Happy Hoshana Rabbah!
OK, let me explain. This is another lesson in your Jewish heritage.
Today is the last day of the Jewish Festival known as The Feast of Tabernacles (or Sukkot or The Feast of Ingathering.) It was one of the three festivals on which the Israelites were commanded to perform an annual pilgrimage to the Temple and it commemorates the forty-year period during which the children of Israel were wandering in the desert, living in temporary shelters.
It was a seven day festival. And there were several rituals that had become a part of the celebration. One involved building make shift tents to live in for the week. One involved the waving of palm branches. But another one has special significance in relation to Jesus.
By the time of the first century, a water pouring ceremony had become part of the tradition of the festival. The priests would go down to the pool of Siloam and they would fill a golden vessel with the water there. They would then go up to the temple, through the Water Gate, accompanied by the sound of the shofar, and would pour the water so that it flowed over the altar, along with wine from another bowl.
John 7:37-38 records…
“On the last day of the feast, the great day (Hoshana Rabbah), Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’”
Jesus used the symbolism of this ritual at The Feast to identify Himself as the Messiah – the One whom the Jewish people were watching, waiting, and praying for. Some people believed. Some did not. (John 7:40-44) For those who did – it was indeed a “great day”! The Hebrew words Hoshana Rabbah literally mean “the great salvation.” And that is exactly what Jesus is.
There are many many people that you will see this week who are spiritually thirsty – whose soul’s are parched and are yearning to be refreshed. Perhaps the Lord will use you to offer them a drink of “living water.” Perhaps the Lord will use you to make it “a truly great day” for someone today.
Happy Hoshana Rabbah!
Never forget that you are very loved!
In just a few minutes I am going to hit a button on my computer and this blog post is somehow going to be available for you to read almost immediately. There are no wires connecting our devices. You might be in the room upstairs or you might be on the other side of the world. It won’t matter – you will still have instant access to what I write.
I have absolutely no idea how this is even possible. It certainly was NOT possible when I was growing up. But technology has made the impossible possible.
I have read that in order for this communication to happen that there are “protocols” that have to be place – some of these include hypertext transfer protocol (http), transmission control protocol (TCP) and the Internet protocol (IP). Protocols are sets of rules that machines follow to complete tasks. Without a common set of protocols that all machines connected to the Internet must follow, communication between devices couldn’t happen. The various machines would be unable to understand one another or even send information in a meaningful way.
But again, I am clueless how this is even possible.
What I am not clueless about is that there are protocols that must be in place if communication is going to happen between us and God. These protocols are spelled out in Scripture. Here are a few for you to ponder:
- Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known. (Jeremiah 33:3)
- Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God. (John 8:47)
- For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil. (1 Peter 3:12)
- My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. (Proverbs 2:1-5)
- If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened. (Psalm 66:18)
- We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does his will, God listens to him. (John 9:31)
- If you abide in me and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. (John 15:7)
God has made the impossible possible. We are able to communicate instantaneously with the Holy God of the universe. But we have to pay attention to the protocols that He has put in place. God does not answer the prayers of everyone. But His Word does tell us how we can be confident that He will hear our prayers. One more protocol to leave you with: “And this is the confidence that we have toward Him, that if we ask anything according to His will he hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of Him.” (1 John 5: 14-15)
When you read this, take a minute and pray a prayer of thanks to God for enabling us to communicate with Him. And ask the Father to give you a desire to always follow the prayer protocols so that you can be confident that He is not only listening but also ready to answer your prayers.
And never forget that you are very loved!
Most people cannot wait until 2020 is over. It has been a year that most people would just as soon forget. So let the countdown begin.
September 22, 1862. There were 3 million people in our country who could not wait for that year to be over and were literally counting down each day.
On that date, Abraham Lincoln signed The Emancipation Proclamation which set a date (January 1, 1863) for the 3,000,000+ slaves in America to be freed. The proclamation officially recast the Civil War as a fight against slavery – a fight that many people would suggest is still going on 158 years later.
Even though slavery was officially abolished in principle it did not mean that it was abolished in practice. In fact, it did not become law for another 3 years with the passing of the 13th Amendment – but the Emancipation Proclamation was a very important first step towards ending slavery.
In Luke 4 Jesus applied an Isaiah 61 Scripture text to Himself when He said:
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
and recovering of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.
His proclamation became “law” when He rose from the dead, amending the old covenant and providing a way for everyone enslaved to sin to be emancipated. Romans 8:1-2 puts it this way: “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.”
A few other choice verses to ponder:
So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. (John 8:36)
For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. (Galatians 5:1)
Freedom is a wonderful thing. And yet many people, even believers who have been liberated from bondage to sin, do not experience genuine freedom in their lives. They still live in many ways as if they had never been emancipated. Don’t live “as if” lives. Cling to the cross daily and let the power of the cross and the power of the resurrection enable you to live in the freedom that the Lord created you to experience. A freedom that allows you to enjoy walking in the newness of life and savoring each day as a gift from God.
And never forget that you are very loved!