Sukkoth–Hoshana Rabah

Moses and the striking rock

Illustration: “Moses and the Striking Rock,” by Marc Chagall, gouache, oil on paper, 1931.

“On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, “Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water”‘” (John 7:37-38).

The festival of Sukkoth is a festival of Thanksgiving and a festival of prayer for the harvests to come. The “last day of the feast, the great day” called the Hoshana Rabah, the great Hosanna, is a day of prayer for the coming year. Jesus used this day as another opportunity to teach. Consider His words in the context of the festival.

For Jesus to stand and speak this way in a loud voice was not unusual. Nor was it  unusual for Jesus to concern himself with the physical needs of the people, as He does here in talking about quenching their thirst.  But for this audience, their own thirst was not the only thing that came to mind.  On Hoshana Rabah it was the practice for the priests to pour large urns of water out from the temple steps onto the dry, thirsty ground below. This ritual was a prayer for rain for the coming year, and a prayer for God’s Spirit to be poured out on a dry, thirsty people.

The living water of which Jesus spoke is the Holy Spirit of God.  The Holy Spirit quenches your spiritual thirst to know God and to have peace and comfort.  At the Last Supper with His disciples, Jesus promised, “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever” (John 14:16).  And soon, Jesus will be thirsty.  He knows the thirst that comes with the sun beating down on a body nailed to a cross.  So on this last and greatest day of the feast, he taught the truth that He was born to teach, and will die to fulfill.  Soon, water will pour from His side and He will be laid to rest, only to be raised so that you can drink from the living water that pours out upon You by the Holy Spirit.

Prayer:  Father God, thank you for the water you have poured out onto me. Refresh me today through the Holy Spirit, that I might be used to quench another’s thirst. In Y’shua’s name, Amen.

Ponder the path:  Are you thirsty today? Drink from the living water that pours out through the Holy Spirit. Spend some time in the Word and in prayer.  May that stream pour through you and to those around you who are dying of thirst.

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