Fred Coulter - September 22, 2002

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Well brethren, as we saw yesterday, here is the ark of the covenant. With the depiction by Moshe Levine on how it looked. And this was placed within the holy of holies in the tabernacle. And in this sermon we are going to trace the history and travels of the ark of God.

Now, this is going to be a real interesting sermon as we go along, finding out about the ark of God, because you see this is a depiction of God’s throne in heaven above where the cherubim are overshadowing or over-resting the throne. Very, very important thing, and of course the ark, the ark of the covenant was where God put His presence. And as we saw, the high priest could only go in there once a year, and that was on the Day of Atonement. But the ark of the covenant made some pretty incredible journeys.

Now let’s begin to follow this. Let’s come back here to Numbers 10, and then we’ll follow it through in Deuteronomy, and in Joshua, and 1 and 2 Samuel. Numbers 10:33, “And they departed from the mount of the LORD three days’ journey: and the ark of the covenant of the LORD went before them in the three days’ journey, to search out a resting place for them.” So the priest would lead with the ark showing that God was going to lead them, the priests were going to follow where God led them with the pillar of cloud and the fire, and so forth at night. Verse 34, “And the cloud of the LORD was upon them by day, when they went out of the camp. And it came to pass, when the ark set forward, that Moses said, Rise up, LORD, and let Thine enemies be scattered; and let them that hate Thee flee before Thee. And when it rested, he said, Return, O LORD, unto the many thousands of Israel” (Nu. 10:33-36). And so this was showing the power of God in leading the children of Israel to bring them into the holy land, to lead them through the wilderness, and so forth.

Now, as we saw, there was something special that was done to the ark of the covenant. Let’s go to Deuteronomy 31:24. Now it’s a very interesting and most profound thing for us brethren, when we realize that we have the Spirit of God today, and God writes His laws and commandments in our hearts and mind and inward parts. Very profound to understand that, that Israel did not have this blessing. Now let’s read here in verse 24 of Deuteronomy 31. “And it came to pass, when Moses had made an end of writing the words of this law in a book, until they were finished, that Moses commanded the Levites, which bare the ark of the covenant of the LORD, saying, Take this book of the law [which then is everything that we have contained here in the five books of Moses], and put it in the side of the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, that it may be there for a witness against thee” (Deut. 31:24-26). Now you see, the covenant of the ark was there with the presence of God. Now the scrolls that were put in the side of the ark, those scrolls were the original copy of the first five books of Moses. And whenever the priest needed a new copy then the priest would, those who were in charge of the ark could go in there, they could take out the scroll that Moses wrote and they could make a copy of it.

Now we also know the book of the covenant was there. We also know in the ark was an omer of manna. And also the rod of Aaron that had budded, because with that then, God showed and established that it was Aaron who was the priest. Not any of the Levites or anyone else.

Now, it was a witness against them because notice here, notice how God gives them this witness. “For I know thy rebellion, and thy stiff neck: behold, while I am yet alive with you [Moses says] this day, ye have been rebellious against the LORD; and how much more after my death?” (vs. 27). And so it was a witness, and they were after his death. They were rebellious after his death. And as soon as Joshua and the elders died what did they do? They turned right back to Baalim and Ashtaroth again, as we find in Judges 2, didn’t they? Yes.

Verse 28 now, Moses said, “Gather unto me all the elders of your tribes, and your officers, that I may speak these words in their ears, and call heaven and earth to record against [you] them.” Now you see, God does a lot of things using heaven and earth, as we saw in the introduction, that Christ said that heaven and earth will pass away before a jot or tittle will pass from the law. We know that as God opens up the book of Jeremiah, he says, “Hear O heavens, and give ear O earth.” And that would be an interesting study. If you want a good concordance study look up heaven and earth, and look up all the places that God calls heaven and earth as a witness. As He did over here in Deuteronomy 30, “I call heaven and earth against you that this day…”, see. So we have it here, the word of God is based upon heaven and earth. So if you don’t think the word of God is not applicable today, then heaven and earth do not exist, do they? But since they do exist that means that it doesn’t lie to us today, does it?

“For I know that after my death ye will utterly corrupt yourselves, and turn aside from the way which I have commanded you; and evil will befall you in the latter days [and that’s a prophecy for our day today]; because ye will do evil in the sight of the LORD, to provoke Him to anger through the work of your hands” (vs. 29). And isn’t that what we have done? And isn’t that what we are doing? So you see, even the ark of God has an application for us today for the lessons that we are to learn.

Now let’s come to Joshua 4, and let’s see where then, right after they crossed over into the promised land, that it was the ark of the covenant and the priest that again, went before the children of Israel. Joshua 4:14, “On that day [that is the day they crossed over into the promised land] the LORD magnified Joshua in the sight of all Israel; and they feared him, as they feared Moses, all the days of his life. And the LORD spake unto Joshua, saying, Command the priests that bear the ark of the testimony [so it’s called the ark of the covenant, and the ark of the testimony], that they come up out of Jordan. Joshua therefore commanded the priests, saying, Come ye up out of Jordan. And it came to pass, when the priests that bare the ark of the covenant of the LORD [so here we have ark of testimony, and ark of covenant of the LORD] were come up out of the midst of Jordan, and the soles of the priests’ feet were lifted up unto the dry land, that the waters of Jordan returned unto their place, and flowed over all his banks, as they did before” (Josh. 4:14-18). And so there we have it. When they came into the promised land the priests led the way with the ark.

Now then in battle, the priests were to lead the way in battle because the children of Israel had to learn this lesson: that whenever there was war, it was God’s war. And we’re going to see a little later on that when they tried to have their own war without God, then something drastic happened to the ark of the covenant, which is a profound lesson and we’ll get there in just a little bit. So here’s a command that God gave them.

Let’s come to Joshua 6:2, “And the LORD said unto Joshua, See, I have given into thine hand Jericho, and the king thereof, and the mighty men of valour. And ye shall compass the city, all ye men of war, and go round about the city once. Thus shalt thou do six days. And seven priests shall bear before the ark seven trumpets of rams’ horns: and the seventh day ye shall compass the city seven times, and the priests shall blow with the trumpets. …And when ye [do] hear the sound of the trumpet, all the people shall shout with [give] a great shout; and the wall of the city shall fall down flat…” (Josh 6:2-5). And that’s how they did it. So, that’s exactly what happened. That’s what the priests did. They got up and they did this all through that time. And this was the lesson so the people would know that God was the one Who commanded the battle. God was the one Who was going to give the victory. And we’re going to see every time they didn’t trust God they ended up in trouble.

Now let’s come here to the book of Judges. Let’s come to Judges 20 please, and we’re going to see when they got into the promised land that they put the ark in Mizpeh. Let’s pick it up here in Judges 20:26. They put the ark in Mizpeh, also later called Shiloh, as we will see. “Then all the children of Israel, and all the people, went up, and came unto the house of God, and wept, and sat there before the LORD, and fasted that day until even, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before the LORD.” Now you see, this is when the tribe of Benjamin came to fight against the children of Israel. And they were sort of stuck, and should we go fight against them, does God want us to fight against a brother or not? So they came before the LORD to understand what God wanted. And this was the time right after they came into the land, though it’s in Judges 20. Because we find that Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron, who was the one who was the priest, there at that time. So this happened early on. This was not late. In other words, not all of Judges is written in a chronological from beginning to end. It’s written in sections, depending where the judges were.

Now verse 28, “…And Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron, stood before it in those days,) saying, Shall I yet again go out to battle against the children of Benjamin my brother, or shall I cease? And the LORD said, Go up; for tomorrow I will deliver them into thine hand.” And so then that was an unfortunate incident in the lives of the children of Israel. They slew so many that there were not enough men for the women left over, so they allowed other men of Israel to marry the women from the tribe of Benjamin so they could balance out the population at that time.

Now let’s come to 1 Samuel. Very interesting. 1 Samuel, and let’s begin in chapter 3. And here we’re going to find, by example, how that whenever it came time where Israel was about to lose everything and turn back on God, that God, in order to keep His promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and yes even His promise to the children of Israel, He would raise up a man. And here he raised up a boy. And his name was Samuel. And he was given to the service of the LORD when he was very young. So let’s pick it up here 1 Samuel 3:1. “And the child Samuel ministered unto the LORD before Eli. And the word of the LORD was precious in those days; there was noopen vision.” The reason there wasn’t was because of the sins of the children of Israel, and the sins of Eli and his sons, Hophni and Phinehas.

“And it came to pass at that time, when Eli was laid down in his place, and his eyes began to wax dim, that he could not see; and ere [that is, before] the lamp of God went out in the temple of the LORD, where the ark of God was, and Samuel was laid down to sleep;…” Now isn’t that interesting? Samuel was right there, right close to the ark. “…That the LORD called Samuel: and he answered, Here am I. And he ran unto Eli, and said, Here am I: for thou calledst me. And he said, I called not; lie down again. And he went and lay down. And the LORD called yet again, Samuel. And Samuel arose and went to Eli, and said, Here am I; for thou didst call me. And he answered, I called not, my son; lie down again. Now Samuel did not yet know the LORD, neither was the word of the LORD yet revealed unto him. And the LORD called Samuel again the third time. And he arose and went to Eli, and said, Here am I; for thou didst call me. And Eli perceived that the LORD had called the child. Therefore Eli said unto Samuel, Go, lie down: and it shall be, if He call thee, that thou shalt say, Speak, LORD; for Thy servant heareth.” So Samuel went and did this. And God called him, and he said, “…Speak; for Thy servant heareth” (vs. 2-10).

Now sometimes because old men do not do what God desires, God will raise up a very young man. And in this case, in this case a babe, that out of the mouth of babes the truth would come. So this is quite a lesson here. Well then let’s see God’s message to Samuel. And let’s see that one thing that is very, very profound and important, which is this: if the children of Israel disobey God, and if the priesthood corrupted the way of God at the temple of God, a great penalty would take place.

Now let’s begin right here in verse 11. “And the LORD said to Samuel, Behold, I will do a thing in Israel, at which both the ears of every one that heareth it shall tingle. In that day I will perform against Eli all things which I have spoken concerning his house: when I begin, I will also make an end. For I have told him that I will judge his house for ever for the iniquity which he knoweth; because his sons made themselves vile, and he restrained them not.” Now for the first time, here’s the child Samuel, God is telling him why he’s going to use him, as a child, instead of Eli and his two sons Hophni and Phinehas. Because they have corrupted themselves and made themselves vile. “And therefore I have sworn unto the house of Eli, that the iniquity of Eli’s house shall not be purged with sacrifice nor offering for ever” (vs. 11-14).

So Samuel went down, and he laid down there. Eli wanted to know what it was, so he told him what it was. And he says, “God has told you.” He says, “Don’t hide it from me.” So he told him. And Eli knew, and he said, “It is the LORD, that’s the message from the LORD, alright. Let Him do what He seems good.” Now you see, rather than repent… And isn’t it interesting, sometimes people come to accept their sin, and their fate so readily that they refuse to repent. Now he could have repented. There’s no reason why he and his sons could not have repented. You look at how God forgave Manassah, and you look how God forgave Ahab, and you look at how God forgave David when he sinned. But here they were so corrupted that they couldn’t repent. Now brethren here’s a lesson for us, and a lesson for all ministers and elders: never, never sear your conscience with sin that you will not hear the voice of God, and that you won’t repent.

Now verse 19, “And Samuel grew, and the LORD was with him, and did let none of His words fall to the ground.” That is, Samuel is faithful. He didn’t let any of the word of God fall to the ground. “And all Israel from Dan even to Beersheba knew that Samuel was established to be a prophet of the LORD. And the Lord appeared again in Shiloh: for the LORD revealed Himself to Samuel in Shiloh by the word of the LORD” (vs. 19-21).

Now then, chapter 4 is the execution of the punishment against Eli and his two sons, Hophni and Phinehas. Now we’ll just review this a little bit. They had a battle against the Philistines. Now what was the command of God whenever there was a battle? That the priests would take the ark and they would go out before. However, this also shows something very profound. If the priests were corrupt, if they were living in sin they could not use the ark of the LORD, and God would not be constrained to fulfill His promise to those who sin. Now therein again is another big principle for all of us. If we’re living in sin we need to repent, and we cannot expect God to fulfill His promises to us if we are living in sin. It will never happen.

Now, so what happened? Four thousand were slain when the Philistines came against them, verse 2. 1 Samuel 4:3, “And when the people were come into the camp, the elders of Israel said, Wherefore hath the LORD smitten us today before the Philistines?…” Just like today in this nation, “Why has this happened? Well, let’s call on the name of God.” So they have a wonderful ecumenical movement, ecumenical meeting with the President leading it in the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C.. No repentance, no change, no coming back to God. Just use His name. Now look what happened here. So they said, “…Let us fetch the ark of the covenant of the LORD out of Shiloh unto us, that, when it cometh among us, it may save us out of the hand of our enemies.” Well, God is not going to save us if we’re living in sin, if we are going against God. See, if you come back to God there better be repentance. When they came back to God there was no repentance. So what they did, they got it, they went out to battle, and the Philistines were just scared to death when that happened, because they knew that God was with them. And whenever the Israelites brought out the ark of the covenant, and the priests led the battle, that they always won the battle, but this time they didn’t. They lost the battle because of the sins of Eli and his two sons.

Verse 10, “And the Philistines fought, and Israel was smitten, and they fled every man into his tent: and there was a very great slaughter; for there fell of Israel thirty thousand footmen.” Now verse 11 is a very key important verse. “And the ark of God was taken;…” See, if the people of God do not respond to God, He leaves. And that’s what happened. He even let the ark of the covenant, which God said only the Levites should carry, He let the Philistines take it as a spoil of war. And then a messenger ran back. The ark of the covenant was taken, verse 11, “…and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were slain.” Then a messenger went back and brought the news to Eli and he was sitting, and he fell back on a rock and died. So in one day God fulfilled His word that He would take the life of Phinehas, and Hophni, and Eli in the same day. And the glory of the LORD departed from Israel, as it says there in verse 22, “…for the ark of God is taken.”

Now let’s see what happened here, because God is not going to be outdone by any pagan gods, and He’s not going to be outdone by any enemy. He did this to punish Israel. He did this to let Israel know that “You are not going to take My name in vain, and you are not going to rely on Me to fight for you and solve your problems if you are rebelling against Me and sinning against Me, and if the priesthood is corrupt,” and so forth. Now let’s just take that as a lesson for the church of God today.

When I was out on a Bible study in Spokane, Washington this summer, it was a very interesting question that was asked. It was this: is God pleased with all the 300 churches of God, now that Worldwide has been split up? And the answer is: with some of them He may be, but with others, they may fall into the category that we see right here, that they’re living in sin against God. And so, know for sure that correction is going to come. And the correction always comes from the enemy.

Now, just like the Worldwide Church of God forsook God, what happened? God withdrew His presence. Took it away. Scattered the church. Now in being scattered, are we going to learn the lessons? Are we going to come back to God in repentance? Are we going to love God with all our hearts, and mind, and soul, and being? Are we going to keep the word of God? Are we going to keep the feasts of God? Are we going to let God fight our battles for us? Those are all the questions we need to ask.

Now even though the enemy comes and does this, the enemy is punished by God. So here’s what happened with the Philistines. “And the Philistines took the ark of God, and brought it from Ebenezer unto Ashdod. When the Philistines took the ark of God, they brought it into the house of Dagon, and set it by Dagon” (1 Sam. 5:1-2). Now Dagon was their god. Now who’s going to be more powerful? The god of the Philistines, Dagon, or the God of the children of Israel, the LORD?

Now verse 3, “And when they of Ashdod arose early on the morrow, behold, Dagon was fallen upon his face to the earth before the ark of the LORD.” [laughing] In other words, God just sent an angel and made it bow down before the true God. [more laughing] So, what did they do? They took Dagon, set him in his place again. So the next morning, verse 4, “And when they arose early on the morrow morning, behold, Dagon was fallen upon his face to the ground before the ark of the LORD; and the head of Dagon and both palms of his hands were cut off upon the threshold; only the stumpof Dagon was left to him.” So you see, now God had a lesson for the Philistines. We’re going to see this, you see. Quite a lesson.

“Therefore neither the priests of Dagon, nor any that come into Dagon’s house, tread on the threshold of Dagon in Ashdod unto this day.” So whenever this was written, they said even unto this day they don’t even step on that threshold anymore. “But the hand of the LORD was heavy upon them of Ashdod, and He destroyed them, and smote them with emerods [hemorrhoids], even Ashdod and the coasts thereof.” So I tell you, that was really something. Now that’s painful. Not only did He kill them, but He also gave them hemorrhoids. And of course at that time there was no Rite Aid where you could run and buy some Preparation-H or anything to try and relieve your symptoms, you see. “And when the men of Ashdod saw that it was so, they said, The ark of the God of Israel shall not abide with us: for His hand is sore upon us, and upon Dagon our god.” So they didn’t know what to do. Not only that, He struck them with mice. So they sent together and said, “What are we going to do? How are we going to get the ark?” They said, “…Let the ark of the God of Israel be carried about unto Gath. And they carried the ark of the God of Israel [over there] about thither. And it was so, that, after they had carried it about, the hand of the LORD was against the city with a very great destruction: and He smote the men of the city, both small and great, and they had emerods [hemorrhoids] in their secret parts. Therefore they sent the ark of God to Ekron.” So they sent it from city to city to try and get rid of the plague. “And… as the ark of God came to Ekron, that the Ekronites cried out, saying, They have brought about the ark of the God of Israel to us, to slay us and our people. So they sent and gathered together all the lords of the Philistines, and said, Send away the ark of the God of Israel, and let it go again to his own place, that it slay us not, and our people: for there was a deadly destruction throughout all the city; the hand of God was very heavy there. And the men that died not were smitten with the emerods [hemorrhoids]: and the cry of the city went up to heaven” (vs. 5-12).

1 Samuel 6:1, “And the ark of the LORD was in the country of the Philistines seven months. And the Philistines called for the priests and the diviners, saying, What shall we do to the ark of the LORD? tell us wherewith we shall send it to his place.” They said, “If you send it away, you build a new cart, and you get some goats and you put everything in there, and you send some sacrifices with it. You send a trespass offering.” They said, “What would it be?” And they said, “…Five golden emerods, and five golden mice, according to the number of the lords of the Philistines: for one plague was on you all, and on your lords.” So they went ahead and did that. They put it there, they put it in the ark, they sent it on it’s way, and they said, “Now we’re going to send it off toward Beth-shemesh, and if it goes and it goes on it’s way toward Israel, then we know that it’s going back to God” (1 Sam. 6:1-9) paraphrased.

So it came there, and it arrived. And verse 20 now, “And the men of Beth-shemesh said, Who is able to stand before this holy LORD God? and to whom shall he go up [to help us] from us? And they sent messengers to the inhabitants of Kirjath-jearim, saying, the Philistines have brought again the ark of the LORD; come ye down, and fetch it up to you” (vs. 20-21).

“And the men of Kirjath-jearim came, and fetched up the ark of the LORD, and brought it into the house of Abinadab in the hill, and sanctified Eleazar his son to keep the ark…” (1 Sam. 7:1). Now the ark stayed in Kirjath-jearim for 20 years. So now we have something very profound and unusual, which is this: the tabernacle with the altar of burnt offerings, and with the altar of incense, the golden candlestick, and the holy of holies was now missing the ark of the covenant. It was separated from the rest of the tabernacle of God. And it was separated for 20 years. And God blessed them for the 20 years that it was there.

Now let’s come to chapter 7, and verse 3. “And Samuel spake unto all the house of Israel, saying, If ye do return unto the LORD with all your hearts, then put away the strange gods and Ashtaroth from among you, and prepare your hearts unto the LORD, and serve Him only: and He will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines.” Now verse 4, “Then the children of Israel did put away Baalim and Ashtaroth, and served the LORD only.” Now you see, in all of this what does God really want? He wants repentance, keeping His commandments, and a true heart to Him, see. So if our prayers come up before God, which they do, and if they come up to the golden altar in heaven above, which they do, and if they come right to God the Father into the holy of holies, which they do, then we also have to have the same kind of attitude here. So what they did, they offered burnt offerings, the Philistines were subdued, the hand of the LORD was against the Philistines, and God raised up Samuel in their sight. And after all of that, now after all of that, you would think that the children of Israel would continue to obey God, right? But they didn’t, did they?

After that was all done, after Samuel judged the children of Israel all his days… Now chapter 7, and verse 15. “And Samuel judged Israel all the days of his life. And he went from year to year in circuit to Bethel, and Gilgal, and Mizpeh, and judged Israel in all those places. And his return was to Ramah; for there was his house; and there he judged Israel; and there he built an altar unto the LORD” (1 Sam. 7:15-17).

Now then the children of Israel committed a great sin after that. And even though they did, God continued to work with the children of Israel because of His promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. That’s quite a thing. You see, lots of times God will do things not because the children of Israel deserved it, nor that we necessarily deserve it, but He does things because of His promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. And I think we can see that in the land that we live in today, that God has withheld the hand of destruction upon us because of His promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. So likewise when the children of Israel did this. And this fits right into the Feast of Tabernacles theme, because when Christ returns to the earth, He is going to be King, isn’t He? Yes, He is.

Now here the children of Israel desired to have a king. And notice what happens when you put a man between you and God, and you try and have someone else besides Christ and God the Father be your champion and hero, that you put a layer between you and God. And that’s what the children of Israel did, and they, though God went along and let them have a king, He also told them that it was also going to be a penalty. And let’s stop and think for just a minute. You go through and you read the history of the Kings and Chronicles. How many kings were faithful to God? Not very many, were they? And of the kings of the ten northern tribes, there was hardly a faithful king in the 230 year history that occurred after the 10 northern tribes left. And the only faithful ones were in Judah, and very few indeed.

Now let’s begin here 1 Samuel 8:1 and let’s see what happen. Something happens to people when they look and see an old man. Now let’s read it here. Remember Samuel served from the day he was a child, old enough to walk into the, as it were, the tabernacle of God. “And it came to pass, when Samuel was old, that he made his sons judges over Israel.” Then it gives the names of them. However, he also made a mistake in that. And the mistake was that his sons didn’t follow God as he did. Now that’s a profound thing, brethren. And why is it, and why does it happen that when you have someone who is faithful to God, how many times do his children end up being not faithful.

Ok, now let’s read in verse 3. “And his sons walked not in his ways, but turned aside after lucre, and took bribes, and perverted judgment.” Now you see, we have the same repeat, don’t we, of Eli and his two sons, now with Samuel and his three sons. So even Samuel had a weakness there. But there’s also another thing involved too. Once your children grow up to be adults, you have very little control over them. And that is true. They have the right to make their choices like anyone else. To choose what is right, to choose what is wrong. And when they choose what is wrong it’s very grievous. And Samuel probably had blinders on his eyes and wasn’t watching. So now then verse 4. “Then all the elders of Israel gathered themselves together, and came to Samuel unto Ramah, and said unto him, Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations” (vs. 3-5). Let’s set it up the way the world does.

Now we applied that to the church, didn’t we? “Let’s set it up the way the Catholics do with a hierarchy, huh?” And we committed the same sin as Samuel, didn’t we? Now verse 6, “But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said, Give us a king to judge us. And Samuel prayed unto the LORD. And the LORD said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee:…” Now here’s another condition that God also does. That if you really want your own way, God is going to give it to you. God is not going to come down and constrain you. God is not going to come down and stop you. So if you insist upon your own way long enough, sooner or later God will give it to you. But know, when He gives it to you a penalty comes with it, just like it is here. Now continuing, verse 7, “…for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them” (vs. 6-7).

Now let’s stop and ask a question here: does Christ rule in your life? Is He your King? Is He your High Priest? Is He your Lord and Master and Savior? Or, are you more willing to follow a man, than follow God? Now you see, anyone who’s a teacher, which I am… I don’t want you following me because I’m a man. And I’ve got to teach you to follow God, don’t I? And if I don’t teach you to follow God, and establish a relationship with God the Father and Jesus Christ, then I am derelict in my duty, and I will have my punishment as well. So you see, we can learn many lessons out of this. Let’s not reject God by putting a man before God, and have the idolatry of a man, as we did in the past, and have the idolatry of an organization, as we did in the past, and say, “Let us become like the world, or accepted of the world”, as we’ve done in the past. No, we’ve been called out of the world. We’ve been called to serve and to love God. That’s the important lesson we can learn here.

Part 2

Now let’s continue on the account here in 1 Samuel 8. So then God gave them a warning. They rejected Him. He said, “Alright, I’ll give you a king. They’ve forsaken Me. They’ve served other gods. So they do unto you.” Now verse 9, “Now therefore hearken unto their voice: howbeit yet protest solemnly unto them, and shew them the manner of the king that shall reign over them.” So He said, “You want a king, you’re going to get a king. He’s going to take your sons, he’s going to take your daughters, he’s going to make armies. And further more he’s going to tax you. I give him a tenth to start with.” Of course we know that by the time of Solomon, in order to support all of his expensive habits, that it was more than a tenth. “And he’s going to make armies.” He gave them the warning, and verse 19, “Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, Nay; but we will have a king over us; that we also may be like all the nations; and that our king may judge us, and go out before us, and fight our battles” (vs. 19-20). Heard all words they had. Told them to God. God said, “Listen to them.” So they did. And He chose Saul. Quite a thing. And Saul was made king.

Now when that happened, Samuel had another assembly with the people. He told them what it was going to be. He warned them that, “This king is not going to save you as you really think it is. But nevertheless, if you keep the commandments of God, I’ll be with the king and I’ll be with you. I will give you that concession.” And that was only, as we know, because of His promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

Now then, we have something here very interesting. Let’s come to 1 Samuel 10 and let’s pick it up here in verse 24. “And Samuel said to all the people, See ye him whom the LORD hath chosen, that there is none like him among all the people? And all the people shouted, and said, God save the king. Then Samuel told the people the manner of the kingdom, and wrote it in a book, and laid it up before the LORD. And Samuel sent all the people away, every man to his house” (1 Sam. 10:24-25).

Now then, we have an addition to the book of Deuteronomy that Samuel wrote. Now let’s come back to Deuteronomy 17, because you see God wanted the people of Israel to follow the system of judges. Now that they wanted a king, God said, I’ll work with you, and God also laid down some stipulations for the king, which then could have made the system work fairly good, as it did under David. But let’s see what he wrote concerning the instructions to the king, now.

Deuteronomy 17:14, “When thou art come unto the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, and shalt possess it, and shalt dwell therein, and shalt say, I will set a king over me, like as all the nations that are about me;…” Now you see, if this would have been written in the book of Deuteronomy at that time, the elders of Israel would not have come to Samuel and said, “Give us a king.” They would have said, “Look, we know from the book of Deuteronomy that God says, ‘When you want a king, here’s what he’s to do.’ So now, we want a king.” No, you see, it said back there in 1 Samuel 10 that Samuel wrote all these words and put them in the book. And this became then, part of scripture, which Samuel wrote.

Now here are the qualifications that God gave them. Verse 15, “Thou shalt in any wise [The only way you’re going to set a king over you is] …whom the LORD thy God shall choose: one from among thy brethren shalt thou set king over thee: thou mayest not set a stranger over thee, which is not thy brother.” Now remember the daughter of Jezebel was Athaliah. And she then was half Canaanite. And Jezebel was the high priestess of Baal and Ashtaroth. So she tried to take over the kingship, making herself queen, trying to slay all the descendants of the king. Except she missed one little boy. And look what happened when they broke this rule - set a stranger over you, and not your brother.

Now here’s some things that the king was not to do, which we see that the kings did do. And which we see that Solomon did.Verse 16, “But he shall not multiply horses to himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt,…” And of course “return to Egypt” means, in the way of the gods and armies. “…To the end that he should multiply horses:…” Now even David made the mistake, didn’t he, in numbering the people “to find out how many men of war I have.” Joab kept telling him, “No, no you don’t need to number them. The thing was sin. You shouldn’t do that.” “…Forasmuch as the LORD hath said unto you, Ye shall henceforth return no more that way. Neither shall he multiply wives to himself [which Solomon did], that his heart turn not away:…” And of course this was in the word of God in Deuteronomy when Solomon was made king, right? Yes, it was. “…Neither shall he greatly multiply to himself silver and gold [which Solomon did]. And it shall be, when he sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom,…” Now here is what the king was to do. “…That he shall write him a copy of this law in a book out of that which is before the priests the Levites:…” (vs. 16-18). He was to personally sit down and write himself a copy of the first five books of Moses. Now the reason for that was, so that he would know the law of God and how to administer the kingship. And also, that he would not lift up his heart above the brethren.

Now let’s see that. Very important. “And it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life: that he may learn to fear the LORD his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them: that his heart be not lifted up above his brethren, and that he turn not aside from the commandment, to the right hand, or to the left: to the end that he may prolong his days in his kingdom, he, and his children, in the midst of Israel” (vs. 19-20). So even in that, God said, “Alright, if you want a king, here’s what he’s to do. If he does this I’ll prolong his days and I’ll prolong the kingdom.” So God was still willing to work with the children of Israel. Well, we know what happened. Saul rebelled against God. Saul didn’t carry out the commandments of God, and so then God selected David. And when God selected David, He selected a man who was just a youth. Again selecting a youth.

Now let’s come back to 1 Samuel, and we’ll just review. 1 Samuel 15 shows the rebellion of Saul. God gave him the mission to go to the Amalekites and destroy all. Young and old, and every one. And that’s because they had war against Israel all the time, and this was the punishment for them fighting against the children of Israel when they came out of the land of Egypt. And you know what happened. Saul decided, “Well, look…” And the people came to him and said, “Look at all these good cattle. Look at all these good sheep. Boy we ought to keep those.” “Yea, we’ll keep those.” But God said destroy them, see. “We’ll keep them, and we’ll make it right. We’ll offer these in offering to the LORD.” So that’s what they did.

And Samuel said, when Saul came to him, he says, “What is this I hear, the bleating of sheep and the mooing of cows in my ears? Did you do what God said? Did you utterly slay everything?” And Saul said, “The people, the people did it.” Sounds a little bit like the Garden of Eden, doesn’t it? Got to blame someone else. But who’s in charge here? Saul was, you see.

Ok, let’s come here to 1 Samuel 15:22, and let’s see what Samuel told him. “And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice,…”, even then. Isn’t that amazing? “…And to hearken [that is to listen to God] than the fat of rams. For rebellion [that is going against God’s way] is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, He hath also rejected thee from being king.” So Saul had a superficial repentance. And he said to Samuel, “Oh Samuel, come and worship with me, so the people won’t think bad of me.” Finally Samuel did and he had to have Agag brought before him. So Samuel in his old age, took the sword and hacked up Agag.

And then God says, “I want a man after My own heart.” And then He selected David. 1 Samuel 16, went and found David. You know the whole story there. He was the youngest, he was the seventh, he was out tending to the sheep and his father didn’t even count him worthy to be considered for the new king. So after the six sons of Jesse passed by Samuel, and God kept telling him, “No, not these.” He passed them by twice, and He said, “No, not these. Not any of these six.” So then Samuel said to Jesse, “Do you have another son?” He said, “Yeah, he’s out tending the sheep.” “Bring him in. This is the one that God has chosen.” And so that time, then he was anointed. He brought him in, 1 Samuel 16:13, “Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst of his brethren: and the Spirit of the LORD came upon David from that day forward. So Samuel rose up, and went to Ramah. But the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD troubled him” (1 Sam. 16:13-14). Now you see what happens when there is rebellion. See what happens when they go back to other gods. That’s exactly what happened to Saul, didn’t it? And God blessed David. You know the whole rest of the story there.

Well, when we come to the book of Chronicles…let’s come to 1 Chronicles 13…there was a day that David was sitting there, and it was not until this time that the ark was brought again from Kirjath-jearim. Now remember, we read that it stayed there 20 years. Now, 1 Chronicles 13:1. Now here also we see again, that even though David was well intentioned, he didn’t follow the word of God. And what was the instruction that we read back there in Deuteronomy 17, that the king was to personally write out the book of the law for his own personal copy, and he was to study in it, wasn’t he? Now if David had done that he would have known the will of God, and he would have taken care of the ark properly, and this mistake would have never happened.

So here’s the account, 1 Chronicles 13:1, “And David consulted with the captains of thousands and hundreds, and with every leader. And David said unto all the congregation of Israel, If it seem good unto you, and that it be of the LORD our God,…” Now notice how he phrased this. He didn’t start out with God, he started out with the people. He should have started out with God, but he didn’t. “…Let us send abroad unto our brethren every where, that are left in all the land of Israel, and with them also to the priests and Levites which are in their cities and suburbs, that they may gather themselves unto us: and let us bring again the ark of our God to us: for we enquired not at it in the days of Saul.” It just stayed there in Kirjath-jearim. “And all the congregation said that they would do so: for the thing was right in the eyes of all the people” (1 Chron. 13:1-4). Now here is another lesson. Are the majority of people always right? No. It seemed good. It was a good idea. Let’s do it.

Let’s notice what happened. “So David gathered all Israel together, from Shihor of Egypt even unto the entering of Hemath, to bring the ark of God from Kirjath-jearim. And David went up, and all Israel, to Baalah, that is, to Kirjath-jearim, which belonged to Judah, to bring up thence the ark of God the LORD, that dwelleth between the cherubims, whose name is called [carried] on it.” Now notice what they did. “And they carried the ark of God in a new cart out of the house of Abinadab: and Uzza and Ahio drave the cart. And David and all Israel played before God with all their might, and with singing, and with harps, and with psalteries, and with timbrels, and with cymbals, and with trumpets” (vs. 5-8). And they were having a tremendous parade, a great joyous celebration in doing it.

“And when they came unto the threshingfloor of Chidon, Uzza put forth his hand to hold the ark; for the oxen stumbled. And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Uzza, and He smote him, because he put his hand to the ark: and there he died before God.” A lot of people have asked the question: why did God strike Uzza dead? Well God did because David didn’t do things according to the way that God instructed in His word. “And David was displeased, because the LORD had made a breach upon Uzza: wherefore that place is called Perez-uzza to this day. And David was afraid of God that day, saying, How shall I bring the ark of God home to me? So David brought not the ark…to the city of David, but carried it aside into the house of Obed-edom the Gittite. And the ark of God remained with the family of Obed-edom in his house three months. And the LORD blessed the house of Obed-edom, and all that he had” (vs. 9-14).

Well, let’s make a long story short. David finally got the point. Let’s come here 1 Chronicles 15:1. “And David made him houses in the city of David, and prepared a place for the ark of God, and pitched for it a tent. Then David said,…” He finally read. You know, when all else fails, read the book. [chuckle] When all else fails, find out what God has said. “…None ought to carry the ark of God but the Levites: for them hath the LORD chosen to carry the ark of God, and to minister unto Him for ever” (1 Chron. 15:1-2). So he gathered Israel together again. He brought the Levites there. It lists all the names of them.

And he said to them, verse 12, “…Ye are the chief of the fathers of the Levites: sanctify yourselves, both ye and your brethren, that ye may bring up the ark of the LORD God of Israel unto the place that I have prepared for it. For because ye did it not [right] at the first,…” Now, he’s including himself because the you is a you-all, ye. “…The LORD our God made a breach upon us, for that we sought Him not after the due order” (vs. 12-13). Now there again is another lesson for us, isn’t there? Do we seek things of God the way that He wants us to, or do we presume to do it in our way? If we presume to do it in our way, should we be surprised if something happens to us like it happened to David? Like it happened to others who presumed to do the will of God on their own? Quite a thing, isn’t it?

“So the priests and the Levites sanctified themselves to bring up the ark of the LORD God of Israel. And the children of the Levites bare the ark of God upon their shoulders with the staves thereon, as Moses commanded according to the word of the LORD” (vs. 14-15). So they brought it in, and set it into this little tabernacle thing. Now at this point, the ark of God was in the house of David, and he appointed Levites to minister unto it. And it lists them here in 1 Chronicles 16. And then through that we now have the ark still separated from the rest of the tabernacle. And over at the rest of the tabernacle, which at this time was in Gibeon, that’s then where they had the burnt offerings, where they had the incense offerings, and so forth. And David, then was able to develop a special relationship with God by having the ark of the covenant in his house, in a special place that he prepared.

Now let’s come to 2 Samuel 7, and let’s see then how David had it in his mind to build a temple to God, and we’ll see that after that it was built then the ark and the rest of the things of the temple all came together again.

Let’s begin reading in 2 Samuel 7:1, “And it came to pass, when the king sat in his house, and the LORD had given him rest round about from all his enemies;…” And of course the millennium is the type of rest, isn’t it? Yes, it is. And we may cover that a little bit later during the feast. I don’t know if we will or not, but we’ll just see how things go. So now David didn’t have to go out and fight and have battles all the time. “…That the king said unto Nathan the prophet, See now [he says, Look here], I dwell in an house of cedar, but the ark of God dwelleth within curtains. And Nathan said to the king, Go, do all that is in thine heart; for the LORD is with thee. And it came to pass that night, that the word of the LORD came unto Nathan, saying, Go and tell My servant David, thus saith the LORD, Shalt thou build Me an house for Me to dwell in?” (2 Sam. 7:1-5).

Now notice, and we’ll talk a little bit about this tomorrow, “Whereas [God says] I have not dwelt in any house since the time that I brought up the children of Israel out of Egypt, even to this day, but have walked in a tent and in a tabernacle” (vs. 6). And God was content to do that because He could have His presence among His people. And that’s what was more important to God, see. Because after all, when you build a house for God, you really only build it of the things that God has already created. You know, Isaiah 66 gives us a really good lesson. “Where’s the house that you will build for me”, God says, “All these things My hand have made.”

Now verse 7. “In all the places wherein I have walked with all the children of Israel spake I a word with any of the tribes of Israel, whom I commanded to feed My people Israel, saying, why build ye not Me an house of cedar?” He didn’t do that. “Now therefore so shalt thou say unto My servant David, Thus saith the LORD of hosts, I took thee from the sheepcote, from following the sheep, to be ruler over My people, over Israel: and I was with thee withersoever thou wentest, and have cut off all thine enemies out of thy sight, and have made thee a great name, like unto the name of the great men that are in the earth. Moreover…” Now verse 10 is a key important verse concerning Israel in prophecy, because we need to understand, at this time David was king over all 12 tribes. And the capital was Jerusalem. He’d given rest round about for all of Israel, didn’t He. Now then why does He say verse 10, if it is not a prophecy that Israel, the 10 northern tribes, would be removed. Now notice, let’s read it. Verse 10. “Moreover I will appoint a place for My people Israel, and will plant them…” Were they not already planted during the days of David? Yes, so this is a prophecy for the future. This is also, not only for the physical children of Israel in the future, but this then we can carry out to the spiritual children of the church. “…That they may dwell in a place of their own,…” And of course that’s what we are going to do when we enter into the kingdom of God, correct? When we live in New Jerusalem, correct? Yes. “…And move no more; neither shall the children of wickedness afflict them any more, as beforetime, and as since the time that I commanded judges to be over My people Israel, and have caused thee to rest from all thine enemies. Also the LORD telleth thee that He will make thee an house” (vs. 7-11). And He did. He promised that there would always be a king sitting on His throne. And so David was overwhelmed, but there was also a message that came to David because of this. God said, “You’re not going to do it, because you’re a man of war. Your son Solomon is going to do it. And he is going to build Me a temple, and I will put My presence there.” So you see, here even again, God came to the people and God did what David wanted done, and God blessed him.

Now let’s come to 1 Chronicles 28. And here is a tremendous lesson for us brethren. You see, because when the temple was built and the kingdom was secure under Solomon, it was kind of a foretaste of the coming millennial reign of Christ, and the 1000-year reign. Now, let’s see how it started. And I think this is a great and important lesson for us. Not only how something starts, is important, but how it is finished becomes the most important thing. Let’s see the instructions here.

Now let’s pick it up here in 1 Chronicles 28:2. Now I want you to imagine this whole scene here. This is David just before he died. “Then David the king stood up upon his feet, and said, Hear me, my brethren, and my people: As for me, I had in mine heart to build an house of rest for the ark of the covenant of the LORD, and for the footstool of our God, and had made ready for the building:…” Now he knew he wasn’t going to build it, but he knew his son Solomon was. “…But God said unto me, Thou shalt not build an house for My name, because thou hast been a man of war, and hast shed blood. Howbeit the LORD God of Israel chose me before all the house of my father to be king over Israel for ever:…” And that was obviously as long as he lived. “…For he hath chosen Judah to be the ruler; and of the house of Judah, the house of my father; and among the sons of my father he liked me to make me king over all Israel: and of all my sons, (for the LORD hath given me many sons,) he hath chosen Solomon my son to sit upon the throne of the kingdom of the LORD over Israel. And He said unto me, Solomon thy son, he shall build My house and My courts: for I have chosen him to be My son, and I will be his father.” And God gave all the plans to David. David actually drew all the plans. Everything already to go, you see.

Now verse 7, “Moreover I will establish his kingdom for ever, if…” I want you to circle that, because everything that God does with us, always has the condition if. Now let’s read it. “…If he be constant to do My commandments and My judgments, as at this day.” Now what I want you to do as we read these verses and go through it, I want you to think of yourself as these instructions to you, because you and I, and all the other brethren, are going to be kings and priests to serve Jesus Christ during the millennium, correct? Yes. How are we going to be able to do that? How are we going to be able to, as it were, do the things that please God? Well here we have it. So what I want you to do, I want you to listen to these words very, very carefully. And I want you to take them to your heart. And I want you to take them as instruction from God so that you can be the kind of king and priest that God wants you to be when Christ returns and you receive eternal life.

Now let’s begin right here in verse 8. “Now therefore in the sight of all Israel the congregation of the LORD, and in the audience of our God, keep and seek for all the commandments of the LORD your God: that ye may possess this good land, and leave it for an inheritance for your children after you for ever. And thou, Solomon my son, know thou the God of thy father, and serve Him with a perfect heart and with a willing mind:…” That is the key, brethren. Your relationship with God the Father and Jesus Christ, with a perfect heart. Not pretentious. Not holding something that you want yourself. And with a willing mind, you see. “…For the LORD searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts:…” And in the New Testament God is called the heart-knowing God. And in Revelation 2, it says, “I search the heart, I search the reigns, says the Lord.” So we have the same thing here, don’t we? “…And understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts: if thou seek Him, He will be found of thee; but if thou forsake Him, He will cast thee off for ever.” And unfortunately, maybe that’s what happened to Solomon. “Take heed now; for the LORD hath chosen thee to build an house for the sanctuary: be strong, and do it” (vs. 8-10).

Now let’s come over here to verse 19. “All this, said David, the LORD made me understand in writing by His hand upon me, even all the works of this pattern.” So here he was formally giving the plans to Solomon. “And David said to Solomon his son, Be strong and of good courage,…” Now he took that right from the book of Joshua, didn’t he? And isn’t that what God told Joshua? Yes, indeed. And this is what we need to do brethren. We always need to be strong and of good courage, regardless of the circumstances we are confronted with. “…And do it: fear not, nor be dismayed: for the LORD God, even my God, will be with thee; He will not fail thee, nor forsake thee, until thou hast finished all the work for the service of the house of the LORD” (vs. 19-20). Well, isn’t that something? Same way with us. If we serve God this way, if we love Him, if we keep His commandments, like we’re doing in keeping the Feast of Tabernacles, and understanding about the relationship of God that is depicted by the Feast of Tabernacles, and the things that we need to do. Here we have again.

Let’s come over here to chapter 29 and verse 9. And after he finished with all of that, “Then the people rejoiced, for that they offered willingly, because with perfect heart they offered willingly to the LORD: and David the king also rejoiced with great joy.” Boy, that must have been a tremendous assembly. A one-time assembly. You know, this kind of reminds me of what it may be like when we are on the sea of glass, and Christ is presented to us by God the Father. And this may be similar to the instructions that we are going to get when we are given the instructions to rule the kingdom with Christ. Boy, that’s something.

Verse 10, “Wherefore David blessed the LORD before all the congregation: and David said, Blessed be Thou, LORD God of Israel our Father, for ever and ever. Thine, O LORD, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is Thine; Thine is the kingdom, O LORD, and Thou art exalted as head above all. Both riches and honour come of Thee, and Thou reignest over all; and in Thine hand is power and might; and in Thine hand it is to make great, and to give strength unto all. Now therefore, our God, we thank Thee, and praise Thy glorious name” (vs. 10-13). And brethren, notice David’s attitude here. And this needs to be our attitude for the great calling that God has given us, that we may know His plan, that we may understand it, that we may be part of it, that we may be ruling and reigning with Christ in the millennium. And just think of it brethren, we are the weak, we are the old, we are the offscouring, we are the rejected - every one of us. And we need to have the same attitude as David had here.

Notice what he said in verse 14. “But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able to offer so willingly after this sort? for all things come of Thee, and of Thine own have we given Thee. For we are strangers before Thee, and sojourners, as were all our fathers: our days on the earth are as a shadow, and there is none abiding. O LORD our God, all this store that we have prepared to build Thee an house for Thine holy name cometh of Thine hand, and is all Thine own” (vs. 14-16). And so that’s quite something brethren. Boy, what an attitude that he had.

So we know what happened. Finally after Solomon built the temple, he sent and got the ark out of David’s house, and he got the tabernacle and the brazen altar, and the incense altar, and all the things from Gibeon and brought those into the temple when it was completed. And what a tremendous ceremony took place then. And God came and put His presence in the temple just like He did when the tabernacle was reared up and there were great white clouds, maybe of smoke, or whatever it was, that showed the presence of God dwelling in there.

Here let’s read that in 2 Chronicles 5. When they all were there. All the people gathered together, verse 11. “And it came to pass, when the priests were come out of the holy place: (for all the priests that were present were sanctified, and did not then wait by course: also the Levites…” And it lists all the singers. Then there were 120 priests with trumpets sounding. “It came even to pass, as the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the LORD; and when they lifted up their voice with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of music, and praised the LORD, saying, For He is good; for His mercy endureth for ever: that then the house was filled with a cloud, even the house of the LORD; so that the priests could not stand to minister by reason of the cloud: for the glory of the LORD had filled the house of God” (2 Chron. 5:11-14). Now brethren, I want you then to project forward, what that is going to be like when we participate when Christ comes back to this earth to rule and to reign on this earth.

Let’s go to Revelation 20 and see that, and let’s close by understanding that we’re not just going to have the ark of God. We are going to be there with Christ and God the Father. We are going to be there to reign as kings and priests, and to serve and to bring God’s rule and reign on the earth. The rule and reign of love and service and obedience. And it’s going to be a tremendous time. Now let’s read it here.

Revelation 20:4, “And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them,…” And you’re going to have a throne. “…And judgment was given unto them:…” Yes, and we’re going to have to give righteous judgment, aren’t we? “…And I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.” And what a tremendous thing that is going to be. “But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished.” And that’s going to be quite a time when that takes place. Now, “This is the first resurrection” (Rev. 20:4-5). That which takes place before, when the thousand years begins.

Now notice verse 6. “Blessed and holy…” Now those are attributes of God, aren’t they? Yes, they are. You’re going to have the glory of God. You’re going to have a spirit body. You’re going to have a spirit mind. You are going to have an office as a king or a priest. You are going to have a work to do to serve Christ. And all of us together, put together, are going to rule and reign on the earth. And we’re going to straighten out this earth, which by that time is going to be the most destroyed that it has ever been since the flood. “Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power,…” You will never die. You will live forever. And you will be truly dwelling in the tabernacle of God. “…But they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.”

And so brethren, there’s quite a history behind what goes into the Feast of Tabernacles, the coming millennium, and everything that God is providing for us. So let’s have a wonderful feast and continue to do so, and to love each other and fellowship and praise God for His goodness, and thank Him for His love and mercy and kindness.