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Take a Listening Heart to the Feast

by David Palmer
Photo by RODNAE Productions on Pexels
 

When you see or hear the word feast what comes to mind? To members of the Church of God, the word relates to a wonderful festival, the biblical observance of the Feast of Tabernacles. But, let us consider for a moment the word feast.

Most modern dictionaries will describe feast as a “joyful religious anniversary,” “an annual village festival,” “a sumptuous meal, especially in public.” The biblical expression in Leviticus 23 “feasts of the Lord” emphasizes the importance of the feast as a festival observed as a fixed time or season, an assembly convened for a definite purpose.

The Easton’s Bible Dictionary (1897 edition) describes the word feast as “a mark of hospitality (Genesis 19:3, 2 Samuel 3:20, 2 Kings 6:23); occasions of domestic joy (Luke 15:23; Genesis 21:8); and the occasion of a marriage (Judges 14:10, Genesis 29:22). Feasting was a part of the observances connected with the offering up of sacrifices (Deuteronomy 12:6, 7, 1 Samuel 9:19, 16:3, 5), and with the annual festivals (Deuteronomy 16:11) it was one of the designs of the greater solemnities, which required the attendance of the people at the sacred tent, that the oneness of the nation might be maintained and cemented together, by statedly congregating in one place, and with one accord taking part in the same observance.”

The dictionary then states “To keep the people’s consciousness alive to God’s way, to revive, strengthen, and perpetuate it, nothing could be so well adapted as these annual feasts.” (Source: Easton’s 1897 Bible Dictionary)

The phrase “keep the feast” also encourages us to commune spiritually. In other words, as we travel each year to one of various festival sites, to keep this “anniversary,” we recognize that we are invited guests, not only to a banquet of good food, fine drink and wonderful fellowship with other brethren who have made the same trek, but we also recognize that the invitation is from God. Not only does He want us to rejoice with the physical blessings that have been bestowed on us over the past year (Deuteronomy 14:22-26), but He also wants us to commune spiritually with Him, and with each other. What exactly does that mean? How do we commune spiritually?

Let us look at a biblical example. When Solomon replaced his father David on the throne, God appeared to Solomon in a dream and said, “Ask what I shall give you” (1 Kings 3:5). Solomon asked for an understanding heart – better translated as a hearing or listening heart – that he might better judge God’s people, that he might be a better king, “And the speech pleased the Lord, that Solomon had asked this thing” (1Kings 3:10). As a result, Solomon was blessed not only with the wisdom of a listening heart, but great physical blessings as well.

The lesson we learn is this: Not only do we participate in the Feast of Tabernacles for the physical meat, but also for meat which will not perish, but leads to everlasting life (John 6:27).

When you and I travel to the Feast this year, let us ask God for a listening heart and a heart willing to hear His instructions. Remember what the apostle Paul wrote, “That it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe” (1Corinthians 1:21).

If we develop a determination to attend the Feast with a listening heart, we will not only be in spiritual communication drawing closer to God and Jesus Christ, but like Solomon we will find the physical blessings are much more enjoyable as well, as we draw closer to each other.

The Feast is a wonderful opportunity to rehearse the Kingdom of God, and since God communes with us spiritually, it is a great occasion for us to commune with fellow brethren. The word commune merely means fellowship, and fellowship gives us the marvelous opportunity to apply some of Solomon’s wisdom. “A man has joy by the answer of his mouth: and a word spoken in due season, how good is it!” (Proverbs 15:23). “Pleasant words are as a honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones” (Proverbs 16 24).

We will meet many personalities at the Feast: people who are quiet and shy and people who have a hard time communicating. If we put warm friendly encouraging conversation on our to-do list for the Feast this year, we can contribute to someone’s festival just by striking up a friendly conversation. “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver” (Proverbs 25:11).

This year at the Feast, tune in your listening/hearing heart and then tune into someone else’s. What better way to get to know God than by getting to know someone else whom God has called. After all, you and that new person with whom you commune may well be in the Kingdom of God forever. So why not take the opportunity while at the Feast of Tabernacles to become acquainted?

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