These words have brought us to our knees as a church, crying out to the Lord, "How do we do that?" "What do we change?"
In the Book of Nehemiah, a book of restoration and change, the exiles have returned to Jerusalem to rebuild the walls that have been broken down, but there are many battles. Those involved in the rebuilding face resistance, ridicule, depression and escalating threats.
Things are in turmoil, and false prophets come to Nehemiah with words to draw him off God's path. These were words that sounded good, even spiritual, but they were designed to produce fear and to cause Nehemiah to move in a direction that would cause him to sin. Fear can be a real driving force in our lives; Nehemiah understood this and looked to God for the answers and for discernment about the words spoken to him by false prophets.
After the exiles completed building the wall, changes took place. First of all, faithful men who feared God were appointed to various tasks. The doors were set in place, and gatekeepers (which speak of intercessors and watchmen) were functioning. Guards (which speak of intercessors and those skilled in spiritual warfare) were positioned in front of each home.
Then the people searched out their identity in the Lord and began to support what God was doing. All this was good, but still there seemed to be a hunger for something more. They had hunger for the word of God and asked to hear it. All those who could listen and understand came to the square to hear God's word as Ezra read it.
To us as a church, Nehemiah 4:1-8:12 seems to have been our experience. We have had words and insight. We have had foundations established and walls built in our lives, but now we are back to the question, "What shall we do?" because we are living on yesterday's manna.
Then we see in the Book of Nehemiah, the people discovered that Moses commanded the sons of Israel to live in booths and celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles. Seeing this they went out and gathered different kinds of wood and made booths for themselves, each on his roof, as they understood what the Lord was asking of them.
Is this what the Lord is speaking to us again? It's not so different from the outpouring of the Holy Spirit into the church in the last century when we could say, "this is that spoken by the prophet Joel" in Acts 2:16-20. The word was always there, but in the fullness of time it became fresh bread to all who would understand and receive it. Many of us are products of "this and that."
What does it mean to live in booths? We know that all of the Old Testament feasts have been fulfilled through Jesus Christ and the church except the Feast of tabernacles; for example Jesus Christ in the Passover, and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost. Could it be that there is a much greater significance to the Feast of Tabernacles than we have understood?
I believe the Lord has been saying to the church to "GO" - Go into the world and gather wood to make booths (Nehemiah 8:15). Wood is a type of people in the Bible. Gather all kinds of wood, both cultivated and wild. Could this be people who are spiritually hungry, spiritually ready, both saved and unsaved?
When Scripture refers to booths, are booths a picture of house churches, simple churches that the Father can use to disciple people, change the church and change the world? Can we be flexible enough to make booths on our own roofs, in our courts and in the courts of the House of God (churches that already exist) and in the squares of the gates (the marketplace) - Nehemiah 8:16?
Could it be that booths are the new wineskin for the Father to use in an Agape Reformation where we can demonstrate the Great Commandment to love God and to love your neighbor as yourself (Mark 12:30, 31), and Jesus' New Commandment to love one another as He loves us (John 13:34)?
The trumpet is blowing, the cloud is moving and a cry is heard across the land, "Let God arise! Let His enemies be scattered!" Now is the time to respond and to move with the cloud of His presence. Now is the time to gather wood and make booths. Now is the time of the harvest!