The series of autumnal biblical Jewish holidays is coming to an end…
Sukkot, one of the last holidays, celebrates the coming out from shelters and from the usual customs and pastimes, and going into unprotected places in the open air towards the Lord. There are seven days in these unprotected places where we are reminded of God’s protection through His word, "Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth" (Psalm 46:10). And with beautiful, steeped with deep meaning and tradition and with gladness, joy and thanksgiving to The One who provides true protection and cover for His own people, "You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance" (Psalm 32:7).
But, the Torah mentions an eight day, "For seven days present food offerings to the Lord, and on the eighth day, hold a sacred assembly, present a food offering to the Lord and for this special closing assembly, do no regular work" (Leviticus 23:36). This holiday is called Shemini Atzeret (translated from Hebrew meaning, “tarry for the eighth”). It is a unique holiday as there are no specific instructions on agricultural or historical events connected to it; it’s almost as if this holiday is about nothing. And actually, it is dedicated not to something, but rather to Someone. Shemini Atzeret is a quiet whisper of the Father who looks on over the children who are going home saying, "Stay longer, tarry, My dear, precious children, My people. You have already spent three weeks away from your homes and usual course of life. You have spent it in Jerusalem, celebrating according to My Word. You have ministered to Me bringing numerous sacrifices and gifts with thanksgiving to Me. All of you have made it and you can already go home. But now I don't demand, but I ask: stay with Me for one more day even if it breaks your plans. I want you to rely on Me and I will take care of your houses. Spend some more time with Me. Every moment with you is dear to My heart".
Shemini Atzeret is a special address from God to each child, "Stay with Me longer than you planned…” Our Father wants to be with us longer. His dream is to be with us always, all the time, for the eternity…
Shemini Atzeret is a holiday of pure, unconditional, comprehensive love from God to us as well as our responsive and unconditional love to Him. He wants us to get to know Him as Love, "God is love" (1 John 4:16). All the rest comes from the loving heart.
Shemini Atzeret is a new format of communication with God: 25 hours a day, 8 days a week, the additional sacrifice, God's miracle… Shemini Atzeret is a call from the Father's heart of God, an appeal from the Lord Yeshua and the quiet breathing of the Holy Spirit. Shemini Atzeret is a prototype of future life in Him and for His sake, but not for the sake of what He can give.
According to tradition, the prayer about the down pouring of rain is read in the synagogues on this day at the morning services, "… open for us a treasury of Your benefits that it has sated with water the thirsty soul, so it has written, "The Lord will open the heavens, the storehouse of his bounty, to send rain on your land in season and to bless all the work of your hands…" (Deuteronomy 28:12). As the harvest and blessing of the people depends on whether or not the Lord brings rain to the land of Israel on time, in this same way, our lives depend upon the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on us.