Each day consisted of prayer, worship songs, preaching and fellowship, with a variety of family-oriented activities throughout the festival.
We also livestreamed each worship service, enabling the celebration for the many who could not travel. Many who attended, as well as those who watched via livestreaming, commented on the inspiration they experienced in Jesus Christ.
Celebrating "Jesus, Saviour, Lord and King" in October!
The Feast of Tabernacles is a Christ-centred celebration. Rich in meaning, this joyous festival explores the birth of our Saviour Jesus Christ, as well as His abundant Kingdom blessings when He returns to reign. We explore in worship, song and scripture, the time when "every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord."
You are welcome to join us at the Mary Davis Community Centre, Baldivis, WA, 3-10 October 2020. This festival includes worship services, seminars, fellowship, with various family outings and activities. Come for one day or come for eight - but do come! More information coming soon.
(Note that his festival is celebrated under the terms of the new covenant in Christ and is not a requirement for salvation or a test of fellowship!)
“You’re celebrating what?”
“Isn’t that old covenant stuff?”
“I’m confused. I thought those were ancient Israelite harvest festivals, and therefore bear no relevance to Christians today!”
Here’s the short answer!
You’ll love this just as you love Jesus.
Our family again revelled in the Christ-centred celebration last year of the “Feast of Tabernacles” with almost 1000 fellow Christians gathered in Florida, USA. Jesus was truly exalted in praise, prayer, preaching and fellowship. The previous year, we were in Caloundra, Queensland, with a 100 faithful believers. And, consecutively, for more than five decades, it began for me as a nine year old boy in sixties celebrating at the feast in the Blue Mountains, New South Wales.
Let me explain why I believe that this celebration particularly is relevant under the new covenant, and therefore powerfully resonant with all Christians.
But I digress first and confess a little more of my journey.
In those early decades, our family kept the feast with a very much old covenant overlay. I recall frequent readings of:
Three times in a year shall all thy males appear before the LORD thy God in the place which he shall choose; in the feast of unleavened bread, and in the feast of weeks, and in the feast of tabernacles: and they shall not appear before the LORD empty. (Deuteronomy 16:16 KJV)
This was a commanded assembly for males. But, my sisters, mother and grandmother were there as well! And as a boy, of course, I loved the travel, the motel accommodation, carrying my dad’s old camera, and visiting places of interest, underlined by sense of eternal destiny. I recall the protracted morning and afternoon church services. I also recall on occasion fiery preachers eliciting our attention from the pulpit.
From today’s vantage and hindsight, all those formative years truly felt like old covenant edict. I’m thankful, however, that it has now provided a foundation to fast-track to today.
Rather than old covenant or ancient harvest anchorage, these biblical annual Sabbaths/festivals (as detailed in Leviticus chapter 23) are powerfully symbolic of salvation narrative that centres on Jesus Christ. From the Passover Lamb to the Great White Throne Judgment, it’s all about Jesus! As the weekly Sabbath foreshadows rest in Christ, so too the annual Sabbaths reflect depths of Christo-centric meaning. And thus, they're significant and have value for all Christians.
These festivals are all about Jesus Christ! Let me say that again. These festivals are all about our Lord and Saviour!
The interesting thing is, for example, is although the Holy Spirit was poured out, just as Jesus promised, exactly on the day of Pentecost, not everyone actually truly appreciates its value.
Many think those festivals are old covenant history from another era, with little relevance today. Others conversely celebrate them by command, where sadly the grace and Lordship of Jesus is absent.
So, in exploring this together, let's ask for example, when was Jesus born?
No, he wasn’t born at Xmas time.
Although many Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus in December (historically chosen to align with the pagan sun god Mithras’ birth on December 25), we know that Jesus was born in late September or early October – around the time of the Feast of Tabernacles!
So, why not honour Jesus’ birth then? The particular festival is an ideal framework to turn our attention to the divine miracle of Jesus’ virgin birth and all that it means for everyone.
Of course, John’s testimony compels us further when he wrote:
And the Word became flesh and [tabernacled] among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14 ESV)
So Jesus “tented” or sojourned among us for some 33 years.
And, what’s more, He’s coming back again as “KING of Kings and LORD of Lords”, where “every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord!” Jesus then reigns for a 1000 years. And finally on the Last Great Day, we celebrate the great resurrection of humanity to a time of judgment.
Everything about the Feast of Tabernacles has to do with Jesus, the Son of God and soon-coming King.
So, in the spirit of the new covenant, let’s celebrate Christ, compelled by love for our Lord and Saviour.
This year’s festival theme in Western Australia is “Jesus, Saviour, Lord and King”.
We welcome you to join us at the Mary Davis Library and Community Centre in Baldivis, Western Australia, 3-10 October 2020.
Come for one day or come for eight – but do come!
PS I recently heard the comment saying that the Feast of Tabernacles can hardly be associated or have any relevance with Christ, as it was originally given to the ancient Israelites under the old covenant, and is associated entirely with their seasonal agricultural harvests.
I think it is a good question. I hope this brief explanation is helpful.
The tabernacle, (and later the temple) were built on a heavenly blueprint. God specified every detail to Moses – details which although were made out of physical elements, such as gold, wood and cloth, carried with them a divine, heavenly blueprint or reality.
Thus, the ensuing worship centring on the Tabernacle life, while in Israel’s experience was limited to their sojourn from Egypt and the annual agricultural seasons they experienced, their ceremonies, also dictated by God, equally originated from and pictured a transcendent heavenly connection.
Why draw such a conclusion? What might that connection be?
That connection/blueprint or template can only be found in Jesus Christ.
Thus today, we do not and cannot celebrate the old covenant feasts as given to ancient Israel. The old covenant and its associated liturgical practices are long gone, superceded by the new covenant written in Jesus’ blood.
So, is there any merit in divinely-given annual Sabbath celebrations? The question we might explore is, if their blueprint also originates from the heavenly, even as the design and details of the tabernacle was, then might we might have strong reason to enquire and explore what might be their heavenly significance? What do the biblical festivals originally given to the ancient Israelites actually mean? Do they contain an inherit blueprint beyond the agricultural harvest seasons experienced annually?
Paul used an interesting agricultural term when he referred to Jesus as “Christ the firstfruits”. It’s a term that clearly links the old covenant understanding of seasonal harvests with a higher, heavenly significance that centres on Jesus Christ.
A quick history lesson. During the annual Passover/Unleavened Bread Season, the High Priest would cut the first of the barley harvest just after sunset, and first wave sheaf was presented in the tabernacle the next morning. We might ask: what might this “firstfruits” ceremony actually mean?
Briefly, with Jesus crucified on a Wednesday, and then entombed for three days and three nights, the fulfilment of which would have occurred at or just after sunset on the Saturday night when the High Priest would have cut the first wave sheaf, that moment was perhaps when Jesus first opened his eyes and was resurrected. Recall that the tomb was already empty when the women visited early on that Sunday morning.
That first wave sheaf, cut from the early barley harvest, can only picture Jesus. And, in the ceremony that followed the next day, with the wave sheaf presented in the temple, recall Jesus words to Mary, saying, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.” (John 20:17 ESV)
Between seeing Mary early that morning, and later when he encountered the disciples, Jesus ascended to heaven and was presented to His Heavenly Father as the “firstfruits”, symbolised by that ancient wave sheaf offering!
Thus, accordingly, would it be meritorious that any of our celebrations (that find their origins within the biblical narrative) be based entirely on the heavenly reality under the terms of the new covenant for whom our “blueprint” is our Lord, Advocate, Redeemer, King and Judge, Jesus Christ?
Perhaps, if we revisited those ancient festivals as a blueprint narrative for the greater harvest of humanity, then perhaps those same festivals under the lens and terms of the new covenant, such as the Feast of Tabernacles, provide extraordinary salvation commentary so as to be powerfully relevant and significant to the follower of Jesus!
In the spirit and freedom of the new covenant, let’s continue to celebrate Jesus as Saviour, Lord, King and Judge!