Danger In Judea
After these things Jesus walked in Galilee; for He did not want to walk in Judea because the Jews sought to kill Him. 2 Now the Jews’ Feast of Tabernacles was at hand. (John 7:1-2, NKJV)
Although we are only in chapter 7 of John’s 21-chapter book, we are already to the last six months of Jesus’ earthly ministry. John has chosen to focus the majority of his gospel on these last six months.
7:1 There Was Danger In Judea
Remember when we learned about Samaria, that you could basically divide Israel into three parts; Galilee to the north, Samaria in the center, and Judea in the south.
The Jews were seeking to kill Jesus because in He was breaking their interpretation of the Sabbath Laws, and making Himself equal with God. So Jesus was staying out of Judea, He was concentrating on ministering around Galilee and even went into Samaria. But He stayed out of Judea because the Jews were seeking to kill Him.
It comes to mind that Jesus has instructed us in a perfect balance between the idea of life and death. Remember that He has taught us:
And I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. (Luke 12:4)
Jesus did not fear death, but He also did not pursue it. We are not to fear death, but neither are we to seek it. Remember the Apostle Paul’s dilemma:
So now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you. And being confident of this, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy of faith, (Philippians 1:20-25)
Paul certainly did not fear death, but he would not seek it either. When our time comes, let us greet death with open arms, knowing that we will be going to be with the Lord. But let us not put God to the test by placing ourselves in deadly circumstances and situations.
7:2 The Feast of Booths
We first learn about the Feast of Booths in the Leviticus 23. God commanded that there be a week-long observance beginning on the 15th day of the 7th month. This year, that equates to October 5th at sundown. He said:
And you shall take for yourselves on the first day the fruit of beautiful trees, branches of palm trees, the boughs of leafy trees, and willows of the brook; and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God for seven days. (Leviticus 23:40)
They were to make shelters, lean-to’s, covered with the branches they had collected. And He told them:
You shall dwell in booths for seven days. All who are native Israelites shall dwell in booths, that your generations may know that I made the children of Israel dwell in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God. (Leviticus 23:42-43)
So this was to be an annual reminder of God’s deliverance of the Israelites out of Egypt and into the wilderness when they lived in tents for 40 years.
This feast here called the feast of Booths, was also known as the Feast of Tabernacles, and the Feast of the Ingathering. It was one of three feasts that required the attendance of all able-bodied Jewish men. In Exodus 23, God commanded:
Three times in the year all your males shall appear before the Lord God. (Exodus 23:17)
So, although Jesus was trying to avoid that area, the command of God was that He go up to Jerusalem for the feast. Even though there was danger in Judea, He would appear at the feast.