Christ at Tabernacles, Part 1
When the Lord brought the Hebrews out of their bondage in
Egypt… at Mt
Sinai… He gave them the law to act as a guide in their behavior toward one
The moral law, such as is found in the 10 Commandments were given as a guide to how one ought to think… and the civil law… that guided the people in their interaction with each other. One law to govern our hearts… and another law to govern our actions.
And… along with the law… in order to break up the monotony of daily life… where we just wake up… go to work before the sun rises… come home after the sun sets…eat dinner and go back to bed in order to start the process all over again… day after day… year after year… (Have you ever felt like you were in a similar situation… going round and round and round…)
To break this up and to bring a little more joy into the lives of His people… the Lord also established some set parties to celebrate… festivals… and the people would also create some of their own…
Some of these were in conjunction with religious worship… others were centered around agriculture, or an important event in the life of the nation… all of them with the primary focus of praising God for His greatness and for His providence.
The Sabbath… First Fruits… Trumpets… the Day of Atonement… festivals that were established by God Himself… while others, like the Festival of Lights… Purim and Feast of Dedication, came about because of some event in Jewish history. All of these were to celebrate life or religious worship and they were a foreshadowing of the redemptive work of Christ.
Now… there were also, three specific festivals that were given to the Jews by the Lord are called “Pilgrimage Festivals”. These festivals carried the added requirement that every Jewish male above a certain age had to come to
Jerusalem in order to celebrate it. Certain allowances were made for those who
were too far away… or just couldn’t make it to Jerusalem for whatever reason… but everyone
was encouraged to come and celebrate.
And… the men who came, would typically bring their families with them… So… you can imagine the enormous amount of humanity that would be in
these celebrations… These three
pilgrimage festivals were Passover… Pentecost… and Tabernacles (or Booths, or
Out of all the festivals given by the Lord in the wilderness… Tabernacles was by and far… the peoples favorite.
Sukkot… also called the Feast of the Ingathering, or the Harvest… was the last of the yearly festivals given at Sinai… It was celebrated in the fall… somewhere around September or October… and it was done in remembrance of the Jews 40 years of wandering in the wilderness. The people would come to
build little huts or “tents” out of palm branches… and they would live in them
during the 8 day celebration. (Maybe
that’s why it was so well liked… it was a week long camping trip!)
During the festival… and during the time of the
they included a “water libation” and “candle lighting” ceremonies that were
very popular with the people…
These would begin one evening with the priests drawing “living water” from the pool of Siloam… which would be poured out on the altar the next day. I don’t know if it was before, during, or after this “water libation” ceremony… but it was probably around this time that Jesus stood up and cried out…
Joh 7:37-38 KJV … If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. (38) He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.
The candle lighting ceremony was where young boy’s would climb up ladders to light three golden candlesticks that were nearly 75 feet high… while people all around celebrated in song and dance… and the Levites sang and played instruments in the Temple…
It was probably during this candle lighting ceremony that Jesus said in… Joh 8:12 KJV …I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.
So… it’s somewhere around the middle of this festival of Tabernacles that we find ourselves today.
would be teaming with pilgrims from all over the world. Thousands… upon thousands of people… Crowded…
congested… loud and noisy and overflowing with life. If Jesus arrived in for the first day’s events… then He’s been keeping a low
profile for a few days… But almost as soon as He lets Himself be known publicly…
He’s faced with… Jerusalem
I. The Contempt of the Jews
Joh 7:14-18 KJV Now about the midst of the feast Jesus went up into the temple, and taught. (15) And the Jews marvelled, saying, How knoweth this man letters, having never learned? (16) Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me. (17) If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself. (18) He that speaketh of himself seeketh his own glory: but he that seeketh his glory that sent him, the same is true, and no unrighteousness is in him.
He had arrived in
by Himself… Joh
7:10 KJV …not openly, but as it were in
He had had a couple days at least to build His booth… or rent one that had already been built… and walk around the city enjoying the festival… and observing not only the events of each day… but also the religious leaders, and their intentions.
As we would say today… He was able to check out the “lay of the land”. He knew that He would reveal Himself at some point. After all… His mission still lay ahead of Him… not yet complete. He came to do His Father’s will… so it didn’t matter who was against Him… or who wanted to arrest Him… nothing, would keep Him from preaching to the people about the Kingdom of God.
So, around the middle of the feast, Jesus entered the
Temple, and went to that
place where Rabbi’s would typically congregate to teach their students… and He
taught the people. Now… had the Jews
seen Him arrive in the city a few days earlier… it would have been easy to take
Him by force and bring Him before the Sanhedrin…
But now… with all these people… all around Him… listening to His message… their opportunity for capture was removed. We have no idea what it was that He preached on… there’s no record of it… but we do know that it “marveled”, or “astonished” the Jews.
His mastery of the Scripture amazed them… just as it had earlier… when they heard His Sermon on the Mount… Mat 7:28-29 KJV And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine: (29) For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.
And because they couldn’t arrest Him… they showed their contempt for Him when they said… Joh 7:15 How knoweth this man letters, having never learned?
You can almost hear the contempt dripping from their lips. This man has never been to our seats of learning and sat under our Rabbi’s… what can He know anything? He’s uneducated… what makes Him think He can preach… or teach us?
In today’s terms… He hadn’t been to any known or recognized seminary… or He hadn’t been ordained by any formal ecclesiastical body. They couldn’t refute His teaching… so they attacked His credentials. They challenged His authority to teach because He didn’t have an authorized and recognized education.
Well… this won’t be the last time the Jewish leaders would be amazed at the teaching and reasoning of the “uneducated”! In the not too distant future… they’ll meet up with a couple of men named Peter and John…
Act 4:13 KJV Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.
And we can see that this same spirit is alive and well even today in many of our modern churches. There are those who believe that a man can’t preach… or especially, pastor a church without first graduating from some
or Seminary… Bible College
And while I hold that Seminary can be beneficial… and at the very least, a person needs to be involved in some sort of “continuing education” throughout their ministry…
or Seminary degrees do not guarantee an accurate understanding of the
Scriptures… or even that the graduate is a Christian. Bible College
Now… please don’t think that I’m speaking against higher, religious education. I’m not. Matter-of-fact… I’m studying toward a Master’s myself… But there are Christian Universities and Seminaries out there… and many, many more than you would think… who’s main purpose appears to be turning Bible believing Christians into skeptics…or even atheists.
No. The best religious education any believer could possibly possess… is the same kind that the religious leaders saw in Peter and John… Act 4:13 KJV …that they had been with Jesus.
And in a similar fashion… Jesus had been with the Father! He told His accusers…
Joh 7:16-18 My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me. (17) If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself. (18) He that speaketh of himself seeketh his own glory: but he that seeketh his glory that sent him, the same is true, and no unrighteousness is in him.
The doctrine Jesus taught wasn’t His… it was the Father’s… and all those who sincerely desire to do His will… will recognize the truth of God.
But those who are seeking only to lift themselves up… those who desire to promote their own agenda, or their own lusts… can’t see God’s truth, because their own “imagined” glory blinds their own eyes!
And these are characteristics of every false teacher… they “speak of themselves” and they “seek his own glory”. Their goal isn’t to feed the flock of God… but to fleece it.
Aware of the Jewish authorities’ venomous hatred… and their desire to kill Him… Jesus now pronounces judgment directly on them with a rhetorical question… thereby illuminating…
II. The Hatred of the Jews
Joh 7:19-20 KJV Did not Moses give you the law, and yet none of you keepeth the law? Why go ye about to kill me? (20) The people answered and said, Thou hast a devil: who goeth about to kill thee?
You claim that Moses gave you the law… and you take pride in that fact. So why is it then that the very thing you take pride in… you don’t follow?
What the Lord said here is one of the most accurate statements that could be made about human sinfulness. No one can keep the law. The Jews took great pride in the law. They revered it… and took careful pains to follow its precepts and obey its commands… but the simple fact of the matter is… no one ever entered the
by means of
obeying the law… kingdom
Because no one can keep it. As I said at the beginning of this sermon… the moral law was designed to guide us in how we are to think… and the civil law was to guide how we act.
No one… except Jesus… can lay claim to following the law of God, perfectly. And even if someone were to “physically” keep all the commandments… that’s only part of it. Jesus taught us that we are to also keep the law “mentally”… and “spiritually”.
For instance… the law of God forbids us to commit adultery. Exo 20:14 KJV Thou shalt not commit adultery.
And it’s entirely possible that every person in here today… never committed adultery… physically. But Jesus goes on to tell us that adultery isn’t simply a physical act… It goes much deeper than that! Mat 5:28 KJV … whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.
With this new information… can we all still lay claim to “never committing adultery”?
The law of God also tells us… Exo 20:13 KJV Thou shalt not kill.
And I would think that it’d be a pretty safe bet that none of you ever did this. But once again… Jesus tells us that murder isn’t only a physical act…
Mat 5:22 KJV … whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.
We could go through all the commandments… and I could show you how that none of us, have ever kept any of them. But I need to move on… so let me just say that the point of this is that sin… begins in the heart.
And no matter what some “feel good” TV show will tell you… or some Psychiatrist or Social Scientist will tell you… you CAN NOT follow your heart… because your heart is deceitful, above all else!
Jer 17:9 KJV The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
Following your heart will lead you right into hell. When emotions are in control… reason flies out the window. So if heaven… resurrection… new body… and new heaven and earth is truly your ultimate goal… then follow Christ through faithful study of and obedience to the Word of God.
Jesus revealed the hatred that the Jews had toward Him. They wanted to kill Him for doing God’s will… and when He called them on it… they try to shame him by saying He was possessed… no one was trying to kill Him…
III. The Hypocrisy of the Jews
Joh 7:21-24 KJV Jesus answered and said unto them, I have done one work, and ye all marvel. (22) Moses therefore gave unto you circumcision; (not because it is of Moses, but of the fathers;) and ye on the sabbath day circumcise a man. (23) If a man on the sabbath day receive circumcision, that the law of Moses should not be broken; are ye angry at me, because I have made a man every whit whole on the sabbath day? (24) Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.
When Jesus healed the paralytic man at the pool of
Bethesda in chapter 5… it
set in motion this animosity that the Jews had toward Him. Not only did He heal someone on the Sabbath…
but He defended that healing by claiming to be equal with God… both of which the
Jews believed to be blasphemies deserving of death.
But this time… He defends that healing by pointing out their misinterpretation of the scripture concerning the Sabbath regulations… and their own hypocrisy by breaking the Sabbath themselves.
They believed that Moses gave them circumcision… but it was actually God who gave it… and that was to Abraham… long before the law. Moses, however, incorporated it into the law. And the circumcision of a male child had to occur on the 8th day. So… if that 8th day fell on a Sabbath… the Jews would perform the ceremony on that Sabbath… despite the injunction in the law against working on the Sabbath!
Therefore… circumcision took precedence over the law of Moses. And this is where the absurdity of their accusation against Jesus becomes clear… Joh 7:23 If a man on the sabbath day receive circumcision, that the law of Moses should not be broken; are ye angry at me, because I have made a man every whit whole on the sabbath day?
Jesus is argument here is from “the lesser to the greater”… If the Jews didn’t object to the ceremonial “cleansing” of a part of an individual on a Sabbath… why would they object to the healing of the whole individual?
Which is more important? The part… or the whole? They needed to learn to… Joh 7:24 Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.
But so long as they continued being more concerned with themselves… rather than exalting the Father… as long as they continued to “seek their own glory”, rather than God’s glory… they would never be able to discern what “righteous judgment” is…
* * * * *
Jesus faced the contempt, the hatred, and the hypocrisy of the Jews… throughout His ministry. And the promise He makes to us… is that those who follow Him… will experience the same thing.
And from the birth of the Church on Pentecost… to this very day… the spiritually blind… whether they be blind from false religion, or no religion… have done all they can to kill off the faith.
From our modern colleges and universities who mock right thinking and faith in Christ… to groups like
who rape, murder, decapitate and crucify… the spiritually blind show their contempt,
hatred and hypocrisy toward the redeemed of Christ, on a daily basis.
And we will be facing this more and more in the days ahead… Are you ready for it? Because… if you’re not… you don’t have to face this alone. Jesus promised a glorious eternity to all those who believe in Him.
And that through faith in Him… it no longer matters what happens to this body… because our guarantee is a new and glorious, resurrected body… and an eternity in the Kingdom.
And as Joshua said so long ago… Jos 24:15 KJV …choose you this day whom ye will serve… but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.