Friday, September 25, 2015

The Feast of Tabernacles, the Last Great Day, and the Kingdom of God

God commands that we celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles for seven days, a time in which we rejoice in God's blessings and in what the Feast represents (Leviticus 23:33-36, Deuteronomy 16:13-15). The Feast of Tabernacles represents the coming Kingdom of God. It also represents the millennium (Revelation 20:4-6). The Kingdom of God is the divine, ruling family of God into which we can be born at the first resurrection, represented by the Feast of Trumpets which we have observed (1 Corinthians 15:50-54, 1 Thessalonians 4:15-18).

It also represents the one thousand year reign of the Kingdom of God over the nations of this earth. The Kingdom of God, consisting of Christ and the resurrected and made immortal saints, will rule over the nations. The physical nations will be under the rule of the Kingdom of God, but will not be part of the Kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 15:50, John 3:3-8). But the nations will have the opportunity to repent and eventually enter the Kingdom of God, God's family (Daniel 2:27-45).

This will be a time when Satan and his demons will be banished and will not be allowed to deceive the nations into rebelling against God. It is a time when, for the first time in man's history since the sin of Adam and Eve, God will call the whole human race to salvation. Christ will set out to save the world, and the world will see His success. With Christ and the saints ruling the nations and teaching the truth to all mankind, and with Satan put away, nothing will hinder the gospel from going out, and nothing will hinder the people from hearing, understanding, and repenting.

"They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea" (Isaiah 11:9).

"No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, 'Know the Lord,' for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more" (Jeremiah 31:34).

Think of the great power of the gospel at that time compared with today.

Today, we have great technology and the means and opportunities of communication that technology brings. We have the printing press and daily newspapers. We have weekly and monthly magazines in stores and delivered to our homes by mail. We can go to the theater to watch movies. We have had those forms of communication for decades. And we have electronic communications: radio, TV, the telephone and cell phones, and the Internet.

But most of this has been put to a wrong or trivial use by mankind. Most of TV and movies has been used to spread Satan's false message and values that teach a wrong way of life. Even the vast majority of religious programming is false or a mixture of truth and error, with error predominating. This is Satan's world, and Satan uses every tool to deceive mankind, especially mass media and mass communication.

But when God's kingdom rules the earth, all means of mass communication and teaching will only be used for good.

I don't know how much technology will survive the great tribulation and the Day of the Lord and how much technology will be used during the millennium. Perhaps we will have even more advanced technology. But I am sure family life will be dominant, and people will spend more time enjoying their families and less time sitting alone passively watching TV and surfing the Internet.

Yet, whatever mass communication exists will be used for good. There will be no more music with words that teach wrong values. But there will be plenty of music, I am sure, that will be uplifting and will teach right values and will praise God. There will be no more movies that teach wrong values and no more movies with illicit sex, violence, foul language, taking God's name in vain, and the occult. But movies, if they exist, will teach right values.

The gospel will be freely available and will be taught powerfully to everyone, and it will not have to compete with false religion or with anything else to get the people's attention. That is why the whole earth will be filled with the knowledge of God.

We will have a deeper and more detailed knowledge of the Bible than ever before. As resurrected and immortal and glorified saints, full sons and daughters of God, we will have minds that will be far more powerful than our human minds today. Christ will be able to instruct us in every detail and the full meaning of every passage in the Bible. And we will be able to teach that knowledge to the world, and no one will hinder us.

People who live in that time will not have to drive in automobiles for a long time to go to Sabbath services, but with almost the whole world "in the Church" there can be services and assemblies within a short traveling distance of most people's homes.

No more will Church members in the millennium have to ask their bosses for time off to keep the Sabbath and the Feast of Tabernacles, for the whole world will keep those days.

What an amazing time it will be.

There will be happiness all over the earth. There will be health and prosperity. There will be joy that few on this earth have known under the past 6,000 years of Satan's rule.

Everyone on earth will be taught God's way of love, and most no doubt will practice it. Everyone will be taught the way of life of loving God with all our being and loving our neighbors as ourselves.

The Feast of Tabernacles, in the narrow sense, represents that one thousand year period of peace, joy, prosperity, happiness, and justice. In a larger sense, it represents the eternal Kingdom of God and the happiness that will exist in that Kingdom for eternity, the happiness we will enjoy with God and Christ forever.

It also represents something for our time now. It represents the fact that we are pilgrims and sojourners on this earth now. That is one of the things that is represented by our staying in temporary dwellings (hotels and motels) at the Feast. It reminds us that this world, this society and system led by Satan, is not permanent for us, but we are like strangers in it. Our permanent home will be in the Kingdom of God (Leviticus 23:39-43, Hebrews 11:13-16).

In order to picture the happiness of the Kingdom of God and the happiness of the whole earth in the millennium being ruled by the Kingdom of God, God wants us to rejoice during the Feast. For that reason, He teaches us to save our second tithe during the year to spend at the Feast, to help us rejoice. And we hear God's instructions every day at the Feast, and this can picture for us how the whole earth will be filled with God's instruction during the millennium.

The whole earth will be happy at that time, in contrast to today.

Why does God allow Satan to deceive and rule mankind for 6,000 years, bringing death, destruction, and misery to so many people on the earth for so long?

God is teaching mankind a lesson. He wants the whole human race to understand that God's way of life is better than Satan's way of life.

Before Lucifer sinned, all of God's angels lived righteously, and were happy. They lived the way of life that produced peace and happiness. They lived the way of life that God Himself lives. No doubt God taught and instructed them in that way of life. That way of life is the way of outgoing concern for others, the way of telling the truth, the way of trust in and obedience towards God.

For a time, Lucifer obeyed God and lived a righteous way of life (Ezekiel 28:12-15). But at some point, he sinned. He went the way of vanity and selfishness. He loved himself more than others. Instead of loving God, he competed with God. He is the author of the way of hostile competition, of trying to get ahead of others (Ezekiel 28:16-17, Isaiah 14:12-15).

But why did he sin? Did not God teach him the right way of life? Did he not live that right way of life for a time?

Assuming that Lucifer was the first angel to sin, and since the Bible describes him as the father of lies, and by implication the father of sin, I think this is likely (John 8:44), there would have been no one to tempt him. There was no evil in the universe. There was no wicked influence. God did not create an evil nature in Lucifer that would tempt him to sin. God himself did not tempt him to sin. And no other angel would have tempted him to sin. So he must have chosen to sin, freely, willfully, even in the absence of any outside temptation or evil nature created within him. By why?

God probably warned Lucifer, and all the angels, of the consequences of sin. God is a God of love, and the Bible shows that it is God's nature to warn and to teach. So if Satan was warned that if he went the way of vanity and sin he would suffer, why did he do it?

The only thing I can think of is that he simply didn't believe God's warnings. He didn't trust God. He wasn't sure God was telling him the truth. He wanted to find out for himself. He had no experience with vanity and sin. He wanted to experiment. He wanted to try it and see for himself if it was a happier way of life. So he sinned.

He became the author of scientific experimentation, the "scientific method" of experimenting, observing results, and drawing conclusions. He chose to believe what he could see and experience for himself, not what God told him. He didn't trust revelation from God. He trusted his experiments. And what he experimented with was his own mind. He chose to practice vanity, selfishness, self-exaltation, loving himself and serving his own interests more than God and more than other angels. He wanted to try a different way of life than the way of life God taught him. He wanted to see for himself what the result would be. Perhaps he thought, if this way of vanity makes me more happy, I will continue in it, but if it causes me problems, I will quit doing it and live God's way again.

He rejected faith and trust in God's word and chose rather to experiment for himself.

Perhaps that is why it is so important to God that His children have faith in Him and His word. A major emphasis in the gospel and the whole Bible is trusting God and believing what He says. He doesn't want us to doubt His word a million years from now and experiment for ourselves to learn right and wrong, as Lucifer may have done.

So Lucifer decided to practice the way of vanity. He wanted to find out for himself if that was a better way of life. He may have thought, if this turns out bad, I can always go back to God's way of righteousness.

But one of the penalties of the sins of the angels is perversion of mind. Once they sinned, their minds became twisted. They could no longer think clearly. Their nature became evil, and that leads to more sin, which leads to more corruption of mind, which leads to more sin, and so on. And this was evidently what happened to Lucifer. His mind became twisted after he sinned. And he did it to himself. By exalting himself, against God's warning, he ruined his own mind, permanently. "You corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor" (Ezekiel 28:17). His name was changed to Satan, the enemy, for that is what he became.

Now, he can never straighten out his own mind. He can't go back to the way he was before he sinned. To do that, he would have to think clearly, and his mind is no longer in a condition to do that. He is not able to think clearly to see that he should live God's way of life. Instead, his mind and thoughts are filled with vanity, hatred towards God and mankind, and every evil way. The more sin he practiced, the more evil he became, and the more evil he became, the more he sinned. No doubt He blames God for everything bad that happens to him.

Today, Satan is the ruler and deceiver of mankind. He is the author of secularism, atheism, and agnosticism. He teaches mankind the way of distrusting and disbelieving God's revelation. He teaches mankind the way of scientific experimentation, the scientific method of observation and drawing conclusions, as the best way of knowing all truth, even when conclusions drawn are contrary to God's revelation.

But God is preparing to teach mankind a great lesson. He preparing the human race to be his children for eternity, to practice the perfect righteousness of God forever. He doesn't want any of His children to do what Lucifer did.

So God is teaching mankind the lesson by experience. And by doing this, he is also giving a lesson to all of his holy angels, a demonstration and a warning never to sin as Lucifer did. In other words, God is giving a demonstration to all creation, the whole universe, mankind and the angels, that Satan's way of life is wrong, that it leads to destruction and suffering, but that God's way of life leads to life, justice, peace, and joy.

Actually, God's holy angels may not need that lesson, for they were there and experienced the happiness that existed with all angels before Lucifer sinned, and they saw the result of Lucifer's rebellion later. Nevertheless, the experiences of mankind can be a reinforcement of the lesson even for God's angels.

So God has designed His plan to give Satan 6,000 years to rule mankind his way, teaching mankind the way of get, the way of hostile competition, the way of pride and vanity, the way of selfishness, the way of hatred and revenge, and the way of lying and believing lies.

Then Satan will be banished and Christ will establish the Kingdom of God ruling over the earth. He and the saints will teach mankind the right way of life, the way of love, the way of humility, the way of trusting, believing, and obeying God and His laws. And that way of life will produce a marvelous result. It will produce a joy and happiness all over the earth such as mankind has never experienced before.

And the whole human race will be able to see and compare the results of God's way of life for 1,000 years with Satan's way of life for 6,000 years. Everyone will be able to see and know that God's way of life is best. No more will anyone doubt God and say, "Maybe God is not telling me the truth, maybe pride, vanity, and selfishness will make me happier".

This is all pictured by the weekly Sabbath day, a day of rest and spiritual peace following the burden of six days of the regular work week and its trials, each day of the week representing a thousand years in God's plan.

Of course, some people may still doubt. God does not force anyone to believe and obey Him. Probably, some will not believe and submit to God and will lose out on salvation.

But the majority will be able to see by the results that God's way works best.

And not just the people in the millennium. The people who come up in the white throne judgment, pictured by the Last Great Day, will be able to see the results too. They will remember their lives during this 6,000 year reign of Satan, and they will be able to compare the sufferings of this life with the happiness that will exist on the earth during the white throne judgment period (Ezekiel 37:1-14, Revelation 20:11-13).

For the Kingdom of God will rule the earth not only during the 1,000 years of the millennium, but in the white throne judgment period when the billions who have lived and died will come up in a general resurrection and be able to live in the flesh again and see what God's way of life is like. Satan will be gone, their minds will be opened, they will hear the true gospel, and they will have the opportunity to believe the gospel, to repent, to accept Jesus Christ as savior, to be forgiven, to receive God's Holy Spirit, and to be saved. And they will be encouraged to do so by the things they have seen and heard, the life they have experienced. For they will remember their suffering and the suffering of the world in their first life and will be able to compare it with the happiness of living God's way of life after their resurrection. They will see that God's way is best.

The Last Great Day is a separate festival from the Feast of Tabernacles, but it is also a continuation of the Feast of Tabernacles. There is no break between them, but the Feast leads right into the Last Great Day. They have separate meanings, but they have this in common - both represent the Kingdom of God ruling on the earth. God keeps them connected in scripture by calling the Last Great Day, the "eighth day" of the Feast (Leviticus 23:36), and that "great day" and the "last day" of the Feast (John 7:37-38). Yet there is a distinction because God says we are to observe the Feast of Tabernacles seven days (Leviticus 23:34).

God is teaching mankind with an experiment. It is not an experiment for God to learn what He already knows. It is a demonstration experiment, the kind a teacher might perform in a science classroom or lab to teach the class.

In high school I took classes in chemistry and physics. Besides the classroom instruction, we had lab exercises. In the lab exercises, we performed "experiments", but these were not experiments for us to discover new knowledge that had never been discovered before, as scientists do in their work, but merely to demonstrate by experience what the science teachers already know and the textbooks already teach. The idea was, what we learn from the teacher and the textbooks will be reinforced if we do experiments that teach us the same things by observation and experience.

That is similar to what God is doing with mankind. He teaches mankind by His word the Bible. He will teach mankind directly through Christ and the saints in the millennium and white throne judgment period. But he is also teaching mankind by a demonstration experiment. In the millennium and white throne judgment period, God will PROVE to mankind that His way is best.

If you are looking for something to talk about at the Feast of Tabernacles, something to focus on the meaning of the Feast, here is a question you can ask other Church members: How will the people in the millennium be able to compare God's way of life with Satan's way of life to know that God's way is best if they have not lived during the 6,000 years of Satan's rule on this earth?

Here are links to other posts in this blog related to the Feast of Tabernacles, the Last Great Day, and the eternal Kingdom of God:

"Why God Is Not Trying to Save Everyone Now", dated October 26, 2008, link:

"God Is Not Trying to Save Everyone in this Age", dated November 8, 2008, link:

"The Work of the Millennium Has Started!", dated September 20, 2010, link:

"The World's Loved Ones Are Not Lost", dated September 29, 2010, link:

"The Difference Between the Kingdom of God and the Millennium", dated October 12, 2011, link:

"The Millennium Will Be a Time of Joy for God Too", dated October 14, 2011, link:

"The Millennium Prepares for the White Throne Judgment", dated October 17, 2011, link:

"The Last Great Day Shows God's Mercy and Justice", dated October 18, 2011, link:

"The First 500 Trillion Years", dated October 21, 2011, link:

"Learning Love by Doing in the Millennium - Preparing for the White Throne Judgement", dated October 5, 2012, link:

"The White Throne Judgement Is a Blessing for the Church of God", dated October 8, 2012, link:

"Things We Don't Know about the Millennium", dated September 16, 2013, link:

"The First Generation in the Millennium", dated September 20, 2013, link:

"The Bible's Main Readership", dated September 22, 2013, link:

"Will There Be Money in the Kingdom of God?", dated September 24, 2013, link:

"Israel Will Be the Model Nation in the Millennium", dated October 10, 2014, link:

"A Pure Language", dated October 13, 2014, link:

"We Are Being Prepared for God's Kingdom", dated October 15, 2014, link:

Here are links to related chapters or sections in Preaching the Gospel:

The Feast of Tabernacles - the Millennial Rule of Christ, Chapter 2

The Last Great Day - the White Throne Judgment, Chapter 2 
The Gospel of the Kingdom of God, Chapter 2

Faith, Chapter 6

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