By Sam Eyoboka
AS millions of Christians were busy shopping in readiness for this year’s Christmas, thousands of gaily dressed members of the God’s Kingdom Society as well as their relations and friends gathered at the ET Otemewo Square on Liasu Road premises of the church’s branch in Egbe area of Lagos for the flag-off of this year’s celebration of Feast of Tabernacles.
God’s Kingdom Society (GKS), a purely Christian organisation founded by the Almighty God through the instrumentality of St. Gideon Meriodere Urhobo, who was its pioneer president, believes that the proginator of the Christian faith, Jesus Christ was not born on December 25 but sometime within the month of October.
The church with roots in several nations of the world in line with the vision of the founder who was said to have encountered Jesus Christ who commanded him to go and ”proclaim the good news of God’s Kingdom to all nations as the only remedy for all human sufferings and woes; to expose all the false doctrines which Satan had used to deceive the people and to keep them in ignorance of God’s Kingdom and purpose of creation; and to pronounce God’s written judgment against all wickedness”.
There was plenty to eat and drink and all those in attendance irrespective of creed or tribe, were satisfied. They were fed with the Word of God by the officiating minister in charge of Lagos zone, Brother Timothy Esimagbele and his assistant station minister, Brother Isaac Ennang, traditional dances/choral songs from different parts of the federation, Theocratic Hymns, to the delight of all and sundry.
The large gathering which comprised the creme de la creme of the society including former Delta State Commissioner for Higher Education, Prof. Hope Eghagha, Chairman/Managing Director, Osiquip Limited, Mr. Felix Matthew Ogbeyewebor Osifo, Director, Operations at ThisDay Newspapers, Mr. Emmanuel Efeni, and many other dignitaries and their beautifully attired spouses and their children in tow.
The station minister, Brother Esimagbele, in his sermon titled; “Why Christians should celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles”, emphasized that the Feast which is not popular with today’s Christians is an annual event instituted by God since the days of Prophet Moses on their historic journey from the land of Egypt to Canaan. ”The command is that it should be celebrated for eight days, the first day will be a Sabbath and the last also a Sabbath day. The Jews were always celebrating. It came to a time God commanded that all living at the end time of the world should celebrate also follow the trend of celebration and that anyone who does not celebrate this feast will not be blessed,” he noted.
According to him, while the Jews were travelling from Egypt to Canaan, God Almighty through His servant Moses commanded them to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles for seven days starting from the 15th day of the seventh month, known as Tishri or Ethanim, when they had gathered in the fruit of the land. The first and eighth days were to be Sabbaths meaning that there was to be on those days an entire suspension of ordinary labour of all kinds. On those days they would hold holy convocations in which the priests taught the people the law of God, including the proper manner of conducting worship and reminded them of the great deeds God had wrought for them in the past. (Deuteronomy 31:10-13) For the entire seven days they were to make an offering by fire unto the LORD according to each person’s ability.
They were further instructed to take the “boughs of goodly trees, branches of palm trees, and the boughs of thick trees, and willows of the brook” and to rejoice before the LORD seven days. They were to dwell in booths for the duration of the feast. The essence of their dwelling in booths was to remind them that God Almighty made them to dwell in booths, when He brought them out of the land of Egypt. (Leviticus 23:33-43) During the celebration in the land of Israel, the natural Jews erected booths on the flat roofs of houses, in the streets or fields while the celebrants carried light branches of various trees in triumphal procession, singing psalms and crying “Hosanna!” which signifies, “Save, we beseech thee!”
After the Babylonish captivity the Jews under Nehemiah the Governor and Ezra the Priest read the Scriptures and on realizing the importance of the Feast, celebrated it with great joy.
It is important to point out that of the three great festivals which God Almighty ordained that His people should celebrate in time of old, it is only the Feast of Tabernacles otherwise called the “Feast of Ingathering”, that Christians should continue to celebrate. The others, the Feast of Weeks and the Passover are no longer to be celebrated in the Christian era.
It was because of the significance or relevance of the Feast of Tabernacles in the Christian era that Jesus Christ, the founder of Christianity, took active part in its celebration. He addressed the people “in the midst of the Feast” as it is written: “Now about the midst of the feast Jesus went up into the temple, and taught. And the Jews marvelled, saying, How knoweth this man letters, having never learned? Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me. If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.”
On the “Last and Great Day” of the Feast Jesus Christ made a clarion call on all people of goodwill who are thirsty for the truth and salvation of God to come to him for succour as it is written: “In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.
He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.” Many people believed on him on that occasion. (John 7:1-38). Why did Jesus Christ the founder of Christianity celebrate the Feast so actively. It was no doubt to serve as an example to his disciples. If we are true Christians, then we must follow his example.
Christ is now present among men in spirit in fulfilment of Ezekiel 37:27; Revelation 3:3 and Revelation 21:1-7, helping, blessing and guiding sincere worshippers of God to His perfect Kingdom which all Christians, be they kings, queens, heads of state or commoners are praying for.
The Feast of Tabernacles held during the Jewish era were only types or shadows of greater things in the Christian era. (Hebrews 10:1) By virtue of the sacrificial work of Jesus Christ “once for all” there is no longer any need for sacrifices of animals which used to obtain during the typical celebration of the Feast. Moreover, the letters of the law need not be observed by the spiritual Jews or true Christians now on earth.
It should be pointed out that the Tabernacle today is no longer the movable tent building or booths in which the Jews dwelt during the Feast. Rather, the Tabernacle is Jesus Christ, “the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands…” (Hebrews 8:1-2; 9:11; Isaiah 33:20) Now that Jesus Christ, the Tabernacle of God is with his people in spirit, it is required of all to celebrate this Feast in his honour. (Revelation 21:3; John 5:23).
Moreover, there is also a prophetic command that all people who had unknowingly been walking contrary to the will of God, should celebrate the Feast for their own blessings. God declared through the prophet Zechariah: “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.
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. 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. This shall be the punishment of Egypt, and the punishment of all nations that come not up to keep the Feast of Tabernacles.“ (Zechariah 14:16-19).
Jerusalem in the above text does not mean Jerusalem in Israel but God’s organization, the “New Jerusalem” from above. (Galatians 4:26; Revelation 21:2) Egypt means the ungodly. (Isaiah 31:1; Revelation 11:8) Rain in this context symbolizes blessings. (Isaiah 55:10,11; Ezekiel 34:26; Hebrews 6:7).
During the Feast of Tabernacles, members and friends of the GKS feast sumptuously on the word of God which gives life. (Isaiah 55:1-3; John 6:27) No fewer than 16 public lectures on various topics of the Bible are delivered for the enlightenment of the sheep of God. These include the address of the GKS President to the Feast celebrants.
“And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” (Revelation 22:17) The Feast continued in the headquarters, Salem City, Warri, Delta State where all members from across the globe were expected to gather for the yearly Feast.