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Bible Study Tools / Feast Of Tabernacles

Preparing for the Feast of Tabernacles

by UNC Contributor
Photo by Sergey Shmidt on Unsplash
 

All year long we attend weekly Sabbath services, but once a year leave our homes for a holiday destination to stay in a motel or apartment for eight days. The simple reason is because God commands it and Scripture tells it is to both “fear God and rejoice.” The contrast between weekly services and our once-a-year festival helps us appreciate the benefit God intends.

Weekly Services

The biblical admonition for regular assembly (Hebrews 10:25) is for good reason. We soon learn by Christian experience that weekly instruction at Church is of great spiritual benefit. It provides weekly reinforcement. After a difficult week, Friday sunset marking the Sabbath is most welcome. Fellowship with people of like minds is a renewal and reinforces our living faith in God’s Way of life. Weekly services provide the opportunity for serving in the local Church and learning to cooperate and work together. Weekly services also involve efforts to make the Gospel available to the world.

Now contrast that to our eight-day Festival, where a convention-like setting provides opportunities beyond those available at regular Church services.

Size and Numbers

Our small number at weekly services is multiplied at the Feast for eight days. At sites chosen by the Church as appropriate for a Festival convention we are exposed to many more people. Some we know, many are strangers. Being in a group larger than your local area gives a wonderful sense of belonging to a greater cause. At home you can become insular – narrowed to your part of the world. The greater numbers at a Feast give you a sense of being part of a much larger work. The Feast is also the opportunity to meet new members or renew acquaintances from past years. This, too, is limited in weekly Church activity.

Festival has “Atmosphere”

Many people in an auditorium all worshipping together provides a “high” – an arena-like atmosphere that excites, lifts and carries on for the year to come. A greater gathering of spirit-led people for a specific God-ordained purpose gives a Festival boost.

Different Speakers

In the “atmosphere” of a Feast, listening to a different perspective can move you to heed the sermon’s message. You may have heard the same thing from your local pastor at regular services, yet in a Festival atmosphere you are emotionally more receptive and likely to take notice. This atmosphere can move you also to make personal commitments to change, do better, try harder – to make new resolutions.

Theme Focus

The Feast theme is concentrated on the World Tomorrow and Last Great Day resurrection whereas weekly services are more directed to practical Christian living.

Feast Group Example

A large convention group can set an example that’s more noticeable than in a smaller Church area. Activities are an example. The public see a large group of people including children who act differently to the usual crowd display. They see examples of courtesy, responsiveness and appreciation without foul language, smoking, drunks or disorderly behaviour. They most likely see people helping each other. Motel and accommodation managers find members’ behaviour, helpfulness and courtesy over a period of eight days exceptional. They’ll discover people who are not demanding.

Appropriate Gift-Giving Time

A good way to help counteract the pagan festivities of Christmas is to provide Festival gifts for your family. This can help offset peer pressure from school, friends or neighbours when that “jolly pagan” season rolls around. Eight days is also a gift to family. For a whole week parents can have quality time with their children or extended family members.

Anticipation for the Feast is built by planning. So, what things can help brighten the Feast for others?

Before Going…

Find out who won’t be there due to ill health, handicap or age. Note their address and during the Feast send best wishes, a card, flowers, something to show they’re not forgotten at home. Consider “poorer” members and set aside some “widow’s mite gift” for them during the Feast. It might be help with a meal, a contribution to lodging, or an activity charge.

At the Feast

  • Resolve to do a Random Act of Kindness daily. Open a door with a smile and let someone else go first.
  • Say a daily positive. Pray about it. Look for something good in others and praise them for it, whether a stranger or Feast-goer.
  • Sit in a different place through the eight days. As we tend to sit in the same spot, moving around brings you in contact with others you might not get to meet.
  • Visit a cemetery! Really. Think of the dead and what the Last Great Day will mean for those deceased.

 

Deuteronomy 14:23-36 tells us the underlying spiritual reason is to “learn to fear God.” This is different to weekly services because at the Feast our lifestyle is of a “sojourner” – of a temporary nature. We must provide for temporary living away from our home. This takes money and is why God singled out the saving of a particular tithe to ensure we could pay to go “up to the Feast.”

God also instructs our use of our Feast money. This allows us to not feel we are squandering monies or taking from other yearly needs by splurging, if able, for a wonderful eight days. Financially blessed members give of their money to help others and to assist with festival costs. The way members share their money at the Feast is a unique generosity in a world that reflects covetousness and greed. Saving Festival funds through the year requires acts of faith and trust in God to provide. Living faith means trusting God for favour in taking off vacation time from school, exams, work, career or a family situation not agreeable with your religious commitment.

That trust is amply rewarded by God’s gift of Tabernacles.

© 1995- United Church of God-Canada

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