READ Nehemiah 8:13-18
Have you ever gone camping? Honestly, it is not my favourite thing to do. I enjoy home comforts like running water and an actual bed. But while tents may not be comfortable, they do have their uses. Unlike houses, they can be picked up and transported anywhere. They lend themselves well to people who like to travel.
At this point in Nehemiah the people rediscover an old Jewish festival built around tents. In Jewish history the people would celebrate the Festival of the Booths, during which everyone would leave their homes and sleep in home made tents for a week. On this rediscovery, the Jewish people set themselves to restore this handed down festival. All of them collected branches, made their shelters and spent a week under the stars.
Sounds like an odd request from God doesn’t it, asking his people to camp for a week? But it was at least 2-fold in it’s intention. First of all it was to help the people look back and remember God’s deliverance, when he led them out from Egypt and provided for them while they lived in tents in the desert. How important it is for us to regularly look back and remind ourselves of all God has done for us. He is still our great deliverer.
But it also reminded the people that they were to be spiritual travelers through this world. This world is not the believers permanent home but merely a journey on the way to our real resting place in Heaven. This Festival of Booths reminds us not to put our roots down too firmly on earth, not to be caught up in its traditions, not to make ourselves cosy, because the purpose of this life is not to settle down and warm ourselves by our fires, but rather to persistently follow God wherever he leads, forgoing comfort and attachment to the things this world offers in order to journey after him.
Today, remind yourself this life is not permanent, but eternity is. Invest again in the things that truly matter, because down here we are all just really living in tents.
God, fix my eyes on those things that are eternal and not temporal. May you find me easy to move when you call me. Amen.