Rabbi Schneider - A Time for Thanksgiving
Today, yedidim, beloved ones, we're concluding our series this year entitled Yahweh's Fall Holy Days. I'm excited because we're going to be focusing today on the feast called Sukkot in Hebrew. Many of you know it as the Feast of Tabernacles. What's interesting is that the Hebrew prophet Zachariah told us that during the millennial age when Messiah is reigning on earth for a thousand years, everybody that's on the planet that knows Him, Jew and Gentile alike, will celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles. This is an exciting time. It's a time of celebration. We started out the fall holy season with Rosh Hashanah, Yom Teruah, the feast of the blowing of the trumpets. This is a time of self-examination that announces that the kingdom of God is breaking into the earth. And if there's known sin in our life, it's time to repent.
Moving forward from Rosh Hashanah, Yom Teruah, we move towards and into the day known as Yom Kippur (The Day of Atonement). During the day of atonement, as Messianic believers, Jew and Gentile alike, we celebrate that the blood of Jesus has cleansed us of our sin. And now as we approach this final fall holy day, Sukkot, it's a time of just rejoicing and thanking God for everything that He's done for us. The Lord told the children of Israel to gather the goodness in the bounty of the land and to waive it before Him in something called lulav. And basically, what they were doing is they were acknowledging the Creator for all the good gifts that He had brought into their life. It's a time that we're commanded to rejoice and celebrate for all the good things that the Lord has done for us.
So let's go now to the book of Leviticus. We're picking up in the 23rd chapter. I'm going to begin reading today in verse 39. "On exactly the fifteenth day of the seventh month..." Again, this is the month of Tishrei. "...when you have gathered in the crops of the land..." So again it's a time where they've gathered in the fall harvest and they're thanking God for His goodness for the harvest, and for every blessing. "...you shall celebrate..." I'm gonna be zeroing in on that today. "...you shall celebrate the feast of the Lord for seven days..." Now look at the 40th verse. "Now on the first day you shall take for yourselves the foliage of beautiful trees, palm branches, boughs of leafy trees and willows of the brook, and you shall," get this word now, "rejoice before the LORD for seven days". And the next verse, "And thus celebrate it as a feast to the LORD... It shall be a perpetual statute..."
So I want you to think about three things. It was a time of harvest, a time of in gathering. It was a time of Thanksgiving, recognizing that the harvest that they had came from the Lord. He's the one that provided the rain. He's the one that put the seeds in the ground with the genius in them that allowed them to spring forth the ground to create plants that could be eaten and enjoyed. It's a time that they not only celebrated the harvest, but they celebrated all the good things that had come into their life. Thus they took the species of the land, bound them together in the lulav and they waive the lulav before the Lord in every direction and up and down, acknowledging that the Creator is the one that gives us every good thing that we enjoy: the ability to taste food, the air that we breathe, the pleasant relationships that we have, the ability to touch, that He's given us ears to hear, a tongue to taste, eyes to see, a brain to think, the capacity to love, and the incredible ability that you and I have as human beings to have a moral consciousness of right and wrong. We thank God for that.
How can anybody doubt that there's a Creator? You have to be meshugana to deny a Creator. It makes no sense at all. So it's a time to be thankful for everything that God has done, including and first creating us and giving us life. So this is a time where the Lord reminds us to be thankful. During this season of Tabernacles, I want to encourage you, for your own sake, to be able to please the Lord and bring Him joy, I would encourage you to take stock of every good thing that you have in your life and be thankful for it. We've all heard the analogy that some people see a glass that's half full of water, and they look at the glass as being half empty, and they're down. Other people look at the glass as being half full, and they say, "Thank God, I've got something to drink".
I want to encourage you not to look at what you don't have but to be thankful indeed for what you do have. This is a statement that I want you to remember. The rich person is not the person that has everything they want. That's not what makes a person rich. Because people that have everything they want oftentimes find that they're still unsatisfied because they haven't understood the art of how to be grateful. A rich person, beloved one, is not the person that has everything they want. But rather a truly wealthy person is an individual that has cultivated an attitude of thankfulness and gratitude for what they do have. Some people don't have much but they've cultivated an attitude of gratefulness and thankfulness, and they're happy people because they walk in thankfulness. Other people have so much more than they're unhappy because they're always focusing on what they don't have.
And so this is a time where the Lord commands us to do two things: to celebrate and to rejoice. Celebrate and rejoice. Celebrate and rejoice. You know, a lot of times we don't understand or think about or contemplate the fact that God is a happy God. We see so much negativity going around in this world because the devil is on the planet here. Jesus in the book of Revelation wrote to one of his churches and He said, "I know where you dwell". He said, "You dwell where Satan's throne is".
We have an enemy on the earth right here. And so we're seeing a lot of negative things going on. Car wrecks, wars, poverty, health problems, division, hatred, strife, chaos, confusion. We can name on and on and on all the things that we can see around us and identify that are downers, are negative. But what the Lord wants us to do is to see all the good things that are happening in our lives and around us. Because not only is the devil working on the planet, but God's on the planet. And the Lord wants us to focus on Him and His goodness. And this is a season, the season of Sukkot and tabernacles, to re-shift and to refocus on all the good things and to stay in those things. The Lord actually punished Israel for not being thankful for all the good He had done for them. And the Lord said to them, "Because you didn't rejoice for all the good things that I've done for you, now what I'm gonna do is I'm gonna bring a curse on you to teach you how to be grateful, to teach you how to be thankful for when I do give you something".
Now, let's take a pause for a second. I want to share with you a remarkable, profound truth that relates directly, beloved one, to what I've just shared. I'm going out to the Brit Chadasha (the New Testament). I want you to consider this. Jesus's first miracle recorded in John 2 was that He turned the water to wine at a wedding. John 2 says, "This was the first of Jesus miracles where He showed his glory". I want you to think about this. Jesus' first miracle was turning the water to wine at a wedding celebration. What's the point? Why would Jesus make that His first miracle? I think to highlight the fact, beloved, that our God is a celebratory God. He's a celebratory God. And so He chose to do His first miracle in an atmosphere of joy and celebration. And it's a call to us to enter into that type of a mindset, to cultivate that type of a heart to walk in an attitude of victory by practicing rejoicing.
Paul told us in the book of Philippians 4:4, he said, "Rejoice always; again I will say, rejoice". It's easy to lose focus. Because you know what? We're in a war out here. We're in a battle down here, right? We wake up every morning and we get out of bed. Some of us are older in life, we get out of bed and the first thing that we feel is pain in our back, right? And other people are driving to work in the wintertime when it's cold and they're freezing. You know, there's challenges. We're in a war. So sometimes it's easy to disconnect, not by choice but by default, from an attitude of rejoicing and to become negative. But God is calling us to swim up river and to go against the challenges of life that would cause us to get down and to instead practice, beloved, rejoicing because the joy of the Lord will be your strength and my strength.
Not many years ago the Lord spoke to me. And when I say this to you, I want you to hear me. I say this before Him. I'm not saying this lightly. The Spirit of the Lord literally spoke, the living Word of God spoke to me audibly. I didn't hear Him with my ears but I heard Him, I mean, pinpoint clear in my spirit. I heard the words exactly. And the Lord said to me, He said, "Rejoice continually and you'll overcome every obstacle. Rejoice continually," he said to me, "and you'll overcome every obstacle. Rejoice continually and you'll overcome every obstacle". How do we rejoice continually? We rejoice continually by knowing that this thing that we're dealing with is going to pass and we're going to come out from this thing victorious, and it's going to be crushed under our feet.
Whatever you're facing the Lord wants us to develop an attitude of rejoicing in the midst of the trial, knowing that that thing that's going to break, that we're going to come out of it shining even more brightly because the Lord causes all things to work together for good to those that love Him and are called according to His purpose. And so you got to break off, and I speak to myself, we have to break off everything that would cause us to look down, discouraged. No! Rejoice continually and you'll overcome every obstacle.
So I, first of all, wanted to focus on that today because I love that takeaway. And so many of us we need that. We need to be reminded that our God is happy. Once again, His first miracle was at a wedding, turning the water to wine, which is a symbol of earthly celebration because He's calling you and I to a celebratory, joyful lifestyle. Jesus said, "If the Son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed". And in order to be free, beloved, we have to rejoice. We have to rejoice. We have to joy. In Jesus' name, amen.
The Feast of Tabernacles reminds us that the children of Israel were in the wilderness for 40 years on their way to the promised land out of Egypt into the promised land. In the wilderness for 40 years, they lived in booths. So part of what happens during the Feast of Tabernacles is that every Jewish person that's observant will build a sukkah, a temporary tabernacle, to remind them of the time that they lived in booths while they were in the wilderness. So I'm looking at the 42nd verse. The Lord says, "You shall live in booths..." We're still in Leviticus 23. "You shall live in booths for seven days; all the native-born in Israel shall live in booths, so that your generations may know that I had the sons of Israel live in booths when I brought them out from the land of Egypt. I am the LORD your God".
And so I want you to consider that the Lord wants us, during the Feast of Tabernacles, as Jews, I'm Jewish myself, He wants us to remember our past-what He did for us. That He had us living in these temporary structures, Sukkot-individually, a sukkah; plural, Sukkot-40 years in the wilderness. And what we're reminded of is during that time, beloved ones, we had nothing but God to depend on. God brought us supernatural bread on the earth every day, six days a week for 40 years. Supernatural manna six days a week he provided for Israel. They depended on Him totally for their food. He brought the quail at night. He brought the water out of a rock. It taught them to depend on God alone. And my gosh, there's a lesson there for you and I every day about that. That God wants to strip us of relying on every other thing but Him alone. Nothing else will satisfy Him.
The Lord's purpose in our life will be finished. He's stripping us so that we come to the place that we've learned how to depend and rely on Him alone. And that's why he had the children of Israel in the wilderness. In fact, when we go to the book of Deuteronomy 8, the Lord spelled it out. Why am I making a point? Because we all go through trials in life. We all go through tribulations. We all face hardships. But God has a purpose in them. And the Feast of Tabernacles reminds us of the purpose. The purpose is the same purpose that He had Israel go through the wilderness for 40 years: to strip us, that we would learn how to depend on Him alone so that he could fully bless us.
So hear the Word of God. I'm going to Deuteronomy 8. "You should remember all the way which the LORD your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand, beloved one, that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD". Why did God have them in the wilderness? To strip them, that they would learn how to depend on Him alone.
"Thus you are to know in your heart that the LORD your God was disciplining you, stripping them, just as a man disciplines his son". Verse 7, "For the LORD your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, flowing with valleys and hills..." In other words, that in order for God to bring them into the blessing, He first had to strip them down. God continues in the 10th verse. "When you have eaten and are satisfied," after they're stripped and blessed, "you shall bless the LORD your God for the good land which He has given you". Then the Lord cautions them: "Do not forget what I've done for you".
In verse 15, "He led you through the great and terrible wilderness, with its fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty ground where there was no water; He brought water for you out of the rock... In the wilderness He fed you manna..." And then he says, "You need to remember this, that He was doing it to humble you and test you. Otherwise, you may say in your heart, 'My power and the strength of my hand made me this wealth.'" And then the LORD, once again, cautions them, "Don't ever forget". And so as we close today, I want to remind you, continually rejoice. Always be thankful. And when you do face hardship, when you are going through the wilderness, know, number one, that the Lord is with you in that wilderness. It's not for naught. He's with you in the wilderness. Because every day for 40 years, 14,000 nights the Israelites spent in the wilderness, for 14,000 nights, 40 years, they saw the literal manifest glory and presence of God over the tabernacle manifesting as a divine fire.
So for 40 years in the wilderness when they were surrounded by the serpents and it was so difficult, the presence of the Lord was visibly evident to them right in the midst. A pillar of fire at night and a glory cloud hovered over the tabernacle by day. So once again, rejoice continually. When you are in the midst of a trial, know that God is with you in the midst of your wilderness just as He was with Israel. And then finally understand that when you're in a trial, continue to rejoice. Because the reason God brings us through trials is because he wants to fully bless us. And we're not able to receive the blessing and He's not able to fully pour it out until we're ready, until the cup is open. Right? You can't pour any liquid into a cup that's already full.
So God's got to strip us of every other dependency. He's got to humble us. He's got to get our pride out until He can fully bless us with every good thing He's done. And then finally, today, the Lord ends this by warning Israel: "Don't ever forget that you're blessed because I'm blessing you". So I want to encourage you today, don't take anything for granted. Don't take your wife for granted. Don't take your husband for granted. Don't take your house or apartment for granted. Don't take the fact that you can hear for granted, that you got a right mind for granted. Take nothing for granted. Instead, practice an attitude of thankfulness and gratitude. Be joyful and give Him praise. This is Rabbi Schneider, beloved.