As many brethren prepare for their “umpteenth” Feast of Tabernacles, you may be about to keep your first. After faithfully setting aside your second tithe and going through the 2009 Festival Brochure, you have decided to attend one of the designated Feast sites.
As the day draws nearer, so too does the tension of not knowing what to expect at the festival site. You will attend with many people you have never met. What will it be like? What can you expect—and what will be expected from you?
The Feast depicts God’s Plan for humanity, and pictures Jesus Christ’s millennial rule, a time when those who “were redeemed from among men, being first fruits to God and the Lamb” (Rev. 14:4) will inherit the kingdom of God, which Jesus Christ will establish on Earth at His Second Coming (John 14:3). Our approach must be balanced and we must strive to reflect the highest quality. The kingdom will be a time when the earth will be restored to the way God intended it to be.
In Leviticus 23, we are instructed to “rejoice before the Lord seven days” (vs. 40). We come to the Feast as the begotten family of God, and must endeavor to reflect the highest values and quality of life within our means.
Going Outside Your “Comfort Zone”
For most, the Feast is a time of renewing old acquaintances and making new, lifelong friendships. It pictures the Family of God coming together under the government of God in the Millennium.
You have now become part of the Church that Christ founded. You have a new family. At the Feast, you must get to know those with whom you will share rulership. If you withdraw and isolate yourself from brethren and behave like an outsider, they cannot reach out to you and draw you into the family. By being cheerful, enthusiastic, and showing a willingness to be led and taught, you show the fruits of someone who is undergoing the conversion process—and you will greatly enjoy your first Feast.
Keeping in mind the bigger picture of why we keep the Feast, and what it represents, will help you to break free of nervousness. By stepping out of your “comfort zone” and attending the Feast of Tabernacles, you will demonstrate obedience to God.
Decency and Order
During the Feast, you will not only be among brethren, but you will also come in contact with people of the world. The Church of God reflects the quality of the future. The world does not have this value system. When people of the world see a large group, they often expect rowdiness, loud music, drunkenness and disorderly conduct—but this must never occur in the Church of God! Notice: “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid,” and “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matt. 5:14, 16).
As an ambassador for Jesus Christ, make an effort in everything you do to project the highest standard. God’s kingdom will reflect His quality and as future kings-in-training, we must strive to achieve the highest quality possible in our lives. Recall that when you see dignitaries of countries assemble, they adhere to protocol at all times. Likewise our conduct should strive to uphold the basic rules of etiquette when interacting with people outside the Church. The Feast of Tabernacles depicts the time when the kingdom of God will administer God’s government on the earth. How we dress and behave is a reflection on His way of life.
For eight days you will attend services, where you will learn more about the Feast. Make sure to take enough clothing, and remember that attire for services is the same as the Sabbath. Always be punctual and adhere to start times. Our dress should be presentable, even when dealing with the public.
For those who have small children attending, be sure they do not run wild and disrupt services. Rowdy children should be taken out of the service until they behave themselves. But strive to avoid spending entire services in the Mothers Room.
Our living quarters must reflect that of a people serving God. The same quality reflected in public should be reflected in our hotel rooms. Just because there is maid service does not
mean the place can be left messy. Make it easy for those who serve us by keeping the tradition in mind of leaving a place better than you found it.
Meals in Restaurants
You will have opportunities to dine out and fellowship with other brethren. Deuteronomy 14:26 states, “And you shall bestow that money for whatsoever your soul lusts [desires] after, for oxen, or for sheep, or for wine, or for strong drink, or for whatsoever your soul desires: and you shall eat there before the Lord your God, and you shall rejoice, you, and your household.”
Strive to eat the best you can afford, always keeping moderation in mind. Depending on where you are, try to visit several restaurants instead of the same one every day.
At the Feast of Tabernacles, we assemble together with a common purpose: to rejoice before God, serve others, and learn from one another in overcoming any barriers between us. Just because you have excess second tithe, it should not be seen as a time to focus on overeating. Take care of your health at the festival, and be careful to not eat beyond what your body is accustomed; you might become sick and have a Feast remembered only for ill health.
Sharing a meal with brethren is a wonderful opportunity for fellowship and to get to know them. Take time to enjoy a good meal, good wine and possibly stronger drink, but be balanced. Do not overdo it. This is an excellent time for wives to relax and be served, instead of serving.
Every Feast site has activities planned that include the entire family. These are great opportunities to broaden your horizons. Keep moderation in mind, as many who attend their first Feast of Tabernacles think it is vacation time. In a period of 10 days, they can spend almost 10 percent of their yearly income and make the mistake of planning for numerous activities on which to spend their money—yet miss out on the Feast’s true intent, limiting time that could have been spent with brethren. Plan to be around other festival attendees.
This does not mean you cannot plan for activities, but exercise moderation. The Feast is an opportunity to make new friends and socialize at Church-organized activities.
Think about your calling. We are to be co-rulers with Christ in rebuilding the world after its destruction. We will be in positions of rulership for eternity, which means serving and ruling in God’s government.
Behind the Scenes
To make the Feast a success and a pleasure for all who attend, much planning has been done ahead of time, and will continually be done as the festival progresses. It might be your first Feast, but offer to help wherever you can. The festival coordinator will appreciate any extra assistance offered, no matter how small. After each service, for example, the hall has to be prepared for the next service. Chairs have to be straightened or the floor swept. Any contribution you make will be appreciated.
The Feast of Tabernacles should be a turning point in your life. It pictures God’s Family assembling together. Even if you are single, strive to enjoy a family Feast. Also, you will hear sermons that explain events taking place around you, as well as how these events will change the world in the coming years.
Soon this perverted world will be set free from all its ills—replaced by abundance, joy, peace and righteous rule.
Enjoy your first Feast of Tabernacles, and remember to reflect the quality that God expects.