Alex Levin, By the Kotel at Sukkot, Painting

Is There a Sukkah for Christians?

Then it will come about that any who are left of all the nations that went against Jerusalem will go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to celebrate the Feast of Booths. And it will be that whichever of the families of the earth does not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, there will be no rain on them. If the family of Egypt does not go up or enter, then no rain will fall on them; it will be the plague with which the Lord smites the nations who do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Booths. This will be the punishment of Egypt, and the punishment of all the nations who do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Booths.

Zechariah 14:16-19 (NASB)

That having been said, Sukkot is coming up, and you should probably give some consideration to how much you are willing to pursue practical enactments of the anticipated messianic era in which Zachariah envisioned the requirement for gentiles to celebrate Sukkot and the aspects of it that imply redemption for the nations. The above essay seems to indicate that you’ve pulled away too far, and perhaps that you’ve begun to acknowledge it.

-from ProclaimLiberty’s recent comment

I used to think that in Messianic Days, we so-called “Messianic Gentiles” would all have an open invitation to celebrate the Festival of Sukkot in Jerusalem, basking in the glory of our King and having a terrific time “partying”. However, a slightly more careful reading of the Zechariah passage illustrates that it’s actually a punishment for the people of the nations who all attacked Israel during that final war when God and Israel win.

If the nations that went up against Israel don’t send representatives to Jerusalem for Sukkot, they get no rain that year. It’s not a party, it’s a command performance, an admission of guilt, an act of contrition.

Nevertheless, PL’s above-quoted statement is a strong suggestion that it is appropriate for all we non-Jews to return to God on Sukkot, and I responded by crafting my own little missive stating that it’s a good time for me to return as well. But as I’m about to relate, the connection between Gentiles and Sukkot may not be what we’ve been told it is.

Now that Yom Kippur is over, I feel the beginning of Sukkot rapidly approaching. I am aware of how much stuff I’ll need to dig through in our storage room to get to our wee Sukkah kit, how I’ll need to drag is out of the garage and around the side of the house, so I can put it together on our back patio this coming weekend.

I build a sukkah each year primarily for one reason: my wife is Jewish and as the husband in the family, it’s my job to build stuff, in this case, a sukkah.

So aside from Gentiles being associated with Sukkot as a matter of consequence for having the audacity to go to war against God’s holy people and His most treasured nation, can I, as a non-Jew (albeit one married to a Jew) get anything out of Sukkot beyond the awareness that I’m a Gentile citizen of one of the nations that will (in all likelihood) attack Israel?

There are a plethora of online articles about Jewish observance of Sukkot (of course) such as The ABCs of Sukkot, Sukkot: Transforming Trash Into Love, A Sukkah Grows in Brooklyn, and Finding Shelter in a Transient World.

Except possibly for the last article in that list, none of them do me any good at all. They’re all written by and for Jews. Naturally, they have nothing to do with me or with any non-Jew.

That’s why I was surprised to find a Chabad article on the web called How a Gentile Celebrates Sukkot written by Rabbi Moshe Bogomilsky.

The Haftarah for the first day of Sukkot is the prophecy of Zecharya concerning the war of Gog and Magog, which will climax with the final redemption and acknowledgment by the nations that Hashem alone is the King, and that Israel is His people. This realization will be celebrated on Sukkot, for, according to the prophecy, the surviving nations will join the Jewish people every year in celebrating the Sukkot festival. In his prophecy Zecharya declares, “And if the family of Egypt will not ascend and will not come…They will suffer the plague with which Hashem will afflict the nations, because they will not have ascended to celebrate the festival of Sukkot. This will be the punishment of Egypt and the punishment of all the nations that will not ascend to celebrate the festival of Sukkot.”

As interesting as this may sound; it is difficult to imagine that in the future the nations of the world will be obligated to sit in a Sukkah and celebrate together with the Jews, and be punished for it if they don’t!

Sukkah in the rainBoth Rabbi Bogomilsky and Sara Debbie Gutfreund, who authored Finding Shelter in a Transient World, mention that, among other things, Sukkot is a time of unity and connection.

Ms. Gutfreund states:

Bring friends and family into your sukkah. Learn from others and share what you have learned. Build and nurture the connections that you have with others in your life. Feel the embrace of the chain of kindness that redeems so much darkness; be another link in that chain.

And Rabbi Bogomilsky tells us:

The common factor in these two mitzvot is achdut — unity.

That the mitzvah of sukkah represents unity is obvious from the fact that many families may eat together in the same sukkah. In fact, the Gemara (Sukkah 27b) says that, “re’uyim kol Yisrael leisheiv besukkah achat” — “All of Israel are fit to sit in one sukkah” — which means that unlike other mitzvot (e.g. four species) where each one must have his own object, one can build a sukkah and let everyone use it to properly fulfill the mitzvah of dwelling in a sukkah. Thus, sukkah is a mitzvah through which Klal Yisrael becomes united.

Putting all this together, we see a hint of a common connection between Jews and non-Jews all sharing the Sukkot celebration together, sharing meals in Sukkot in Jerusalem, and maybe all over the Land of Israel, symbolizing God’s and Israel’s forgiveness of the people of the nations for our sins against them, and a forging of a bond of togetherness under the reign of King Messiah.

But in the paragraphs from which I’ve quoted so far, they are talking exclusively about Sukkot and the Jewish people. What about the Gentiles?

Rabbi Bogomilsky answers that question.

Zecharya’s reference to the sukkah is an allegory. He does not mean that in Messianic times the gentile will be obligated to eat in the sukkah together with the Jew, and be punished if he does not fulfill the mitzvah. He means that the gentile world will be expected to practice the lesson conveyed by the mitzvot of the festival of Sukkot. They must forsake their striving for selfish gain and replace it with a sense of responsibility and sharing of privileges with all of humanity. Hence, Zecharya’s words, “Lo ya’alu lachog et chag haSukkot” — “They have refused to go up to celebrate the festival of Sukkot” — can be explained to mean that they have refused to elevate themselves spiritually and realize the message that Sukkot teaches humanity.

Oh. Well so much for the idea of togetherness, forgiveness, and unity in Messiah. R. Bogomilsky ends his article on an uplifting note, but it rings hollow after his previous block of text:

Let us hope and pray that, speedily in our times, we merit the revelation of Mashiach and the rebuilding of the “sukkah of David” which has fallen — the Beit Hamikdash — (see Amos, 9:10, Sanhedrin 96b), and then all of mankind will enjoy the ultimate of harmony, peace, and tranquility.

According to this source, there will be harmony and peace between Gentile and Jew, enjoyed by all humanity, but as I wrote the better part of two months ago, that peace, for the Jew, will be in their nation, in Israel, and the people of the nations will enjoy that peace in each of their (our) nations.

No vacations for Gentiles to Jerusalem during Sukkot.

I suppose this is more in line with the traditional Christian view of whether or not believers should celebrate Jewish holidays:

4th century theologian John Chrysostom said, “The festivals of the pitiful and miserable Jews are soon to march upon us one after the other and in quick succession: the feast of Trumpets, the feast of Tabernacles, the fasts. There are many in our ranks who say they think as we do. Yet some of these are going to watch the festivals and others will join the Jews in keeping their feasts and observing their fasts. I wish to drive this perverse custom from the Church right now.”

Such a strong expression of this view, especially if associated with Anti-Judaism, is not common in the contemporary church. However, it is an exaggeration to claim that Christians in general tend to adopt and adapt Jewish festivals.

-from “Criticism of Christian Observance of Jewish Holidays”

sukkot jerusalem
Sukkot in Jerusalem

To be fair, there are Christian rebuttals to that criticism:

The Book of Zechariah chapter 14 verse 16 speaks of Gentile nations remaining after the “Lord is king over all the earth”: “And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles.” In both Jewish and Christian eschatology, this scripture refers to a time when the Messiah will come to physically rule in Jerusalem. This reference gives confirmation that future Gentiles are required by the Lord to keep at least an additional feast to Passover and Pentecost: the Feast of Tabernacles.

Christian scholars such as Chuck Missler, Mark Davidson, Steve Cioccolanti and Perry Stone argue that the first four feasts have been fulfilled by Christ’s first coming, therefore the final three feasts will also be fulfilled around the time of Christ’s second coming. The Biblical holidays find their meaning in Messiah, and either commemorates what He has done or what He will do. They are therefore eternal holidays for believers.

You can see why I generally don’t turn to Christian sources regarding Gentile participation in Messianic Times.

I can’t speak to the validity of the information offered by the website for an organization called Light to the Nations, but according to a 1999 article hosted there called Sukkot: A Unique Connection to the Gentiles written by Rabbi Chaim Richman (presumably, the article’s author and the Rabbi Richman associated with the Temple Institute are the same person)…

This Friday evening, we begin to observe the Festival of Sukkot. Of all the sacred seasons that G-d commanded Israel to observe, this festival, also known as the Festival of Tabernacles has the strongest implications for the nations of the world. Even today, vast numbers of Gentiles identify with the holiday of Sukkot, and converge on Jerusalem just to be in the holy city at this time of year. It is as if their heartstrings are pulled by some invisible magnet, the source of which they know not. Some force draws them to connect between Sukkot and the location of the Holy Temple.

In the Written Torah and the Oral Tradition

This is well understood, for it is a connection emphasized by both the written Scriptures and the Oral Tradition. The relationship between the nations and the holiday of Sukkot dates back to ancient times, and arcs through our own period as well…to form a bridge into that future, rectified world that we all yearn and long for, Jew and Gentile alike…the day when “the L-rd and His name will be One” (Zechariah 14:9).

The Sacrifice of Seventy Bulls

During Sukkot in the time of the Holy Temple, a unique sacrifice was offered on the altar…with a unique intention.

In chapter 29 of the book of Numbers, the Bible outlines the sacrifices that are to be offered over the span of the holiday. Counting the number of bulls that are offered over the seven-day period, we find that the total number was seventy. And in chapter 10 of the book of Genesis, there are seventy nations mentioned. These are the primordial nations, sometimes referred to as the “seventy languages,” which represent all humanity. The Talmud (BT Sukkah 55:B) teaches that the seventy bulls that were offered in the Holy Temple served as atonement for the seventy nations of the world. Truly, as the rabbis observed, “if the nations of the world had only known how much they needed the Temple, they would have surrounded it with armed fortresses to protect it” (Bamidbar Rabbah 1, 3).

Here we can already sense that inherent within the very nature of the holiday, an inexorable bond-as expressed through its sacrificial requirements-links it to the earth’s peoples. Sukkot was mandated by the Creator Himself to be a holiday for all the world.

Rabbi Chaim Richman
Rabbi Chaim Richman

Rabbi Richman does go on to quote from relevant portions of Zechariah, but he stops short of stating that Gentiles would actually be involved in celebrating Sukkot with Jews in Jerusalem. “Jerusalem will dwell in security,” but it doesn’t seem that Jewish sources expect Gentiles to dwell or even sojourn with the Jewish people in Jerusalem on Sukkot, in spite of the fact that in the modern world, many, many Christians visit the Holy City during the holiday of the Festival of Booths.

All of this begs the question about whether or not it is appropriate for Gentiles, especially exclusively Gentile groups, to build a kosher (or even non-kosher) Sukkah and to celebrate Sukkot in a traditionally Jewish manner.

As I previously mentioned, even given all that I’ve said, at it’s most elementary level, I build a sukkah every year because my wife is Jewish and I’m her husband. Technically, at least according the Jewish sources I’ve cited, I do not now nor will I have in the future, any duty to actually eat, sleep, or otherwise spend any of my time inside the Sukkah for the full duration of the festival or any bit of it.

Additionally, traditional Christian sources would probably agree with that assessment as well, though for different reasons (“Jesus fulfilled,” and so on, and so forth).

What would seem to be incumbent upon the Gentile is to practice peace by “forsaking our striving for selfish gain and replacing it with a sense of responsibility and sharing of privileges with all of humanity.”

But we don’t have to build, eat, and dwell in a sukkah to do that.

However, I have been trying to write about how the believing Gentile, even one “stranded” on a metaphorical deserted island and isolated from Gentile and Jewish community, still has a relationship with God, a relationship that indeed is desired by God.

So let’s have a short look at the sorts of “shelter” Sara Debbie Gutfreund says a Jew can expect to find in a Sukkah.

  1. The shelter of faith
  2. The shelter of gratitude
  3. The shelter of connection
  4. The shelter of authenticity
  5. The shelter of prayer
  6. The shelter of awe

Let’s take the obviously easy points in the list first. I don’t think anyone, Christian or Jew, can say that it is inappropriate for the Gentile turning to God to experience faith, gratitude, and awe, and to respond with prayer.

If you deny the Gentile the ability to have faith in God, you deny God to the Gentile. And experiencing God to any degree should inspire awe in the spiritually aware person, Gentile as well as Jew. Naturally, realizing that God extended His plan for the redemption of Israel even to the nations of the world should be our inspiration for feeling grateful, and to humbly thank and praise Hashem in prayer.

What about connection?

For a Jew, unity and connection is all about being united and connected with other Jews. As we’ve seen above, that’s (apparently) never extended to Gentiles. Ms Gutfreund says that connection is created by bringing “family and friends” into your Sukkah, but presumably, she’s talking about Jewish family and friends (although with more liberal branches of Judaism and certainly if there are intermarried Jewish members of the family, then you might see Gentiles in some Sukkot).

So who do we get connected to? Even if we don’t build our own Sukkot, I suppose we can still unite with like-minded Gentiles at this time of year, celebrating, in our own fashion, our anticipation of the ultimate age of peace and tranquility.

For the Gentile on the metaphorical deserted island, alone with his/her Bible and prayers, there is still the ability to forge a connection with God. We can still invite Him into our house, even if that house is only our heart and being.

Authenticity? Ms. Gutfreund describes this as:

Close the gap between who you are and how you appear to the world around you. Don’t be afraid to change in order to be truly aligned with your authentic values. Use the space of the sukkah to open the space within that wants to be free.

That doesn’t sound specific to Sukkot necessarily. I think we have a standing directive to re-order our lives to be more in line with God, to draw closer to Him, to conform our lives to His desires increasingly across the passage of time.

I can’t tell you, as a non-Jewish disciple of Rav Yeshua (Jesus) whether you should or shouldn’t build a sukkah or to celebrate the Festival of Sukkot one way or another, or to just ignore it completely.

temple of messiahI can’t tell you in absolute terms if or how the people of the nations of the world will be involved in Sukkot in the Messianic Era. I can relate what I understand of the Jewish and Christian traditions on the matter, but I can’t tell you what God has in mind. For all I know (and in spite of Jewish and Christian traditional interpretations), God really will require Gentile representatives from each of the nations that went to war against Israel to go to Jerusalem, pay homage to King Messiah, and celebrate Sukkot by eating and drinking with Jewish people in Sukkot.

And for all I know, God wouldn’t mind Gentile families booking their vacations in Jerusalem during the Sukkot festival just because it would be an incredible way to experience our participation in the reign of peace and justice brought forth by Israel’s King and ours.

16 thoughts on “Is There a Sukkah for Christians?”

  1. I need to get busy. I think we (Gentiles) should build the Sukkah. One of the things that is overlooked regarding Jew/Gentile is the purpose of the 7 feasts. It is to instruct the children. There is no reason that the Churches couldn’t being observing to some degree the Feasts for the purpose of teaching the message with the understanding of how it pertains to Israel and Yeshua. I wish the Churches could grasp how enjoyable for the youth this would be. They will spend tons on entertainment to entice the youth to be in the church, but because of fear of copying the Jews or ‘falling from grace’ they won’t do this. Colossians 2:16 Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: IMO that ‘cuts’ both ways, don’t judge me for choosing to teach using and observing the Feasts. I do it because I want to, not to be Jewish, or to earn my salvation. BTW, if I choose not to sometimes, that is okay, too. Keep blogging, please.

  2. As a Messianic Gentile, Sukkot can be to me only a celebration of Yeshua taking up residence in human flesh when he returns. I keep the Sabbaths to be sure, as they will be kept by all in the Kingdom, but building a Sukkot for myself to celebrate in solitude is less than celebratory. It is much like devising a party, and inviting guests, and having no one appear at the appointed time. An empty Sukkot cannot be what G-d has intended for those of us that Believe, and walk after our Rabbi, because at the moment, we cannot join him to celebrate the feast, and I at least know no one who will be setting up a booth.

    Unity requires other people to be present to be in union with, and there are not any people around me attempting to keep the Moedim of G-d, while erecting a booth for the coyotes and mountain lions to visit me at night seems less than safe. I remind myself that I am a Messianic Gentile in a non-Jewish community taking hold of the Sinai Covenant to the best of my ability, not a Jew among Jews living under that same Covenant.

    However, one day it will be different, and I can take part in the celebration in Jerusalem, but even then for me, it will not be about the time that Israel spent in the Wilderness, but about Yeshua being permanently tabernacled among us.

  3. While I can appreciate the allegorization of Sukkot as a means to derive meaning for Rav Yeshua’s gentile disciples, I do feel just a little qualm about it because of the less-than-salutary use of the technique by Augustine and those who followed his method of approach — which led to supercessionism and worse distortions of the biblical meanings and implications of the festival, including the obscuration and even invalidation of those original meanings.

    I’d like also to note that the implicit punishment underlying the origin of the prophetic description of the demand for gentile observance of Sukkot has an alternative implication. There is a midrash that likens HaShem’s commands for Jews to keep kashrut to a story about a King who forces his son only to eat certain things in order to train him to stop and think about what he places into his mouth — because apparently this son had developed some rather nasty and dangerous eating habits. Hence this training was envisioned as what we might call, in modern terms, a form of therapy. So, too, the requirement for the nations to celebrate Sukkot might be viewed as a form of training toward a different relationship and view of Jews and Jewish praxis, and a form of therapy that fosters healing of their attitudes and their approach toward Jews and toward HaShem (and even toward each other). Thus, while technically originating in what superficially appears as a punishment, it is in actuality a surreptitious means for HaShem to bless and improve these peoples. In themselves, on their own initiative, they would never develop any motivation to do such a thing; but being forced by HaShem to do it anyway offers them an opportunity to learn how to appreciate it.

    Those gentile disciples in our era who have already anticipated this celebration by means of having already adopted positive attitudes about it, and about Jews and Judaism, are thus “ahead of the curve” and are already beginning to explore its benefits and blessings without needing to experience it as a punishment. If they should find themselves living at the time when Messiah ben-David must battle many nations, they will already know better than to participate with those who choose to resist him, who will experience the resulting punishment aspects. Thus, celebrating Sukkot in anticipation of the messianic kingdom is rather to be recommended.

  4. @Cynthia and Questor: The question I’ve been exploring is whether or not Sukkot can be particularly “owned” by Gentile believers, and the best I can say is that opinions are mixed. From the Church’s point of view, for the most part, the festivals have been “fulfilled” in Jesus and so their celebration is moot. From a Jewish point if view, it’s not as clear, but generally, the answer seems to be “no,” although in the future, no one seems to agree as to whether or not Gentiles will be eating and drinking with Jews in various sukkot in Jerusalem.

    @PL: That’s an interesting interpretation of the relationship between Gentiles and Sukkot. So those non-Jews who currently choose to observe Sukkot in some fashion, are learning a lesson that improves their relationship with the Jewish people. This seems to make Sukkot a festival uniquely designed to include Jews and Gentiles, though perhaps in differing ways. However, not all of the sages seem to agree with that opinion.

    1. Shavua Tov, James — It seems the conversation has progressed a bit while I was observing the Shabbat here in Jerusalem, but let me pick it up with a response to your last comment to me from beforehand.

      I did not intend for my description to seem “… to make Sukkot a festival uniquely designed to include Jews and Gentiles,…”. One reason I expressed concern about allegorizing it was the ancient danger that doing so would obscure its original “design” and primary meanings. What Sukkot was designed to do was to remind us Jews of our desert wanderings, and thus of the transitory nature of our existence, as well as the precarious nature of our sojourn in the land of HaShem’s promise to Avraham’s sons through Yitzhak and Yacov, the land of Israel.

      However, in doing so it also reminds us of our place in the world among the families of the earth to whom we should be a beacon of hope — therefore we were to offer 70 sacrifices comparable to the 70 peoples/linguistic-groups cited in Torah. Hence it is incumbent on us to be cognizant of the gentiles and to view these sacrifices as applicable to their hope of redemption.

      Extrapolating from these meanings for the sake of gentile disciples of Rav Yeshua, we may suggest that they also should recognize the precariousness of their existence within the community of faith, not having the guarantees of covenant promises but trusting in HaShem’s grace, and emphasizing that secondary level of meaning in the sacrifices for their hope of redemption via the symbolic representation of sacrifice in Rav Yeshua’s martyrdom. Thus, toward the end of this week’s pre-Sukkot parashah, we find at the end of Moshe’s song the passage of Deut.32:43 – “Sing aloud, all you [of the] nations, [about] His people; for He avenges the blood of His servants, and renders vengeance to His adversaries, and makes expiation for the land of His people.” I think you can see in this how HaShem could exploit the punishment that he requires in Zech.14:16-19 as a form of therapy to retrain the attitudes of these nations, and how present-day gentile Rav-Yeshua disciples might side-step the “vengeance” punishment and enter directly into the song-filled joy of the positive spin on gentile observance of the festival.

      Moshe’s song in this week’s parashah begins with some pretty alarming words for Jews, though redemption is in sight by its end with the alarm turned toward gentiles and a concluding exhortation for Jews to observe Torah fully. Then, now that everyone has been thoroughly warned about the precarious and threatening possibilities, the concluding message turns toward more positive blessings. So with all this in mind, perhaps we’re all ready to celebrate Sukkot, each in an appropriate manner.

      The International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem holds annual conferences to celebrate Sukkot, with lots of singing and dancing and waving of banners, and sometimes a march through the city — coupled, of course, with teaching presentations suited to the festival. Their celebration is not something that I would attend as a Jew, and I have already a full week of prescribed observances for the Jewish version of this festival, but I can’t argue (much) with their approach to gentile observance for it. I can’t guarantee that I might not have some criticism for some of the teachings that might be offered, if I were to attend and hear them; but it’s pretty unlikely that any collection of conference speakers could ever be expected to offer 100% pure wisdom and accurate contextualized scholarship. Perhaps the best for which one may hope is for hearts to be in the right place.

  5. OK, I got a chance to look at the video. It seems the Jewish folks who produced this video are not only approving of Gentiles coming to Jerusalem to celebrate Sukkot, they’re excited about it.

    I looked up on the web and their About Us page says in part:

    We are the largest English speaking TV show broadcast from Israel internationally. We create inspiring, enlightening and entertaining TV and radio shows that project a universal Biblical message fused with Jewish wisdom, spirituality, music and comedy broadcast from Jerusalem.

    I guess given that particular statement, they would be focused on promoting good will between Israel and people of the nations.

    With all of the hedges that Judaism, and particularly Messianic Judaism erect between Jews and Gentiles to protect Jewish distinctiveness, it’s difficult to know what the best course is to take when considering any of the moed’im, including Sukkot.

    I know that God is a God of the Gentiles as well as of the Jews, but given that the vast, vast majority of the Bible tells the story of God and the Jewish people, and the prohibitions against Gentiles seeking “Jewish” things, I’ve become, you should pardon the expression, a little “gun shy” lately.

    Outside of the confines of traditional Christianity, there must be an appropriate and acceptable way for a Goy to approach God without laying claim to anything that might be considered Jewish, even during Sukkot.

  6. Here is one example of how I try to participate in Shabbat without the identity theft issue. I recite Shabbat Kiddush this way:

    Blessed are You, O Lord God, King of the Universe
    Who has sanctified Israel with His commandments and took pleasure in them; And his holy Sabbath, in love and in pleasure He has bequeathed to them, a memorial of the creation, a day which is the beginning of their sacred gatherings, a memorial of their Exodus from Egypt. For you chose them and sanctified them from all the peoples, and your holy Sabbath, in love and in pleasure, you have bequeathed to them. Blessed are you O Lord, who sanctifies the Sabbath.

  7. @Steve: It’s not just that I don’t want to “poach” on Jewish property, so to speak. I’m very aware of how more than a few non-Jews involved in the Hebrew Roots and Messianic Jewish movements confuse devotion to King Messiah with devotion toward some form of Jewish praxis. This is why I attempting to emphasize a “direct approach,” as it were, between the Gentile worshiper and God.

    I don’t deny that “salvation comes from the Jews,” but if our identity can only be derived from Jewish practice and only through the ministrations of Jewish teachers and clergy, then maybe we really are “chopped liver” after all.

    So I picture myself on my metaphorical deserted island, just me, a Bible, and the Spirit of God. If God won’t have me on those terms, then, as PL says, not only is our status precarious without the covenant promises, it is disasterous, for our hope in God is in vain.

    To the degree that Rav Yeshua directed Paul to be an emissary to the Gentile in his name, and to draw as many non-Jews to God through Messiah as the Apostle could, I have to believe that God really does want us to be drawn to Him, that He desires every knee, even those of the goyim, to bend before the King.

    Paul raised up a number of “Messianic” communities, and some of them would have been exclusively Gentile if, for no other reason, there were few if any Jews in those particular areas.

    With only the memory of Paul’s teachings and his letters to guide them, just how “Jewish” would they have been. Certainly Paul expected Hashem to hear the prayers of these devoted Gentile disciples without the presence of a Jewish intermediary.

    PL: That’s the reality check I was looking for. The real reason for Sukkot. I think Hebrew Roots, Messianic Judaism, and even some churches over-emphasize the “Gentile” component in Sukkot, that there isn’t any, at least historically. Sure, we have certain Biblical passages that involve Gentiles in the Sukkot narrative, but the only way we can take them today is as a cautionary tale.

    If you oppose Israel, there will be consequences, dire ones. Better to come to peace with Israel, her people, and her King now.

    I suspect in the Messianic Age, many non-Jews, whether in traditional Christianity or some version of Hebrew Roots, will be rather disappointed to realize it was not all about them (us, we Gentiles).

    All that said, and as I mentioned above, Rav Yeshua, in a supernatural event (actually, several), specifically directed Paul to be his emissary to the nations. Why do that if he didn’t want the people of the nations to have a relationship with God.

    I’m a person of the nations. Why should I have to go through anyone besides Yeshua to relate to Hashem?

    Oh, and I finished building our sukkah on the back patio a little over an hour ago. My wife specifically reminded me to do so last night.

  8. But you are overlooking something, the children. We have history as a lesson. When gentiles get ‘cut off’ from the vine, they loose the proper understanding of Israel’s purpose and the nature or character of HaShem and how to approach him. Then all the pagan ideals and practices get mixed into the gentile worship. Too much pagan mixing you end up with an anti-christ in place of the true one. It really is about the children, one generation passing it on to the next. If you are alone on a deserted island, you are right. There is no reason to be an ambassador for His Kingdom. As Paul said, be ye reconciled to G-d through Yeshua. Yes, that is the everlasting covenant, before the foundation of the world. Mankind being reconciled to G-d through Yeshua, the promised Messiah. One people/nation was set apart to give that revelation/light to the world; Israel. We all agree on this, I am sure. We are just confused on the ‘walking it out’. I have never slept in our sukkah. Even for Oklahoma the nights are starting to get chilly. May we have a joy filled Sukkot!

    1. Hi Cynthia,

      Please don’t take what I’ve written as a teaching I think should be generally administered. As I’ve said before, I’m taking a look at all this from the point of view of an individual non-Jew living alone on a deserted island with a Bible and God as my only companions. It’s an apt metaphor for how my life is today and I am attempting to examine how a “Judaically aware” non-Jewish disciple of Rav Yeshua can have a relationship with Hashem, just He and me.

      Nothing in what I write has to have anything to do with you and certainly not with anyone’s children. My writing presupposes a total lack of community.

  9. Both days that I’ve looked at this discussion, the story of Job has gone through my mind. Job offered sacrifices for his children — just in case — who partied or communed on a regular basis. He ended up with not the same children. I don’t mean to imply that all nations will be wiped out, but that they are not “set” necessarily [and, presumably, there isn’t that attachment between Israel and the nations as Job and offspring].

    1. I don’t think all the nations will be totally wiped out in the future war against Israel/God either, Marleen. After all, someone has to show up to pay homage to the King on Sukkot in Jerusalem. On the other hand, we could still have a massive death toll, dramatically reducing the population of our planet.

  10. I have to question any assumed attachment, though, for ancients. It does seem that Job was attached to or at least concerned about (in one way or another) his children. Yet, even today, some parents [in ways less concealed or more concealed relative to each other and compared to the proper appearances reflecting better attitudes in loving parents] are most interested in how their offspring ornament, embarrass, or may inconvenience themselves as primary subjects who happen to have a son or a daughter or some collection of these — or in, further, how these young people may serve them (or contrastingly curse their estate) — than in the well being of the family themselves or the togetherness and communion we find to be an ideal in relating and living. [And obviously, this was the case with husbands toward wives too — while women now have more agency in our culture and can more frequently avail themselves of the same selfish outlook available previously primarily to men.] We don’t know about Job.

  11. There is a midrash that likens HaShem’s commands for Jews to keep kashrut to a story about a King who forces his son only to eat certain things in order to train him to stop and think about what he places into his mouth — because apparently this son had developed some rather nasty and dangerous eating habits. Hence this training was envisioned as what we might call, in modern terms, a form of therapy.

    I appreciated this inclusion, PL. I spent many years raising my children eating kosher (although, to be precise, not foods marked this way necessarily — and, so, probably not technically kosher). They actually didn’t see this as any set of rules, apparently (even though they knew what to avoid on a menu when at a restaurant), because they simply liked what they ate: so it was just how it was.

    But there was one thing that stood out to them. I did have a rule, that I read labels and didn’t buy anything with hydrogenated oils [obviously, like I said, other things as well]. This was when many people still avoided butter and any animal fats, and preferred hydrogenated oils — until mainstream medicine finally got the memo. One of my sons joked later, adolescent rebellion was eating Toaster Strudel.

    Of course, they know what is good for them and avoid of their own accord unhealthy foods in adulthood (like many of us, most of the time). Beyond food, I was careful not to have pointless and cumbersome rules that would add up to be just the way Mom is or how to get along or get by with my mom. They are able to think things through and behave intentionally. [I hadn’t known their dad’s a compulsive eater.]

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