From “Feast of Tabernacles,” Chapter 13- Tabernacles – The Feast of Restoration, continued
SEND PORTIONS TO THE NEEDY
“Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared…” (Neh. 8:10).
As the Feast of Tabernacles begins to dawn upon us, it is becoming increasingly important that the saints have something to minister to their fellow-members in the Body. They must not “appear before the Lord empty: every man shall give as he is able according to the blessing of the Lord.” (Deut. 16:16, 17). This strongly reminds us of Paul’s exhortations to the Romans and Corinthians, concerning their ministry in the Body of Christ. “Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; or ministry, let us wait on our ministering…” (Rom. 12:6, 7). The whole ministry of the various members is to edify the Body, and not for their own gratification. “As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” (1 Pet. 4:10). As the ministries develop and the Body is edified, then they will go forth unto the world bringing health and gladness to those who sit in darkness, starvation, and the shadow of death.
VICTORY AND PROSPERITY AHEAD
“Go forth unto the mount, and fetch olive branches, and pine branches, and myrtle branches, and palm branches, and branches of thick trees, to make booths, as it is written…” (Neh. 8:15).
No doubt all these trees are significant of one thing and another. But broadly speaking they depict the victory and prosperity and joy and triumph of the people of God. The “olive”–a true symbol of the Holy Spirit. The olive oil was used for making the holy ointment, for the anointing of prophet, priest, or king. Palm branches, you will recall, were cut down and scattered in the pathway of the King who came riding triumphantly into Jerusalem sitting upon an ass, amidst the shouting of the people and of the children. “Hosanna”‘ they cried, “Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.” (Mk. 11:9). And the saints who come out of the Great Tribulation clothed in white robes have “palms in their hands,” as they shout the victory song and worship the Lamb that was, slain for them. There is a great day of gladness ahead for the saints when the Feast of Tabernacles is observed. But they must leave their homes in the streets of Jerusalem. They must forsake their own ways, their own thoughts, their own plans and desires, and crucify the flesh–in order that the life of Christ and the joy of the Holy Ghost might be their portion.
What a spectacle this scene must have presented. Thousands upon thousands of little humble tabernacles or booths erected along the streets of Jerusalem, or upon the house-tops, or in the courts of the temple, or in the open places of the city; all assembled together with one common purpose in mind, with one heart and one soul, to keep the Feast of the Lord. The booth was nothing much to behold–just a humble, fragile hut. Says Paul, “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.” (2 Cor. 4:7). Weymouth’s translation of this passage is most expressive: “But we have this treasure in fragile earthen pots, in order that the surpassing greatness of the power may be seen to be God’s and not to come from us.” Again, Paul says, “Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (2 Cor. 12:9). Literally it reads, “That the power of Christ may spread a Tabernacle over me… ” It is the manifestation of Christ within us. It is the crucifixion of our flesh, that the very life of Christ might be revealed, in the power of the Holy Ghost. GHW
One of my favorite quotes from C.S. Lewis comes from his book “Mere Christianity.” He says, “Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of – throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.”
It is when we humble ourselves and see what we are–just a decent little cottage—that God comes along with a far greater plan for us. But as long as we see ourselves as a palace already, in need of no help from the master builder, we remain a house built on the sand of our own imaginings, defenseless against the winds and waves of life in this world.