Sunday, October 30, 2011

For Such A Time As This

"For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father's house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for [such] a time as this?"
Esther 4:14 NKJV

We have talked the past couple of weeks about the days of Noah, and the fact that the anniversary of the flood is going to occur two weeks or so from now. We have also explored the possibility that God might again choose to intervene in the world’s history at this time. While studying this week the Holy Spirit reminded me of this passage from the Old Testament which we find in the story of Esther, a Jewish girl who becomes Queen during the reign of Ahasuerus.

While she was the Queen, a plot to destroy the Jews is discovered by Esther’s cousin Mordecai who informs her of it, and counsels her as to what she could do to foil it. It is during this conversation that we find this passage where Mordecai in essence tells Esther that this single event might be the reason behind all that has happened to her up to this point in her life. The fact that a Jewish girl taken captive by a foreign ruler somehow becomes the Queen certainly gives her reason to consider this possibility. She then decides that she was indeed placed in this position by God, and fulfills her destiny by putting in motion a plan that results in the salvation of the Jewish nation.

So why did the Holy Spirit remind me of this story, and this verse in particular this week? Since we have been talking about the days of Noah, I believe it is a message for those who truly believe we are living in those days right now, and some insight into just what God expects from us.

Let me try to explain my thinking here. Most of us are familiar with some form of sporting event, whether it be football, baseball, basketball or hockey just to name a few. As you watch these games, it becomes apparent that one of the strategies most all have in common is some sort of manipulation of personnel during the game that insures the best possible lineup of players is available at the end.

Now this might seem odd to you, but what the Holy Spirit told me this week is that for those of us who truly believe we are approaching the end of this age, the logical conclusion is that God chose to place us here as His best “lineup” to accomplish His goals before the end.

My next thought was that thanks to me, we may be in a little trouble. I had to step back and look in the mirror and ask myself if I was doing everything I possibly could to further the Kingdom! The fact is, if we are indeed as close to the end of time as many of us think, we have an awesome responsibility to fulfil. God is counting on us to do His work as time is running out.

Now a natural response to that idea might be many asking themselves “what more can I do”? If I may, I would like to suggest that this late in the game, it might not be a question of what more can I do, but am I doing what I can?

For in fact the body is not one member but many. If the foot should say, "Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body," is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear should say, "Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body," is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body [were] an eye, where [would be] the hearing? If the whole [were] hearing, where [would be] the smelling? But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased.
1 Corinthians 12:14-18 NKJV

One of the most important lessons I learned while participating in sports was that while you spent time away from the game in learning and practicing, when it came to game time you just concentrated on doing what you could do the very best that you could. In other words, during the game is not when you want to try something new that you haven’t practiced. In the life of the believer, we early on try to identify the gifts God has presented us with and develop them in order to put them to good use serving Him.

In the passage from Corinthians, Paul is making the point that first and most importantly we must realize that we are placed in the body according to God’s will. In the context of this passage, Paul is referring to the gifts God gives each of us to accomplish His work. Yet in the bigger picture, God also places us where we can do the most good with those gifts He has given us. Have you ever really considered that you are where you are because God wanted you there? So often we tend to think we have some sort of control of our circumstances, when in fact, in the life of the believer God puts us where He wants.

When I thought about all of these things this week I came to the realization that I personally need to understand how much God expects from me right now. Since I do believe we are at the end of this age, and the rapture of the church could happen today, do I really understand God placed me here for a reason, and He expects the very best I have performed at the highest level I can produce? Just like Esther, God has placed all of us here right now “for such a time as this”. We are the people God chose to put on the field at the end of the game. We need to be giving the maximum effort we can before time runs out and the game is over.

Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you--unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures,
1 Corinthians 15:1-4 NKJV

Keep watching.

Update; The Middle East is growing even more explosive with even harsher warnings from Assad of Syria, and new missle attacks on Israel. Many believe these events will culminate in war within the next month or two. Here are two links you can use to read about the escalation.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

How Soon?

"But as the days of Noah [were], so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. "For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, "and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.
Matthew 24:37-39 NKJV

Last week we discussed the possibility that it could be possible to identify the day when the tribulation would begin by looking at when the world was judged by God at the time of the flood of Noah. The Bible tells us clearly that the flood began on the seventeenth day of the second month, which is Cheshvan 17 on the Jewish civil calendar. Now assuming that the tribulation will begin on this same day at some point in the future, is there any way we can speculate on when the rapture will occur?

Now as we have already said, there are all sorts of ideas about when the rapture might occur depending on who you talk to. Many believe it is a number specific event based on the total number of believers in the body, some believe it must occur on a feast day of Israel, and there are even those who believe it occurs during the tribulation, which a few believe has already begun. As always, I want us to look at what the Bible says to see if it sheds any light on this question.

As we see in the passage from Matthew, when Jesus was talking to the disciples about His return He specifically mentions the time of Noah and the flood and tells them that the two events will be similar. The question is; “how similar”? Jesus does go on to describe the lifestyle of the world at the time of the flood, but could there be other similarities as well? Some may not know that this was not the only time Jesus talked about the flood of Noah during His ministry, so why not look to the other?

During His ministry, and some time before the Olivet Discourse, Jesus was teaching in Jerusalem and was asked a question by the Pharisees concerning the coming kingdom. In the course of discussing that subject, He looked to His disciples and used the flood of Noah as an illustration much the same as He would later do in the Garden.

"And as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man: "They ate, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all.
Luke 17:26-27 NKJV

But what I want you to notice is this; Jesus did not stop there, but went on to use another illustration of God’s judgment falling on mankind.

"Likewise as it was also in the days of Lot: They ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built; "but on the day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed [them] all. "Even so will it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed.
Luke 17:28-30 NKJV

Now why is this important? Well, one thing that stood out to me when I compared these two passages looking for similarities was this; not only do they describe God’s judgment on a sinful world, but both accounts state that judgment began the very same day Noah went in and Lot went out. In fact, look at this passage from Genesis concerning the story of Lot leaving Sodom and Gommorah.

"Hurry, escape there. For I cannot do anything until you arrive there." Therefore the name of the city was called Zoar. The sun had risen upon the earth when Lot entered Zoar. Then the LORD rained brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah, from the LORD out of the heavens.
Genesis 19:22-24 NKJV

When discussing the city where he and his family were going to escape to, the angels told Lot that they could not do anything until he and his family were safe in Zoar! Now I think many could easily make the argument that these two accounts suggest that not only is the pre-tribulational rapture of the church the correct one, it is entirely possible that the tribulation will begin on the very day that the church is raptured. While that may indeed be a possibility, I believe there is one more thing we need to consider before we begin to think we could identify a particular day for the beginning of the tribulation. If we look again at the passage in Daniel where he is given the prophecy of the seventy weeks, we find this verse concerning the beginning of that final seventieth week.

Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week; But in the middle of the week He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate, Even until the consummation, which is determined, Is poured out on the desolate."
Daniel 9:27 NKJV

Now the “he” in this verse refers to the coming one world leader who is also known as the Antichrist, which is only the best known of the many names given to him throughout scripture. In this verse we are told without question that the coming tribulation, the seventieth week of Daniel, begins with the man of sin “confirming” a covenant with the “many”. Most scholars agree that an examination of the original language reveals that what we are being told here is that the Antichrist will enforce an existing treaty between the nation of Israel and it's enemies which most likely will concern their territorial boundaries, with the result being a temporary peace with their neighbors.

Now a point I have always tried to make about this scenario, which is most likely a result of my background as a history major, is that in order to enforce a peace you must have had a war! History shows that treaties of this nature are almost always a result of a conflict between peoples or nations, and I believe this one is no exception. If we assume this to be the case, does the Bible tell us of any conflicts yet unfulfilled in Israel’s future? If you are at all familiar with the future of Israel you know that there is a coming conflict with the entire world revealed to us in the book of Ezekiel, chapters 38-39.

The account given to us here tells of a time when the entire world will turn against Israel, with the result being the positioning of massive army on their borders with the intent of destroying them. It is on this occasion that God will once again come to their aid and reveal Himself by defeating this army by His own power and might. If this is the conflict that results in the confirming of a covenant by the Antichrist, which also begins the tribulation period, does the Bible give us any clues as to when it might occur?

And again the word of the LORD came to Haggai on the twenty-fourth day of the month, saying, "Speak to Zerubbabel, governor of Judah, saying: 'I will shake heaven and earth. I will overthrow the throne of kingdoms; I will destroy the strength of the Gentile kingdoms. I will overthrow the chariots And those who ride in them; The horses and their riders shall come down, Every one by the sword of his brother.
Haggai 2:20-22 NKJV

If we look at the first verse of this chapter, it identifies the seventh month as the time this prophecy was given. The Jewish calendar was changed in the time of the Exodus, so on the old civil calendar this would be the third month which corresponds to somewhere around December on our calendar. Many scholars believe that God is identifying this day as the day this conflict will occur, and if you compare the wording of this passage with the description given in Ezekiel 38-39 you will find they are almost identical. This has led many to believe that the events in Ezekiel, which might possibly usher in the tribulation, will occur during the month of December. This year the twenty fourth day of Kislev, also known as the Jewish holiday Hanukkah, begins at sundown on December 20.

Of course, while many believe the Ezekiel 38-39 prophecy occurs before the tribulation begins, there are also those who think it happens during the tribulation. So can we draw any conclusions from everything we have covered in the past two weeks ? I think we can, but if you were thinking we could identify a particular date for either the rapture or the beginning of the tribulation I’m afraid I am going to disappoint you. Do we have clues? Certainly, and I think God deliberately put them in His word so that we would seek them out and increase our knowledge of this period in world history of which the Bible says so much. We are commanded to watch, and God has told us much of what we are to watch for.

My personal feeling is that the prophecy of Isaiah 17, which I have mentioned before, results in the Ezekiel 38 events and these in turn bring about the covenant by the man of sin enforced between Israel and it’s enemies. If the Ezekiel conflict occurs in December, the Isaiah 17 event must take place shortly. With the statements made recently by the leader of Syria concerning attacking Israel, and the unrest going on within his own country, that event seems more and more a strong possibility in the near future. I have also come to the conclusion that there is a very strong possibility the rapture of the church might be the event which lights the fuse to ignite these conflicts in the Middle East.

I, and many others, believe the church could be raptured at any time. The events we see occuring in the Middle East are clearly the precursors to the final conflict which ushers in the tribulation. Since the Bible plainly tells us that God’s judgment has fallen before at this particular time of the year, and His future judgment will most likely happen at this time, don’t you think we should be watching even closer to what is happening all around us? I believe there are going to be some very, very significant events in the coming months and there are many others who believe as I do that our time on this earth is rapidly drawing to a close.
With these things in mind, don’t you think it’s a good idea to…

Keep Watching

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Season of Judgment?

As always at this time of the year, there has been a lot of speculation concerning the rapture of the church, and if it might occur on one of the Feast Days celebrated in Israel. This week will see the end of the feasts with the conclusion of the Feast of Tabernacles, and many are wondering if we again will pass by this season without seeing the return of Jesus for His church.

Now if you have followed my thoughts for any length of time, I’m sure you understand that I am a believer in what is called the doctrine of imminency, or the belief that Jesus could return for us at any time and not necessarily on one of the Jewish Holy Days. There is, however, something I would like to share with you for your consideration that might just give us a clue as to just how close we might be to our time of departure.

One of the reasons many look to the feast days is the amazing occurrence of numerous major events in Israel’s history which have taken place on those particular days over the past 5000 years. It would seem that God, by intent, has chosen to reveal Himself by orchestrating events to occur on the anniversary of many special days throughout Israel’s calendar. Since these occurences are, according to the odds, almost impossible it would seem that we are faced with the inescapable conclusion that not only is God at work, but He uses certain days to do certain things. Does this seem hard to believe? If so, we might look at that question in light of the following passage.

"For I [am] the LORD, I do not change; Therefore you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob.
Malachi 3:6 NKJV

If we consider that God Himself tells us that He does not change, and we know He has chosen to act throughout history on the anniversary of certain events, is it logical to assume that He will again do so in the future? I think we can, and I want to share a thought with you today concerning the endtime events many of us see, and the possibility that the time of Jacobs’ Trouble might be just around the corner.

Rather than discuss the rapture of the church as so many have, I want to draw your attention to the period of time we know as the Tribulation. In the Old Testament we find that God gave a prophecy to his servant Daniel concerning the future of Israel which is known as the Seventy Weeks of Daniel. In it God predicts that following the release of the nation of Israel from their Babylonian captivity, a period of seventy “weeks of years” would occur. The word for “weeks” literally means a period of seven years, so what was being said was that Israel’s future history would be contained in a period of four hundred and ninety years.

He also foretold that after the first sixty nine weeks the Messiah would come but be rejected, and an indeterminate period of time would occur between the sixty ninth week and the seventieth week. Not surprising, the length of time between the release of the Jews from Babylon, and the entry into Jerusalem by Jesus of Nazareth on Palm Sunday was exactly four hundred and eighty three years. So where we are today is waiting for the beginning of the seventieth week of Daniel, also known as the Tribulation, when God will judge the unbelieving world along with unbelieving Israel for a period of seven years.

The question I want you to think about though is this; based on what we have already seen, is it possible we might already have a clue as to when the Tribulation might begin?

For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, by which the world [that] then existed perished, being flooded with water. But the heavens and the earth [which] are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.
2 Peter 3:5-7 NKJV

What Peter tells us here is simple enough; the world will experience the judgment of God twice. The first was by water, which was as we know the flood of Noah, and a second time by fire which will be during the period known as the Tribulation. In light of what we are discussing, the next question is do we know when the flood of Noah occurred? If we look closely at the Genesis account we find this;

In the six hundredth year of Noah's life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep were broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened.
Genesis 7:11 NKJV

This passage tells us that the flood began precisely on the seventeenth of Cheshvan, the second month of the Jewish civil calendar. Many of you know the fall feasts occur during the first month, Tishri, beginning with Rosh Hashanah which began September 29 this year. As the Jewish calendar is lunar rather than solar, each month begins with the first sighting of the new moon. If the new moon is sighted as it should be on October 28, then the seventeenth day of the second month, the anniversary of the flood, should be on November 13 this year.

Now considering the fact we know that God has allowed many events to occur on the same day of the year throughout history, and He has clearly stated that He does not change, is it possible that by knowing the exact day the flood began we can assume the next judgment of the world could begin on the anniversary of the first judgment? I believe our answer to that could certainly be “why not”? It would follow the pattern that God has already established, and might, in light of other passages of scripture, be logical when we know that Jesus talked of His return at the end of the age by referring to the time of Noah and the flood.

In light of the state of the world right now, and the events which many believe are building up to an "apocalyptical" type of event, is it possible we are fast approaching the beginning of that period of time which the Bible tells us so much about? It would probably not surprise anyone who makes it a point to study current events with regards to biblical prophecy, yet as we have seen in the past, the patience of God towards His people could best be described as longsuffering. Yet even God has foreordained a point in time when His judgment will fall on an unbelieving world, and as many believe, it could be very close.

An obvious question that follows from this discussion would then be, if you subscribe to the pretribulational rapture of the church, how close to the beginning of the Tribulation could the rapture occur? I will save the answer to that for next week, along with even more evidence from scripture that would appear to support the position that we are indeed entering the season of judgment.

Keep watching.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Business As Usual?

"But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only. "But as the days of Noah [were], so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. "For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark,"and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.
Matthew 24:36-39 NKJV

I'm sure this passage is familiar to most of you, for it is almost always referred to when the subject of the return of Christ is discussed at any length. This week as I was studying and researching as is my habit, I ran across another commentary where this passage was discussed. As is most often the case, the discussion centered around the state of the world at the time that Jesus returns for His church. Yet as I read and thought about what was being said, the Spirit made a point to me that I had not previously considered.

If I were to try and describe my thoughts on this passage I would have to say that these verses tell us that at the time of Jesus' return the prevailing mood of the world will be “business as usual”. Although the people of Noah's day could see him building the ark, they dismissed what they could see with their own eyes and continued on with their daily lives with no change in either attitude or practice. Now I understand that this is how most of us see this passage, and this is how it is most often taught. Yet as I considered the subject the Spirit asked me this question; “do you think this attitude refers just to the “world” and not “believers” as well?

The more I thought about this, the more I began to realize that there really is no reason to think that the prevailing mood described here should not apply to believers too. Those who consider themselves to be “watchers” are well aware of the events happening all over the world right now that seem to scream that the rapture could happen at any time. Even unbelievers acknowledge that the world is standing on the brink of what many have described as an “apocalyptic” event. Yet life goes on as usual in most of the world as people get up every day and go about their business.

So I think the point the Spirit was making to me was that I should look in the mirror and ask myself if I was changing the what and how of my daily life as I see these things, or am I living “business as usual”? I believe this is a question we should all ask ourselves especially if we consider another passage that concerns the church at the time Jesus returns. I'm sure this passage is familiar to you as well, but I think we should all look at it in a different light with the question we have just asked ourselves in mind.

"And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write, 'These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God: "I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. "So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.
Revelation 3:14-16 NKJV

Now most of us might look at these verses and recoil at the thought that we might be described as a “Laodicean”, but let me ask you this; could we not say that “business as usual” is the same as being “lukewarm”? I don't know about you but to me, that is indeed a scary thought. As I have prepared to share these thoughts with you today I have begun to make a mental list of things I can do or change in order to show God that my life is “not” business as usual. I want Him to look at me and see changes and new ways of trying to share, and a visual acknowledgement that I do indeed recognize that His return is near.

Interestingly enough, as I came to these conclusions this week, yet another sign appeared which I believe has ominous ramifications for the nation of Israel. Some of you know that while in college as a History major, I became interested in prophecy and the Middle East. This eventually led me to study the geopolitical nature of the unfulfilled prophecies concerning Israel. A few years ago I put a few of my thoughts about the prophecy of the destruction of Damascus, which is found in Isaiah 17, in book form and voiced my opinions on the how and why it may occur.

This week a very big piece of that puzzle may have been applied by the statement of intent by the President of Syria when he stated that he would have no hesitation to attack and destroy Tel Aviv given the proper excuse. You can read his statement here;
(,7340,L-4131259,00.html ). What follows is a short part of the chapter from my book where I discuss the possibility that an attack on Tel Aviv is one of the reasons Israel destroys Damascus.

In that day his strong cities will be as a forsaken bough And an uppermost branch, Which they left because of the children of Israel; And there will be desolation.
Isaiah 17:9 NKJV

...Most people are more familiar with Jerusalem than any other city in Israel; however it can be argued that it is not necessarily the most important one. Tel Aviv, located in the northwest part of the state is arguably the most important city in Israel today. Although smaller in population than Jerusalem, if you include all of the outlying metropolitan areas or "suburbs", it is by far much larger.

It is as well considered to be the "economic capitol" of Israel. It is home to the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, Tel Aviv University, most of Israel’s national sports teams, and is considered by Newsweek magazine to be one of the world's top ten most "technologically influential" cities. The outlying metropolitan area of Tel Aviv is home to what could be considered the equivalent of our "silicon valley". Tel Aviv has best been described as the Israeli equivalent to New York City in regards to its importance to the nation.

So what does this have to do with verse 9? Notice that verse 9 states that Israel's "strong cities" will resemble a "forsaken bough". So what can this picture possibly mean you ask? I think I can help with that from my own personal experience. I will freely admit to not possessing a green thumb, but that doesn't mean I don't try my hand at growing things. I have an apple tree in my back yard that produces some of the best tasting apples I have ever eaten, and I like nothing better than watching it fill up with fruit every year, providing I do what I have to do to insure that happens.

Unfortunately learning how to take care of a fruit tree by proper pruning has been personally challenging. I can still remember when we first bought our house and found that it came with an apple tree, how excited I was to watch it grow. Not knowing anything but that the Bible teaches that a tree needs to be pruned, I just went out when I saw neighbors pruning their trees and had at it. When I was done pruning, and stood back to admire my work, it can best be described as an apple tree with a "buzz cut"; round on the sides and flat on the top! So when time came for apples to grow, I had plenty of apples on the highest reaches of the tree, and virtually none on the sides. My ladder wasn't long enough to reach the top of the tree so most of the very best apples that year were left for the birds to enjoy, while I could only watch.

Now when I read this verse in Isaiah, I can't help but remember that experience and wonder if this is exactly what Isaiah is trying to tell us? Is it possible that Tel Aviv, made up of many individual metropolitan areas, yet the largest and most important cities in Israel, will be attacked in such a way as having to be abandoned and left as indefensible because it is so far away from Jerusalem? It might not be as unbelievable as you think if we look at the rhetoric coming from Hezbollah and their leader Hassan Nasrallah.

Most remember the Lebanon War of 2006, and that the main weapons of choice by Hezbollah were rockets, but most don't know that a war that lasted only about thirty days, more than 4000 rockets were launched at Israel. On October 31, 2007, a United Nations report stated that Israel was reporting that Hezbollah was rearming with "hundreds" of Zilzal and Fajr rockets with a range of 155 miles, which will put Tel Aviv well within their range. In the past, Hezbollah leader Nasrallah has said that under "certain circumstances", they would have no hesitation to attack Tel Aviv with rockets, and it now appears they have the capability to do so. Is this what Isaiah is predicting here when he says that Israel must forsake its strong cities that are like an "uppermost branch"?

Although the actual "pushing of the button" might come from several different sources, the reaction by Israel to retaliate by destroying Damascus certainly tells us that they believe the decision and command to attack came from there.

With all that we see which causes us to believe the rapture of the church is imminent, should we live our lives as "business as usual"? I think you will agree we need to step out of our comfort zones and look for ways to make a difference by sharing the gospel with an unbelieving world in ways we may not have previously considered. Join me in praying that God will present us all with opportunities to serve Him differently than in the past.

Keep watching.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Celebrating the Harvest

My apologies for posting late, but I have been gone this weekend and only just returned. I thought considering the time of year that I would repost a blog from a couple of years ago that I wrote concerning harvest time in Israel and the Feast of Tabernacles. I hope you enjoy it.

Thou shalt observe the feast of tabernacles seven days, after that thou hast gathered in thy corn and thy wine: And thou shalt rejoice in thy feast, thou, and thy son, and thy daughter, and thy manservant, and thy maidservant, and the Levite, the stranger, and the fatherless, and the widow, that [are] within thy gates. Seven days shalt thou keep a solemn feast unto the LORD thy God in the place which the LORD shall choose: because the LORD thy God shall bless thee in all thine increase, and in all the works of thine hands, therefore thou shalt surely rejoice. 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 16:13-16 KJV

Growing up in Southern California, I was only familiar with two seasons; warm and hot. It took a move to the Pacific Northwest to experience what four seasons was really all about, and actually having four choices as to which one I enjoyed the most. I don’t know about any of you, but my favorite has always been the fall. Just to experience the relief from the long, hot summer, feel the weather changing to cooler, and doing yard work as the leaves change color and then fall, and looking forward to taking it a little easier in the winter all bring me a sense of enjoyment. I suppose it also brings me a sense of anticipation too as I enjoy listening to it rain, then slowly turn to snow as I am big on winter recreation. (I traded my surfboard for skis)

The Feast of Tabernacles is the last of the seven feasts appointed by the Lord for the nation of Israel. It occurs in the fall between the 15th and the 21st of the month of Tishri, which usually occurs in late September and early October. It is also known by other names as well, some of these being Sukkot, The Season of Our Joy, and The Feast of Ingathering. It is the last of the three holidays in which all Jewish males were required to make the pilgrimage to the temple, yet as opposed to the others, the word joy (simchah) is used several times to describe it. I want to look at just a few reasons why this holiday is known as the “Season of Our Joy”, and consider the possibility it might prove to be a time we as believers need to “watch” with special anticipation.

Say not ye, There are yet four months, and [then] cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.
John 4:35 KJV

Also known as the Feast of Ingathering, the Feast of Tabernacles celebrates the last harvest in Israel for the year. Traditionally there are three harvests, these being the barley harvest, wheat harvest, and fruit harvest. In the fall, after these three were completed, you would celebrate the finish of your labors for the year. Obviously it was a time of celebration for your work was done, and you could look at the results sitting in your storehouse. How often did Jesus use the illustration of planting and harvesting in His teaching while on this earth? Could the Feast of Ingathering give us a clue as to when Jesus might return for His people?

In my Father's house are many mansions: if [it were] not [so], I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, [there] ye may be also.
John 14:2-3 KJV

Known traditionally as the Feast of Tabernacles or Sukkot, this feast also serves as a reminder of the time the children of Israel dwelt in the wilderness in “temporary” dwellings before they were delivered to the promised land. During this feast Jews will construct “Sukkahs” or temporary shelters and will stay in them to remind them of what the children of Israel went through during their wilderness wanderings. As believers, we know that our time on this earth and in these bodies is but temporary as well. Not only do we have the promise from Jesus that He is building us a new and eternally permanent home, but will at the rapture present us with new and eternal bodies as well. Could this feast again be a foreshadow of that coming time when our hope in Christ will be rewarded?

Now the Jews' feast of tabernacles was at hand.
John 7:2 KJV

In the last day, that great [day] of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.
John 7:37, 38 KJV

One of the more interesting traditions associated with this feast was the drawing of water from the pool of Siloam. Every day a priest would fill a golden vase with water known as the living water (mayim hayim) and take it to the temple where it would be poured out on a corner of the altar. In these verses from John we see that Jesus used this time of celebration to announce to the world that He was, in fact, offering mankind the water of eternal life. John also makes it clear that this occurred on the “last great day” of the feast. This in fact is a reference to the eighth day which is known as Shmini Atzeret. It is not part of the Feast of Tabernacles, but is celebrated the day after and it is then that the people would begin to pray for rain for the coming year. Water has always been at a premium in Israel, and without it the land would become desert. Yet Jesus took this day as an opportunity to announce that He had come to save the world. Is it no wonder this celebration is also referred to as the "Season of Our Joy"?

This last feast seems to be both an end, and a beginning. A celebration of harvest and the end of the year's work, and the beginning of a time of rest to enjoy the fruits of labor. Jesus came to earth to do the "work" it required for us to obtain eternal life. How appropriate would it be for we as believers to experience the rest we so anxiously look forward to at this time of the year? The Feast of Tabernacles began this past Sunday, and will continue until this next Sunday. During this week why don't you join me in being "joyful" as we look back at the past year of hard work and pray for the coming of our Lord and Saviour to take us to our "permanent" home?

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