In our six thousand years of recorded history, the human race has accomplished magnificent structures, material and cultural. Why can't we live at the level of our best achievements?
At the core of the human heart is a self-destruct button which, with time, destroys the institutions that make for human happiness. In reality:
Man's works perish. But God has a plan that will usher in a thousand years of peace, prosperity, joy, health - all that our hearts desire.
God's grand design for human happiness has long been blueprinted in the Bible. In fact, this plan has been written into the times for worship which God instituted shortly after man's first breath. It underlies many of the annual festivals celebrated by worshippers of all creeds.
To that Bible stalwart Moses - revered across religious divides - was revealed the foundation of religious worship, recorded for us in the "Book of Beginnings" - Genesis. Indeed God designed His plan as a reflection of the natural order of recurring seasons, the result of interaction between earth, sun and moon (Genesis 1:14). The sun and moon were intended to mark the passage of time - days, months, years. But also to guide man regarding "seasons".
This latter expression signifies "an appointed time" (Heb. moed) - i.e., a time for worship, translated elsewhere in the Bible text as feast (Lev. 23:2) and many times as congregation, referring not so much to the people as to the act of their assembling together (Psa. 74:4).
These appointed times for worship reflected the agricultural year -spring, summer, autumn, and many ancient nations had festivals at just such times. The pre-Christian Easter had its roots in this agricultural round. So, too, Pentecost and the mid-summer festivals. The modem autumnal "harvest festival" also stems from the same source.
It is this last festival - at the closing of the agricultural year - which portrays the coming high point of the divine plan.
The Bible is sketchy in regard to the manner of worship for the first two thousand plus years of human civilization. Since Moses' era we have a clearer picture. God spelled out to him the manner of worship He requires. They are packaged in the same three festival seasons, and in seven annual holy days within those seasons. Each season, each "holy convocation", sheds light on the divine plan for mankind [see Christian Holy Days.]
The eight-day autumn festival - termed in the Scriptures Festival of Tabernacles [or Booths, Tents] - refers to the reign of Jesus Christ as King of kings. The ancient prophets detailed this thousand years of peace, abundant health, prosperity. Zechariah tells us that when Jesus returns he will require and literally force all nations - including the Gentiles - to observe this festival (ch. 14)! The prophet links it with the blessing of rain in due season (v. 17f), with one pure religion (v.9), with troubled Jerusalem being in permanent security (v. 11).
The reign of Messiah will be universal (v.9). Other prophets expand on the effects of His reign: "In the latter days...out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations and shall rebuke many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks, nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more" (Isaiah 2:14).
Look at that again. All of mankind will look to Jesus Christ for instruction in how to live - and his instruction will be based on the despised Law of God (Exodus ch. 20)! Disputes between nations will be settled according to that Law backed up by divine power. All armaments will be destroyed and, where possible, used for peaceful purposes. Military academies, the pride of nations, will become derelict.
And as we saw, God's form of worship will alone be permitted. The round of Festivals (Leviticus 23) will replace the multitude of forms of worship we see today - even Easter, Christmas, etc will be abandoned. The seven annual holy days, coupled with the understanding that Jesus is the Messiah and the only way to eternal life will be universal (Ezekiel 45-46). Even the seventh-day Sabbath will be the rule. Those Christians who observe it today are sometimes despised, but all humans will have no choice, then, but to observe it (Isaiah 66:23)!
You are urged to search out from the Scriptures whether your own worship is right before God.
The festival this year begins Friday evening (at sunset) September 24th, and completes on Saturday, October 2nd, at sunset.
If you would like to take part in the Bible festivals, you are invited to worship with the Churches of God at any of our numerous festival sites around the world.
To comment on this article or request more information, please contact James McBride by e-mail at the comment form below.
For PDF or mailed copy, see CGOM. Excerpt from New Horizons Issue 17, September/October 1999. Edited by James McBride of the Churches of God, United Kingdom.
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