Last night I wanted to do a bit of writing, but it was late and the internet was not working. It was late because my mother and I had just spent an hour talking (somewhat loudly, apparently) to a young woman from among the local brethren here and her mother, teaching them some Spanish as well as some sign language, which they were able to use before services today. Before that we had been part of a larger game playing evening after sunset where we participated in very loud Bible trivia competition that was pretty even between the two tables, and then had played some card games after that. It was an enjoyable evening, even if we were in a faraway cabana because our normal hall had been taken up by a wedding ceremony where the bride and groom were local Creoles who had been dressed up as a prince in all black with gold buttons and a princess in a fancy white dress with high heels respectively. So as far as a Sabbath goes, and the first part of the first day of the week, it went well. I even found out from the contact person for the hotel that the wedding that took place yesterday had been planned some time ago but communication stopped until the very last minute, leading to very abrupt preparation.
Every feast, it seems, has its own rhythm, but there are some consistent patterns. One arrives at the feast site, sometimes after extensive travel, and there is often a keen sense of anticipation to get to know a territory better and the brethren who are within in. The opening night and first day of the feast bring with them church services and the wondering about how things are going with other people in other places and what sort of activities will take place. Inevitably there are more church services every day, filled with interesting messages, some of them deeply informative or deeply personal about the world to come. There are tours, get-togethers, fun shows, family days, and various other activities to allow one to enjoy the place one is attending the feast, and inevitably there comes a time like this when the Feast is coming to an end and when thoughts turn to the inevitable return to one’s normal life, and when one has to say goodbye to one’s newfound friends and acquaintances. Such is the way of this world, and every foretaste of the Kingdom of God comes with it a reminder of its temporary nature, at this time.
One of the notable aspects of politics in the West (and increasingly around the whole world) is that many regimes attempt to make a heaven on earth based on their own worldview, and inevitably these states make a hell out of earth for those unfortunate enough to come under their rule. Inevitably these states end up killing a large number of people as counterrevolutionaries of some kind, end up being ruled by people whose vision of paradise is a terrible one, and there are internal and external wars and economic ruin and desolation as a result of these attempts to create a paradise on earth. Yet the Feast of Tabernacles is not this sort of paradise that creates a hell on earth for others. Generally speaking, when one attends, one gets to know others better, enjoys food and drink (hopefully in moderation) makes friends, hears about good and glorious things that serve to benefit everyone, and then returns home hopeful about the year to come and the future, at least the future under the rule of Jesus Christ and His resurrected saints. This is clearly a different vision of paradise then one sees in the failed utopian visions of the West.
And yet it remains that all good things come to an end. When human beings seek to make heaven on earth, they have visions of the end of history or thousand year Reichs or something of equal horror where a state of affairs is created that is both permanent and ruled over by flawed and mortal human beings. In such a state there can only be horrors, because our mortality makes us impatient for the changes we seek and all too easy to swat like flies when we get in the way of the plans and schemes of those who are in charge. But where human beings are temporary and where the future Millennial blessings require redeemed and eternal beings in charge who are not subject to our weaknesses and failings, the foretaste of the Millennium must be temporary because the conditions are not present for those blessings to be permanent. Least of all are we fit to bring the world or keep it in its proper and fit state at this time. There remains much to be done before that can happen.