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Bible Study Tools / Feast Of Tabernacles

An Invitation Like No Other

by Anthony Wasilkoff
Photo by Kate Macate on Unsplash
 

Do you remember the first invitation you ever received? Perhaps you were still in grade school and you were given an invitation to a party. Of course, the acceptance or declining had to be handled by your parents. Nevertheless, it was still surprisingly exciting to be personally asked, in writing no less, to attend a special event.

Through the years, you have probably been invited to attend someone’s graduation. At one time, graduations were mainly from high school and then either college or university. These days there are even graduations from kindergarten. In any case, graduation is an important milestone and to be invited to attend one is an honor.

Most of us have received wedding invitations fairly frequently through the years. We realize that when a couple plans a wedding they can only invite a limited number of people. Budget plays a major role in determining how many people to invite. If we receive an invitation, we feel honored and make every effort to attend. If we are not invited, we understand and do not take umbrage knowing how these things work.

Invitations are often accompanied by an RSVP. That is, we are asked to let those issuing the invitation know by a specified time if we can accept the invitation or not. This allows the planners to plan accordingly since numbers are very important.

Can you imagine what it would have been like to be on the guest list for the royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton? Their guest list consisted of the who’s who of the world – literally. A surprising number of people came to the wedding even though they did not receive an actual invitation from Buckingham Palace. They invited themselves and travelled to London from all over the UK, the Commonwealth and all around the world. People thronged to the capital of England and staked out a strategic spot with a special vantage point in order to participate vicariously in the royal wedding. Some camped out for days having brought along all that was needed to subsist under limited circumstances but yet included flags and others accoutrements befitting the royal family and the royal occasion.

Can you imagine being on the guest list for the recent Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II? This stellar occasion received special attention from the media around the world. Dignitaries from many nations attended this remarkable milestone. They took time out of there busy schedules to be there. Various commemorative events took place over a period of several days. Even street parties were held in honor of the Queen’s remarkable 60-year-reign.

Tributes were paid to the popular monarch by many individuals including Prince Charles who said: “Your Majesty, millions we are told dream of having tea with you. Quite a lot nearly had a picnic with you in the garden of Buckingham Palace…. Your Majesty a Diamond Jubilee is a unique and special event…. So as a nation, this is our opportunity to thank you and my father for always being there for us. For inspiring us with your selfless duty and service and for making us proud to be British. Proud at a time when I know how many of your fellow countrymen are suffering such hardships and difficulties. Proud to be lining the banks of the Thames in their millions, despite the rain and the cold. Proud to be part of something as unique as the Commonwealth, which through your leadership has given us that essential sense of unity through diversity.”

Each year the people of God receive a special invitation to attend the wonderful Feast of Tabernacles. Jubilees come only once in a great while whereas the FOT comes every year. Each year we, too, can experience a type unity through diversity as empowered by God’s Holy Spirit.

A few years ago an octogenarian member remarked over breakfast during the feast one morning: “Here I am keeping the Feast of Tabernacles and I have been invited by the Almighty God.” This gentleman has since died, but his words remain with me and now I share them with you. To be at the Feast of Tabernacles is very much accepting an invitation from the Creator God as issued to his dear children.

One noted scholar described the weekly Sabbath as a 24-hour vacation with God. That is an apt description. We are to leave our labours and worries behind us and enjoy a full day’s reprieve with our Creator. The seven days (plus one) in the autumn are more of the same but in a much more sustained and impactful way.

In a very real sense, we have been invited to appear at a royal occasion. The Feast of Tabernacles heralds a time when the King of Kings will have commenced His rule from Jerusalem over all of the earth.

In the parable of the wedding feast recorded in Matthew 22, Jesus Christ explained that the kingdom of heaven was like a monarch arranging a marriage for his son. The king dispatched emissaries to summon each of those who had been invited to this very special wedding. However, those on the guest list were unwilling to attend. The king subsequently sent more emissaries to implore the invitees to attend this time giving more details about the amenities they would be partaking of. Even so, those on the guest list did not respond positively. Some thought it was funny and went their various ways heeding this life’s demands and distractions. Regrettably, others treated the emissaries with overt hostility to the point of causing injury and death.

Christ further explained that the king did not take too kindly to this horrific behavior and took appropriate action. Thereafter he created a brand new guest list. This time the emissaries compelled all kinds of people to come to the wedding and come they did filling the hall to the full. Sadly, one of the guests made the egregious error of not wearing the proper wedding attire. This also was dealt with by the King and not ignored as some small thing. The parable concludes: “For many are called and few are chosen.” To be called is to be issued a very special invitation. Not all who are invited by God will be among those who are ultimately saved because not all will truly act on their calling.

The book of Isaiah put forward a highly compelling personal invitation from God to His people: “Come to the waters: and you who have no money, come, buy and eat. Yes, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price … listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, and let your soul delight itself in abundance. Incline your ear, and come to Me. Hear and you shall live …” (Isaiah 55:1-3). The Feast of Tabernacles and Last Great Day are such a remarkable time for God’s people everywhere!

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