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True Success

by Ian Simons

What have the “seven laws of success” to do with the Feast of Tabernacles?

As many will recall, many years ago, Herbert W. Armstrong wrote a booklet titled The Seven Laws of Success. Mr. Armstrong formulated these “laws” after many years in business and later as the pastor general of the Church of God. They are very helpful principles and indeed can be applied in any area of life, including our spiritual lives.

Briefly they are:

  1. The right goal.
  2. Education.
  3. Good health.
  4. Drive.
  5. Resourcefulness.
  6. Perseverance.
  7. Having contact with and the guidance and continuous help of God.

I learned a vital personal lesson from reading this booklet. A short while before I emigrated from South Africa to Canada, I decided to take a critical look at my personal finances. I have had my ups and downs in life and had had a setback that was seriously threatening my future.

Although I was already in my 50s and should have begun preparing for retirement, I was nowhere near that. I decided to read through Mr. Armstrong’s booklet The Seven Laws of Success to find out where I was going wrong. Well, I found my answer and it was totally unexpected.

Reflection on Our Past Feast

Before I give the answer, I would like to give a little background on the book of Ecclesiastes. Having just observed the Feast of Tabernacles once again, it is good to rehearse how the book of Ecclesiastes applies to this festival. According to ancient Jewish tradition, the book of Ecclesiastes was read at the Feast of Tabernacles.

The first verse begins, “The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem.” Thus, King Solomon was most likely the author. Verse 2 contains a strong statement: “‘Vanity of vanities’ says the Preacher; ‘vanity of vanities, all is vanity.’” Our lives are pointless, says Solomon. Most people don’t really think much about the purpose of life, especially when they are still young. However, when you bring God into the picture, everything changes.

Verse 3: “What profit has a man from all his labor in which he toils under the sun?” Solomon in effect is asking, “What is the point of living? What is the purpose of life?” The purpose is revealed by Solomon at the end of the book, but in effect verse 3 is the specific purpose statement of the book. In the middle of the book, Ecclesiastes 7:14 states, “In the day of prosperity be joyful, but in the day of adversity consider.” We should be thankful when things are going well, but when things are not going well—consider.

Well, I decided to “consider” why things were not going as well materially as I would have liked. Life is full of cycles and ups and downs. It is the same often in a business. Sometimes things go well and sometimes there are setbacks. The second part of the verse 14 states: “Surely God has appointed the one as well as the other, so that man can find out nothing that will come after him.” God has decided that there should be cycles in life for a reason. The last line shows that we do not know the specific details of the immediate future and we have to make do with the knowledge we have. It is part of building character.

Now back to chapter 3. Verses 1 through 8 refer again to the cycles of life (“a time to be born, and a time to die” etc.). These verses are famous and have been used in secular literature and songs. Again, they refer to the cycles of life. Verse 11: “He has made everything beautiful in its time.” There is a time for everything. To continue, “Also He has put eternity in their hearts.” God has made mankind for a great purpose­—eternal life. Time cycles come into it, and timing is important to God. However, “no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end.” Not many know the plan of God, but we in the Church are privileged to understand that plan and purpose. Some understand now and some will only understand later, in the second resurrection. This is also subject to timing.

Repeatedly the question is asked: What profit is there in all this suffering in life? What is the point of it all? Is there a reason for it? For ages the philosophers have pondered the purpose of life. The answer is available. If people would only accept what the Bible says, they would have their answer.

Does Ecclesiastes have the answer? It is given in chapter 12:13: “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all.” What does “this is man’s all” mean? The Living Bible translates it this way: “Here is my final conclusion: fear God and obey his commandments, for this is the entire duty of man. For God will judge us for everything we do, including every hidden thing, good or bad” (Ecclesiastes 11:13-14).

Why is it so important to keep God’s commandments? Because life is all about judgment. How we live and how we handle the ups and downs of life—good or bad—is what will determine the ultimate outcome of our lives.

There Is a Purpose to Life and It Is Tied Up With Eternal Life

Solomon found that even enjoyment of the physical things is tied up with the purpose of life. If there is no purpose in life, all of our accomplishments are of no use because eventually we die. If there is no life after death, then it is all to no avail. Solomon built gardens, made merry, experimented with strong drink (and partying, no doubt), built houses (and the majestic temple), and acquired great wealth (Ecclesiastes 2:1-16). Yet what was his conclusion? It was all empty without the understanding of God’s purpose for us (verse 17). Mankind strives for wealth, or even just to survive, but it is all aimless if we do not understand God’s purpose for mankind.

This is what gives us the connection between the book of Ecclesiastes and the Feast of Tabernacles. Solomon says, “Go, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart” (Ecclesiastes 9:7). He makes similar statements in other parts of the book of Ecclesiastes.

No doubt he meant that we will enjoy the simple pleasures that God has given to us to enjoy if we understand the purpose of life. This especially applies to the Feast of Tabernacles when we have extra money to spend on good food and wine and have time to enjoy some additional pleasures that we do not normally have the opportunity to enjoy.

What is more, our celebration of the physical pleasures at the Feast has a great purpose. We are picturing the joy, happiness, and abundance that will be present during God’s Kingdom on earth, a time when all mankind will participate in this abundance.

However, it is important to understand that our physical tabernacles (human bodies) are temporary and that the Feast of Tabernacles also symbolizes our entry into the Kingdom of God as spirit beings and that we are preparing for that future. The Church of God is being judged now; the rest of mankind will be judged later; but God wants all to eventually to be saved (2 Peter 3:9).

I said that my conclusion after studying The Seven Laws of Success was unexpected. I realized that whether I was materially successful or not didn’t matter. If I was growing spiritually, then I was heading for the Kingdom of God and I was fulfilling my purpose in life—TRUE SUCCESS. That is what life is truly all about.

I read an article about champions in a newspaper many years ago. The writer asked the question: What is it that makes a champion a champion? She came to the conclusion that it was a burning desire to become a champion. Do we have a burning desire to run our race for the Kingdom of God? Do we have a strong desire to see God’s Kingdom established on earth? If so, our chances of being there are good. If not, perhaps we should ask God for the motivation and drive. We can all be winners in this race. God will give us the help we need.

The Kingdom of God is symbolized by the Feast of Tabernacles. For the earth it will be a wonderful time. For us, as spirit beings, it will also be wonderful because we will be assisting Christ in bringing many more people into the Kingdom of God.

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