In deconstructing our pride we construct humility...
A Rabbi once said, “HaShem is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and in truth.” (Yochannan/John 4:24)
When we build our Sukkot we put up temporary walls and bind beams together, we adorn them with the seven species and light them up with joy. Some might say it is the practice of vain religion but it is far from vain practice, in fact it’s not practice at all, it’s simply participation. “In Him all things exist and have their being,” therefore every action is in the Spirit, the point of Messiah’s word is to give us a locational perspective of our worship. In addition to our location—in spirit—we must add willful truth. It is the motivation of the heart that determines whether we will dwell in a sukkah constructed of walls that keep others out, or in a sukkah built with a grand opening that invites others in.
We long for some tactile expression of worship—though we have been told it is idolatry to want to touch G-d—and wait redundantly, having forgotten that we already have tactile expression, the Torah is filled with instruction concerning the joy filled practice of tactile worship, yes, even worship that can find itself completed in Spirit and in truth. For so long we have been given the impression that religion is tedious, good religion has been thrown out together with bad religion, thus forsaking the true meaning of the word altogether. It is a matter of perspective: we often judge the religious action of others to be nothing more than superstition, but G-d judges the heart. We have trapped ourselves inside a prison built with the walls of our own judgments. Messiah has said, “Stop looking at mere appearances and instead make a right judgment.” Perhaps it is time to address the reasons behind our dislike for G-dly rhythm and practiced religion? Is it possible that Yeshua might walk with us as we use symbolism to ignite a fire that will consume the delusional wall of false judgment that stands between us?
In Orthodox Rabbinical Judaism there is a wonderful mythology surrounding the mysterious visitors of Sukkot, the Ushpizin—guests. The eclectic selection of famous patriarchs, prophets, tzadikim, rabbis and angels that qualify as Ushpizin are said to come and fellowship with us in the Sukkah: they are said to teach us the things of G-d, to journey with us as fellow pilgrims. If taken metaphorically this may be helpful. The reality is that they do not come to visit us at all except in the mind’s eye: in stories of the Torah, the writings and the prophets. But, there is one who comes, the Messiah Yeshua, and when He comes He is able to fill the roles of sojourner, prophet, rabbi, tzadik, patriarch, Messiah and King. In Him we find rest for our souls—not simply our minds or hearts or physicality alone, but the whole of our being, nefesh.
What does it mean to involve the whole of our being in worship? It means to allow G-d to touch all the unified parts of our being, including the tactile need to build and engage in physical action. When I build my sukkah I build with Yeshua and He with me. I am a builder’s son, Yeshua, the builder, is in that moment, a reflection of the Father to me. For every physical wall I build, a beautiful spiritual wall is constructed. I am surrounded by the fidelity of G-d, walls that allow the humble to enter but resist the proud. For, without humility, no one can come to G-d. Sh’aul says, “No one can come to G-d unless they first believe that He exists.” To believe that He exists means to believe that He is greater than us, therefore in order to believe He exists we must humble ourselves. In deconstructing our pride we construct humility, the sukkah of salvation purchased with the blood sacrifice of Messiah Yeshua.
© 2013 Yaakov Brown
Spiritual leader of Beth Melekh Community, Auckland, Aotearoa, N.Z.