How Should We Prepare for God’s Festivals?
Written by Taylor Tootle
The Bible lists seven annual festivals that the New Testament Church continued to celebrate. Four of them are coming up in the next couple of months. How should we prepare for these “feasts of the LORD” (Leviticus 23:4)?
In a few short weeks the Church of God, a Worldwide Association, will keep the Feast of Trumpets (Sept. 29, 2011). Hard to believe it’s coming up so fast, isn’t it? Then soon after will come the Day of Atonement (Oct. 8), the Feast of Tabernacles (Oct. 13-19) and the Last Great Day (Oct. 20).
As these fall holy days approach (or, for those in the southern hemisphere, these spring holy days), what does it mean to prepare for this festival season?
How should we prepare physically and spiritually for the Feast of Trumpets, Day of Atonement, the Feast of Tabernacles and the Last Great Day?
My wife and I discussed this question recently, and here are some of the things we came up with.
Study the meanings of the festivals
The first thing that came to mind is to study or remind ourselves what each holy day and festival symbolizes. Reading Leviticus 23, where all seven festivals are listed, is a good start. It’s also helpful to find passages about God’s people keeping the Feast of Tabernacles, such as Nehemiah 8 and John 7, and passages about the meaning of these festivals, like Revelation 20, Isaiah 2 and 11 and Ezekiel 37. We can learn about the proper attitude for fasting in Isaiah 58 as preparation for the Day of Atonement.
Our booklet From Holidays to Holy Days: God’s Plan for You has a chapter on each festival that gives references to many of the relevant Bible passages.
It is important to get spiritually ready, not only to fully enjoy every aspect of God’s festivals, but also to be ready to give an answer to questions from your teachers, boss, coworkers or friends about these festivals that few people know much about today.
Getting the time off
Let your teachers or boss know what days you will be missing to attend these festivals, and work out details of when schoolwork will need to be completed or how work projects will be covered. A letter from your pastor may be needed to help qualify for an excused absence.
Growing up, I took my schoolwork with me to the Feast of Tabernacles, but once I started college I made the decision to do the work before and after the Feast. Sure it can be rough to come back to school after missing that many days, but with hard work and many prayers, my grades never suffered as a result of observing God’s feast days.
Saving and budgeting
Another aspect of preparation is saving for attending the Feast of Tabernacles. The Bible talks about a tithe (a 10th of our income) that is saved all year for God’s festivals (Deuteronomy 14:22-27). This tithe is commanded by God so we can enjoy His feast days. Isn’t it awesome that God commands us to do something so that we can find pleasure in the future?
Preparation also includes making a budget for the Feast of Tabernacles. A few things to include in the budget include housing, food (eating out and groceries), travel money (airfare, rental car, gas, etc.), special treats you and those around you enjoy, new church clothes, an emergency fund, etc. The Feast is to be enjoyed, but enjoyed responsibly.
Planning to give and share
Look for ways to contribute to someone else’s Feast. Some ideas include “adopting” others at the Feast, whether elderly people, young couples or children.
- Sit down and have a conversation to learn about one another.
- Take them out to dinner or share a meal where you are staying.
- For families with small children, offer to babysit one evening so the parents can do something special together.
- Buy crayons and coloring books for children.
- Possibly give a new notebook or Bible if you see someone needing one.
If you know you will have extra Festival tithe, the Church does have a festival assistance fund. Send in your excess soon so it can be used this year when it is needed.
There are many more things we can do to prepare for these wonderful and meaningful festivals. On the Church of God, a Worldwide Association, Facebook page, please add comments on ways you prepare for God’s festivals.
Taylor Tootle and his wife, Erin, attend the Cincinnati/Dayton, Ohio, congregation of the Church of God, a Worldwide Association.