Vacations can be wonderful adventures, and vacations with a shared purpose can be even better if the shared purpose remains primary. The Feast of Tabernacles and Eighth Day, however, are not vacations of any sort.
The Feast Is Not a Vacation
Have you ever gone on a vacation just for the experience alone? A new location? A different environment? New attractions? Unique cuisine? Souvenirs? Vacations are AWESOME! We get out of our normal routine, and we get to experience new things, making memories to reminisce upon for many years to come.
Leslie and I wanted to do something special for our 20th Anniversary, and again for our 25th. So, we decided to go on VACATION. We got to experience all those special things I have already mentioned about the benefits of vacations, but in our case it was MORE than just a vacation. It was about her and me united as one in marriage. So, we did all those vacation things with this first in mind. As a matter of fact, you couldn’t really call it a vacation, because it was actually a celebration of our devoted relationship. All of the things that would make a vacation were secondary to that primary purpose, and if we did not achieve the celebration of that devotion, then the experience would have been only a vacation, me doing my thing, she hers.
Why? Why would it have only been a vacation if, after all, we still got to see a new place in a different environment with new things to see, new foods to taste, and souvenirs? Because the stated goal would not have been given its proper honor, and all of those things we did would have served to interfere with our relationship.
Just for example, when in Italy for our 25th, Leslie might have wanted to go to the Vatican while I wanted to go to the Coliseum. We could have gone our separate ways, eaten at different places, stopped off at different souvenir shops and experienced all the good things one can experience in a vacation, but we would not have done it together. Our goal would have failed.
What about the Feast of Tabernacles and Eighth Day?
Are these days vacations? Are they observances for the purpose of having new experiences? How about spending more time with family, sort of like we often hear is the reason people keep Thanksgiving or Christmas?
Let’s turn to Deuteronomy 14 where we find a fairly detailed description of what to do at the Feast...
Deuteronomy 14:22 Deuteronomy 14:22You shall truly tithe all the increase of your seed, that the field brings forth year by year.
American King James Version× "You shall truly tithe all the increase of your grain that the field produces year by year.
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.1
Deuteronomy 14:24 Deuteronomy 14:24And 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:
American King James Version× 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,
Deuteronomy 14:25 Deuteronomy 14:25Then 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× 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 14:26 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× And you shall spend that money for whatever your heart desires:2 for oxen or sheep, for wine or similar drink, for whatever your heart desires; you shall eat there before the LORD your God,3 and you shall rejoice, you and your household.
A primitive root; to fear; morally to revere; causatively to frighten: - affright, be (make) afraid, dread (-ful), (put in) fear (-ful, -fully, -ing). (be had in) reverence (-end), X see, terrible (act, -ness, thing).
From H5314; properly a breathing creature, that is, animal or (abstractly) vitality; used very widely in a literal, accommodated or figurative sense (bodily or mental):
Plural (but always used as a singular) of an unused noun (פָּנֶה pâneh, paw-neh'; from 6437); the face (as the part that turns);
In Deuteronomy is explained the command to save a tenth of our increase or profit to eat, drink, and be merry. The command reveals it is good at this time to take a tenth and use it all up in about a fiftieth of the time, if we use the entire tenth for these 8 days only, and spend it on whatever our human spirit desires, accompanied by the requirement that it be in the face of our God for the purpose of learning reverence toward Him. In one week, that’s 5 times more than what’s available through the other weeks of the year.
Think about when you pray before a meal just to consider a simplified version of the same thing; meal physically desired, thanks to God, in front of God.
There’s a funny thing about us Christians, though.
We are not just equipped with a human spirit, anymore.
Acts 2:38 Acts 2:38Then Peter said to them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
American King James Version× Then Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Also, in 1 Corinthians chapter 2...
1Co 2:7 But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, GOING ON TO VERSE 10...
1Co 2:10 But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.
1Co 2:11 For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God.
1Co 2:12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.
How does having God’s Spirit enhance what we desire? Well, one desire the saints have is found in Hebrews...
Hebrews 11:16 Hebrews 11:16But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: why God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he has prepared for them a city.
American King James Version× But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.
And if we were to boil things down to what is in that heavenly country, I think we could safely say, we desire
...to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul and mind, and love our neighbor as ourselves (Matthew 22:37 Matthew 22:37Jesus said to him, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.
American King James Version×).
In Philippians we are provided a BEAUTIFUL expression of advice...
Php 2:1 Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy,
Php 2:2 fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.
Php 2:3 Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.
Php 2:4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.
If you’ve ever been to college, and you may have even experienced this in high school, you might remember taking Chemistry. In college, you would have gone three days a week for an hour a day to be lectured, being guided through an authorized textbook. You would have had homework that involved studying those notes and the textbook, and you would have been tested on your progress in knowledge.
But that wasn’t all you did. You would have also been required to take Chemistry Laboratory. This would be only one class a week, but for 3-4 hours, and, instead of hearing lectures and reading the textbook, you would practice what you learned, conducting experiments related to chemistry.
Chemistry was a combination of knowledge and practice, designed to help us retain the knowledge we gained, and to see the practical benefits of having knowledge in chemistry.
We will have opportunities at the Feast to gain knowledge from ministers and through the Bible, but we will also be given some of the best opportunities available compared to any other time of the year to practice that knowledge. We will have concentrated opportunities to worship in song and prayer. We will have way more opportunity to fellowship. We will have more opportunity to share our abundance, including watching after the elderly, the widow, and the fatherless who may not have been able to save a tithe.
I recommend, if you don’t mind me being so bold, that we go to this Feast of Tabernacles and Last Great Day, the Eighth Day, absolutely determined to accomplish whatever our heart desires; that heart being a converted heart lead and guided by God’s Holy Spirit, seeking how we may show God our love and our fellow man, whether our brethren or strangers.
We are the children of God, all in the same family, one body in Christ, so let’s go to the Feast with that as our highest priority. I’m convinced that time spent with our nuclear families and experiencing new things will fall right into place just as they should and with far more precious memories than any standard vacation. ****Final comments