Nearly 2,000 years ago this October, our Savior Jesus Christ set us an example of power and courage. Despite living in a world that rejected Him, He openly celebrated a timeless Festival that is established forever. What is this joyous event and what does it mean for you?
If one reads about an event in the Bible that all nations would one day be required by God to observe, wouldn't it make sense to find out more about it now? Here's a sometimes overlooked biblical fact: The Bible tells us in Zechariah 14:16 that everyone in the coming Kingdom of God will observe the biblical Festival of Tabernacles and worship Jesus Christ there as King.
And no surprise, as Jesus Himself observed this Festival while living on the earth nearly 2,000 years ago (John 7:2-52).
So what exactly is this Festival of Tabernacles?
The biblical Festival (or Feast) of Tabernacles occurs in the fall (as reckoned in the northern hemisphere), and serves as the capstone of the seven annual Holy Days revealed by God (Leviticus 23:24). As the seventh chapter of John eloquently and powerfully confirms, Jesus observed this Festival Himself, setting an example for His 21st century disciples.
Jesus declared that His Church—people who actually followed His commands and example—would never cease to exist (Matthew 16:18). That declaration continues to be fulfilled today, as a "little flock" (Luke 12:32)—multiple thousands of Christians—are gathering this fall. They are assembling to observe the same biblical festival that Jesus kept in a very high profile way just a few months before His crucifixion.
Why Keep the Festival in the 21st Century?
As these Christians observe the Festival of Tabernacles today, you may wonder why this ancient event is relevant in a digital age. When the Holy Days were first openly revealed to humanity, the Israelites would take palm and tree fronds to build temporary dwellings (Leviticus 23:30). In Hebrew, the Festival of Tabernacles is literally called "the Festival of Booths" (Sukkot in Hebrew).
Today, in the spirit of those temporary dwellings, Christians observe the Festival outside of their regular homes, travelling to cities and meeting places around the globe. There they celebrate the fact that our fragile lives are but temporary, and that we look to a new life of eternal service beginning in the coming Kingdom of God!
This joyous Kingdom of God, which Jesus and the apostles referred to more than 100 times in the New Testament, will be a time of great peace and prosperity. What is your priority as a Christian in your day-to-day affairs? Your Savior and future King declares to you and me: "Seek first the Kingdom of God" (Matthew 6:33, emphasis added).
So if this Festival of Tabernacles pictures the coming Kingdom of God, when Jesus Christ will have returned to this earth to rule as King of Kings and Lord of Lords (Revelation 19:15-16), what about the other six Holy Days of God?
A personal prophecy for you
The entire seven Holy Days of God represent nothing short of God's amazing and wonderful plan for all of humanity! The incredible truth? These biblical Holy Days represent a personal prophecy for you, your family, your friends—literally all who have ever lived or who will live. (This is all explained in detail in our free Bible study aid God's Holy Day Plan: The Promise of Hope for all Mankind.).
The first three—the Passover, the Days of Unleavened Bread and Pentecost—have collectively opened the door to salvation and spiritual understanding for Christians today. The four remaining Holy Days –the Festival of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, the Festival of Tabernacles and the celebration of the Eighth Day (also known to some as the Last Great Day) —represent an intense and happy vision for us. They picture a time of profound "gladness and joy" when God will directly intervene globally in human affairs, "and sorrow and sighing shall flee away" (Isaiah 35:10). They represent a time of great globe-encircling peace!
No wonder Jesus was unafraid to openly keep the Festival of Tabernacles some 2,000 years ago, despite open death threats. No wonder He assertively made breathtaking declarations (John 8:58) and performed stunning miracles (John 9:1-11). If you truly understand God's plan for you, then you too can say with confidence: "The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?" (Hebrews 13:6).
As you read this, thousands of members of the United Church of God are keeping this Festival in many locations around the world. There may be one near you. If you'd like to see what this celebration of the coming Kingdom of God is like, you are welcome to see for yourself. Jesus set an example for all of us in 30 A.D., pointing us to the final victory of God pictured in the joyous Festival of Tabernacles.