CrossReads Weekly Devotional: Temporary Dwellings, Strangers, and Aliens 10/2/2023

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by Precarious Yates

The Feast of Tabernacles marks the times when the Jews spent 40 years journeying through the desert. 

During this time, they received supernatural provision. God provided food from heaven: manna. The word comes from the Hebrew for “What?” or “What is it?” This is a picture of how we sometimes don’t know the answers and we live for a long time with wondering and seeking, often through a dry and barren place. In other words, we sometimes spend a lengthy time when we have many more questions than answers, more uncertainty than assurance, yet we walk by faith and not by sight, and we know that we will one day see face to face and our questions and uncertainties will dissolve. 

Also in the wilderness, the Israelites had a rock that provided water for them. 1 Cor. 10:4 says, ““and [they] drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ.”

John the apostle tells us, ““And the Word became flesh, and did tabernacle among us, and we beheld his glory, glory as of an only begotten of a father, full of grace and truth.”

John 1:14 YLT98

The words for tent and tabernacle in the NT are all from the same root word, “skenos” which means to tent or encamp. 

Jesus celebrated the feast of the tabernacles. 

John 7:2 Now the Jews’ Feast of Booths was at hand.

John 7:3 So his brothers said to him, “Leave here and go to Judea, that your disciples also may see the works you are doing.

John 7:10 He also went up, not publicly but in private.

Fast forward to John 7:37-39:

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.’” Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.”

When Jesus ascended, He gave the Holy Spirit so that we could be the hands and feet of Jesus, the body of Christ, in a broken and hurting world. Just as water flowed from the rock in the wilderness, God has removed our heart of stone, given us a heart of flesh, and He gave us the Holy Spirit to flow like a river from our lives. Not as a trickle. Not as a tiny stream or rivulet, but as RIVERS!

Those who live in tents plan to only stay in one place for a short amount of time. They are not permanent residents but sojourners upon the land where they camp. Jesus says in John 17:16 that we are not of this world: “They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.”

We are strangers and aliens, as Peter says:

“Dear friends, I urge you as aliens and temporary residents not to give in to the desires of your old nature, which keep warring against you;” 1 Kefa (1 Pe) 2:11 CJB.

In the same way, Daniel and his 3 friends lived differently when they were taken as exiles to Babylon. “But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way.” Daniel 1:8 NIV.

We are called to live differently. As people all over the world build cities and empires, we’re called to remember how temporary this life on earth is: a blink of an eye in comparison with eternity. We dwell in tents. 

This is just like the Fathers of our faith, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The writer of Hebrews says,

“By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.” Hebrews 11:9-10 NIV

And a few verses later it says: “All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.” Hebrews 11:13-16 NIV

Like them, we’re only here for a short time. 70, 80, 90 years go by like a blink of an eye, like a flower of the field which perishes under the scorching sun. We are only here for a short time in the tent of the body. Paul talks about this too: “For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.” 2 Corinthians 5:1-2 NIV.

And from Philippians 3:20, “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.”

How are we to live if it’s only temporary, and if we are foreigners and sojourners here?

We love God with all of our heart, mind, soul, and strength, and love our neighbors as ourselves. We live like the Good Samaritan in a story Jesus told. 

We act like this when things are going well for us and when things are not going well for us. There will come a time when it’s not as easy to be a Christian or to stand for Christ. We still love God and love one another. We still allow the Lord to move through us with His rivers of living water. We refresh others who are suffering in the wilderness. We might be called to love others as agents of mercy through incredibly difficult circumstances. This could be a war zone or the mission field in a country hostile to the faith, or it could be that both of these realities come to the USA. We remain loving. We provide for others out of the provision we have from God.

As Paul says, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

We are here for only a short time, as the Feast of Tabernacles, or Sukkot, reminds us.

Here are some wonderful aspects of The Feast of Tabernacles that we can embrace.

The Hebrew name for the holiday is Sukkot, and at the beginning of this harvest festival, the family builds a tent called a sukkah.

The family eats meals in the sukkah, which becomes a gathering place for family and friends. Some sleep there to fulfill the command from Leviticus 23 to “dwell” in the sukkah for seven days.

Sitting in the sukkah is likened to residing within God’s loving embrace. The Jewish sages teach that these basic walls represent God’s arm and the sukkah is His embrace. In Song of Solomon 2:6 we read: “his right arm embraces me.”

Sukkot is also a holiday that celebrates unity and is about inclusivity. This theme of unity is echoed in the holiday’s observance of gathering the four species, from four different kinds of trees: citron, date palm, myrtle, and willow. In Scripture, we are directed to “take branches from luxuriant trees—from palms, willows and other leafy trees—and rejoice before the LORD your God for seven days” (Leviticus 23:40). We bind these four elements together. According to the Jewish sages, the four species represent different types of people.

By doing this, we demonstrate that we are only complete when our hearts are bound to our fellow human beings, particularly those who are different from us, and we celebrate those differences. Moreover, it is only when we have meaningful relationships with others that we can truly experience joy. Possessing all the material wealth in the world is a miserable existence if it’s not shared with others. When we bond with others, we experience some of life’s greatest joys.

This is the only holiday where we are commanded to rejoice. What power comes from praise! Praise can transform the darkest day as we commune with the Lord and with one another. It’s like the hope of dawn rising to the brightness of a new day.

May God’s presence dwell with you all the days of your temporary dwellings here on earth. AMEN!
Precarious Yates

About the Author:

Precarious YatesPrecarious Yates has lived in 8 different states of the Union and 3 different countries, but currently lives in Texas with her husband, her daughter and their big dogs. When she’s not writing, she enjoys music, teaching, playing on jungle gyms, praying and reading. She holds a Masters in the art of making tea and coffee and a PhD in Slinky® disentangling.


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