The Feast of Tabernacles is no doubt a high-water moment for us every year. It’s often associated with traveling to new and exciting places and being surrounded with hundreds or thousands of brothers and sisters in Christ. But what if we are unable to go to any of these far away places due to health, financial problems or some other reason? What do we do then? The answer is simple: We keep the Feast!
God wants you to enjoy this Feast. Your part is to go enjoy it!
We believe that the Feast of Tabernacles is to be kept in a literal sense. We are given an outline of how to keep it in Deuteronomy 14:23 Deuteronomy 14:23And you shall eat before the LORD your God, in the place which he shall choose to place his name there, the tithe of your corn, of your wine, and of your oil, and the firstborn of your herds and of your flocks; that you may learn to fear the LORD your God always.
American King James Version×: “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” (New King James Version).
How can we keep the Feast?
This was the command given to an agricultural society that raised crops and animals for its means of living. Some families were very successful, and a tithe (or tenth) of their income (grain and livestock) would have presented a huge logistical problem if they were to take it from the family farm to the place He had chosen for the Feast. Knowing this, God made a provision, “But if the journey is too long for you, so that you are not able to carry the tithe, or if the place where the LORD your God chooses to put His name is too far from you, when the Lord your God has blessed you, then you shall exchange it for money, take the money in your hand, and go to the place which the Lord your God chooses” (Deuteronomy 14:24-25 Deuteronomy 14:24-25 24 And if the way be too long for you, so that you are not able to carry it; or if the place be too far from you, which the LORD your God shall choose to set his name there, when the LORD your God has blessed you:
25 Then shall you turn it into money, and bind up the money in your hand, and shall go to the place which the LORD your God shall choose:
American King James Version×).
If we stopped right there, it would be easy to be discouraged and think, “Yeah, but I’m still disappointing God because I’m not going to the place He chooses … ” But notice that the command isn’t just about us packing a suitcase and going somewhere. It’s about what we do when we are there. The next verse reads, “And you shall spend that money for whatever your heart desires: for oxen or sheep, for wine or similar drink, for whatever your heart desires; you shall eat there before the Lord your God, and you shall rejoice, you and your household” (Deuteronomy 14:26 Deuteronomy 14:26And you shall bestow that money for whatever your soul lusts after, for oxen, or for sheep, or for wine, or for strong drink, or for whatever your soul desires: and you shall eat there before the LORD your God, and you shall rejoice, you, and your household,
American King James Version×). God’s intent wasn’t only for us to physically go someplace, it was for us to rejoice! He wants us to enjoy this time, no matter where our physical bodies might be.
What God expects from you
God, in his wisdom and mercy made a provision for people to be able to keep the Feast using money instead of actual livestock. But that is the just the means by which we do something more important: celebrate the Feast! That is what God was most interested in. He gives us the plan for how to do it (tithing), but His main point of emphasis is the keeping of the Feast itself. If life has left us unable to go anywhere for the Feast this year, know this: God still wants you to enjoy this special time of year!
The book of Deuteronomy goes on to mention thinking of others who had no means to keep the Feast: “And the Levite, because he has no portion nor inheritance with you, and the stranger and the fatherless and the widow who are within your gates, may come and eat and be satisfied, that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hand which you do” (Deuteronomy 14:29 Deuteronomy 14:29And the Levite, (because he has no part nor inheritance with you,) and the stranger, and the fatherless, and the widow, which are within your gates, shall come, and shall eat and be satisfied; that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hand which you do.
American King James Version×). Levites, as part of the priesthood, did not receive land when they entered the promised land. They were expected to dedicate their life to serving God at the temple. Since they had little to no crops or livestock to tithe on, God created a means, a third tithe (Deuteronomy 14:28 Deuteronomy 14:28At the end of three years you shall bring forth all the tithe of your increase the same year, and shall lay it up within your gates:
American King James Version×) to provide for them as well as the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow. In short, the people who, for reasons beyond their control, had no tithe to keep the Feast with. In the modern-day application of this scripture, you might find yourself in that group. God thought about you, and made a way for you keep His command!
Enjoy His Feast!
Keeping the Feast isn’t meant to be a heavy handed command that burdens us. God set up several provisions for His people to be able to keep and enjoy His Feasts. From the actual setting aside of livestock in ancient Israel, to the selling of that for money, to the special tithe set aside for those who had no income, God had a purpose in mind: He wants you to enjoy this Feast. Your part is to go enjoy it!
We have an awesome God who wants the best for you. One of His names is Yhwh-Jireh , “God who provides.” Even if you are “stuck at home” during the Feast this year, God has still provided this time for your enjoyment! You can be a partaker of that joy in all sorts of small ways. If you are able to get out at all, a nice meal with friends is a perfect way to enjoy the Feast. Perhaps a nice glass of wine and a special dish of cheese and pastries at home is an option for you. Even if you are unable to go out all, now is a great time to take comfort in knowing we have a God who cares. He cares enough to give a command in His laws to help take care of people who find themselves at home during the Feast. That is a sign of a Being who truly cares, and reason to celebrate and enjoy this Feast of Tabernacles!