Revive Our Hearts Podcast

— Audio Player —

The Feast of Booths

Season:  7 Feasts   Buy

Dannah Gresh: Think about that tough thing you’re facing right now. Mother of four, Erin Davis, has some encouragement for you.

Erin Davis: We have a saying at the Davis house. When things get hard, I look at my children and my husband and I say, “Is this going to be the time God lets us down?” And my little boys say, “No, Momma.” How do we know? “Because He’s never failed us yet.”

Dannah: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of Adorned, for February 26, 2021. I’m Dannah Gresh.

You know, Jesus never promised that following Him would be easy. In fact, He told us that we would face trouble in this world. But He promised to be with us and to care for us. Erin Davis is wrapping up her series on “7 Feasts” today. She’s going to challenge us to consider where we find our ultimate comfort.

Remember, if you missed any part of this series, you can find all of the episodes on the Revive Our Hearts app or at ReviveOurHearts.com. And, even though today is the last day of Erin’s teaching, if you love her like I do, you can hear more from her podcast, The Deep Well with Erin Davis. You’ll also find that at ReviveOurHearts.com

Now, here’s Nancy to introduce our final feast in Leviticus chapter 23.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: Over the past week-and-a-half or so, we’ve been parked in Leviticus chapter 23, talking about the seven feasts or holidays (holy days) that the Israelites celebrated as part of their annual calendar. Erin Davis has been our teacher.

Erin, thank you for walking us through this passage of Scripture that we might otherwise not ever take a serious look at.

Erin: Oh, it’s been my honor! I love this passage of Scripture, and I want all women and Christ-followers to love this passage of Scripture.

Nancy: If you’ve missed any of the earlier days in this series, you can go to ReviveOurHearts.com, or pull up the podcast on the Revive Our Hearts app. Each one of these feasts, these holy days, has a specific connection to the gospel and an application for our faith today.

Erin, you’ve written about these feasts in an eight-week Bible study where you are taking us to the Scripture—in a deeper dive than what we can do here on Revive Our Hearts—and helping us find Christ in the sacred celebrations of the Old Testament.

As we’ve been recording this series, someone said, “Why are they called feasts?” It makes it sound like you’re eating, like a Christmas feast or an Easter feast. Was there food involved in these?

Erin: There was food involved in many of them, but there was fasting involved in many of them, and you certainly don’t think of fasting when you think of feasts. But I think they were celebrations. They were the days on their calendar that marked their year. I think they were feasting on the things of God. It was an invitation to come to the table, so to speak, and to think about who God is. So they’re rich feasts beyond the food. 

Nancy: That’s what you see in the beginning of Leviticus chapter 23, verses 1–2, which sets the table—so to speak—for these seven feasts: “The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, “These are the appointed feasts of the Lord that you shall proclaim as holy convocations; they are my appointed feasts.”’”

So these are celebrations, days that the people came together. They didn’t do these alone; they did these in community . . . as we celebrate the ways of God and the important aspects of our redemption as the people of God together. But these are for the Lord, these are the celebrations that His covenant people enjoy with the Lord—the markers of their faith. All of them are reminders of that final feast that we will enjoy, the Wedding Supper of the Lamb, in heaven with the Lord! 

So today, you’re going to take us to the final feast, the last one of these seven. I can’t wait to hear what you’ve unpacked and how the Lord is going to speak to our hearts through this session.

Erin: Well, it should have been an easy yes. I was gathered at a ministry summit, and I want you to have a picture of what was happening. It was a room filled with other Christians. And those Christians would have been thrilled if I made the choice to obey. I didn’t. I chose comfort instead.

The pastor who was leading our time together had just finished preaching on the cost of following Christ. And for the response time he gave us these instructions, stand up right where you are and sing “I Have Decided to Follow Jesus,” acappella . . . gulp. 

There was no background music playing to soften the mood or to muffle our voices; there was no buffer. He said those words and my heart started to race. I wonder if your heart ever does that when you know God is calling you to obey?

A race had begun in my heart, between choosing to boldly declare my faith and my own comfort, and comfort took an early lead. It was quiet, nobody moved. And finally a single voice started to sing loud and clear, “I have decided to follow Jesus” and then another voice joined, and another voice joined, and another voice joined, and I was still sitting in my seat, literally gripping the edge of my seat afraid to obey such a simple invitation to declare my faith in a room full of fellow Christ followers. 

I did eventually start singing, but I felt like I’d been punched in the gut. If I could not stand for Jesus in a room full of other Christians, how would I ever stand for Him in a world that does not recognize Him? And that was the moment I knew that if I wanted God to use me I had to surrender my constant cravings for comfort.

We’ve been studying the seven feasts of Israel, recorded in Leviticus 23. Today we come to the final feast. It’s the Feast of Booths, b-o-o-t-h-s. I’m going to read us the description of that feast; it’s recorded in Leviticus 23:33–43. 

Now I’ll summarize parts of it. Verse 34 tells us when this feast was on the Israelite calendar and how long it lasted. It says, 

Speak to the people of Israel, saying, "On the fifteenth day of this seventh month and for seven days is the Feast of Booths to the Lord.” 

I hope you’ve noticed to pay attention to the details of these feasts and not just to race past them assuming those details don’t matter. 

This feast lasted an entire week. And if you’ve ever had your feet hurt from the prep required for a single holiday meal, I want you to imagine preparing for a seven-day holiday. 

Now, for several verses this passage goes on to describe how God’s people were to spend these days. The first day was a day of rest, that’s a pattern we see often in the seven feasts. Each day required a food offering, those are outlined in verses 37–38. I hope you’re reading the feasts with us and will spend some time looking at those verses. 

But then we come to verse 40, which describes what was very unique about this final feast, the Feast of Booths. 

"And you shall take on the first day the fruit of splendid trees, branches of palm trees and boughs of leafy trees and willows of the brook, and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God seven days."

So just be imagining lots of branches, lots of leaves, lots of different trees, they’re gathering those things together. 

"You shall celebrate it as a feast to the Lord for seven days in the year. It is a statute forever throughout your generations; you shall celebrate it in the seventh month. You shall dwell in booths for seven days. All native Israelites shall dwell in booths, that your generations may know that I made the people of Israel dwell in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God." 

Pay close attention to verse 42, which says “All native Israelites shall dwell in booths.” You need to get the picture. The entire nation of Israel was instructed to take branches from trees and construct little tents or shelters, observing this feast. When you picture the feast of booths, I don’t want you to think about a few friends around a campfire. We know from elsewhere in Scripture that there were many millions of Israelites. Now picture millions of people camped out for a week.

Now, for those of us with small children, the idea of observing this feast might be a little anxiety inducing. The logistics of moving my family into a tent for a week makes me so grateful to be a New Testament child of God. 

Jason and I, when we’re packing for trips, we work and work and we try to remember everything and then we always look at each other and say this sentence, “There’s going to be a Walmart, right?” Inevitably we have to stop there. But these mommas, these Israelite dads, there was no option. They had to take what they needed, and the whole nation was going to dwell in booths. 

Now, God was not trying to get His children to experience the great outdoors. I don’t believe that’s the heart of this feast. Like the other six feasts we’ve looked at, God was using the Feast of Booths to remind His children of His character and to give them new rhythms for their lives in the Promise Land.

So, let's start with the practical. It’s human nature to crave comfort. I imagine after centuries of slavery followed by decades wandering in the desert, the Israelites just wanted to live comfortable lives. In the Promise Land; they likely settled into routines of comfort and convenience.

And the Feast of Booths worked like an annual alarm alerting their hearts of the rhythms of worship. None of us will choose to worship and obey God on our own, we’ll just settle right into what’s comfortable. This was a jarring reminder that they were the children of God, to live set apart for His glory, and often that’s not comfortable. And God calls us to uncomfortable lives too.

Let me read us Jesus’ words found in Luke 9:23–27 

And he said to all [this is Jesus talking], “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” 

Right out of the gate here Jesus hits us with the word “deny,” that’s not a comfortable word, and pick up our cross. 

“For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. But I tell you truly, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God.”

Jesus is laying it out so clearly: it will cost you to follow Me. In some ways the Christian life is a very uncomfortable life. It requires us to carry the rough hewn cross on our backs. The cross of self-denial, which never gets easier (it hasn’t for me), the cross of others-first living, the cross of sacrifice, the cross of holiness. None of us would choose those on our own. 

We’re comfort-seeking creatures. But Jesus modeled this for us so perfectly, surrendering the comfort He deserved, starting with the manger and all the way through to the cross. He chose our good over His comfort every second that He walked the earth—including the extreme discomfort of the cross.

Jesus’ words are often uncomfortable. If your Bible doesn’t occasionally cause you to squirm, I’m not sure we’re reading the same Bibles. In John 7 we see Jesus preaching. If you’re loving making the connections as much as I am, you’ll notice in John 7 He’s preaching on the Feast of Booths. 

John 7:14–24 records Jesus’ Feast of Booths sermon. My pastor calls this kind of sermon a “squirmon,” which is a sermon that makes you wiggle under the weight of it a little bit. And in fact, Jesus’ sermon was such a “squirmon” that the people listening declared, “You have a demon!” (v. 20). They did not like what Jesus was saying. They were confused and offended by His words and what they wanted was what all of us want in our flesh—we want comfort. We want leaders who will sing us a lullaby.

The teachings of Jesus jolt us awake to our true condition. It is not comfortable to live as Christ calls us to live, and through the seven feasts God was establishing rhythms for the lives of His people. 

God’s Word is like a defibrillator, it shocks our hearts into new rhythms. 

  • We see ourselves one way, and God’s Word shocks our hearts into seeing our true condition. 
  • We see our neighbors one way, and God’ Word shocks our hearts into seeing that they’re the image bearers of God. 
  • We see our life plan one way, and God’s Word shocks our heart into seeing that God’s plan is what matters. 

And we can see those because we are new creations. The rhythm is this, the rhythm that Scripture gives us is this, the rhythm that Jesus modeled is this: deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Jesus. The reason we deny our comfort is not because it’s easy to do—it’s not—but because Christ gave up His comfort for us. 

We surrender our lives and seek to live like our Savior. We lay down our plans for our lives and live out the lives God calls us to. I have a phrase for this kind of living. I call it “the tightrope of terrified obedience.” I spend a lot of my time out there on the “the tightrope of terrified obedience.” 

Here’s how you live on “the tightrope of terrified obedience.” You superglue your eyeballs to Jesus, and you take one uncomfortable step after the next. I’ve learned to love life on “the tightrope of terrified obedience,” because that’s where I’m obeying and listening to the voice of God. 

If you’ve been walking with Christ longer than a minute, I think you can think of many times when Jesus asked you through His Word or by His Spirit to do something uncomfortable. I wish we could swap those stories. If you’ve only been walking with the Lord a minute, then the memory of surrendering your life to His is fresh, and you know you had to clear the hurdle of your comfort to take that step. There is no bait and switch.

The Bible never calls us to comfortable Christianity, but instead to regular rhythms of sacrifice and surrender and stretching. One of my mentors just turned seventy-six. Nearly every time I talk to her she’ll say, “The Lord’s really stretching me in this area,” or “The Lord’s really stretching me in that area.” On the one hand, I’m encouraged by her obedience, but on the other hand, I think at seventy-six am I still going to be stretched? I think we all will be. And just like the Israelites, we need to be reminded, I need to be reminded, that obeying God is going to cost me.

I should expect it to be uncomfortable. And frankly, I don’t need an annual reminder of that, I need daily reminders of that. So why do it? Why give up our comfort to follow Jesus? For the same reason the Israelites observed the Feast of Booths. One reason we choose to give up our comfort is because He is worthy. He’s worthy. Whatever cost Jesus asks you to pay, pay it, because He’s worthy. 

There’s another lesson in this final feast, and it’s such a fitting way for us to end our time together. I’d like for us to revisit the description of the seven feasts again. I’m going to read us Leviticus 23:40–43, one more time. 

“And you shall take on the first day the fruit of splendid trees, branches of palm trees and boughs of leafy trees and willows of the brook, and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God seven days. You shall celebrate it as a feast to the Lord for seven days in the year. It is a statute forever throughout your generations; you shall celebrate it in the seventh month. You shall dwell in booths for seven days. All native Israelites shall dwell in booths, that your generations may know that I made the people of Israel dwell in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.”

This is a happy feast. It’s a prolonged celebration. Verse 40 tells us that the tone of this feast is seven days of rejoicing. God chose to end their calendar year with one huge party. Verse 43 tells us why, “that your generations may know that I made the people of Israel dwell in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.”

God wanted the children, and the grandchildren, and the great-great-grandchildren of the Israelites who first entered the Promised Land to know that He is their God, that He has always cared for them, that He always will.

We have a saying at the Davis house when things get hard, I look at my children and my husband and I say, “Is this going to the time God lets us down?” And my little boys say, “No, Momma.”

How do we know? Honestly, many times it feels like it might be the time God lets us down, so how do we know? Because He’s never failed us yet, and He’s not going to start with whatever it is that feels insurmountable. And this feast is them remembering, “He was faithful to us in Egypt. Gather, let me tell you He was faithful to us at the Red Sea; He was faithful to us as we wandered in the desert, by the way we weren’t faithful to Him but He was faithful to us. He was faithful to us at Jericho. He is faithful to us!” That’s what the Feast of Booths is about.

He wanted them to remember that when they were in the desert and they had nothing, not even roofs over their heads, that He took care of them. The Feasts were God’s way of combating His children’s spiritual amnesia, by reminding them of His faithful care.

They wandered in that desert forty years. They were homeless. They were without a nation or a neighborhood to call their own, but God Himself was their shelter. God Himself was their refuge. God Himself was their mighty fortress. And though forced to live without the comforts of home, they were never forced to live without comfort, because God their Comforter was always with them.

Don’t we naturally think that comforts of home or friends or stable work or a full bank account are the comforts we most need? God ripped His people out of those things for seven days and said celebrate that I’ve always been your Comforter. 

Friends, this is the gift the feasts give, that we’re no longer required to participate in them. You can take that air mattress out of your Amazon account if you were planning to observe the Feast of Booths. But we’re missing something if we skip right over them. Right here right in our Bibles God has given us the feasts.

These descriptions could have been lost with the Israelites, but we have them for us. Why? Because they’re reminders of who He is. They’re reminders of who He’s always been. And they’re reminders of who He will always be, our Comforter.

I’d like to wrap up our time together by reading Psalm 46 as a prayer over you, and I want you to use your imagination as I read it. I want you to picture the multitude of God’s children sitting around the campfire as far as your eyes can see. Yes, we can tell stories of life on the “tightrope of terrified obedience” but we cannot tell those stories without telling that God has never let our feet slip. No, not even once. And of the beautiful comforts of love and peace and joy that are ours forever, because of Jesus.

So picture the campfire and picture the children of God.

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High. God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns. The nations rage, the kingdoms totter; he utters his voice, the earth melts.

The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Come, behold the works of the Lord, how he has brought desolations on the earth. He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; he breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the chariots with fire. “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Nancy: Amen! Thank you, Erin, for just reminding us, as this feast reminded those Old Testament Israelites year after year after year, that God Himself is our refuge. As they thought back to those years of wilderness wandering when they were homeless, that they had a home in God. 

We have our homes today, and sometimes that allows us to forget that God is our only true eternal, lasting refuge, and that He never forsakes His own. He provides for their needs, and His presence is their dwelling place. 

As you were teaching, I was thinking back to the gospel of John, chapter 7, verses 37–38, where Jesus celebrated the Feast of Booths with the Jews of His day. Now, they didn’t move out into booths by the time they came to that era, but they still celebrated that eight-day period of time. 

John 7 tells us that at the end of that celebration (all the Jews would have been thinking back to what we know as Leviticus 23 today, thinking about that last day of celebration):

On the last day of the feast, the great day, 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.’” 

And, of course, He was speaking of the Holy Spirit, who was to come and fill His people.

So we connect the dots from the Jews wandering in the wilderness to the celebration of the Feast of Booths when they came to the Promised Land. All of that was pointing ahead to Jesus, who would one day say, “I am your Refuge; I am Your Provision; I am Your Bread and Your Water. All that you need is found in Me!” 

It was all looking ahead to Him, and it all looks ahead even further to that “not yet”—where in heaven we celebrate where the presence of God is with His people. He is their dwelling place, so there’s no need for the temple or all these earthly things that we rely on today. But He is the One who is our dwelling place for all eternity. 

This great feast points us to Christ, but it also points us to heaven, where we celebrate it with no hindrances, with no “terrified obedience,” just joyful worship and celebration for all of eternity.

Erin, you’ve made us hunger and thirst for more of that through this series, and I just want to say a huge thank you for pouring yourself out, for doing the hard work to study these feasts, and then to introduce us to them in this series. 

Erin: It’s been my honor.

Nancy: You’ve got more where this came from in the Bible study that you’ve written, an eight-week study called 7 Feasts. It shows us how to find Christ in the sacred celebrations of the Old Testament. 

I think you’ve heard enough from Erin this week to whet your appetite. I want to encourage you to go deeper in studying and celebrating the meaning of these feasts in your walk with Christ. We’d love to send you a copy of this study that Erin has written. 

It will be our way of saying “thank you” when you support the ministry of Revive Our Hearts with a donation of any amount so we can share this life-giving truth with women around the world who are desperately thirsty to know Christ as we are coming to know Him.

You can make that donation by going online to ReviveOurHearts.com, or you can call us at 1–800–569–5959. When you make your donation, be sure and let us know you’d like a copy of Erin’s book, 7 Feasts. It’s a study you can do by yourself, or better yet, grab a friend or a small group and do it together, because these feasts were not intended to be celebrated alone in private. 

This was part of the community of faith that shared these together, and you can share with others in your community of faith what it means to walk with Christ, celebrating the wonders of redemption that we see pictured for us in these seven feasts, these seven holy days found in Leviticus 23. 

Thank you so much for your support of this ministry. Thank you for your prayers and encouragement!

Dannah: That’s the host Revive Our Hearts, Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, in conversation with Erin Davis. This series has been a rich study of the feasts found in Leviticus chapter 23. If you’d like to dive deeper, you can do that with Erin’s Bible study, 7 Feasts. I am in the middle of it right now, and it is connecting the dots between the Old Testament and the New Testament in a way I’ve never experienced before. I think you’ll love it!

Let me ask you a question as we end today: Do you consider yourself a perfectionist? Have you ever felt the burden of trying to make your life perfect? Next week we’ll talk about getting free from the grip of perfectionism and recognizing where we need to surrender our lives to Christ.

I had the opportunity to be part of this roundtable discussion along with Amy Baker, Erin Davis, and Patricia Saladin. It’s a conversation you will truly not want to miss. I hope you’ll be back for Revive Our Hearts. 

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth challenges you to live set apart for Christ. The program is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.

Support the Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Darkness. Fear. Uncertainty. Women around the world wake up hopeless every day. You can play a part in bringing them freedom, fullness, and fruitfulness instead. Your gift ensures that we can continue to spread gospel hope! Donate now.

Donate Now

About the Teacher

Erin Davis

Erin Davis

Erin Davis is an author, blogger, and speaker who loves to see women of all ages run to the deep well of God’s Word. She is the author of many books and Bible studies including: 7 Feasts, Connected, Beautiful Encounters, and the My Name Is Erin series. She serves on the ministry team of Revive Our Hearts. When she’s not writing, you can find Erin chasing chickens and children on her small farm in the Midwest.