The stunning unfolding of fall beauty and final harvests that occur in the northern hemisphere during these months of autumn seem to cause us to look back and also look forward. Those who have planted and tended crops that are finally being harvested look back at their effort in what they sowed, tended, and cared for to bring the very harvest they are now taking into their barns and homes.
Growing up on a farm in Ohio, I recall this season for my dad involved harvesting of the cornfields or soybeans. The oats, wheat, hay, and straw had been completed months ago. For my mother, it was finishing all the things she would do with vegetables and fruit we had grown and were now ready for our use.
Usually I did not get to help much for these last tasks as I would be gone in school each day, but I still recall the delicious fragrances coming from the kitchen when I would arrive home. In this season, it would most often be that of Concord grapes that she would be making into grape juice or grape jelly. My mouth waters as I even write those words because I also knew she would be making grape pie filling for that most wondrous treat that I always have loved. Since my birthday fell during this time, I would also choose to have a grape pie instead of a birthday cake for my special day.
I no longer live on a farm, but I am very much aware that the farm still lives in me for all it taught me about growing and God’s provision.
As we savor this season with its beauty and special treats, it also causes us to take a peek forward into the months just ahead. The harvest is meant to sustain us through the season of late fall and winter where nothing grows. Those gifts provided by hard work and God’s blessing and provision also stir up thoughts of the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays just ahead.
In the midst of this season, few of us will remember that another celebration is happening this very week. We might be thinking it does not pertain to us, but a careful reading of scripture shows it does.
I am talking about The Feast of Tabernacles known as Sukkot, celebrated recently by our Jewish brothers and sisters. It too was also a time of looking back and looking forward.
This seventh and last feast or festival of celebration was and is a celebration of God bringing Israel out of Egypt when they lived in fragile booths in the wilderness and ate from His bounty. So the gratitude of His protection and provision are dominant themes. It was a time meant to bring remembrance, but it is also one pointing forward to the future for those who are Christian or Gentile.
In Zechariah 14:16, the prophet speaks of the time ahead after the tribulation when the Lord has returned and declares that ALLnations and anyone who has survived will go to Jerusalem to celebrate this feast and worship the King. This passage shifts from the Tabernacle of long ago to His Tabernacle among the people and the day when we will all worship as one together.
This feast or festival so rich in meaning is also called the Feast or Festival of Lights to commemorate the pillar of fire that led Israel at night. Huge candelabra would be lit and the priests would wave torches. When Christ came to earth, He became our light and it is His light that will fill the Tabernacle in the passage Zechariah speaks about.
In the midst of the beauty and harvest of this autumn season and the shadows cast by events unfolding around the world, perhaps it would be very good to look forward to that day and to take heart and hope in the One who remains our protection and provision if we are His.
For then we will reign with Him even as John writes in the Book of Revelation 21: 3:
“… And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God…”
Revelation 21:3 (KJV)