David Grabbe, reminding us that we must exercise the mind to enable memory, indicates that God established the perpetual reminder of the Sabbath rest and the annual Feast of Tabernacles in order to demonstrate our state of temporariness and our need to trust Him for a permanent and glorious future. As we progress on our spiritual trek, we are storing up wonderful memories and associations with our spiritual siblings. God organized the annual Holy Days (including Passover) in a symmetrical, chiasmatic pattern, such the first feast (the Passover) serves as a one-day precursor to a seven-day Feast (Unleavened Bread), just as the last Feast (the Eight Day) serves as a one-day finale to a seven-day Feast (Tabernacles). Further, the seven days of restricted diet (unleavened bread) in the spring mirrors the seven days of transitory dwelling in booths in the fall. Both of those commanded practices keep us off balance so that we may remain humble, seek stability, and exclusively trust in God's providence for our ultimate destiny. God has given the Israel of God an opportunity to keep these Feasts properly, permitting Almighty God to tabernacle in us.
The Feast of Tabernacles is a type of the soon-coming Millennium, when Christ will set up His government on the earth. Real peace and prosperity will be the norm. And everyone will have access to the knowledge of God!
The basics of the Feast of Tabernacles consist of a harvest image, depicting a massive number of people coming to the truth. The journey depicts a time of judgment.
Love for this world will inevitably bring disillusionment. Because the world is passing away, our priorities should be to fear God and keep his commandments.
How can we evaluate whether our Feast is 'good' or not? God's criticism of Israel's feasts in Amos 5 teaches what God wants us to learn from His feasts.
What we learn and experience at the Feast of Tabernacles should keep us in the proper fear of God for the rest of the year. Here's how to approach the Feast.
If we go to the Feast with the goal of physically enjoying, we may lose out on both the spiritual and physical benefits. 'Going through the motions' defiles it.
God emphasizes Ecclesiastes during the Feast of Tabernacles to show the result of doing whatever our human heart leads us to do. The physical cannot satisfy.
Jeroboam, pragmatic and fearful, established a more convenient idolatrous festival to prevent his people from keeping the real Feast of Tabernacles in Judah.
Though no verse directly states it, a unifying factor in the instructions for the Feast is God's faithfulness, which will lead us to the proper fear of Him.
The Feast of Tabernacles has aspects of a vacation, yet its purpose is far more serious and spiritual. We know this, but what do we practice?
The Feast is not a celebration just for the sake of having a good time. Our festivities should focus on God's faithfulness, rejoicing in all He did during the year.
Why does God want us to keep the Feast of Tabernacles? John Ritenbaugh shows that the Feast is far more than a yearly vacation!
The Feast of Tabernacles is a wonderful gift God has given us to spend time with each other, really sharing of ourselves. Mark Schindler gives a few examples of how this can be done.
God can take satisfaction that He is doing the right thing, and thus His rejoicing can even come from painful judgments. Sarcificing and rejoicing are linked.
The Feasts of God are not vacations, but are holy convocations when God assembles His family for the purpose of enabling us to learn to fear and honor Him.
Just because we keep God's feasts does not necessarily mean we are in sync with God's Law or intent. The Israelites kept the feasts in a carnal manner.
The world will learn that God judges—that He has the ultimate decision over everything. After Satan is bound, God will bring about seven reconcilements.
God commands us to keep His feasts and holy days, and He also makes funds available for us to do so—by saving second tithe. When God gives us something to do, He always provides the means to do it!
We must not construe the term, "whatever our heart desires," as a pass to sin, but we should use every occasion to grow in thinking and acting like God.
The dwelling in booths and the sacrifices were the context for rejoicing at the Feast of Tabernacles. The booths depict our current lives as pilgrims.
Valuable lessons may be learned when we observe the feasts God's way, but they would get lost if we tried to apply to them what we believe are good ideas.
The Bible tells us that at the Feast of Tabernacles, we can spend our money on whatever we desire. However, the Feast is a test of our hearts. What do we really desire? Do we indulge ourselves, or do we use our resources to make it the best Feast ever for others?
We must fill our lives with peace, repenting, changing our attitude, and voluntarily yielding to God before we can produce the fruits of righteousness.
It is unusual for lunar eclipses to occur on God's holy days. Understanding those days helps us to find the right significance to the blood moons.
The Eighth Day (or Last Great Day) is a separate festival from the Feast of Tabernacles, which can only derive its significance in the New Testament.
Leviticus 23 not only reveals God's holy days—it also provides, in symbol form, a detailed schematic of God's plan!
Deuteronomy, which is to be reviewed every seven years, provides us with vision and instruction for living in our spiritual Promised Land.
Here are the foundational principles to keep in mind in observing the Feasts of God throughout the year.
God intends for us to learn daily lessons from living in booths during the Feast of Tabernacles, a joyous time after the harvest has been taken in.
Fearing God is equated with obeying or complying with God's instructions, voluntarily measuring all our thoughts and behavior against His Law.
John Ritenbaugh stresses that the day-to-day choices we make have far-reaching spiritual consequences. When we incrementally learn to fear God, we make a choice to preserve our eternal life. God initiated our calling as an expression of His love and grace. Contrary to popular misconception, the law was given after salvation (as a consequence of salvation) enabling God's called out ones to get in harmony with His way of life. Upon receiving salvation (liberation from sin) our journey has only begun. The major theme throughout Exodus (and the whole Bible) is God's faithfulness to His people, demonstrated by His continuous gifts and providence. God's faithfulness is the foundation of our faith. We cannot live by faith unless we believe we have a God who is faithful in everything He does.
Richard Ritenbaugh, focusing on Micah 4:1-4, emphasizes that during the Millennium, inhabitants will own their own property. Mankind at the beginning of Creation had dominion or ownership of the earth. God charged mankind with the responsibility of tending and keeping (maintaining) the earth. After Mankind's sin Adam's offspring were denied access to owning land. Our ancestors (Abraham's offspring) were promised a future inheritance, with boundaries. God gives specific laws forbidding people to move landmarks. In the blessings and cursings to be recited upon the mountain, prohibitions were invoked against removing boundaries. God legislates against people who trespass upon other's property. God established the Jubilee year in which the title of the land will go back to the original owners. In the future God will plant Israel in the land to stay (Jeremiah 32:41). Property rights will be held sacrosanct during the Millennium. God brings His people back to their own land, and to restore it to be like the Garden of Eden in peace, in prosperity, and permanently planted in the wonderful Kingdom of God.
National renewal cannot take place unless there is a true turning from sin and commitment to following the Law of God.
God has blessed us with the Sabbath, a period of holy time, when He redeems us from the clutches of our carnality and this evil world.
John Ritenbaugh observes that without our special calling and the gift of God's Holy Spirit, we would be about as clueless as to the purpose of our life as Solomon was throughout Ecclesiastes. Understanding is totally different from knowledge. Some people with ample knowledge are incredibly stupid when discerning the plan of God. Without God's Spirit the Bible makes no sense whatsoever. The mystery of God's plan, that special secret code, can only be discerned through special revelation powered by God's Holy Spirit. God did the choosing (often choosing the weak and base of the world); we did not. God is totally running the show; our lives must be in complete submission to His will, totally devoted to preparing for the next stage of God's purpose for our lives. The Millennium will be but a blip in the whole scheme of time propelling us as immortal beings and the very offspring of the immortal God into the vast infinitude and plenitude of the universe—all eventually under the subjection of God's family. Mankind is designed to be a builder, not a destroyer like Satan. The family will be the basic building block of the new government. Scriptural understanding will only become activated if we believe it, are committed to it, and are led by God's Holy Spirit following the pattern of our Elder Brother Jesus Christ.
The Millennium or God's rest will be an exceedingly busy time, a time when all of humanity will be converted, a time everybody will be on the same trek.
The doctrine of tithing often raises specific questions regarding how many there are, who they go to and whether they are strictly on agriculture. This article gives the answers.
God never says the Christian life would be easy or that life would always be fair. Difficulties and tests are given to test our hearts and promote humility.
The Eight Day (often called the Last Great Day) has little written about it. The root of the Hebrew word for "eight" connotes abundance and overabundance. On the eighth day, Israelites could abandon their temporary dwelling and return home, if that were practical. Compared to the Feast of Tabernacles, God halved the number of required offerings, and rejoicing was not explicitly commanded. Scripture contains other occurrences of seven days of one activity (related to holiness or the worship of God), followed by an eighth day capstone, such as circumcision, the dedication of firstborn animals, and laws concerning leprosy and the accidental breaking of a Nazirite vow. The Feast of Tabernacles plus the Eighth Day appears to be a strong echo of the consecration of priests in Leviticus 8-9. If Jesus were born on the first day of the Feast of Tabernacles (as suggested by Bullinger), He would have tabernacled with His people in temporary quarters for eight days (in a manger or booth) and would have been circumcised on the eighth day, a sign of entering the Covenant as a Man.
The keeping of the law is a practical response to God, providing us with principles for our lives, establishing our character and implanting God's values.
Richard Ritenbaugh, reflecting on the bloodiest battle ever fought on American soil, the Battle of Gettysburg, focuses upon the turning point of the third day, a time when the retreating Union forces, aided by significant errors made by the Confederate forces, were able to rally, become newly inspired, and turn the tide of the battle—and of the War Between the States. Biblically, the third day carries much historic and prophetic significance. When Christ began His ministry by reading from Isaiah 61, He "closed the book" before getting to the part which focused on a time of renewal and restoration, a time when the resurrected saints will assist Christ in repairing the breach. The law of first mention in the account of creation indicated that God separated the light from the darkness, preparing for a dramatic revelation of an explosion of life, a kind of eukatastrophe (that is, a good catastrophe) where things that previously looked hopeless take on a decidedly joyous cast. Plants, animals, and humans began to procreate after their kind, God makes life appear from what appeared to be dead, as bleak world of lifeless water. God is stronger than entropy and death. When King David foolishly brought on a curse by conducting a census, he prayed that God would spare the people from his misguided foolishness. He made a sacrifice on the threshing floor of Aruna. On the third day of the judgmental plague, God relented. Out of this black episode came a good thing: God indicated to David where Solomon was to later erect the Temple.
We have been allowed the privilege of knowing God now. We need to radiate the glory of God as Moses radiated the glory of God by having been in His presence.
Martin Collins observes that as long as humans have an insatiable lust for power and control, there will never be peace on earth. Sectarian violence and parochial wrangling will perpetuate violence and struggle. God has initiated the process of destroying the enmity between God and man, and between man and man (i.e. Jew and Gentile). Like the restless motions of the sea, man will always have conflict without God's intervention and without the guiding and moderating influence of God's Holy Spirit. The immediate benefit of our justification through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ is peace with God.Our society at large is characterized by confusion; God's Spiritual Kingdom (run by His spiritual sons and daughters) in the Millennium will be one of peace and tranquility, a time when would-be terrorists will be compelled to beat their swords into plowshares, a time when people from all over the earth will be keeping the Feast of Tabernacles. In the meantime, we can conquer the restlessness and fears we might experience through the peace of God which passes all understanding.
In our relationship with God, we must emphasize principle over pragmatism. If we are led into deception, it is because our carnal nature wanted it that way.
Here are biblical strategies to cultivate the fruit of peace, including controlling our thoughts and emotions, submitting to God's will, and embracing His law.
The Sabbath is an antidote to the weariness we experience. It recalls God's pausing after completing His physical creation, focusing on the spiritual creation.
If we do not keep God's holy days, we will deprive ourselves of the knowledge of God's purpose. Jesus and the first century church observed and upheld these days.
John Ritenbaugh admonishes that we must continually upgrade our decorum and formality in our approach to God, striving to emulate Him in all that we do. Our culture (paralleling the second law of thermo-dynamics) has seriously degenerated in decorum and standards, pulling everyone down into casual, slovenly and disrespectful behavior. Morally and socially, we must resist the ever-present antagonism toward law, rules, and decorum, choosing instead to submit ourselves to God's standards of order enabling the whole body to be organized, training to become a holy priesthood before God. We must exercise temperance concerning food and drink, dress and demeanor. The non-negotiable rules or instructions given for the organization and administration of the tabernacle were clear, unambiguous and served to enforce strict decorum and formality. What is practiced on the outside reinforces what is on the inside.
John Ritenbaugh, reflecting upon Jesus' calculation upon the time of arrival at the Feast of Tabernacles, indicates that Jesus carefully took into account many variables to maximize His effectiveness at this event. The myriad opinions of the crowd concerning Jesus were all conditioned from their perspectives and traditions, but hardly ever from God's perspective. Jesus demonstrated that the only way to learn the doctrine of God is by doing it. He also taught us to look for God not only in the extraordinary, but also in the ordinary. Jesus warns the crowd [and us by extension] that the time to seek God is now, while we still have a sense of spiritual need (or hunger) lest we permanently miss out on the opportunity. Cuing in on a water ceremony performed daily at the Feast, Jesus drew a spiritual lesson, dramatizing the need for God's Holy Spirit without measure. Amazingly, throughout these dramatic encounters with the public, Jesus had deliberately chosen a course that would lead to His death rather than to immediate power and adulation.
John Ritenbaugh, reflecting on the scripture commanding the saving of second tithe, focuses on the admonition that we learn to fear God, having awe, respect, with a certain measure of dread. We are admonished to internalize the book of Deuteronomy in preparation for our future leadership roles. In one sense, Deuteronomy serves as the Reader's Digest Condensed Book or the Cliff Notes, outlining the details for our salvation, providing us instructions for our relationship to God and our guidebook to the Promised Land. Deviating from this set of instructions leads to apostasy, idolatry or spiritual adultery, a situation in which physical Israel perennially found itself, having become repeatedly immersed in degenerate heathen religious practices. Ezekiel 16 is directed to modern Israel, a people who have outstripped their ancestors in their zeal to defile themselves in a moral and spiritual cesspool. Unfortunately, all of us have been tainted by this degenerate culture. Modern Israel's major sin is idolatry. Once the First Commandment is broken, the others topple like a house of cards. Most of the world worships pictures or sculptures of gods and lords. Those who trust these false entities are as good as dead. There is no alternative to worshipping the one true God. Israel's propensity for idolatry is deeply ingrained in them, impatiently and emotionally clamoring for something they could see—a malleable idol. Unfortunately, this propensity toward idolatry is part of human nature, a natural extension of self-centered coveting; transforming ourselves into the god we serve. God will not brook competition under any circumstances, demanding total destruction of all alternative forms and methods of worship—no form of syncretism with anything pagan whatsoever.
Richard Ritenbaugh, reflecting on the episode of the twelve spies sent into the land of Canaan, calculates that this expedition may have occurred close to the Feast of Tabernacles. Ten of the spies developed weak knees, even though the land seemed to flow with milk and honey, a verdant land with abundant natural resources. The cowardly spies claimed there was no room for them, fearing the war-seasoned Amalekites, Amorites, Canaanites, Jebusites, Hittites, and Philistines (five mighty nations). The Anakim allegedly had superior height and strength. The spies exaggerated the difficulties, claiming the land (a natural land-bridge between three major powers) will "devour" them. The mountains also probably seemed formidable to these former inhabitants of the flatlands. The negative talk made the children of Israel fearful and timid. God's called out ones aren't troubled with giants or enemy nations, but we have trials of similar magnitude. We dare not behave as the timid spies, but instead should emulate the boldness of Caleb and Joshua. The wilderness wandering of our forebears (Abraham, Moses and the children of Israel) is a type of our journey into God's Kingdom— a spiritual Godly realm (or the New Jerusalem). We should take care not to murmur, grumble, or complain (about our calling) as did the majority of our forebears, perennially, in rebellion and fear (1) complaining they would be better off dead, (2) playing the victim role, (3) desiring to return to their captivity, and (4) playing the blame game, demanding new leaders. This idolatrous, faithless, fear-motivated rebellion and fear of other men will lead only to death, but the fear of the Lord will lead to faith, courage, wisdom, confidence, and ultimately to eternal life.
The primary function of a priest is to assist people in accessing God so that there can be unity with God. A priest is a bridge-builder between man and God.
God see His Holy Days (include the weekly Sabbath) as typical places of safety. Such occasions foreshadow a time when the wolf and lamb dwell together.
Praying according to God's will is sometimes ambiguous. Yet as we respond positively to His covenant, He reveals more and more of His secret plans.
John Ritenbaugh reminds us that we are approaching the end of a seven year cycle, the seventh year on the Hebrew calendar, a time of the year of release, when the Law was publicly and solemnly read. This event has always proved more solemn with a sense of urgency than the services of a regular Feast of Tabernacles. In the current grim background of the accelerating decadence of the western democratic democracies, we must remember that for God's called-out ones the responsibility for a life of faith is not the church, but rather on the individual. Because none of us are privy to the time of Christ's return, we must continually seek God's counsel rather than being distracted and mesmerized by the Zeitgeist around us. During the time of Noah, there was a lengthy witness from a preacher of righteousness before God's hammer of judgment (in the form of the flood) fell upon the world's populace. We must be continually aware and alert to our own spiritual condition, remembering that the times would be identical to Noah's, when people were absorbed into the spirit of the time, failing to heed God's warning. God's called-out ones must remain single-minded, fortifying their spiritual reserves with Bible study, prayer, and meditation, maintaining a vigilant, watchful eye out for the surreptitious lures of Satan's decadent socio-cultural milieu.
Satan can fine-tune the course of this world (Zeitgeist), customizing it depending on whom he may seek to murder. We need to be thinking and vigilant.
The Bible records no example of keeping the Feast of Unleavened Bread with services each day, unlike the Feast of Tabernacles, which has a daily convocation.
What is worship? What should our attitude be in worship? How do we worship God? Our God is seeking people to worship Him in spirit and truth!
Are millions lost because they never heard the name of Christ? What about infants who died? Are the doors forever shut on those born into false religion?