Sunday, October 13, 2019

Our prayer for you this Feast of Tabernacles

Every year, As Bereans Did likes to offer some food for thought with regards to the fall holy days. This year, we spent some time in prayer trying to narrow things down, because we found several topics that sounded interesting to explore further. But we kept coming back to the same thought:

Anyone who's checking this site during the Feast of Tabernacles is probably not having the "best Feast ever." What you need is encouragement, not an argument.

We know that the Feast can be a challenging time for those who are questioning within the Church of God movement. We've been there. It feels like everyone around you is having the time of their lives. They are rejoicing amidst the sight-seeing adventures, snorkeling and winery tours. Meanwhile, the same canned, reheated sermons and polite lunchtime fellowship are leaving you feeling spiritually empty.

Maybe you're excited to see some old familiar faces - faces of acquaintances you haven't seen since the last split. Maybe they're back! Or maybe your Feast site was closer to home, or in a dream destination they've always wanted to visit. A principled choice, indeed, for folks who left a handful of years ago, saying they wondered if those who lead your organization had ever really been "called."

Or maybe the division within the COGs is hitting you in a different way this year. Your site is smaller than ever before, with friends you're missing noticeably absent. Maybe you're making plans to meet them for lunch when your respective services on the opposite sides of town get out. Or maybe you're praying not to run into them at all, as the friendship dissolved, tragically and painfully, during the last split.

How can this be in God's one true church? Celebrating God's true festivals? In His chosen place? There must be something wrong with you.

Oh yes. Something is wrong. But it's not with you.

We're so, so sorry that you're feeling this way. Truly. We've been there, and it's no fun.

But we're glad these questions are coming up. God often uses pain to wake us up and reach us. It's hard to get our attention when we're comfortable and content.

Trust Him. Listen and follow Him. His sheep hear His voice. And know that we are earnestly praying for you at this time. And that we're here for you, because of you. And that things will get better.


But... for those who came here for some comic relief, or miss the usual level of snark ABD delivers, we're throwing in our top 5 Feast of Tabernacles ideas as a bonus:
  • Beachfront resort towns seem like a counter-intuitive spot for God to place His name annually during the Atlantic hurricane season. Thanks to the late feast this year, most sites seem to have dodged the bullet – unless you had reservations in the Bahamas. (All joking aside, we pray for those in the Bahamas. If you have excess second tithe, consider donating it here to the disaster fund administered by the Grand Bahama Port Authority). But if the National Weather Service can predict paths with somewhat reliable accuracy several days out, surely the Lord can do even better. Maybe the Feast was never intended to be celebrated in the New World – or even after the fall of the Temple
  • Speaking of Jerusalem – if you're not keeping the Feast there, you may be doing it wrong. Those who support celebrating the Feast of Tabernacles based on the claim that nothing from the Sinai Covenant has passed except the sacrifices need to explain why it's ok to celebrate the festival in locations like Panama City Beach. In a hotel, rather than a palm frond sukkot. (Wait, I know! Because they're not up to hurricane construction codes: see also previous point).
  • If you subscribe to the view that the holy days were established at creation, then there's precedent for celebrating the Feast of Tabernacles elsewhere. However, we'd like to see hard evidence that He has placed His name somewhere besides Jerusalem, after the fall of the temple. Aside from Panama City Beach, that is, where as many as 11 Church of God groups keep the Feast in separate venues. After all, things did not go well for Israel after Jeroboam changed the date and location of the festival. (I am starting to notice a pattern. See both points 1 and 2).  
  • That Paul's dogged determination to get to Jerusalem for ONE Pentecost celebration is not a mandate for the entire gentile world to celebrate the Hebrew festivals. Scripture doesn't clarify whether Paul went primarily to celebrate the festival or to publicly exonerate claims against him through fulfilling a Nazirite-like vow. What it does make clear, though, is that he spent two uninterrupted years at the School of Tyrannus in Ephesus, more than a thousand miles from Jerusalem. And that when he finally did make his pilgrimage to Jerusalem, he didn't try to convince the Ephesian brethren they were obligated to join him. 
  • That, despite recent claims from the United Church of God, you do not need to celebrate the Hebrew festivals to enter the Kingdom of God.  One recent Beyond Today article we find particularly annoying tries to link the Hebrews 10:25 admonition to assemble with meeting to celebrate the holy days. The author completely inserts this idea into the text, which primarily deals with not losing the faith and assembling to encourage and serve one another. Not to mention that the concept is in complete contradistinction to Acts 16: 30-34. Paul and Silas had the perfect chance to instruct the jailer – likely a Philippian gentile – on UCG's finer points of salvation. Alas, they did not. 

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