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God's Mysterious Command

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God's Mysterious Command

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The Feast of Tabernacles is the highlight of the year for members of God’s Church. We have opportunities to travel to exotic places, stay in fancy hotels, eat at all kinds of restaurants and be with God’s people 24 hours a day, seven days a week. What’s more, because we spend God’s second tithe, it’s like an all-expense-paid vacation that doesn’t cost us a cent. It’s a wonderful time! So why does God command us to rejoice at this time? Wouldn’t it be natural for us to be happy? Notice His command: “You shall truly tithe all the increase… And you shall eat before the Lord your God, in the place where He chooses to make His name abide…But if the journey is too long for you…then you shall exchange it for money, take the money in your hand, and go to the place which the Lord your God chooses. And you shall spend that money for whatever your heart desires: for oxen or sheep, for wine or similar drink, for whatever your heart desires; you shall eat there before the Lord your God, and you shall rejoice, you and your household” (Deuteronomy 14:22-26 Deuteronomy 14:22-26 22 You shall truly tithe all the increase of your seed, that the field brings forth year by year. 23 And 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. 24 And 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: 25 Then 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: 26 And 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,
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). God commands us to spend His tithe on whatever our heart desires! So why does He follow this statement with a command to rejoice? The answer is simple: instead of rejoicing, we might find reasons to do the same thing the Israelites were known to do: “Now when the people complained, it displeased the Lord; for the Lord heard it, and His anger was aroused” (Numbers 11:1 Numbers 11:1And when the people complained, it displeased the LORD: and the LORD heard it; and his anger was kindled; and the fire of the LORD burnt among them, and consumed them that were in the uttermost parts of the camp.
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). Much has changed since the days of the ancient Israelites. What do we possibly have to complain about at Feast time? Pre-Feast Trials Every year before the Feast, a common complaint is pre-Feast trials. Problems crop up concerning jobs, health issues, financial woes, car repairs, etc. Why does it happen that we have these trials right before the Feast? Satan knows that God commands us to rejoice. If he can give us an excuse to worry and stop us from rejoicing, he has successfully influenced our decision to disobey God. And if he can discourage us from going to the Feast altogether, he has won a major victory! We would lose all the benefits of going to the Feast! One of the most important benefits is getting our spiritual batteries recharged from observing the Feast with fellow members of God’s Church. Without that annual recharge, it is more difficult to face trials and problems in the coming year. When faced with pre-Feast trials, we must take a proactive approach and pray for deliverance. Then consciously make the decision ahead of time to go to the Feast no matter what—and to enjoy it! Unable to Go Every year there are those who cannot go to the Feast because of health, money or other important problems. These are legitimate reasons that sometimes cannot be overcome. Missing the Feast can be discouraging, especially if plans are made and have to be cancelled. “Hope deferred makes the heart sick,” we are told in Proverbs 13:12 Proverbs 13:12Hope deferred makes the heart sick: but when the desire comes, it is a tree of life.
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. But we must not let our hearts remain sick! We are to rejoice! Even when the only option is to keep the Feast at home, we must make up our minds to rejoice in it! Recreate the atmosphere of Church services by listening to Feast audio sermons provided by the Church. Sing praises to God by singing from the hymnal. Some Feast sites also offer Webcast services on the Internet for the computer savvy, which allows homebound brethren to hear a live sermon and join with a thousand other voices in song—from miles away. Those of us who are able to attend the Feast can help homebound brethren rejoice by sending letters and colorful postcards from our Feast sites. Of course, it is not the same as personal fellowship, but letting them know they were in our thoughts will make a difference in how they can rejoice at the Feast. “As cold water to a weary soul, so is good news from a far country” (Proverbs 25:25 Proverbs 25:25As cold waters to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country.
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). If you must stay at home for the Feast, make the decision to rejoice! Conditions at the Feast Site Sometimes the conditions of accommodations at Feast sites are not up to our expectations. This too can be cause for complaining. Many of us have “horror stories” to tell about hotels, motels and campgrounds where we have stayed. In 1985 my family and I stayed in a small trailer house in an RV park. It was nice except for one thing. When we flicked on the lights at night, black cockroaches scattered in all directions. We nicknamed it “Cockroach Inn.” In 1992 our motel room had no bathtub in which to bathe our baby—just a shower. Halfway through the Feast, the sewer backed up, and then we had no bathroom at all. Motel management would not allow us to switch rooms. Instead, they gave us a key to an empty room across the parking lot, which meant we had to walk through the cold, turn on a space heater and use those facilities. What Should We Do When Things Go Awry? 1. Look on the bright side. Things could be worse! What did the Israelites live in for eight days? “And they found written in the Law… that the children of Israel should dwell in booths during the feast of the seventh month, and that they should announce and proclaim in all their cities and in Jerusalem, saying, ‘Go out to the mountain, and bring olive branches, branches of oil trees, myrtle branches, palm branches, and branches of leafy trees, to make booths” (Nehemiah 8:14-15 Nehemiah 8:14-15 14 And they found written in the law which the LORD had commanded by Moses, that the children of Israel should dwell in booths in the feast of the seventh month: 15 And that they should publish and proclaim in all their cities, and in Jerusalem, saying, Go forth to the mount, and fetch olive branches, and pine branches, and myrtle branches, and palm branches, and branches of thick trees, to make booths, as it is written.
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). In other words, this was not a Marriott Resort and Spa. How did these Israelites react in these accommodations? “And there was very great gladness” (verse 17). While dwelling in booths, they focused on spiritual things instead of the physical. 2. Change your situation. If conditions are unbearable, move to another room or motel. Beware, however, that if you move, you may be charged for the entire week or charged the full rate instead of the Church’s discounted rate for the nights stayed. And it may not be possible to get that discounted rate at another motel halfway through the Feast. Be sure to also fill out the housing survey handed out at the end of the Feast so that you can save other brethren any future trouble that you and your family experience by making note of poor conditions. When we had another bad experience in 2001, we tried to look on the bright side. After four miserable nights, we couldn’t take it any longer. By getting the motel manager on the phone, we negotiated an agreement and paid more than the discounted rate for the nights we stayed but less than the desk clerk wanted to charge us. The extra cost was worth it to get out. And the next motel was very gracious to give us the Church’s negotiated rate for the remaining four days. We tried to look at the bright side but after four horrible, sleepless nights, there were no more bright sides. Once we moved, rejoicing was a lot easier! Don’t wait to begin rejoicing at the Feast of Tabernacles. In Nehemiah’s day, the people were told on the Feast of Trumpets, “This day is holy to the Lord your God; do not mourn nor weep” (Nehemiah 8:9 Nehemiah 8:9And Nehemiah, which is the Tirshatha, and Ezra the priest the scribe, and the Levites that taught the people, said to all the people, This day is holy to the LORD your God; mourn not, nor weep. For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the law.
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). The people rejoiced greatly because of the messages they heard (verse 12). What message do the fall feasts proclaim? “The Lord reigns; let the earth rejoice; let the multitude of isles be glad!” (Psalms 97:1 Psalms 97:1The LORD reigns; let the earth rejoice; let the multitude of isles be glad thereof.
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). These days picture a time when Christ will reign on this earth, and none of our petty trials can compare to the glorious time that lies ahead! UN