At the 2014 Feast of Tabernacles in Nashua, New Hampshire, a couple of soccer teams descended on the Marriott hotel where Philadelphia Church of God members were staying and attending services. These weren’t raucous college boys, but just 10-year-old girls. Harmless, right?
There was prank calling, running up and down the halls, playing ding-dong-ditch on people’s doors, and sprint races in the lobby. The girls were extremely loud, and they disrupted our Entertainment Night. Eventually, they ended up breaking the ice machine on our floor, and it had yellow caution tape cordoning off the area. It was like a crime scene.
Do any scriptures come to mind when you hear of examples like this? What about Isaiah 3:12? “As for my people, children are their oppressors ….” Strong’s Concordance says the word “oppressors,” means people who “harass, tyrannize and cause distress.”
When the Feast was winding down, a lady at the front desk told my wife that they were sad to see us go. Apparently, they were bracing themselves for the next group that was scheduled to arrive after us: some members from Alcoholics Anonymous, who apparently come to Nashua every year and collectively fall off the proverbial wagon, destroying their rooms in the process.
Needless to say, these guests made our young people and the members in God’s Church stand out in a good way.
Deuteronomy 14:23 gives us our marching orders for the Feast: “And thou shalt eat before the Lord thy God, in the place which he shall choose to place his name there, the tithe of thy corn, of thy wine, and of thine oil, and the firstlings of thy herds and of thy flocks; that thou mayest learn to fear the Lord thy God always.”
Notice that phrase—“in the place which he shall choose to place his name there.” Or, in other words, where God places His name. Knowing that God has placed His name at a Feast site should affect our behavior there. We are to eat and conduct ourselves as if we are in the presence of God Himself—because spiritually speaking, we are! Wherever God places His name, we have an obligation to uphold and honor that name. You aren’t just representing your physical family name at the Feast—you are setting an example that will reflect on the God Family name! Whether that example is good or bad depends on you.
We make our share of noise at the Feast, for sure. We laugh, we sing out, we rejoice, and we celebrate. But we do everything in the context of learning to fear and stand in awe of God.
Philippians 1:27 admonishes us, “Only let your conversation [conduct] be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.” Paul couldn’t be everywhere at once, and neither can the ministry or your parents. You have to take responsibility for your own actions. Govern yourself by the assignment in this verse! Even if you manage to do something wrong without your parents or the ministry finding out, God knows. He sees everything—and rest assured, it will eventually come out, one way or another. Instead, conduct yourself as the royalty that you are—in a manner worthy of the gospel, which is the good news of God’s coming Kingdom. Reflect the Kingdom in your conduct!
This has a lot to do with our attitudes. 1 Peter 1:15-16 say, “But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation [conduct]; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.” God wants us to be holy! “Holy” here can be defined as “morally blameless.” We should set a morally blameless example in everything we do, whether at the Feast, at a campout, at Philadelphia Youth Camp, or anywhere else we go.
In 1 Peter 2:12, Peter admonishes us to “[have] your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.” By our good works today, we can help prepare others to eventually give glory to God tomorrow! Conversely, we can also give “great occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme” when we set the wrong example (2 Samuel 12:14). What you do directly reflects on your reputation, your parents’ and your family’s reputation, and most importantly, the God Family’s reputation!
Matthew 5:16 tells us, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” Setting the right example can cause people to actually glorify God, your Father! Could any more weight be added to your conduct than this? Your actions today have the potential of compelling others to give God all the respect and honor He deserves.
He’s our Father today with the goal of begetting all mankind tomorrow. We celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles today knowing the whole world will follow suit tomorrow. A family name and a family Feast are synonymous.
God places His name at His Feast site, but He also wants to give you that same name (Revelation 3:12). It is also your Family name that you are upholding.
1 Corinthians 6:15 says, “Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ?” Our lives are tied to a much bigger cause. Our actions directly affect this Church, the Body of Christ. Verse 19 shows us that our lives aren’t even our own! We are God’s property, created by Him and ransomed from the devil by the blood of the Lamb. As God’s property, how are we living our lives? How are we taking care of our bodies, which are the temple of the Holy Spirit? God is watching us to see what we do; He is determining whether or not He will place His name on us.
Verse 20 says, “[G]lorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” God cares how we treat His property! We are His property. Both our physical bodies and our human spirit are gifts from God, and He’s curious and fully interested in how we will use these gifts.
Remember the parable of the talents in Matthew 25? To the servants who worked for God and multiplied what God gave them, He said, “Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord” (verse 23). This is a very familiar verse, but the fulfillment of this verse is a Feast of Tabernacles-type message! If we live our lives according to God’s way, we will one day hear these beautiful words. How we keep the Feast shows God if we are actively readying ourselves to rule in His coming new world.
We represent a name far more important than our own. God has placed that name—His government and authority—at the site where you will attend. He desires to place that very same name on each one of us. Let’s conduct ourselves accordingly and use the Feast to bring honor to God’s name!