Wednesday, October 15, 2014

We Are Being Prepared for God's Kingdom

The Feast of Tabernacles is one of the festivals ordained by God in the Old Testament. Like all the festivals and holy days, it helps to illustrate God's plan for the salvation of mankind (Leviticus 23:1-44).

Passover illustrates the sacrifice of Jesus Christ to pay the penalty of our sins so we can be forgiven and saved (Exodus 12:21-23, John 1:29, Revelation 5:1-14, 12:11, 13:8, Isaiah 53:1-12). The Days of Unleavened Bread illustrate our part and responsibility in repenting and putting sins out of our lives (Leviticus 23:6, 1 Corinthians 5:6-8).

Pentecost represents the gift of the Holy Spirit to help us understand God's truth and to help us overcome our sins. It also represents the start of the New Testament Church of God (because the Church is defined as the collective body of those having God's Holy Spirit dwelling within them - see Romans 8:9-11), and the start of the preaching of the gospel to the world by the Church (Leviticus 23:15-21, Acts 2:1-41).

The Day of Trumpets teaches us about end time events when God begins to intervene in this world in a direct and powerful way to bring the 6,000 year age of man to a close. That intervention begins and ends with the Day of the Lord and includes the return of Jesus Christ to rule the earth and the resurrection or change to immortality of all the members of the Church who have overcome and endured to the end (Leviticus 23:23-25, Revelation 6:12-14, 8:6-21, 11:15-19, Isaiah 13:6-12, Joel 1:15, 2:1-2, 31, 1 Corinthians 15:50-56, 1 Thessalonians 4:15-18).

The Day of Atonement teaches us about the putting away of Satan after the return of Christ so he can no longer deceive and tempt the world to sin, and it reminds us of the sacrifice of Christ for our sins and our responsibility, each of us, to reject Satan and his way and put him and his sinful ways out of our lives (Leviticus 23:26-32, 16:1-33, Revelation 20:1-3).

The Feast of Tabernacles represents the one thousand year reign of Christ with the resurrected saints, now immortal, over the earth (Leviticus 23:33-43, Revelation 20:4-6).

After the seven days of the Feast of Tabernacles comes the "eighth day" or "the last day" and "that great day of the Feast" (Leviticus 23:39, John 7:37-38), which we call "the Last Great Day". That represents the general resurrection of the dead, the white throne judgment period, when all the billions of people who have lived and died without a chance for salvation will be resurrected and given an opportunity, their first, to choose to accept God's way of life and be saved (Revelation 20:11-15, Ezekiel 37:1-14).

The Feast of Tabernacles and the Last Great Day run together, in one sense separate festivals because they have slightly different meanings, but in one sense the same because the Last Great Day is called the "eighth day" and the "last day" or "great day" of the Feast and because Christ's reign over the earth with the saints continues through the white throne judgment, so there is a continuity.

The weekly Sabbath day also represents part of God's plan. As the seventh day Sabbath rest follows six days of the workweek, so the one thousand year reign of Christ with the saints will follow six thousand years of man ruling himself apart from God and under Satan's influence. As the weekly Sabbath is intended to be a day of rest and a day of delight, so the rule of Christ over the earth will bring peace and happiness to mankind (Exodus 20:8-11, 2 Peter 3:8).

The weekly Sabbath represents the millennium as the Feast of Tabernacles represents the millennium.

The Feast of Tabernacles also reminds us, as we live in temporary dwellings for the eight days, that this life and world (society) is temporary - we are "sojourners", strangers, in this world under Satan's influence. Our real citizenship is in heaven, not this world (Philippians 3:20-21).

The seven thousand year plan of God is intended to teach the human race through experience that God's way of life is better than Satan's way. Mankind will be able to compare the fruits of Satan's way of life for six thousand years, a way that has produced misery and destruction, with the fruits of God's way of life for one thousand years, a way that will produce peace and happiness. Mankind, those living in the millennium and those who come up in the white throne judgment, will be able to compare and choose the way of life they will commit to. Those who choose God's way of life will be given eternal life in the Kingdom of God. Those who do not choose God's way of life will be destroyed forever.

I have heard a number of members in the Church of God relate that when they were first learning the truth and coming into the Church of God, when they first learned the meaning of the holy days and the plan of God that the holy days illustrate, they were awestruck with the logic and clarity of it and the wonderful truth it represents.

God's plan, as illustrated by the annual holy days and feast and the weekly Sabbath, is very logical. It is the only explanation for the world and our human experience that really makes sense. Yet, the majority of humanity rejects knowledge of God's plan. They do this because they are deceived by Satan and this is not their time to be called.

This world cannot understand God's plan because they are not willing to believe and obey God's word. They do not observe and practice God's holy days, therefore God will not open their understanding. For it is only those who actually observe God's annual holy days and festivals as God instructs, as well as the weekly Sabbath, who are able to understand God's plan illustrated by those days. Just studying the meaning of the days without observing them is not sufficient (Psalm 111:10).

Jesus Christ and God the Father are working in and through the Church of God today to prepare us to serve God in the millennium and white throne judgment by reigning with Christ over the earth, turning mankind towards God. But they are also working through the Church of God to preach the gospel to the world and the Ezekiel warning to Israel, to prepare them for the tribulation, the Day of the Lord, and the millennium that follows.

Our job now is twofold: One, build character to prepare us to reign with Christ. We do this by making right choices to resist and reject sin and choose the righteousness of Christ and God the Father, until choosing the right and rejecting the wrong becomes our habit and way of life. Two, preach the gospel and the Ezekiel warning to the only generation of mankind that will live in two worlds, two ages, this present generation that will live into the millennium. We have a vital role to prepare the world for what is to come.

But in preaching the gospel, we are also building right character, so our second job, to preach the gospel, actually reinforces our first job, to build character.

The Feast of Tabernacles and the Last Great Day also picture the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God will consist of Jesus Christ and the resurrected saints, the family of God, which will rule over the earth during the millennium.

Besides what they picture and represent, the Feast of Tabernacles and the Last Great Day provide Church of God members with a period of time for spiritual renewal, more than a week of sermons, fellowship, and the opportunity for prayer, Bible study, and serving others - a period of intensified instruction. This gives us the opportunity to have our spiritual batteries recharged, in a sense, and the lessons we learn during the Feast can be reviewed and studied throughout the coming year.

The Feast represents God's kingdom, and the keeping of the Feast is part of our preparation and training for that kingdom.

Here are links to some posts in this blog on subjects related to the Feast of Tabernacles and the Last Great Day in particular, and the holy days in general:

"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:

"God's Annual Holy Days and Festivals", dated December 25, 2008, link:

"Did the New Testament Church Observe God's Annual Festivals?", dated December 30, 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:

"Unity in the Bride of Christ", 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:

"God Expresses His Love Towards Us by the Secrets He Reveals to Us", dated September 28, 2012, 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:

"To Be Effective in Giving a Warning, We Have to Overcome Even When It Is Hard", dated September 3, 2013, 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:

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

The Weekly Sabbath Day, Chapter 2

The Annual Holy Days and the Plan of God, Chapter 2

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

The Last Great Day - the White Throne Judgment, Chapter 2

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