Beginning the evening of September 20 this year and lasting a full week, many will celebrate the Feast of Shelters, also known as Sukkot. You may also know it by the names Feast of Tabernacles or Feast of Booths.
This holiday is a harvest celebration. Temporary shelters are built to eat and even sleep in. It’s a remembrance of the time the Israelites spent in the wilderness, before they reached the promised land, transitory in their journey between slavery in Egypt and the land of abundance promised to them by God. These temporary shelters remind us of the nature of our stay here on earth. As we celebrate the harvest, we remember that we are only travelers, passing through on our way to the promised land.
The ancient Hebrews sought reconciliation with God through sacrifices and strict adherence to his laws. Now we know that our reconciliation has been fulfilled. Jesus’s final sacrifice made us one with the father. Now our hope is fulfilled, and when we celebrate the final harvest we will be dining with the King at palatial banquet tables. To us, these humble dwellings are palaces of splendor, because of our great joy and hope in his saving power.
The trio of September festivals brings the story of our redemption into focus. First, with Yom Teruah, the coming of the King is proclaimed. We shout his lordship over all the earth, calling together all the people of the world. Next, Yom Kippur represents the final sacrifice and the final judgement. Just as Jesus was the lamb slain on our behalf, so he will intercede for us when all the peoples of the earth are judged. And finally, we enjoy the marriage supper, celebrating our union with God now that our iniquities have been washed clean. Now we are his family; enjoying the riches of his lavish gift of love.
Here’s how you can celebrate with your family! Check out our Pinterest for more ideas.
• Build a temporary shelter
• Have a family meal in the shelter or camp out all week
• Decorate with fruit, banners and lanterns
• Read Scriptures together:
1 Kings 8:2-21
I couldn’t find many accessible children’s books available for this holiday. If you know of any related to Sukkot or to the Israelites’ journey in the wilderness, let us know in the comments! During my search I was excited to find that one of my favorite children’s authors, Patricia Polacco, wrote a story with Sukkot as the setting. It’s called Tikvah Means Hope, a touching story of a family tragedy and a beloved cat.
Let us know in the comments: have you celebrated the Feast of Shelters? Are you celebrating this year?