Perhaps you noticed the full moon this past Saturday evening? That full moon reminds us the fall Holy Days are upon us. At the next full moon, God’s people around the world will be gathered before Him, in the place He has chosen, celebrating the Feast of Tabernacles, which focuses us on the millennial reign of Christ and our roles in that Kingdom.
God has a purpose in mind for all of us, and all of us have a part in His Kingdom and in His work today. “The whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love” (Ephesians 4:16 Ephesians 4:16From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplies, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, makes increase of the body to the edifying of itself in love.
American King James Version×, emphasis added).
God is preparing each of us, and there are things we can contribute to help the body grow.
Before I go further in discussing the Feast of Tabernacles, let me ask every pastor and elder to please ask the brethren, if they haven’t already, to take the survey that will only be available through next weekend. As we examine the efforts of the Church, both in the areas of congregational care and service, and our efforts to proclaim the good news of the coming Kingdom of God to the world, we request their input. Everyone who attends with us is welcome and encouraged to please take the survey, regardless of their age or where they live. We would just ask, if you live outside the United States, that you let us know from which country you are responding. The survey is available at this link: surveymonkey.com/r/UCGSurvey2022
We need honest, sincere input from our brethren. This is one simple way all of us can serve in the Church.
As I write this it is Sept. 15. The Feast of Trumpets is just 11 days away, to be held on the first day of the seventh month by God’s calendar, which coincides with Monday, Sept. 26, by man’s calendar. The Day of Atonement follows on Wednesday, Oct. 5.
Those are holy convocations of God—appointed times where we assemble before God.
The Feast of Tabernacles begins at sunset as the 15th day of the seventh month begins. That time in man’s calendar is at sunset on Sunday, Oct. 9. At most United States Feast sites and others around the world, there is an opening night service that is scheduled as the Feast begins. God’s people should be at this holy convocation for their site as the Feast commences.
The Feast of Tabernacles continues for seven days and is immediately followed by the Last Great Day, or Eighth Day, which is a Holy Day and holy convocation. The entire 24-hour period is to be kept holy.
As you make final physical preparations for the Feast, please consider God’s command (not suggestion) is for His people to gather before Him at the place He chooses, for the entire eight-day period, from sunset as the 15th of the seventh month begins to sunset that marks the end of the Eighth Day.
As a refresher and reminder, let’s also consider the spiritual preparation for the Feast days, as well. God established these times before the world was created for His people. He placed the moon and sun in the sky so that we would know when to assemble before Him.
These days are important to God, and we show our commitment, obedience, yieldedness and dedication to God by doing His will, putting our desires or will aside.
So, let’s talk about the observance of the Feast of Tabernacles, specifically, and the spiritual significance of each aspect of its proper observance:
1. Go to the Feast.
The proper observance of the Feast requires us (if we are physically able to do so) to go to the Feast. As we remember what the Feast represents, the saints will be part of God’s family in His Kingdom, which is not part of this world. To observe the Feast, we leave our physical homes behind, spiritually symbolizing our acknowledgment that we “desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them” (Hebrews 11:16 Hebrews 11:16But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: why God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he has prepared for them a city.
American King James Version×). Show your commitment to God to leave this world behind and go to the “place” He has put His name—the place He has prepared for us.
2. Leave our homes behind.
When Christ returns and His Kingdom is established, the world (society, age) we now live in will have passed away. Leaving our homes to observe the Feast reminds us that we are to come out of this world. We symbolize our willingness and commitment to seek the Kingdom by leaving our homes behind and remaining at the Feast, surrounded by God’s people, immersed in His word and way, knowing He is there among all of us. It’s a joyful time, a time to rejoice as we look forward to the time that the rigors, stress, pain and evil of this world will have gone away, replaced by the righteous way of life that will be taught and lived in the Kingdom every day.
3. Dwell in temporary dwellings.
When we leave our homes and dwell in temporary dwellings (however nice or meager they may be) we are spiritually reminded that in whatever area we now live, our dwelling places are only temporary. Christ will return and our dwelling place will be with Him—our permanent home. We are also reminded that our physical bodies are only temporary. They last for a while and we die. We treasure the time we have in these physical bodies to learn God’s way and to build the character that He requires for those who will receive permanent, spirit bodies upon the return of Christ. When we are in the millennial reign of Christ we will no longer be in these physical, temporary bodies, but the permanent, eternal bodies God has prepared for those who follow Him and love Him with all their hearts, minds and souls.
4. Stay for all eight days of the Feast period.
Some have decided, on their own, that it is enough to go to the Feast on the first and eighth days when there are holy convocations. That is not so. That is not “enough.” When we go to the Feast it pictures our lives in the Kingdom of God. The society and age we live in will be gone. None of us, I hope, think of God’s Kingdom as a place to which we go, but if we long for the old life, we can go back to it. The ancient Israelites, when God brought them out of Egypt, longed to go back. God was not pleased and He is not pleased if we symbolically show Him by our actions and attitudes that we are not committed to His Kingdom, the reign of Christ, and to live His way “forever and ever.” When we make decisions, bear in mind that we are showing God our attitudes toward the future He has in mind for all of us.
5. Be with God’s people.
There are services every day at the Feast as we “go up to the mountain of the LORD” and seek His teaching. Be there every day if you are physically able and are not ill. There are Feast activities scheduled as well. Make the Feast activities your priority. Every Feast site has nice attractions, but God did not appoint this Feast as a vacation or time to revel in the world’s attractions, but a time for His people to be together, in one place and one accord, growing together into who He wants us to become. Embrace the Feast. Take the time and make the time to put God and the Feast first.
I could go on for several more paragraphs, but I hope you see the significance and importance of looking at the Feast as a foretaste of the coming Kingdom of God.
Self-examination is always appropriate. Let’s take the time to review our plans and ensure that we are doing God’s will by spiritually preparing for the Feast days, and determining to observe them as God would have us do.