People are afraid of many things. Lists of phobias are nearly endless, and for some they are crippling.
But fear can be good—if it is the right kind and exercised for the right reasons.
As Christians, we need not fear the devil, the future, death or any other thing mankind commonly dreads. Instead, we are to learn and practice the fear of God. The Creator states an ideal place to do this is at the Feast: “You shall truly tithe all the increase of your seed, that the field brings forth year by year. And you shall eat before the Lord your God, in the place which He shall choose to place His name there, the tithe of your corn, of your wine, and of your oil, and the firstlings of your herds and of your flocks; that you may learn to fear the Lord your God always” (Deut. 14:22-23).
The fear of God is not terror or horror. Rather, it is having a sense of reverence, awe, worship and deep respect for our Creator. It motivates us to want to obey Him.
But why does God pick the Feast for this purpose? How does this annual event teach us to fear Him?
Notice Proverbs 2, which admonishes us to “incline your ear unto wisdom, and apply your heart to understanding; [cry out] after knowledge, and lift up your voice for understanding; [to] seek her as silver, and search for her as for hid treasures” (vs. 2-4). If we do this, “then shall [we] understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God. For the Lord gives wisdom: out of His mouth comes knowledge and understanding” (vs. 5-6).
Seeking God’s wisdom, knowledge and understanding, listening to and inclining our minds toward these things, along with keeping the commandments (obedience), are all tied to—are actually inseparable from—learning the fear of God (Psa. 111:10; Prov. 1:7)!
Each person in ancient Israel was instructed to “hearken [listen], O Israel, unto the statutes and unto the judgments, which I teach you…Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations” (Deut. 4:1, 6).
Whenever God wanted to teach ancient Israel, He always had them gather: “…take heed to yourself, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things which your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life: but teach them your sons, and your sons’ sons; specially the day that you stood before the Lord your God in Horeb, when the Lord said unto me, Gather Me the people together, and I will make them hear My words, that they may learn to fear Me all the days that they shall live upon the earth, and that they may teach their children” (vs. 9-10).
The same is true for spiritual Israel today. Whether it is the weekly Sabbath or an annual Holy Day, we are commanded to assemble together to hear instruction from our Maker. Of all the commanded assemblies, the Feast is a unique and wonderful vehicle to accomplish this. It is the process of gathering together, listening to and receiving wisdom, knowledge and understanding from the Word of God—through the messages—nearly three month’s worth concentrated into eight days! The festival is an intense course of study in learning God’s Way—and coming to fear Him as a result.
The process begins by choosing to obey the command to “truly tithe all the increase…year by year” so that you may come before Him “in the place which He shall choose to place His name there…that you may learn to fear the Lord your God always” (Deut. 14:22-23).
If we do not choose to fear God, have awe, reverence and respect for Him, then we will not obey even this command, which enables us to be at the Feast. We will miss out on an opportunity to learn and practice fearing God in a greater way.
When deeply learned, this fear will motivate us in a positive way, driving us to hate evil and depart from it (Prov. 8:13; 16:6). This is what God wants, and why He commands that we keep His festival.
Foretaste of the Coming Kingdom
With the end of this age rapidly approaching and world troubles increasing daily, our focus needs to be on the soon-coming kingdom of God. Never in history has the need been as urgent to finish taking the true gospel—a message of hope—to man’s sin-sick civilization, which truly needs to see the fulfillment of the world to come.
The Feast foreshadows the world-changing events of the coming Millennium, when a victorious Jesus Christ will have returned and established the kingdom of God—a time when Satan will have been bound and everyone will be released from all their improper fears. No longer will mankind be destroyed because of a lack of right knowledge (Hos. 4:6).
When we keep the Feast of Tabernacles, we are picturing a time when the entire world will be full of God’s knowledge and ways (Isa. 11:9; Hab. 2:14). In that day, everyone will keep the Feast, learn to fear Him, and depart from evil (Zech. 14:16-17).
The many sermons and sermonettes—vital messages—that you will hear will point to this “world to come” (Mark 10:30; Heb. 2:5; 6:5) and your part in it. You will learn about God’s government, how to come under it, and how to prepare to administer it in the kingdom.
These messages will also relate to unfolding world events, and address prophecies that are playing out or yet to be fulfilled. You cannot afford to miss a single service.
The seven-day festival is a wonderful time of rejuvenation, an annual assembly that motivates us to re-dedicate ourselves to our Creator, to more fully establish ourselves in His way of life and His Work. There is simply no other period during which we can leave behind our daily routines, and the problems and issues of this life, and assemble together before God. It offers the opportunity to get away from the humdrum, work-a-day world, with its cares and concerns, and enjoy beautiful settings in peace and unity with those of like mind. The Feast is a most special time of year, truly a highlight of God’s Holy Days.
When we keep the Feast of Tabernacles, we are rehearsing the time when humanity will at last live in peace in a utopian world, free from the bondage of the devil. We should reflect upon our part in helping Christ administer the world-ruling supergovernment that will bring this unparalleled time.
As His people, we are commanded to attend this important annual event—and learn to fear God. Applying this vital lesson at the Feast will ensure it is the best ever!