Lest We Forget

Stephan Willshaw
Feast of Tabernacles
Seaside, Oregon
Day 4
October 4, 2012

To view Stephan's accompanying slide show in PDF format
Please click HERE

Greetings to all our brethren at Seaside Oregon!  

It’s amazing just how quickly time passes especially when we’re all having so much fun and enjoyment. What a blessing it is to have such a beautiful location like Seaside.  Although I have never been to Seaside, I did a search on the Internet to get a general feel for the area.  It looks like a very beautiful area, with a good number of activities such as the Seaside Aquarium, which I can imagine most everyone will have the privilege this week of experiencing. 

My name is Stephan Willshaw.  I and my wife Sandee live in the small town of Lindsay, Ontario a quiet, rural farming area, about 100 kilometres (60 miles) to the northeast of Toronto.

This Feast of Tabernacles, we flew to Summerland, British Columbia, where there are between seventy to eighty Feast-goers meeting at the Summerland Resort on beautiful Lake Okanagan in the heart of the Okanagan Valley.  This was a year when our plan was to visit our son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter, who live close by in Vernon, BC, otherwise we would likely be with all of you live at the Seaside resort. 

Because this is a taped message and I’m not with you live, I thought I would at least send you a picture and, as you can see, I don’t look anything like James Bond, and I definitely don’t have as much hair as John Plunkett!  But I hope the sound of my voice comes through okay, and that the photos I’ve included will help bridge the gap of me not being there. 

The title of this sermonette is “Lest We Forget” and, as I go along, I think you will be able to catch the gist as to why I used that particular title.

Each and every one of us is surrounded by the world, with its many varied influences.  As we are well aware, these influences will always be a mixture of positive as well as negative.  These different influences will always remain out there to press upon us.  One of the many benefits of receiving and responding to the high calling that our Heavenly Father has given us is in the understanding that we have of the “master plan” that is being worked out by God here on planet earth.  Even though we may from time to time go through unpleasant situations, we rejoice, because of the salvation that is coming to this world what the Feast of Tabernacles, in its fulfillment, actually pictures.

The Word of God shows us that those who are in Jesus Christ will arrive at our final destination in the Kingdom of God.  In Revelation 20, after the binding of Satan, we read that the saints reign with Christ for 1000 years:

Revelation 20:6:
Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection.  Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.

This is, as we know, a direct Feast of Tabernacles fulfillment.  This is one of the positive influences that brought us to answer the high calling that God has given each one of us.  We all have this definite destination point that will have no end.

It is amazing how much of a focus on the Kingdom of God is found in the Hebrew Word of God.  Look at what David says here in Psalms 145, under the sub-heading of “A Song of God’s Majesty and Love”:

Psalms 145:
10:  All Your works shall praise you, O Lord; and your saints shall bless you. 
11:  They shall speak of the glory of your Kingdom and talk of your power, 
12:  To make known to the sons of men His mighty acts, and glorious majesty of His kingdom. 
13:  Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures throughout all generations.

Here we see David actually singing about this “everlasting Kingdom” and how the saints of God (that’s us!) will be speaking of the glory and power of God that will usher it in, in all of its fullness.  Wow!  What a positive influence for all of us to meditate upon!
At this point, I would like to switch gears a bit.  I would like to share with you an experience that my wife Sandee and I had this past summer in Europe.  We took a trip in June to Belgium and Holland.  While in Belgium we stayed in the beautiful cobblestone village of Bruges, which is situated in the north of Belgium very close to the North Sea in the area called Flanders. 

When we hear the word “Flanders” it perhaps brings to mind “Flanders fields” and the poem that the Canadian doctor of World War I, John McCrae wrote of this area.  Maybe some of you are familiar with that poem and can even recite it. 

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow, between the crosses row on row…

While we were in the area of Flanders, we decided to take a tour of some of the World War I battle sites and some of the many cemeteries in the area.  What we saw and heard, while on this particular tour, was very eye-opening and quite sobering.  Our tour guide explained to us in great detail how World War I developed and spread into Belgium.  This area of Flanders in Belgium became what was known as the “western front.”
Germany wanted to invade France from different sides and, in order to accomplish this from the west, Germany would need passage through Belgium.  The leader of Belgium had good morals built into his character and denied this to Germany.  Because of that denial, Germany didn’t take "No" for an answer.  At that point they immediately declared war on Belgium in order to get that western passage into France.

During our day of touring the area of Flanders and hearing the graphic accounts of the many battles, we were astounded and perplexed at the amount of carnage and destruction that took place.  After a while we began to wonder how humans could actually do this to one another?  The disasters of war are unimaginable.  Miles upon miles of countryside reduced to mud and sticks; towns totally destroyed and levelled.  Death like one can’t even imagine!

Sandee and I were so perplexed with the carnage and destruction we learned about on that tour through the fields of Flanders in the north of Belgium.  There is evidence in the Bible that, because of the sinful nature of man, these horrific events happen.  Such are the vanities of life; so says Solomon in Ecclesiastes.  History tends to repeat itself; so it seems that “there is nothing new under the sun.” 

In Joel 3, I just want to touch on this idea very quickly; not to belabour it:

Joel 3:
9:  Proclaim this among the nations: Prepare for war!  Wake up the mighty men, let the men of war draw near, let them come up. 
10:  Beat your plowshares into swords, and your pruning hooks into spears: let the weak say, ‘I am strong.’ 

These two short verses, in Joel describe what has taken place in the past, as well as what will be coming again in the near future.  For twenty years before World War I actually started, Europe armed itself for a major conflict.  That is why I wanted to mention this; hence this section here in Joel 3: “Beat your plowshares into swords, and your pruning hooks into spears.”

This whole tragic situation of 1914-1918, which people said was to be “the war to end all wars” was burned into the memories of people who lived close to the poppies of Flanders; and brought about the popular saying, “Lest We Forget.” 

We all fully realize that wars still exist today.  We have corrupt government leadership who do not govern with Godly principles. We see the improper use of power combined with greed and the love of money; and this becomes the kindling of war among people and nations.

Yes, the unfortunate casualties and fallen are sadly remembered.  We have dedicated our bridges and highways to them.  When Sandee and I walked through the World War I cemeteries of Belgium, we read the words “Lest We Forget” chiselled into the tombstones as a remembrance.

Ah, but brothers and sisters, we have not forgotten!  This is the Feast of Tabernacles; and every year this festival is a reminder to us of what is yet to come.  Look around you!  You, yes you, are among the few who haven’t forgotten. 

We all long for the fulfillment of what these days here at the Feast picture.  Let’s look at what the focus of Jesus Christ was at the very beginning of His ministry. 

Picture the scene in Matthew 4.  Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.  In the conclusion of that situation, the devil lost out.  He had met his match.  Notice Jesus’ last words to Satan (and isn’t it Satan that is the mind behind all battles and wars?): 

Matthew 4:
10:  “Away with you, Satan!  For it is written, 'You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.'” 
11:  Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him.

A little while afterwards, the ministry of Jesus Christ began at Galilee.  The very first words of Christ, recorded for us here in the account of Matthew, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”  And again, we can see Christ going about all Galilee, preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom and performing all kinds of miraculous healings upon the people.  A huge focus of Christ’s ministry was in the preaching about the coming Kingdom:

Matthew 4:23:
And Jesus went all about Galilee teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people.

Now right across the page in Matthew 6, in the "model prayer," we see Christ’s words:

Matthew 6:
9:  Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. 
10:  Thy kingdom come... 

There is massive importance given to this coming Kingdom of God.  Christ accentuated it to His listeners during His ministry on earth; and that focus is still with us today.  God the Father and Jesus Christ want the vision of the Kingdom never to escape our thoughts nor our prayers.  The Father wants it to be on our lips daily, as we can see here in the model prayer.  

The coming Kingdom is the destination place, with Jesus Christ, our High Priest, leading the way.  How is this going to be?  Let’s see how Isaiah put it here:

Isaiah 9: 
6:  For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder.  And His name will be called Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7:  Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever.  The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.

One morning when I was about to start preparing this message, I entered our home office to find a small note on top of my Bible, from my wife Sandee.  She knew that I was working on this particular message and left me some food for thought.  Here is the exact quote that was on my Bible that morning, “Unquestionably, evil is a powerful foe; but God will crush it and abolish it from the earth, forever.  The enemy will be defeated and God will usher in everlasting peace.”  I thought that fit quite nicely into this message about the Kingdom of God. 

Here we are at the Feast of Tabernacles where we have been enjoying fellowship with God the Father, Jesus Christ and each other, while at the same time focusing on many different aspects concerning the soon-coming Kingdom of God.  In the actual fulfillment  of this time, the government will be based upon biblical principles, the love of God, and His laws. 

Just imagine that!  Wrap your mind around it!  The perfection that will come during the one thousand year millennial reign of Christ.  I can only relate to fifty-seven years right now.  It is hard to think about 1,000 years.  The whole structure and pattern of government with Christ as King of kings and Lord of Lords will be ushered in.  There will be a definite chain of authority with no one elected by the people.  All appointments will come from the divinely resurrected immortals, born of God – no longer flesh and blood humans – us!

No more greed, wrongly based power or corruption.  Real, lasting peace will be ushered in.  The vast majority will not be living in deception like we see today.  All will come to know the truth.  People will start living by God’s perfect way of love, the way of true values, the way of peace, of happiness, of well-being and of joy.

Our present world does have its problems; but we are called to endure and to keep the faith.

God’s Word, the Bible, begins with paradise in Eden and ends in the paradise of God’s Kingdom.  That will just be a beginning point.

God will recreate the way that this earth is governed and will bring about everlasting peace. 

This “master plan” of God continually reminds us as we keep all of these festivals throughout the year.  We must always remember the wonderful plan that God has in store for us.  

Never Forget!

Brethren at Seaside, Oregon: Please enjoy the rest of the Feast of Tabernacles and the Last Great Day.  Please have a safe trip home after the Feast, and all the very best in the time ahead.