John Message #22 “Jesus and the Feast of Booths” Ed Miller, May 8, 2024

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As we come to look in the word, that indispensable principle of Bible study, total reliance on God’s Holy Spirit, I want to share a couple of expressions, not the whole verse, from Galatians 1:15&16, and I left out some of the words but here’s what it’s saying, “When He called me through His grace, He was pleased to reveal His Son in me.”  I just love the bringing together of grace and pleasure, because He called me by grace and He was pleased to reveal His Son.  We come to have that revelation; we want to see Jesus, and none of us deserve it; we don’t deserve to see the Lord.  It’s grace, but it’s not only grace; it’s His pleasure.  He said that He’s pleased to reveal Himself.  Thank God for the grace, but also, we minister to His heart if we let Him show us the Lord Jesus.  With that let’s pray together.

Heavenly Father, we thank You for that revelation, that it’s Your pleasure to reveal Christ to us and in us.  We know it’s our pleasure when we receive that revelation.  So, we commit this session unto You and ask by Your grace that You would protect Your people from anything I might say that’s from the flesh, and we thank You that we can trust the indwelling Holy Spirit to guide us.  We commit our time unto You in the matchless name of our Lord Jesus.  Also, Lord, as it was brought to my attention this morning, we do pray for Rommel as he prepares for that procedure that is so necessary.  We pray that You would be with all the doctors and assistants and those who administer medicine, and we commit the whole situation to You and pray for Your highest glory.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Welcome again to our meditation on the Lord Jesus.  We’re in the gospel of John.  This is the historical record in John, one of the historical records of beholding the Lord.  In my library I have a large section on Christian biographies, especially missionary biographies.  I just love biographies, and they all have one thing in common; everyone on my shelves has died; they’re all dead.  The reason I call attention to that is because in the gospel of John we’re studying the history of Christ but we’re not studying His biography; He’s not dead; He’s still alive.  So, His story goes on in you and me and us.  So, we’re studying the history, but God has revealed the history so that we can know what to expect as He lives again in our hearts.  The way He lived in His first body is the way He will live in His second body.  I’m not going develop it now, but in His first body He went to the cross for others.  You can’t expect anything less than that.  He lives in you now and He’s going to the cross for others. 

In our discussion we finished with John 6 and when we closed, we started to introduce John 7.  John 7:2, “Now the feast of the Jews, the feast of the booths, was near,” also called the feast of tabernacles. You’ll notice the paper handed out with a glossary of words.  If you look up the feast of tabernacles in some resource, in a Bible dictionary or commentary or encyclopedia or some Jewish writing, when I tried to study it, they just use those words as if I knew what they were.  I just handed this out.  If you are going to do research on it, it might help you to be aware of these words, because when you are just reading and you hardly know English, and then they start throwing, “This is that and this is that,” I was completely lost.  I had to look up so many of these.  If that’s helpful for you, then that’s why I handed that out.  Otherwise, scrap it.

Last week we said very little about the feast itself and how it was celebrated.  We saw that it was an annual feast.  Three times a year all of the men were commanded, and the women and children were allowed to go to Jerusalem to celebrate the feast.  There were three in the spring, there was one in the summer, and there were three of them in the fall.  This was the last of the feasts, the feast of booths.  We know, also, that it lasted eight days, and we know that the eighth day was climactic; it was the great day. 

We introduced this and left off last time by focusing on the unbelieving brothers of our Lord Jesus and their comment.  John 7:3, “His brothers said to Him, “Leave here and go into Judea, so that your disciples also may see Your works which you are doing; no one does anything in secret when He Himself seeks to be known publicly.  If You do these things, show Yourself to the world, for not even His brothers were believing in Him,” at that time.  They came to believe after the resurrection.  That’s how we introduced it, at verse 6, the response of our Lord Jesus to His unbelieving brothers. “Jesus said to them, ‘My time is not yet here; your time is always opportune.’”  We closed with that principle.  The Lord Jesus never initiated anything in His life; He always waited for His Father who was not only in heaven but in His heart, indwelling in Him; He waited for a word.   His brothers said, “Why don’t you go up to Jerusalem and show your hand?  You are claiming to be Messiah,” and they’re unbelieving, and I think they’re saying, “Why don’t You jump through the hoops and go up there where You can be tested because all the religious bigwigs are up there?”  Jesus said, “It’s easy for you to make a decision, when you are going to come and when you are going go and when you are going the stay; your hour is always opportune.  I can’t go right now.  I’ve got to wait for My Father to tell Me when to go.”  And now He lives in us, and the same thing is true, and we still wait for the direction of the Lord before we move.

Now we come to our new material, but I want to go back to that verse because there is another principle illustrated besides that we wait for the Lord to reveal His will.  John 7:6, He said, “My time is not yet here; your time is always opportune.”  Not only do we have to wait for His will, but once we have His will, we are safest.   The safest place you can ever be is in the will of God.  The safest place I can ever be is in the will of God.  Let me illustrate from the chapter.  Look at verse 1, “After these things, Jesus was walking in Galilee, and He was unwilling to walk in Judea because the Jews were seeking to kill Him.”  Until the Father revealed the next step, He’s going to go to Judea, but He’s waiting for the Father, but until then He was prudent, He was wise, He used His head.  In other words, because they’re seeking to kill Him, He wasn’t courting danger.  He didn’t say, “Well, God is going to protect me, so I’m going up then.”  He’s waiting for the Father.

One of my dearest friends that God ever allowed me to have, he’s in heaven now, but he was a man almost my age.  I was two years older than him.  He ministered to me because he walked in Christlike simplicity.  I think we all have limitations, and this brother had limitations.  In some ways he was very naïve, and sometimes on the level of earth he wasn’t wise. When he was taught, because he couldn’t read, that the Lord was watching over him, that so thrilled him that he began to walk in the thick of the traffic.  He would find the most traffic he could find and just walk out in the road, in the traffic because God was going to protect him.  That just thrilled his heart.

I know this man; he wasn’t trying to be presumptuous and try to tempt the Lord.  If you knew him, you’d know that he learned a great truth and he was just wanting to see God do what God said he was going to do.  When we took him aside and instructed him, he wept and repented.  He didn’t know he was doing wrong or that he was tempting the Lord.  He had that kind of a heart. 

That’s just an illustration.  The Lord Jesus was waiting for His Father, but He didn’t walk in traffic while He waited; He was wise and used His head.  My Lillian is constantly telling me, “Lock the doors.”  She’s paranoid that somebody is going to come in.  However, she says that it’s spiritual to lock the doors and buy insurance and take your time and use a cane if you need it or a walker and take your meds; it’s just wise.  And I think she’s right!

Anyway, John 11 gives an illustration of this.  “Jesus answered, ‘Are there not…”  Well, wait, let me read verse 8 first, “The disciples said to Him, ‘Rabbi, the Jews are seeking to stone You, and are You going there again?’”  And here was His answer, “Are there not twelve hours in the day.  If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble because he sees the light of the world.  But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles because the light is not in him.”  What He was saying to His disciples, they were suspicious, “They are seeking to kill You; are You going to walk in the traffic?”  And He was saying, “No, I’m going to walk in the light; I’m waiting for the will of God.  When God tells me, then I’ll go.  If you go at night, you can stumble and you can fall, but if you go in the will of God, you are safe.”  Jesus avoided Judea until His Father told Him to go to Judea, and once He was told to go to Judea, He didn’t fear those who were trying to kill Him.  He went in peace because He was in the will of the God. 

Monica, the mother of Augustine, begged him not to go to Rome.  She was terrified as there was too much temptation.  God arranged it so that he got saved when he went to Rome.  So, the Lord is greater than all; He’s sovereign.  I had a friend in Bible school who was certain that God had called him to go to Muslim countries, and share the gospel with Muslims, but his parents stood against him.  They said, “We will not let you go; it’s too dangerous; you can’t go there.”  He stood up in chapel one day and he asked the whole student body to pray, and he was saying, “I want to do my Father’s will, but I also have my parents’ wishes, and I don’t know how to handle this.  Please pray for me.”

The point I’m making is that in the will, if it was God’s will for him to go to a Muslim country, he was not safer in the United States.  He would be safe where God called him.  Where God calls you, you are safe.  Where God calls me, I am safe.  I’ve heard people say, “I don’t want my children to go to a secular college; there’s too much temptation and it’s too dangerous.  They are going to go to a Bible college where they are safe, or to a seminary where they are safe.”  In one case, a young lady got pregnant at a Bible college, out of wedlock.  You are not safe at a Bible college, and you are not safe in a church.  You are safe in the will of God; and I’m safe in the will of God.  I think that was illustrated here.  Not only do I have to wait for God to show the way, but once He shows it, I need not fear anything.  I can step out knowing that the Lord is watching over me, and if it’s His pleasure to take me through heaven in that dangerous place, He has many ways to take us to heaven.  I really don’t care which one He chooses for me.

In Exodus 23:17, “Three times a year all your males shall appear before the Lord Your God.”  I don’t want you to misread the account in John 7:14, “When it was the midst of the feast, Jesus went up into the temple and began to teach.”  Some think that Jesus didn’t go to the feast until the fourth day.  It was an eight-day feast, and He went in the “midst”, and about the fourth day He went to the feast.  No; that’s when He made His public appearance, on the fourth day.  Listen to John 7:10, “When His brothers had gone up to the feast, He Himself also went up, not publicly but as it were, in secret.”  It was an act of obedience; He was commanded by God to go up.  So, in obedience to Exodus 23:17, He went up on the first day, but in obedience to His Father, He didn’t make Himself known until the fourth day, and that’s when He revealed Himself.

I want to focus more on verse 2, “The feast of the Jews, the feast of booths, was at hand.  This is a big deal to me, and so if you’ll be patient with me, I’ll tell you how I want to approach this.  I want to present it in terms of a principle of Bible study.  In other words, when you study the Bible, you ought to keep this in mind.  Let me quote a passage from Timothy that lays out the principle, and then I’ll try to develop it.  2 Timothy 3:16&17, “All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, reproof, correction, training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”  Let me state the principle in my own words.  The Bible is unqualifiedly enough to make the Christian adequate, equipped for anything God calls him to do.  I like the Kings James.  It says, “Throughly furnished for every good work,” through and through. 

I believe the Lord is calling us as Christians to be men and women of one book, men and women of the Bible.  The Bible is the written word, and it reveals our Lord Jesus, the Living Word.  There are other books outside the Bible which are helpful, and they give us the background, the culture, the traditions, the customs of the Jews in Bible times, and how they celebrated feasts, and so on.  Sometimes, if you are just reading the Bible, you don’t know exactly how they dressed and how they cooked and the traditions of their courtship and traditions of their marriage and how they celebrated feasts and holy days, and so on, and how they travel.  There are books that give you that, the background—how they farmed and how they shepherded and what was involved and adoption and how they reared their children, and many other ideas that these books give up, things that are not recorded in the Bible but are recorded in secular history. 

If the Bible is unqualifiedly enough, adequate and sufficient for every good work, then the question comes, “What place is there for those extra Biblical sources?  How do they fit in?”  I always go overboard.  My Lillian tries to keep me in check, and it doesn’t work.  I’ve already given books away and bought the same books and then threw them away and bought them again, and Lillian is constantly on me.  When this principle came to my mind, “Be a man of one book,” there was a bookcase that I had with all the background, all of the culture, and I threw all those books in the dump.  Since then, I’ve bought quite a few of those back again.  Because I was reacting to the abuse, there are some Christians who actually teach, “You can’t understand God’s word unless you have this background information.  You need to understand how the Jew thought and what was going on, and if you don’t have that, then you can’t even understand God’s word.” 

I will state the principle now.  My thinking has changed a little.  Here is what I now believe about these extra Biblical sources.  They can illustrate Bible truth, but they cannot interpret Bible truth.  Some things are helpful, and they’ll shed light on something, but do not use anything that is not in the Bible in order to interpret the Bible.  I want to give a couple of illustrations, three illustrations.  One I’ll develop and two I’ll just mention.

The first one comes from Matthew 19, and it’s a story of that young, rich wealthy man, and he wanted to know the way of life and salvation, and he was told to give up all his earthly treasures, give it to the poor and follow Jesus.  We read in Matthew 19:22, “When the young man heard the statement, he went away grieving, for he was one who owned much property. After that Jesus made this comment in verse 24, “Again I say to you, it’s easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”  The disciples were astonished when He said that, and they asked in verse 25, “When the disciples heard this, they were very astonished and said, ‘Who then can be saved?’” 

I’m going to leave the Bible story there, and I’m going to fill you in with extra Biblical material.  This is not in the Bible.  We read that there was a gate in the wall of Jerusalem which was called “The Needle’s Eye”, which was a low opening in the wall, and so low that a camel could not pass through it.  A camel would have to get down on its knees, and then they’d have to unload whatever the camel was carrying, all of the luggage, before the camel could go through, and then the people could go through.  They used this door, they say, after the main gate was closed, to keep contraband out of the city.  They say, “When Jesus said, ‘It’s easier for a camel to go through the needle’s eye, they are referring to that opening in the wall.”  I don’t know if there was an opening in the wall called the needle’s eye, and if there was, I read that it wasn’t there when Jesus walked on earth, and it came later.  I don’t know anything about that, but I know it’s an extra Biblical source trying to interpret, not illustrate, what Jesus meant.

Here is the real interpretation.  Matthew 19:26, “Looking at them, Jesus said to them, ‘With people, this is impossible; with God all things are possible.’”  The historical background of the needle’s eye made it difficult, it’s difficult to go through.  Jesus said, “It’s not difficult; it’s impossible.”  So, the light that it shed, you can’t interpret that way.  Praise God; they were saying, “For a rich man or anybody to get to heaven you are going to have to get down on your knees like a camel and then lay aside all the worldly riches and then finally you can crawl through.”  No, no, no.  Every time somebody gets saved, a camel passes through the eye of the needle, and it’s a sewing needle; it’s a needle that use to make the tents.  It’s not some hole in the wall; it’s a sewing needle.  That’s with one illustration. 

Let me give a couple of others; I won’t develop them.  The second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ is often illustrated by the background of their marriage ceremonies, and that’s because there are marriage parables tied into the second coming.  For example, in Matthew 21 there’s the marriage of the king’s son, and in Matthew 25 there’s the marriage of the ten virgins, and so on.  Great confusion is introduced when those passages are interpreted by how the Jews did their marriage.  You read about the preparation the groom had and preparation that the bride had, and the dowery that was given and who the groomsmen were, and how it was a surprise and the groom had to come sometime in the middle of the night, and the bride never knew when, and all of that is used to explain the coming of Christ.  Everything you need to know about the second coming of our Lord Jesus is in your Bible, is in my Bible.  These things do not interpret scripture.

One other illustration.  The celebration of the Passover feast, do you realize there are more details in the extra Biblical sources than there is in the Bible?  The Bible tells you some things, but it doesn’t tell you everything.  Many people interpret the Passover supper, and especially tied into the Eucharist, tied into the Lord’s Table, and they try to explain it.  How many times have we heard it and maybe we’ve experienced it, those who are familiar with the Jewish celebration of Passover are invited to come to Christian gatherings and explain to us the Lord’s Table and they bring in this extra Biblical background and they talk about the empty chair and how many cups were there and when the cups were poured and what time the lamb was brought in, and the Psalms that were sung and the different scriptures that were read, and they talk about the timing and how a perfect time when they brought the lamb in, Jesus aid, “This is My flesh, and this is My blood,” and so on.  Is that true?  Maybe.  Is it in the Bible?  No, it’s not in the Bible, and to try to explain the Lord’s Table in terms of tradition on how they do it, I just think is dangerous.  It could give light, and it might illustrate, but it cannot explain.

The reason I’m saying that is because we come to chapter 7, and this is the Feast of the Tabernacles.  How much of what we know about the Feast of the Tabernacles is from the Bible and how much is from extra sources?  That’s why I’m even bringing this up.  I’m not saying to throw out those source books.  I started gathering them again, but only to illustrate and not to interpret.  1 Corinthians 2:13, “Which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.”  We have the Bible, the whole balance of scripture, and by comparing scripture with scripture, being led by the Holy Spirit, we have everything, unqualifiedly enough to make us men and women of God and equipped for everything that God calls us to do.

All of that because we’re at this Feast of the Tabernacles.  How much of this feast is actually in the Bible?  Let me give you the Bible records, just the essentials and not the details.  Where in the Bible do we have a record of this feast?  The answer is five times in the Pentateuch, in other words, the first five books of the Bible, not in Genesis, but in Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.  The full mention, if you want the most information, is in Numbers 29 because that takes you to every day; on this day you offer this and on this day you offer this, and so on.  It’s not only mentioned five times in the Pentateuch, it’s also mentioned once in the prophets; in Zachariah 14, and I’ll go back to that later, verse 16-19.  If I’m going to study it in the Bible, I’ve got the Pentateuch five times, I’ve got that one prophesy, and is it mentioned at all in the New Testament?  The answer is yes, John 7.  That’s it; it’s not mentioned any other time in the New Testament.  If you read John 7, and you say, “What do I learn about the Feast of Tabernacles in John 7?”  You learn that there was an eighth day, and that’s all you are going to learn in this chapter.  Is that the complete Bible record?  The answer is no, because they celebrated four times, so now you can go back and see how did they celebrate it.  So, if you go to 1 Kings 8 you see that they celebrated it when they dedicated Solomon’s temple, and then you can look there and see how they celebrated it.  There is a fake celebration that Jeroboam set up fake, and he just had one day off and he’s trying to imitate and that’s in 1 Kings 12, but that doesn’t count. 

There’s also a celebration of this feast in Joshua’s day, but you aren’t going to see it if your read Joshua.  You aren’t going to see it for another thousand years.  We wouldn’t have even had known there was a feast in Joshua’s day until Nehemiah mentioned it and he said that “they never set up booths like this since the days of Joshua”.  So, Joshua won’t help.  Then they celebrate it twice in the restoration, once in Ezra and once in Nehemiah.  If you go to those, you’ll get some information, at the dedication of the temple, Joshua which we know nothing about and then the two times in the restoration. We don’t really care how many times it’s mentioned.  What exactly, one hundred percent certain does God tell us about the Feast of Booths?  We know God commanded it; God instituted it.  We know God calls it by three different names.  Sometimes it’s the Feast of Tabernacles and sometimes it’s the Feast of Booths and sometimes it’s the Feast of the Ingathering.  We know it lasted eight days, from the Bible, and we know the first day and the last day were to be treated exactly as Sabbath days, so it began with rest, and it ended with rest.  We know that God gave a three-fold purpose for this tabernacle.  Deuteronomy 16:13, “You shall celebrate the Feast of Booths seven days after you’ve gathered in from your threshing floor and you wine vat.  You shall rejoice in your feast; you and your son and your daughter and you male and female servants, the Levite, the stranger, the orphan, the widow who are in your town, seven days you shall celebrate a feast to the Lord your God in the place which the Lord chooses because the Lord your God will bless you in all of your produce and all of the works of your hands, so that you will be all together joyful.”  They celebrate it at the time of harvest in thanksgiving for the harvest.

Secondly, it’s not only thanksgiving, but it’s a remembrance.  Leviticus 23:42, “You shall live in booths for seven days.  All the native born in Israel shall live in booths, so that your generations shall know that I had the sons of Israel live in booths when I brought them out from the land of Egypt.  I am the Lord, your God.”  To remember the time they were in the wilderness living in booths, so they not only looked in the present, “Thank you for the harvest,” they looked back and remembered that at one time were delivered from Egypt and they had to live in booths.

There is also a forward look.  This is Zachariah 14:16, “It will come about that any that are left of the nations that went against Jerusalem will go up from year to year to worship the king, the Lord of Hosts, and to celebrate the Feast of Booths.”  If you read the context of that chapter, this is the millennium.  This is when Jesus is reigning on the earth and they’re going to celebrate again this great Feast of Tabernacles, and all the nations are required to come, not just the Jews, and those that don’t come have special curses put on them, and Zachariah spells that out.  So, it’s sort of like our bread breaking, our communion, our eucharist.  It has a present meaning because we take and it has a remembrance because we remember what Jesus did and it has a forward look because we do it until He comes again.  That’s what we know from the Bible; it was a joyous celebration and we know they lived in booths and we know that they praised God for harvest and we know from Numbers how many sacrifices they offered each day and what they were.  We know that.  We know, also, they had a Bible reading every day, but we don’t know the scriptures; it doesn’t tell us the scriptures.  That’s what we know from the Bible.

What do we know from tradition, from extra-Biblical sources?  I don’t want to snow you but we know a lot of stuff from the extra Biblical sources.  We learn about the ceremony of lights; they had lights all over Jerusalem, huge candles, candles to light that you would have to get on a ladder to light the candle, a tremendous ceremony of lights.  We learn about the daily trips to the Pool of Siloam where they would gather water out of the Pool of Siloam.  We learn about the golden pitchers that held water and which priest held the pitcher and which priest held the wine and how they would go and gather water and come back and then on the altar they would pour the water and pour the wine at the same time.  We learn about the parade of the white priests’ robes, and that they would go down to the Pool of Siloam every day, and especially on the last day.  We learn not only that they lived in booths, but we learn the size of the booths, the dimensions, what was forbidden and what was allowed and how many sides it had to have.  We learn about the branches that they waved but then in extra Biblical we learn which branches had to be held in their right hand and which had to be held in their left hand and when they had to wave those branches.  We learn about musical instruments; the feast was filled with musical instruments—harps and psalters and cymbals and trumpet and who blew the trumpets.  We learn what psalms they sang.  According to the extra Biblical sources, at the Feast of Tabernacles they did the Hillel, Psalm 113-118.  They quote Isaiah 12:2, “With joy we’ll draw water out of the wells of salvation.” 

Extra Biblical sources tell us when they poured out the water and what had to be poured on the east side and what had to poured on the west side, and how the eighth day was different than all the other days.  It tells us about the dancing that took place and which days they could dance on and when.  They tell us how the wicks were made to light the candles and how it came from the priests’ own garments, and they turned them into the wicks, so that the celebration of lights, the candles could light up all of Jerusalem.  On the eighth day they cast lots, and it tells us about why they cast lots and what that was all about.  There are also silver basins as well as golden basins, and when they were going to be used.  On the eighth day they all gathered and prayed for rain.  On the eighth day there was a series of benedictions that were given.  All of that comes from extra-Biblical sources.  None of that is in the Bible.  We learned that if it was raining, they didn’t have to stay in the booths.  That was the one exception that they could leave the booth.  We learn what food they had to eat inside the booth, and if they got outside, what they could eat and what they couldn’t eat, and on and on. 

You understand, I think, the point I’m trying make, that almost everything that we know about the Feast of Booths does not come from the Bible, and when you take that background and you try to interpret the Bible, and that’s what they’ve done.  The extra Biblical scholars have stolen John 7 and they’ve tried to interpret it in terms of some of that.  Did that happen?  I don’t know.  Maybe, I don’t know, but when Jesus stood up on the eighth day and He said, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink, and out of his belly will flow rivers of living water, don’t interpret that, “The white robed priest went with their golden vessel and drew water out of Siloam and came back and poured it on the altar, and at that time he said, ‘If anybody thirsts…’”  That does not teach the same thing.  There’s nothing about thirst in the pouring out.  We’re going to look at it in great detail, not this morning.  Lord willing, we’ll start that next week, but I just wanted to give you that sense, that Bible principle, that the Bible is all you need, and it’s all I need.  I’m not saying to throw away your other books.  You can use Josephus and use the Talmud and read all of these background books and sources.  Just don’t try to interpret God’s word using those extra Biblical sources.

We come to chapter 7.  How does the Feast of Tabernacles tie into what took place on that wonderful day?  The Feast of Booths, the Feast of Tabernacles, the Feast of the Ingathering is the backdrop of chapter 7; it’s not about the Feast of Booths.  It’s not about the Feast of Tabernacles.  It’s about Jesus and what took place and what did Jesus say, and how did they respond to it.  The Feast of Tabernacles is there, but it’s the occasion of our Lord Jesus and the revelation.

I think you all remember March 31 this year, Easter Sunday, and our president celebrated transgender day of visibility on Easter Sunday.  That was nothing about Easter.  In fact, that was the opposite of the message of Easter, but it happened on Easter.  That’s what I’m trying to say here.  This is not about the Feast of Tabernacles, but it happened at the Feast of Tabernacles.  So, we want to look at what happened.

There is a three-way conversation going on; our Lord Jesus and the religious Jews and the people, and it’s all going back and forth and they’re responding.  Let me give you a simple outline of the chapter, and it’s all about Jesus.  You know that everything is all about Jesus.  John 7:14, “When it was now the midst of the feast, Jesus went up to the temple and began to teach.”  Alright, so my heart says, “What did He teach?”  The next verses tell us what He taught.  John 7:28, “Then Jesus cried out in the temple.”  I want to know what did He cry out?  And the next verses tell us what He cried out.  In John 7:37, “Now, on the last day of the great feast Jesus stood and cried out.”  I want to know why He stood and what did He cry out.  To get a heart understanding of it, here is a simple little outline.  Chapter 7:14-27, what did He teach?  Chapter 7:28-36, what did He cry out the first time?  Chapter 7:37-53, what did He cry out the second time?

John 7:14, “It was now the midst of the feast, and Jesus went up into the temple and began to teach.”  Let me sort of set the scene.  This is not like in our culture.  I’m going to give you extra Biblical information.  He didn’t go up on some raised platform in the temple and stand behind a lectern or a pulpit and have a ton of notes like I have here and then begin to teach, and then all the people were sitting in pews in front of Him.  That’s not what it was.  He probably sat down on the ground in some outer court of the temple complex and people gathered around.  That’s how it was generally done, and He began to teach the people.  Verse 15, “The Jews were astonished saying, ‘How has this man become learned having never been educated?’”  Let me just identify the Jews.  They’re the ones that want to kill Jesus.  They aren’t friendly with the Lord Jesus.  When you read that verse by itself it looks like they are impressed, “Where did He get this wisdom?  Wow, this is brilliant; this guy is so smart.”  They are not impressed; they’re cunning, and they are talking to those sitting at his feet, the ones He’s teaching to.  I’ll put it in other words.  They’re saying, “Are you listening to Him?  He’s a deceiver; He’s a liar.  He was never educated.  He never went to our schools.  He has no degree.  Don’t listen to Jesus.”  That’s what they were saying, “He’s untrained; He’s untaught.  He never sat at the seat of Gamaliel.  He knows nothing.  Why do you listen to Him?” 

That’s what was going on here, and Jesus’ response is what He taught, in verse 16, “And Jesus answered them, and said, ‘My teaching is not mine, but His who sent Me.  If anyone is willing to do His will, he will know of the teaching, whether it’s of God or whether I speak from Myself.’”  Jesus is teaching that there is a knowledge that’s bigger than the schools; there’s a knowledge that comes from heaven.  There’s a knowledge where God teaches you, and that’s the highest authority.  Verse 17, “If anyone is willing to do His will, he will know of the teaching.”  King James says, “He will know of the doctrine.” 

When we think of the word “know”, if were to say, “Point to some place on your body that would know,” you would point to your head; that’s where you know stuff, in your brain, in your apperceptive mass, in your cranial cavity.  You learn stuff up here and you learn and you have empirical knowledge and you test it through observation and you experiment; knowledge is up here.  Jesus contradicted that, and He said, “If any man is willing to do His will, he will know,” not up here, “he’ll know.”  Knowledge is a matter of the will; it is not a matter of the mind.  Some people say, “I need more information; I’m thinking about it.  I’ve got to study more.”  No, no, no.  You’ve got to be willing to be willing to do God’s will.  He didn’t say, “If anyone does God’s will.”  He said, “If anyone is willing to do God’s will.”  That’s the want-to that we spoke about in a previous study.  This is the message He had, that there is a teaching from heaven, and that’s what Jesus had.  He said, “I’ve been taught by God, and I don’t need a formal education and I don’t need a seminary degree,” and I was going to say He doesn’t need to know Greek and Hebrew, but He probably did know Greek and Hebrew.  John 7:16, this is Wuest, and he gets to the heart of the Greek, “My teaching is not mine in origin, but belongs to the one who sent Me.  If anyone is desiring to be doing His will, he shall know experientially concerning the teaching whether it comes out of God as a source or if I’m speaking from Myself as a source.”  And then in the rest of that section He goes on to enlarge that same principle, you are taught of heaven, and then He goes to the Law and He says that there’s a spirit of the Law and there is a letter of the Law.  I’ll let you go and study that.

Let’s look at the second section, chapter 7:28, “Jesus cried out in the temple teaching, saying, ‘You both know Me and where I’m from and have not come of Myself, but He who sent Me is true whom you do not know.’”  Jesus is very bold, and He’s telling these Pharisees, “You don’t know the Lord.  I think you really do, but you don’t want to.  You know where I’m from but you don’t want to admit it, and you are rejecting Messiah.”  He was presenting Himself as Messiah, and they had been resisting.  Look at verse 32, “The Pharisees heard the crowd muttering about these things.  What the crowd was saying is, “Do you think this is the Messiah?  Do you think this is the Christ?”  And the chief priests and Pharisees sent officers to seize Him.  They had a group of policemen come to arrest Him.  John 7:33, “Therefore, Jesus said, ‘For a little while longer I’m with you, and then I will go to Him who sent Me and you’ll seek Me and you’ll not find Me, and where I am you cannot come.’  And the Jews then said to one another, ‘Where does this man intend to go that we’ll not find Him?  He’s not intending to go to the dispersion among the Greeks and teach the Greeks, is He?  What is His statement, that He said, “You’ll seek Me and not find Me, and where I am you cannot come?”’”  On the level of earth, they were going to arrest Him, and they were going to take Him and what they heard Jesus say was, “You aren’t going to be able to find Me.”  They were saying, “What are you talking about?  We’ll find You; we have police and we have people and we’ll know where you are.  Where are you going to go and where are you going to hide?”  That’s what they thought He meant.  That’s not what He meant.  What Jesus was saying is, “I am Messiah, and you are rejecting Him.  There’s going to be a day that I’m going back to My holy Father God, and you are going to start looking for a Messiah, and you’re not going to find Him because the true Messiah has gone to heaven.”  That’s where we are right now.  For two thousand years they’ve been looking for Messiah.  Amazing, and that’s what Jesus was teaching.  That’s what He cried out in the temple that day, and that’s what He was teaching.  “If you reject Me, you’ll look in vain for another Messiah.  There is no other Messiah and you’ve missed it.”

The most important revelation comes here at the end, and it’s in verse 37&38, “On the last day of the great day of feast Jesus stood and cried out and saying, ‘If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink.  He who believes in Me, as the scripture said, “From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.”’”  And since this is the heart of this chapter 7, I’ve got a lot more to share than we can do at the end of this study.

Let me make one observation about this, and just understand that we haven’t even touched this verse, this section, and we’ll pick it up next week.  The comment made when…  Usually when He taught, He was sitting, but this time He stood up.  Don’t forget that there are hundreds of thousands of people there.  He stood up, and when it says that He cried out, it’s a special Greek word, “the top of His lungs”.  Can you picture that?  The Lord Jesus standing up the last day of the feast, the greatest part of the celebration, and screaming at the top of His lungs, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink.” 

Let me give you this principle.  Remember when we were in chapter 4 and there was a thirsty Samaritan woman, and she came to trust in the Lord?  John 4:14, “Whoever drinks of the water I give him shall never thirst.  The water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to everlasting life.”  To that woman, He said, “If you trust Me, there will be a well inside of you, bubbling, satisfying, filling you.”  Now in John 7:38 we have an enlargement on that, “He who believes in Me, as the scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’”  It’s not singular; it’s not a river; it’s rivers of living water.  When one drinks of Christ, He puts a fountain inside the heart and it satisfies you, and as you’re satisfied, the fountain becomes rivers and goes out from you.  So, in chapter 4 it’s a fountain within, and in chapter 7 it’s rivers without; it’s missions, it’s the heart of the Lord, it’s redemption, and it’s flowing out.

One final truth and then I’ll close.  Verse 39, “This He spoke of the Spirit whom those who believed in Him were to receive.  The Spirit was not yet given because Jesus was not yet glorified.”  When He talks about a fountain within, and when He talks about rivers flowing without, He’s talking about a Person; “This He spoke of the Spirit.”  It’s the Spirit of God, it’s the life of God that is the fountain within that satisfies.  It’s the life of God that goes out to satisfy the thirst of the nations and the hungry out there.  The living water is not a saying.  It’s a Person; it’s the Lord Jesus in the Person of the Holy Spirit flowing out.  So, when Jesus says, “You’ll never thirst,” I know in my life that isn’t true because I still thirst.  But there’s a difference between thirsting for and thirsting from.  I never now thirst for rest; I have rest.  I thirst from rest.  I don’t thirst for satisfaction. I’m satisfied in Jesus; I thirst from satisfaction.  It’s a difference between hunger and appetite.  If I don’t eat, I’ll die; if I’m hungry I’ve got to eat, but I have an appetite for that chocolate cake, and because I’ve already tasted it, I want more.  So, I’m going to thirst, but it’s from a rest, from a victory, from a position and not for.  If you’ve found Christ, you need not seek anything else.  He is everything and all that you’ve ever needed and all that I’ve ever needed.

Heavenly Father, thank You for Your word, not what we think it might mean, but what You’ve inspired it to mean.  Even if I’ve missed everything, work in our hearts everything You’ve inspired it to mean.  We thank You in advance that You’re doing it, and You are going to continue to do it in an every rising tide of blessing.  We commit this word unto You and we ask You to cause it to be fruitful.  We pray in Jesus’ name.  Amen.