Each year after the Feast of Tabernacles, God’s people return home having experienced a great spiritual feast, a smorgasbord of spiritually nutritious food. You could say we are given a storehouse full of food to be digested during the coming months.
If you count from the Feast of Trumpets and include all the sermonettes, offertories and sermons, we will hear 16 sermons and 17 sermonettes or offertories, including 3 messages from our pastor general. On average, they would add up to nearly 1,500 minutes’ worth of messages—almost 25 hours’ worth of instruction.
Once we return from the Feast, we get ready to head into the “long winter”—the 25 weeks or so (depending on the year) between the Feast of Tabernacles and Passover. In other words, you have the opportunity to thoroughly digest about an hour’s worth of Feast material every week between the Feast and Passover. When you put it like that, it doesn’t really seem like an overwhelming amount.
However, add all the additional food that we receive during each week, such as the Key of David program, Trumpet Weekly, Trumpet Daily, and all the kpcg programming. In addition to all this, we are encouraged to read Malachi’s Message once every six to 12 months. On top of that, we are encouraged to read Mystery of the Ages, our “go-to” textbook, once a year.
Are you feeling overwhelmed yet?
We also have the Royal Vision, Philadelphia Trumpet and Herbert W. Armstrong College Bible Correspondence Course, if you are enrolled. Then there is the Autobiography of Herbert W. Armstrong and many other books and booklets that we are admonished to review throughout the year.
On top of all of that, there is the commandment to watch and pray.
All of this spiritual food to digest can seem overwhelming, but there is a way to accomplish this task: by becoming a spiritual ruminant.
A ruminant is an animal that chews its cud, like a cow or sheep. These creatures swallow large chunks of food and then, at a more leisurely time, they regurgitate these chunks and chew them up. The food mixes with their saliva so it will be properly digested.
Like these animals, we have to make the time to let our spiritual food ruminate. The ideas, concepts and spiritual nuggets—our spiritual food—must be digested properly, and it requires a process of spiritual mastication, or chewing.
Proverbs 6:6 encourages us to emulate the ways of the ant. Proverbs 30:24-25 praise ants, which are “little … but … exceeding wise,” because it is wise to harvest when there is plenty and store it up for later.
During the fall holy day season, we receive a vast amount of spiritual food. How can we exercise this wisdom and gain the benefit from it when we really need it?
Following are a couple of lessons about ruminants.
Ruminants Eat Rapidly
Ruminants eat rapidly, swallowing much of their food without chewing it sufficiently. When we partake of the spiritual food at the Feast, we take it in rapidly. Some of us may get hand cramps while taking notes because of how much there is to write. Once we have consumed that spiritual meal, we may head back to the hotel room or other temporary dwelling and try to digest more of the spiritual food. Before we have had much time for this mental mastication, another meal is served. At the Feast, there is simply not enough time to “chew the cud” and digest it all.
We need time to derive the benefit from the spiritual food we ingest. It starts with getting it into our thinking and implementing change in our lives. But it goes further: We need to be digesting this material so that we can be qualified teachers in the future. We should digest the material so we can give back to our families in this age, and be prepared to serve the family to come.
Ruminants Give Back To Their Environment
Ruminants are great recyclers. As they process and digest food they have eaten, they fertilize the soil in their environment. That fertilization then helps promote growth by injecting microorganisms back into the soil. In turn, that promotes further growth in the plants they eat.
We need to look at our spiritual food this way. We recycle or process what we’ve been given so that we can give back. This helps promote more growth, not only in ourselves, but also in our environment.
How do we do this? 2 Timothy 2:15 states, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” The word translated “study” means to use speed, to make effort, be prompt or earnest, be diligent, endeavor, labor. The word “workman” means a toiler or laborer, but can also mean, figuratively, a teacher. “Rightly dividing” means to make a straight cut, to dissect, or expound correctly. We are strongly encouraged to use speed in our effort to become teachers, rightly dissecting and expounding the truth.
We need to be eating spiritually all year round. Every meal needs to be savored. We should draw the most nourishment out of every morsel we take in so that no crumb is left to fall to the ground (John 6:12).
Herbert W. Armstrong gave some great points on how to properly digest spiritual food in his November 1983 Plain Truth article “How to Understand the Bible.”
First, he wrote, we need to surrender to God and the authority of His Word. Forsake your ways, your thoughts and those of the society in this world. Then do as God says and begin to study the Bible.
Next, we must ask God for guidance. Ask Him to reveal the true meaning of the Scriptures.
Finally, we must believe God, believe His Word. Accept the Bible’s plain and simple meaning just as you would accept any other textbook. People won’t question what a biology textbook says, but they will question what the Bible says. He added that we must prove all things (1 Thessalonians 5:21). Be cautious and avoid jumping to hasty conclusions or taking things carelessly for granted.
Digest this spiritual meat like ruminants do: Eat like crazy, and then work on digesting one small bite. Remember Winston Churchill’s adjuration to “bite off more than you can chew and chew like crazy.”
Students are advised to spend at least one hour studying outside of class for every hour they spend in class. That’s the minimum just to keep up—not to get ahead.
We can’t be overwhelmed by the mountain of food in front of us. We have to get in and start digesting.
And as we do, surrender to God, ask for His guidance, and believe Him. That is how we can get the most out of these spiritual meals.
Jesus Christ admonished, “Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing” (Matthew 24:45-46).
Who is this blessed servant? The wise one who took the meat in due season, digested it, shared the benefits from it, and was found doing this Work as a spiritual ruminant at Christ’s return.