Some 2,000 years ago, Jesus Christ observed an ancient Hebrew festival called the Festival of Tabernacles, which was recorded for future generations in the New Testament book of John. Beginning at sunset on October 8, multiple thousands of 21st century Christians and families of the United Church of God will follow this example of Jesus at more than 40 Festival sites around the world (including the United States and Canada), beginning eight days of celebrating a future time of unprecedented peace and prosperity – the coming biblically prophesied Kingdom of God.
Following the example of the 1st century Christian Church as recorded in history, about 13,000 members and families of the United Church of God will observe the annual biblical Festival of Tabernacles, which will take place at more than 40 Festival sites across the world. Beginning at sunset on October 8, the eight-day Christian Festival, which includes more than 14 sites in the United States and Canada, runs October 9 through 16.
Festival sites for worship are organized through North and South America, Africa, Canada, the Caribbean, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, the Philippines and elsewhere. All of like and peaceful mind are welcome to join in Festival worship services.
As the Church teaches from the Bible, the annual Festival prophetically reflects a biblically defined time of unprecedented peace and prosperity, representing the establishment of the Kingdom of God here on earth and the coming reign of Jesus Christ. The United Church of God is a Christian fellowship which follows the example of Jesus Christ (as recorded in the 7th and 8th chapters of the book of John) and the practice of the early Church in observing these important festivals. Numerous biblical and historical accounts record the commitment of 1st century Christians to observe these days, which ultimately were gradually eclipsed by ancient Hellenist (Greek) and other influences. The Church restores the observance of these festivals to come into spiritual alignment with ancient biblical principles, as opposed to human tradition.
“As part of the United Church of God’s commitment to restore and follow the example of the first-century Church, we keep these days, even though they are essentially nontraditional in today’s age and not largely observed by other religious organizations,” explained Victor Kubik, president of the United Church of God. “As authoritatively emphasized in the Old Testament, the Bible teaches that all nations will observe this festival once the Kingdom has truly come,” he continued, referencing chapter 14 in the book of Zechariah.
These three seasons, the Passover and Days of Unleavened Bread, the festival of Pentecost and the fall festival season, were all observed by Jesus and the first-century Church. The latter season is capped by the eight-day Festival of Tabernacles season. The three general biblical seasons are originally outlined in the book of Leviticus in chapter 23.
Mr. Kubik pointed out that from a biblical perspective, the Festival of Tabernacles pictures the coming time when Jesus will return to earth and directly rule the world for 1,000 years. “As the Feast of Tabernacles represents a coming time of unprecedented harmony and peace, we conduct this annual eight-day event with a strong family focus,” Mr. Kubik explained. Accordingly, members and families take part in daily church services and a whole range of positive family-based activities throughout the Festival.
Church services conducted during the Festival typically focus on the coming Kingdom of God which Jesus taught about extensively during His earthly ministry. The annual festivals observed earlier in the year by the Church represent the Christian’s redemption from sin through Christ’s sacrifice, the commitment of Christians to put sin out of their lives and the coming of God’s Holy Spirit to strongly empower a Christian to live life in harmony with God’s law and prepare for eternal life.
Originating from the Florida festival site, Mr. Kubik will deliver a church-wide message by Webcast on Saturday, October 11. Details for the Webcast and other presentations are available at feast.ucg.org.
“The emphasis placed by Christ on the coming Kingdom of God is important, and Church members accordingly take the opportunity to observe this Festival very seriously,” explained Mr. Kubik. School-age children attend the Festival with their parents, and the Church provides tutoring and academic support at many sites to help students stay abreast of coursework while attending the Festival.
Cities in the United States hosting the festival include Bend, Oregon; Bigfork, Montana; Branson, Missouri; Cincinnati, Ohio; Jekyll Island, Georgia; Lihue, Hawaii; New Braunfels, Texas; Ocean City, Maryland; Oceanside, California; Panama City Beach, Florida; Phoenix, Arizona; Pigeon Forge, Tennessee; Steamboat Springs, Colorado; and Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin. Sites in Canada include Canmore, Alberta; Midland, Ontario; Kelowna, British Columbia; and Prince Edward Island. Thirty-seven other cities hosting the Feast of Tabernacles are in Australia, the Caribbean, Latin America, Europe, the British Isles, Africa, Asia and the Pacific.
More information about the Festival is available in the downloadable Church publications: God’s Holy Day Plan: The Promise of Hope for All Mankind, This is the United Church of God, and The Gospel of the Kingdom.