The Kingdom of Heaven is at Hand

First High Day Feast of Tabernacles 2021

 (Sermon Notes)  By Warren Zehrung  9/21/2021

Jesus, during His public ministry, went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom of God.  The Feast of Tabernacles is all about the establishment of the Kingdom of God on earth.

Jesus preached the Good News of the Kingdom of God saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the Gospel”  (Mark 1:14-15).

Jesus preached, “Seek you first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness.”  Jesus says unto the Church brethren, “It is given unto you to know the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven” (Matthew 13:11)  The Title comes from:

Matthew 10:7  As ye go, preach, saying, The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.

The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand—is that a note of rejoicing or a warning?  The preaching of the Good News of the Kingdom of God was so all important to Jesus that He continued to teach His apostles even after His resurrection – and before His ascension into heaven! (Acts 1:2-3).

The resurrected Saints will inherit the Kingdom with Jesus Christ and will live, reign and rule with Him for a thousand years (Revelation 20:4)

This is what the Feast of Tabernacles is all about!  Let’s begin today by recalling and remembering our calling by God, and His wedding invitation to us.  We are going to look at God the Father’s invitation to us as John the beloved apostle relates to us what will soon take place:

Revelation 19:9  And He said unto me, Write, Blessed are they who are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb.  And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God. 

“These are the true sayings of God,” means that we are not dealing with analogies or metaphors here—this is exactly what is going to take place.  It will happen!  The question God poses to us is, “Will you be there in that number?”

Remarkably, it is revealed that not everyone will participate in the marriage supper.  Only the righteous Saints will actually be, – not guests, – but participants in the marriage supper of the Lamb.  The Church of God Brethren will become Christ’s wife.  Notice:

Revelation 19:7  Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to Him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and His wife has made herself ready. 

Revelation 19:8  And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints

From the very beginning, Jesus Christ has made known to us His intention to marry a most exquisite Bride. 

The marriage of the Lamb to His spouse will commence the eternal covenant longed for by Jesus Christ from time immemorial. 

From the days of Israel’s espousal in the wilderness (Jeremiah 2:2) up until the marriage of the Lamb, Jesus Christ has loved His Bride-to-be with a perfect love that surpasses anything we can remotely imagine (Ephesians 3:19).

The wedding will be the most superb ceremony the heavens and earth have ever witnessed.  Though this may sound like a dream or a fable, it is in fact, a magnificent reality.

Brethren, we have only a short time left to prepare.  Many are being disqualified.  Many of those who consider themselves to be a part of the Church of God are not yet prepared to be the Bride of Jesus Christ.

It should go without saying that Jesus is going to be extremely selective when taking His wife forever more.  Though the world prefers to believe that Jesus accepts us in our current condition – “just as you are”… it is obvious from the Scriptures that His Bride will be arrayed in the purest white wedding gown – symbolizing her perfect love for Him, her spotless spiritual condition, and her eternal faithfulness in marriage.

Are we absolutely certain that we meet Christ’s criteria – Christ’s standards – in other words, are we as ready and prepared as we can possibly be?  Anyone who assumes that they have attained to the perfect measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, underestimates the supreme perfection of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 4:13). 

We will be looking extensively at what degree of excellence the Church brethren attain in order to be ready to meet Jesus.

Matthew 22:1  And Jesus answered and spoke unto them again by parables, and said, 

Matthew 22:2  The Kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for His son, 

This is a picture of God the Father, and the wedding supper of Jesus Christ.

This will actually occur just prior to the fulfillment of the Feast of Tabernacles – the 1,000-year Millennial rule of Jesus Christ.

Matthew 22:3  And the King sent forth His servants to call them that were invited to the wedding: but, they would not come

They had excuses to do something else.

We have been called by God – out of this world – to follow Him where He leads us.

It is so important – God sends out His invitations!  He has been patient.

He has gone to great lengths in preparation for this wedding to His Son.

Matthew 22:4  Again, He sent forth other servants [Prophets of old], saying, Tell them which are invited, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and everything is ready: come unto the marriage. 

God has prepared spiritual food – a spiritual banquet –  that is vital to our spiritual health.  We do not want to miss out on that spiritual meal.

Back in the days of the Worldwide Church of God it was the practice in some areas that the deacons would go into a back room to sort and count the Holy Day offering while the sermon was being given.

As a result of that practice, the deacons missed every Holy Day Sermon – the spiritual meal that God had prepared for them.  Every Feast Day they were busy with business – while the Sermon was being given.  It was thought by them, that what they were doing – counting the collection – was so important – it excused them from hearing the spiritual meaning of the Holy Day.

The tragic result was that nearly every single deacon in that congregation fell away when Worldwide decided that the Holy Days were not important.

Matthew 22:4 continuing … Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and everything is ready: come unto the marriage. 

The key word here is “prepared.”  God has said, “I have prepared my dinner unto the marriage supper of the Lamb.  Just think of how much preparation has gone into the Plan of God from the Creation of the earth – and before. 

What has He prepared for us to hear at the Holy Days what will change our lives in preparation for the Wedding Supper.  How could anyone foolishly deny God the Father’s invitation?

Matthew 22:5  But they made light of God’s invitation, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise

Where Matthew lists only two categories of excuses, farm, and merchandise – Luke lists more of the examples that Jesus gave of excuses for not doing what God requires.

These are warnings for God’s people.

Luke 14:18  And they all with one consent began to make excuses.  [The Greek for “excuses” says that they refused and rejected God’s invitation. 

Luke 14:18 cont.  The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: [I’ve got work to do] I beg of you, please have me excused

Luke 14:19  And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to train them: I pray thee have me excused

Then Jesus inserts a bit of irony in the parable.

Luke 14:20  And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come. 

In other words – he is rejecting the Bride of Christ – for a lesser bride.  Brethren, do you see the tragic irony in Jesus’ last example of excuses to refuse the Father’s invitation.  Who in his right mind would chose to marry a carnal wife over being the spiritual bride in the marriage of the Lamb?

In our minds, the irony should extend to every other excuse – oxen, fields, merchandise, farm and occupation.  They all knew in advance that the Feast was coming up soon.  They created their own set of circumstances that they planned to attend to – rather than be obedient to God.

So, Jesus provides a list of a wider variety of excuses for denying what God asks – and every one of the excuses is hopelessly foolish when compared to God’s invitation.  What is God the Father’s reaction to His invitation being rejected?  Answer, God become angry.

Luke 14:21  So that servant came, and told his Lord these excuses. Then the master of the house being angry said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in here the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind. 

God could just a well have been thinking, “The gall, the audacity, the impudence of my subjects – to think that what they have going on is more significant than what I have created them for.”  Why does God become so angry when presented with “valid” excuses? 

Each potential wedding guest thought that he was presenting a good reason for turning down God’s invitation – never considering for a moment that there are no valid excuses for refusing God’s invitation. 

The intent of this parable is that if we do not respond to what God tells us to do – the invitation will not be available indefinitely.  The invitation is a one-time offer. 

The recipients of invitations did not take into consideration the incredible preparations God has gone through from the Creation of the world – in making the wedding supper with Christ possible.

Luke 14:22  And the servant said, Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is still room.  [The number will be filled!]

Luke 14:23  And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways, byways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. 

Brethren, an invitation has been issued to us.  Répondez s’il vous plait.  There is an offer on the table.  If we do not avail ourselves of God’s invitation post haste – with great speed – with dispatch and immediacy – it is rescinded – for good – by God. 

Jesus is not so curt as to say, “It’s a one-time offer.”  It is just that some people treat God’s marriage invitation as a standing offer, “I might get around to R.S.V.P. later.”  I had a buddy who said it best, “If you snooze – you lose!”

God’s Plan is sure – if someone does not desire it enough to act on it, someone else will be chosen to take their crown in every case where an excuse is given and God’s invitation is rejected.

Revelation 3:11 Hold firmly that which you have, so that no one takes your crown.

Luke 14:24  For I say unto you, That none of those who were invited shall taste of my supper. 

Brethren, none of those who rejected God’s invitation will taste of His supper. An excuse is an invalid reason to justify a fault or offense.

Matthew 22:6  And the remnant took the King’s servants [Prophets and teachers who were presenting the wedding invitations], and entreated them spitefully, and slew them. 

See the cloud of witnesses in Hebrews 11 for a list of the Prophets and teachers.  And here is where the picture of this parable is found of “The Invitation.” 

Matthew 22:7  But when the king heard thereof, he was angry: and He sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city. 

Both, those who refused His invitation, and those who prevented His invitations from going out – all destroyed in the fierce anger of the Lord.  “He sent forth His armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city.” (Matthew 22:7)  

The Feast of Trumpets has to do with God’s Wrath being poured out on all nations and institutions.

Matthew 22:8  Then saith he to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they which were invited were not worthy

Matthew 22:9  Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage. 

Matthew 22:10  So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests. 

Matthew 22:11  And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment

He was not a righteous man.  White robes signify the righteousness of the Saints.

Matthew 22:12  And he saith unto him, Friend, how did you come in here not having a wedding garment?  And he was speechless. 

He had no answers – because there are no answers for not doing what God has commanded us.  The Bride of Christ is not yet prepared for the wedding.  Here is where we are today:

Matthew 22:13  Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Matthew 22:14  For many are called, but few are chosen.

Clearly, the Church of God is not ready for the wedding.  The lack of concern and respect of brothers and sisters in Christ for one another shows that we have a way to go.  The split and scattered state of the Church attests to the fact that the Bride of Christ is not yet prepared. 

After years of Christian living sermons explaining how we must let our light shine – the fruit of our lives is hardly distinguishable from those in the world.  We are not living according to the rules of the Kingdom – now – as we should be. 

If we did, we would be, “A light to the world – and our light would so shine before men… that they would be glorifying our Father who is in heaven.”  (Matthew 5:14-16) 

There are reasons that our lights are not shinning.  Paul said it this way,

Romans 13:11  And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we [first] believed. 

Romans 13:12  The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness.

The disciples began to realize that Jesus was demonstrating His selection process for salvation – and that not everyone would be willing to do what Jesus requires of them.

Luke 13:23  Then said one unto him, Lord, are there few that be saved? And he said unto them,

Luke 13:24  Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.

Luke 13:25  When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are:

Luke 13:26  Then shall ye begin to say, We have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets.

This is exactly what the Churches of God are saying today – we’ve kept Passover, the Sabbath, the holy days…  They claim to follow Jesus’ teachings – all the while rejecting the very words of Jesus Christ.

Prophetic Scriptures bring to light the splendor of Christ’s ultimate nuptial ceremony.   Brethren, we do not wish to miss out on the most splendid wedding of all time.  What an incredible truth that our Lord and Master has chosen to make us His Wife by entering into an eternal pledge with us.  Mere words fail to portray the most glorious ceremony ever; which Christ has reserved for His Bride alone.  The Bride herself will form the ensemble playing the heavenly version of, “Here comes the Bride:”

Divine music from God’s own orchestra will reverberate across the Sea of Glass, and gleaming brilliance will illuminate the throne room, as the Bride is presented to her Lord. 

Revelation 15:2  And I saw as it were a Sea of Glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the Sea of Glass, having the harps of God.

The Bride will be accepted by Jesus Christ, adorned in her radiant white silk wedding gown – and upon her head she will wear a beautiful sparkling crown (Ezekiel 16:12).

Brethren, to be there with Christ on that beautiful day, we need to learn now to be able to teach the Way and the Truth.  This life of ours now is a time of testing for the world tomorrow—the Feast of Tabernacles to come:

In the same way that Jesus was tested in every way and on every point of God’s perfect way (Hebrews 4:15), the collective Church brethren will also have experienced every possible scenario in order to be able to effectively reign and rule with Christ throughout the Millennium.

Then, while the saints are instructing everyone on earth saying, “This is the way, walk ye in it,” no one will be able to challenge or gainsay them by responding, “You do not know what I’m going through” (Isaiah 30:21).  Each and every saint will be an overcomer (Revelation 3:21).

At the end of the soon coming Tribulation, when our children, grandchildren, and those whom God has gathered – from all around the world – of the tribes of the Children of Israel, see the total destruction of the world taking place, they will also sigh, cry, mourn and weep for the abominations that are in the land.  They will be mostly strong young men and women who have been carried into the captivity of slave labor camps of enemy nations around the globe.  The battered survivors will be the physical remnant of Jacob/Israel.

Let’s read it for ourselves as the Lord comforts those battered young men and women who have arrived in the Promised Land at last.

Isaiah 30:19  For the people – [those physical survivors] – shall dwell in Zion at Jerusalem: “You shalt weep no more:”  He will be very gracious unto thee at the voice of your cry when He shall hear it, He will answer your prayer. 

We, the Saints of God, will be there in person –  as teachers for those who have endured the horrors of war!

Isaiah 30:20  And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity, and the water of affliction, yet shall not thy teachers be removed into a corner anymore, but thine eyes shall see thy teachers

Isaiah 30:21  And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left. 

There are so many topics we could look at.

Will Jesus be visible and approachable in the Millennium as He was during His public ministry?

Even though He is God and Spirit, will He appear as a being with whom the masses can easily relate?

In the Millennium, Jesus reveals that He is Lord of lords and King of kings, indicating that He will have the authority and power to exercise absolute dominion over all His realm – all of creation. 

Being King of kings and Lord of lords means that there is no higher authority. 

Where will He rule from?  Only ‘New’ Jerusalem is mentioned in Revelation.

How will He issue His directives and mandates?

Revelation 5:10  And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth. 

When does the Land Promised to Abraham and his descendants become – by extension – the Millennial Rest presided over by Jesus Christ?

Brethren, The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.

Let’s close with the words of Peter

2Peter 1:10  Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: [For, the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.]


End: The Kingdom of Heaven is at Hand