Day 9: John 7
John chapter 7 is set around the time of the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles (Feast of Booths). We pick up the chapter in the days leading up to the feast, with Jesus and his brothers, (we could stop there, be we’ll keep going!) The scriptures continue to tell us the events of the feast and the fallout with the Pharisees and religious leaders.
Today, as we read scripture, it’s easy to read and skip over the real significance of what’s going on and the events described in scripture, because we don’t really have a reference point for them. The Feast of Tabernacles (temporary dwellings) was a significant celebration in the Jewish calendar, a time where the provision of God was celebrated, specifically remembering God’s provision in the wilderness, during their journey from Egypt to the Promised Land, how God sustained them and provided for them, and that God still was their sustenance and provider even though they had reached the Promised Land. It was a reminder of their dependancy on God.
In Leviticus 23:33-43 we read about how this feast was to be celebrated. We also get a glimpse of the temporary booths they build to celebrate this feast in Nehemiah 8:13-18. A constant reminder that God was their security, He was their shelter and He was their provider.
The Feast of Tabernacles was celebrated at the end of the harvest, after months and months of zero rain (typically from May to October), so water played a significant role in celebrations. Prayer would be directed to God for his provision and rain again for the coming year’s harvest. Again acknowledging their dependance on God as the source of provision and sustenance.
As the feast built to the culmination of all the celebrations, priest performed prayers for provision and life-giving water in the form of rain. It’s in this context Jesus stands up raises his voice and declares; quoting from Isaiah 58:11, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.”
If ever there was a moment to say this, this was it.
Again, as He’d done before, Jesus stands up, quotes from scripture and effectively says ‘That guy there, you’re looking at Him!’
Let’s look at what Isaiah 58:11 says:
The Lord will guide you always;
He will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like a spring whose waters never fail.
What a powerful reminder that everything we need, is found in Jesus (2 Peter 1:3).
Your sustenance, your provision, your ‘life’ is found in the person of Jesus. He is our Saviour, He is our source, we can depend on Him.
In a season of life where much of the ‘security’ we find in life has been eroded or removed from beneath us. The security to be able to do exactly what you want, when you want. The security of stable employment or regular work. The security of knowing your kids are in school and are receiving an education. Maybe it’s the security of strong relationships and great friends, strengthening your mental wellbeing. Whatever ‘security’ we feel we may have lost, we have a God who is our sustenance, He is our provider, we can depend on Him and He will not forsake us.
What an incredible encouragement for us!
Ps Jonny Foster
Barnard Castle Campus Pastor