Summary: We conclude this series by focusing on perhaps the most important part of our Sunday experience - the invitation to Christ! We look at this through the lens of John chapter 7.
Setting the Stage
Leviticus 23:39-43 (New International Version)
39 " ’So beginning with the fifteenth day of the seventh month, after you have gathered the crops of the land, celebrate the festival to the LORD for seven days; the first day is a day of rest, and the eighth day also is a day of rest. 40 On the first day you are to take choice fruit from the trees, and palm fronds, leafy branches and poplars, and rejoice before the LORD your God for seven days. 41 Celebrate this as a festival to the LORD for seven days each year. This is to be a lasting ordinance for the generations to come; celebrate it in the seventh month. 42 Live in booths for seven days: All native-born Israelites are to live in booths 43 so your descendants will know that I had the Israelites live in booths when I brought them out of Egypt. I am the LORD your God.’ "
The feast of Tabernacles or Succoth as referred to today
There is no party or celebration like this feast - feast of all feasts
7 day celebration with a special 8th day Sabbath added on the end - “Solemn Assembly”
And on that last day there is celebration unlike anything we can imagine
Every person has a bundle of palm branches in the right hand; in the left hand a citrus fruit symbolic, even thought of, as the Eden Apple that Adam and Eve ate
Would then split into 3 groups
Group 1: would remain at the temple
Group 2: gather willow and palm branches for constructing a canopy for the alter
Group 3: Follow a priest from the temple down the Tyropeon Valley, through the Kedron Valley, through the Fountain Gate, to the Pool of Siloam where the priest would fill a golden pitcher from the waters of Siloam.
They would then time their walk back *UP* the valleys, the rivers, so that they arrived at the Temple just as the morning scrifice was being laid on the alter.
As the priest entered the exterior gates a 3 fold trumpet blast would “rock the stadium.
He would be joined by another priest carrying wine as they ascended the rise of the alter.
When they reach the top they see 2 silver funnels - into each funnel wine and water is poured representing the Holy Spirit.
Then the reading of the Psalms (133-118), the “Hallel”, begins
1 Praise the LORD. [a] Praise, O servants of the LORD, praise the name of the LORD.
2 Let the name of the LORD be praised, both now and forevermore.
3 From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the LORD is to be praised.
4 The LORD is exalted over all the nations, his glory above the heavens.
Imagine the volume, excitement and momentum as hundreds of thousands, or more, are chanting this together. Then the priests reads the successive verses as they chant back “Hallelu Ya” (Praise the Lord).
And as they shake the branches in their hands - imagine the sight!
And then complete silence until one person yells out from the crowd “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.”
That’s the kind of excitement that goes on when someone gives their life to Christ!
Can you see now how the crowds react the way they do - some are excited, some are confused - is He a prophet, is He the Christ?
The Invitation is Universal
“If anyone is thirsty…” That means you are not excluded from this invitation.
Somewhere along the way this “image” of what a Christian looks like was made.
Very calm and patient. Very soft spoken and forgiving. Very sweet and copesetic.
All those criteria are man-made, culturally conditioned. God casts a very broad net when He calls people to Himself, “If anyone..” Are you a “anyone’? Then listen closely to His invitation. You may not be as disqualified as you think. God has a way of taking common things and common people and confounding the wise with them.
The great prophet, Samuel, went to the house of Jesse to anoint a king. The last person anyone saw as qualified for the calling was a little shepherd boy named David. God can see things in people that others can not see. In our text, Jesus makes a universal call to mankind.
There is only one prerequisite to Jesus’ invitation. “If anyone is (what) thirsty…” Only thirsty people drink.
God has mercifully created us with a built in need for Him. We are all born with a thirst for God—a longing to know God—a longing to know and be known. There is a thirst, a craving, in every soul for the eternal God. There is a God-given desire to be valued and loved—to express love. There is a deep search for significance, meaning, and spiritual reality in the souls of men. That’s why you find religion all over the world. Man intuitively knows there’s more. Man intuitively knows there’s God.