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Festivals of the Lord in Redemption #10

The Great Feast of Tabernacles - conclusion


                             by

                       Robert Thompson
                       (written 1975)
                                     
                       Concluding Part



THE NATURE OF THE FIRST RESURRECTION

     The fullness of the "Tabernacles experience" includes the
eternal indwelling of the Godhead in us, we having been clothed
over with a glorious "house" containing a limitless amount of
abilities and energies. The indwelling and the clothing-over
comprise the first resurrection. Movements to and from heaven are
no more essential to the first resurrection than driving across
town is essential to owning an expensive automobile, or flying to
Alaska is essential to owning an airplane.
     Movement into the air is not of the essence of the
resurrection from the dead, although such movement is associated
with the resurrection from among the dead because at the last
trumpet the overcomers are going to be gathered together with
Jesus in order to prepare for the judging and release of the
earth. The essence of the resurrection is the inner development
of the life of Jesus, and, when this has been accomplished, the
extension of the eternal life into the human body (Ram.8:11).
Now, back to Philippians 3:10,11:

"Being made conformable unto his death; if by any means I might
attain unto the resurrection of the dead."

     But Paul, you "have" attained! You are the apostle to the
Gentiles! You of all people will go up in the rapture
(resurrection into the air and clouds to meet Jesus on His return
to earth - 1 Thes.4 - Keith Hunt). Quit rocking our doctrinal
boat. You don't fit our doctrines.

     If we will not press on to the inner resurrection which is
available now, we have no reason to believe that we will gain a
resurrection body at the appearance of Christ. The resurrection
body will clothe only a resurrected personality. God has no
intention of clothing an infantile, self-centered, fleshly
self-life with an eternal, all-powerful body having the
capability of overcoming all limitations of time and space. Let
us not deceive ourselves along this line. What a man sows he will
reap.

"Not as though I had already attained" (v.12):

     Come on, Paul, You are just being modest. You can't mean
what you are saying, if you are struggling to attain Christ, to
arrive at the resurrection, where does that leave us? You are
just saying the socially acceptable platitudes that we all expect
from a distinguished religious leader.

"Either were already perfect": Notice here that resur-
rection and perfection are linked together in Paul's mind.

"But I follow after, if that I may apprehend (grasp) that for
which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus."

     God has called us to a glorious resurrection rest in Him,
both the inner man as well as body - the two eventually must go
together. But we have to fight our way by faith into our
possessions, under the leadership of the Spirit of God. The
fullness of the Tabernacles experience, as we have said, is the
indwelling, or resting, of the Father and the Son through the
Holy Spirit in a transformed Christian personality.
     The body will then be "eternalized," shall we say, by being
clothed over with a heavenly body of truly magnificent
capabilities, with tendencies toward holiness rather than toward
sin. The inner perfecting and clothing-over is the true nature of
the first resurrection from the dead, and is the reward of the
overcomer only. Changing one's location by flying through the air
is of little spiritual significance. Anyone who wishes to fly
through the air may do so at his pleasure in the future life.
We are not teaching that the dead in Christ will not rise to meet
the Lord in the air at His coming. The Scripture teaches plainly
that we will (I Thess.4:17). What we are teaching is that the
rising in the air is not the fundamental nature of the
resurrection from the dead about which Paul was so concerned. It
is, rather, an ascension; and the ascension is not typified in
the major Old Testament types.

     The Lord Jesus is the firstborn from the dead. Our
resurrection will be patterned after His. It may be observed that
His resurrection was characterized by renewal of life and by
extraordinary abilities. A study of 2 Corinthians 4:7 through 5:5
may enable the student to gain some understanding of the
resurrection from the dead.

A DEFINITE MARK

"Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one
thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and
reaching forth unto those things which are before" (Phil.3:13).

     What could a man with the background of Christian experience
and ministry of the apostle Paul have been straining forward to
reach? Whatever it was, it obviously is the goal of the Christian
life. And since the convocation of Tabernacles typifies the
consummation of salvation, we might say that Paul was reaching
forth toward the "Tabernacles" fulfillment, so to speak.

"I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God
in Christ Jesus" (v.14).

     Perhaps the most important idea emerging from the thoughts
we have presented on the last few pages is this: there is a
definite, attainable goal, or "mark," toward which the Christian
is to be pressing. True, we are to be awaiting with joyful
expectancy the glorious appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ. But
at the same time we must be pressing toward the mark, as Paul
says. That mark is the fullness of the indwelling of Christ in
us, who is the resurrection and the life.

"Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if
in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this
unto you" (v.15).

ISAIAH 12

     In the seventh chapter of the gospel of John we find these
words:

"In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and
cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and
drink. He that believeth on me, as the Scripture hath said, out
of his belly shall flow rivers of living water" (John 7:37,38).

     What connection does the statement about "rivers of living
water" have with the convocation of Tabernacles, for it was at
the great day of the feast of Tabernacles that Jesus said this
(and this day on which Jesus spoke those words was the 7th day of
the Feast of tabernacles, NOT the eighth day, or Last Great Feast
day, as some have mistakenly thought. A full study of the exact
day on which Jesus spoke those glorious words can be found on
this Website - Keith Hunt).

     Perhaps the connection is that the fulfillment of the
convocation of Tabernacles is the setting up of the throne of God
in the heart of the Christian. The Holy Spirit flows from the
throne of God (Rev.22:1; Ezek.47:1). When God is enthroned in the
heart of the overcomer the river of life will flow out for the
healing of the nations.
     The concept of the inner river of life is found in Isaiah
12, a passage of Scripture which the Hebrews associated with the
convocation of Tabernacles: "Behold, God is my salvation."
Let us repeat the fundamental message of Tabernacles. The
fullness of salvation is not another spiritual principle or
secret to add to our collection. God Himself is our goal. God is
our salvation. All else is idolatry.

"I will trust, and not be afraid." 

     The word trust is significant here. The experience of
Tabernacles is characterized by a restful trust in the Lord, an
abiding in Christ, a fearless and secure repose upon the rock of
ages. This kind of calm resting in the strength of Christ is more
important to the overcoming life than are Christian duties,
although the doing of good works is very important, as the Lord
leads.

"For the Lord Jehovah is my strength and my song".

     Not, the Lord gives me strength - gives me a song. He
Himself IS the strength; He Himself IS the song. The marriage to
God, the possession of God Himself, is the ultimate attainment of
the Christian experience. All of the other aspects of salvation
are means toward this end. He who is married to the Lord Jesus
Christ has inherited everything. He who has rejected Christ has
lost everything.

"He also is become my salvation. Therefore with joy shall ye draw
water out of the wells of salvation."

     What, or who, are the "wells of salvation"? Consider:

"Out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water" (John 7:38).

"My Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make
our abode with him" (John 14:23).

"I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one;
and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast
loved them, as thou hast loved me" (John 17:23).

     From the above passages it sounds as though the Christians
are the "wells of salvation"! The convocation of Tabernacles is
fulfilled when God and Christ take up their abode in the heart of
the Christian overcomer.

     Tabernacles is associated with obedience to the Word, or
law, of God. Notice that John 14:23, a statement referring, we
believe, to the Christian fulfillment of the Hebrew
convocation of Tabernacles, indicates that there is a dependency
relationship between obedience to the Word of Christ and the
indwelling of the Godhead: "If a man love me, he will keep my
words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him,
and make our abode with him."

     And in Deuteronomy 31:10,11 ". . . In the feast of
tabernacles, when all Israel is come to appear before the Lord
thy God in the place which he shall choose, thou shalt read this
law before all Israel in their hearing"; (see also Neh.8:13-18).
     
     The hearing and keeping of Gods law is linked with the
convocation of Tabernacles. After all, the ultimate expression of
the law of God occurs when the Father and the Son through the
Holy Spirit rule absolutely in the heart of the saint.

COMPLETION OF THE HARVEST SEASON

     The convocation of Tabernacles signals the completion of the
harvest season: "... and the feast of Ingathering (Tabernacles),
which is in the end of the year, when thou hast gathered in thy
labors out of the field" (Exod.23:16). The completion of the
harvesting of the Christian by the Lord is the redemption of the
human body. The redeeming of our body is a very important part of
salvation by faith in Christ Jesus. Listen to Paul:

" ... ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit,
even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the
adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body" (Rom.8:23).

REDEMPTION OF THE HUMAN BODY  

     We Christians have not been adopted (Greek is actually
"sonship" - a literal son or daughter of God - see the study "A
Christian's Destiny" on this Website - Keith Hunt) as sons until
our body has been redeemed. In fact, the redemption of the human
body is our adoption (sonship) as a son of God, the consummation
of the Christian salvation. 
     From our point of view, the churches have not paid nearly
enough attention to the redemption of the body as a part of
salvation by faith. Christian teachers have not explained the
close relationship and interaction between the pursuit of the
overcoming life now and the receiving of bodily redemption at the
appearing of the Lord Jesus (Rom.8:11; 2 Cor. 4:17; Phil.3:11; I
John 3:3, for example). The redemption of the body (remember that
it is the body in which the Spirit of God dwells - 1 Cor.6:
13-19) has not been pointed to as the climax of the maintenance
of victorious faith in Christ.
     It appears that the redemption of our body has been regarded
by the churches as being an external event over which we have
little or no control, such as the planet Earth slowing down and
finally falling into the sun. Such inevitability is not the case
at all. Physical death is not a "natural" state of man, although
Satan would enjoy having us think so. Physical death is a curse
upon mankind and is the perpetual, direct, and certain
consequence of sin. Death (spiritual and physical) is an enemy
which is to be destroyed on the basis of Jesus' finished work on
Calvary, whenever the overcoming faith and holiness (conformity
to the express image of Christ) of the body of Christ reaches the
necessary level. Neither spiritual nor physical death are natural
states of being. Death is the product of the work of the enemies
of God and man. Death ... was destroyed legally on the cross, and
will be destroyed practically and actually by the Spirit of
Christ working through the joyous obedience and faith of His
body.
     Christian! Begin to get in your being a sense of the
attitude of war, enmity, and casting out which our mighty Christ
maintains toward death - that archenemy of mankind.
     May we add that we do not support those who allow themselves
to be deceived to the point where they claim to have redeemed
bodies now. Even to suggest such a thing is to be deluded and
snared. Anyone who thinks he has a redeemed body now can prove it
easily by passing through the wall of a house, or by flying
through the air.
     But it is equally a delusion and snare to relegate the
redemption of the mortal body of the Christian to an external
event which will include all Christians regardless of their state
of spiritual maturity, an event unrelated to the maturing faith
of the overcomers.
     The Jews made a similar mistake in their concept of the
coming of Messiah. The busy priests who were watching for Messiah
to come as a conquering hero, missed Him. The humble of Israel
who had a love affair with God in the heart, found Him (Luke
2:25,26).

AN INCREASE IN AVAILABLE GLORY

     The writer subscribes without equivocation to the teaching
of I Thessalonians 4:15-17. We look for the Lord to descend from
heaven with a shout, and for the dead in Christ to rise, and for
us believers to be caught up together with them in the clouds to
meet the Lord in the air. We know that this event is going to
happen literally.
     At the same time we are beginning to wonder if the stress on
the doctrine of the rapture (being taken away to heaven to escape
the Great Tribulation at the last days - a doctrine that is
false, see studies on the "rapture" teaching on this Website -
Keith Hunt) which in so many minds is associated with a fleeing
from world problems and personal problems rather than with an
overcoming faith in Christ, may be causing us to be deaf to the
voice of the Holy Spirit of God in our time.
     The Christians of today who are hoping for a rapture which
will enable them to flee from their problems may miss Him. But
they who, like Simeon and Anna of old, are more occupied with the
worship of God than they are with the organizational life of
"Israel," surely will find Him whom their soul desires above all
else. Most assuredly there is going to be a rapture (resurrection
at Christ's coming - Keith Hunt).
     The Bible terms it the first resurrection, and it is going
to occur exactly as described in I Thessalonians 4:15-17. But if
our understanding is correct, the Holy Spirit of God in Christ is
teaching us that many church members of today are not prepared
spiritually to be translated into glory. We are to be prepared
further by receiving more virtue and strength from the living
Christ. This virtue and strength is available now to the disciple
of Jesus. Let the prophets judge.
     When we halt for a moment our many activities and pray long
enough to enable us to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit, it
seems He is commanding us to wash our garments and to get ready
for an increase in strength and victory; for further experiences
and lessons with the great Teacher from Nazareth. The
"Tabernacles" convocation of the old covenant will have been
fulfilled in the new covenant when our human body has been
redeemed. The redemption of the mortal body by the donning of the
body from heaven is the consummation - the completeness and
fullness of the Christian salvation.

THE MOST JOYOUS CONVOCATION   

     Tabernacles was by far the most joyous occasion of the
Hebrew year. One can imagine a Jew coming out of his house each
year and living for a week in a booth made from the branches of
trees. Perhaps this was God's way of repeatedly bringing to the
attention of the Israelites that their most important
contribution among the nations of the earth is not to be in the
area of government, economics, or the arts or sciences, as
significant as their contributions in those realms may be. The
most important and significant gift that Israel brings to the
family of mankind is the Law and presence of the living God.
     Also, living in the booths pointed to the day when God
dwells in Israel and Israel dwells in God; God rests in Israel
and Israel rests in God. The prophets testified of that day to
come, and Jesus and the apostles taught us how God is bringing
His will to pass in human beings.

     The feast of Tabernacles, the completion of the harvesting
of all the fruits of the earth, was celebrated by the Hebrews
with the greatest joy and rejoicing. When God and Christ, through
the Holy Spirit, come to us in their fullness in the day of the
Lord, we will experience such joy, peace, and rest - and fullness
of glory - that it will take a redeemed body to contain it all.
     Our many possessions and activities shrink in value to us
when they are compared with His presence. Our idols are placed in
perspective and can be seen for what they really are. He is the
living God and must be the focus of our attention at all times.
He will be the focus at all times if we love and serve Him as He
deserves to be loved and served.

"That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in
thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe
that you have sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have
given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them,
and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that
the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them,
as thou hast loved me" (John 17:21-23).

"Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep
my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him,
and make our abode with him" (John 14:23).

"And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the
tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and
they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and
be their God" (Rev.21:3).

                             ................


TO BE CONTINUED WITH THE FINAL GREAT FEAST DAY of God, and what
it typifies in redemption for all who have ever lived - Keith
Hunt.


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