United Church of God

The Feast of Tabernacles: A Time for Family

You are here

The Feast of Tabernacles

A Time for Family

Login or Create an Account

With a UCG.org account you will be able to save items to read and study later!

Sign In | Sign Up



Every summer where I live many of the builders in the area have an opportunity to showcase their labors in a "home expo" or "home-o-rama." There are usually at least three of these in various locations throughout the city. For a period of one to two weeks usually eight to ten homes are open so the public can go through and see firsthand the work of each builder. The homes are fully decorated by an interior decorator and many luxury items are added to showcase additional companies, such as pool tables, home theater systems, hot tubs, etc.

When my wife and I go through these homes each summer we enjoy seeing what new ideas are out there and what we might be able to add to our home. And, inevitably, each year I'm always struck by the number of toys available to take family members away from interaction with one another.

In recent years one of the trends in these showcase homes is to be fully wired for all high tech equipment. Often each room is wired to accept everything from cable television to home theater systems.

After all, no matter how many people are in a family apparently it's important that each person be able to choose what he or she individually wants to watch on television all at the same time. Or for that matter if one chooses to play video games, it's important that he be able to do so on a large screen with all the latest equipment. Even many of the master bathroom suites have televisions at one end of the large spa tub so that one can simply sit in the Jacuzzi tub and watch television or listen to the stereo for hours if he chooses.

Families Doing Less and Less Together

I must admit, there are times I too would like to simply withdraw from everyone and go "veg" for an extended period of time. Every human being needs some "down time." Still the thought has crossed my mind on many occasions that within Western society we seem to be choosing more often than not a life of separatism. That is, a life of "you go do what you want and I will do what I want." As a result, there are many negative side effects. One of those side effects is that the average family is doing less and less together, and this means parents have less influence in the lives of their children.

One of the blessings God has given in His Church is the blessing of the Holy Days. It is through these days that we are reminded of His plan of salvation for all mankind. It is through these days we can gain a greater appreciation and understanding of the value of sharing time together and God's Word together with the entire family.

Although it is enjoyable to be able to spend time with our extended family (other Church members) at the Feast, it is also important that those of us who have the blessing of physical family at the Feast spend time with them. With all the activities and distractions, we can very easily take the approach, "you do what you want to do and I will do what I want to do." Before we know it, the Feast is over and we are traveling home without having taken advantage of the time and opportunities we had to do things together.

Matthew 13 brings out a number of Kingdom parables in which Christ shows that those who are focused, not distracted, are successful in His Kingdom. Notice verses 47-48: "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet that was cast into the sea and gathered some of every kind, which, when it was full, they drew to shore; and they sat down and gathered the good into vessels, but threw the bad away." There is conscious thought and effort put into gathering good and throwing away bad.

Is this how we approach the Feast each year? Do we make a conscious effort to spend time together teaching our children about why God's way of life is so important to live? Do we make a conscious effort to not allow time to slip away without having spent much quality time together as a family? Need we be reminded that in the Millennium the saints will be spending time teaching others, not simply sitting on the sidelines watching everyone scatter in different directions void of instruction.

Sharing the Pearl of Great Price

As parents and grandparents, we have a responsibility to teach the next generations the value of what the Feast pictures. We have the responsibility to teach that we come together at the Feast not only because God commands us to, but also because we recognize what the pearl of great price really is (verses 45-46). What we plant in our children's minds now should be part of their character and value system as they grow into adulthood (verses 31-32). It may take some time to see the results, and yet those who diligently, sincerely plant seed in the minds of the next generation now will see good fruit borne in the future.

Although the flavor of each Feast site may differ somewhat, typically in the larger sites there are so many attractions and restaurants to choose from that it's easy to focus on what we want or like and become distracted from a much bigger purpose for the Feast. That purpose is building family unity and preparing for our role in what is yet ahead. Perhaps if it isn't already, one of our goals this Feast should be to simply sit down as a family and talk about what we envision our responsibility to be when Christ rules on this earth.

It isn't difficult for us to turn to scriptures that describe what will take place during the Millennium as well as at the time of the Great White Throne Judgment and beyond (see Isaiah 11 and 35, Revelation 20 and 21). However, shouldn't we all ask as we approach each Feast of Tabernacles, "Am I setting the kind of example within my family that clearly shows I understand and appreciate what God has given me through the Feast?"

Just as each one of the new homes at a home expo allows space and outlets for each person in that home to "do his own thing," the Feast often allows the same opportunities. This is not, however, always good. In fact, if we take advantage of all those opportunities to the exclusion of spending time together as a family and focusing on the meaning behind the Feast, we risk not understanding or treasuring the pearl of great price. What a tragedy that would truly be.

The Feast is a time to be thankful to God for what He has given us. The Feast is a time to focus on what is ahead in the future. The Feast is a time to focus on family unity and togetherness. Don't let this Feast slip by without a steady diet of family interaction. UN