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The Feast of Booths—When You Want Heaven Now

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The Feast of Booths, or Sukkot, provided a time to remember how God had delivered His people from bondage and how He had provided for them in the wilderness. It looked back at deliverance, but it also looked forward to something else—to Messiah.

The Feast of Booths—When You Want Heaven Now

(Photo: Crowds at the Western Wall at Sukkot, the Feast of Booths. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Building tabernacles or “booths” (Hebrew sukkot) was nothing new for the Jews (Lev. 23:34, 42-43). The act served as a mandatory memorial of God’s faithfulness in the wilderness. At Sukkot, every seven years on the sabbatical year, the Law was read in the hearing of all Israel (Deut. 31:10-11).

The Bible refers to the holiday by several other names:

  • The Feast of the Harvest (Exod. 23:16)
  • The Feast of Ingathering (Exod. 34:22)
  • The feast of the Lord (Lev. 23:39)
  • The feast (1 Ki. 8:2; 2 Chron. 7:8-9; John 7:37)

In light of the world’s ugliness, it’s tempting to hole up on some mountain and just wait for God to come get us. In fact, it was the Feast of Booths Peter had in mind when he made exactly that request to Jesus.

We may not know it, but we often ask for the same thing.

The Feast of Booths—A Mountaintop Experience

Jesus brought three of His disciples up on the slopes of a “high mountain,” probably Mount Hermon. Six days after the prediction of His death in Jerusalem, Jesus gave affirmation of His glory, divine nature, and coming Kingdom. Jesus was “transfigured” on the mountain—revealing His true glory.

Mount Hermon was likely the location of the Transfiguration.

(Photo: Mount Hermon was likely the location of the Transfiguration. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Suddenly, Moses and Elijah also appeared in glorious cameo appearances. They spoke of Jesus’ “departure” at Jerusalem, the very event Jesus had just revealed to His disciples in Caesarea Philippi (Luke 9:31). Peter blurted:

Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, I will make three tabernacles here, one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah. —Matt. 17:4

What was Peter suggesting with these tabernacles? He was asking Jesus for the same thing you and I ask Him for.

Peter’s Request Regarding the Feast of Tabernacles

The prophet Zechariah had written that when the Messiah reigns on the earth, He will require all nations to come and celebrate the Feast of Booths (Zech. 14:16-19). So, what did Peter request of Jesus on the mountain? Peter was pushing for the Kingdom to begin! But even before Peter could finish his words, God the Father interrupted:

This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him! —Matt. 17:5

Jesus' Transfiguration

(Painting by Carl Heinrich Bloch. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

Jesus had just told His disillusioned disciples that He would die in Jerusalem. Peter flatly rejected the cross—and requested instead they skip straight to the kingdom of God.

The transfiguration confirmed that the only way to the glory Peter and the disciples wanted would come through the cross. There was no going around it. Even in the presence of Christ’s glory on the mountain, Moses and Elijah spoke of Christ’s death, or “departure”—literally, in the Greek, His exodus (Luke 9:31)—a nice literary touch with Moses standing there.

Wanting Heaven Now—But Getting a Cross

The Kingdom will come indeed. Jesus confirmed that to His disciples—but first they had a cross to bear. So do we (Mark 8:34). Although we don’t carry literal wooden crosses, Jesus’ metaphor still demands a literal application of the struggle God calls us each to bear. My cross—and your cross—represents the difficult obedience God requires daily. Our road to glory has splinters from the cross we bear.

Notice also the order of events: Jesus went to the cross before He experienced the joys of glory.

When will we learn that it can be no different for us?

Tell me what you think: What helps you keep going when you’re ready for heaven now? To leave a comment, just click here.

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This post is adapted from Wayne’s book, Walking in the Footsteps of Jesus: A Journey Through the Lands and Lessons of Christ.

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