Have you ever wondered how the many facets of preparation for the Feast of Tabernacles are accomplished? An advance crew prepares the way to help guarantee the success of God's Holy Convocation every year. We call that preparation group the "Early Crew." Read about their work and learn how YOU are part of another "Early Crew."
JUST BEFORE the Feast of Tabernacles — with little fanfare — a group of people arrives at each Feast site a little earlier than the rest. Their job is to help "get things ready." To help prepare for multiple thousands of people for an eight-day period. They are the "Early Crew" — and they playa very important part in our lives at the Feast.
What It Would Be Like WITHOUT the "Early Crew"
Picture in your mind for a moment this coming Feast without the Early Crew. Imagine, for example, Squaw Valley with 8,000 people from all walks of life converging on its facilities. The first day of the Feast arrives — time made holy by God Almighty. The swirling dust of the rear parking lots settles into the arena, coating everything with which it comes in contact. There is nothing to stop the onslaught, for the giant canvas which should be over the open end of Blythe Arena has not been installed. The reason? The Early Crew was not there to do its job. Those inside, searching for seats, encounter the frustration of first cleaning away a year's accumulation of dust (plus the newly settled dust) before they can be seated. Nobody was there to sweep them clean ahead of time. Those on the main floor find no chairs set up at all. Just simple jobs — but they weren't done. Complaints begin emanating from the many musty restrooms. Those in line agonize at the sudden realization that no provisions have been made for those hapless souls who preceded them. Simple items taken completely for granted are now the perpetrators of unexpected anguish. The "mother's rooms" — filled to capacity with mothers trying to find a clean spot on which to change their babies — add to the picture of mass confusion. The cleanliness which should characterize godliness is totally absent — because the Early Crew wasn't there to provide these services. Meanwhile, back in the arena, several ministers are standing on a large wooden box — because nobody has erected a stage. The thousands of God's people who have arrived are cramped together in the bleachers, while the vast expanse of the arena floor is empty — except for the ministerial "box" — because nobody thought to bring the chairs. But, of course, there would not have been anyone to set them up anyway, without the Early Crew. The special lighting has not been installed. The speaker cannot be heard because no sound system has been set up in advance for this important Festival of God. And so it goes.
The Work of the "Early Crew"
It would be a sad story — if it were true. But this story will not be told, thanks to the advance preparations of the Early Crew. At every Feast site around the world, God's people enjoy peace, harmony and order. They enjoy comfort and a sense of belonging because of the Early Crew's work. All the dusting of the bleachers, the preparation for parking, getting the restrooms in order, setting up for registration, an information booth, dining rooms, and a virtual network of foresight and service are taken care of by the Early Crew.
YOU Are Part of an "Early Crew"
Just as the Feast of Tabernacles is itself a symbolic forerunner of the soon-coming Millennium and government of God Almighty on this earth, so we in God's Church are all an "Early Crew" in the plan of salvation. We are the "firstfruits" of the sons of God. We are Christ's little flock. Christ reminds us: "... thou hast a little strength" (Rev. 3:8). We are not great and impressive to the world any more than is the Early Crew to the Church. But, brethren, we all are preparing to play a very important part in the lives of those who do not even know we exist. Imagine the masses that will turn to God in true repentance after having experienced the great tribulation and the plagues of God. Millions will have become teachable. "And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths..." (Isa. 2:2, 3). Who will care for this confused, beaten people? Who will sit down with them individually, and patiently teach them who God is, how to apply His laws in their lives and how to be truly happy? Who will have prepared and qualified themselves ahead of time for this opportunity? You guessed it — we will — the Early Crew! Soon all nations and all peoples will be keeping that greater "Feast of Tabernacles" — the Millennium. They will "... rejoice thou, and thy household," because we were there first! Because the Early Crew did its job! Just as most of us today are not aware of the many-faceted preparations for the Feast (which involve not only the Early Crew, but also the year-round activities of the Festival Office staff) — neither will most of those joy-filled humans have really been aware of our present "behind-the-scenes" activity — the work of this little handful of people whom God calls His Church. But we will be waiting for them. They will approach Christ and His born-again saints with the same joy-filled anticipation with which we approach the Feast. They are going to expect to be taught, just as we do at the Feast. Their minds and their eyes are going to be wide open: They will be hungry for truth — and our efforts as the Early Crew of Almighty God will make possible the reality of their hopes. Rather than meeting confusion, they will be guided and directed in an orderly and loving way. Instead of groping aimlessly about, they will experience a sense of belonging.
A Job Well Done
As we assist Christ in the great rehabilitation program at the beginning of this thousand-year Feast of Tabernacles, we will see the fruits of our efforts made manifest in those whom we will have instructed. Their way of life will become one of joy, abundance and productivity. "And they shall build the old wastes, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the waste cities, the desolations of many generations. And strangers shall stand and feed your flocks, and the sons of the alien shall be your plowmen and your vinedressers. "But ye" — WE — "shall be named the Priests of the Lord: men shall call you the Ministers of our God..." (Isa. 61:4-6). What a glorious calling is ours. Just as the Feast of Tabernacles could NOT be the same success and serve its purpose without the advance efforts of all concerned with Feast preparations, and just as their "behind-the-scenes" activity sets the stage, so OUR activity now, in our homes, on our jobs, on our knees, is necessary and is helping to set the stage for the World Tomorrow. What zeal and enthusiasm and dedication this realization should give us!