It has been difficult for me to focus this week on Feasts of Tabernacles since I continue to deal with an intense headache with pounding throbbing pain of 8-10 level unless I lay down in a dark room. It has been debilitating for me. I think of all the people who are dealing with health issues and consumption they have on pain, suffering, and lack of health.
My mind is reminded that during Feast of Tabernacles it is tradition for us to read Ecclesiastes. Tabernacles is a time in the fall of the year when we are to remember what God did for Israel in the wilderness. How He provided for them as they lived in Tents. Tabernacle means booths or tents. It is a time for us to be reminded that God took care of all their needs. He provided everyday manna and quail. The dew was what provided the taste. If they were hungry for lamb chops, or sweets, or a filet the dew was what caused it to taste. As they lived under and open heaven, we are reminded during this 8 day Feasts that we live under and open heaven too. It was amazing fact they never had their clothes or shoes wear out. Nor did they have any disease. They lived totally upon the Covenant Faithfulness of God.
So for these 8 days ending on this Sunday, September 30th at sundown we are reminded about God’s faithfulness in provision and blessings upon His people. Our focus should be not on material things but upon God our provider. Solomon the writer of Ecclesiastes wrote in chapter 1: 1-9,
“The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem.
“Vanity of vanities,” says the Preacher.
“Vanity of vanities! All [that is done without God’s guidance] is vanity [futile, meaningless—a wisp of smoke, a vapor that vanishes, merely chasing the wind].”
What advantage does man have from all his work
Which he does [a]under the sun (while earthbound)?
One generation goes and another generation comes,
But the earth remains forever.
Also, the sun rises and the sun sets;
And hurries to the place where it rises again.
The wind blows toward the south,
Then circles toward the north;
The wind circles and swirls endlessly,
And on its circular course the wind returns.
All the rivers flow into the sea,
Yet the sea is not full.
To the place where the rivers flow,
There they flow again.
All things are wearisome and all words are frail;
Man cannot express it.
The eye is not satisfied with seeing,
Nor is the ear filled with hearing.
That which has been is that which will be [again],
And that which has been done is that which will be done again.
So there is nothing new under the sun.”
What Ecclesiastes shows us is not that life itself or the pursuit of happiness is meaningless, but that the pursuit of pleasure simply for the sake of it is a vanity like chasing the wind. What we should strive for is not the fleeting and temporal but the eternal; we can use this life and our toil here as means to bring us to the eternal. What Ecclesiastes does is show us that the material nature of this world lacks meaning when compared to the eternal nature of the World to Come. Meaning is not found in the temporal but in the eternal.
We love our cars, food, houses, and toys. Yet, Ecclesiastes snatches them from our hands and flips them inside out to reveal their guts. By doing this he shows us that their essence is meaningless and that to pursue them for happiness for its own sake will lead to aimless wandering and depression.
Perhaps that is why we read Ecclesiastes during Tabernacles. Just as our Tent/Booth is temporary and unstable, so too, the things of this world are fleeting. But the Tent/Booth, while temporary, reminds us of and points us to the eternal nature of God and how he protects us.
During this time of Tabernacles may we be filled with life and joy from the eternal things of God.