About the Feast of Tabernacles
At the end of every year, billions of people stop working. Frantically they rush to spend billions of dollars for gifts, buy millions of travel tickets, consume countless tons of food and drink and wish one another a steady stream of "merry," all in the name of Christmas. They say they do it because it is the birth of the Savior, yet there is not a single command or even one example in the Bible where Christmas is mentioned, condoned or sanctioned. There isn't even any evidence that the Savior was born on December 25 (but a lot of evidence that He wasn't). When pressed, they concede that even if the celebration is not scriptural, they will continue its observance in the spirit of tradition if nothing else. What dedication!
Then there are numerous commands in the Bible, as well as examples of patriarchs, apostles, and the Savior Himself, to observe the seven annual holy days of Yahweh, and few pay any attention. When pressed with the facts, they make up all sorts of reasons and excuses why they cannot and will not celebrate the holy days the Creator plainly commands.
Does any of this make sense?
The Creator's Clear Command
An important and prophetically-significant observance among these seven is the Feast of Tabernacles. The Heavenly Father's desires are plain and simple:
And Yahweh spake unto Moses saying, Speak to the children of Israel saying, "The fifteenth day of the seventh month shall be the Feast of Tabernacles for seven days unto Yahweh. On the first day shall be a holy convocation: you shall do no servile work therein. Seven days you shall offer an offering made by fire unto Yahweh. On the eighth day shall be a holy convocation unto you; and you shall offer an offering made by fire unto Yahweh: it is a solemn assembly; and you shall do no servile work therein"'(Leviticus 23:33-36).
On the first day is a holy gathering and no servile work is to be done. Seven days an offering is to be made by fire (clean and pure) to Yahweh. And on the eighth day is another holy gathering and no servile work is permitted. Clearly something had to be done each day. Leviticus demands sacrifice of fire. We know that today's sacrifice is not made with animals, but we sacrifice ourselves, our time, and our energy to Yahweh. Nothing is said about attending or being involved only on the high days and the Sabbath. We are to gather each day of the Feast. The Feast of Tabernacles along with the Last Great Date make up an eight-day affair. What if we don't? John answers: "And hereby we do know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He that says, 'I know Him,' and keeps not His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him," (1 John 2:3). Observing the Feast of Tabernacles the way it was intended is one of Yahweh's commands. It was one of the laws He gave Moses to give to His people, just like the Ten Commandments.
The Feast of Tabernacles or In-gathering represents the Kingdom of Yahweh soon to brought to this earth. It is a seven-day festival, depicting the harvest of souls for Yahweh's Kingdom. The theme for the Feast of Tabernacles is "rejoice," because it depicts a way of life in the Kingdom that will cause total happiness. Mandatory joy, through the observing of the Feast of Tabernacles, will be forced on all nations of the earth in the Millennium. See Hosea 12:8-9 and Zechariah 14:16,18. The question is, if the Feast was observed in the Bible and will be compulsory in the Kingdom, why shouldn't we be keeping it now?
How Necessary is Fellowship?
Yahshua recognized the vital obligation He had to observe the Feast of Tabernacles, as stipulated in the law.
Now the Jews' Feast of Tabernacles was at hand...but when His brethren were gone up, then went He also up unto the Feast...now about the middle of the Feast, Yahshua went up into the temple and taught (John 7:2, 10, 14).
Paul had to leave Ephesus in order to make the Feast in time (Acts 18:21). Clearly, this annual observance is binding on us as we witness the New Testament examples of those who obeyed the Bible's plain command. Yahweh commands us to keep His feast of Tabernacles through a "statute forever in all your generations" (Leviticus 23:41). The query for all Yahweh's people is not if we are to keep His feasts. The command is there and has been for thousands of years. The question is, "Where will the Feast be held?" Yahweh's people will be there, a gathering of the Body of Messiah in harmony and fellowship, just as Yahshua obediently kept all His Father's commands.
Elders in the Assemblies are the guides or steersmen who make the decision where the feasts will be held for the best benefit of the body of Messiah (1 Corinthians 12:28). But it is necessary to keep the feast where others keep it? Must we assemble together? Let's look specifically at 1 John 1:3,
That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you that you also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Yahshua the Messiah.
We know the one way we fellowship with Yahshua the Messiah is through the Body of Messiah. Verse 6 says,
If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not have the truth. But if we walk in light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Yahshua the Messiah the Son cleanses us from all sin.
The Savior told Peter in Matthew 16:18,
And I say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My assembly.
This is not my assembly; it is not your assembly. The Messiah specifically say "I will build MY assembly."
If we simply sit by ourselves and fellowship with our families, we may fall under the category spoken of in Matthew 5:46, "Do not the Publicans do the same among their own?" A family is not an assembly. These meanings are given in the Bible for fellowship: to co-participate, to be a sharer, an associate or companion, forming a partnership to participate, to socialize or communicate. None of these meanings seems to be restricted to one's immediate family. Fellowship is important. We are commanded to fellowship. We should be involved with the entire assembly and do whatever they are doing at this time.
Who Decides Where to Gather?
Now we come to the question, "Where do we go to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles, and why? On what authority must we go there?" If we look at John 20 in the One Volume Bible Commentary, we read that the Messiah fulfilled His promise to Peter by giving him and all the Apostles present, greater powers than He had even promised.
As My Father has sent Me, even so I send you. And He breathed on them and said unto them, 'Receive the Holy Spirit. Whomsoever sins you remit, they are remitted unto them. And whomsoever sins you retain, they are retained.'
No power of any kind was given to Peter that was not given equally to all the Apostles. The Apostles are the elders that were given direct authority by the Messiah Yahshua Himself. He knew He would soon be leaving. He knew work had to be done, the assembly had to be built, and it had to grow. And so He ordained the 12 to go out into the world and do His work, the same work that He had done. He was no longer going to be here. He was going back to heaven to sit at His Father's right hand. Somebody had to pick up the work on earth and carry it out.
We believe that True Worship has been practiced since the beginning of time. The original, true religion has made its way down through the ages. At times, it scarcely existed, but has always survived. How? The Scriptures tell us that the existing elders must go to the cities and ordain other elders. And they ordained other elders so the work is continued and the assembly grows. The Messiah ordained and gave the Holy Spirit to 12 original elders. The elders of today have that same Spirit and they are to do the same work that Yahshua gave the 12 to do.
The Key to Authority
In Matthew 16:19, the Messiah talks of the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven,
And I will give unto you the keys of the Kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever you shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
The keys are not the keys of heaven itself. Peter is not here compared to the porter of the house who has just one key to the gate. Rather, he possesses all the keys to the house as a household steward, exercising full authority over the house and all of its inhabitants, in the master's name, of course. The power of the keys is, first of all, the power to govern the assembly. It is also the power to exercise discipline and the power to decide who shall be admitted in and under what conditions. This is all subject, of course, to the laws of the Messiah and the laws of Yahweh. Indirectly, because the steward provides food for all the household, ministering of the Word is very important. Government and discipline, however, are the main issues.
Binding and loosening is an idiom making little sense in Greek and English, but becomes full of meaning when traced back to the original Aramaic. Every rabbi or scribe received with his ordination--as in the true assembly by the laying on of hands--the power to bind and the power to loose. He could dedicate with authority what was lawful or unlawful to be done. He decided what was orthodox or unorthodox to believe. To bind was to prohibit; to loose was to permit. We have that same concept today. We have the laying on of hands of the elders when new elders are ordained. The Holy Spirit is thereby transferred and given to these new elders. They are the overseers of the assembly. Their job is to watch over the assembly, to feed the flock and to watch that no undesirables are admitted in.
Do we restrict the power of the Holy Spirit that has been given to these elders? Do we tell them that they have the Holy Spirit authority when it comes to baptizing, marrying or burying, but when it comes to other duties, like deciding where to have the feast, that they don't have enough of the Spirit to make the decision? If they receive an additional portion of the Holy Spirit through ordination, then the Holy Spirit has no boundaries. They receive the Holy Spirit just as the 12 did from the Messiah. Their job is to do the best they can with the entire assembly in mind, not just a few.
Elders Lead the Body
We read in John 21:15-17 that the Messiah asks Simon Peter three times whether he loves Him. Each time Peter answers, "Yes, you know I love you." Yahshua then stipulates His main concern, "Feed My Lambs," give food to them. Continuing in the One Volume bible Commentary, we find Yahshua saying, "Give food to them by the ministering of the Word. "Feed My sheep." Here the Greek word indicates authority. The meaning is to exercise discipline and authority over the flock.
Probably all of us would like Yahshua or Yahweh Himself to come down and dictate to us what we must do. But that is not going to happen, yet. The Messiah will be here during the Millennium, when the Word will come out of Zion and Jerusalem will be the world capital. But the savior is not here now. This is not His time.
He does have people here now to carry out His work, however, and until He returns, we must of necessity put our confidence in our elders. We also must watch over them to make sure that they do what is right for the entire flock..That is their main function--to look over the flock, to feed the flock, to keep it intact. When Yahshua returns, He will look at His assembly to see what these leaders have done in its charge.
The All-important Decision
Why wouldn't we want to observe Yahweh's feasts correctly, the way He wants us to observe them? Man's total objective should be to obey his Heavenly Father. When He says to do something, we should automatically do it to the best of our ability, and do it without questioning. All year long, we live out in the world and put up with the conflicts and trials of the world. Shouldn't we look forward to the times when we can assemble with brethren in total harmony, peace and joy? The Feast has been referred to as a mini-Millennium. We are being trained to be priests in a new, future Kingdom. If we cannot carry out the duties that are prescribed for us now, how do we intend to carry them out when the Savior comes back? He gives us a little authority to see what we will do with it. If we are faithful, He will give us more authority to see what we will do with it. But if we can do no good or show no growth with what little He gives us, He's not going to trust us with any more when He returns.
Come Share the Joy!
There is no experience on earth like the Feast of Tabernacles. All cares of the world are forgotten for eight wonderfully-fulfilling days. It is a time of intense Bible study, enlightening and stimulating messages, good food, fellowship, and fun. Children attending the Feast build bonds of friendship with others of the faith while they learn principles of moral and spiritual behavior. All this is as it should be, for Yahweh commands everyone to attend and rejoice. Plan now to be obedient to that command. Come out of the Babylon of confusion and fear and discover what true happiness and joy can be yours through submitting to the great, Eternal Father above!