Feast of Tabernacles 2016
Opening Night Service

Introduction
&
"For Want of a Nail"

John Plunkett 
October 15, 2016
Feast of Tabernacles


It is always good for us to remember that, from what we know, the people living in the outlying areas away from Jerusalem (e.g. like Jesusí family when He was young) would have taken off from their homes a couple of days in advance of the beginning of the Fall Feast season.

We might get the idea that they just went there for the Feast of Tabernacles and the Last Great Day; but I donít believe that is true. They probably would have travelled down to Jerusalem for the Feast of Trumpets and stayed down there until after the Last Great Day.  Obviously, they would not have travelled back and forth. 

The following scripture is probably one of the most well-known scriptures that pertain to the fall festival season, and specifically to the Feast of Tabernacles. 

Deuteronomy 14:
23:  And you shall eat before the LORD your God, in the place which He shall choose to place His name there, the tithe of your corn, of your wine, and of your oil, and the firstborn of your herds and of your flocks; that you may learn to fear the LORD your God always.
24:  And if the way be too long for you, so that you are not able to carry it; or if the place be too far from you, which the LORD your God shall choose to set His name there, when the LORD your God has blessed you:
25:  Then shall you turn it into money, and bind up the money in your hand, and shall go to the place which the LORD your God shall choose:
26:  And you shall bestow that money for whatever your soul lusts after, for oxen, or for sheep, or for wine, or for strong drink, or for whatever your soul desires: and you shall eat there before the LORD your God, and you shall rejoice, you, and your household,

What a command, that is!  You shall rejoice!

Two major questions come up from what we have just read:

The first question is this:  Has the LORD placed His name here?

Here we are, at 1531 Admiral Tryon Boulevard in Columbia Beach.

I have prayed that this house is one of the places where Jesus Christ has chosen to place His name this year.  I hope that you have prayed a similar prayer.  If you havenít, I ask you, please do so.  Not just tonight before you go to bed; but every day for the next eight days. 

Why?  Because we very much need Him, the LORD, YHVH, Jesus Christ, to be here with us at this Feast.  Because if He is not here with us Ė if He has not placed His name here at our little Feast site, then we are all wasting our time and we may as well pack up and go home right now, if you think.

Jesus promised:

Matthew 18: 20: 
For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

So, are we gathered here tonight in Jesusí name?  

I hope we are.  I trust that we are.  And if we are, then we can confidently rest assured that He will be with us for the next eight days. 

This is important, so please pray for it.

Also, we just read that one of the main reasons that we are to keep the Feast of Tabernacles is:

Deuteronomy 14:23:
Ö that you may learn to fear the LORD your God always.

That leads me right into question number two:

Are we really here to learn to fear the LORD? 

A couple of weeks ago when I was preparing this message, I went on my computer Bible and I looked up the scriptures that refer to Godís requirement for His people to fear Him.  I found 188 verses that mention the requirement for us to fear the LORD.  If we were to go into all of these 188 verses, we could spend the whole Feast just studying this one topic alone.  We are not going to do that, of course; but I didn't want to avoid mentioning it because it certainly is a very important aspect of the Feast of Tabernacles.

From this question arises another, supplementary question: What kind of fear does the LORD want us to have of Him?  Does He want us to be quaking in our boots every time we come before Him in church services or during our own personal Bible study or whenever we are praying to the Father in Jesus' name?  Of course not!  

When we read the gospel accounts, we see that, as a human being, Jesus was a very brave young man.  He was no shrinking violet.  However, we also read of His loving, caring, gentle, and compassionate, relationships that He had with His beloved disciples and with His other followers. 

I donít want to knock anybody individually, but there are some out there who seem to believe that Jesus and the Father are harsh and unloving.  Some seem to believe that we should concentrate on the negative.  We have attended Feasts in the past at which some Ė and in some cases, many Ė of the messages were illustrated with overviews of horrendous world news items Ė some of them totally disgusting, especially to the sensitive ears of young children.  I donít want you to get me wrong on this.  I hope that you all know me better by now than to think that I am one to bury my head in the sand, or to ignore what is happening out there in the world.  Or that I am preaching smooth things.  Or that I am preaching that "my Lord delays His coming."  Certainly not!  I know very well that there are many terrible events happening around the world; but I donít believe that the Feast of Tabernacles is the appropriate time to bring them to the attention of the brethren.  In fact, I donít believe that the other holy days are the right time for that kind of stuff, either.  Nor the weekly Sabbaths.  We all have another 296 days available to us in each year to read, watch, or listen to the world news Ė ad nauseam.  

That is if we perhaps believe that this is what Jesus meant when He commanded His people to "watch."  I agree that He told us to watch.  But I don't believe that He meant that we should be filling our minds with every disgusting news item that there is out there. 

All of us have easy access to a plethora of news media Ė television, radio, internet, newspapers and magazines.  Our brethren in the early church did not have any of those things.  So, we really don't need Godís ministers to waste their time and our time trying to "out-gross" each other (which I have heard ministers doing) by reading the details of those horrible news events at church services. 

That being said, as we get started into the Feast now, please do not think that I am intending to pamper, or mollycoddle you at this Feast.  I know that, although we are all a long, long way from the persecutions that some of our faithful church predecessors endured in past ages, I know also that many of you have gone through some pretty tough trials over this past year, since the last Feast of Tabernacles.  So, I fully realize that, as the saying goes, "you need nourishment, not punishment"! 

I know that, physically, we will be getting a lot of physical nourishment over the next eight days; but I am talking here about spiritual nourishment Ė from the Bread of Life. 

In choosing the messages for the Feast, that is exactly what we have tried to concentrate on Ė words of encouragement.  Still, even with that being the case, please do not expect our Feast messages to be "the Milk of the Word."  They won't be! 

We have all been around for a lot of years in the church, so I believe that we are all ready for strong spiritual meat.  I hope and pray that we will all be ready for some strong Ė but encouraging Ė spiritual meat. 

In some cases, in some the messages from other Church of God organizations, we may not agree one hundred percent with everything that we hear; but still, letís dig in, give it a chance and listen to the message.  If we disagree with a part of it, we can talk about that too.  Trish and I have pre-listened to virtually all of the messages we'll be listening to during the Feast, and we believe that they can all be classed as good strong meat.

I want to start the Feast off this evening, continuing in the same vein of encouragement, by asking you a couple of questions:

Please keep those questions in mind as I read you an old English nursery rhyme which Trish and I used to read this to our daughters when they were very young:

For the want of a nail the shoe was lost,
For the want of a shoe the horse was lost,
For the want of a horse the rider was lost,
For the want of a rider the battle was lost,
For the want of a battle the kingdom was lost,
And all for the want of a horseshoe-nail.

We members of Godís church can be likened to these little nails in a horse-shoe.  Each one has a vital function. 

It is true that Jesus said that His Father could, if He wanted to, raise up stones to do His work on earth (Matthew 3:9).  But in His love and His mercy, He has chosen to call you and me to do that work.

Once again, please donít get me wrong.  I am not saying that the loss of one spiritual "nail" would jeopardize the coming of Godís Kingdom to earth. 

You know, as well as I do that, sadly, over our years in the Church of God, we have seen too many loved ones depart from Godís truth, and way of life; but their sad, bad decisions to depart from God's church will not prevent the Kingdom from coming.

However, Jesus also tells us, that if it were not for the sake of His elect, which includes all of us spiritual "nails," He would allow all human life to be obliterated from this tired old earth.

Matthew 24:22: 
And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the electís sake those days shall be shortened.

But does the average, non-ministerial church member have an important part to play? 

I'm not trying to put the ministry up on a pedestal.  I'm not into ministerial ranks or that kind of thing.  But, does the average church member Ė i.e. all of us Ė really have an important part to play?  

Through the apostle Paul, God tells us repeatedly, that yes, we certainly do. 

I know that you have heard these scriptures over and over again; but they are so important and enable us to understand and realize that we do have an important part to play.

Romans 12:
4:  For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office:
5:  So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.
6:  Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith;
7:  Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teaches, on teaching;
8:  Or he that exhorts, on exhortation: he that gives, let him do it with simplicity; he that rules, with diligence; he that shows mercy, with cheerfulness.

I used the nails in the shoe of a soldierís horse as my analogy.  The apostle Paul was inspired to use the much more thorough analogy of the human body.  He emphasizes, both here and elsewhere, that there are no unimportant parts in the Body of Christ.  Either you're in or you're out.  There are no half measures.  And if we are in, we must be completely in.  We must be "in with both feet," as the saying goes. 

Unlike horseshoe nails Ė but very much like the many parts of the human body Ė all the members of Godís Church are different.  But, we are all vital.  All human body parts have different functions.  The functions of some body parts change as the years go by; and that is quite okay.  Still, they are all necessary.  Otherwise our Creator would not have put them there. 

Paul comes back to this in his letter to the Corinthians:

I Corinthians 12:
12:  For as the body is one, and has many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.
13:  For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.
14:  For the body is not one member, but many.
15:  If the foot shall say, "Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body"; is it therefore not of the body?
16:  And if the ear shall say, "Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body"; is it therefore not of the body?
17:  If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing?  If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling?
18:  But now has God set the members every one of them in the body, as it has pleased Him.
19:  And if they were all one member, where were the body?
20:  But now are they many members, yet but one body.
21:  And the eye cannot say unto the hand, "I have no need of you": nor again the head to the feet, "I have no need of you."
22:  No, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary:
23:  And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness.
24:  For our comely parts have no need: but God has tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked:
25:  That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another.
26:  And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.
27:  Now you are the body of Christ, and members in particular.
28:  And God has set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.
29:  Are all apostles?  Are all prophets?  Are all teachers?  Are all workers of miracles?
30:  Have all the gifts of healing?  Do all speak with tongues?  Do all interpret?
31:  But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet show I unto you a more excellent way. 

Again, God, through Paul, is asking: "Could the Body of Christ survive if all its members had the same function?"  Other than God the Father raising up stones if He wanted to, the answer is "No."  

In the past, I have heard members lament that the only necessary functions of a "regular" non-ministerial church member, is to "pray and pay."  But that is not true at all.  All the various roles of the brethren are very important for the smooth functioning of the Body of Jesus Christ.  It may seem like a small thing; but all the cooking and food preparation is very important.  This is just one example.  What about these beautiful decorations and the effort and love that has gone into them?  It's all part of it.  The music and the choir too.  They are all things that go together to make this Feast a success.

Once again, through the apostle Paul, God tells us that the very fact that He has given different jobs and talents to us all should bring unity and growth to His people.  Not jealousy!  Not competition!  Not division!  But growth!

Ephesians 4:16: 
From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplies, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, makes increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.

If this is done properly, we will grow!...

Colossians 2: 
18:  Let no one cheat you of your reward taking delight in false humility and worship of angels, intruding into those things which he has not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind,
19:  And not holding the Head, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increases with the increase of God.

He is saying that we must hold onto the Head and if we do, all the Body, all of joints and all their bands (sinews and muscles) will come together and will bring about increase and growth.

These two verses in Ephesians and Colossians accentuate the unity that is absolutely necessary in the Body of Christ.  Sadly, at this point in time, we do not have unity like we should have it.  We need to be continually seeking after it.

Again, we have different members with different talents.  The member who is looking after the choir must be unified with the member who is writing cards to sick or the bereaved.  Both of those members are to be unified with the ministry.  Although the job of the minister is partially different to theirs, he is not to put himself on a pedestal.  He is not to consider himself superior to the brethren he serves.  We could say the same thing on a member-to-member basis; not just within our own group; but also member-to-member throughout all the various Church of God groups as well.

We are all spiritual brothers and sisters.  We are all fellow members of the Body of Jesus Christ.  He is the Head of the Body.  He is the Head of the Church of God.  Any unity that we are going to have between ourselves must go through Him. 

In conclusion, let me ask you once again: 

Are you important to God?  Are you an important member of Godís?  Are you important to God and His Work?

Yes, you are! 

If you are faithfully seeking which job Ė or jobs Ė God has called you to do within His church; and if you are faithfully and uncomplainingly doing those jobs, then you may be 100% confident that you are a very important member of the Body of Christ.

You are a very important member of His Church!


JHP.pp/jhp