The Feast of Tabernacles, or Sukkot, gives us a vivid picture of what it means to follow Christ. In Old Testament times, the native-born Israelites were commanded to build huts (or sukkahs) and live in them for seven days during the holiday.
Jewish people still do this today. They set up a 2’x4’ frame and put up walls of plastic, then a roof of branches, leaves, and decorations. The structure must show some sky, or it isn’t a sukkah. A tent won’t do. Then, for seven days they eat, sleep, and spend time in the hut.
Why is this done? Leviticus 23:43 explains, “That your generations may know that I made the children of Israel to dwell in booths, when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.”
God says He wanted His people to remember the Exodus, when they were camping in tents, no longer in their houses back in Egypt. Just to reminisce? No! When you’re camping, you’re vulnerable to the elements, living in a temporary situation and constantly moving.
Think about the last time you were in a tent. Remember that storm? It’s not as easy as putting up an umbrella and running into the house. You can’t become set in your ways in a tent. Your vulnerability requires that you constantly adapt to change.
When you are in the sukkah, you are totally, physically dependent on God. So remembering the Exodus for Israel meant recalling moving when the cloud moved, depending on God for food and water — for their very existence.
In God’s mind, those were the good old days because the ones who survived the experience had learned to rely on Him and knew Him in a tangible way. God was saying to the Israelites, “This is how I want you: totally dependent on Me, able to move when I say move, ready for any change.”
Are we willing to be this vulnerable to God? Vulnerable means “being open to attack, capable of being wounded.” Who wants that? But with God we must make ourselves open, knowing that everything He does to and for us is for our good.
The truth is, we often rely on our own strength and are set in our own ways. But if we want to truly dwell with and in God, we need to find that place of vulnerability and dependence.
Sukkot is a word for us today. Put up a sukkah at least once in your life, to experience vulnerability to God. Can you honestly say that you are ready and willing for any change He might bring to you? If He is truly Lord of your life, this is what He expects.
Even Jesus had to experience this dependence. The same word, tabernacle (or hut), describes what happened in the incarnation of Christ: “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt [tabernacled] among us” (John 1:14).
Think about it. God came down to His creation as a baby and was totally dependent upon His human mother and father. What if they made mistakes? What if they went the wrong direction in their lives? How would that affect the plan? Becoming human made the plan of salvation vulnerable!
If Jesus could be vulnerable like this, can’t we give up our rights to live by our own strength in order to truly dwell with Him?
The physical vulnerability at the Feast of Tabernacles draws a concrete picture of what Christ desires from us: openness to His Spirit and dependence on Him. Just as Jesus consented to being vulnerable as a human being, to bring about the most revolutionary redemptive plan the world will ever know, so we can give Him our independent spirit and watch as He creates something amazing out of our lives.
Are you ready for the next level?