Greg Harris

Crowds of people of all ages gathered together to celebrate one of the biggest holidays of the year. It was known as the Feast of Booths. For centuries, Jewish people came to Jerusalem, built make-shift tent structures that they would live in for the week, and participated in a series of events filled with songs and sermons. They invested time remembering how the Lord delivered the Israelites from slavery in Egypt and guided them through the wilderness for forty years before they entered the promised land. The festival reminded God’s people of the time when they wandered around the desert living in tents, and how God Himself dwelled in their midst in a tent of His own—called the tabernacle.

One part of this week-long festival included a ceremony of lights. During this ritual, in a manner not totally unlike candlelight services we may be familiar with, the people remembered how God guided a generation as a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. The wilderness wanderers knew the way because of the moving smoke and the guiding light. And God faithfully delivered His people, just like He promised.

A man from Nazareth named Jesus came to Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of Booths with His friends and family. He was a publicly known figure by this point, yet people wondered who this untrained travelling Rabbi thought He was. One day during the festival, perhaps right after the candles were snuffed, Jesus proclaimed to all who would hear: “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12). These words spoken in this context, at this time, made a not-so-subtle and barely-veiled point: Jesus is claiming to be the One who guided Israel by smoke during the day and fire by night; and the One who guides the worried and wearied wanderers to the eternal Promised Land. Jesus, the one who tabernacled among us, does this through His birth, life, death, resurrection, ascension, and return.

Will you follow this Light through the darkness of your daily wanderings? We do not know what 2022 will bring, but we do know that Jesus is with us as we wander through it. By His Spirit He now tabernacles within us, and He will bring us to the Land He has promised.