Thursday, 16 October 2008

And the Word became Flesh and Tabernacled among Us.

I think there's a connection between the Feast of Tabernacles - Sukkot - the birth of Messiah and the wedding feast of the Lamb. It's a monumental study and there's no way I could ever do it justice, but it hit me this morning when reading John's Gospel that there are three occasions where Yeshua says, "My time (Kairos) or hour (hora) has not yet come." One is when he's at the wedding at Cana and his mother asks him to do something about the situation with the wine which has run out. The next is on or just before Sukkoth when his brothers are going up to Jerusalem for the Feast and the last is just after Sukkoth, when he's teaching in the Temple treasury and no-one arrests him.
Psalm 19

The heavens are telling of the glory of God;
And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.
Day to day pours forth speech,
And night to night reveals knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words;
Their voice is not heard.
Their line has gone out through all the earth,
And their utterances to the end of the world
In them He has placed a tent for the sun,
Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber;
It rejoices as a strong man to run his course.
Its rising is from one end of the heavens,
And its circuit to the other end of them;
And there is nothing hidden from its heat.
The law of the LORD is perfect, restoring the soul;
The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.
The precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart;
The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.
The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever;
The judgments of the LORD are true; they are righteous altogether.
They are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold;
Sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb.
Moreover, by them Your servant is warned;
In keeping them there is great reward.
Who can discern his errors?
Acquit me of hidden faults.
Also keep back Your servant from presumptuous sins;
Let them not rule over me;
Then I will be blameless,
And I shall be acquitted of great transgression.
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight,
O LORD, my rock and my Redeemer.

Jesus is the sun of righteousness, risen with healing in his wings (Tzitzit) or fringes of his garment (Mal 4:2) - one of the Hebrew words for sun is shemesh - (corresponding to the word for servant - used of the servant candle which lights all the other candles on a Hannukiah at the Festival of Lights - 25 Chislev - the time of seed sowing, the conception of Jesus, the Light of the World) - this reminds us not to worship the sun god, which is the synchretistic concept behind Christmas, but the Son of God Himself, who came as a servant to bring us light.

Anyway, the sun in Ps 19 is said to have been given a tabernacle - which was a tent, a dwelling place, a habitation or home - and is likened to a bridegroom rising up and joyfully coming out of his chamber - after the wedding night. The wedding in Jewish culture is celebrated under a chuppah - a cloth held up by 4 poles - to symbolise the home or dwelling place which the husband has prepared for his bride (remember John 14 where Jesus says to his disciples - " I go to prepare a place for you..." - here he was saying in effect - "You are the Church, my Bride - wait for me while I go away to get our house ready."

If Maryam and Yoseph (I like the Hebrew names - they don't have medieval churchy connotations) were in Beit Lechem (House of Bread - Yeshua - the bread of heaven - was placed in a feeding trough in the hay (from Greek - phatné - where the German word 'füttern' - to feed an animal - comes from) at the time of the Feast of Tabernacles, and there was no room for them in the inn, then it's highly probable that they took shelter in a sukkah, or booth - or at the least, an animal shed which served as a sukkah. The men of Israel were commanded by the Law to have been in or near Jerusalem at that time to celebrate Sukkoth anyway, so it wasn't surprising that the inn was full. Trust the Romans to make things difficult and place the census at the same time - how many men must have been born miles away from Jerusalem and couldn't get to the Feast on time? - but in Yoseph and Maryam's case it was very convenient, as they both happened to have been from the line of David - Yoseph via Solomon and Maryam via Nathan (clever how God circumnavigated the curse He placed on the line of King Yechonyah, (see ) so that the Messiah could be called the Son of David.

'And Jacob journeyed to Succoth, and built him an house, and made booths for his cattle: therefore the name of the place is called Succoth.' (Gen 33:17) Hebrew word for stable is sukkah.
Sukkot is Egyptian for the place of entering into the darkness. It's the place where the Sons of Israel went to retrieve the bones of Joseph from his tomb at Karnak before leaving Egypt. It's where Yeshua, as the Light of the World, entered this world of darkness and sin.
So the Son of God/Sun of Righteousness is born in a sukkah, (and placed in a -possibly stone - feeding trough, which could correspond to him being placed after his death in a stone tomb - or in a wooden feeding trough - which corresponds to a wooden cross) which symbolises his earthly tabernacle, his flesh, his dwelling place (incidentally, the word 'to swaddle' in Luke is connected to another word for 'to flatten out' or 'extend', as in a tent, to span, (taphach taw-fakh'). I think this is fascinating. Remember Charles Wesley's wonderful hymn...

God Contracted to a Span
Let earth and Heav’n combine,
Angels and men agree,
To praise in songs divine,
Th’ incarnate Deity,
Our God contracted to a span, Our God contracted to a span,
Incomprehensibly made Man.

(I'm sure Charles Wesley had read Matthew Henry's Commentary - 'He was under some abasements in common with other children; he was wrapped in swaddling clothes as other children are when they are new born as if he could be bound, or needed to be kept straight. The Ancient of Days became an infant a span long.'

He laid His glory by,
He wrapped Him in our clay;
Unmarked by human eye,
The latent Godhead lay;
Infant of days He here became, Infant of days He here became,
And bore the mild Immanuel’s Name.

See in that Infant’s face,
The depths of deity,
And labour while ye gaze,
To sound the mystery
In vain; ye angels gaze no more, In vain; ye angels gaze no more,
But fall, and silently adore.

Unsearchable the love,
That hath the Saviour brought;
The grace is far above,
Of men or angels’ thought:
Suffice for us that God, we know, Suffice for us that God, we know,
Our God, is manifest below.

He deigns in flesh t’appear,
Widest extremes to join;
To bring our vileness near,
And make us all divine:
And we the life of God shall know, And we the life of God shall know,
For God is manifest below.

Made perfect first in love,
And sanctified by grace,
We shall from earth remove,
And see His glorious face:
His love shall then be fully showed, His love shall then be fully showed,
And man shall all be lost in God.

Words: Charles Wesley, Hymns for the Nativity of Our Lord (London: William Strahan, 1745), number 5. Public domain.

(So it was swaddling bands at birth, and he was bound in linen wrappings after death, ready for burial. But the swaddling bands of death could not bind him. He broke out of this mortal existence three days later and received his resurrection body. Glory.)

Anyway, to get back to the Wedding Feast of the Lamb which, if Yeshua was born at Sukkoth, is His birthday - (maybe there is a connection where Peter asked Yeshua if he should make three tabernacles, for him, Moses and Elijah on the Mount of Transfiguation - maybe it was during the Feast of Tabernacles - anyway the Shekinah glory of God descended on them as they were there - surely here Father is saying that His Son is now the Temple, the Tabernacle of His Glory - we don't need any earthly buildings of man's hands any more) the Feast of Tabernacles is there to point us towards the fact that one day we will be united to the King in marriage under the chuppa; the King who was born as a sacrificial Lamb in a sukkah (the shepherds of Beit Lechem were responsible for keeping the sheep for the burnt offerings - if they were male (peace offerings if they were female) for the Temple sacrifices at Jerusalem.

It just stuns me again, how unspeakably rich the word of God is. 'Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! (Rom 11:33)

To get back to Psalm 19... which, I only now discovered, just happens to be the verse of the day in
The Lord is called 'my Rock and Redeemer...' (v. 14) . When the Israelites were in the desert, living in sukkoth, booths, (like animals) ('...out of Egypt I called My son...' (Hosea 11:1) they were given water to drink from the rock of Rephidim, which was struck, which split, and poured forth water. Yeshua was pierced by a spear at his crucifixion, and out of his side poured blood and water.
There was also a famous well at Beit Lechem, from which some of David's 'Mighty Men' had drawn water after breaking through the Philistine lines (2 Samual 32:15-16) and brought it back for their leader. David, however, would not drink it, for he said that it was the blood of the men who had risked their lives for him.

Thoughout the Feast of Tabernacles, and on the last, greatest day, Shemini Azeret, a unique service was performed every morning: the Nisuch HaMayim (נסוך המים—lit. "pouring of the water") or Water Libation Ceremony. According to the Talmud, Sukkot is the time of year in which God judges the world for rainfall; therefore this ceremony invokes God's blessing for rain in its proper time.
The water for the libation ceremony was drawn from the pool of Shiloah in the City of David - part of Jerusalem, and the joy that accompanied this procedure was palpable. (This is the source for the verse in Isaiah: "And you shall draw waters with joy from the wells of salvation" (Isa. 12:3).
Afterwards, every night in the outer Temple courtyard, tens of thousands of spectators would gather to watch the Simchat Beit HaShoeivah (Rejoicing at the Place of the Water-Drawing), as the most pious members of the community danced and sang songs of praise to God. The dancers would carry lighted torches, and were accompanied by the harps, lyres, cymbals and trumpets of the Levites. According to the Mishnah tractate Sukkah, "He who has not seen the rejoicing at the Place of the Water-Drawing has never seen rejoicing in his life." On this day water as well as wine (like the water and blood that flowed from Messiah's side) were poured into two different holes in the altar in the Temple and flowed through special conduits back down into the Qidron Valley. This gives us another connection with the Wedding at Cana, where Yeshua turned water into wine.

It is no wonder that the angels who announced Yeshua's birth said,
"Don't be frightened...I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord.
This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling bands and lying in a feeding trough."
And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased."
(Luke 2:10-13)
Those angels must have been flipping out.

John 7:37
'Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, 'From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.'"But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.'

"Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols.
"Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.
"I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances. (Ezekiel 36:25-27). This speaks of spiritual circumcision of the heart, made without hands, which is the result of a revelation of God, turning our hearts from their dead condition to everlasting life. It is likely that as the eighth day after a male's birth was the day of circumcision, Yeshua was circumcised in the Temple on Shemini Azeret.
So where Yeshua tells Maryam and his brothers that his time or hour has not yet come - he was saying, in a cryptic way, that the time for his wedding feast was not yet at hand. He would have scorned the idea of keeping his personal birthday; that was a tradition for earthly kings and pagans - and incidentally, it seemed that people usually ended up dead on such occasions - think of Pharaoh, Job's sons and Herod... which is why the early Christians never mention his birthday, but look forward to the Wedding Day every time they celebrated the Lord's Supper. So when the lukewarm church began to synchretise the truth of the Gospel to fit paganism, celebrating the birth of Jesus on the feast of the sun god (satan) slipped in through the Papal front door.
Yeshua replaces shadow with substance.
He is the Sun of Righteousness, the Water of Life; He is the Rock of our Salvation, the Lamb of God, He is the Tabernacle/Temple. He is the fulfilment of the Law, of all the Feasts of Israel. In Him we live and move and have our being. Messiah in you, the hope of glory.

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