This morning, as I was answering emails and eating breakfast, my eldest came downstairs to get ready for work. He said, “Dad, I read your skeleton article and if I didn’t know that you were really trying to make a serious point, I would have thought you were mad.”
I chuckled, “You’re not the only one. Apparently, I struck a nerve. More than a couple people did not appreciate that article.” We continued with a very good discussion and a solution that I’d like to share.
Deu. 16:16 Three times a year all your men must appear before the Lord your God at the place he will choose: at the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the Festival of Weeks and the Festival of Tabernacles. No one should appear before the Lord empty-handed:
We read these verses every year both as part of our reading through Deuteronomy as well as during our Pesach readings. Some, like one member of our crew in Israel, argue that this only applies in the Land, while others offer that not only is there no caveat in the passage and Deuteronomy 30:1-4 clearly require obedience while still scattered as a prerequisite for being gathered. Zechariah 14:16 and following clearly outline the fact that even the enemies of Elohim will be required to send representatives to Jerusalem annually at Sukkot to insure rain.
So, to say that presenting oneself in Jerusalem is no small thing would be an understatement. It is obvious from these and other places in Scripture that this is a big deal to the Creator.
Notice that the passage says males. As much as we may want to bring the whole family, it is not necessary. The requirement, according to Torah, is males, and based on the Zechariah example, that may be further reduced to representatives due to distance and cost. The command does not have those provisions, but they are logical provisos until such time as one can more closely perform the command.
One of the comments in my previous article listed some serious and unusual challenges. I would easily conclude that in the case of unusual circumstances, one must seek the Father for a solution, but understand that He is Just and Compassionate. And, there are simple solutions that I will discuss in a minute.
Few have challenges as extreme as the ones presented in the last article’s comments. Most people simply have a problem with commitment and faith. Too many take Disney vacations, cruises and upgrade homes with money that could easily be used to fulfill the command. Others, genuinely strapped for money, need to honestly pray and ask the Father how He will get them there. I can cite multiple examples of the Father providing, including our own testimony for our first trip.
What if there is an obvious, easy solution? Here’s an idea that I think every small group, home fellowship and congregation should investigate:
- Make a commitment to send a couple from your congregation or group to at least one feast per year as a representative.
- Start a fund that the entire congregation gives to, then establish a plan for how to select your representatives. Maybe lottery. Each name selected is not eligible until all others have gone, etc.
- Numbers: If just four families in a small homegroup commit to each giving $100/month to the fund, that is $4800 per year, enough to easily secure two plane tickets and hotel in/near Jerusalem for 8-10 days during Sukkot or Pesach. Every family would go at least once every four years and the fellowship/group is represented at least once per year.
- Larger congregations could build on that model and have a representative couple at every feast! Jerusalem would be teeming with people members of the house of Israel from all over the world.
Notice two more significant points from the passage cited above. First, We are to go at Feast time. Moedim are ‘appointed times.’ Abba has them written on HIS calendar. Going up at other times is fine, nothing wrong with that, unless we go at other times, but not at feast time. The second significant point is that we go to ‘appear before the Lord.’ He sees us all the time in every place, but there is something particular about ‘appearing before the Lord’ at feast time ‘in the place He chooses. This is very important.
We do not understand what a King is, or the absolute authority he wields. But, what if we lived in a true monarchy and the King, the Absolute Sovereign, sent a message out to the whole Land that He had cleared His calendar for a particular week and would receive all visitors in His city. Further, He promised to provide for their needs and to hear their petitions.
Would not everyone go who could go? Would not every single community make sure that someone represented them? Would they say, ‘Nah, too expensive, too much trouble, we’ll just meet together here and invite the King to come visit us.’? Of course not! In fact, the representatives of the King, the very ones who speak in His name would be promoting that set apart week and then they themselves would make every effort to be in the King’s City meeting with Him on behalf of their charges.
How badly do we want to meet with the King? How badly do we want to take the next step toward restoration? How serious are we about obedience?
More thoughts in the coming days, but this should be enough to marinate in for a bit.
I also plan to offer a post with multiple options and thoughts about how to be there at reasonable prices, besides Ani Yosef, one very good option.
Blessings and Shalom!