This has been a year of fear.When you kept the Feast of Tabernacles in 2019 did you think the world was going to change like it has in 2020? Probably not. We have witnessed unprecedented world conditions that have been fundamentally shaped by fear. This emotion—fear—has caused nations, communities and individuals to react without sound reason to unfamiliar circumstances and make catastrophic decisions.
Converted Christians think differently. Amid the panic of pandemic, those close to God are filled with peace and hope—free from the kind of fear that suppresses mankind.
However, as we prepare for and attend the 2020 Feast of Tabernacles, fear should be elevated in our thinking. After all, fear is a fundamental reason God commands us to observe this festival.
“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” (Deuteronomy 14:23).
The Feast of Tabernacles is given to us that we might learn to fear God always. The fear discussed in Deuteronomy is a different kind of fear than what we see expressed today. It is a reverential fear. It is “the mature, sound-minded realization that disobeying the laws God has set in motion for our good leads to nothing but wretchedness, filth and deprivation” (Herbert W. Armstrong College Bible Correspondence Course, Lesson 34).
Godly fear is not the fear that tears this world apart today—but the kind of fear that will build a wonderful World Tomorrow. Two vastly different kinds of fear produce two drastically different outcomes.
Consider the source of each kind of fear. Man’s fear is mined from pits of human nature—wrought with lawlessness. Godly fear actually comes from God. Concerning the time of millennial rule upon the return of Jesus Christ, Jeremiah wrote: “And they shall be my people, and I will be their God: And I will give them one heart, and one way, that they may fear me for ever, for the good of them, and of their children after them: And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; but I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me” (Jeremiah 32:38-40).
We need God to put His fear in our hearts today. True Christians must not wait until the Millennium to learn godly fear. We must learn to fear God today. Learning to fear God this way imbues us with wisdom, knowledge and understanding (Psalm 111:10; Proverbs 1:7; 9:10). These are all attributes we need in order to rule for God in the world to come. That is one of the biblical reasons why we keep the Feast of Tabernacles today.
Learning to fear God today prepares us for our millennial responsibilities. Learning to fear God today helps us to better observe God’s commandments as we navigate a fear-ridden world. Learning to fear God today helps us shed any worldly fears that may plague our hearts.
At the 2001 Feast of Tabernacles, Royal Vision editor in chief Gerald Flurry reminded us that “we are at the Feast of Tabernacles … to learn the one fear we do need. [F]ear God and all the other fears are going to dissipate …. [T]he reason … God is giving us this understanding more and more as time goes on is because we’re heading into very stormy times.” These are the beginnings of those stormy times he spoke of nearly two decades ago. Escalating fears in this world ought not find resting places in our hearts.
Remember, the world is tormented by fear due to unrighteousness. However, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear …” (1 John 4:18). Therefore, striving to obey God’s law of love with all our hearts liberates us from worldly fear.
Consider that the Feast of Tabernacles pictures the Millennium when the entire global population will be in subjection to God’s rule and will learn to fear Him. “So shall they fear the name of the Lord from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun” (Isaiah 59:19). These words foretell a time of unity unfathomable in society today. All people, from east to west, will be free of worldly fear—and will conduct their lives in respectful fear of their Creator. It’s a wonderful blessing to experience a foretaste of that world during our Feast of Tabernacles observance.
Ask God to fill your heart with His reverential fear. Let godly fear motivate your conduct. And make this a Feast of fear—godly fear.