"And Pharaoh called to Moses, saying: Go and worship the L‑rd. Only your sheep and cattle will remain — your children will also go with you. And Moses said: You will also give us offerings and sacrifices for the L‑rd our G-d, and our flocks will go with us..." (Exodus 10.24-26)
The ninth plague — darkness — has struck Egypt with a vengeance and Pharaoh breaks. Step by step he has retreated and after the eighth plague — locusts — he was prepared to allow the Jews to leave except for their children. Now he surrenders almost entirely as he agrees that all the Jews can leave. He only asks one thing, one compromise, one small victory for himself: that the Jewish cattle remain behind.
Soon we will celebrate the festival of Passover, as commanded by Yahweh in Leviticus 23.5. It's an awesome celebration of the mighty power of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. But as I look around the Web and read the newspapers and listen to people talk, it seems like there are many different Passovers. Some proclaim it to be the celebration of human freedom, others say it is a reminder that we must free ourselves from those things that enslave us, and still others claim that we must understand the "contemporary" meaning of Passover.
As the sun goes down on this first day of Sukkot, I have begun to look back to where the Lord has brought me from. To borrow a phrase, it's been a long strange trip. I believe that's what Sukkot is all about; remembering where we were and what the Lord has done in our lives, giving Him glory in it all.
Starting out over 14 years ago to follow the Lord in truth and Spirit, I have visited many places along the way. The learning process has been tremendous, although quite painful at times. But in those times of darkness the Lord was always very near.
Prior to that time, during the early part of my life, I spent time in several different congregations in different locations; always seeking the truth but never seeming to find it. My grandmother seemed to be the same way; as a young child she took me to different meetings, always seeking the truth. In the end I don't think she ever found it.
So, when the Lord had mercy on me several years ago, and called me to Him, I once again began that journey. Being undisciplined as a child, I was very eager to submit to the "authorities." Wow! Lesson number one: There is only one authority: the Lord God of Israel. In due time, God delivered me from that bondage and opened up my eyes to the truth. I'm not saying that I know everything in Scripture -- nobody does -- but He has given me insight, shown me the truth, and given me direction. That's the whole purpose of this ministry He has given me, this Web site. To help others see the truth, plain and simple.
God does not ask us to do complicated tasks. Their actually very simple. Take Sukkot, for instance. His word says (Leviticus 23.34-43) to observe a feast (a celebration) for seven days. The first day and the eighth day are a shabbat; do not do any work. On the first day bring foliage and branches (detailed in the Scripture) and celebrate before Him. He also says to those who are born in Israel and live there, build a sukka (a small hut) and live in it during the seven days. In addition, He says to bring an offering by fire; however, because all offerings must be made on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, that cannot be done until the Temple is rebuilt.
See, plain and simple: Celebrate to the Lord, remember from where He brought you, and take a rest on the first and last days of the celebration. He seems to have left it up to us to figure out the details. Perhaps the reason is that it should be from the heart, not something pre-planned. How we see the past this year may be different from how we see the past next year.
So come, let us celebrate unto the Lord and remember His kindness toward us. Glory and honor to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob!