Moses addresses the Feast of Booths. This is the last of the feasts that are to be observed in the place where God chooses to make His home; Jerusalem.
This feast had two focuses. The first was the remembrance of Israel’s years of wandering in the wilderness. The people lived in tents during this time and the feast required them to do so again for seven days. The second focus was the harvest of produce. This included everything that was harvested from grapes to figs to olives and ground grains.
This would have been a joyful time. A time of community feasting. This would also be the time when the storehouses were filled for the town during the third year tithe.
God said that this was another feast that was to be celebrated in His chosen place. Three times a year the men had to appear before God in celebration. They were to bring an offering, the tithe, expressing gratitude for all that He had done for them.
When I was first thinking about the three feasts that required the men of Israel to journey to the Temple I was thinking about how it “interrupted” the work of the travelers. People would be on the road for possibly weeks getting to the Tabernacle on time. This was especially a problem for the first two feasts that were close together. This feast was later in the year but still took time for the journey. Initially it sounded inconvenient to have to come so often.
Then I started thinking about what they gained by the travel. In the early pioneer days in the United States many families were completely cut off from their loved ones when they made a long distance move. There was nothing requiring them to reconnect at certain times each year. Yes, we have holidays that encourage family to gather but nothing that required it. Granted, the distances traveled were a lot farther than what someone would be required to travel even from one end of Israel to the other. But God was holding His family together with this requirement.
Each time the pilgrimage was made families would reunite. Friendships would be forged on the road and in Jerusalem. Trade agreements would be established and fulfilled. Relationships strengthened by regular contact. And a spirit of complete community instilled. There wasn’t the “my four and no more” attitude. EVERY Israelite man was family in one degree. A BIG family reunion!
God instilled and encouraged the relationship of family. He calls all of us His sons and daughters. Through His only begotten Son we have become His children also. He wants us to be connected to each other. He wants us to assemble as family. He wants us to be as close as brothers. He doesn’t command our attendance at specified feasts any longer so we have to make opportunities for that same kind of togetherness He authored.
We NEED our brothers and sisters! They help us hone our skills. They are our encouragers. They are there for us in times of trouble. And they are who receive these same gifts from our hands.
Without connection we become numb or blind to what is going on in their lives. I confess to a serious lack of involvement with my own brothers and sisters. I get small glimpses into their lives through social media but I KNOW there is so much more that I’m missing. I haven’t been in their physical presence in too long. I know I need more “community” in my life. My brain popped up with it’s too hard to get together but then I thought about what it took for the feast journeys. I have NOTHING to complain about or compare to what they went through to be together.
Something else that occurred to me when reading about these three journeys was that it didn’t matter how good or bad the year was. The people assembled anyway. God didn’t command them to only come together when things were going good and they had something to celebrate. He told them to come EVERY year. If they had nothing else to celebrate because the seasons were bad they at least had the presence of one another to bring them joy. There was always something to celebrate and to praise God for. Being able to make the journey was reason enough to rejoice.
Father God, I miss seeing my family. Right now a LOT of people miss being together. THANK YOU for allowing us the knowledge to create devices that bring us together even when we are separated. But I want to get back to the basics of actually reaching out and touching my family. When this virus issue is resolved we are GOING to go visit my family. Thank You for letting me hug my daughter today. It felt AMAZING!!! Who knew a hug could be so important. You did! I can’t wait to finally hug You either!