillions of stars – and beyond. He is present at the level of the smallest subatomic particle. He is present everywhere from the highest heavens to the depths of Sheol. He is present right here, right now.

While it is true that God is present in every part of His creation, that does not mean that He is present in the same way everywhere, and to the same degree in all His creatures. Theologian Louis Berkhof informs us that the nature of the Creator’s presence in His creation and in His creatures is in harmony with that of His creation and His creatures. God does not dwell on Earth as He dwells in Heaven. He was more present inside the Temple than outside the Temple. He is not present in the wicked as He is in the righteous. He does not live in animals as He lives in human beings made in His image. He does not live in Messiah’s Community to the same degree that He lives in Messiah Himself – completely and fully.

God is especially able to be close to human beings. Mankind is special. We were created in the image of God, with mind, to think and reason: with will, so we could willingly chose the right things; with emotion, so we could feel what God feels, and love what is right and beautiful and holy and hate what is ugly and wrong. God is able to get very close to beings made in His image.

The Word of God reveals to us that God created the universe, and then this wondrous planet, and then a very special place for the first human beings to live in. There, in that delightful garden, the Creator appeared to those human beings and spoke to them. He was close to them.

The Fall of man changed all that. Adam and Eve rebelled against the High King and joined the rebellion of the fallen angels. Their closeness to God was destroyed. They were far from Him, alienated from Him.

The Creator, full of mercy, compassion and grace, wanted to end our alienation so that we could have a close relationship with Him could be restored. That’s why He created the Chosen People. That’s why, after rescuing us from the slavery of Egypt, while we were in the wilderness, the Lord instructed us to build the Tabernacle. And He said: I will dwell among the sons of Israel and be their God. I am the Lord their God who brought them out of the land of Egypt that I might dwell among them.

Because He wanted to be close to us, when we were established in the land of Israel, He commanded us to build the Temple in Jerusalem. There, among a holy people, served by a holy priesthood, in the midst of a holy land, in the center of the holy city, in a holy house, which had a holy place and a most holy place, the Shechinah, the glorious Dwelling Presence of the Holy God was able to be even more present on an unholy Earth.

But even with the Temple among us, closeness to the God Who Wants To Live Among Us was extremely limited. Of all of the millions of human beings, only one man, the high priest of Israel, could enter into the Most Holy Place where God was most present on Earth. And the high priest he could only enter the Most Holy Place once a year, on Yom Kippur, and only by washing and bringing the blood of a sacrifice with him. Even then, he also made sure that a cloud of incense covered the Ark of the Covenant, so that he, a sinful mortal, would not gaze at the Shechinah presence of the holy God.

Because of the sin, rebellion, transgression of the Jewish people, God allowed the Babylonians to destroy the Temple in 586 BC. Seventy years later those Jewish people who returned from Babylon rebuilt the Temple. But the Ark of the Covenant was lost and was not able to be returned to the Most Holy Place; and as far as we can tell, the Shechinah, the Dwelling Presence of God, didn’t manifest Himself in the same way in the Second Temple as He did in the First Temple.

About 520 years later, something happened that enabled God to be much more present on Earth. The Son of God left Heaven, and through the incarnation, came to Earth. The Son of God became flesh and lived among us. And in that perfect man the fullness of God lived in human form. Another way of saying this: The Son of God built a Sukkah and tabernacled among us.

He was the ultimate Temple of God, where God is able to live among us. Destroy this Temple, Yeshua told a group of Jewish leaders, and in three days I will raise it up … speaking about Himself.

After living a perfect life, and after dying an atoning death, the veil to the Most Holy Place was torn from top to bottom the same time Messiah died, teaching us that because of Yeshua’s life and death, a new and better way to get close to God is now available to all mankind.

Fifty days after Messiah died, on another Jewish holiday, Shavuot, the risen Lord poured out His Spirit into those first Messianic Jewish disciples, and they became the place where God is able to be present in the most special way! Do you not know that you are a Temple of God, Rabbi Paul asked the Corinthians, and that the Spirit of God lives in you? In his second letter to the Corinthians, Paul adds: We are the Temple of the Living God; just as God said, “I will dwell in them and walk among them; and I will be their God, and they will be my people.”

Amazing! Fantastic! Human beings, Jewish people and people from the nations, once far from God, are being assembled into a living community in which God’s Spirit is able to live in a very great way. The Spirit of God, the living presence of the living God, lives in us. We are in Messiah, united to Messiah, who is in the heart of the Father, so that we are very, very close to God.

When the Son of God Son returns to Earth, and His physical presence is once again in this world, He will rebuild the Temple, and there the peoples of the world will go to get close to the God of Israel – especially on Sukkot.

After those thousand years, comes the Day of Judgment, and the creation of a new universe. The New Jerusalem will come down out of Heaven and be joined to the new Earth. It will be the eternal dwelling place of God and humanity.

There will be no temple there. No house, no walls, no veils, no priests or barriers of any sort to keep us from the presence of the eternal God. The Lord God the Almighty, and the sacrificed Messiah, are its Temple.

Sukkot teaches us some very important things:

God wants to be close to us. But, because of the fall of man, we are far from God and our lives are flimsy and temporary, like sukkah booths.

Even though we sinners who are far from God, it’s possible to get close to God – through Yeshua.

There are so many great things that come from being genuinely close to God, like:

Happiness and eternal life: In Your presence there is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

A satisfied life: Everyone who drinks ordinary water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Yeshua promised that His Spirit, living in His followers, would enable them to experience a relationship with the living God that would satisfy them forever.

Closeness to God enables us to hear God talking to us, teaching us, guiding us, directing us. I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with My loving eye on you. Messiah promised: My sheep hear My voice and they follow Me.

Closeness to God renews our of strength. Those who wait on the Lord will gain new strength. They will mount up with wings like eagles. They will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary.

Being close to God gives us the ability to overcome the things that tempt us and harm us and others when we yield to those temptation.

When we walk in the Spirit, when we are living in such a way that we are close to God, we will not carry out the desires of the flesh. When we are filled with the Spirit, which means we are close to God and He is close to us, the Presence of God in us produces in us the tremendous fruit of self-control. We will have the ability to control what we say and what we do and how we respond to every kind of situation.

Closeness to God results in a useful, productive life. I am the vine, you are the branches; the one who lives in Me and I live in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.

There are so many amazing benefits that come from being genuinely close to God. Why wouldn’t we want to be close to God?

How can we get close to God?

We must start by coming to God on His terms, not our terms, and His terms require us to come to Him through Yeshua. Since God the Father sent Messiah into the world, and since God commands us to believe in Messiah and honor Messiah, and since Yeshua is the only one who can bring us close to God, loyalty to Messiah is not optional.

Obedience creates intimacy with God. Disobedience creates distance from God. Lord, who may dwell in Your sacred tent? Who may live on Your holy mountain? The one whose walk is blameless and does what is right.

Messiah promised: If anyone loves Me, he will obey My teaching. My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.

And when we are disobedient? When we fail, fall short, miss the mark, yield to temptation and feel distant from God? We repent. We turn to Him, and turn from our sins, and we confess our sins, acknowledging with God that our sins are sins. When we do that, He will bring us close to Himself once again.

We stay close to God by practicing the spiritual disciplines. We build good spiritual habits into our lives that help us maintain closeness to God.

We discipline ourselves to take in God’s Word on a regular basis by hearing it taught by a qualified teacher, and by reading and studying it on our own.

We discipline ourselves to see God in creation as we are going through our daily activities. We look for the order, wisdom, symmetry and beauty He designed into nature. We become aware of the mathematical relationships and the chemical, physical and biological laws found in nature. We learn lessons from nature, like the one Messiah gave us on God’s care and provision and our need for faith: Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; but I tell you, not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass in the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, how much more will He clothe you?

We observe the heavens, the sun, moon and stars, the planets, comets and meteors. We take time to admire the tremendous varieties of plants, trees, flowers, animals, insects, birds, fish and other creatures, and the amazing ways they interact with each other. Plants create oxygen, which we breathe, and we exhale carbon dioxide, which plants need to grow.

We wonder at water in its various forms: a droplet on a leaf, the dew on a spider’s web, the rivers and streams and lakes and oceans, the clouds and rain. We admire the colors and forms found in landscapes, sunrises and sunsets. And because of all this beauty and obvious design, we praise the One who made them all – and that helps us stay close to Him.

We discipline ourselves to pray without ceasing. We train ourselves to talk to God throughout the day, having a running conversation with Him, praising Him for who He is and the great things He has done, is doing and will do. And We thank Him for His many blessings and we ask Him to meet our needs and the needs of others.

The disciplines of fasting, silence and solitude can help us get closer to God. When we are not focused on food, and when we are alone and silent, we may be able to hear the still small voice of God speaking to us.

Regular worship, and giving, and serving the Lord within Messiah’s Community helps us stay close to God.

Witnessing, evangelizing, sharing the Good News, and teaching those who are interested, help us stay close to God.

Let’s pray: Lord God, thank You for Sukkot and it’s many important lessons. Thank You that You want to live with us, and that even though we joined the rebellion of the fallen angels, and lost our closeness to you, and were far from You, You are working to redeem us, so that You can be close to us, and we can be close to You.

Thank You for Messiah, for Him coming to Earth, living a perfect life, dying an atoning death, rising from the dead, and giving His Spirit, which is also Your Spirit, so that Jewish people and people from the nations, once far from You, are being assembled into a living community in which Your Spirit is able to live to a very high degree.

Thank You for the other amazing benefits that come from being close to You.

Lord, You have done Your part. Help us to do our part, to get close to You and stay close to You.

By | 2017-01-30T21:42:14+00:00 September 26th, 2015|Categories: Sermons by Rabbi Loren|Tags: , |Comments Off on Sukkot – The God Who Want To Be Close To Us

About the Author:

Rabbi Loren Jacobs is the senior rabbi and founder of “Congregation Shema Yisrael” (which means “Hear O Israel”). Congregation Shema Yisrael is a Messianic synagogue which was started in 1986 when Rabbi Loren and his wife Martha moved to Michigan to proclaim the Good News about the Messiah to the Jewish people living in the metro Detroit area. Rabbi Loren was raised in a Jewish home in the Chicago area, and became a Messianic Jew in 1975. He graduated from Moody Bible Institute’s Jewish Studies program in 1979 and received a Bachelor’s degree in Biblical Literature from Northeastern Bible College in New Jersey in 1986. His wife Martha is a fifth generation Messianic Jew, which is quite unusual. They have two adult children and two grandchildren.