And now abideth faith, hope, charity,
these three; but the greatest of these is charity.
1 Corinthians 13:13
Blow the Trumpet
Proclaiming the Gospel as a Witness
November 1, 2005
To All the Saints
in the Churches of God
Re: The Feast of Tabernacles
God’s 2005 Feast of Tabernacles is now concluded. But is it really over? Will we take something from it that truly lives in us? Are there lessons and experiences we can glean from this extraordinary season? And will these lessons sustain us throughout the year and even longer?
One of the great blessings of this time of year is the transcendent purpose it pictures—a purpose all of God’s people share. The Feast of Tabernacles and the Last Great Day declare a wonderful hope this world cannot see because it does not understand what we have just experienced. But we do understand. For this reason we assembled for eight days to be fed “meat in due season.” For this reason we became dear friends with people we never knew just a few weeks ago. For this reason we grew spiritually in ways we couldn’t have imagined. My guess is that virtually thousands of God’s people walked away from this feast with something special. I certainly did. It is for this reason that I write.
This year I had the honor of observing God’s fall festival in Big Bear, California. As a setting it would be difficult to beat. Everything about it shouted “Millennium!” Big Bear is located in the San Bernardino Mountains and is one of the most majestic settings in the Golden State. Some refer to it as “Little Lake Tahoe.” Having been to Squaw Valley on numerous feasts I can understand why they would make the comparison. Personally, I find Big Bear even more ideally suited for the feast. Perhaps it is its size. This charming resort community is considerably smaller than Lake Tahoe making its many attractions more accessible. At its center is the largest man made lake in the world. Big Bear Lake is seven miles long and 23 miles around. It is surrounded by breathtaking mountains. There is a small village with numerous restaurants and shops that serves as a perfect gathering place for brethren to plan activities.
However, as beautiful as this location is, there was something else that made the 2005 FOT in Big Bear so special. This year something profoundly millennial emerged as one small community (less than 75) of God’s people assembled here to learn of Him. It is something that set this feast apart from every one I have ever attended. As a matter of fact, nothing comes close.
There were many things that struck me during this feast. First, I have never seen a greater commitment to learning God’s word and His way. Large gatherings in homes occurred several times and invariably led to deeply spiritual Bible studies that would go late into the night—I mean REALLY late. Furthermore, these were not merely “bull sessions.” They were profoundly deep and meaningful. Additionally, although there were differences of opinion on some issues, there was an extraordinary level of respect for everyone who attended. There was no rancor or fighting, just a genuine search for God’s wisdom and His truth. It was truly inspiring. One gentleman whose relationship with God’s people is through his wife, commented to me that this group is the most non-judgmental COG fellowship he has ever seen. What a wonderful characterization of God’s people.
I suppose that single observation is what stuck with me the most about this year’s feast. As I considered it I was moved to reflect on the words of Jesus Christ: “By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one to another” (Jn. 13:35). This year I saw His true disciples and the genuine expression of love they have for all of God’s people. That love is a deep respect for others who share a common journey as well as a common destination. Around the world you can find these wonderful believers. This year a small gathering in Big Bear connected me to them in a way that was electric.
Brethren, we are all advancing toward a miraculous place—a place that was just pictured by eight wonderful days celebrated by thousands of God’s children. This place will soon transform a world bent on its own destruction and will convert it into one driven by mercy, judgement and faith. When it comes, we will all look toward its majestic King and not to our own ideas. We may all claim to do this now, but how can that be true with hundreds of COG splinter groups, most of which accuse others of causing God great displeasure.
I already miss this year’s feast. I ache for the dear friends I made, the priceless lesson I learned and the wonderful Kingdom that became so real. I honestly saw that kingdom and am still profoundly struck by its peace and brotherhood.
Let us all grow closer to that Kingdom and to each other.
Blow the Trumpet
To the Church