August 2012 Yavoh

Preparing Your Sukkah

When the children of Israel left Egypt, they camped first in a place they called Sukkot. Sukkot means tents, tabernacles, huts, or booths. It is the temporary shelter that each family used as they journeyed through the wilderness on their way to the promised land. Sukkot is also the title of the seventh Feast of the Lord held each year in the fall, beginning on the 15th of Tishri (late September/October time frame). The feast is also known as the Feast of Tabernacles (or Booths). At the Feast of Tabernacles we commemorate our ancestors living in sukkot (a single dwelling is known as a sukkah) while they traveled in the wilderness. Yet the Feast of Tabernacles teaches us another lesson that will affect the last generation of the ages.

Moses, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel specifically prophesied of another exodus at the end of the ages. This exodus will be much greater than the one from Egypt. For those who have never heard of these prophecies, let me review them.

Moses spoke of a generation coming much later that would see Israel scattered into all of the nations. He then foretold they would be part of an exodus out from all of those nations back to the promised land.

So it shall be when all of these things have come upon you, the blessing and the curse which I have set before you, and you call them to mind in all nations where the Lord your God has banished you, and you return to the Lord your God and obey Him with all your heart and soul according to all that I command you today, you and your sons, then the Lord your God will restore you from captivity, and have compassion on you, and will gather you again from all the peoples where the Lord your God has scattered you. If your outcasts are at the ends of the earth, from there the Lord your God will gather you, and from there He will bring you back. And the Lord your God will bring you into the land which your fathers possessed, and you shall possess it; and He will prosper you and multiply you more than your fathers. Moreover the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, in order that you may live.  DEU 30:1-6

Jeremiah referred to this exodus saying that the word exodus would no longer be associated with those who came out of Egypt, but he said instead the word exodus would become associated with God’s people coming from all the nations at the end. He also said that the Messiah would be a part of this exodus.

“Therefore behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when it will no longer be said, ‘As the Lord lives, who brought up the sons of Israel out of the land of Egypt,’ but, ‘as the Lord lives, who brought up the sons of Israel from the land of the north and from all the countries where He had banished them.’ For I will restore them to their own land which I gave to their fathers.” JER 16:14-15

Then I Myself shall gather the remnant of My flock out of all the countries where I have driven them and bring them back to their pasture; and they will be fruitful and multiply. JER 23:3

“Behold, the days are coming,” declares the Lord, “When I shall raise up for David a righteous Branch; and He will reign as king and act wisely and do justice and righteousness in the land. In His days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely; and this is His name by which He will be called, ‘The Lord our righteousness.’ Therefore behold, the days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when they will no longer say, ‘As the Lord lives, who brought up the sons of Israel from the land of Egypt,’ but, ‘As the Lord lives, who brought up and led back the descendants of the household of Israel from the north land and from all the countries where I had driven them.’ Then they will live on their own soil.” JER 23:5-8

Ezekiel describes us going into the wilderness of the peoples, meaning the uninhabited parts of the various nations where we presently reside. Just like our ancestors were led out of Egypt by God’s hand, we too will be led by the Lord.

“As I live,” declares the Lord God, “surely with a mighty hand and with an outstretched arm and with wrath poured out, I shall be king over you. I shall bring you out from the peoples and gather you from the lands where you are scattered, with a mighty hand and with an outstretched arm and with wrath poured out; and I will bring you into the wilderness of the peoples, and there I will enter into judgment with you face to face. As I entered into judgment with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so I will enter into judgment with you,” declares the Lord God. “I will make you pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant; and I will purge from you the rebels and those who transgress against Me; I will bring them out of the land where they sojourn, but they will not enter the land of Israel. Thus you will know that I am the Lord.” EZE 20:33-38

These prophesies say that we will be God’s people coming out of all the nations of the earth on an eventual journey to the promised land – the Messianic Kingdom. Other prophets, including Yeshua, say that this exodus will be part of the Great Tribulation and God’s way of delivering His people in those days.

These prophecies have not yet been fulfilled by the Lord, but they are destined for the end of the ages and the final days. As I write these words, I am personally convinced that we have come to the time of these prophecies – that we are the final generation.

Most believers are not familiar with a sukkah (tent, hut, or booth), the Feast of Tabernacles, or the prophecies of the Greater Exodus, but, the Scripture says that the last generation will experience the same tests and transition that the generation which left Egypt did. God’s deliverance will be through believers escaping their homes and cities and journeying in the wilderness of the peoples using a sukkah. The Apostle Paul says as much to the Corinthians.

Now these things happened to them [the children of Israel in the wilderness] as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. 1COR 10:11

With this in mind, let’s begin by assessing what the world (all of us) will be experiencing at the end with the Great Tribulation, and then let us plan our sukkahs (sukkot) to meet the need for God’s deliverance.

A threat assessment is an earnest attempt to develop a list of needs. For example, if the threat is that the sun will be too hot and “scorch” mankind, then the need is for a hat and a way to cover exposed skin. Or, if the threat is contaminated water, then the need is for clean, potable water.

The Great Tribulation has many threats against people, and believers in particular. Let’s survey the greatest threats:

1. World governments will collapse into chaos. That chaos will include rebellion and sedition against any and all governmental authority, lawlessness at the street level, anarchy and martial law. Business as usual will not be happening. Everyone will become desperate and fearful.

2. There will be a severe lack of food. Existing food will suddenly disappear and food distribution will immediately cease. Everyone will begin to hoard all consumables.

3. Basic services such as electricity and water will be limited to the major cities themselves and that service will be disrupted. Communities and small towns outside of the major cities will be unsustainable and unsupported.

4. Individual families and households in small towns, along with rural residents, will be evacuated to larger metropolitan centers for food distribution and shelter. Anyone left outside the large cities will be considered outlaws and a potential threat to the government’s emergency procedures. If they are captured, they will be placed in detention camps for processing.

5. All communications such as radio, television, the internet, and telephone (including cell phones), will be shut down and then controlled by the “emergency communications of the government.” They will decide what information they share with the people, primarily propaganda to keep the people calm and under control.

6. A defensive perimeter around each large metropolitan area will be manned by a federalized police force (such as Homeland Security in the U.S.) with mixed elements of the military. Armed patrols will monitor all the interstate highway systems establishing checkpoints at various junctions or major river crossings.

7. All national resources and distribution centers for food, fuel, and other needed commodities will be secured by Homeland Security and the military.

8. Those persons who have built personal bunkers and stored food stuffs will lock themselves down and become fearful of anyone approaching them. Those without personal bunkers will escape to the mountains and wooded regions only to face a traffic jam of sorts because of the sheer number of others doing the exact same thing. In calamity, many people will die at the hand of one another trying to keep others away.

9. Disease will become rampant where the masses of people are staying and medical services will not be able to keep up with the need.

10. With a lack of fresh food and disease taking a toll, people will rebel. Mass arrests will follow with internment in detention camps. Eventually, they will become highly efficient death camps.

These ten threats are not my own speculation. This is a review of Homeland Security’s emergency planning and threat assessment. They have already prepared to accomplish all of these things and more.

Other governments have similar plans to varying degrees. Bottom line: there will be no place safe. Everything will be subject to emergency procedures controlled by the government.

Adding to this... God will begin to pour out judgments upon the earth. Trees will be burned. Waters in rivers and lakes will be destroyed. The ocean will be destroyed. War, famine, and disease will engulf the whole world. Totaling all of God’s judgments, one half of the world’s population will die. Just when you think it can’t get worse, an asteroid or comet will strike the earth with a deep impact. The debris blown into the atmosphere will darken the earth from the sun, moon, and stars. It will plunge the earth into darkness for five months, becoming an extinction-level event (ELE) and the earth will know that it is dying. The Scripture says that no one will live unless the Lord returns.

And unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days shall be cut short. MAT 24:22

This is not a script for a Hollywood apocalyptic movie. All of this is prophesied in the Bible. It is part of the Great Tribulation, a time of distress as the world has never seen before.

So, how do we survive this? How does God deliver us from all that will be happening? God has promised us deliverance in the Scriptures, but I want to address this question in a practical sort of way.

Survival experts teach that there are four elements to survival, which I give here in priority sequence: shelter, water, food, and defense. Shelter is the highest priority. Without shelter from the natural elements a person can be in serious danger within two hours. Hypothermia can set in very quickly with an outside temperature of 30 to 50 degrees. If your clothes are wet (or sweaty) and there is a wind, the chilling effect on the body can be very dangerous. Only a shelter with the ability to block the wind and rain can stop the dangerous effects. A fire for warmth and the ability to dry one’s clothes comes after there is some kind of shelter from the elements.

Water is the next requirement. A person can dehydrate and be in serious trouble within two days without water.

Next is food. Food is necessary to have energy. A person can be in serious trouble within two weeks if they are expending lots of energy but not eating.

Defense is the final survival element and that is based on threat analysis. For the most part, if you are in the wilderness during the Great Tribulation, then others outside your camp are your concern. Yet the greatest threat from others in the Great Tribulation will not be the government or other crazies outside the camp. Those brethren in the camp who decide to rebel or not trust the Lord are the greatest danger to the camp.

God has promised those who will escape, survive, and endure to the end to provide water, food, and defense of the camp. However, the first priority of survival, your shelter (your sukkah) is your responsibility. This is consistent with the commandment for believers to keep the Feast of Tabernacles every year. Keeping that commandment forces each of us to prepare a sukkah for ourselves and our families. This is why NOT keeping the commandments can cost you your life. Moses was correct when he concluded his instructions of the commandments.

“Take to your heart all the words with which I am warning you today, which you shall command your sons to observe carefully, even all the words of this law. For it is not an idle word for you; indeed it is your life.” DEU 32:46-47a

For those of us who believe that we are part of the final generation and planning to survive the Great Tribulation, preparing a sukkah (tent) is extremely important. We may well find ourselves living in that sukkah for good part of the 3½ year Great Tribulation. Therefore, some serious planning must be given to exactly what kind of sukkah we will use.

The most basic level of everyone’s sukkah is one’s clothes. They provide daily cover from the elements and afford privacy for our bodies. A well planned “go-bag” with your personal clothing, shoes, and survival gear is essential to living in a tent for even one day. But once you set your camp you will need a much smaller package of goodies on your person virtually all of the time. People who do a lot of camping learn this early on. You should also have a vest or a day pack on your waist, cargo pants with pockets to always carry your minimum survival gear. This includes your knife, fire starter, and survival gear (including water bottle, etc). You should never be more than a few steps away from this part of your equipment. In case of extreme emergency or taking a stroll out of the camp, these items must be with you at all times.

The most convenient type of sukkah is a traveling motor coach or a fifth wheel/travel trailer. There are many retired folks who travel south in the winter and north in the summer in their RV unit, always in their sukkah. It is a completely self-contained home. All you need is some nice level ground, access to fuel to drive your vehicle and propane fuel in your tanks for your stove and heater. You also need the campground to provide adequate electrical power for your lights and appliances, a hook-up for fresh water, and a dump station or sewer point for your grey and black water. Without level ground, electricity, water, and sewer services the RV is only as good as the batteries hold out (about one day). It is just a temporary shelter.

It would be ideal if the Great Tribulation would allow us to join all those folks “RVing” around the country, but I don’t think that will happen. Therefore, a sukkah of this level will be great at the start of the Great Tribulation, but I question how long will it be able to be used. If you were planning on escaping with your RV unit, that’s great. But you better also read the rest of this article and learn about getting a tent.

The prophecy says that we will be in the wilderness of the peoples; it doesn’t say that we will be in state and local RV parks, so it is not reasonable to assume that a tribulation saint will be able to use their motor coach or travel trailer as an adequate sukkah for all of the Great Tribulation. Hence, a tent (a tabernacle) like the ones that our ancestors used in the wilderness is our next best choice.

Let’s talk about tents for a moment. When I say tent, most Americans first think about one those colorful nylon structures with zippers and aluminum poles purchased from Walmart. That type of tent is only designed to go out for short vacations. With constant use, that tent will last less than 3 months. The poles bend, the fabric shreds, the zippers jam.

A sukkah tent needed for the Great Tribulation must be “all season.” It must be able to withstand the wind, the rain, the heat of the sun, and the cold of ice and snow. It must also be rugged with zippers that don’t jam, tie- down points that don’t tear free, poles that don’t bend and break, and a fabric that is resistant to the UV damage from the sun and won’t shred. It also needs to be fire resistant from sparks and flying embers from the stove and campfire. A sukkah for the days of the Great Tribulation must be able to be set up and taken down by you and your family members multiple times. It must be transportable as we will be relocating to multiple campsites in the Great Tribulation. Like I said, there is much to consider when you select a sukkah.

Without an ideal tent, your sukkah will have to be constructed or supplemented out of whatever materials you can bring or forage. A large piece of tarp material can be rigged several different ways to provide shelter or cover and provide protection to your tent. If you have trees at your campsite, a tight line between them can serve as the center line for the tarp and some staking with other lines can spread your cover out nicely. Poles can be used to elevate the tarp while other lines stretch it out. Building a lean-to, while being a shelter, requires much energy and materials for very little shelter. Multiple tarps and covers can also be used to build walls to increase privacy and cover. Any good survival book will give you multiple ideas on how to set up a shelter.

Whatever sukkah you decide to use, you must also plan how you will dwell in your sukkah. There are many daily functions which you and your family will do and your sukkah will either aid or hinder them. For example, how will you set up, take down, and maintain your campsite? How will you sustain yourself when it comes to getting a good night’s sleep, personal hygiene, laundry, and cooking? Your sukkah must all support these functions.

Let me give you an example of what you might need to accomplish each of these important functions while dwelling in your sukkah.

Setting up and taking down your sukkah requires tools to drive in and retrieve stakes. Get a repair kit for your sukkah. Understand the material used and plan on repairing damage done by accident or use. Duct tape is the minimum for this but, as you know, it doesn’t last in the elements for very long. Those stakes you get when you purchase a tent will not last. They are usually too short and can easily be bent and broken. I recommend that you replace them with much stronger stakes. In fact, all of the tie-down materials of your tent must be strengthened to last. Get more tie-down line. Parachute cord (called 550 cord) is recommended most often. Consider the exhortation from the prophet Isaiah.

Enlarge the place of your tent; stretch out the curtains of your dwellings, spare not; lengthen your cords, and strengthen your pegs. ISA 54:2

Maybe you didn’t realize it but all of the patriarchs from Abraham to Jacob’s children lived in tents. They knew a few things about using a sukkah.

Let’s talk about sleeping at night, sleeping bags, and cots. There are rectangular and mummy shaped sleeping bags. There are flannel, fiber fill, and down bags that are rated for how cold you can comfortably sleep in them. Cots and ground pads come in a variety of types and strengths. I can tell you from experience that you cannot sleep well if you are cold, and the ground is very hard to sleep on directly. You need to give serious attention to your choice of sleeping bags and cots as you would to the decision of your tent itself. Getting a good night’s sleep is crucial to both physical and mental health.

How about heating your sukkah on cold nights and days? Do not plan on the Great Tribulation having the weather we have in springtime and fall.

A good wood-burning camp stove is the solution for the cold. Rather than an open camp fire, which consumes wood excessively, a camp stove provides plenty of controlled heat, a cooking surface, the ability to heat water inside of your sukkah and it uses a minimum amount of fuel compared to a camp fire. Survival experts will tell you that a tool that does multiple jobs is the best tool for survival.

Sportsmen who hunt in the winter will many times camp with outfitters. Tents sold to outfitters are ideal for providing shelter in strenuous elements. They are designed for camp stoves as well.

Let’s talk about latrine needs. Most outdoor enthusiasts, sportsmen, and campers use the outdoors. Going behind the bushes with a roll of toilet tissue is usually a humorous moment, but there is nothing funny about the latrine needs for hundreds of brethren camping in the same campground. The Scripture weighs in on this important point.

and you shall have a spade among your tools, and it shall be when you sit down outside, you shall dig with it and shall turn to cover up your excrement. DEU 23:13

We are not going to have enough time in any camping location to build outhouses or fixed latrines. What most likely will happen is that each campsite will need to have a honey-bucket. You will do your business in your tent in the bucket and then carry that to the outside, dig a hole, bury the material, and cover it up immediately. An open latrine will have flies and with flies will come dysentery and debilitating sickness for the entire camp. The only thing worse than living in a tent during the Great Tribulation is everyone in the camp being sick and dying.

Let me offer this final point as well. Toilet paper is not the way to go for the Great Tribulation. Begin now to collect small pieces of wash cloths, rags, or towels to use for cleaning yourself. They are washable and reusable. As you consume less food and expend more energy, you will discover that using the latrine will be less frequent.

Let us look at another function your sukkah must support. Taking a bath and being able to launder your clothes is a must for long-term survival. A good sukkah gives you the privacy to bathe yourself. You will discover that you don’t have to get into the tub to take a bath. A good wash cloth and some of that warm water heated by your camp stove works just fine in your sukkah. You might even add a small wash board with your tub to facilitate the laundry process.

Let’s talk about cooking food. Everyone loves a good steak on a grill on the fire, but this will not be the typical meal of the Great Tribulation. In fact, open fire cooking will be rare. Most likely your camp stove will have a pan or pot being heated with supper in it. I know they are heavy but the best camp cooking pans are cast iron. A large skillet and a dutch oven are essential to camp baking and cooking. You can’t bring the whole kitchen with you in your sukkah. You will have to be smart in your selection and choice of equipment. Pots and pans are heavy. A camp cooking kit will supply the necessary dishes and bowls for personal use. Remember, you must remain mobile. A single storage container with all of your cooking equipment will help you select the right amount and make it transportable.

Let’s say that you have a good tent, a camp stove, sleeping bags, your own go-bag with your clothes, some cooking gear, and a good bucket or tub for laundry and bathing. How are you going to retrieve and store water for your campsite? You will easily use several gallons of water each day per person in your camp just drinking, washing, and cooking. Three to five gallon containers will be a must for this task.

What about firewood for your camp stove? You will need some key tools to collect and prepare your firewood for use. A saw and an ax will be essential. But consider this problem. If you are in a camp with hundreds or even thousands of brethren escaping the Great Tribulation, just how many fallen dead tree limbs do you think you will find near your campsite? Probably none. And forget cutting down green trees and trying to burn them as fuel. Besides, the smoke will make you ill.

More than likely, the predominant fuel to be used by the tribulation saints will be whatever is available, including material from abandoned buildings, fences posts and signs, etc. What tools will you need to forage and harvest that fuel? An ax is definitely needed, but you could also consider bringing a hand saw and a crowbar. The optimum fuel for your camp stove is six to eight inches long and two inches thick, not a split log.

Let’s say that you have access to water and firewood, but it is some distance from your campsite. How will you transport your gallons of water and your armloads of firewood? Here is a suggestion. Get a small wagon like one of those landscaping wagons that gardeners use. It is quite strong, able to carry loads up to 2,000 lbs. It can transport multiple containers of water and enough wood for campsite for a couple of days in one load. And consider this, when you are moving your campsite and unable to use a vehicle, this same wagon could potentially carry your entire sukkah, camp stove, tools, buckets/tubs, and your go-bags.

Your sukkah (all of it) needs to be mobile. The children of Israel camped in (journeyed to) 42 different places. The list is given to us in Numbers 33. There were 42 different cities in Israel with six separate cities of refuge. The Messiah warned us that when we journey in the Great Tribulation that we would not camp more times than the number of cities in Israel (42 max). The time frame of the Great Tribulation is 42 months. If we are going to journey up to 42 different times in the Great Tribulation, then we must think in mobile terms for our sukkah(s). Packing your sukkah and its supporting equipment must be compact and organized. We will be relocating possibly at a rate of once a month.

Let’s talk about tactical equipment at your camp site. This includes weapons and fishing equipment. Weapons must be able to be used for defense and for harvesting game. Weapons are also dangerous and must be kept and used in a safe manner. Fishing equipment is not dangerous per se, but care must be used with hooks and cleaning fish. I recommend that every campsite have some kind of fishing gear, even it comes down to simple hooks and line. You can always fish the bank with a simple pole. A bank line (a line tied to the bank and thrown out) with multiple hooks also works well.

Let’s talk a bit more about weapons.

You should have force equal to or greater than the threat but you should not use excessive force. A gun is not the solution to every threat; therefore, your tactical gear should include at a minimum, a flyswatter. While bugs and flies are not the most threatening, they will be the most numerous. A stick is next, such as a good walking stick. If you secure a knife to the end of the stick you have a simple spear. A knife or a tomahawk is next. A slingshot is next. A pistol is next for short range. A bow and arrows have the ability to remain silent. A shotgun has more firepower and can be used against fowl. Finally, a rifle is the most common weapon of choice.

You should not get any of these weapons unless you first know how to use them properly. If you are able to bring only some of these items, okay. If you are able to bring them all, great. Everyone should bring a flyswatter and a knife.

Survival experts will tell you that the number one piece of survival equipment is not one of the things I have defined with a sukkah. The most important piece of survival equipment you need is a sound mind. For us, as future Tribulation saints, the most important part of our survival will be in trusting the Lord to lead, deliver, and provide for us. Without Him, we don’t have a prayer (excuse the pun). So, what does preparing our sukkah really do for us? The answer is fundamental to survival. It raises our confidence level that we will make it. It gives us hope - and it allows for many with small faith time to learn to trust the Lord. Just managing your sukkah on a daily basis will keep your mind on simple necessary steps rather than stewing away in your fears.

The Lord used the survival needs of the wilderness to teach some very important spiritual lessons to the children of Israel. I have no doubt that He will do the same with us, to refine us and build our trust in His promises.

And you shall remember all the way which the Lord your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. And He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord. Your clothing did not wear out on you, nor did your foot swell these forty years. Thus you are to know in your heart that the Lord your God was disciplining you just as a man disciplines his son. Therefore, you shall keep the commandments of the Lord your God, to walk in His ways and to fear Him. DEU 8:2-6

When I was twenty years of age, a man came to me, prayed for me, and spoke these very words over me. He said that one day these words would be my life, that God was preparing me to one day live out these words, that this was my destiny in the Lord. It is now more than forty years later. We are at the end of the ages. The Greater Exodus will soon begin. God has prepared me for these days to say this to you...

Get your sukkah ready now. Keep His commandments. Keep the Feast of Tabernacles. Prepare to leave your home and community at a future Passover. You are about to journey to the promised land and be part of the Greater Exodus.