Each year, we are commanded to attend the Feast of Tabernacles in the location that God chooses to place His name (Deuteronomy 14:23). And each year, most of God’s people diligently and joyfully travel to these festival locations around the globe, excited about what He has planned for His Feast. We enjoy the spiritual food (the sermons, sermonettes and Bible studies), we enjoy the fellowship, we enjoy the physical food and we enjoy the beautiful surroundings. But what spiritual habits do we intend to employ while at the Feast this year? What actions can we take in order to maximize the spiritual benefits of the Feast of Tabernacles and the Last Great Day? More specifically, what is one action we can all take to help make sure we are spiritually maximizing this very special opportunity, both as adults and as young people?
Did you know that there is a very important action that we can all take every morning during the Feast that will help ensure we are learning the spiritual lessons that God intends us to learn from His Holy Days? Let me tell you about what, over the last 15 years or so, has become one of my favorite activities at the Feast of Tabernacles. I love to awake early at the Feast, make myself a really nice cup of hot tea or coffee, and find a cozy place to sit—preferably with an inspiring view. After praying for God to help me see things that I missed in the previous day’s messages, I open my Bible and church notebook, grab a highlighter or bright-colored pen, and begin reviewing the sermonette and sermon notes that I took the previous day. As I prayerfully review my notes, I highlight the really important points and key scriptures.
The late Mr. Bob League, a long-time minister in the faith, recommended this habit in a Feast sermon he gave in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, in 2002. His recommendation then, and my recommendation now, was to get up early every morning during the Feast, review your notes from the previous day, and mark the very poignant or important points and scriptures with a colored pen or highlighter. And then every second or third day, review all the previous highlighted messages for the Feast thus far, pray about it, and watch for themes to emerge—themes that God has inspired the speakers to address.
Seeing What God Has Inspired in the Messages
This is an action that adults and young people alike can take and learn to deeply enjoy. If we take the time to do this, we will learn far more from each message we hear, and we will also see more deeply and clearly the powerful spiritual lessons God has inspired to be woven throughout the messages. We can then begin to talk about these themes with our family members and other brethren, and we will grow in the fear and awe of the mighty God who has planned His Feasts for us!
Long ago king David prayed, “Open my eyes, that I may see wondrous things from Your law” (Psalm 119:18). Many of the Feast of Tabernacles messages focus on the law and statutes, and prayerfully reviewing our notes and meditating on what we are highlighting can help us see more clearly the “wondrous” things from them. Later in Psalm 119, David also prayed, “And I will walk at liberty, for I seek Your precepts. I will speak of Your testimonies also before kings, and will not be ashamed. And I will delight myself in Your commandments, which I love. My hands also I will lift up to Your commandments, which I love, and I will meditate on Your statutes” (vv. 45–48). Why would king David have prayed this way? What is the “wonder” in the law of God? As we prayerfully meditate on our Feast notes and related scriptures, the wonder in the law of God will become that much more real to us, and we will learn to see what King David saw! We will develop far more excitement for God’s kingdom as we see more clearly the reality of that coming kingdom based on His law.
Jesus Christ commented during His earthly ministry, “Blessed are the eyes which see the things you see; for I tell you that many prophets and kings have desired to see what you see, and have not seen it, and to hear what you hear, and have not heard it” (Luke 10:23–24). Brethren, at the Feast of Tabernacles, God provides us with some of the most meaningful and exciting messages that we will hear all year long. God personally inspires the messages we hear, and we should be excited about each of them. As we take the time to focus on them and meditate further upon them, our understanding of the coming Kingdom will grow, as will our personal desire to be a part of it! If we are unable to become excited about the messages we hear at the Feast, it may be because we are missing something that God intends for us to see and learn. If we miss it on the first hearing, daily review of notes and scriptures can help us hear what He intended the second time through.
In Psalm 30, king David observed, “For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for life; weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning” (v. 5). Rising early to enjoy the quiet start of the day, and perhaps even God’s beautiful sunrise, while reviewing the powerful principles taught in the previous day’s messages is sure to bring deep joy! As we perceive the deeper meaning in the festival messages we hear, and as we learn to see more clearly the reality of the coming Millennium, we will look forward that much more to starting each day at the Feast with the joy and excitement that emanates from our Feast notes.
Building a Habit
The challenge to most of us is that rising early requires self-discipline, both in the morning and the previous evening. Not only must we set the habit of making ourselves rise early, we must also discipline ourselves to avoid staying up too late the night before. Late nights result in sleepy mornings where morning study can quickly become a burden.
Brethren, the Feast of Tabernacles and Last Great Day last only eight days. The messages given are inspired by God and contain special information focused on the millennial rule of Christ and the saints on the earth and the incredible Great White Throne Judgment! Plan now to review and mark your notes each morning while at the Feast—and make this goal a reality. Of course, this will require taking notes each day so that you have something to review and mark! If you are not already in the habit, consider creating this new and special habit of rising early each morning, learning to enjoy the silence in the hotel room, condo, house, patio or balcony. Create an enjoyable habit to go along with early rising—sip or nibble on something very pleasant, for example. Pray for God to help you “see wondrous things from His law” and from the messages that He inspires to be given. Review and mark your notes, and watch for God to show you things that you missed the first time through. As you review multiple days at one sitting, you will start to see patterns and develop a depth of understanding about these Holy Days and their future fulfillment that you have never before experienced.
Enjoy the Feast of Tabernacles and the Last Great Day this year! And enjoy establishing the habit of finding joy in the morning during these amazing Feasts!