ALL-CHURCH FOCUS 2018 DEVOTIONAL

September 3rd, Day #16 - John 7:1-24

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“Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment."

– John 7:24

 

Have you ever had someone make a snap judgment about you without truly knowing you or the circumstance? 


What emotions did you experience? 


How are we tempted to judge others by appearances? 


How would Jesus help us overcome these challenges? 

GAME ON

Read John 7:1-24


Have you ever felt intimidated by the knowledge that pastors or missionaries have about God? Most of us have not experienced formal theological training. It can be easy to feel like we don’t have the education or experience to speak with authority about God’s truth.  

 

Jesus, however, tells us that it is not our education that brings us to God. In today’s passage, we see Jesus teaching publicly about God in a crowded festival. The people who saw Him were amazed that He was teaching with religious power when He had not received official training from the Jewish authorities (v. 15). Jesus replies that His teaching does not come from a diploma or our worldly education, but from God Himself (v. 16).

 

We do not need a certain amount of schooling or training to understand God’s truth. When you get stuck or overwhelmed by a passage, humbly ask God to give you wisdom. If you are seeking His glory and His will, then He will help you discern His truth (v. 17).  

YOUR MOVE

Let’s look to what God wants to say directly to you today through John 7:1-24

 

Scripture: What is God directing your heart toward in today’s passage?

 

Observation: On what basis does Jesus ask people to judge Him?

 

Application: When was the last time you felt like your wisdom was inferior compared to someone else’s training or experience? What is your internal conversation with yourself in those moments? How does being qualified by Jesus change your view of yourself?

 

Prayer: Ask Jesus for the confidence you need to humbly share what He is doing in your heart, soul, and mind the next time you encounter an opportunity to speak His truth.

bonus round


What exactly was the "Festival of Booths?" Understanding this key Jewish holiday can help us understand Jesus' actions and message in this passage. Let's check it out! 

Quick Facts

Hebrew Meaning of Name: “Booths” or “Tabernacles”
Transliterations: Succos, Succot, Sukkos
English Name: The Feast of Tabernacles, The Feast of Booths
Western Calendar Month: September or October
Jewish Calendar Date: Tishrei 15–22
Duration: Seven days
Establishment of Sukkot: In the Bible: Leviticus 23:33 ff.

Purpose

Sukkot, the Feast of Booths, commonly goes by another name: “The Season of our Joy,” for joy predominates on this holiday more than any other. Jewish people around the world construct sukkot (singular: sukkah), frail huts or booths that remind us of God’s provision and our dependence on Him. Sukkot is a memorial to remind us of the building of booths during our ancestors’ wanderings in the wilderness: “The Feast of Tabernacles was an annual reminder to the people that God is the Great Shepherd who has chosen to ‘tabernacle among them,’ to protect and bless them wherever they wander.”[1]


Origins

In the Torah, the Lord gives Moses specific instructions for a harvest feast of thanksgiving:


On the fifteenth day of this seventh month and for seven days is the Feast of Booths to the Lord.On the first day shall be a holy convocation; you shall not do any ordinary work. For seven days you shall present food offerings to the Lord. On the eighth day you shall hold a holy convocation and present a food offering to the Lord. It is a solemn assembly; you shall not do any ordinary work.

[…]On the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you have gathered in the produce of the land, you shall celebrate the feast of the Lord seven days. On the first day shall be a solemn rest, and on the eighth day shall be a solemn rest. And you shall take on the first day the fruit of splendid trees, branches of palm trees and boughs of leafy trees and willows of the brook, and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God seven days. . . . You shall dwell in booths for seven days. All native Israelites shall dwell in booths, that your generations may know that I made the people of Israel dwell in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.

Leviticus 23:34–43


Despite the length and intricacy of God’s directions regarding Sukkot, in later times the holiday fell into disuse. The book of Nehemiah records that the people after many years of corruption and non-observance once more commemorated Sukkot during his reign by building booths:


And all the assembly of those who had returned from the captivity made booths and lived in the booths, for from the days of Jeshua the son of Nun to that day the people of Israel had not done so. And there was very great rejoicing. And day by day, from the first day to the last day, he read from the Book of the Law of God. They kept the feast seven days, and on the eighth day there was a solemn assembly, according to the rule.

Nehemiah 8:17–18


Later, after the destruction of the Temple, some of the older rituals were shed and new ones took their place. As one author puts it, “the destruction of the temple gave Sukkot an identity crisis.”[2] The result was an increased emphasis on the building of booths and the development of rituals relating to lulav—the Four Species of fronds bound together (“the fruit of splendid trees, branches of palm trees and boughs of leafy trees and willows of the brook”). All of this was to mimic the former processions at the Temple. Thus, the history of Sukkot is one of “adaptation,” of preserving what rituals could be preserved and discarding ones that were no longer practicable.[3]


How It Is Observed

Three main rites accompanied Sukkot in the Temple period: the water-drawing and libation ceremony, the illumination of the Temple, and the building of booths. But only the last of these is prescribed in the Torah—the first two seem to derive from other sources. One author writes: “Both these rituals were classified as ‘laws given to Moses at Sinai.’ This designation was given to a number of very ancient traditions that possessed biblical authority but were neither explicitly stated in Scripture, nor derived from Scripture by hermeneutical principles, nor were the result of rabbinic legislation.”[4] Both the libation and illumination rituals reached their climax on Hoshana Rabba, the seventh day of Sukkot. Of these three observances, only the building of the sukkah is still practiced as it was in ancient times, since the other two rites depended on the existence of the Temple.

Sukkot in the New Testament

There is a connection between the practice of “tabernacling” and the life of Jesus:

In Yeshua (Jesus), God tabernacled among us. He chose to be born into a less-than-glorious space, where certainly the stars might have peeked through cracks in the roof, the elements might well have invaded. Nevertheless, in that lowly place dwelt the glorious presence of God, the transient and the eternal beautifully coming together in God’s provision and God’s presence.[9]

Not only that, Yeshua deliberately took the festival of Sukkot as an opportunity to speak about himself. The Gospel of John recounts his preaching in the outer Court of the Women on Hoshanah Rabbah:

On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

John 7:37–39


In speaking of the “living water,” Yeshua drew a  connection between the spiritual gift he would give and the spring of Siloam where water was drawn for the water-drawing ceremony, as well as with the “wells of salvation” mentioned in the book of Isaiah. Later he calls himself the Light of the World, again referring to the symbols of the holiday (in this case, the illuminated Temple) as harbingers of his arrival: “The Light of the World statement, like the Living Water statement, had a rich theological backdrop. Jesus was once again referring to a wealth of messianic prophecy that many would recognize.”[10]


When Jesus stood in the Temple claiming to be the Light of the World, He was making a radical statement. Those who say that Jesus never claimed to be God have not dealt with this statement. To stand in the middle of the Temple in conjunction with the Feast of Tabernacles and say, “I am the Light” was like saying, “I am the Shekinah, I am the pillar of fire.” It’s hard to imagine a more graphic claim to deity.[11]


For this reason, “many Christians regard the Feast of Booths as the consummate messianic holiday. Citing Bible verses that in the last days Gentiles will celebrate the festival and go up to Jerusalem to dance and sing with the Jewish people, many travel to Israel at this season to worship and to celebrate.”[12]


*This resource an excerpt from an article by Jews for Jesus. Read the full article here.