LCN Article
Work to Remember the Lessons of the Feast

January / February 2022

Gerald E. Weston

The Feast of Tabernacles 2021 is now in our rearview mirror, left further behind as we round another corner and it fades in the distance. This is especially so because the Feast was “earlier” this past year than most years, in relation to the Roman calendar. But the profound meaning of God’s master plan as revealed by the Feast of Tabernacles—and all the Holy Days and Festivals—must never be lost in the traffic of life.

Memories Fade, Meaning Remains

Those in the world will be looking at Christmas in their rearview mirror by the time you receive this magazine. What will be their takeaway? Most likely presents, food, fellowship with family and friends, and warm, fuzzy feelings. They may currently be risking life and limb on an ice-covered ladder taking down elaborate decorations to store again until next year. Then there are the credit card debts to pay off, along with perhaps a dose of buyer’s remorse.

Many of us know what it was like when we ignorantly observed this and other so-called Christian holidays. We did not understand then, and neither do they now. We preach the truth, and God will get their attention at the time of His choosing. We must not forget God’s comment to Jonah: “And should I not pity Nineveh, that great city, in which are more than one hundred and twenty thousand persons who cannot discern between their right hand and their left—and much livestock?” (Jonah 4:11).

But our takeaway from God’s Festivals must never be forgotten. Specific details of sermons will likely fade into the distance because that is the reality of being human, but we will no doubt remember snippets here and there for the remainder of our lives. I still remember some points from my first Feast of Tabernacles in 1964 at Squaw Valley, California—such a long time ago! One rather humorous—at least to me—aspect was the special music. One song was sung two or three times during that Feast by a woman with a beautiful voice—“Ready My God Thy Will to See.” I knew that “Freddy” was not my God nor hers, but that is what it sounded like to me!

I have long since forgotten most people I met that year. Also forgotten are all the sermonettes and most of the sermons, but I still remember Dr. Herman Hoeh’s sermon on “The Way of Cain.” I did not understand it then, but I remember enough to understand it now. It has stuck with me all these years. I also remember a snippet from a sermon given by another high-ranking minister who related a humorous dream he’d had. He described how in his dream the resurrection was taking place, and while others ascended into the clouds, he was left behind, flapping his arms in a vain attempt to get off the ground.

While memories fade in the rearview mirror, the profound meaning of God’s master plan and learning to fear our God always must never be forgotten. No, we cannot preserve the entire Feast in our minds, but some messages and lessons should travel down life’s road with us. We may recall how we felt when someone treated us with kindness, or how much joy came to someone else as a result of a kind word or action on our part. I have learned from many years of keeping the Feasts, as well as from life in general, that it is not the “big” things we do for others that make a difference, but the “little” things that we so easily think nothing of. Isn’t this one of the enlightening lessons Jesus gave, found in Matthew 25:31–46? When we internalize outgoing concern as our way of life, we don’t think of little actions as grand gestures.

Meditate to Remember

So, how do we keep important lessons from completely fading from our view? We often hear whole sermons on prayer, Bible study, and fasting, but less often on meditation. None of these tools, intended to build a relationship with our Creator, should be neglected, but focused meditation often is. Yes, we all meditate, as this is merely another way of saying we think about something or roll it around in our mind, but do we focus our meditation on things we hear and lessons we stumble upon? If not, we may forget an important piece of godly wisdom.

What was it that you took away from the Feast of Tabernacles and Last Great Day 2021? Was it a minister’s humorous dream that made a serious point, or a sermon that did not sink in at the time? Have you lost something important as a result of failing to meditate on a message or a life-lesson you experienced or observed? Mr. Ames and others encourage us to review our notes, and if this is accompanied by thoughtful consideration, the messages will last much longer—maybe a lifetime.

We are now just a few months away from Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread—a time for reflection. We must meditate not only on the past, but also on the future. Will Passover merely be another day to check off our calendar? Or will it bring a greater realization of the enormity and importance of what happened nearly 2,000 years ago? Will the Days of Unleavened Bread be a time to cast off bad habits such as spending excessive time with social media or mindless television? We know that we all need diversions, and these are not necessarily evils, but they can be bad habits and evil, depending on how they are used.

One risk that all of us must consider is how much we allow our minds to line up with the course of this world (Ephesians 2:2). The “prince of the power of the air” is directing that course, and, sadly, many Church members fail to distinguish between godliness and worldliness—whether in conduct at the Feast of Tabernacles or in self-examination for the Passover and Days of Unleavened Bread. This is a difficult challenge for each of us—especially, but not exclusively, for young people.

We only know what we are exposed to, so how do we combat Satan’s evil influence? When the problem is stated that way, the words themselves contain a key to the solution. We need to increase our exposure to the foundation of truth and decrease our exposure to the culture and course of this world. We can learn to discern the difference if we meditate on what is happening around us and compare it to Scripture. What is Satan promoting? The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life (1 John 2:15–17). This is the same playbook the devil used on Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:6), and he knows that people still fall for it.

Avoid the Devil’s Deceptions

Television is a good indication of what the devil is selling. He does not say, “Go get a tattoo!” Instead, he induces sports figures, celebrities, and others who are on screen to display their inked skin. He does not say to women, “Wear a short skirt or low-cut blouse.” Instead, he dresses the women our girls, wives, and mothers admire—singers, actresses, and others—in immodest attire. He does not need to tell people to sleep around like alley cats—he simply makes sure as many celebrities as possible set this example, to say nothing of characters on television and in movies.

The devil uses this same propaganda tactic to promote the LGBTQ+ agenda. As Hunter Madsen and Marshall Kirk, two homosexual activists, openly explain in their landmark 1989 book, “Gays must launch a large-scale campaign.… We’re talking about propaganda.… The second characteristic of propaganda is its frequent use of outright lies, a tactic we neither need nor condone” (After the Ball, pp. 161–162). However, note their contradictory admission about lying a few pages earlier:

In Conversion, the bigot, who holds a very negative stereotypic picture, is repeatedly exposed to literal picture/label pairs, in magazines, and on billboards and TV, of gays—explicitly labeled as such!—who not only don’t look like his picture of a homosexual, but are carefully selected to look either like the bigot and his friends, or like any one of his other stereotypes of all-right guys—the kind of people he already likes and admires. This image must, of necessity, be carefully tailored to be free of absolutely every element of the widely held stereotype of how [homosexuals] look, dress, and sound.… But it makes no difference that the ads are lies; not to us, because we’re using them to ethically good effect (p. 154).

The prince of the power of the air deceives and manipulates the thinking of whomever he can, including naïve members of the Body of Christ, with these tactics. This especially applies to the young, but we are never too old for his tactics to work against any of us if we let our guard down.

Young people want to fit in, so they are especially vulnerable to the devil’s tactics. Were we not all that way at age 15 or 22? Some are more easily duped than others, depending on the strength of their unique hereditary characteristics (Genesis 16:11–12) as well as family instruction and example (Proverbs 22:6)—and how wise or foolish they choose to be (Deuteronomy 30:19). In the end, we are free moral agents who must choose between good and evil—absolutes that are determined not by a vote of men, but by the word of God. It is through study of that word, and being led by the Holy Spirit as we examine the lessons of life experiences, that we internalize godly values. The greater the godly influence and the less the worldly influence, the more fully we have a taste for the things of God.

The Passover and Days of Unleavened Bread remind us of our need for self-examination each year. But the Feast of Tabernacles gives us a unique opportunity to put into practice God’s better way of life under different circumstances. It is remarkable how the Feast reveals generous or selfish hearts. It is easy for less-than-mature Christians to become self-centered: “I deserve to go to a beach site.” “Here is what I want to do!” “This is my vacation and I want to….” On the other hand, many Church members go out of their way to share their time, talents, and finances with others. Sharing finances is often easier than sharing time.

Paul’s Misunderstood Admonition

How often have you heard people say they want to hear more of the “meat of the word”? They often mean that they want to hear something new—especially speculative prophecy. Is that the message the Apostle Paul intended in Hebrews 5:11–14? No, it is not!

Paul first explained that although the audience to which he was writing had been around a long time—they had no doubt attended many Feasts—they were “dull of hearing.” Instead of being ready to teach, they needed to go back to the basics of righteous living. They were “unskilled [not in speculative prophecy, but] in the word of righteousness.” They were acting immature and simple-minded. It is in this context that he states, “But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil” (Hebrews 5:14). But exactly what does that mean in practical application?

Going to the Feast is about more than spending time with friends and family over food and drink. The daily services are essential. Without the messages explaining Scripture and godly principles by which to live, the Feast would be little more than a getaway vacation. No, the Feast of Tabernacles is about coming to “fear [respect] the Lord your God always” (Deuteronomy 14:23). Through instruction, correction, encouragement, and practicing the way of outgoing concern, we internalize a way of life in preparation to be kings and priests in Christ’s soon-coming Kingdom.

For sure, we are to enjoy the fruits of our labor, as we read in Ecclesiastes: “I know that nothing is better for them than to rejoice, and to do good in their lives, and also that every man should eat and drink and enjoy the good of all his labor—it is the gift of God” (3:12–13). But we also learn from practice that Jesus’ admonition is true: “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). The context of that quote is this: “I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak” (v. 35). That goes far beyond monetary support. It involves sacrificing our time and personal desires for the sake of others. This is the Christian standard of which the Apostle Paul reminds us:

Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross (Philippians 2:3–8).

Now, that is something on which to meditate! It calls for self-examination as we look forward to the Passover and consider the magnitude of what God the Father and Jesus Christ did for us in action and example. It also calls for us to look in the rearview mirror and meditate on how Christ-like we were at the Feast of Tabernacles 2021—and how we can be more so throughout the year and as we look forward to the Feast of 2022.

We live in exciting times. World events confirm that we are living near the end of an age and that the climax of that time is near. Each year brings us closer to the reality of what the Festivals of the seventh month picture. Until then, let us be about our Father’s business!