Mankind does not know how to rule. That is a theme running through the last four Festivals in God’s sacred calendar. Think about it.
The Feast of Trumpets pictures the Day of the Lord—the one-year period of time (Isaiah 34:8) when seven angelic trumpets are blown as God Himself confronts humanity, climaxing in the declaration that all the kingdoms of the world now belong to Jesus Christ (Revelation 11:15). In the days that follow Christ's inauguration, He will replace the current rulers with His faithful servants—and that means you and me. "Then the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people, the saints of the Most High. His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey Him" (Daniel 7:27). Many other scriptures in both the Old and New Testaments confirm this, and you will no doubt hear this theme during these Fall Festivals.
The Day of Atonement pictures the removal of "the prince of the power of the air" (Ephesians 2:2). Up to this 1,000-year separation from mankind, Satan and his minions have ruled behind the scenes, influencing gullible humanity to fall in line with his tyrannical and self-centered way of treating each other. The main qualification we must develop each day is that of humble service:
"You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many" (Matthew 20:25–28).
This does not mean that rulers do not have to lead firmly and do not sometimes have to make unpopular and difficult decisions, but humble service according to God's will is at the heart of those who hope to change "the course of this world."
The Feast of Tabernacles shows us that those who overcome during this age will be given a special opportunity to bring peace to this troubled planet for one thousand years.
"And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years" (Revelation 20:4).
There is much that we do not understand, but Scripture guides us to some conclusions. The servants of God, as listed in Hebrews 11, suffered many grievous trials, obeying God "that they might obtain a better resurrection" (v. 35). The first resurrection is a better resurrection in two ways. It is better because it is a resurrection to eternal life, whereas the second is to physical life and the third to doom. Another way the first resurrection is better is that it gives those in it a special opportunity: to make up the bride of Christ (Revelation 19:6–9). Those coming up in the second resurrection are given the opportunity for eternal life in the family of God, but nowhere in the Bible does it appear that they will enjoy that special status of the bride of Christ.
The Last Great Day is such a wonderful day, representing a time when all those who have been deceived and oppressed by selfish rulers during this age are offered an opportunity to submit to a different kind of oversight. Those who choose to walk in that better way will then be born into the family of God. It would appear that they will become the children, in a way, of the relationship between Christ and His bride, the Church.
Dear brethren, it is important that we keep this vision in mind. The world may see us as delusional, but if the Bible is the word of God, which we know it is, then we are not so crazy. We are following in the footsteps of biblical figures who went before us. We are following the faith of Abraham, the courage of Daniel, and the steadfastness of Noah.
We are not there yet, but this we can know for sure: We are all going to die, and either there is a resurrection or there is not. There is no middle ground. Either the Bible is true, or it is not. Again, no middle ground. We are here because we believe the Bible and we believe there is a resurrection—and we believe that the resurrection is to an eternal life of service and action. There is no great "candy store in the sky" to merely gratify our senses.
Oh yes, life in the family of God involves joy and pleasure, for we read in Psalm 16:11, "In your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore." But this is not separate from work, productivity, and service. "Jesus answered them [those who criticized Him for healing on the Sabbath], 'My Father has been working until now, and I have been working'" (John 5:17). God the Father and Jesus Christ have never retired—and neither will we quit. How wonderful it will be to have bodies that do not break down with age and to live productively in a harmonious eternal family!
We must keep these things in mind as we struggle through daily life, and we must recognize how short this physical life is! We must follow the example of those who paved the way for us:
"These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland. And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return. But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them" (Hebrews 11:13–16).
We observe the biblical Festivals each year as reminders of God's master plan for mankind. It is important that those of us called to be firstfruits not only understand this plan, but keep it constantly before our eyes. We must never look back (Luke 9:62). We must never "become dull of hearing" (Hebrews 5:11). We must guard against drifting away (Hebrews 2:1). And, we must not be "like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright. For you know that afterward, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought it diligently with tears" (Hebrews 12:16–17). Some misunderstand that Esau found no place for personal repentance, but a careful reading of Genesis 27:33–38 clearly shows that Esau's tears came from being unable to reverse what had occurred and the loss of his blessings.
The Parable of the Wedding Feast is found in Matthew 22 and provides a sobering lesson: "For many are called, but few are chosen" (v. 14). Some will wake up some day to "weeping and gnashing of teeth" when they realize what they traded away for the cares of this world. How tragic that will be!
Let us be thankful that God gives us these yearly reminders of the reason for our calling. Let us be thankful that the reward He offers to us is more than a "candy store in the sky." Let us be thankful that we are called to collectively be the bride of Christ, to rule, and to bring peace to a very troubled world!