Here's how you could lose your salvation if you neglect to keep the Feast of Tabernacles.
THIS past Feast of Tabernacles God reached down deep — through His ministers — into our hearts and said to each of us: "I want you to share My life, My happiness, My job of being God. I have a great reward waiting for each of you. Come! Receive of My Holy Spirit so you can have My character and I can trust you with eternal life, with real responsibility, with My very own creative power." Yet, with this goal, some of you are planning to disobey God this fall! Remember — God's Festivals are not man-made. They are Holy Convocations — DIVINELY COMMANDED ASSEMBLIES (Lev. 23:7, 21, 35). The Almighty Creator ORDERS His people to attend!
Are You About to Sell Your Birthright?
Notice what happened to Esau when he set his eyes on physical pleasures instead of the goal ahead. God allowed Esau to get into a real test. He came in from the field and was hungry (Gen. 25:29). He was too hungry to wait. Noticing that Jacob had a dish of lentils (verse 34), Esau traded his birthright for this pot of porridge — so he could quickly satisfy the desires of the moment. Esau did not appreciate the great value of his birthright! Would you sell your birthright today for a dish of soup? You say, "Of course not!" Don't be TOO sure! Some of you have already done just that! Brethren, some few of you who, as far as we know, are not planning to come back to Gods Feast, were overheard to make remarks similar to this, "I'm not coming back any more, 'they' gave me a cold cup of coffee." Whether you realize it or not, what you were saying is, "I'm like Esau, I'll sell my birthright — the right to be among the first-born in the Kingdom of God — for a hot cup of coffee." You may as well have said, "If I have to drink a cold cup of coffee, eternal life is not worth it." Brethren, this is SERIOUS! Your eternal life is at stake with such attitudes. Your life is either given to God — or you are on mighty dangerous ground! You need to remember, though, that God promises, "But if the wicked will turn from all his sins that he hath committed, and keep all My statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die (Ezek. 18:21). Why die when you can repent and live?
The Right Attitude
God's ministers were elated to hear that most of you brethren were thrilled at the Feast of Tabernacles last autumn. Many, many of you mentioned that the Gospel of Christ was pictured more forcefully, more powerfully — and yet more compassionately than ever before. You mentioned how these sermons left you fiercely determined to put forth an all-out effort to follow step-by-step the WAY that leads to eternal life. Many of you mentioned that the sermons jerked you right out of your lethargy — right out of the WAY of destruction down which you were headed. Yes, you mentioned how thankful you were. You realized that it was as if the compassionate Almighty Creator was telling each and every one of us, "I want you in My Kingdom. There is a work for you to do." Then it was as if God went on to say, "But listen carefully, here are some sins you have to overcome before I can trust you with eternal life." And even more important, God revealed through His ministers, "Here is how you can overcome these sins that are keeping you from receiving My character, My power, My Holy Spirit."
The Wrong Attitude
Instead of being overwhelmed with gratitude, some others chose to become off ended. Were you the one who said, "I came here to hear Mr. Armstrong preach prophecy. All I have heard since I've been here is a bunch of young fellows harping on overcoming." Don't you know that God has said, "To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with Me on My throne" (Rev. 3:21). One man said after an especially powerful sermon which revealed what we need to be overcoming, "If I didn't have something else to think about during some of these sermons, I think I'd have to get up and go outside." Others said, "I came here to be encouraged (patted on the back). I didn't come here to hear what is wrong with me. If they are going to talk to me this way, I'm not coming back." In other words, some who did not understand the value of their "birthright" were saying that eternal life is not worth having to "put up with" God's ministers telling them of the sins that they will have to overcome before they will receive eternal life. Whether they realize it or not, they might as well have said they would rather have the lake of fire than to hear that they weren't yet perfect — that they had things to overcome. They didn't want to know the truth. Why do you think God has given His ministers a greater knowledge of our weaknesses than ever before? Isn't it because the time is growing short? Isn't that why God's Spirit moves His ministers to "cry aloud' (Isa. 58:1)?
Are You Too Good for God's Chosen People?
Some people at the Feast became deeply concerned by what they saw other "babes in Christ" do — yes, those who did not yet know any better. Or they became disturbed by what they saw some totally unconverted person do. Not understanding what Christ meant when He said, "I will have mercy" (Matt. 9:13), they said, "If this is an example, I don't want any part of it." They didn't obey God's command to prove all things. They left in a "huff." Being unwise, they compared themselves with themselves, instead of with Christ Jesus — as they are commanded to do (II Cor. 10:12). They left, thinking, "I'm better than these people anyway." They went away feeling self-satisfied, self-righteous. They looked at the unconverted in their midst — instead of at Christ. To them, to look at Christ as their example, to look in the Bible to see how to live, to look at the fruits of God's ministers and God's people, was too high a price to pay — eternal life just wasn't worth that much. It was easier to unthinkingly and unjustly criticize any and all. These unfortunate critics let their eyes look to people instead of to God. They got their eyes on the wrong goal — just like Esau did. How about you? One man who thought he was too good for Gods people was asked by a minister to help serve. He said, "No! I came here for a vacation, not to work." Christ Jesus isn't too great to serve. He sits at the Father's right hand day and night, interceding for us with the Father, healing us, guiding and directing us. He thought enough of us to divest Himself of His eternal power as a member of the very God Family to come down and serve us by dying for our sins so we would not have to pay the death penalty ourselves. God is calling us to an eternity of service to Him. He is calling us to be kings and priests, to help Christ rule the nations. He is testing us now — to see if we will serve Him. God will not give eternal life to anyone He can't rule. Brethren, serving the Almighty Creator is a privilege, not merely a duty.
Signs Follow After You Too!
Others who have not been faithful in keeping their second tithe borrowed to come to the Feast last year. This year they have had to pay back this loan and were unable — they thought — to save the second tithe at all. They have said, "I guess this is a sign — God doesn't intend us to go." They fail to see it is only a sign that they have been disobedient. Brethren, God just does not give that kind of a sign. Signs follow after your obedience, not before. God gives you His blessings AFTER you obey Him by paying your first tithe and saving your second tithe. God gives you His blessings AFTER you obey Him by keeping the Feast, and not before. We live by faith and by every word of God, not by every feeling, mood, scratching, knocking, tapping — not by ANY false lying sign of Satan. Notice God's instruction to you concerning the Feast of Tabernacles. "Seven days shalt thou keep a solemn feast unto the LORD thy God." Where? "In the place where the LORD shall choose'' (Deut. 16115). Not the place you choose, but the place THE ETERNAL. chooses.
A few who are planning to disobey their Creator God don't live over 150 miles from the place where God has chosen to have us keep the Feast. Yet they said, "It's too far to come." Yes, to them the birthright isn't worth that much. If they have to travel 150 miles for eternal life — it isn't worth it to them. Brethren, what sin!
Did You Obey James 5:14?
A few have said, "Every time we go to the Feast, we get sick. Until God changes the location to a better climate, we don't feel we ought to go back to the Feast until something is done." In other words, if God is going to allow them to have a small bit of hardship to prove them as He proved Esau — they are going to do just like Esau did — sell their birthright, reject eternal life, for a bowl of soup. Did you ever stop to think that perhaps you are refusing to learn the valuable lesson God wants you to learn by obeying the command in James 5:14 to call His ministers when you or your children are sick? If you could just realize it — your sickness can be transformed into a blessing through Christ who heals you. When God's minister anoints you, or your family, and prays for you and God heals you — that is a sign — proof that God is Creator and Ruler — proof that He blesses those who obey Him. Some others have a great big overdose of the martyr complex. They have said, "I knew you would be overcrowded so we'll stay home to make room for the others." God won't be pleased with that kind of idle reasoning. He COMMANDS you to come. His hand is not so short He can't provide for you and for everyone else who will come.
Too Poor for God?
Too many brethren have an attitude of discouragement. They apparently want to go back in the woods somewhere. They say, "We're poor folks, God won't expect us to come." Yes, He does! You are not a Christian if you wilfully refuse to come to the Feast of Tabernacles as God commands, whether you are poor or not. Being poor — or rich — doesn't make you a Christian — only obedience to God in faith makes you a Christian. There are hundreds of articles of good used clothing that have been cleaned and pressed and hung up for you at the Feast — if you need them. Is your pride too great? Is that your stumbling block? Is eternal life not worth it for you to humble yourself as Christ commands you? Because you have had some "hard times," would you sell your "birthright" — your eternal life — for false pride?
Why God Commands You to Keep the Feast
God COMMANDS you to come to the Feast to learn His over-all purpose for you, to learn that He has set you on earth for the purpose of developing holy, righteous character — to remind you again that you must develop His Godlike character, for He is reproducing Himself, His character in His Church. This coming Feast pictures the time when Christ comes and the time of the great ingathering harvest — which Christ wants you to help Him reap. The Feast is part of your training ground. These annual Sabbaths are a sign that identifies God's people (Ex. 31:17). God will be looking down on these meetings to see who is there, to see who are His people. God is very concerned with His Feast of Tabernacles, for at the Feast will be the people that He is one day going to use to rule the world. God's eyes are upon YOU! You need to be there.