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A Time for Two Vital Lessons

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A Time for Two Vital Lessons

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Recently a fellow believer shared an experience from her school days when she wrote a tribute to a local citizen. The distinguished individual was described as being a "God-fearing person." However, a religious classmate greatly decried this description, claiming that God should only be loved and certainly not feared. This religious friend is not the only one who labors under this unfortunate misunderstanding.

Jesus Christ Himself clearly taught appropriate fear is absolutely necessary for His followers to inculcate. In Matthew 10:28 we are told, "And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell."

Furthermore, as described in Hebrews 5: 7, our Savior is He "who, in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, and was heard because of His godly fear."

It won't be long before all of us will be observing the Feast of Tabernacles. Some of us will be attending the nearest Festival site, others will be transferring to a site of our choice and yet others will be keeping the Feast at home out of necessity. In all circumstances the scriptural objective for observing the Feast of Tabernacles remains twofold. Each of us will be keeping the same Feast in different locations, but we'll be doing it for the same two vital reasons prescribed by the Word of God.

Learning to Fear God

The first objective for the Feast of Tabernacles is identified for us in Deuteronomy 14:23: "And you shall eat before the Lord your God, in the place where He chooses to make His name abide, the tithe of your grain and your new wine and your oil, of the firstborn of your herds and your flocks, that you may learn to fear the Lord your God always."

Fearing God doesn't come naturally. It has to be acquired. According to the scripture above, it has to be carefully and faithfully "learned." Furthermore, this vital and healthy fear must be reacquired or reviewed each year so as to be certain that it lasts a lifetime, that is, "always."

What does it mean to "fear God"? One of the best definitions I have heard is "to take God seriously." How many people take God all that seriously in our day and age? In 2 Timothy 3:5 Paul describes the end time as a time when there would be a proclivity for "having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!" On the other hand, Psalm 111:10 admonishes, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." We observe the Feast of Tabernacles each year to be reminded of these essential lessons.

Commanded to Rejoice!

The second fundamental objective of the Feast is found in Deuteronomy 12:7: "And there you shall eat before the Lord your God, and you shall rejoice in all to which you have put your hand, you and your households, in which the Lord your God has blessed you."

What a marvelous objective! What a wonderful command!

Just in case there was any misunderstanding, our Creator added additional emphasis in Deuteronomy 16:15: "Seven days you shall keep a sacred feast to the Lord your God in the place which the Lord chooses, because the Lord your God will bless you in all your produce and in all the work of your hands, so that you surely rejoice."

How remarkable it is to be commanded to be happy for an entire week and to express and share that happiness with others!

Some may think that these two Feast objectives are incompatible, that they clash, that they really don't meld that well together. How can a person fear on one hand and then rejoice on the other? Aren't these two actions and emotions contradictory? Not at all! The fear of God directs us to the attitudes and behaviors that produce genuine happiness and thus allow us to experience genuine joy that has no hidden or delayed headaches and repercussions.

The book of Philippians gives repeated instructions to the Christian to maintain a positive mind-set of rejoicing. When you have a moment, take a concordance and proceed through this short epistle and look up every passage that uses the word "rejoice" or "rejoiced." A remarkable theme emerges. Remember that these admonitions, although inspired by God, were being issued by an incarcerated man with limited freedoms to his fellow believers who are "on the outside"!

Wherever you observe the Feast of Tabernacles this year, be sure you undergo a life-altering experience with a firm grasp of the Feast's twofold objective: "learn to fear the Lord your God always" and "you shall rejoice in all to which you have put your hand." For more than a week we will be blessed to concentrate on God's plan, His truth and His way of life with minimal distractions from the world so that we come away renewed and refreshed.UN