Keith Hunt Restitution of All Things


                        WHERE TO OBSERVE
                              THE 
                      FEAST OF TABERNACLES
                            Part Two

                               by
                            Keith Hunt

     In the earlier study (part one) we saw from the Scriptures
of both the Old and New Covenants the full truth of the matter
about the observance of the three festival seasons of God as
practiced under both Covenants. 
     A short brief recap will suffice for this study. Under the
Old Covenant, the Eternal placed His name in a CENTRAL location
in the land of promise, first at Shiloh, then later at Jerusalem.
The three festival seasons became known by the Jews as "Pilgrim
Feasts" simply because the law of Moses said they were to travel
(the males in Israel especially) to the city where God had placed
His name, and there observe the Feasts of the Spring season
(Passover/Unleavened Bread), the Summer season(Pentecost), and
the Fall season(Trumpets/Atonement/Tabernacles/Last Great Feast
or 8th day).  We also saw that the Scriptures of the Old
Testament said the Lord would ENLARGE the borders of Israel.
We saw that from Jewish history, it has always been a fact
(certainly so after the 70 year captivity in Babylon, when tens
of thousands of Jews never returned to Palestine) that the
scattered Jews could not always travel to Jerusalem three times a
year to observe the Feasts of the Lord, often not even once a
year, for those living in far away places in the Roman empire. We
noted that those Jews STILL observed the Feasts of the Lord
WHERE THEY WERE LIVING, without observing the sacrificial system
(obviously without observing such as the Temple and Levitical
Priesthood for sacrificing was in Jerusalem).
     We noted that the Eternal did not rain fire and brimstone
down on those Jews so observing the Feasts outside of the city of
Jerusalem. The Lord understood the physical, financial, and work
responsibilities, of Jews living many hundreds of miles away from
Jerusalem.  When the fastest means of transportation was ship,
mule, horse and buggy, and foot, such travel to Jerusalem ONCE a
year, let alone three times a year, would be impossible for most
Jews, on any regular basis.
     What is also forgotten by many is that the Spring
Passover/Unleavened Bread Feast was also the START of the
harvesting of the barley grain. As soon as the first fruit
wave sheaf offering had been presented by the priests in the
temple to the Lord, THEN the harvest could begin.  Only the first
and last days of the seven day feast of Unleavened Bread were
HOLY days, the five days or four days if a weekly Sabbath came
(which it did most of the time) between the start and finish of
that feast, WERE WORK DAYS!  The harvest could start to be
gathered in as soon as the wave sheaf was offered on that morning
of the first day of the week during the feast of Unleavened
Bread.
     The THIRD season of the festival year included all the fall
festivals, from Trumpets to Tabernacles.  Attending at Jerusalem
for this third pilgrim festival season meant starting out from
your home before Trumpets, to be at Jerusalem for that Feast day
and staying there until the end of the 8th or last annual
Sabbath, coming after the seven day feast of Tabernacles.  If you
lived close to Jerusalem you may have not gone up to stay
in that city until after the feast of Atonement, as you could go
back and forth for Trumpets and Atonement, but the basic
instruction in the law of Moses was that there were THREE
festive seasons to attend where God had placed His name, the
third one then being ALL the fall festivals.
     It would have been no small undertaking for the Jews in
Palestine (not even thinking about those outside of Palestine),
and especially those living furthest away from Jerusalem, to
attend ALL three festival seasons in the city of Jerusalem. The
time away from your work (crops, live stock, remembering it was
mainly an agricultural society), would all by itself have
prevented you from travelling to Jerusalem (unless living very
close to that city) for THREE festival seasons, on any regular
basis.  Some few whose work was not in agriculture, may have been
able to attend at Jerusalem for one or more of the festival
season on a regular basis (Joseph and Mary with the boy Jesus,
did attend each year the Passover festival in Jerusalem, so it is
written in the Gospels, but Joseph was not in the agricultural
trade).

     The many factors mentioned above, together with Jewish
history, prove beyond any shadow of doubt that the facts are
clear. Not all Israelites or Jews attended AT JERUSALEM, for the
THREE festival seasons each year.  Many, in the time of Jesus,
living in the far outreaches of the Roman empire, may have only
managed to come to Jerusalem for a festival season ONCE in their
life time.  But the historic facts as just as clear, those Jews
still observed the three festival seasons WHERE THEY LIVED, but
as mentioned earlier, without observing the sacrificial system,
as it was only to be observed in Jerusalem.

     It is or should be very clear to the reader by now, that
there has never been any NT Church of God in this 20th century,
that observing the three festival seasons, has come CLOSE to
observing them as the Israelites did when in Palestine, under
Moses, or thereafter, up to the time of Christ.  Even if some
have tried to copy some aspects or taken certain verses in the OT
and tried to apply then in this 20th century, it should be
now clear that they have missed even that mark by a long way, or
that they have not been consistent (applying certain verses to
Tabernacles feast only while not applying them to Passover and
Pentecost as the law of Moses also included, is to say the least,
in-consistent).
     It should be clear, even looking at only the OT verses,
especially under the laws of Moses, the applying and mis-applying
of these verses in a 20th century context, as done by some
Churches of God, who have picked and chosen, applied and not
applied, verses that fitted their situation at the time (though
possibly done with sincerity, but then not always so), then chose
other verses or claimed they misunderstood previous verses,
so they could adapt to their new situations as their organization
grew, has been somewhat of a sham and a shame at times, based
more upon getting "money" and being in "control of people" than
really desiring the truth of the matter.


     We saw in our last study on this matter, that when we come
to the New Testament age, Jerusalem was no longer the city of
central Festival worship.  We saw the apostle Paul observing the
Festivals of God in different places, wherever he may have been
at the time. We saw that He actually spent very little time in
the city of Jerusalem. From one short couple of weeks in that
city to the next time he was there, was a period of FOURTEEN
years!  Paul still observed the Festivals of the Lord during that
time, and obviously he did not observe them in Jerusalem.  It is
just as clear from the NT that the Church of God did not proclaim
this ot that city or any group of cities as the only cities
where the Feasts of God could be observed.  
     We saw last time that Jesus plainly said the time was NOW
and was to COME (when Jerusalem would be destroyed in 70 A.D.)
when the true worshippers of God would worship Him not only in
Jerusalem, but anywhere in "spirit and in truth" for He wanted
such worship.

     Many Churches of God have now come to see that the NT truth
is that under the NT the Feasts of God, and especially the Feast
of Tabernacles, can be observed ANYWHERE that the people of God
congregate to meet and observe the three festival seasons, which
includes the local church staying right where it is, and
observing the Feast of Tabernacles as it does the feast of
Passover and Pentecost.

     All this then brings up a number of other questions.  Is it
wrong for a local church or a larger church organization to plan
feast observance in some other parts of the country?  With the NT
liberty we have in Christ, it is not wrong to so plan, but again
with the liberty we have in Christ, no church organization can
demand its members can only observe the three festivals seasons,
or Tabernacles, where that organization has official Feast sites.

Today, with the light of truth on this matter, any organization
so trying to control and teach its members will soon have few if
any members, certainly those who cannot be deceived, will move on
out to a church less cultic and authoritarian.
     Observing say the feast of Tabernacles more locally, brings
up the question of SECOND or Festival tithe.  Must it still be
saved and used as under the laws of Moses, given under a
different age and national system, as we have been studying?  I
think the answer is obvious - NO!  Under the NT festival
observance locally, as practiced by the NT apostolic Church of
God,  there is no need for a saving of a festival or second
tithe, to be used in one central location, as under the OT.
     Certainly, you are free to save a second tithe if you so
desire to. You are free under the liberty in Christ, to attend
the feast of Tabernacles, on the other side of the earth or the
country in which you live. That is your choice to make.  In so
making that choice you will need money to fulfill it, a full
tithe of your income, possibly even more, or maybe less.
     If you are blessed with physical money, it would be right
and proper to use part of it in helping someone else attend a
feast of Tabernacles in some part of the nation or world that
they would like to see, but would be unable to go to because of
their financial poorness. Having a large financial income is a
blessing IF used wisely and with the love of the Lord in your
heart towards Him and other people not so blessed.
     If the feast of Tabernacles should be, will be, more and
more on a local level, what about the staying in "booths" or as
many call them today, "temporary dwellings"?  Do I move out of my
house or apartment to another house or apartment, if observing
the Tabernacles feast locally?
     First, the booths as directed under Moses were FAR different
than modern houses and hotels, and apartments, that most stay in
during the observance of the feast of Tabernacles. Such building
are not built to be just "temporary" dwellings, no matter how
people deceive themselves to believe they are living in a "booth"
by dwelling in such a permanent structure.  The age of booth
building and living has gone with the OT. Under the NT, with no
Jerusalem in a warm climate of Palestine, to only observe the
feast of Tabernacles (with an observance that is now worldwide in
every nation, north and south, east and west, warm and cold, try
living in a booth of tree branches in Alaska for the feast of
Tabernacles and see how you like it, especially see how the
elderly like it) in tents is nowhere mentioned in the NT as a law
that was to be observed to the letter.  The worship of God in
spirit and in truth does not need such physical reminders that we
came out of Egypt as wanderers in a world that is not our home,
that we are pilgrims on this earth looking for a city whose
builder and maker is God, which fades not away, reserved
in heaven for us, and waiting to be given us when Christ Jesus
returns to Tabernacle with the world once more, when the Kingdom
of God is literally established in the earth.
     If observing the feast of Tabernacles locally, the NT does
not require any moving out of your house or apartment.

     Observing the feast of Tabernacles on a more local level, or
not even locally, am I commanded to attend services EVERY day? 
Should there even be church services every day?  The instructions
from the Lord are clear. Only the first and eighth days of the
Tabernacles/Last Feast are commanded holy convocations.  They
only are Sabbath days in which God commands services and
attendance.  All other services during that whole eight days are
man made.  We are at liberty in Christ to so have services/bible
studies etc. on those other days, but in the same respect we are
at liberty not to attend if we so choose for any reason.  The
feast of Tabernacles is to learn to fear (deeply respect) the
Lord, to read and study His word, but that can be done privately
if so wanting, without attending services on any day other than
the Sabbaths.
     Many organizations now have what they call "free days"
during the Feast, some have "work-shops" of various kinds on the
days during the two Sabbaths, you can attend or not attend,
freedom in Christ once more being taught, where freedom is
allowed by God. 

     If observing the Tabernacles feast locally, do I have to
stop working at my secular job for all eight days?  Most people
like to take off from secular work for the entire Feast, but
under the NT local observance, such is not a command. The first
and eighth days are Sabbaths, so it is written.  God never said
all eight days were Sabbaths, or it would be so written.  If only
the first and eighth are Sabbaths then the other days are not,
and so belong to us, as part of our eating and drinking and
whatsoever our soul desires, which may mean we desire to work at
our secular job for the other days or parts of those days
etc. 
     Many are coming to see that under the NT observance of the
feast of Tabernacles, in a local church setting, we can observe
this fall festival in much the same way as we do the spring
festival, but with a different emphasis in our physical life as
pictured by the joyful festivities of the fall feast. The Jewish
people and especially the Messianic Jews observe this fall feast
locally with great enthusiasm and spirituality, many of them
still working at their secular jobs during the Sabbath days of
the feast.
     Again, from a local observance point of view, the liberty in
Christ would determine you personally choosing whether to work or
not work at your secular job doing the days of the feast between
the Sabbaths. No church organization has the authority from God
to make that decision for you, just as they do not have the
authority to tell you where to observe this fall festival.
     It may be nice to be able to observe this fall feast in some
far away place you have never seen before, but the reality of
many today in this world of insecure jobs, and financial ups and
downs, is that the spector of saying home for all the fall
festivals of the Lord is becoming more and more the way they must
go, and so in so doing the feasts of God are becoming more and
more local, just as it was in the days of the NT apostolic
church, who had no cars or flying machines to move them quickly
around from one place to another. As we have seen, Paul more
often than not, observed God's Festivals in the town or city
where he happened to be evangelizing or living at the time.

     The Jews from the time of the Babylonian captivity and
after, have been observing all the feasts of God in the towns
where they had synagogues and congregations established in the
lands they chose to dwell in.  This they still practice today. 
The NT Church of God followed in like manner, observing the great
and wonderful feasts of the Lord  where congregations were
established, after all it is the people and their attitude
towards the observing of God's Festivals that make them so great
and wonderful, together with the meaning of each feast as brought
out in sermons (as well as the lovely food and drink, except for
the feast of Atonement), that make them so enjoyable and
spiritually edifying.  The actual town or location is not the
important thing. Observing them in spirit and in truth is what
really counts with our heavenly Father today under the New
Covenant age.

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

Written October 1998

All articles and studies by Keith Hunt may be copied, published,
e-mailed, and distributed as led by the Spirit. Mr. Hunt trusts
nothing will be changed (except for spelling and punctuation
errors) without his consent.

 
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