The restaurant‚Äôs service was impeccable. Waiters moved through the venue like clockwork. You did not even notice when one refilled your beverage. Elegant music, fresh white linen, and dim lighting created the perfect ambiance for an evening with close friends.
The first part of the meal involved unique appetizers and great conversation. Then the entree arrived. Tastes, textures and temperatures combined for an exquisite collision of flavors. You savored every bite. A generous tip and compliments to the wait staff were in order.
No one wanted the night to end.
There is something extraordinary about a quality meal with loved ones. During the yearly Feast of Tabernacles, surely you had at least one similar dining experience.
Even so, such memories can quickly fade. The work-a-day world can crowd them out, causing us to focus on the here and now, and not the abundance enjoyed just months earlier. Soon, these ‚Äúunforgettable memories‚ÄĚ can become nothing more than faint recollections‚ÄĒif they are remembered at all.
Yet all the good things we enjoyed at the Feast do not need to stop. God actually expects them to continue throughout the year. Proverbs 15:15 states, ‚Äú‚Ä¶he that is of a merry heart has a continual feast.‚ÄĚ
While the fall Holy Days are not this verse‚Äôs primary context, its overall principle can be applied.
Reclaim some of your recent Feast memories! Think of the stunning beauty where God placed His name. Recall the spiritual food‚ÄĒsermons and sermonettes‚ÄĒserved ‚Äúin due season‚ÄĚ (Matt. 24:45). Remember the carefully planned activities that kindled fun and unforgettable bonds with others.
Throughout eight days, members of God‚Äôs begotten Family served one another. Beautiful music inspired us. Important life lessons were shared to motivate us. In the end, as with any great dinner, no one wanted God‚Äôs Feast to end!
We must continue to maintain the same momentum when we return home and never forget all that we experienced during the Feast. Applying the following seven principles will allow us to live a continual festival for the rest of the year‚ÄĒand beyond.
(1) Communicate Often
Among the sweetest of all Feast sounds is the gentle chatter of God‚Äôs people in the hall before and after services. Speaking with one another face-to-face is an effective way to exercise brotherly love. It is a blessing not available to the same extent any other time of year.
Wide fellowship, however, should not just happen during the fall Holy Days. In fact, the apostle Paul commanded: ‚ÄúLet brotherly love continue‚ÄĚ (Heb. 13:1). We should stay in contact with each other well beyond the Feast!
Paul exhorted the Hebrews: ‚ÄúTo do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased‚ÄĚ (13:16).
How well-pleased is God when we stay in touch? Malachi provides the answer: ‚ÄúThen they that feared the Lord spoke often one to another: and the Lord hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before Him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon His name (3:16).
This verse has three steps: (1) fear God, (2) speak often one to another, and (3) think upon His name.
As result, a delightful cycle ensues. Out of the fear of God we learned at the Feast (Brown-Driver-Briggs‚Äô Hebrew Definitions defines fear as ‚Äúto stand in awe of, be awed‚Ä¶reverence, honour, respect‚ÄĚ), we should be stirred up to speak often with our brothers and sisters in Christ. Talking with them invariably points us to ‚Äúthink upon His name‚ÄĚ ever more fervently‚ÄĒso much so that God hearkens and records it in a book of remembrance!
We should not hesitate to stay in touch with one another, especially those scattered in remote areas who attend by themselves. These brethren may feel alone and love to hear from others in Christ‚Äôs Body. Use email, video chats, and phone calls to build bonds with spiritual brothers and sisters. In addition, handwritten letters are a nice touch.
If we keep in contact throughout the year, the reunion at the next Feast will be that much better!
(2) Serve Others Willingly
Another unique aspect of the Feast is how many opportunities are available to serve others. To see oneself as a servant is not something Christians should do only once a year, however. It must be a way of life. A Christian‚Äôs life is not his own. Instead, it belongs to Christ who lives in us (Gal. 2:20).
The more we allow His mind in us, the more servant-like we will become, as it states in Philippians: ‚ÄúLook not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who‚Ä¶made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant‚Ä¶‚ÄĚ (2:4-7).
In John 13, Christ told His disciples: ‚ÄúTruly, truly, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him‚ÄĚ (vs. 16).
Consider how the leaders of the New Testament Church introduced themselves in their letters:
- ‚ÄúPaul, a servant of Jesus Christ‚Ä¶‚ÄĚ (Rom. 1:1).
- ‚ÄúJames, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ‚Ä¶‚ÄĚ (Jms. 1:1).
- ‚ÄúSimon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ‚Ä¶‚ÄĚ (II Pet. 1:1).
- ‚ÄúJude, the servant of Jesus Christ‚Ä¶‚ÄĚ (Jude 1:1).
In addition, look at the start of the final book of the Bible: ‚ÄúThe Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto Him, to show unto His servants things which must shortly come to pass; and He sent and signified it by His angel unto His servant John‚ÄĚ (Rev. 1:1).
These men all followed the example of Jesus Christ. We should too!
Consider the term we use when we gather each week with our local congregations: Sabbath services. How telling! There should always be much ‚Äúserving‚ÄĚ at Sabbath services.
There is simply no limit to how a Church member can serve others. Even if there is only one person in a congregation, there are still ways to help fellow brothers and sisters. In a ‚Äúcongregation of one,‚ÄĚ this is done through prayers on our knees before our Creator‚ÄĒasking Him to empower His Work. Never doubt that this act carries just as much weight in God‚Äôs eyes as direct service to brethren.
The more of Christ we have in ourselves, the more each Sabbath will feel like the Feast because of the obvious attitude of service that will permeate every congregation‚ÄĒeven if we are the only one in it!
(3) Review Feast Notes
The best way to ensure we will forget what we learned at the Feast of Tabernacles is to never review our notes. What a waste of time, paper and pencil that would be!
We are to ‚Äúnot live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God‚ÄĚ (Matt. 4:4; Deut. 8:3). Because of this, it is important we take time to properly ‚Äúdigest‚ÄĚ the spiritual lessons of a generous Feast diet. Just as we would not stuff our mouths with eight days‚Äô worth of food in one big gulp, we must take time to properly study‚ÄĒsavor‚ÄĒmessages we were served.
While it takes hours to study all the scriptures referenced during daily services, only by doing so can those messages become profitable for us (II Tim. 3:16). Reviewing them is also the most effective way to assimilate scriptural lessons contained within them and keep us ‚Äústrong in the Lord, and in the power of His might‚ÄĚ (Eph. 6:10).
Jesus Christ backs this up: ‚ÄúIf you continue in My word, then are you My disciples indeed‚ÄĚ (John 8:31). So does Paul, who said to ‚Äúgive attendance [apply yourself] to reading‚ÄĚ (I Tim. 4:13), and to ‚Äúcontinue you in the things which you have learned and have been assured of, knowing of whom you have learned them‚ÄĚ (II Tim. 3:14).
If we want to continue in a Feast frame of mind, we must study our notes. So go ahead, review them‚ÄĒand be sure to savor every bite!
(4) Understand the Importance of Quality
Something anyone should immediately appreciate upon entering the meeting hall at any given time during the Feast is the importance of quality. We are to come before God wearing our best clothes, using our best manners, and putting our best foot forward.
Christ promises us in Revelation 3:21: ‚ÄúTo him that overcomes will I grant to sit with Me in My throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with My Father in His throne.‚ÄĚ
God‚Äôs throne is one of incredible quality, both in materials used and appearance. While ancient Israel wandered in the wilderness, the earthly representation of God‚Äôs throne was included in the Tabernacle and Ark of the Covenant. Read Exodus 25-27 and notice the incredible quality of the supplies that were used to construct them both.
Also, a description of God‚Äôs throne in heaven can be found in Revelation 4:2-4. It should expand your thinking on what sort of throne we will sit upon if we overcome.
We should also exude quality (I Cor. 6:19). We do not have to wait for the Feast each year to practice looking dignified and being polite. Rather, the time is now to ‚Äúwalk worthy of God, who has called [us] unto His kingdom and glory‚ÄĚ (I Thes. 2:12).
There are many ways to apply this principle. We must look for them in our lives. Periodically, we should ask ourselves pointed questions: ‚ÄúDoes the way I am dressed at any given time bring glory to God? How about my table manners? What about my choice of words?‚ÄĚ
A place to start may be to read Revelation 4 from time to time before we pray and then ask God to ‚Äúenlarge our hearts‚ÄĚ (Psa. 119:32), so that quality, etiquette and protocol become a way of life.
(5) Listen to Edifying Music
This point expands on the previous one. Beautiful music is integral to the Feast. One of many compliments we receive at times from hotel staff is along the lines of, ‚ÄúI love your singing!‚ÄĚ Among the most inspiring sounds at Sabbath services is hearing a child sing during hymns or in a choir. Some Feast sites have adult choirs and special music. We also sing upwards of 70 hymns during the festival.
Yet there is an obvious difference between when God‚Äôs people sing at the Feast and when other people sing in the world. We are commanded to ‚Äúsing praises with understanding‚ÄĚ (Psa. 47:7).
The Hebrew word for ‚Äúunderstanding‚ÄĚ as defined by Strong‚Äôs Bible Concordance means ‚Äúto be circumspect and hence intelligent‚Ä¶consider, expert, instruct, prosper‚Ä¶teach‚Ä¶wisdom‚Ä¶guide wittingly.‚ÄĚ
The same word was used by Daniel when he wrote, ‚Äú‚Ä¶they that understand among the people shall instruct many‚Ä¶‚ÄĚ (11:33).
We must understand, and truly mean, what we sing!
Through God‚Äôs Spirit in us, we can apply what Paul wrote in I Corinthians 14:15: ‚ÄúI will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also.‚ÄĚ
Each hymn should come alive when we sing it. We should actively think of the meaning of the words. It should not be a ‚Äútouchy-feely‚ÄĚ experience. Rather, we should remember that God gives us a very important, active role at services‚ÄĒto pray together in song format.
By singing for eight consecutive days during the fall Holy Days, we actively rehearse Psalm 96:2, which states, ‚ÄúSing unto the Lord, bless His name; show forth His salvation from day to day.‚ÄĚ (See also Psalm 67:4.)
As with learning to fear God ‚Äúalways,‚ÄĚ and not just at the Feast (Deut. 14:23), we are to sing ‚Äúfrom day to day,‚ÄĚ and not only ‚Äúfrom Feast to Feast.‚ÄĚ
Singing to God reaps great benefits in keeping us spiritually minded. Sin is manufactured in the mind (Jms. 1:14-15). The more you go about your day ‚Äúsinging and making melody in your heart [mind] to the Lord,‚ÄĚ as commanded in Ephesians 5:19, the less space you have to entertain sinful thoughts.
James 5:13 provides a winning recipe for any given day: ‚ÄúIs any among you afflicted? Let him pray. Is any merry? Let him sing psalms.‚ÄĚ
The same goes for listening to good quality instrumental and choral music like those heard during special music performances. Edifying music is a very powerful way to have a continual Feast. Do not forget to use it.
(6) Practice Decency and Order
Think of all that is needed to ensure everything runs smoothly at the Feast. Setting up the hall, sound for speakers, ushering, security, meals, activities, announcements, childcare, special music, water and coffee, an information table, clean up‚Ä¶the list goes on and on. It takes an incredible amount of time and effort to accomplish this successfully.
It takes still more work to make sure all of this is ‚Äúdone decently and in order‚ÄĚ (I Cor. 14:40). Yet this level of care and thought should go into all aspects of our lives, becoming yet another way to have a continual Feast.
Mr. David Pack gave two lectures in Ambassador Center titled ‚ÄúObservation 101‚ÄĚ and ‚ÄúObservation 202,‚ÄĚ which spoke precisely to the importance of being observant. In a nutshell, Observation 101 deals with always being observant of how things are done in the Church so we can learn and apply them to our own lives. The principles of Observation 202 are generally more specific to those in leadership roles, and refer to first seeing where things are lacking and then finding ways to fulfill them.
We should apply the principles of Observation 101 and 202 in our local congregations and personal lives‚ÄĒboth spiritually and physically.
Each time things are not done decently and in order, we leave room for chaos to ensue.
In balance, we are to always be on the lookout for where we can improve in this area. This may involve some effort in examining how to become more organized, punctual, reliable, effective, etc.
The more decently and in order we do things, the more we reflect the true God. This mixes well with the earlier point regarding service and leads to the last principle‚Ä¶
(7) Appreciate God‚Äôs Creation
The Feast is not complete without a magnificent lake, white-sandy beach, majestic mountains, or other landscapes surrounding where God places His name. The fall festival gives us a chance to get away from our day-to-day stresses and be closer to God‚Äôs marvelous Creation.
It is critical that we use Feast surroundings as inspiration to look for more opportunities to appreciate God‚Äôs creative genius throughout the year. Doing so will inevitably give us a deeper understanding of His awesome power and kingdom: ‚ÄúFor the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead‚Ä¶‚ÄĚ (Rom. 1:20).
Pausing to meditate on God‚Äôs Creation also helps us remember our place in the grand scheme of things. It helps us better appreciate why King David said, ‚ÄúWhen I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained; what is man, that You are mindful of him?‚ÄĚ (Psa. 8:3-4).
Only doing this during the Feast, however, deprives us of what God has made widely available to discover, delight in, and admire about Him year-round.
Studying and experiencing nature helps us stay meek and humble. It reminds us to remain calm in times of trial, for we can trust that nothing is impossible for the God of the universe, whom we serve. It also reminds us of our inheritance! (Read Matthew 5:5.)
In addition, it helps us understand how God feels about us. In verse 4 of Psalm 147, it says that God ‚Äútells the number of the stars; He calls them all by their names.‚ÄĚ
The word ‚Äútells‚ÄĚ means ‚Äúcounts.‚ÄĚ God is able to count the number of stars and knows them all by their names! (Also see Isaiah 40:26 for what our line of thought should be when we explore the universe before our eyes.)
How exactly does looking at stars help us understand how God feels about us? Psalm 40:5 states: ‚ÄúMany, O Lord my God, are Your wonderful works which You have done, and Your thoughts which are [toward us]: they cannot be reckoned up in order unto You: if I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered.‚ÄĚ
That is how God feels about us. He can count and name all the stars in the universe‚ÄĒsome astronomers conservatively estimate there are roughly 100 sextillion stars, or one hundred thousand million million million‚ÄĒyet He cannot count how many thoughts He has toward us!
Perhaps you looked at the stars during the Feast, but did not appreciate them in that way. We should ponder this the next time we look at the sky‚ÄĒand everything around us.
God does not want us to reflect on the meaning of the Feast of Tabernacles‚ÄĒthat Christ will soon set up His kingdom and rule on Earth‚ÄĒjust once a year. He has given us a weekly reminder of this: the Sabbath day.
Once a week, we stop and meditate on our incredible future. He wants us to gather with each other and communicate. He wants us to serve one another, take and review sermon notes, enjoy quality things, make and listen to edifying music, do things decently and in order, and enjoy Creation.
These seven points will make the Feast a way of life. They will help keep the memories from the fall festivals fresh in our minds. They can turn any day of the year into an extraordinary ‚Äúshared meal.‚ÄĚ
On top of this, every single day, we are to seek ‚Äúfirst the kingdom of God, and His righteousness‚Ä¶‚ÄĚ (Matt. 6:33).
From now on, we should never gloomily think: ‚ÄúThe Feast is over‚Ä¶now what?‚ÄĚ Instead, we should enjoy a continual Feast throughout the entire year.
It will take time and effort to apply these principles. But the results are worth it. If we diligently apply them, we can prepare for the ultimate continual Feast‚ÄĒthe 1,000-year reign of Christ and the saints.