This special reading recounts when Moses asked God to travel with the people. This is right after the sin of the Golden Calf, and God has agreed not to destroy the people but Moses has removed the Tent of Meeting from within the camp, due to the sin of the camp. Moses asks God to allow him to see His Glory and God agrees, but only from the back.
God has Moses make another set of tablets for the 10 Commandments and after Moses begs God to stay with the people, God tells Moses He will travel with them. God also tells Moses He will destroy the enemies of the people and that the Israelites are to totally demolish all forms of idol worship and all the standing poles and idols they find of the conquered peoples. They are not to intermarry or allow them to be part of their lives. This commandment is also a warning that by not doing so the people will become seduced into idol worship. This special reading ends with God reminding Moses about the major festivals when the people are to go to worship where God has determined to place His name.
It seems pretty obvious why this reading is for this special Shabbat- the Feast of Tabernacles is all about the joy God has when He is able to be with His people, and the joy we have when He is with us. Tabernacles is more than just living in a booth for a week- it is symbolic of the love God has for us: so much love, in fact, that the spiritual wants to dwell with the physical. It is an image of what it was like in Eden, when God was able to walk side-by-side with Adam and Eve. Two different planes of existence, ethereal and corporeal, existing together. That is what Tabernacles is really about: a reminder of Eden past, and a vision of the future when we will live in God’s presence again, forever.
I read once that the “Rabbi’s” said it is impossible for God to “come down” to the Earth, as it is said in the Tanakh, because He is already here. God is everywhere, all the time, so He can’t really “go” anywhere because wherever He wants to go, He is already there! So why, then, do we need the Feast of Tabernacles? If God is always with us, why do we need a special time to dwell with Him?
I think it’s because even though God is always here, we don’t recognize His presence because we are too busy paying attention to ourselves. How many times have you been told that you totally missed the turn you knew you had to take while driving because you were paying attention to someone walking, or talking to another person, or just thinking to yourself about something else? How many times have you thought of something important, then got distracted for a moment and the thought was gone?
God is always right here. Doesn’t Moses tell us that the Law is not far from us? So close we can reach out and touch it? (Deut. 30:11) God is Torah, and the Torah is God. Just as John said that the Word became flesh (Yeshua), the Word is God- it is who He is, what He is about, His thoughts and desires. That’s why this time is so important. We need to refocus our gaze off of us and back onto God.
When you wake up in the morning and it is still dark, you can see much of what is there. Your eyes have adjusted to seeing in the darkness, although we don’t see everything. When you turn on the light, it makes you squint because the brightness is overpowering. As our eyes adjust to the light, we see much more of what was always there but, in the darkness, we couldn’t see.
We live in a very dark place- a cursed world. We grow up in it, we are used to seeing in it (although we can’t see many things all around us, and I am talking figuratively as well as factually) and for those of us who see the Light (have come to know God), we see as if in the brightness of the noon day. God has opened our eyes to what there is all around us that we couldn’t see in the darkness of our godless existence before- and what we see is sin. Being in God’s presence lights up the sin that is hidden to those still seeing only in the dark.
The world sees TV shows about vampires in love; I see the world accepting demonic creatures as being OK- they’re just like us.
The world sees people who live in defiance of God’s commandments as normal and acceptable, and I see the governments of the world accepting the mark of the enemy.
The world sees technology as wonderful and I see people and nations building their houses on sand (Matt. 7:24-27: the silicon chip is what makes today’s technology possible, and silica is sand.)
Those of us who have accepted God, accepted Messiah Yeshua and who have devoted our lives to T’Shuvah (turning from sin) so that we can honor and glorify God in all we do, we are living in the light and we are commanded to be a light to those still in the darkness. That’s why it is so hard talking to people about God- the light hurts your eyes when you first see it.
Tabernacles is a physical reminder of the spiritual truth that God wants to dwell with us. Although we do it once a year, we should be spiritual tabernacles to the world every day of the year. And just as God comes from His perfectly wonderful environment and suffers to dwell in this physical world, we should also be willing to go into the darkness to seek those who need the light.
Celebrate this time of the year with joy, and honor God all the rest of the year with your service to His desire for you to bring light into the darkness.