At the close of Tabernacles, another joyful celebration begins. It is called Simchat Torah, and it means “rejoicing in the Torah.” A wonderful expression during this time is that someone takes the Torah scrolls and dances with them through the congregation. They say that they are dancing with the Torah and the Torah is dancing in them. It is an expression of faith in the prophecies that the Word will be made flesh in their hearts and live in them (Jeremiah 31:33; Ezekiel 11:19; John 1:14).
On Simchat Torah, the annual reading of the Torah is concluded and begins anew. The Jewish people end the reading of the Law at the same time they begin reading the Law. This is not by accident. They do it to rehearse what God has said, to get back to the place of believing who He is and what He told them and what He will do for them.
Remember that the children of Israel learned a difficult lesson after living in the wilderness for forty years. Their time spent in the wilderness was punishment for their disobedience in refusing to take the land as God had commanded (Numbers 14:27–33). They had to wait forty years for an entire generation to die off and a new generation to be taught.
This new generation then stood before the land ready to go in. At that point, Moses exhorted them.
“All the commandments that I am commanding you today you shall be careful to do, that you may live and multiply, and go in and possess the land which the LORD swore to give to your forefathers. You shall remember all the way which the LORD your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.” (Deuteronomy 8:1–2)[i]
Before they went into the land, the Lord spoke to this new generation, “Are you going to make the same mistake the previous generation made that cost them forty years? Or have you learned your lesson? And if you have learned your lesson, will you be able to keep that lesson alive for yourself and for your children?” (see Deuteronomy 6:20–25). This is why they rehearse the Word continually, knowing that they do not live by bread alone, but by every word from God (Deuteronomy 8:3).
I love the fact that in Judaism they recognize, “We have to read this word over and over and over. And every time we do, we will see things we have never seen before. We will get more out of the word. It will open up for us in a new way.” That is the attitude of Simchat Torah. And that should be our attitude as Christians. Read Deuteronomy 6:4–9, which begins with the Shema: “Hear, O Israel!”
“Faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17). The words of God should be continually on our hearts. We should be teaching them diligently to our sons and daughters. We should be talking about them when we sit in our house and when we walk by the way, when we have fellowship together.
We should come away from the celebration of Sukkot refreshed in the memory that God is all-powerful, that He is able to give us what He has promised. It does not matter how big the giants are that are sitting on our promises; God will clear them away if we believe in Him. And He will allow us by His divine power to possess the things that He has promised.
Let the Word of God come alive in us during this wonderful eighth-day celebration of Simchat Torah as we close the celebration of Tabernacles. Let us have a real anticipation that God will move on our behalf, and that He will fulfill His covenant with Israel.
[i] All Scripture references are from the New American Standard Bible 1995 (NASB1995).