August 28th, 2018. Jolted awake again. “Why so early Lord?” I gently sighed under my breath. As my eyes strained to look at the clock on my phone I rolled out of bed and shuffled past the bedroom window. As the morning grogginess began to lift I remembered that we weren’t in northern California anymore. My hand reached up to open the blinds from the third story window of our townhouse. I blinked a few times to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. The first rays of sunlight cascaded like a river over the red rocks and hills of our new home in Colorado Springs, CO. It was stunning. I breathed a prayer of thanks for the new day and looked at the bright, bold sun coming up above the horizon. The Holy Spirit spoke to me. “Shemesh”, I heard. I formed the word under my breath and repeated it several times. I prayed that the Lord would reveal this Hebrew word to me and looked it up in my concordance. “Shemesh” was the Hebrew word for the Sun. Within moments my fingers opened my Bible to Psalm 113:2-3. “Blessed be the name of the Lord, now and forever. From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the Lord is to be praised.” Wow! What a call to worship! I sat and basked in God’s goodness. I began to thank Him for how He had opened the door to this new ministry opportunity in Colorado. There was no denying how His hand had moved on our behalf the past several months. So many things had fallen perfectly into place. He had orchestrated it and I knew that the faithfulness of God was as sure the sun rising and setting every day. I said another prayer of thanks to Him. My heart was ready for this amazing adventure. “Shemesh”, I whispered to myself again. From now on the sun would remind me of how God’s goodness and glory shine everywhere.
This brought back to mind something I had just read. And as so often happens the Lord was keeping me in sync with the Jewish calendar. As the Levite priests led Israel in ceremonial worship during the Fall Feast of Sukkot they ascended the fifteen steps of the temple, singing one Song of Ascents on each step. Psalm 130 would have been one of those:
“I wait for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning. Israel, put your hope in the Lord, for with the Lord is unfailing love and with him is full redemption.” - Psalm 130:5-6
I imagined the scene. The priests were singing Psalm 130 as they were coming up the temple stairs to the holy place where the Ark of the Covenant rested. But that’s not all. You see the temple was built with a wall facing towards the east. Many believe that at the dawn’s first light the rays of the sun would have come up over the Mount of Olives, over the wall, through the Eastern Gate and directly into the Holy of Holies where the Ark of the Covenant rested. What an amazing sight it must have been to see the Ark’s Mercy Seat covered with gold glisten in a blaze of sunlight! What a tangible picture! The sun’s appearance symbolized the coming of God and a new beginning. His covenant love, kindness and mercy had shone upon Israel. After seven nights of remembering how God had brought them out of darkness of slavery in Egypt, the Jewish people rejoiced that they had been rescued and protected by God under difficult conditions in the desert. Great feasting and rejoicing flowed throughout Jerusalem.
In the New Testament (John 7:37) we read that Jesus attended the festival of Sukkot “on the last and greatest day of the feast.” The feast happened in the seventh month of Tishrei, and Jesus appeared to the crowd on the seventh day, which was also when the priests were offering seven bulls to God.
Seven. What was the significance? Seven is the number of heavenly perfection. Completion. Divine fulfillment.
Jesus stood up in the middle of a crowd who had been celebrating for seven days and possibly may have run out of water and maybe even food. Scripture says he cried out with a loud voice, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. Whoever believes in Me, just as the Scripture has said: “Streams of living water” will flow from within him.
Right in the middle of the Sukkoth celebration Jesus revealed Himself as the One who caused water to come from the rock so during the exodus the children of Israel would not die in the desert, but live!
When the sun rose in the sky during that Sukkot the presence and power of God shone brilliantly upon His Son. In this crux moment God was speaking clearly. His son Jesus was the Messiah and the fulfillment of the Feast of Sukkot. You see right before this festival Jesus had made seven “I Am” statements to his disciples. Each of them corresponded to the redemption of Israel. Now it was being proclaimed to the entire world. It is also an invitation for you and I today.
The “I Am” who appeared to Moses was Yeshua; Jesus - the Good Shepherd who guided them out of Egypt. He was the Bread of Life - the Manna from heaven who provided sustenance to the children of Israel in the desert. He was the Water from the rock - the well of salvation that prevented them from dying of thirst. He was the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night – the Light of the World. Yeshua was the healer of all their diseases – the Resurrection and the Life. He was Emmanuel sent to tabernacle with mankind. Yeshua was the Way, the Truth, and the Life and the only One who could miraculously part the Red Sea for them to reach the other side. He was the True Vine – the One who was crushed and poured out as an acceptable sacrifice to God for the sin of mankind.
As the temple priests began pouring out the water during Sukkot Jesus cried out with a loud voice and said, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. Whoever believes in Me, just as the Scripture has said: “Streams of living water” will flow from within him.” Just like the prophet Isaiah had foretold, “The Lord will dawn upon you and his glory shall be seen on you.” (Isaiah 60:1) This must have been a significant "Ah-ha moment" for those within range of hearing this!
One of my “Ah-ha moments” happened in 2012...
I clasped hands with my husband as the airplane took off from Sacramento towards Las Vegas, Nevada. This wasn’t a planned vacation. It was an emergency visit to go see my birth father Bob. He was in the hospital listed in critical condition from a severe heart attack. Though I had met him several years earlier we hadn’t connected in person for quite some time. This might be the last chance to see him. Steve and I unpacked our things at the enormous pyramid shaped hotel. A bright shaft of light was coming from the capstone and illuminating the night sky. I was mesmerized. As I walked down the hallway of the hotel I noticed the Egyptian artwork and décor. Images of Moses being drawn out of the water flashed through my mind. “Daughter, you are free,” I heard the Lord whisper to me. At first I sort of brushed it off, but soon realized what the Lord was doing in my heart. He was freeing me from my own personal Egypt. I didn’t know that I had been enslaved by insecurity and fear. Though it had been locked away, buried deep in my subconscious it was real. I had felt like an illegitimate daughter and the core of my identity needed to be healed. During the night I could barely sleep. Bob didn’t know I was coming. I wasn’t sure what was going to happen. Was I even going to be able to see him? Steve and I strolled through the hotel and headed towards the hospital. Once again surrounded by the ancient Egyptian imagery, I heard the Lord’s voice speak even stronger. “My daughter, I have redeemed you out of Egypt. You are mine. I love you.” Tears welled up in my eyes. It felt as if I had been lifted out of a watery grave of despair. Looking back on that experience I’m grateful I was able to spend time with Bob because six months later he would pass through the gates of heaven. Who he was and the precious memories we shared will always remain with me.
I’m so thankful that when I was hungering and thirsting for my core identity the Lord fulfilled my deepest needs. Time and time again God had used both my birth parents and adopted parents to demonstrate His incredible love for me.
Healing streams can flow from the driest desert experiences in our lives. This is the ministry of the Holy Spirit. He is the Living Word – and He invites us to drink in His presence and daily be renewed by Him. When we accept the invitation He speaks to us, convicts us and comforts us. It is then that we can receive the abundant blessings that deeply satisfy our minds, hearts and souls. John 8:36 sums it up this way, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”