Today [as of mid-Sept. 2009, when this was written] marks the beginning of the autumn festival season given to the people of Israel in the Old Testament. It kicks off today with the Day of Trumpets. Not surprisingly, its distinguishing feature in the Old Testament is that it was to be celebrated by blowing trumpets all day long. Unfortunately, we are not told why trumpets must be blown or what the festival meant at the time of its institution. That, however, has not prevented all manner of speculation as to both its meaning and its possible future fulfilment, especially by various movements derived from the teachings of the late Herbert W. Armstrong.
While he didn’t originate it, he probably popularized observance of the Old Testament Feasts more than anyone in the modern world. When even Day of Discovery and Radio Bible Class ministries promote them on their programming, one begins to believe that they might even become mainstream one day.
The way Herbert Armstrong administered them in his organization became a financial and emotional burden on many believers because of 1) a tithe set aside to attend and administer the festivals and 2) rules designed to separate “true believers” from ordinary family traditions such as Christmas and Easter.
After Herbert Armstrong’s death, later leaders saw the need to change his doctrines and customs to reflect historic Christianity, bringing them in line with Evangelical doctrine and behaviour. They abandoned the Old Testament festivals entirely in the process of their makeover. They also abandoned those among them who preferred to celebrate at those times, even those who agreed with them that observing them is not a salvation issue.
As a result we no longer belong to that organization, nor to the other groups that attempt to hold on to Armstrong’s ideals. Most of us at Wascana Fellowship have elected to retain the Old Testament festival dates of our former tradition, but with a radical focus on Jesus Christ’s life, death, resurrection, and return in glory. In other words we retain the framework of the festival dates, but with far different content. (We did away with all of Armstrong’s rules and restrictions, so members may celebrate whatever festivals they desire. Family and friendships are important to Jesus Christ, too.)
Jesus is Lord. Not organizations (religious or political). He died to set us free from sin. He lives to give us eternal life. He is currently seated at the right hand of His Father in heaven on His Father’s throne. He did not abandon His disciples because He lives in us through the Holy Spirit. And He will return to bring resurrection and justice to the world, beginning with a Millennial Rest and culminating in a new heavens and a new earth that will endure forever under His gentle and benevolent leadership. All hail King Jesus, our Lord and our God!
For us, in various ways, the festivals of God in the Bible symbolically look back at Jesus’ past accomplishments, currently at His present work in His church, and forward to His future appearance (bodily return) and rule in eternal glory.
So now we freely look at what others say about the festivals and their possible importance as well as possible future fulfillments. The next instalment will discuss some observations specifically about the Feast of Trumpets.