Meeting in regional locations around the world, families gather to picture the “world to come” (see Hebrews 2:5-7 Hebrews 2:5-7 5 For to the angels has he not put in subjection the world to come, whereof we speak.
6 But one in a certain place testified, saying, What is man, that you are mindful of him? or the son of man that you visit him?
7 You made him a little lower than the angels; you crowned him with glory and honor, and did set him over the works of your hands:
American King James Version×), 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 Isaiah 2:2-4 2 And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow to it.
3 And many people shall go and say, Come you, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
4 And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and 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 any more.
American King James Version×). 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 Zechariah 14:16And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles.
American King James Version×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 . )