Lenten Training Part 4 Preparing to Party
Lenten Training Part 4 . . . Preparing to Party
All Saints * Dr. Gregg Strawbridge * March 29, 2009
“On that day Yahweh will become king over all the earth—Yahweh alone, and His name alone. . . . Then all the survivors from the nations that came against Jerusalem will go up year after year to worship the King, the LORD of Hosts, and to celebrate the Festival of Booths. 14:17 Should any of the families of the earth not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of Hosts, rain will not fall on them” (Zechariah 14:9, 16-17). “They celebrated the Festival of Booths as prescribed, and |offered| burnt offerings each day, based on the number specified by ordinance for each festival day. 3:5 After that, |they offered| the regular burnt offering and the offerings for the beginning of each month and for all the LORD’S appointed holy occasions, as well as the freewill offerings brought to the LORD” (Ezra 3:4-5; cf John 7).
Zechariah is writing in the post-exillic period (520 B.C.). It begins, “The LORD was very angry with your fathers. Therefore say to them, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts, ‘Return to Me,’ declares the LORD of hosts, ‘that I may return to you,’ says the LORD of hosts.” The last scene in the book of Zechariah is a picture of the world after Armageddon. “It tells what will happen to the remnant of the nations that fought against Jerusalem in the final battle. Some of them will be converted to a worship of Yahweh and will come to Jerusalem annually to observe the feast of Tabernacles” (WBC). The prophet anticipates “a day” (an era) when all the nations of the world celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles which marked the final harvest of the year’s crops (Lev 23:34-43) and when the common things are consecrated (such as horses bells and cooking pots and pans). These will be “purified for service within the sacred space of the temple” (EBC). Premill interpreters are still awaiting this - “The final scene of the Book of Zechariah anticipates Revelation 11:15, toward which all history is steadily moving—’the kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever’—and Revelation 19:16 ‘On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS’” (EBC).
On the contrary, is not the venerable Puritan devotional commentator, Matthew Henry, both exegetically sound and pastorally rich in his “postmillennial” reading:
As it is impossible for all nations literally to come to Jerusalem once a year, to keep a feast, it is evident that a figurative meaning must here be applied. Gospel worship is represented by the keeping of the feast of tabernacles. Every day of a Christian’s life is a day of the feast of tabernacles; every Lord’s day especially is the great day of the feast; therefore every day let us worship the Lord of hosts, and keep every Lord’s day with peculiar solemnity. It is just for God to withhold the blessings of grace from those who do not attend the means of grace. It is a sin that is its own punishment; those who forsake the duty, forfeit the privilege of communion with God. A time of complete peace and purity of the church will arrive. Men will carry on their common affairs, and their sacred services, upon the same holy principles of faith, love and obedience. Real holiness shall be more diffused, because there shall be a more plentiful pouring forth of the Spirit of holiness than ever before. There shall be holiness even in common things. Every action and every enjoyment of the believer, should be so regulated according to the will of God, that it may be directed to his glory.
Camping reminds us that “roughing it” is temporary, but it also is usually much more celebratory than our ordinary life. This is precisely what the Feast of Tabernacles/Booths (Sukkot) is about. Wilderness fasting is over and now that we are in the Promised Land, let us rejoice but remember the lessons of forty years.
Communion is the dominant chord of the new covenant. 1 Corinthians 5:8 Let us therefore celebrate the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
Care-free Life and Ministry (Luke 7) is abundantly illustrated in the life ministry of Jesus. Of course it did “get him killed” but that is also “OK” since He is now risen and is the Lord. We should follow His example.
Gregg Strawbridge, Ph.D., is the pastor of All Saints Church in Lancaster, PA. He became a committed follower of Jesus Christ at age 20, discipled in the context of a University Navigator Ministry. As a result of personal discipleship he went on to study at Columbia Biblical Seminary (M.A., Columbia, SC, 1990), as well as a Ph.D. in education and philosophy... read more