Now we are enthusiastically looking toward the first Feast of Tabernacles in the NEW DECADE OF THE EIGHTIES! It's a sobering thing to bear in mind that this could well be the very last decade in which we may attend this wonderful Festival prior to Christ's coming in supreme POWER and GLORY to establish the KINGDOM OF GOD!
In that regard think how IMPORTANT this Festival is! After the return of KING of kings Jesus Christ, "it shall come to pass that every one...shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles" (Zech. 14:16). And there shall be plagues and severe punishments on nations that neglect or refuse to attend! Of course that is speaking of MORTAL people then left alive—not of Christ's saints who then will be IMMORTAL and in the very Family of God.
But you and I are, now, still mortal—and the above scripture shows us HOW VERY SERIOUS IN GOD'S EYES it is that we attend this wonderful Feast this year. For we MAY be attending it as IMMORTAL BORN children of God before this present decade is out! That certainly is a likely possibility.
Brethren, there have been reasons for believing God may have held up—slowed down, delayed—the march of world events during the decade of the seventies. But there are a number of signs in world events since this decade of the eighties began to indicate God may well now be SPEEDING UP world events—cutting short the progress of events in this world of Satan's.
We have undoubtedly entered the most EXPLOSIVE decade in the history of man. But it is possible that God will cut short the days of Great Tribulation ahead, and ring us into the WONDERFUL and GLORIOUS Kingdom of God before this decade is out. Again, remember, I am not setting dates! Jesus said no man will know the day or the hour. But He did say we may know by world events when it is near—even at the door!
This will be my 54th year of keeping the annual fall Holy Days. We did not come to realize the meaning and need to keep the entire Feast of Tabernacles until 1945, though my wife and I began keeping the annual Sabbaths in 1927.
Today the Worldwide Church of God Feast of Tabernacles is the largest annual assembly, convention or Festival held on the face of the earth! God has surely blessed us in this!
The Feast of Tabernacles pictures to us year after year the GLORIOUS thousand years just shortly ahead now, of WORLD PEACE, HAPPINESS, AND OPPORTUNITY FOR ETERNAL SALVATION FOR ALL NOT PREVIOUSLY CALLED! It will be a world WITHOUT SATAN! It will be a world WITH JESUS CHRIST RULING WITH LOVE!
It is a time for us to get away from the dreary routine of daily life in Satan's world, and enjoy eight wonderful days with brethren in Christ and their families! A time of spiritual rejuvenation for us! It is the only time in the year that God provides a time when we may get away and rest from our daily regular duties—to be with BRETHREN IN CHRlST—to worship Him, and look FORWARD to His UTOPIA!!
This year we shall have 21 Festival sites. Due to gasoline prices and inflation, no one will need to travel more than 300 miles. However, transfers will be available to suit each budget.
Brethren, as God shows us the IMPORTANCE of attending this Feast, it is equally IMPORTANT that all shall have been saving the SECOND TITHE to pay your own expenses and enjoyment at the Festival. Of course part of that expense is rental of auditoriums or halls or convention centers and other expenses the Church must pay. So, as always, BE SURE TO SEND IN A TITHE OF YOUR ENTIRE YEAR'S SECOND TITHE BY RETURN MAIL. Mark or list it separate from your regular first tithe or offering. And please do not forget the BUILDING FUND. Although we did have 100% financing on the Auditorium and other headquarters buildings, that came in the form of large multi-million-dollar loans from major insurance companies. Of course much of the campus is all paid off now, but payments are still having to be made month by month on the Auditorium, Hall of Administration, etc. So REMEMBER the special building fund, please. Remember we have been able to use and enjoy these fine buildings for a number of years before we have had to pay out these mortgages by which they were financed. And the interest we are paying is the rate that was in effect before we built—now some years ago—and much lower than now!
What a blessing from God that we have not had to borrow regularly at the banks during all last year and so far this year. Formerly we had to borrow a million dollars in January and pay back out of Passover special offerings. Then we had to borrow another million in July to be paid back from the Fall Festival offerings. Now loan rates to largest bank customers are up to 19%! What a blessing we have not had to pay that last year or so far this!
Nothing will be sold at the Feast sites. Nothing will be charged. I may have a new book ready, depending on my own very busy work load.
There will be a special issue of The GOOD NEWS for the Feast, instead of the past brochures. I have never liked the commercial advertising in the Feast brochures, and we will handle it all through a special GOOD NEWS for this Feast—which I hope you will like even better. The Feast is back on the track now, as well as the Church, the College, and all our activities.
Instructions for making your housing arrangements will be included in time in your Feast information material.
My new office and broadcasting studio here in Tucson is almost completed. I shall try, at age 88, to continue the executive management and oversight of the entire worldwide work, beside all the volume of writing I am doing, and now will add six half-hour television programs a week, and seven half-hour radio programs a week.
Beside all that I am still travelling in taking the true Gospel to many centers around the world. I shall be leaving April 3rd, to speak to several churches at Chicago, and April 6 I shall fly on overseas for visits with President Sadat of Egypt and Prime Minister Begin at Jerusalem—provided they are not then meeting with President Carter at Camp David. It was announced last night that the President has invited them both, and they have accepted.
In May my meeting with leaders of the Soviet Union at the Kremlin is still on schedule. As long as President Carter leaves the door open, I shall go. I have been warmly invited, and if Jesus Christ keeps that door open I shall go right through it!
So, I have my work cut out for me. It's a good thing I keep getting YOUNGER every month and every year, instead of being senile and feeble-minded as enemies keep shouting!
I wish you all the best wishes for a solemn Passover, and a joyous Festival of Unleavened Bread.