Sukkot Reading: Levitcus 23:39-44, Exodus 33:12-34:26
As we go through this teaching think of someone in your life that would be a good example of a person that lives with joy in their life no matter their circumstances.
I want us to look more closely at Sukkot and the aspect of joy as well as New Testament references to the holiday. We have mentioned before the water drawing ceremony that took place each day during Sukkot. This is when the priests would go and bring water from Shiloach Springs and pour it over the altar as they prayed for the blessing of G-d in the form of abundant rain in the coming year. There is a striking New Testament reference to this water in John 7:37-38. See John 7:2 where the holiday is specifically mentioned. In 7:37 He makes reference to water and the spiritual truth that His water satisfies completely. He goes on to say that from us will also flow rivers of living water. How does this happen in our lives? G-d tabernacles with us, He becomes that Sukkah in which we dwell until we reach heaven. So how does water flow from us? It must flow daily as we live our lives here in this world. This happens I think, as we live a joyful life daily. Not just when everything is going well and we grow fat. But especially when things might not be going so well as the world measures well. How else can we read in James 1:2, “Count it all joy or pure joy whenever you fall into various trials.” How are we to do that?
I think we learn how by going over the lessons of Sukkot until they are part of our spiritual life, a life unaffected by the ups and downs of our physical life. I know this sounds impossible and maybe it is to some extent but we work toward the goal of knowing G-d more and deeper each day. Then joy becomes the over riding quality of our lives. When we live in the presence of G-d as represented by the Sukkah and the living water of the Messiah we will become a person of joy. Living in our Sukkah shows us that G-d provides. His cloud of glory covers us constantly. We are never alone. When we grasp that G-d is always covering us as the Sukkah represents, we can go through all of life’s struggles and challenges. G-d is the ultimate good and He never allows any struggle or challenge into our lives that does not have a constructive purpose. So when we are commanded to celebrate a holiday and experience a time of joy, we are being told by G-d that joy is not a reaction to outside events but rather it is who we are.
I sent out the example of two people looking at exactly the same set of circumstances but experiencing them in completely opposite ways. This should help us to see that joy is not brought about by what we have, but by what we are and how we think spiritually and practically. When we abide in the Sukkah of G-d we have all we need. When we are able to be joyful ourselves we see the world and others differently.
So Sukkot is one of the most important holidays of the year and an appropriate one to conclude the spiritual cycle. It brings us to the culmination of our spiritual walk when we can count it all joy.