As we celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles we shouldn't lose sight of the importance of it, and what our focus should be on which is Christ.
Feast of Tabernacles, Oct. 1, 2012. Victor Kubik
Welcome to the Feast of Tabernacles. I have not seen such a big crowd in a long, long time. It's very wonderful to be here. My wife and I are keeping the Feast of Tabernacles here in the Wisconsin Dells. It's the first time we've been in this country for the Feast in 21 years and the last time was at the Wisconsin Dells in 1991. It had been the place where we have keep a number of Feast of Tabernacles over the years, having served in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area.
One reason why we are here is because our son and daughter in law had twin boys just the day after the Feast of Trumpets and we wanted to be closer to them. They are not able to be here at the Feast but they are at home listening. In fact my son just texted me moments ago and said, "Dad, please, we're watching the webcast. Please keep us awake and the babies asleep." So we'll see how we can handle that.
I have thoroughly appreciated with great emotion the music and the glory and grandeur that God has provided Wisconsin Dells over the years- the music , the orchestra, and the tremendous work that has been done by the music directors. I particularly enjoyed that piece about Kiev. I'm not sure if that was planned or not, but that was appreciated.
I have a lot of happy memories that go back to the Feast- all the way back to 1972 when the first Feast was held here in the Wisconsin Dells. How many were here for that first year? Oh! Quite a few people! So you do remember that? You do remember some of the excitement of the first year when we had 14,400 people for the Feast of Tabernacles and the memories of the bridge that was one lane across the river.
I still remember the ministers all staying at Devil's Head lodge, which was an interesting name for a place for the ministers to stay. Some of it was prophetic, but anyway... Interestingly enough that the colors were purple and gold... always was kind of eerie about the Devil's Head Lodge, but it had a back way to the Feast site there at the building which I'd like to go back and see . I guess it's pretty run down. But that's not what life is about- that's not what's important.
What's important is what God's spirit is doing and what God's spirit is doing with His people. I was a new elder in Minneapolis at the time when the Feast site was being built and we had a number of work parties that came from Minneapolis to do various jobs but the most notable job was riveting. We needed riveters. We needed Rosie the Riveter to go out to the Wisconsin Dells and to put rivets in the building. I still remember that our Spokesman's club and various people that would go here. The job for the Minneapolis churches was parking. We typically had more than a hundred people just from churches in that area that helped out with parking in that area.
At that time I'm not sure if we had lines or not, but we sure had a lot of people in the parking lots handling the thousands of cars. It truly was an amazing experience to see all the people -everything from those days. I have memories of the phenomenal music under the direction of Peter Oaks, Charles Halyer, you might remember these names- John Barbush- it's so good to see him and the music that is done here. I really don't like to bring up names because I miss somebody and then people will say, "Well, why didn't you mention somebody's name?" Those are the names that strike me most. We'll be going through various memorabilia particularly with historic video that Galan Morrison has made. I'm looking forward to that.
The joy of the Fall colors is something that is a remarkable experience at the Wisconsin Dells- the golds and the red colors- certainly bring back a lot of happy memories of what the Feast was for us. This is the second largest Feast in the world for the United Church of God. We have 865 people who are registered. And I'm not sure exactly how many actually will come but typically more people show up. Of that number, 67 are teenagers and 126 are children- so 200 of the attendance here is children. Be nice to them. Make this a memorable experience for them. Include them and make them feel like it's part of what they should be doing as well. They belong here. They are the household that is to come here for the Feast. 697 are adults.
We have 11 Feast sites in the United States and also we have 6 what are called satellite sites for people who just aren't able to go to the larger Feast sites. We have those in Montana, Texas, Cincinnati, Phoenix, Tampa, Florida and Tucson. And those sites typically about a hundred each. And often they listen to a number of the sermons by video and we try to get some ministers also to come there and speak as they can. I'd like to welcome also those who are viewing and listening on the webcast.
I was deeply impacted by Brian Shaw's sermon last night about restoring relationships. It really struck me deeply. I'm a very relational person. That's good and bad sometimes because I feel deeply about people but I also get hurt very easily when things don't go right or when relationships are torn. And while we are rejoicing at everyone who is here, and truly it's been wonderful to throw my arms around people that I hadn't seen in years and even hardly recognized because they've gotten looking so much younger than they had before. But it's been a lifetime - a goal, it's just kind of eerie, but wonderful as well to see people that we have known around the country- those from Minnesota and those from other places. But also I feel a profound sadness for those who are not with us.
As I thought about the sermon that Brian was giving, and I had tears in my eyes as he was speaking about developing relationships that are lasting. Between us and God, and of course that's translated to relationship among ourselves, about the importance of holding ourselves together, of being courteous, of being understanding of what Jesus Christ said, "I pray, Father, that they be one as we are one." We've not done so well at that.
Last night I posted a picture of the choir and the band and I believe it was Ralph Redline who was leading songs. I posted it on Facebook actually during the opening message and I had a number of people comment about it- a number who had been at the Dells who have been long gone from the church. And one young lady who was a teenager in Minneapolis who wrote back who has not been a part of the church for years- she was just so happy to see that picture and said, "Are you still meeting at the old place?" I had to explain to her no, it's a slightly different place. But it's interesting that people are still very interested in what is kept here.
Today is the first day of the Feast of Tabernacles. And typically it's the responsibility of the speaker to speak about the meaning of the day, which I will- talk about what this day is about, what it pictures, what it means to us, how we apply it... and we can walk out of here being perhaps a little more understanding of what God is doing with us and the importance of being here- why you are here. It's always stated oftentimes, "Why are we here?" And that's a question that we need to ask and be able to walk out of here and be able to talk about even this evening.
The seven day Feast of Tabernacles which begins with this annual holy day pictures the 1,000 year reign of Jesus Christ what we call the Millenium- after he returns to the Earth- He returns on the Feast of Trumpets... the beginning of the Millenium is on this day. This fulfills a prayer that we should be asking every day- Thy Kingdom come, after we honor our Father in Heaven with thanksgiving and praise.
The next bullet point in the model prayer is Thy Kingdom come. We pray for that Kingdom, we pray for it to come for it to rule over this entire Earth. After this day is fulfilled the prayer will be slightly changed- Our Father which art in Heaven, thy Kingdom HAS come. And we will be thankful for that Kingdom which will begin to fill all in all and those missing areas of the universe that lack the Kingdom of God that need restoration that was spoken of yesterday- will be filled in.
And during the thousand year period, the Kingdom of God will come and they'll be no place in the universe that will be devoid of the Kingdom of God. Leviticus 23:34-35 Leviticus 23:34-35  Speak to the children of Israel, saying, The fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the feast of tabernacles for seven days to the LORD.
 On the first day shall be an holy convocation: you shall do no servile work therein.
American King James Version×, we need to turn there. This is our authority for the keeping of these days where they are listed in order. Lev. 23... verse 34.... I just want to say one word about scriptures. So many of us old timers that have been around for 30 or 40 years, perhaps some of us old time ministers- we oftentimes say, "We don't need to turn there," or, "You know this scripture." Well, you know something, there are a lot of people who don't know those scriptures that are even among us. There are young people who don't understand even some of the very basics that I believe that we need to go back to and have a high view of the scriptures and read them and have the same authority be applied to them as was always done and not say, "Well, let's not turn there- We know those scriptures." I don't know all the things that we do know or don't know, but it's good to review them.
Verse 33 of Lev.23, "Then the Lord spoke to Moses saying- Speak to the children of Israel saying, the fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the Feast Of Tabernacles for seven days to the Lord. On the first day will be a holy convocation... which is it, right here. It's a high day, it's a holy day, it's a day which has the same gravity and rules as the Sabbath does.... "You shall do no customary work in it. For seven days you shall offer an offering made by fire unto the Lord. On the eighth day you shall have a holy convocation unto the Lord- it is a sacred assembly."
Talking about the Last Great Day. So this is our authority for keeping these days. In Deut. 14 and verse 22 an authoritative statement is made about the observance of this day and who is included. Now at one time, the Feast of Tabernacles was the largest single convention that was held in the world, of course in different locations. But we had 140-150 thousand people who were keeping the Feast of Tabernacles under the name of one church. Deut. 14 in verse 22.... this is how the Feast is financed..."You shall truly tithe all the increase of your grain that the field produces year by year. 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, and the firstborn of your herds and flocks that you may learn to fear the Lord your God always."
Have a good time, but also take this as an opportunity to learn to respect deeply what God is trying to tell us about yourself, about your life. "If the journey is too far for you that you're not able to carry the tithe, or if the place where the Lord your God choose to put his name is too far from you when the Lord your God has blessed you".... and this seems to be instructions that perhaps there will be several places and that this are instructions in the future..."Then you shall exchange it for money taking the money in hand and go to the place where the Lord your God chooses. And you shall spend that money for whatever your heart desires- for oxen, for sheep, for wine and similar drink- for good food, or whatever your heart desires. You shall eat there before the Lord your God. And you shall rejoice- you and your household."
This is not a convocation or convention for church leaders. It is not only for heads of households, even though in at one place it talks about your males shall appear. That's the ones that absolutely must be there, but it's also stated here that your whole household shall be there- your children- they are included. They are very very important for the Feast. The impressions that are left upon them will be lifetime impressions. You and your household.
I did an article one time about childhood memories and interviewed Ambassador College students. And I was just astounded as to the response I got from the interviews. I talked about their church experiences and what they remembered most vividly about their growing up in the church. Almost to one everyone said it was the Feast of Tabernacles- it was the drive to the Feast. It was a time when Dad and Mom spent time with the kids when life wasn't just all over the place. But Mom and Dad took time, they did things with kids, they went to church and those memories remain forever.
And there are many people who have gone to the Feasts, the 150,000 where are they? Well, they're out there somewhere. One thing for sure, they will have happy memories about the Feast of Tabernacles. They're maybe not ready to resurrect them yet, but I would say that the impact of the Feast of Tabernacles has been great upon our people and something is maybe a tool for resurrecting the spirit of God that may have been there at one time.
One thing to note about the Feast is that we are not keeping a Jewish Feast. Now when we oftentimes bring up the fact that we need to take time off on a day that coincides with the Feast of Trumpets or the Day of Atonement you know, or in the Spring when we keep Passover... "Oh, you're Jewish- you're keeping Jewish days." We are not keeping Jewish days. Christ is our Passover. Christ is the center of the holy days and festivals. We don't keep Rosh Hashana, we don't keep Yom Kippor and we don't keep the Passover in the way that the Jews do. The meanings are actually quite distant in what they observe in their meaning and what we do.
There's one commentary that I read that I was referred to the Feast of Tabernacles as an "obscure harvest festival." Come on! This is not an obscure harvest festival where we're rejoicing at a good corn crop. It has a lot deeper meaning and that's what we'll be talking about today. As you know, I have been working with other groups overseas, particularly in the Ukraine who are Sabbath keepers. There are 10,000 Sabbath keepers in Ukraine, Romania and Moldova. Of course we don't work with all of them. We work with a few congregations of people we have gotten to know after the collapse of the Soviet Union. And after these people could openly practice their faith, we've made contact with each other and I went over in 1992, actually a year after the Soviet Union imploded. I was astounded as to all the similarities we have. We have similarities about what we understand and what happens at death, the nature of God, the nature of the Holy Spirit, the non use of the cross, the non-keeping of the Roman holidays and why we don't keep the Roman holidays meaning Christmas and Easter and those days. We had so much in common.
One thing we did not have in common, though, was the holy days. And there are many Sabbath keeping groups that have the Sabbath and have many things about clean and unclean means and so forth that go right down the line with what we believe, but they don't keep the holy days. And my first sermon in 1992 was why we keep the holy days. I was met with dead silence by their leaders. Of course over the years we've talked about the holy days and why they are important to us, why we keep them and observe them. But I found their being just very resistant, sometimes they would give an inkling about why they don't keep them. They said, "You know something, Brother Victor, they call me, he said, "When some of our people tried to keep the holy days, the first thing they started doing would be to grow beards, wear black, grow their sideburns out, and, God forbid, be circumcised. All of a sudden they would go into Judaism and that's not where we want to go. We are Christians. We want Christ to be our leader. We want Him to be our Savior. We don't want him to be relegated to being a carpenter. That's the way they put it to me several times. And no matter how I would explain it or how I talk about it, it fell on deaf ears. They'd nod politely, but they would not accept the holy days. We even had some of them come to keep the Feast with us in Germany.
But in 2006, and actually we published and translated the booklet- "God's Holy Days- God's Festivals- God's Holy Day Plan" into Russian and sent a number of booklets over. We actually had a number of booklets that we sent over, "God's Sabbath Day" which was like preaching to the choir you know.. they were very observed. In fact the Wisconsin Dells is a great place to preach to the choir, you know... love it here- preach to the band, to the choir... all this kind of thing. But to preach the Sabbaterians about keeping the Sabbath, yea yea, we know that. They were ok with it- not only ok with it, but they were much much stricter than we are in observing the Sabbath.
Then they asked, as far as keeping the Sabbath, they wondered about the why we don't, you know, we kind of enjoined them in conversation about keeping these days. Well, in 2006, I went over there right after Pentecost. It was the Sabbath right after our Sunday Pentecost and basically I gave my same Pentecost sermon in the Ukraine. I spoke about the fact that the New Testament Christian church was founded on Pentecost, that Christ was the center of Pentecost, the holy spirit was given- it came from Christ who promised it just before he died to all mankind. It was spilled out onto all mankind and poured upon all flesh in Peter's sermon. And I said that the New Testament church was founded NOT on a weekly Sabbath! It was founded on the day of Pentecost which could never fall on the weekly Sabbath. It was founded on a holy day. And it's one day that is actually very freely mentioned in the New Testament.
The pastor with whom I've had a dialog for 14 years said, "Brother, Victor, You know.. I've gotten something now after all these years that I haven't understood before, about the centrality of Christ. If Christ can be in Passover and the way you described Christ's being in Pentecost, could he not be in any other of those days? This truth began to dawn upon them that the days that we keep are CHRISTIAN. These are the Feasts of the Lord. These are not obscure Jewish harvest festivals, or even the way that the Jews kept them which was something that was given to the Jews but later amplified and built on through Jesus Christ who observed these days. They said, "We hadn't understood this before and this pastor then began, with his church, to keep the holy days.
Now the days were not accepted well at all at first. The next door neighbor church which was 5 miles away which I also spoke to, met this with REAL resistance at this point, even to the point that if you kept these days, you would be disfellowshipped. I talked to the pastor about this but he said he finally came on the next trip that I was over and he said, "I'll take the gamelio position- if this is of God, it will succeed. If not, it will fail." I was really impressed by his particular position and he basically took the disfellowship restriction off.
And the pastor in the main city became the New Testament, as to the holy day keeping church, and people from all over the area began to come there for the holy days. So if you wanted to keep the holy days you came to town for the holy day observing church. But now more and more of the people are keeping the holy days. And one of their leaders came to Estonia for the Feast last year and they are so anxious to start keeping the Feasts the way we do. I'm so glad that our people set such a fine example in Estonia for them to people who are so much more conservative.
But what important principle that I'm getting to that came upon them is that these days are Christian days, that Jesus Christ is IN these days. The Feast of Trumpets is a day when Christ returns. The Day of Atonement is a day when the world is coming at one with God in preparation for the Kingdom of God and Satan is put away. The Feast of Tabernacles is not an obscure harvest festival. The Feast of Tabernacles is the rule of Jesus Christ for a thousand years on this Earth and the coming of His Kingdom that is fulfilling Daniel, Revelation and all the Old Testament prophets who spoke about the coming Kingdom of God. It is the fulfillment of the prayer we have, Thy kingdom come.
I believe that one of the most important truths that God has given us, and of course any truth is, of course very valuable. Some people get excited about this doctrine or that practice and say this is so important, but in my mind, understanding what the Kingdom of God is, is a distinctive of the church of God, of the United Church of God, is to me the greatest of all truths because it is something that is hidden from the world, big time. If you were to ask people on the street what the Kingdom of God is, it's Heaven, it's a church, it's a feeling...
Believe me what we believe about the Kingdom of God is far greater and much more substantive and something which really makes us continue and go. It has kept Christians for centuries looking forward and being excited that no matter what happened in their lives, they have the Kingdom of God to look forward to. It was not some disappointing church. It wasn't some feeling that came and went, but something that they could look forward to and expect and have come to this world.
The holy days, the Feasts and these Feasts explain the biggest questions or answer the biggest questions about the human experience. I'd like to talk about man's global experience and man's journey- of where he's come from and where he's going. I'd like to build upon what was said yesterday by Brian Shaw and even by Peter McNair earlier in the sermonette. Because the end of this journey is what this day is all about.
I'd like to turn again to Acts. 3, in verse 19. When I went to Ambassador College, the number of teachers that I had that spoke of this passage always referred to it with the greatest of respect and power and called it the pivotal scripture in the New Testament because it refers to what this day is about. Acts 3:19 Acts 3:19Repent you therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.
American King James Version× In a number of places when some new initiative is brought out, whether it be the Kingdom of God, whether it be the establishment of a church, the first thing that is mentioned is repent. You can't come as you are. You can come as you are, but you have to change. That's fundamental. That was brought out to us so well yesterday.
But, verse 19, "But repent therefore and be converted." This is one of Peter's messages shortly after Pentecost. We don't know exactly how many days, could have been the same week, hard to say. "Repent and be converted that your sins may be blotted out, so that the times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord." Times of refreshing. "That he may send Jesus Christ who was preached to you before."
Believe me, we want Jesus Christ to come back. Jesus had already ascended to Heaven at this time and you know, they didn't know whether He was coming in their time or not. But he said that the times of refreshing are coming and that Jesus will return. He promised that He would come. "Whom Heaven must receive" which was what happened just a few weeks before that when Christ ascended into Heaven.
But that will only last "until the times of restoration- restoration of all things which God has spoken by the mouth of all of His holy prophets since the world began." These are inspired words from God- the restoration of all things and the things that have been spoken by all the prophets- that's what's been spoken of by Zephaniah, Zechariah, Hosea, Joel, Daniel, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel- all of them. All of these things are going to be restored. Well, what is going to be restored? Well, this world that we live in really is pathetic as far as what it really understands about these biggest of questions. It really shows the number Satan has done in blinding the minds of people. It also brings to my attention how hard it is to really find these things unless you have your mind opened by God as I've seen peoples' minds being opened when they come to conversion or when the Sabbaterians begin after 14 years, to begin to understand these things.
Minds are clouded from understanding these things. Is. 11:9 It was prophesized that knowledge would be in short supply. Interestingly enough, we live in the age of information as it's called. Now we have sooo much information at our fingertips, just before us. I've actually given away a lot of my old commentaries. I gave away Clark's Commentary, 6 volumes. I don't go to it anymore. I stand up and I go to the bookshelf and get the wrong volume. I go up again and get the right one. Now I have it for FREE online. I get all these things I get integrated with a word document. I can integrate it with Biblical text.
There's so much knowledge before us. We're just loaded with knowledge but as it says here in Is. chapter 9, Is. chapter 11, verse 9, "They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain. For the Earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea." What this verse suggests is that the world is not full of the knowledge of the Lord right now. It's not. The world is very very short on the knowledge of the Lord, dealing with what man is, dealing with who you are, what your purpose is and where you're going. "As the waters cover the sea." In Hosea chapter 4, verse 5, "Therefore you shall stumble in the day. The prophet also shall stumble with you in the night. And I will destroy your mother. My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. And because you have rejected knowledge, I will reject you from being priest for me because you have forgotten the law of your God."
The people in this world are destroyed because of the lack of knowledge of God. Some of it they're not responsible for, but it really puts a little bit of pressure on the prophets who also stumble, prophets meaning clergy, who have not taught these things and should have been the front line to explain the way of the God and they have become part of the obstruction of those things that are important. One of our earliest booklets, one of the first booklets that the United Church of God produced, was "What is Your Destiny?" We had an edition that came out in 1996 and we had an edition that came out in 2004, later updated in 2008. Basically it's a re-write of the booklet, "Why Were You Born?" Actually I wish we could change that title to "Why Were You Born?"I think Why Were You Born" is very compelling, very personal and arouses the curiosity and it says.. Well, what is the purpose of my being here? Actually it was under the name "Why Were You Born?" our most popular booklet.
Over the years the two top booklets were, you might be surprised "Why Were you Born?" and "The Seven Laws of Success." But with the Sabbaterians when I gave them the booklet, "Why Were You Born?" which was earlier translated into Russian when we had a Russian department, and in 1992 when I visited them for the first time, they had no literature, zero. All they had were Bibles and a ministry that would be generally considered to be poorly trained except for the fact that they understood the truths that we have, but as far as formal training there was very little. And when I gave them about six or seven booklets that were translated back in the late 50's and 60's at Ambassador College they said, "Why Were You Born? That's it! Whoever wrote that booklet really had the mind of God! He understood something that was put in words like we have never understood before. This is evangelism!" they said, because it showed what man's destiny is and where he is going. It asks questions that many of you who have raised your hands of being in the church 20, 30, 40 years that led to your search, that led to your conversion, that led to your firmness in staying with the truth-keeps you here. You've understood things that have been hidden from the rest of the world and why were you born. What is your destiny and why do you exist?
We take these things very very personally because I want to know why I am here. What is the purpose of my existence? Am I alone? Am I nothing? Or does God have a special interest in me? Is He watching out for me? Is He particularly interested in what I am doing in my life? And indications are in the Bible that yes there is... not only in the global sense but also in the very very personal sense. I'll just read you the first paragraphs of this booklet, "What is Your Destiny?" These questions have baffled the greatest thinkers and philosophers down through the ages. People who are a whole lot smarter than any of us. We ponder the meaning of life. A child naturally wonders, "Where did I come from?" As adults we ask especially in our twilight years, "Is this physical life all there is? Does my life have a purpose?" Think about your own existence.
Can you see the purpose for your own life with its ups and downs-its mixtures of joys and sorrows which believe me, all of us have had. Do you perceive lasting value in its toil, challenges, and uncertainties? Why were you born? That's the question of the ages! In our first edition it explains all this and I'll read the last paragraph. Except that in the very first edition we included the 7 holy days at the end of the booklet, but then when we had the holy day booklet we basically removed that since we had a separate booklet for that. The booklet concludes- never underestimate the value of your life. You were born to become one of God's divine children. You were born to receive His very nature and character and eventually eternal life on its level of existence. You were born to become a glorified immortal member of the God family- to live and reign with the Father and Christ in joy without ending- to shine as the stars forever and ever.
You know I read this booklet for the first time in probably a dozen years. As I was working on this sermon, as I was preparing my subject I read this booklet and I was amazed. I read it again for the first time, so to speak. The truths here are eternal, important- they're exciting and they're relevant to you. And if there is any outside reading for this sermon, it's to re-read "What is Your Destiny?" Read this booklet again. To live and reign with the Father and Christ in joy without ending- to shine as the stars forever and ever. This is your incredible destiny. May God grant you a heart willing to surrender your life to Him so that you may receive His incomparable gift. That is what God wants to do for us in our life.
One reason why we get bogged down and don't really go very far is because we get tied down with the perspective of our life here on earth and we don't really see the big picture and we don't think of the big picture often enough. How many of you have seen the Google program, "Google Earth?" Can I see a show of hands? Ok, you know what I'm talking about, most of you. I like Google Earth. I can see the whole world and I can zoom into where we live. I can see our house. I see the 4 cubic yards of mulch that my wife has ordered that she wants me to move that has been sitting for months and months on our front driveway. I see the beginnings of her garden, of course it was taken in the Springtime. Then I zoom over to somebody else's home. A minister told me that he had just bought a home and he had moved. So I zoom over to his place and I say, "Oh you have a pool back there. You live on a corner." Then I take a street level view and kind of drive by his house. It's just amazing you know with all the things that you can do on the internet. I have it as an app on my cell phone as well. It's truly amazing. But then what I like to do also is to zoom out and to zoom out from New York you know and zoom over to Cincinnati and to zoom over up to Chicago and zoom up to Minnesota and all over the place and see my brothers' homes and just go to different places.
But what also I like to see is to see a big picture of both oceans and I like to see the whole picture of our land and where people are spread out. I love maps. My mother used to love maps. She used to study maps forever. I love maps. And Google Earth is just a really neat app which I really enjoy looking at. I like to see the whole country. I also like to go overseas. Google Earth has amazingly has acceptable maps of places in Africa and Ukraine- not as high of a resolution, but I go take a look at the towns where the Sabbaterians live and I can see where one of our leader lives and I can go down to his house and spot his house. It's just so exciting. Then I zip back, all the way back to the United States. I get a big global view and a global picture of this planet and life on it.
And also as life itself be so much focused on just where we live which is so small and so tiny as you bore down, you go down and zoom in closer and closer to where you're at and you see just your cul du sac or your town and you don't really see the town next door. I feel as far as life is concerned, we're like in Google Earth except we're at ground level, at street level. We have so many of the things that are the cares of this life that keep us from seeing this big picture and this big view.
Interesting too - at one time when David says, "I behold all the stars of Heaven," what did David really know and see? He had no telescopes and probably he felt like there were you know, 3,000, 5,000, 10,000 stars. The telescope was discovered that there were many more stars. And until the 30's the Milky Way was discovered and it was felt in 1930's that the Milky Way was the universe. Until Hubble in Los Angeles that the telescope on Mt. Wilson found other little fuzzy spots and found out that they were not stars but they were entire galaxies and clusters of galaxies. They discovered that there were billions of galaxies like the universe. Man's perspective completely changed as to how big the universe was. We've figured out now that the universe is maybe 15 billion light years across or to the end of it, doesn't make any difference.
Did you know that in the news last year that 600 septillion stars hadn't been accounted for? 600 septillion stars- it didn't change the stock market or anything that day but 600 septillion stars were found. Well it just shows how great God's perspective is. The point I'm getting to is this- What kind of a big view do we have of God's plan- of what God is doing? One thing with the Sabbaterians that I told them was this is that there are two things that will help you to understand life- about the holy days. First of all Christ is the center of all the holy days. And number two - The holy days picture an entire process and plan from very very personal to very big. From Passover which is a deeply personal forgiveness and relationship with Jesus Christ that we undergo every year as we keep the Passover.
So the entire process of where God is making salvation open for ALL mankind- that's a BIG perspective. And you know when you talk about it in those terms, when you talk about it in terms of just the scope and perspective of the vastness of God's plan and His love and how it's coordinated - how it has meaning from the very tiny little mustard seed to the universe and to what God is granting us. It begins to make sense. It begins to send chills down your spine. It begins to have some meaning as we zoom out on Google Earth and just see the whole plan and see the whole picture.
Now two things have kept people motivated and together over the years as Christians. Number 1- That they have been able to see Christ in the middle of everything that's in the Bible- from Genesis one to His being the Creator and to the very end-that He's always been part of that and He's been part of the holy days. The second thing is prophesy in that the future has been foretold as to how things will work out and how things will end up and that gives people hope. Let's go to Genesis 2 . We zoom in here from one end of the Bible and we see a revelation from God.
Now the Bible itself is just truly an amazing book. It's truly an amazing book that God left with mankind. The Bible has been translated into over three and a half thousand languages. It has been translated into braille, digital, audio, video in various formats and even in Morse Code- those who are ham radio operators- there's actually a version of the Bible in Morse Code. The Bible is available more easily than any other book in this world. Ten million Bibles are sold in the US every year. If we had an author who could sell 10 million books a year he would be an absolute astounding success and yet 10 million Bibles are routinely sold- not read, but sold, or at least available in motel rooms or whatever.
I was amazed- on Kindle I could go and get the King James version for ninety nine cents and in 5 seconds I downloaded the entire King James version or the King James version for ninety-nine cents. There are two other versions that are totally free. You can get the NIV or the New King James for eight dollars. And you can have them available at any time. Oh would Guttenberg flip if he could see the availability of the word of God. This book was written by many many authors over a period of more than 1500 years, and yet there is one mind and one design in the scriptures that connects the beginning from the end.
This is seeing that big picture. From the tree of life that was available to mankind in Genesis 2 that appeared first here. The Bible is not just a sampling of literature from this and that which is disjointed. The Bible has rhyme, purpose, chronology, direction and a plan. In Gen. 2, verse 8, "The Lord God planted a garden Eastward in Eden and there He put the man whom He had formed. And out of the ground the Lord God made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was also in the midst of the Garden,"....We don't know what the tree of life exactly was but the name itself implies that it is a tree that was a source of life- or a sustainer of life. The tree of life was also in the midst of the garden and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Those were those two trees- and a river went out of Eden.
It was a beautiful well-watered place where Adam was placed. God had some instructions to Adam and Eve and He had a tremendous relationship with the first human beings. He could talk to them and they said "Yes, Sir, fine, great. Oh wow" And God said to them, in verse 16, "The Lord God commanded of the man, of every tree of the garden you may freely eat, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat for in the day that you eat of it, you shall surely die."
This is the first reference to death and it was not stated as something that Adam had within him, but something that would happen based upon actions. And then God created Eve for him and everything looked very very good. Gen. 3 we have the introduction of this force of evil. In Genesis 3:1 Genesis 3:1Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, Yes, has God said, You shall not eat of every tree of the garden?
American King James Version×, "The serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God made" .... cunning means brilliant with evil intent... "And he said to the woman, 'Has God indeed said you shall not eat of every tree of the garden?".... It's interesting how he had come to her with a sales trick that goes all the way back to Gen. 3- Get your client to agree with you. Hey, did God say that you shouldn't eat of the tree in the garden? You shall not eat of every tree of the garden? Is it true that you're having financial problems and would you like to try this?
How many times do you take a vacation - go to a sales speech- they'll get you to agree on about ten points to get your confidence and establish a rapport and get you to repeat things that are self evident? It's a very simple question- he wasn't going to confront her, he was going to agree with her! And he was going to get her to agree with him. "The woman said to the serpent,".... she was naive... "We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden but of fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden that God has said you shall not eat of it or touch it lest you die." Now that's answering the question it's known as a dialog- this guy is friendly, there's no issue here. But the serpent is very very subtle and he says that's nice! "Then the serpent said to the woman"....now he makes his move. There may be more questions here that we don't have as he developed a relationship, "You shall not surely die,"....he makes his move- he has the lie- he injects the poison- she's already listening. He's already prepared. You know this trick has been done over and over, even in our time as people have stolen relationships.
The serpent, Satan, personified as a serpent, stole a relationship from God. He developed it for himself so that he could inject the poison and it took- to tell the big lie. People do it all the time- they steal a relationship and then they can tell a big lie. It had been stated about us that we're not going to be keeping the Sabbath anymore. And people believed it. REALLY??? And they jump and they leap. No different than here. She believed a lie and she took of the forbidden fruit and ate it. She was engaged to his conversation. He closed the deal with the big lie by stating a total fabrication that she believed. Well, man listened to the serpent and the warning that God had given now has to be fulfilled. Death came to Adam and was passed onto all of us. Thanks, Adam. Adam was removed from the Garden of Eden. And what set in then which goes between about Genesis 3 all the way to Revelation 20, right here.
This is the back part of the Bible-this is the age of regret- the groaning of mankind between the time when he was removed from eating of the tree of life which would have perpetuated his life to the time of the very end of the book, the end of the story. So, what did man have to face? God told him in Genesis 3:17 Genesis 3:17And to Adam he said, Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten of the tree, of which I commanded you, saying, You shall not eat of it: cursed is the ground for your sake; in sorrow shall you eat of it all the days of your life;
American King James Version×, "Because you have heeded the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree which I have commanded you saying you shall not eat of it, cursed is the ground for your sake and in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life." Before he had a garden with water running and the river of life running through it. He could just grab fruits. He was given a job to manage it. He had it made!
But now he got ground that's cursed. Verse 18, "Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you and you shall eat the herb of the field. In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread until you return to the ground. For out of it you were taken for dust you are and to dust you will return." Can you imagine how Adam reacted? Oh no! The age of groaning had begun and he was to live on a cursed earth.
Now it talks about thorns and thistles- I have gone to Zambia and I have never seen ground that actually was as the scripture has said. Now in Zambia we have 400 brethren in 9 churches. It's the fourth poorest country in the world. And one time as we were driving out to the interior to be with our churches in the Mumbua area, we broke down and we had to sit on the side of the road for a couple of hours and I kind of just went off the side of the road to kind of look at the fields and so forth. It was like barbed wire- those thorns and those thistles were horrendous! They were worse than barbed wire. Some of the thorns were this long and they were sharp and I was told to be careful where you step because they will puncture your heel and they will go through your foot. They are so dangerous and so wicked and they are so hard to rid.
The ground in Zambia where we have finally been able to get water to our brethren and not have the women carry water three miles in a 5 gallon jug three or more times a day, is like a parking lot. I mean it's just like an asphalt parking lot it's that hard. They have just a short little window in the Fall when the rains come. They have to wait for the rains to come to soften the ground so they can plant their seed.
Now I saw the fulfillment of this - this was cursed ground, yet we have people who live there and people who have come to conversion and live there. Anyway, mankind was living on a cursed earth. Man faced mortality. Even though Adam lived 600 years plus, he still died. It doesn't make any difference if it was 60 years, 70 years 700 years... if you lived a thousand years, death would be no easier. *sound of cell phone going off* Sorry, Please cut that out of the video. Actually I had something to read for you here before I end. Also...I'll call you later. I'm tied up here. This thing is not very good about turning off. This phone does everything except handle phone calls- it has every app in the world you want but is very bad on phone calls.
Mankind now had a beautiful relationship with God, now where he has to figure out how to rule himself. Warlords took over, big tough guys like Nimrod, city-state rulers, dictators and different forms of government were reactions to it, but none has really turned out good. Now if we just jump over as we do on Google Earth to the other coast to Revelation 21. We have the end of the story and you know you couldn't find a story writer who could write a story that would be so tied together with a subject that was singular in the first chapters in Genesis and end up as the very end in solution- symmetrically at the very other end.
Revelation chapter 21, "I saw a new Heaven and a new Earth. The first Heaven and Earth were passed away as also there was no more sea." And then in Genesis 22, "And He showed me a pure river of water of life- clear as crystal proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the middle of its street, "....this is talking about the future world..."And on either side of the river was the tree of life." It appears again after man was cut off from it, it appears again at the very end. This shows a great mind that hadn't forgotten man, hasn't forgotten you and is going to restore and resurrect this tree of life. "Which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations."
This makes more sense to me about man's purpose, man's destiny, the age of regret that we have to go through than anything else. It is so clear, it is so beautiful and unfortunately something I can't explain to enough people. This is the story. This is the gospel. You know the Kingdom of God is the gospel. The Kingdom of God embodies everything. This is good news! How much more good news can you get- the tree of life, eternal life, being part of the family of God, having a relationship with Him, all those things that Adam had very directly are now going to happen again and there will be eternal life given, but in the midst of it, we have to go through this age of groaning.
Romans chapter 8, verse 18, the Apostle Paul writes, "I consider the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us." You see, he's giving hope in his statements to a people who are slaves, who are a small church in the city of Rome. He says, yea.. you have to go through tough times right now but it's nothing compared to the glory that will be revealed in us. "For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly awaits for the revealing of the sons of God." We're waiting for this thing to happen... "For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope."
In verse 20 in another more modern translation, "Against its will all creation was subjected to God's curse but with eager hope." And that's what we look to to this new world. Verse 21, "Because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God." He's telling this whole story about how rough it is, but how good it's going to end up. "For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. Not only that but we also are the firstfruits of the spirit even we ourselves groan within ourselves eagerly awaiting the adoption, the redemption of our body." And how many of you are groaning and how many of you have gone through a groaning process in your life? I've gone through a groaning process in the ministry. In fact my job is groan management- managing groans. I don't get so upset about groans because they happen all the time, it's a manner of how you manage them.
Actually I look to the future and to how it's all going to work out. "For we are saved in this hope." Man has tried to feed himself, has tried various economic systems. Every government has tried to ecologically handle this planet. We've had to deal with health and aging. We're getting older. It excites me. Man has been groaning ever since he was been expelled from the Garden of Eden, for the way he has had to make a living. Adam and Eve had a bad incident when their firstborn, Cain, murdered his little brother, Able. Horrible! I'm sure the family went through grief and mourning, and groaning. And eventually Adam and Eve both died.
We take a look at the history of the world, like I said, everything between Genesis 3 and Revelation 21. It's the chronicle of the groaning of mankind awaiting the manifestation of the sons of God. If you go through the history of mankind where God had to shut everything down and reset everything with the flood because man was wicked and He said, "Look It's not working. It's not going well. We have to do a reset with control, alt, delete and start with Noah and his family and start over. It's not working- we have to start all over again." God was going to do it one more time with Moses actually, but Moses talked Him out of it.
But the whole history of mankind is just a history of poor decisions- man's ineptness and man's not following and listening to God. Israel was to the patriarchs when onto the time of Joseph, moved the whole nation down into Egypt and multiplied over several hundred years and became slaves to the Egyptians and the people groaned for hundreds of years. Then God emancipated them and they went through what's called the period of the judges- a period of 330-380 years from the time of Joshua to Samuel- a long period of history which I kind of scanned through in preparing the sermon. It's a horrible, bloody history- it's just terrible. Some people actually stop reading the Bible at Judges because it is so violent. You know.. a woman driving a stake through a man's head you know... horror movies aren't even this way... well, yes they are.
But anyway I'm just saying it's a book about just a horrible history of man's management through the judges period. Samuel was a good judge, a very good judge at the very end but he had sons that didn't follow him and the people got sick and tired of this system of governance. So they said, Hey, let's do what other nations are doing and have kings. We finally have it solved. And God says, Ok, you want a king, have at it but he's going to put your men in the army, your women will be cooks and he's going to tax you heavily and it's going to be terrible. No no no... we want a king- see what the Moabites have? We want what they have And so they got what they had and the people had many bad kings. In fact almost every king of Israel was a bad king- even the good ones. Hezekiah did something really stupid in showing off all the treasures to the Babylonians. Josiah went to war against advice and got killed. Those were kings that got good ratings. David's story- yes he was a good king, but ooooh..
David's story is horrible. He sure made a lot of mistakes. And he had kids and the consequences of that that went on for a long time. Proverbs 29:2 Proverbs 29:2When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked bears rule, the people mourn.
American King James Version×, "When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice, but when a wicked man rules, the people groan." And you know, take a look around the world, people are groaning because we have many bad rulers. How many good rulers do we have in this world? We could go on- I could talk about wars, I could talk about man's chronicle inability to be sane and acting almost mentally ill in all the wars that they have fought- knowing that those things don't work, they're horrible.
I think the two good series I'd like to recommend showing about mankind's groaning of war and done so well in video are two series by Ken Burns. One is called "War - A Story of World War II" of what our nation went through in World War II from the standpoint of what was here at home, what was on the battlefront and what was actually happening politically. It's a story of groaning, but it really graphically shows kinda a kind of groaning of mankind just waiting for something better to come . Another one is, "The Civil War" by Ken Burns. The Civil War was the worst unbelievably horrible war. Of course this one is documented so well because of what happened in this county. But the suffering that our nation went through because of the inability to live together. My parents survived World War II in Germany. I grew up in a family that groaned about what had happened in World War II. My father never saw his parents again, my mother went back to visit one time.
We're just so happy we have our grandchildren here. Melvin Rhodes and I are grandparents of the same grandchildren. One of the things that always delights me is that we have two sets of grandparents for the kids. We grew up with no family in this country. We were refugees that came over and just listened to the groans of my parents talking about the war and being ripped away from the country and their families. We have a great hope. I hope that we value the Feast of Tabernacles for what it means and the coming Kingdom of God and what is pictured by it.
The Kingdom of God is something so beautiful and so great and so simple to understand. It is something that has been hidden from most of the world and yet it is so very clear to us. It is a beautiful concept- a beautiful subject. I was so glad that at our first public Bible series even though it had mixed success, but still we have been able to talk about the Gospel of the Kingdom of God to the world. And I hope that however we go further with going to the public through public Bible seminars or however we do it, that we don't get away from the subject of the Kingdom of God because I believe that we as a church have a corner of the market on this subject because it is a valuable truth that virtually no one understands.
How many people would really tell you what we believe about the Kingdom of God- about the return of Jesus Christ, about the Millenium, about Christ's rule here on the Earth, about the replacement of all the governments of this world by the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, about our being a part of the family of God, about our being able to have eternal life? How many people really understand that? And you do! You and I do and we need to value that and we need to talk to our children about that. And we'll need to proclaim it to the world.
The time is coming when the Kingdom of God will be all in all, just like the parables that Jesus Christ spoke- He had various parables- the 7 parables of Matthew 13. Now one of the parables was that of 11 which was usually used in a negative sense - 11 sins and so forth, but this case which is only a short verse- Luke 13:20 Luke 13:20And again he said, Whereunto shall I liken the kingdom of God?
American King James Version×"To what will I liken the Kingdom of God? It is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of meal until it was all leavened." The Kingdom of God is like putting yeast into dough and the yeast permeates the entirety of the dough. There's not one section is left out that doesn't receive it- it's all leavened.
The time is coming when this truth, this knowledge just like the knowledge of the Lord will cover the entire world. When the understanding of what all this means will be very very clear and when we can share it with openness with others. Right now we are few. We've had distractions and we have not been able to see the picture from time to time because we've had the distractions and we've had the problems that we have had.
But you know I look upon problems as something that catapults me to seeing the bigger picture. I step out and see the big picture. Well now as we are in Google Earth's on seeing the big picture, now we need to zero in down to our street, down to our home, and even go in Google Earth down to the person and into your heart because the Kingdom of God is something which is global, which is universal, which is universe wide but it's also very deep down and is something that controls your intents, your thoughts, your motives and everything about what makes you a converted person.
The Kingdom of God is like leaven which covers everything. Let's be thankful for the truths that God has given to us. I'll conclude in II Cor. 5:2 The apostle Paul said it so well. He understood all these things that we're talking about today to new congregations. "For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from Heaven." Yes, it comes from God, from Heaven, new bodies, a new relationship of being at one with God- of being a part of this family as sons and daughters. ...."If indeed having them clothed, we shall not be found naked. For we who are in this tent, groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed that mortality may be swallowed up by life."
That is the story and that is the meaning of the Feast of Tabernacles-this First Day of the Feast of Tabernacles.