God uses the knowledgeable and the ignorant in the transmission of the Gospel: from Moses to Peter, from Elijah to Thomas. It’s not about the container, but Who it contains (I Pet. 2:9; II Cor. 4:7; Ezek. 36:27).
A verse of great comfort personally is Psalm 23:4:
כִּי-אֵלֵךְ בְּגֵיא צַלְמָוֶת, לֹא-אִירָא רָע– כִּי-אַתָּה עִמָּדִי
“Even though I walk through the valley overshadowed by death, I will not fear the bad or the evil, for You are with me” (personal translation).
David speaks words of profound faith. He recognizes the risks of life, but he does not hide or stop, he keeps going.
David recognizes the journey of life, a journey where risk is present. The destination, while in mind, will not be fully known until arrival. Is the journey worth the risk? Yes, because, as he writes, “You are with me.”
The risk, the danger, the uncertainty is calmed by faith. Faith provides the strength to keep going as the soul leans on the Shepherd who is ever present.
In the great struggles we face, on the most difficult of journeys, we press on because we know we are not alone. Faith provides the certainty to keep going toward the destination, when it would be easier to give up.
We will not know the beauty or the value of the journey until we arrive at the destination, no matter how overshadowed by difficulty it proves to be. Messiah confirms David’s words in the lives of His disciples, “I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:20).
The journey is difficult, and even scary; but you are not now, nor will you ever be alone.
Be well. Shalom.
Sukkot follows the season of repentance and covering. Sukkot is where the lessons of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are put to a first test.
Repentance is the shade of forgiveness, a place of refuge and refreshing. It is shade because fault is still fresh in the minds of those effected, there is still enough light for us to see; but in that shade all will also be transformed in the new beginning of covering.
Build the sukkah, the tabernacle.
Here is another layer regarding the instability of Sukkot: living forgiveness, under the shade of the sukkah.
There is a rabbinic teaching that says the glory of God dwells in the shadow of the sukkah; the place where covering shades us from the direct heat – pictured as the hot sun – of judgment.
In the sukkah we welcome, not only our family whom we will naturally forgive, but also “strangers,” perhaps those distanced because of trespass that we now have forgiven.
Sukkot teaches us to shade people in the forgiveness we have received, and that which we have given. Sukkot is seen as an end, as it appears to mark the end of the festival year, but it is the beginning of living without the weight of the past, in the spirit of God’s renewal.
Sukkot is a place for the forgiven to land, and start again.
How can this be lived out after Sukkot? Messiah gave us daily words to pray that create a sukkah, a place of daily refuge, “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us” (Matt. 6:12).
And how is this done? In Him. In Messiah, the Tent of heavens presence, “And the word pitched His tent and dwelt among us” (Jn. 1:15).
The instability of Sukkot in faithing action unto the Lord is trusting that He will make our wrongs, and their wrongs, right in the shade of repentance (Ro. 8:28-29).
So the decorations are only decorations, and the sukkah is only a flimsy shed, if the power of God’s presence is not realized in the shade of repentance where forgiven brethren sit and dwell together.
It seems unstable, but in our limping instability, we rely on the Holy Spirit to come alongside, and speaks Messiah’s promises to us once again.
Be well. Shabbat shalom, and Hag Sukkot Sameach!