Christian Churches of God
(Edition 1.5 19990910-20150904)
This text concerns our responsibility under the Law towards getting to God's commanded Feasts.
God has given clear instructions as to what He wants us to do concerning the feasts. Sometimes the texts concerning the Law relating to the feasts are misused or simply misunderstood.
Deuteronomy 12:17-28† Thou mayest not eat within thy gates the tithe of thy corn, or of thy wine, or of thy oil, or the firstlings of thy herds or of thy flock, nor any of thy vows which thou vowest, nor thy freewill offerings, or heave offering of thine hand: 18 But thou must eat them before the LORD thy God in the place which the LORD thy God shall choose, thou, and thy son, and thy daughter, and thy manservant, and thy maidservant, and the Levite that is within thy gates: and thou shalt rejoice before the LORD thy God in all that thou puttest thine hands unto. 19 Take heed to thyself that thou forsake not the Levite as long as thou livest upon the earth. 20 When the LORD thy God shall enlarge thy border, as he hath promised thee, and thou shalt say, I will eat flesh, because thy soul longeth to eat flesh; thou mayest eat flesh, whatsoever thy soul lusteth after. 21 If the place which the LORD thy God hath chosen to put his name there be too far from thee, then thou shalt kill of thy herd and of thy flock, which the LORD hath given thee, as I have commanded thee, and thou shalt eat in thy gates whatsoever thy soul lusteth after. 22 Even as the roebuck and the hart is eaten, so thou shalt eat them: the unclean and the clean shall eat of them alike. 23 Only be sure that thou eat not the blood: for the blood is the life; and thou mayest not eat the life with the flesh. 24 Thou shalt not eat it; thou shalt pour it upon the earth as water. 25 Thou shalt not eat it; that it may go well with thee, and with thy children after thee, when thou shalt do that which is right in the sight of the LORD. 26 Only thy holy things which thou hast, and thy vows, thou shalt take, and go unto the place which the LORD shall choose: 27 And thou shalt offer thy burnt offerings, the flesh and the blood, upon the altar of the LORD thy God: and the blood of thy sacrifices shall be poured out upon the altar of the LORD thy God, and thou shalt eat the flesh. 28 Observe and hear all these words which I command thee, that it may go well with thee, and with thy children after thee for ever, when thou doest that which is good and right in the sight of the LORD thy God. (KJV)
This text is fairly clear one would think. Verse 17 states clearly that the tithe may not be eaten in any of the gates. This is clearly speaking of the tithe that may be eaten as opposed to the tithe that belongs exclusively to the Levites and is given to them alone. This tithe is the second tithe that belongs to the individual. The individual has to store this tithe in order that he may go to the feasts of the Lord three times a year as commanded. This whole concept is examined in detail in the papers Tithing (No. 161) and Law and the Fourth Commandment (No. 256).
There is a responsibility on the nation and the priesthood to identify the place of the feasts so that the individuals may identify those places and go there as commanded.
The three times and the three feasts are identified in Deuteronomy 16:1-17.
Deuteronomy 16:1-8 Observe the month of Abib, and keep the passover unto the LORD thy God: for in the month of Abib the LORD thy God brought thee forth out of Egypt by night. 2 Thou shalt therefore sacrifice the passover unto the LORD thy God, of the flock and the herd, in the place which the LORD shall choose to place his name there. 3 Thou shalt eat no leavened bread with it; seven days shalt thou eat unleavened bread therewith, even the bread of affliction; for thou camest forth out of the land of Egypt in haste: that thou mayest remember the day when thou camest forth out of the land of Egypt all the days of thy life. 4 And there shall be no leavened bread seen with thee in all thy coast seven days; neither shall there any thing of the flesh, which thou sacrificedst the first day at even, remain all night until the morning. 5 Thou mayest not sacrifice the passover within any of thy gates, which the LORD thy God giveth thee: 6 But at the place which the LORD thy God shall choose to place his name in, there thou shalt sacrifice the passover at even, at the going down of the sun, at the season that thou camest forth out of Egypt. 7 And thou shalt roast and eat it in the place which the LORD thy God shall choose: and thou shalt turn in the morning, and go unto thy tents. 8 Six days thou shalt eat unleavened bread: and on the seventh day shall be a solemn assembly to the LORD thy God: thou shalt do no work therein.
In this section the Passover is clearly stated as not being able to be eaten within the gates. In other words each person must be out of his or her dwelling for this activity. The Samaritans have followed this law faithfully from 14 Nisan over its entire day and until the morning of 15 Nisan, for over two thousand years. They move out of their homes and where possible they go to Mt. Gerizim for the vigil. The Feast of Unleavened Bread follows it. This period culminates also in the Wave Sheaf on the Sunday during Unleavened Bread, which begins the count to Pentecost, also on a Sunday and which was kept by the Jews and Samaritans on a Sunday over the entire Temple period.
9 Seven weeks shalt thou number unto thee: begin to number the seven weeks from such time as thou beginnest to put the sickle to the corn. 10 And thou shalt keep the feast of weeks unto the LORD thy God with a tribute of a freewill offering of thine hand, which thou shalt give unto the LORD thy God, according as the LORD thy God hath blessed thee: 11 And thou shalt rejoice before the LORD thy God, thou, and thy son, and thy daughter, and thy manservant, and thy maidservant, and the Levite that is within thy gates, and the stranger, and the fatherless, and the widow, that are among you, in the place which the LORD thy God hath chosen to place his name there. 12 And thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in Egypt: and thou shalt observe and do these statutes.
So here we see that the Feast of Pentecost is related also to the concept of slavery and deliverance from Egypt. Here we see that all people are supposed to attend the feasts. The whole household and also for all three feasts. However, the males are the only ones specifically mentioned as being required to attend each feast by Law as we see below.
13 Thou shalt observe the feast of tabernacles seven days, after that thou hast gathered in thy corn and thy wine: 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. 15 Seven days shalt thou keep a solemn feast unto the LORD thy God in the place which the LORD shall choose: because the LORD thy God shall bless thee in all thine increase, and in all the works of thine hands, therefore thou shalt surely rejoice.
So we see that at both Passover and the count to Pentecost and Tabernacles, the entire household is mentioned. They are to appear at the place that the Lord shall choose. We see this now become an order directly made on the males.
†16 Three times in a year shall all thy males appear before the LORD thy God in the place which he shall choose; in the feast of unleavened bread, and in the feast of weeks, and in the feast of tabernacles: and they shall not appear before the LORD empty: 17 Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the LORD thy God which he hath given thee. (KJV)
The times are listed as being Unleavened Bread, Pentecost and Tabernacles. This is done so that we are left in no doubt, that it is the full period and the males are without choice in this matter. The females may choose not to go because of say childbirth or other matters, however the males have no choice.
The point is sometimes then raised: Oh well who chooses where the feast will be held? How do we know God has set His hand there? In the Wilderness it was easy. The Pillar of Fire and Cloud told Israel when and where to move. In the promised land God sanctioned the move through the Prophets. He sanctioned the choice of Jerusalem after David moved the tabernacle there from Hebron. God also destroyed the Temple and ordered the creation of the church. That church had the responsibility of declaring the place of the feast and preparing for it.
For this reason the next part of the text in Deuteronomy 16 appears where it does.
Deuteronomy 16:18-20 Judges and officers shalt thou make thee in all thy gates, which the LORD thy God giveth thee, throughout thy tribes: and they shall judge the people with just judgment. 19 Thou shalt not wrest judgment; thou shalt not respect persons, neither take a gift: for a gift doth blind the eyes of the wise, and pervert the words of the righteous. 20 That which is altogether just shalt thou follow, that thou mayest live, and inherit the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee. (KJV)
The intent is quite clear. The nation has the responsibility to ensure that it appoints its judges and officers to ensure that the Law is kept and the people follow the laws of God in Justice and Truth. This applies in relation to the Law and to the appointment of the church and the administration of the worship of God.
We have seen that the feast is a commanded assembly. All three feasts are commanded and all males have to appear and all households should appear and the orders are on the males to ensure that provision is made for the males and females even to local ministry so that they can appear.
The next level of attendance is that of the area representatives.
Before we examine that aspect we must examine the question of the distance and the orders concerning distance.
In the text in Deuteronomy 12:17-19 we see that the feasts are for the entire household to attend, but the males must attend from Deuteronomy 16:16.
From verse 20 we see what appears to be an exception, but is it? Let us examine the text.
Deuteronomy 12:20-22 When the LORD thy God shall enlarge thy border, as he hath promised thee, and thou shalt say, I will eat flesh, because thy soul longeth to eat flesh; thou mayest eat flesh, whatsoever thy soul lusteth after. 21 If the place which the LORD thy God hath chosen to put his name there be too far from thee, then thou shalt kill of thy herd and of thy flock, which the LORD hath given thee, as I have commanded thee, and thou shalt eat in thy gates whatsoever thy soul lusteth after. 22 Even as the roebuck and the hart is eaten, so thou shalt eat them: the unclean and the clean shall eat of them alike. (KJV)
Here we see that the text says that if the place is too far and you want to eat flesh then you may kill and eat of the herds and flocks, even to the roebucks and the harts etc. The unclean also may eat of them. In other words the feast is extended also to the unclean, who may not go to the temple.
Does this then mean that you do not have to go to the place selected as the feast site? No, it does not mean that at all.
Look down further in the text.
Deuteronomy 12:23-29 Only be sure that thou eat not the blood: for the blood is the life; and thou mayest not eat the life with the flesh. 24 Thou shalt not eat it; thou shalt pour it upon the earth as water. 25 Thou shalt not eat it; that it may go well with thee, and with thy children after thee, when thou shalt do that which is right in the sight of the LORD.
Here we see the explanation. The meat may be eaten at home. However, the holy things you have and what forms the vows you make before God are to go with you to the place which the Lord your God shall choose.
26 Only thy holy things which thou hast, and thy vows, thou shalt take, and go unto the place which the LORD shall choose: 27 And thou shalt offer thy burnt offerings, the flesh and the blood, upon the altar of the LORD thy God: and the blood of thy sacrifices shall be poured out upon the altar of the LORD thy God, and thou shalt eat the flesh. 28 Observe and hear all these words which I command thee, that it may go well with thee, and with thy children after thee for ever, when thou doest that which is good and right in the sight of the LORD thy God. 29 When the LORD thy God shall cut off the nations from before thee, whither thou goest to possess them, and thou succeedest them, and dwellest in their land; (KJV)
Thus what appears to be a let out clause is no let out at all. You take what you can carry and what is Holy and of your vows and get going to the feast site that has been allocated to you.
This has been detailed in another text also.
Deuteronomy 14:22-29† Thou shalt truly tithe all the increase of thy seed, that the field bringeth forth year by year. 23 And thou shalt eat before the LORD thy God, in the place which he shall choose to place his name there, the tithe of thy corn, of thy wine, and of thine oil, and the firstlings of thy herds and of thy flocks; that thou mayest learn to fear the LORD thy God always. 24 And if the way be too long for thee, so that thou art not able to carry it; or if the place be too far from thee, which the LORD thy God shall choose to set his name there, when the LORD thy God hath blessed thee: 25 Then shalt thou turn it into money, and bind up the money in thine hand, and shalt go unto the place which the LORD thy God shall choose: 26 And thou shalt bestow that money for whatsoever thy soul lusteth after, for oxen, or for sheep, or for wine, or for strong drink, or for whatsoever thy soul desireth: and thou shalt eat there before the LORD thy God, and thou shalt rejoice, thou, and thine household, 27 And the Levite that is within thy gates; thou shalt not forsake him; for he hath no part nor inheritance with thee. 28 At the end of three years thou shalt bring forth all the tithe of thine increase the same year, and shalt lay it up within thy gates: 29 And the Levite, (because he hath no part nor inheritance with thee,) and the stranger, and the fatherless, and the widow, which are within thy gates, shall come, and shall eat and be satisfied; that the LORD thy God may bless thee in all the work of thine hand which thou doest. (KJV)
Here we see the correct explanation. You turn what you have into money and take it to the appointed place and buy whatever you want. Also in this text we see that in the third year of the Seven-year cycle the proceeds are converted to the third tithe for the poor (cf. Tithing (No. 161)).
So if one is a male there is no excuse. If areas and groups are involved and they have even decided on their own sites as communities, we see another rule also. Refusing to go to the appointed place is a denial of the right of the church to appoint such place.
Zechariah is clear as to what will happen to the person or community that fails to attend the feasts, or to send their representatives.
Zechariah 14:16-19† And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles. 17 And it shall be, that whoso will not come up of all the families of the earth unto Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, even upon them shall be no rain. 18 And if the family of Egypt go not up, and come not, that have no rain; there shall be the plague, wherewith the LORD will smite the heathen that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles. 19 This shall be the punishment of Egypt, and the punishment of all nations that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles. (KJV)
If a nation was not dependent upon rain in due season, like Egypt, which relied on the flooding of the Nile, God would smite them with plagues until they repented. This will happen for the 1,000 years of the Millennium throughout the whole planet.
If God will punish those nations that do not keep the feasts with death by starvation, then how is God in respect of persons with the elect?
God is not in respect of persons. Any person failing to take action to attend the feasts and provide for his family to attend the feasts, will be treated as a gentile and will be removed from the elect and the Holy Spirit.
Any person who denies the law to attend the feasts outside of their gates, places themselves outside of the Law and Commandments of God and hence the elect, by definition of Revelation 12:17 and 14:12. Whoever denies the right of the church to appoint those sites places themselves outside of the church.
Each person by law is entitled to assistance to attend the feast, but must demonstrate they have taken action to prepare under the tithe laws.
What appears to be a let out for those not wishing to attend, is in fact a direction on how they are to attend.
Exodus 34:23-24† Thrice in the year shall all your men children appear before the Lord GOD, the God of Israel. 24 For I will cast out the nations before thee, and enlarge thy borders: neither shall any man desire thy land, when thou shalt go up to appear before the LORD thy God thrice in the year. (KJV)
Nobody will desire your property. It is a matter of faith that you leave your home and go to the place which the Lord chooses and so do your job.
The attitude of those who seek to avoid the feasts and Godís people, is often applied the same reasoning when the sites are within their own states and areas in any case. Such thinking has no place in the Churches of God.