Not long ago, I received an advertisement in the mail. It offered a chance to "the leaders of tomorrow" to attend a convention at which experts from several fields would be discussing proposals for solving the world's problems. Well, these things can sometimes be interesting, but then I looked at the cost. Ouch! A small fortune. Forget it. It just wasn't worth it for me. But I am sure many "leaders of tomorrow" did feel it was worth it and were willing to pay the price to gain the knowledge they hope will lead them to success. Each year, more than 100,000 members of the Worldwide Church of God attend the largest convention on earth — the Feast of Tabernacles. They travel to one of more than 80 sites. in many different countries. Friends and neighbors are sometimes astonished. "How can you afford to take a vacation like that every year?" they may ask. "What's your secret?" It's no secret. God's people simply follow the instruction in Deuteronomy 14:22-27 to set aside a special tithe of their income during the year, so that when the time comes to go to the Feast the money is there. Of course, many Good News readers already know this. Perhaps you are one of them. If so, you are already planning where you will keep the Feast in 1983. Will you go to the site closest to you? Or will you ask to transfer to another site, in a part of your country you have always wanted to visit? Or maybe this year you will be adventuresome and attend in another country — Jamaica, New Zealand, even Czechoslovakia. Well, a lot depends on whether you can afford it, doesn't it? The advantage of saving for the Feast according to God's instructions is that you can estimate how much you will have. And you can figure out in advance how much it is all going to cost when you add up travel, hotels, meals, recreation. Yes, you know what the Feast costs. But what is it worth?
Needed: right education
A potential leader should know the value of education. It is one of the laws that leads to success. Pastor General Herbert W. Armstrong has explained that in spite of dramatic physical progress, the human race is drowning in a sea of problems that it cannot solve. Knowledge to make things has never been greater — but nobody knows how to solve the steadily worsening problems. But this world is not ready to give up yet — it's down but not out. In spite of the troubles and problems, people still think they can find a way out. Scientists say, "Give us sufficient knowledge and we will fix everything." And so more and more knowledge is being produced. Wealth and acclaim are lavished on those who produce that knowledge. They are considered successful. And tomorrow's aspiring leaders will pay almost any price in order to share in that success. But this world just does not have the kind of knowledge that is needed to solve its problems. The world has been cut off from that knowledge. Instead, people follow anyone of hundreds of different ways of life that may seem right to them, but lead inevitably to death (Prov. 16:25). But when Christ returns to rule this earth, all this will be changed. For then, God will restore the spiritual knowledge of His way of life — knowledge that will lead to the solution to our problems — all of them.
God's knowledge revealed
When the government of God is restored to the earth, God's way will cover the earth as completely as the waters cover the ocean beds (Isa. 11:9). Isaiah prophesied that Christ will not fail or be discouraged in this task until even the smallest inhabited islands are ready to give up their own ways and look to God's government for instruction (Isa. 42:4). Christ is eagerly looking forward to teaching the whole world the knowledge of the right way of life. But to teach, there must be teachers who know that way. One cannot teach what he doesn't know. And so Jesus Christ has already begun an educational program for those He has called to positions of leadership and service in the world tomorrow. First, He teaches His chosen apostles. They, in turn, teach the ministry, and the ministry then teaches the members of God's congregations. That is how it was done in New Testament times, and it is the same today. God's people treasure that knowledge and understanding, though the world in general may not. It is, as Paul said in I Corinthians 2:14, "foolishness" to most people in this world. But God's people value what they have learned. They know that man's way doesn't work, and they have repented of that way. Now they want to learn to live life God's way, so that they can eventually be qualified to teach it. They are willing to, literally, start again, to go back to school and be taught as little children (Matt. 18:3). Once God's people begin to understand, they hunger and thirst for more knowledge of God's way. How and where do they learn? They have many opportunities — at home with the Bible Correspondence Course and the Work's magazines and other literature, at Bible studies and at the Sabbath services of the Worldwide Church of God. Probably never before in its history has God's Church had such a thorough educational program. But, effective as this program is, Christ knows that more is needed.
Learning by experience
Any educator knows that book learning is not enough. Sooner or later a mechanic must take an engine apart, a pilot must fly a plane and a dentist must fill his first tooth. There is no substitute for experience. God's way of life is no exception. Learning about this way of life requires living it. Of course, we should try to live that way all the time. But God's people are scattered. Many have families who do not share their beliefs. Some live long distances from a local church and other brethren. And all of us, to some extent, must mix on a day-by-day basis with this world and its ways. So, once a year, Christ commands His Church to come out of this world to a place where He has placed His name to keep the Feast of Tabernacles. For eight days God's people conduct what you might call an experiment in living looking forward to the world tomorrow. It is about as close to the atmosphere of the world tomorrow that we will get this side of the Millennium.
The Feast of Tabernacles
Whether they are meeting at Squaw Valley, California; Praz sur Arly, France; or Honiara, Solomon Islands, the members of God's Church try to fill their environment with God's way of doing things! The emphasis is to be happy and honest, to cooperate, to give and share. People make a special effort to help and serve. The lonely make new friends. The elderly and the handicapped find that they are never so well taken care of as at the Feast. For eight days everyone has the chance to put into practice things they have been learning throughout the year, and discover more and more how well God's way works. It is a foretaste of what the world will be like when everybody knows that way and appreciates it. How much would tomorrow's budding leaders give to have a chance to live for a while in the future for which they are so frantically preparing? What would a seminar like that be worth? Well, that is the Feast. During those eight days God seems to give special help to His ministers in speaking and teaching His people. In a real sense, the Feast is a training course for the leaders of tomorrow — commanded, inspired and supervised by the leader of the world tomorrow, Jesus Christ Himself. The Feast of Tabernacles represents the most remarkable value in education available today. If they really understood the future, tomorrow's aspiring leaders would give anything to attend a training course like that. They would realize that they could learn and practice the knowledge that is really needed for the future. They would rush to be accepted, no matter what it cost. But, you are accepted. You know what it costs. But, have you ever thought about how much it is worth?