There are so many ways to lose sight of what matters. It can be the stack of bills that keeps piling up, even though you’re not sure how you’re going to pay them. It can be the semester of tough assignments looming ahead of you—assignments guaranteed to eat up your time and energy. It can be issues at work or issues at home. It can be issues with dear friends or issues with total strangers. It can even be things we like—relationships and hobbies we enjoy that begin to demand more and more of our time and attention.
In the parable of the sower, Jesus lumped all these things together under the umbrella of “the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things” (Mark 4:19). That umbrella includes things that aren’t necessarily wrong in and of themselves—there’s nothing wrong with seeking to do well in school or providing for our families or maintaining relationships or pursuing hobbies, but those are all things Satan can employ to shift our attention away from the bigger picture. They can all become, as Christ warned, thorns which “choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful” (Mark 4:19).
The word of God requires our time and attention too, but it rarely feels so urgent. There’s always something more pressing, always a reason to say, “I’ll get to it later.”
The Feast of Trumpets reminds us that there comes a point in time when “later” is no longer an option. The Feast of Tabernacles, on the other hand, shows us the bigger picture and asks, “Are the cares of this world really so important? Are they really worth losing sight of all of this?”
Because “all of this” is truly incredible. For seven days, we’re commanded to rejoice before the Lord our God, setting aside “the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things” and fixing our eyes on the world that’s coming—a world where
The desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose;
It shall blossom abundantly and rejoice,
Even with joy and singing.
The world of Christ’s millennial reign will be one where
Nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
Neither shall they learn war anymore.
But everyone shall sit under his vine and under his fig tree,
And no one shall make them afraid
and where, most importantly,
The earth will be filled
With the knowledge of the glory of the Lord,
As the waters cover the sea.
That’s not the world we live in today. That’s so very, very far from the world we live in today. But it’s coming. Slowly but surely, that impossible world is coming, and we get to be part of it.
So long as we don’t lose our focus.
“No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62).
But it’s so easy to look back. It’s so easy for the cares of this world to rise up and choke the fruit of God’s word. And that’s one of the messages Tabernacles spells out for us: Look ahead. Yes, deal with the bills. Yes, deal with the school assignments. Yes, deal with the thousand little fires that spring up daily and require our attention—but deal with them knowing what’s coming. Deal with them knowing where they fit in the bigger picture. Deal with them knowing that this world and everything in it is temporary and fading, and that something so much better is on the horizon.
The Feast of Tabernacles doesn’t encourage us to neglect our responsibilities in this life, but it does ask us to step back and reevaluate what we’re allowing to dominate our time and our focus. It asks us to look at our day-to-day lives and decide what our priorities really are. The most incredible future is on its way, and you and I have been invited to be part of it.
Hand to the plow.
Eyes on the goal.
Until next time,