We have the opportunity in this life to observe God’s Holy Days–to learn about, review, and rehearse key aspects of His plan. Larry Walker discusses 5 spiritual truths of God’s Holy Days to set our mind on and help us refocus.
9-20-08 Bend Holy Days Keep Us Focused
10-4-08 Roseburg, Medford
Introduction – In a little over a week, we will be entering another fall Festival season.
- How much are we looking forward to the fall Holy Days?
Why are God’s Holy Days so important?
What kind of problems and pressures have you been through the past year?
I ask this question because there is a connection between that and the previous question.
I am going to read some passages that will explain what I mean.
I’d like you to listen for the main point of these passages.
- The main point is the need to “watch” (stay focused)
“Watch” = major focus of end time instruction of Christ – meaning? “watch world news?”
- literal meaning = remain awake (Matthew 26:38-40 Matthew 26:38-40  Then said he to them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even to death: tarry you here, and watch with me.
 And he went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as you will.
 And he comes to the disciples, and finds them asleep, and said to Peter, What, could you not watch with me one hour?
American King James Version×)
- figurative meaning = be vigilant, alert (1 Peter 5:8 1 Peter 5:8Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walks about, seeking whom he may devour:
American King James Version×)
- or stay focused
- On what?
34-36 – “Watch & pray”
- Some will remain vigilant, many, including most of the world, will not.
- Why? Because they are so wrapped up in the pressures and problems of life.
- The grammatical form of both verbs, “take heed” & “watch” indicates not just a one-time event but an ongoing process.
1‑4) command to set affections on things above
- The form of the verb translated “set” also indicates not just a one-time event but an ongoing process of setting.
Colossians 3:2 Colossians 3:2 Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.
American King James Version×– “The things above be constantly seeking.… The things above be constantly setting your mind upon, not things on the earth” (The New Testament, an Expanded Translation by Kenneth Wuest).
- like setting clock that needs resetting
- We need to be constantly resetting our minds on the things above for the same reasons.
- Over time our spiritual mechanisms get out of adjustment.
- This is why we have 7 Holy Days every year – to help us constantly seek our focus.
- God mercifully foresaw the need for these ongoing opportunities to focus on His plan.
2 Corinthians 4:
3-4) Most of the world does not have this opportunity because of Satan’s deception.
- I will have more to say about this on the Day of Atonement.
6-18) The hope of eternal life in the family of God is the focal point of God’s plan that enables us to continue enduring all the hardships of physical life.
Vigilance and focus are two separate but related qualities we need in order to navigate the trials and tribulations of life and stay on course to eternal life.
- Vigilance = remaining alert to the dangers (like Texas coast residents prior to Hurricane Ike)
- Focus = looking to God and His promises to see us through the difficulties
SPS – Keeping God’s Holy Days help us remain vigilant and focused on the plan of God.
24) We are saved in/by/for hope.
18) How/why was Paul able to make this statement?
19-23) Because he was focused on the hope of the Firstfruits.
1 Corinthians 15:19 1 Corinthians 15:19If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.
American King James Version×– Our main hope is not in this life.
- Most people don't understand much about man's eternal destiny.
- The traditional Christian belief asserts that the righteous go to heaven when they die, because that's where God is, but otherwise the emphasis on Christ is largely focused on this life.
- Is there any connection between this problem and the fact that they don’t keep the Holy Days?
- Most of the holidays of traditional Christianity are a hodge-podge of customs that originated in paganism and were imported into the Christian religion.
- The Holy Days remind us of, focus & strengthen our hope (future destiny).
- QUOTE ‑ Feasts of Jehovah by John Ritchie p 9-10: “The Feasts of Jehovah all pointed onward to subjects of eternal interest … which in due time and order, were to take their places in that marvelous chain of events which, when completed, will show the infinite wisdom and love of God, in all His purpose of grace toward the sons of men. They are each ‘a shadow of things to come,’ of which Christ is the body (Colossians 2:17 Colossians 2:17 Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.
American King James Version×), foreshadowing … great events of the future, part of which have since been fulfilled, and part of which are yet to be.”
- The Holy Days establish time markers that keep us focused on God's plan provide annual review of historical stages of God's plan of salvation (ex. trail markers for walk/jog).
- Passover = forgiveness of sin via Christ our Passover sacrificed for us
- Days of UB = deliverance from/coming out of/putting out sin
- Pentecost = coming of the Holy Spirit, NT Church, spiritual firstfruits
- Trumpets = return of Christ at 7th trumpet
- Atonement = putting away Satan, world becoming at one with God
- Tabernacles = millennial rule of Jesus Christ in the Kingdom of God
- Last Great Day = second/general resurrection of all mankind
18-19) Hope = anchor for soul
- An anchor prevents drifting off course.
- Likewise, the Holy Days keep us on the path of God’s plan.
4‑5) “We have tasted of the good word of God and “the powers of the age to come.” How?
- Pentecost = taste of firstfruits of Holy Spirit, reminder of our calling.
- Why are we called first?
- We must rise above the values and focus of this world and be ever-mindful of the world to come, which we are destined to help bring about.
- FT offers a foretaste of that world
- The other 2 fall Holy days (Trumpets & Atonement) remind us of events that must take place before the “wonderful world tomorrow” can become a reality.
Isaiah 66:23 Isaiah 66:23And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, said the LORD.
American King James Version× ‑ Sabbath & new moons will be kept in WT by all nations.
- We will be some of the teachers to help these people learn the plan & laws of God.
NLT Isaiah 30:20 Isaiah 30:20And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity, and the water of affliction, yet shall not your teachers be removed into a corner any more, but your eyes shall see your teachers:
American King James Version× Though the Lord gave you adversity for food and suffering for drink, he will still be with you to teach you. You will see your teacher with your own eyes. 21 Your own ears will hear him. Right behind you a voice will say, "This is the way you should go," whether to the right or to the left.
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×– All nations will worship the LORD by keeping FT.
- Again, we will probably all be helping coordinate and conduct these Holy Day observances.
Not only do the Holy Days keep us focused, one of them offers us a break from the world.
- “You deserve a break today.”
- We may not deserve a break, but we sure do need one occasionally.
NET Leviticus 23:39 Leviticus 23:39Also in the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you have gathered in the fruit of the land, you shall keep a feast to the LORD seven days: on the first day shall be a sabbath, and on the eighth day shall be a sabbath.
American King James Version× ¶ "'On the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you gather in the produce of the land, you must celebrate a pilgrim festival of the LORD for seven days. On the first day is a complete rest and on the eighth day is complete rest. 40 On the first day you must take for yourselves branches from majestic trees– palm branches, branches of leafy trees, and willows of the brook– and you must rejoice before the LORD your God for seven days. 41 You must celebrate it as a pilgrim festival to the LORD for seven days in the year. This is a perpetual statute throughout your generations; you must celebrate it in the seventh month. 42 You must live in temporary shelters for seven days; every native citizen in Israel must live in temporary shelters, 43 so that your future generations may know that I made the Israelites live in temporary shelters when I brought them out from the land of Egypt. I am the LORD your God.'"
- It is possible to become virtually swallowed up by our environment to the extent that all we can see are the problems and pressures.
- This is illustrated by the parable of the sower.
- A change of environment can help us regain our focus.
- The Feast of Tabernacles allows us that blessing for 8 days a year.
- It is like being uprooted from the rocky soil and weeds and re-planted into rock-free, weed-free, fertile soil and being watered and fertilized daily for 8 days.
Conclusion – We have the opportunity in this life to observe God’s Holy Days to learn about, review and rehearse key aspects of His plan and to help us refocus and set our minds on these spiritual truths.
- as firstfruits of God's spiritual creation
- as pioneers, blazing a trail for all mankind to eventually follow
- as disciples of Christ, preparing to be teachers
- to help us remain vigilant and focused so we don’t miss out on the fulfillment of God’s plan that we are destined to be active participants in.
19-25) admonition to persevere and remain focused.
I will ask again the questions that I posed at the beginning of the sermon, and I trust that you will know why I asked them and what the answers are.
- What kind of problems and pressures have you been through the past year?
- Why are God’s Holy Days so important?
- How much are we looking forward to the fall Holy Days?
Acts 18:21 Acts 18:21But bade them farewell, saying, I must by all means keep this feast that comes in Jerusalem: but I will return again to you, if God will. And he sailed from Ephesus.
American King James Version× – This should be our motto and heart’s desire every festival season.
- Let’s be sure to prepare our minds and hearts to benefit fully from the Fall Festival season so that by keeping the Holy Days, we will remain vigilant and focused on God’s plan and actively preparing to fulfill our destiny in the family of God.