The highlight of each year for members of the United Church of God is the biblical Feast of Tabernacles. Among the sacred feasts God revealed to ancient Israel, this festival lasts seven days and is immediately followed by a separate but related festival on the eighth day (Leviticus 23:34, Leviticus 23:36, Leviticus 23:39). This eight-day period remains an occasion for God's people to come together for spiritual instruction and renewal.
Meeting in regional locations around the world, families gather to picture the "world to come" (see Hebrews 2:5-7), which will begin immediately after the return of Christ to earth. The theme of the Feast of Tabernacles is Jesus' millennial reign. Members of the Church gather annually to keep this commanded festival as a foretaste of that time spoken of by the prophet Isaiah:
"Now it shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow to it. Many people shall come and say, 'Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, and we shall walk in His paths.' For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
"He shall judge between the nations, and rebuke many people; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore" (Isaiah 2:2-4). This eternal vision becomes a tangible reality in the minds of our members during this annual event.
Indeed, the biblical prophecies of a time when nations shall beat their swords into plowshares and cease to learn of war form an important part of Jesus' gospel—His good news—of God's coming Kingdom.
As Zechariah 14:16 tells us, upon Christ's return, "Everyone who is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem [in a devastating end-time war] shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles."
Since this festival is commanded in the Scriptures, and will be observed by all nations in Christ's Kingdom, it would seem woefully inconsistent for us to not keep it now as we look forward to that wonderful time.
The eight days of meetings are a time for worship services, special Bible studies and seminars, family activities and encouraging fellowship for young and old. Experience has proven this observance to be a major key to the Church's unity and focus on its mission. As members come together around the world at the same time to hear messages aimed at the positive hope of God's coming Kingdom, their vision is renewed and refocused on the goal of that Kingdom.
United Church of God members celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles in some 40 locations around the world. More than just an annual convention or vacation, the Feast of Tabernacles helps our members focus on God's great plan and the wonderfully positive news of Christ's return to establish His rule on earth. It keenly refreshes our awareness of why the coming Kingdom of God is so needed by today's world and reminds us why sharing that message must always be the collective priority of the United Church of God.
(To learn more about the Feast of Tabernacles and God's other festivals, read the Bible study aid booklet God's Holy Day Plan: The Promise of Hope for All Mankind . )