Thursday, October 20, 2016

When Your Feast Fever Breaks

By now, those of you who observe the Feast of Tabernacles are several days into the festival. Are you having the best Feast ever? Were you able to find enough palm fronds and willow branches to build your booth? You don't have any bugs in it yet, do you?

Wait, you didn't build a booth? Why not?  Couldn't find enough palms in Victoria, British Columbia? And I won't even bring up the fact that you're keeping the Feast in Victoria, British Columbia and not Jerusalem.

I know, I know, He didn't come to change one jot or one tittle. Like the jots and tittles about three times a year and Jerusalem and building a booth from particular trees and then staying in it rather than a condo. Ok, maybe just a couple jots and tittles. But certainly nothing more.

Anyway, we're sure some out there are having the best Feast ever. But they probably aren't the ones who read blogs like As Bereans Did.

Maybe you feel guilty that you're failing to rejoice as well as everyone around you. Maybe you wonder why God let your original LCG site in Hilton Head, South Carolina get washed out by Hurricane Matthew. Maybe God was sending a message when He allowed the remains of typhoon Songda to lash your booth, er, hotel, in British Columbia. Is God punishing you? Is Satan angry with you?

Or is it simply that man was never intended to celebrate a Hebrew harvest festival in hurricane-prone North American cities? Yes, I know, He didn't come to change one jot or tittle. Right.

The Feast is a tough time of year for those beginning to question Armstrongism. We know, we've been there. If you're out there and feeling bad because your "Feast Fever" broke - or maybe you didn't catch it at all this year - please stop. It doesn't necessarily mean there's something less righteous or spiritual about you. Maybe it means you are on the right path. You are growing up, spiritually speaking. Why?

Few new people are coming into "The Church," which means that most of us grew up here. The Feast was super hyped for us as children. And it was an easy sell.  A road trip, new toys, the one time of year we got to eat Lucky Charms for breakfast... what's not to love? The same goes for teens. Dances, new clothes, hanging out on the beach... why would anyone question the Feast? You'd have to be nuts.

You may coast on your childhood feelings about the Feast even into adulthood. This is a foretaste of the Kingdom of God, people! You are practically commanded to snorkel or ride a camel or go parasailing, if it's what your heart desires. Second tithe can buy you a steak dinner, a new iPhone and a Coach handbag. But it can't buy you spiritual fulfillment. Even Solomon eventually found these kinds of things to be vanity.

(Ecclesiastes 2:10-11, NIV) I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure. My heart took delight in all my labor, and this was the reward for all my toil. Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.

But the Feast isn't about things, Martha. It's meaningful because it pictures the Kingdom and time spent with our spiritual brothers and sisters! Spending time with family and our far-flung friends!   That's really what makes the Feast great!

Yes, your kids will treasure their memories of that trip to Dollywood with their cousins. When they meet up with them after attending COGWA services in Pigeon Forge with God's real "true church," of course. With cousins who finished up services in Gatlinburg with God's Laodicean "true church," UCG. Later, the innocent children will be the only ones to ask the lamentable questions you are all thinking - why do grandma and grandpa meet them for dinner but not for church?  Shame on the "leaders" whose pride and ambition puts families in these situations, dividing you among scores of organizations and more than 227 Feast sites, often in adjacent cities or hotels.

And those friends... enjoy them while you can. If statistics are any guidance, you will lose at least half of them in your next church split. And we won't even talk about what happens when you leave. What happened to the friend who sticks closer than a brother?

Well, there's your problem, Martha. You're counting on men to make the Feast meaningful. Only God can provide that. That's why Solomon felt empty. He wasn't pursuing God.

Are you sure you are? I empathized with Solomon for years. It was only when I dared question the narrative I had been handed that I could understand the hollowness of the Feast. The funny thing is, I think that's what God wants all of us to see.

Though many groups try to read the Hebrew holy days into Genesis, the Bible does not mention them until they were given to Israel at Sinai. They contained imagery that pointed to the Savior, and demonstrated why the Sinai Covenant and its observances were incomplete. It was a fleeting, shadowy celebration intended to dissipate in the Light of the World.

Ethnic Jews like Paul continued to observe these festivals after the New Covenant was established, but there is no command for gentiles like you and me to observe them. There is nothing sinful about marking them, but they are shadows that were components of an obsolete covenant that has been replaced with one that's much better. They often set us on a slippery slope toward pride, spiritual confusion and faith in our own works. They give us a form of godliness, but deny its power - the power of Jesus Christ -  to remove our sin and reconcile us to God. Instead, we focus on a shadowy, multi-step plan of salvation intuited by a man. A multi-step plan that hints our path to the Kingdom depends upon our steps, not His.

(Hebrews 8:7-9) For if the first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second. Because finding fault with them, He says: "Behold the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah - not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they did not continue in my covenant, and I disregarded them, says the Lord. 

(Hebrews 8:13) In that He says, a "A new covenant," He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.

A new covenant. Not according to the covenant God made after he led Israel out of Egypt. Not according to the Sinai Covenant. That one is obsolete, and that includes its worship practices, like the holy days. So if the Feast is starting to ring hollow for you, consider the reason might not be something you are lacking. It might be something the Feast is lacking.

It is important that you understand; Everything on this blog is based on the current understanding of each author. Never take anyone's word for it, always prove it for yourself, it is your responsibility. You cannot ride someone else's coattail into the Kingdom. ; )
Acts 17:11


xHWA said...

One of my favorite lines that I've ever heard regarding the Armstrongist practice of the FOT - "Herbert Armstrong changed the law out of necessity."


xHWA said...

I appreciate this article. Thanks Martha.

The FOT was always the highlight of the year. It was always the thing most looked forward to, and most dreaded. Such a pleasure and such a burden at the same time. Yet if I had to choose one thing, aside from the weekly Sabbath, that didn't make any sense to me that people would want to give up - it was the FOT.

When I first left my COG, I actually contemplated attending a non-affiliated FOT site. There were a couple. At least one person in the COG7 hosted a site in Pennsylvania. I never did end up going but I knew people who did. I hear the experience was woeful.

But I came to understand that most of my attachment to the FOT was sentimentality and lack of any viable alternative. In short, after decades of indoctrination, I misunderstood and feared "the holidays." That was so very, very difficult for me to unlearn. I thank God each year for Seeker and Luk and the opportunity to write for this blog. We decided to investigate the holidays in a purely neutral fashion and I was forced to accept the uncomfortable fact that most of what I thought I knew was not true at all. In time, I can now say from my heart that the truth has set me free.

From the perspective of a person who is still in the COG but knows they are on the way out, I can relate to the apprehension. I remember it will. So many unknowns. So many years of being told how wrong the path is.
But from the perspective of a person who has been on the outside for a few years now, I can say it was all in my head. Jesus still loves you. Grace is far better than false pride and fear that comes from a partial keeping of some of the law. Freedom from my own fears and superstitions - fed by the COG doctrine through Ministers who have a vested interest in "pay, pray, stay" - is by far better than what I put my family and friends (and myself) through each year as I ran away, pushed them away, and shunned their get-togethers because I was so much more enlightened than those pagans. I was blind to myself.

I had to step out on faith. "Leap of faith" barely describes. Praise the Lord, I did it. I stepped into the New Covenant in the blood of Jesus Christ. Free at last! I can say with truth that this alone is much better than the FOT.

Anonymous said...

2 Peter 3:18 But grow in grace, and in the knowledge....

And yet... and yet....

James Russell gave a weekly Sabbath service and at the beginning of the sermon he said, "We haven't learned anything new in 40 years".

He meant that the doctrines of the church were the same as what they were during the days of the Radio Church of God.

And really -- in principle, it is true: The Feasts and Holydays, the Sabbath, clean and unclean meats, British Israelism, tithing -- pretty much all the same or at least attempts have been made to keep the practices from the golden age of the Bronze Age Olde Testament Christianity (there can be no such thing) in place... well, in place minus maybe the animal sacrifices. There. That's better. Just remove the animal sacrifices from the Old Testament and, voila, we have New Testament Christianity!

The admission that Armstrongism has grown neither in grace or in knowledge over the past 4 decades should be a strong motivating force to engage research to find out what is wrong. If we aren't progressing, we're falling behind. There was nothing new under the sun until the First Century.

It should have been a major transformation. Everything should have been made new. There should have been a new path including redemption along with a personal relationship with God the Father, unavailable to those in the Old Testament, who knew nothing of the Father because it took Jesus to bring the message.

And so it is, Armstrongism represents New Testament Phariseeism, locked in physical rituals, insistent upon hierarchical structures looking to men instead of God for leadership.

We all should have gotten the message when Jesus gave the parable of new wine in old wine skins: The old had been supplanted by the new and the Feasts were done away. By 70 A.D., the temple was gone and Judaism was wiped from the earth because it had served its purpose.

The people were separated from God by the veil in the holy of holies, but when the veil was ripped asunder, God became available to all.

The priests of Armstrongism want to keep the people away from God so they can take the money and have the aggrandizement. As long as people continue to indulge their alcoholism with booze, their minds will be clouded and they will have no hope coming to the truth. The Feasts actually keep people from God the Father and you know, none of us in Armstrongism ever had any sermons about what God the Father is really like because the leaders are ignorant and just don't know because of lack of knowledge and vision.

And this is the indictment: That the Armstrongists have learned nothing new in the past 40 years.

whatmeworry said...

A little late on this subject, sorry. I was dragged into the WCG from childhood, and looked forward to the feast every year just like every other kid there I guess. The let-down afterward however, was crushing. We had to miss school for at least 8 days, great to flaunt to your school peers before the fact, but subject to ridicule and even bullying because you were a freak in dress and diet and ritual. That lasted a good 7 years through high school when I promptly blew it all off. Years later, out of fear of the "tribulation and holocaust", I returned to the fold to keep my own kids safe. The feast was a financial burden, but it was the only time away from home all year. After the feast, I experienced depression, loneliness. I hated the Fall, it reminded me that Winter was coming, cold, gray and long. Now, Fall is one of my favorite seasons! It's just another time of year, just like all the rest! No build-up, no let-down, just another time of year. Relief.

Child Survivor said...

I only attended five FOT's back in the 70's from ages 9 to 13 and I remember hearing how this feast was "the best feast ever"...yet I always remember asking myself, "how was this feast better than the others"? They ALL sucked as far as I was concerned. We sat through the 2 hour services on most days, waited for my parents to finally stop talking to people. Weather was usually on the cold side seeing we usually went to the Poconos and then endured double services on the first, last, and the sabbath days. One feast we were stationed an hour away from the feast site in a hotel that was being used for solicitation. how was THAT the "best feast ever"???? Thank you Jesus for delivering me from such a deceptive and false system.

Anonymous said...

I differed from most members when I joined the church. I immediately began reading self help books because I realised that the ministers were not magnifying Gods law. The result was a mental break from the physical church because it became obvious that what was taught from the pulpit, was the fox talking to the chickens, with religious window dressing. The ministers were creating a alternate reality whose purpose was a paradise for crooks. The ministers teach members to be eaten alive by the thugs and bullies in the church. It's these same thugs who still worship Herbie for giving them their personal garden of Eden in the church.
It's hardly surprising that these churches keep splintering, since no one wants to be the victim.
Most former members, in my opinion, are still morally confused. And this after listening to thousands of Kenneth Copeland type sermons.