Another Feast of Tabernacles has come and gone. For eight days we rehearsed the Kingdom of God and looked ahead to a totally different world than the one we live in today. Yet here we are, still in this world, a world under the influences of the devil.
A famous song called “My Way,” made popular by Frank Sinatra and written by Canadian songwriter Paul Anka, included the line, “And now the end is near.” Is it? No one knows for certain, but it may be closer than we imagine. So are we better prepared for the battles we will face in this world after observing another God- ordained festival?
How many nuggets of wisdom presented by each of the speakers can we reflect on to draw spiritual strength in the days and weeks ahead? Remember what Paul reminded us? “Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies and tricks of the Devil. For we are not fighting against people made of flesh and blood, but against the evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against those mighty powers of darkness who rule this world, and against wicked spirits in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:11-12, New Living Translation throughout this article).
There used to be a popular slogan in sports that could also be applied to society: “Its not whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game.” The world we live in today has a distorted version: “Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.” The truth is, we live in a very competitive world. Life in this world can be a battle. But on the other hand, we can read Solomon’s statement in Ecclesiastes that says, “I returned and saw under the sun that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to men of understanding, nor favor to men of skill; but time and chance happen to them all. People can never predict when hard times might come. Like fish in a net or birds in a snare, people are often caught by sudden tragedy” (Ecclesiastes 9:11-12).
Life is very fragile. Not only are we subjected to our own human nature—the pulls and desires of the flesh—but we are also subjected to the wiles of the devil. “Be careful! Watch out for attacks from the Devil, your great enemy. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for some victim to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).
It’s easy to forget that the battle for our salvation is not with other people. We are in a battle with spiritual wickedness, the demonic angels of Satan—they are the adversaries. Just as Satan tempted Christ, his henchmen will tempt us. And so we are warned to be vigilant, to be prepared for whatever the devil can throw at us: “Use every piece of God’s armor to resist the enemy in the time of evil, so that after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the sturdy belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News, so that you will be fully prepared. In every battle you will need faith as your shield to stop the fiery arrows aimed at you by Satan. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:13-17).
Trials and Sorrows
Along the way we may have some battle scars. Jesus warned that in this world things can get tough: “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world” (John 6:33).
When we made a covenant with God at baptism, we entered the marathon of the Christian life. Notice how the apostle Paul put it: “Remember that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize. You also must run in such a way that you will win. All athletes practice strict self- control. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize” (1 Corinthians 9:24-25). As Paul said to Timothy, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness that the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on that great day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his glorious return” (2 Timothy 4:7-8).
And so as another Feast of Tabernacles passes into history, a question we might ask ourselves is this: Did we take home some of those precious nuggets of wisdom from the many messages delivered over the eight days—messages that are like jewels in our crown of righteousness, the same crown the apostle Paul referred to in his letter to Timothy? Will we use those God-inspired messages as battle armor back in a world that is under the devil’s control? “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” (James 4:7-8, New King James Version).
The apostle Paul also reminds us that as we reflect on the Feast and all those messages we heard, we need to consider that while we are still in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:4-5, NKJV).
And when the battle is over, when we have finally completed the marathon of life, when we have run the race, and conquered the devil’s world, we will exchange our battle armor for a beautiful white robe. “Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready. And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints” (Revelation 19:7-8, NKJV).
As the seasons change, we can look back on the Feast of Tabernacles 2014 with inspired memories and focus on the warmth of the coming renewal of God’s symbolic plan of salvation as it begins again with the Passover.