God Commands Us to REJOICE at His Feasts!
Deuteronomy 16:14 And thou shalt rejoice in thy feast, thou, and thy son, and thy daughter, and thy manservant, and thy maidservant, and the Levite, the stranger, and the fatherless, and the widow, that are within thy gates.
James 1:16 Do not err, my beloved brethren. [do not be deceived] 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, [variation] neither shadow of turning [shifting shadows].
God the Father is the giver of every good and every perfect gift, and one of His gifts is His Word and an understanding of His ways.
2 Corinthians 4:6 For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
The apostle James further describes God as the Father “with whom is no variableness neither shadow of turning” which gives us a picture of someone who is steady, that is constant, and who does not change like shifting shadows.
What does this have to do with having joy and rejoicing at the Feast?
The association of lights with God the Father in James 1:17 not only implies His glory and brilliance, but James is also impressing upon us the steadfastness of our Heavenly Father.
The fact that God is immutable and His nature never changes gives us much assurance that we can depend on Him always, and that His Word stands forever. His promises are sure and His Plan for humanity cannot be thwarted; it will be fulfilled, no matter what mere men may say or do.
When those called of God the Father to be His children know and believe that the beautiful promises of God for the salvation and eternal life of men will be fulfilled, it fills our hearts with overflowing joy!
We can see and we often contemplate the temporary and transient substance of the things of this world, which includes our own aging bodies.
Springtime comes, and then before we know it the children are going back to school, the trees are beginning to turn into shades of fall, the crisp cool morning air lets us know that summer is over and soon winter will come. The seasons come and go, and years fly by and we can hardly believe that we are now in the fall of our lives, and for some of us in the winter. We remember years that have gone by and some of the things and the people that were very much a part of our past, but now they have become dim memories.
But the good news is that even though these physical lives flee swiftly by, God has a blueprint that ensures eternity for all of sincerely repentant humanity!
God has a wonderful plan of salvation laid out in Scripture which is TRUE; and the truth of what He says (His Word) endures, year after year, century after century, even from the foundation of the world.
His promises and His prophecies will stand; they are immutable and all of these things will unfold just as He says they will. And even though the things in this world are transitory, God is NOT transitory, and this gives us hope and confidence even as we see the troubling things happening all around us on earth today. We have a sure hope, an inheritance that is incorruptible, if we are and remain faithful.
1 Peter 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 1:4 To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, 1:5 Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
1st Peter 1:23 Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever. 1:24 For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: 1:25 But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.
So we can rejoice that God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow, (Hebrews 13:8) that His love for us is certain even in the face of our sufferings and our trials.
The apostle James emphasizes that God is the true origin of every good and perfect gift. God does not give evil gifts but everything He gives and does for us is good and for our good, if we love Him and are called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28)
Most of us have had a hard year since last year’s Feast and we are still going through harsh trials; but the solid fundamental truth of James’ statement gives us a vision of God’s attributes; that He is stable and that He is the generous giver of everything that will produce in us the character that we will need to have for all eternity, if only we yield to His purposes for us. James’ description reminds us of God’s trustworthy constancy and of His unfailing and abundant generosity even when we are going through hard times it is for a positive purpose which will engender to eternal life.
James 1:2 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; 1:3 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. 1:4 But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.
And the fact that we have been called to understand this truism, and to have the opportunity to come to know God our Father and Jesus Christ His Son in a close and enduring relationship, is a real source of what it means to have everlasting joy for what He has done and is doing for us. And we can rejoice immensely in this knowledge.
James says that these gifts come down from above and the implication we can take from that is this: that we are to keep our vision and goals set on those things which are above, and not on the transitory physical things that are on the earth; and if we will do that, it will keep us from falling into despondency for what we see happening in this present evil world.
Colossians 3:1 If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. 3:2 Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.
One of the gifts that God gives to us is His Feasts and His Holy Days! and the understanding of what they foreshadow which is also a precious gift.
As we come to the realization that the fall Festivals pictures a time when all humanity, all who have ever lived and who did not have the opportunity to be called and come to the understanding of what life was all about in their former lives, will be raised to new life again. And many of them will be our own dear loved ones, our family members and friends.
In this life, we likely lamented that they could not understand the spiritual things that were revealed to us; but at that time they will have the scales taken off their eyes.
Most of mankind will finally come to a full spiritual knowledge of God and will desire to live His way of righteousness; they will want to learn about His truth. They will discover to their great delight that there is so much more to life than what they experienced while living in this present evil world.
As we keep the Feast this year, we are encouraged to look upward to anticipate and receive the spiritual gifts that God has for us rather than focusing so much on the hardships and the confusion we see here on earth. One of those gifts is the vision that keeping the Feast’s provides us with. We can foresee a beautiful new world in which only righteousness exists and where all peoples everywhere will want to live at peace with God and with each other.
Isaiah 11:9 They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.
Isaiah 66:22 For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me, saith the Lord, so shall your seed and your name remain. 66:23 And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the Lord.
The people of God, look forward to the reality of what the Festivals symbolize, a time when everyone on earth will no longer be spiritually blind and all (who are willing) will come to know God and His marvelous truth.
It will be a time when everyone will learn to love God, His laws, and will have godly love for God and for each other. All of humanity will be worshiping the One True God and will be keeping all of His Holy Word along with us who have been called to be God’s first fruits, and are learning to keep all of God’s ways now.
This year as we enter His courts, which is symbolic for entering His spiritual presence at the Feast, we along with our friends that we assemble with, are to rejoice with joy in our hearts and on our lips. King David tells us that when we approach God, we are to enter into His gates with thankful hearts and praise for all that He is and for all He is doing! and that His TRUTH is everlasting and will for all the generations of mankind when all is said and done.
Psalm 100:4 Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. 100:5 For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.
Psalm 100:1 Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands. 100:2 Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing. 100:3 Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
And by serving God with gladness at the Feast, we too will have an abundance of JOY!
Ephesians 5:15 See then that ye walk circumspectly [obeying all of God’s Word], not as fools, but as wise, 5:16 Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. 5:17 Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. 5:18 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; 5:19 Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; 5:20 Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;
In 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 we are also commanded to strive to “rejoice evermore” to “pray without ceasing” and “in everything to give thanks”, and then Paul says “for this is the will of God in Christ concerning you”. So we see that rejoicing is commanded for us to do: both year round and at the Feast!
By seeking God and all His ways, including the keeping of His Feasts, we will ultimately be able to REJOICE FOREVERMORE as members of God’s Family!
Paul exhorts us in Philippians 4:4 to: “Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, rejoice”
The people of God are always to be joyful, it is one of the fruits of God’s Spirit and one of His good gifts that He gives to to His children. We are to bring our JOY with us to the festivals that God commands us to keep, and share it with our brethren as we rejoice together in ways the world is unable (and unwilling) to understand or do at this time.
But ultimately, the whole world will be come to know the knowledge of God, which is one of the reasons that we can rejoice year long and especially at the Feast. For SOMEDAY we will not only be sharing our joy with the few who know God now, but the whole world will be rejoicing and singing songs of praise WITH US. They too will finally be able to rejoice for the wondrous truth that God will open up to all people, by shining the light of His Word into their hearts and giving the gift of spiritual understanding to them…. just has He has done for His faithful called out down through the ages!
The Feast of Tabernacles is not about selfishly lording it over others, it is about lovingly teaching and bringing others into the knowledge of God, and bringing humanity into eternal life in the family of God!
Let us REJOICE in the infallible Promises of God at this year’s Feast of Tabernacles with JOY unspeakable, continuing through the Eighth Day and in the ensuing months and years to come as we live in the Light of God’s Word!
James Malm and Constance Belanger
Note- Constance submitted the original rough draft of this article in 2016, which I then completed for posting.