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A National Campout

Today's Devotional

Read: Leviticus 23:33-43 | Bible in a Year: Job 22-24; Acts 11

Rejoice before the Lord your God for seven days. Leviticus 23:40

We camped under the stars, with nothing between us and the infinite West African sky. No need for a tent in the dry season. But the fire was crucial. “Never let the fire go out,” Dad said, prodding the logs with a stick. Fire kept wildlife at a distance. God’s creatures are wonderful, but you never want a leopard or a snake meandering through your campsite.

Dad was a missionary to Ghana’s Upper Region, and he had a knack for turning everything into a teaching moment. Camping was no exception.  

God used campouts as a teaching point for His people too. Once a year, for an entire week, the Israelites were to live in shelters made of “branches from luxuriant trees—from palms, willows and other leafy trees” (Leviticus 23:40). The purpose was twofold. God told them, “All native-born Israelites are to live in such shelters so your descendants will know that I had the Israelites live in temporary shelters when I brought them out of Egypt” (vv. 42-43). But the event was also to be festive. “Rejoice before the Lord your God for seven days” (v. 40).  

Camping may not be your idea of fun, but God instituted a one-week campout for the Israelites as a joyful way to recall His goodness. We easily forget the meaning at the heart of our holidays. Our festivals can be joyous reminders of the character of our loving God. He created fun too.

What’s your favorite holiday and why? How does celebrating it remind you of God’s goodness?

Father, thank You for the fun You’ve put in Your creation and in Your festivals.


The celebration of the Festival of Tabernacles (Leviticus 23:33-43) may seem odd to modern readers. But to the Israelites, building a shelter out in the open with only leaves and palm fronds for a roof was an expression of trust in the very God whom the festival celebrates. It’s an explicit admission that God is a sufficient cover for His people.

In Zechariah 14, after a series of promises that God would deal harshly with the nations that oppose Him and His people, He says that proof of their changed loyalties would be whether they celebrate the Festival of Tabernacles (vv. 16-19). By celebrating with Israel, they’ll show that God is enough of a roof for them too.

By |2024-07-02T02:33:07-04:00July 2nd, 2024|
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