They found written in the Law, which the LORD had commanded through Moses, that the Israelites were to live in booths during the feast of the seventh month.Nehemiah 8:14
The way of health is dramatically demonstrated for us in the closing verses of this chapter. God had anticipated the needs of these people. Centuries before, He had provided a most remarkable visual aid to remind them of the truth that would keep them from further destruction. This is the Feast of Tabernacles, a reminder that they were called as a people out of Egypt. Their departure was sudden and precipitous. They were not even to sit down when they ate the Passover meal. They had to eat it standing, with their staffs in their hands, dressed in traveling clothes, ready to leave. They went out at a word of command and left Egypt in one night. When they got into the desert, one day's journey out, and night fell, where were they to find shelter? Moses had been told by God that they were to collect boughs and tree limbs and build booths for shelter. Then God ordained that they were to do this once every year. Even though later they had homes to dwell in, they were to build these booths and live in them for seven days. This was to teach them that they were always pilgrims and strangers on the earth. This world was not their home. All the great blessings of life would not necessarily be found in this present time but were waiting for them in glory. Therefore, they did not need to be distressed if they did not have everything that those around them were trying to get in this life.
That is the truth that will deliver us from the pressures of the times. We must hold things lightly. We must not think that houses, cars, money, and material gain are all that important. Even if we lack these things, the great treasures of our life remain untouched. To strive constantly to gain what everyone else has is a mistake. God teaches us to hold these things lightly. We must never forget that we are in the world but not of it. We are never to settle down here for good. I love the way C. S. Lewis has put it:
Our kind heavenly Father has provided many wonderful inns for us along our journey, but he takes special care to see that we never mistake any of them for home. We are pilgrims and strangers, passing through this world. We are involved in it, deeply sometimes, but we are never to see ourselves as a part of it.
What will enable us to remember that? Verse 18 gives us the answer. Every day they read the Scripture. Every day they saturated themselves in the thinking of God. That is what makes for realism: When you think like God thinks, you are thinking realistically. You are beginning to see yourself the way you really are. You are seeing your children, your home, and your nation the way they really are. For the first time you are able to divest yourself of the illusions and delusions of a mistaken, confused world. You are beginning to work toward wholeness, healing, and strengthening of the things that abide.
What a wonderful picture this is, Lord, of the fact that I am a stranger on this earth. Far too often I have lived as if this were my home. Renew my mind with Your truth that there is so much more to live for than what this world offers.
Are we owned by our earthly possessions? Are we learning to hold them lightly? How can we recognize the unhealthy delusions of a mistaken and confused world?