— Parashah Sukkot Chol HaMoed
Torah: Shemot (Exodus) 33:12 — 34:26
Haftarah: Ezekiel 38:18 — 39:16
"YESHUA IS OUR SUKKAH" This week's Parashah is not a text following the yearly chronological reading order, but a special text due to the Sukkot festival. Passover and Sukkot always have a special reading within the festival because both consist of eight days and, therefore, include a Shabbat.
What it is interesting about this week's reading is that it talks about a very unusual "sukkah" or covering, and that is God's hand.
"And Yehovah said to Moshe, 'I will do this thing also that you have spoken; for you have found favor in My sight, and I know you by name.' And he said, 'I beg You, show me Your glory.' And He said, 'I will make all My goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim the Name Yehovah before you; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy.' And He said, 'You can not see My face; for no man shall see Me and live.' And Yehovah said, 'Behold, there is a place by Me, and you shall stand upon a rock. And it shall come to pass, while My glory passes by, that I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and will cover [sakoti] you with My hand while I pass by'" - Exodus 33:17-22.
After this encounter God reveals to Moshe His Thirteen Attributes: 1) Mercy; 2) Divine Mercy; 3) Power; 4) Compassionate; 5) Gracious; 6) Long Suffering; 7) Abundant in Kindness; 8) Truth; 9) Preserver of Kindness for thousands; 10) Forgiving iniquity; 11) Forgiving transgression; 12) Forgiving sin; 13) Who cleanses.
Indeed we have a God who calls us by name and who shows us mercy and grace, who forgives our sins and declare us clean because of the cover of the blood of Messiah. God sent His Son to tabernacle among us — (John 1:14), and by His sacrifice on the cross to cover our iniquities, thus the Sukkah we build at the Sukkot festival not only represents the temporality of our existence and our dependence on God, but also represents Yeshua who humbled Himself as a lowly Sukkah and was born to humanity for the specific purpose to cover our sins in order to restore the fellowship with our God. We cannot come in the presence of a Holy God and live without this cover. We cannot be pure on our own and His Holiness would consume us. Prayer, penitence and charity are not enough; atonement is only made by shedding of blood.
In the B'rit Chadashah Luke, the physician, has given us a thorough account of the birth of Messiah. Luke wrote the gospel and the book of Acts that we might know the exact truth about what happened. He starts the gospel with the narration of the events of the birth of Yochanan the cousin of Yeshua.
In Luke chapter 1 we read about Z'kharyah who was of a priestly order and who, in keeping with the timing of various priestly divisions, served in the Temple. His division was called 'Aviyahu.' These divisions were established back in 1 Chronicles chapter 24, and the priests always served at their appointed time up until the destruction of the Temple. The time of Z'kharyah's service gives us the starting point of the events to follow. Z'kharyah and his wife Elisheva were advanced in years and Elisheva was barren. While serving in the Temple an angel appears and tells him about the son that he would have through Elisheva and that this son, who would be called Yochanan, would be the forerunner of the Messiah who will call Yisrael back to God.
Now, the order of division which Z'kharyah was of and was performing the priestly service in the Temple was the eighth order out of twenty four divisions. Each division served for approximately 15 days, or half a month, in the Temple each year. Therefore, the order of Aviyahu served in the second part of the fourth month. Z'kharyah and Elisheva were at the Temple in the fourth month of the Hebrew calendar. The first month of the Hebrew year is not Tishrei. Tishrei, according to the Torah is the seventh month (Leviticus 23:34). The first month of the Hebrew year is called Aviv (Exodus 12:2 and 13:4), and, therefore, the fourth month is Tammuz. Tammuz comes out in our present day Gregorian calendar as June/July.
Z'kharyah and Elisheva returned home after his priestly service was completed and Elisheva became pregnant. Elisheva conceived the child that the angel Gavriel had promised. When they had returned home was in the beginning of the fifth month which is called Av. Nine months later, naturally, Yochanan was born.
Continuing in the same chapter of Luke we hear the angel Gavriel speaking to Miryam and telling her that not only will she bear the Son of God but that her relative Elisheva had conceived in her old age and is now in her sixth month: So we can draw the conclusion that this was happening in the month of Tevet, Elisheva's sixth month of pregnancy, so Yochanan would be six months older than Yeshua.
Therefore, Yeshua being conceived towards the end of the month of Tevet (December/January), was born nine months later, towards the end of the month of Tishrei (September/October), the seventh month, the month in which we celebrate the High Holidays, the Yomim Noraim, which now can take in a greater meaning when we understand its fulfillment in the very birth of the Messiah Himself. The second part of the month is when Sukkot, or the Feast of Booths, takes place. Chag HaSukkot is celebrated from the fifteenth through the twenty second of the month of Tishrei.
We, in Messianic Judaism, believe that all Jewish Holy Days are about the Messiah, therefore, the fulfillment of the meaning of Chag HaSukkot, the Feast of Booths is that Yeshua came humbly to His people, He became a very approachable King, the Word became flesh and tabernacled among us (John 1:14). When we can fully realize what it means, that the Word became flesh and tabernacled among us, we will understand that God became a man and humbled Himself so that any one of us, no mater how sinful, how lowly we have become, could become His intimate companion and receive the salvation given by His atoning sacrifice on the cross.
This is the good news, and that should be indeed a reason to rejoice at this High Holy Days season. This is the season to proclaim the birth of our Messiah, God's covering hand of mercy. Hag sameah Sukkot.
Shabbat joy, peace and blessings! Shabbat Shalom!
"You search the Scriptures because you think in them you have eternal life. It is these that bear witness of Me [Yeshua]" John 5:39