In God’s planning for a nation under God he arranged three festivals a year when the tribes of Israel came together:

Three times a year all your males shall appear before the Lord your God at the place that he will choose: at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, at the Feast of Weeks, and at the Feast of Booths. They shall not appear before the Lord empty-handed (Deut 16:16).

These three feasts were Unleavened Bread or Passover, that is now celebrated by the Church as Resurrection Sunday. The Feast of Weeks is 7 weeks or 50 days after Easter Sunday when we celebrate Pentecost (Pente in Greek means 50 – Lev 23:16). The third festival is Tabernacles, which will be held in September in 2013. It was at the feast of Tabernacles that Jesus said:

On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified (John 7:37-39).

Why did God want Israel to come together three times a year?

Because it was and is vital to have celebrations that bond the tribes as part of a nation under God. The festivals are separation from self focus to focus on God and his sovereignty over the nation. These three Jewish celebrations were prophetically chosen by God to point to the Resurrection of Jesus (Lev 23:12) and the giving of the Holy Spirit (Pentecost). The giving of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2 is also on the same day Israel celebrates the giving of the Law under Moses. Pentecost is the time God moved the world on from tuition under the Law to fulfilment under Grace.

Today the Church does not have a festival when the tribes of Christ (denominations and movements of the Gospel) come together to celebrate a nation under God. But in May 2013 we will have such a celebration at the River of Life Conference.

Should the Church celebrate a Nation under God?

Well the answer to this question is dependant on who we understand Jesus to be?

At the Ascension Jesus was lifted up to his coronation in heaven as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. In a vision the prophet Daniel saw the inauguration of Jesus where he was enthroned in supreme authority over everything in both heaven and earth:

I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.

We should note that this vision is almost identical to the description given by St Paul at Ephesians 1:18-23 and Colossians 1:15-20.

Jesus ascension was 40 days after the Resurrection (Acts 1:2) when his 10 day inauguration was enacted that culminated in the Father giving Jesus the Holy Spirit to send upon the Church to equip it for its mission on earth (Acts 1:4, 2:1 and 2:32-33).

Now it so happens that despite ourselves God has so arranged that the River of Life Conference occurs on Ascension day, 9th May 2013. On this day the Lord has called his church to gather together to honour, glorify and lift up his son.

On this day we will be gathered together in the unity of the Holy Spirit to be uplifted, empowered and celebrate these promises of Jesus:

But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all men to myself (John 12:32).

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world (John 16:33).

So Church let us lay aside every busy alternative and make our sure plans to come together to bond the tribes of Church and Marketplace as intercessors and carers of a nation under God. Let us come together with one accord to bring one united prayer to God:

Oh Lord send your Holy Spirit in reviving power upon your church, not for our sake, but for the sake of this city and this nation.