Can We Live The Life that the Feast of Tabernacles Represents?
Eric Snow, sermonette, 10/08, Huanchaco, Peru
Right now we live in temporary dwellings during the Feast of Tabernacles. So what do the temporary dwellings represent, according to the Bible? Why do we perform this physical ceremony? What lessons should we learn spiritually from doing this ritual? Could we be doing a ritual without really understanding or benefiting spiritually from its meaning? We need to learn more spritually during the Feast of Tabernacles. So we should meditate and think about why we travel long distances in order to live in temporary places far from our normal homes. The Feast of Tabernacles should not be a vacation for pleasure only for true Christians. Instead, the central ceremony of the Feast should remind us that our most important job during this life should be preparing for the life in the kingdom of God.
S.P.S. Therefore, today, this is my principal point: We live in temporary dwellings during the Feast of Tabernacles. These temporary places should remind us of how short our lives on earth are. Therefore, if it is necessary, we should sacrifice happiness during this physical life in order to have eternal life instead of enjoying pleasure during this physical life now.
When we first arrived here, did we think about the meaning of the hotel rooms we are now in? Or were we distracted because we were tired, the kids were hungry, and lots of suitcases had to be unloaded from buses and cars? It is important to meditate about the meaning of our room as a temporary dwelling representing our physical lives in the sight of God. While here, we should consider at least briefly praying about what it represents to stay in that room.
Most of us came to this Feast site by car or bus on a highway through a big, empty desert. Likewise, during our lives, true Christians travel through the great desert of the world before arriving in the Kingdom of God. We would not have been right if we thought that to stop at a restaurant, a store, or a hotel along the highway in the desert was the final destination in place of Huanchaco.
Similarly, Christians should not think that the enjoyment of the pleasures of this world is the purpose of life. Of course, pleasure, entertainment, and the enjoyment of this life are not sins intrinsically. For example, the church dances here need not violate the law of God. But we should not think the fun activities we do during the Feast are the main purpose for coming here. We should not come here mainly in order to jump into the pool, lay on the beach, swim in the ocean, or to have fun socializing with friends. We should have come here mainly in order to learn more about the ways of God from this ritual, the sermons, and Christian fellowship.
II Cor. 5:1-9
The physical tent or tabernacle refers to our bodies. And our bodies are very temporary. Therefore, our main priority should be to please God during this physical life so that we can live forever as spirit beings in His kingdom. But that requires faith in the unseen world.
It is much wiser to believe in the unseen world than the physical world we see around us. Why is that so? Consider all the people in America who placed their faith in the big banks and the stock market on Wall Street. If they lose their retirement savings, how much good is that faith in what they can see doing for them now? The present world financial crisis is a warning. It tells us that we should not trust what the world has to offer. It can soon disappear. It is much wiser to have treasure in heaven instead of the stock market. It should not be the main purpose of life to have money, cars, houses, and big bank account balances. It is harder to have faith and to do things for eternal life since we may not get a payoff for doing them now. But we should still do those spiritual things anyway.
Furthermore, what we do in the physical world eventually does not have any value, if it does not help us serve God better. What we build on earth soon falls apart and gets forgotten. But what we do for God and other people that builds holy righteous character will last forever in the kingdom of God. Let us consider this spiritual analogy to illustrate this point. On Thursday, the teams on the beach that played the games built sand castles. The waves of the ocean soon destroyed those sand castles. These sand castles are like tabernacles or tents then, just like our physical lives are. The physical world destroys our achievements and buildings. Then think about the really big sand castles built near Huanchaco. Have you visited Chan-Chan? I visited Chan-Chan on Friday. People built these huge palaces and then they were abandoned and destroyed. They were built mainly or entirely of adobe bricks made of dried mud. So these buildings started out as dirt, and have mostly returned to dirt. What did all those people accomplish ultimately? What good did all their work do? Likewise, everything is worthless that we do in the life that does not help create us become more like God. It all just turns to dust and dirt. The ultimate purpose of life is to develop holy righteous character and the habits of obeying the law of God. We have to learn to act like God now if we want to be God in the future and then live forever.
Now, both the Days of Unleavened Bread and the Feast of Tabernacles tell us how to live our physical lives for God. The Days of Unleavened Bread tell us that we should obey the law of God and avoid sin. Similarly, the Feast tells us that this physical life is very short and temporary. The Feast tells us that we are walking through the great desert of the world before we would enter the kingdom of God. Similarly, Ancient Israel walked physically through a terrible desert in Arabia for years before entering the Promised Land. Satan can use so obviously the pleasures of the world to distract us or to blind us from the purpose of our lives. That is especially a warning to the young people here: There are lots of fun things we can do in this life. But our physical lives only matter ultimately if we put serving God first. Fortunately, often by serving God we will avoid so many of the hurts and pains people in the world have from violating the law of God. For example, if we obey the laws of God that relate to sexual morality, we can avoid diseases, unwanted pregnancies, and bad memories about ex-boyfriends and ex-girlfriends.
Likewise, like Moses did, if God requires us to do so, can we pass up the pleasures of this world? Can we see the invisible world and live our lives accordingly?
If God required it of us, could we give up the things in the world that we most want?
Conclusion: The ritual of living in temporary dwellings far from our regular homes during the Feast of Tabernacles should teach us a spiritual lesson: We should value eternal life more than this physical life. The glory of living forever in the kingdom of God as part of the Family of God is worth far more than our jobs, our houses, our cars, and our bank accounts. So then, over the next year, can we have the faith to live the lesson of that the Feast of Tabernacles teaches? Or will we have performed an empty ritual physically that changed nothing about our lives spiritually?