At this time of year we come across many advertisements urging the consumer to take a winter vacation in a warmer clime. Enticements are presented to those of us in Canada to venture to California, Arizona or Florida for a few weeks reprieve from the ravages of winter.
When the potential traveler wonders about the costs involved, the real figures are often hidden by the use of the preposition "from." But then it doesn't really matter because the promoters encourage the traveling public to "go now and pay later." It is so easy. All we have to do is use a major credit card and then hope we can handle the 18 percent interest rate that we will be charged until the amount is finally paid off. As a result, a high price tag becomes ever higher!
How different is God's approach toward travel and associated costs as evidenced by His instructions related to the observance of the Feasts. Our loving Creator has given us the annual one-week-plus Feast as a vacation with Him. We experience over a week of educational and spiritual learning. We meet different people in various venues. We travel to different parts of the country and the world. The opportunity for broadening our horizons on many levels is vast.
But what about the finances? How do we pay for all this? The principle God employs is just the opposite from the one the world offers. It is not at all "go now, pay later." Instead it is "save now and go later." That makes far more sense to the discerning, fiscally responsible person. According to the directives given in the Bible, the believer is to save 10 percent of his or her income for the expenses to be incurred in observing the annual Holy Days. Deuteronomy 14:22-25 says: "You shall truly tithe all the increase of your grain that the field produces year by year...that you may learn to fear the LORD your God always. But if the journey is too long...exchange it for money, take the money in your hand, and go to the place which the LORD your God chooses."
In view of the excessive taxation in the modern world, the Council of Elders has written: "The Church believes that the appropriate definition of 'increase' is net income after income tax. Therefore, the Church teaches that the tithe may be calculated on net income after income tax has been deducted." Thousands of adherents of the Holy Days have followed God's savings plan for decades. The festival tithe is deposited in a separate account and is used exclusively to observe the seven festivals. Of course, the bulk of this expense occurs celebrating the Feast of Tabernacles.
The Church asks the festival attendee to donate 10 percent of their festival tithe amount in order for the costs of planning and conducting each Feast site to be met. We have customarily used the term "tithe of a tithe" for this amount.
Several months have transpired since the Feast of Tabernacles. How much festival tithe have you saved up so far? Have you chosen to diligently set aside 10 percent from each income source for future festival use? Probably you have. And if you have, you will be blessed accordingly. You will be able to meet all of your festival costs and you may even have something extra to help others. Often, many faithful festival tithe savers find that they accumulate more than they require for their own needs. They then kindly help those less fortunate than themselves. Such generosity is greatly admired and appreciated. Most of all, God notices and is pleased.
What if your income is limited and you are pretty sure you won't be able to save enough to observe the festivals? Should you bother saving anything at all? Absolutely! God's directive to us is that we should save 10 percent from our income sources no matter how great or how small. Each of us must do our part. The principle is "He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least, is unjust also in much" (Luke 16:10).
Through the years we have heard of inspiring accounts of people in dire circumstances who found ways to save up for the Feast of Tabernacles. They collected pop bottles, picked berries, delivered newspapers and did various odd jobs. All the money earned from these secondary sources were then deposited into their festival account. When the Feast arrived, these individuals had (with God's blessing) been able to save up a significant amount!
The Church wishes to help those in financial distress to attend the Holy Days. The principle the Church follows is to help people help themselves. Those who have clearly done their part are assisted as much as the budget will allow. Those who have not done their part cannot be helped because merit is a necessary and qualifying factor.
More than once I have been asked why it seems that some folks don't appear to save appropriately in order to keep the Feast. The question is usually framed as follows: "How is it that they have the funds to buy material goods and possessions that are even better than mine, but they don't seem to have the funds to set aside to keep the Feast?" That is a good question. It would seem that a lot of this has to do with priorities. We devote our financial resources to those things that are important to us. That is why God directs us to save a tithe for the functioning of the Church and an additional tithe so that we can observe the Feast. If He didn't actually direct humans to do that, humans would tend not to do so.
The spring Holy Days are less than three months away and the Feast is about eight months away. There is still time left to save for those wonderful occasions with God's saving plan. The intent of our Creator is that we can rejoice at His festivals and do so without going into debt. His design is that instead of "going now and paying later," we "save now and feast later." God's ways are superior and they really do work. How wonderful are the Holy Days and how wonderful is the financial plan to observe them! UN