What A Wonderful Feast!
The following article by Herbert W. Armstrong was also published in the Pastor General's Report of Oct. 15, 1979. TUCSON, Ariz, — GREETINGS! Surely this was the greatest, most joyous, inspiring, helpful and blessed Festival in 1,900 years!
And four days before the end of the Feast of Tabernacles, the inspiration came to see if the American Telephone & Telegraph Co. could put through for us a national hookup with all other United States Feast sites. I was scheduled to leave Tucson the next day, Tuesday, for the Savannah, Ga., site, to speak there on Thursday morning and at the St. Petersburg, Fla., site on Sabbath afternoon.
'An exciting idea' It was an exciting idea, though one considered technically impossible without several weeks' time. The inspiration had come through Mr. [Stanley] Rader. He and I discussed it on Monday.
Even though it seemed technically impossible on such short notice — he had already at 5:30 that morning talked with many telephone officials by long distance — they had said they would leap swiftly onto the emergency and see if it could be done. I needed the answer by noon Tuesday, when we were scheduled to take flight for Savannah.
Telephone officials, and Mr. Rader in constant contact with them from his home here in Tucson, worked through the day and night, and by Tuesday morning, Mr. Rader told me, they had already cleared the way for a hookup with at least three or four sites from the Tucson Community Center. They had put all the emergency facilities of the greatest telephone company on earth into night-and-day action, and would have to let us know later how many additional sites might be hooked up — if any.
I had to make a quick decision.
"Already we are assured that you will speak to more Festival sites from here than if you fly on east," said Mr. Rader. And there was good prospect that by the Sabbath we would be connected with more sites.
I saw the hand of GOD in this and made the decision to stay here — go ahead and hook up as many more Feast sites as possible.
Do you realize the Bell telephone system is not only by far the largest telephone system in the world, but the very largest and efficiently operated corporation in the United States? When I travel in other countries I really do come to appreciate the vast superiority of our American telephone service.
Even with their vast and intricate technical facilities, it would ordinarily require a few weeks' time to accomplish this.
With God's help Did you think the Almighty GOD would ever help the telephone company? Well. He certainly did this time: There was NOT time to arrange the hook-up by satellite. So they went to work to do it by microwave and cable. At one site they had to build a special tower. Many of our sites are located in other than main major telephone centers. This required special emergency operations.
As the days went by, they continued to notify us they had succeeded in adding more sites, and by Friday, I think it was, we had the good news they had done THE IMPOSSIBLE, and we would be hooked up with ALL U.S. sites — and perhaps some in Canada.
Now all this required special emergency activity also on our part. A switch at Savannah had to be made to fill in for me on Thursday morning. We had TIME-ZONE differences to deal with. We here in Tucson are not on daylight-saving time, so we are in the same time zone as the West Coast.
To accommodate the Atlantic time zone Feast sites we had to arrange for them to start their final afternoon service at 4:30 p.m. Central time zone sites at 3:30. We had to move the morning service in Tucson and the West Coast sites up to 9:30, and the final afternoon service to 1:30 instead of 2:30 — and all brethren notified in time.
I decided, to avoid irregular timing mix-ups by having other Feast sites start with their own song service and special music, it would be necessary to deprive them of this, and ALL SITES simply be with us here at Tucson, and listen in and see our opening song service and special music. Instead of a sermonette, I wanted Mr. Rader to fill in for the entire U.S. membership briefly on the California lawsuit invasion.
I hated to deprive other sites of your final-day special music, for other sites have inspiring expanded choruses. But I felt that our brethren here at Tucson did not let you down and provided superb, moving, special music under direction of John Schroeder and with possibly the two most emotionally inspiring choral numbers — "The Hallelujah Chorus," and "Battle Hymn of the Republic" ("I have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord"), the latter accompanied by proper orchestral instruments.
Mission accomplished On Sabbath morning Mr. Rader gave me the final good news of the "IMPOSSIBLE" telephone hookup — some three or four Canadian Feast sites had been added.
WHAT A THRILL! It was not like NBC or CBS or ABC national network — already smoothly operating for years.
This hookup had to go into sites far off the main telephone and television network centers. It really was the "MISSION IMPOSSIBLE" ACCOMPLISHED! I'm sure it required some divine intervention — actually a real MIRACLE!
GOD WANTED HIS WHOLE CHURCH CONGREGATION IN THE UNITED STATES AND MUCH OF CANADA TO HEAR THE MESSAGE HE GAVE ME!
But SATAN DIDN'T. It seemed every possible obstacle was thrown at me personally. Three or four nights before, I came into sleeping difficulties — nerve would not let me sleep. Wednesday night I don't think I managed to get as much as three hours sleep. Thursday I was like a physical wreck from loss of sleep. That night I was troubled again but managed to get about five and a half hours' sleep, due to sheer physical exhaustion.
"Don't worry, God will give you the strength and cause you to rise to the occasion tomorrow", assured my wife. "He isn't going to let you down."
That night again I couldn't get to sleep until after midnight — was up an hour and a half or more at one time and managed to get no more than about five hours sleep. I went back to bed in one last desperate effort to try to gain a little strength in more sleep. I asked my wife to awaken me if asleep just in time to shower, shave, dress and get to the Tucson Community Center.
If Satan could make me too weak to go on at this last moment, he would have undone the miracle God had given us in setting up this "IMPOSSIBLE" hookup. But God DID NOT LET ME DOWN: Through the morning I did succeed in getting a little more sleep — not as much as needed — but it helped greatly. My wife's faith never ebbed. And her imperturbed assurance was almost provoking — YET REASSURING to me. She never doubted a minute.
I was certainly under par physically. My voice seemed husky, even after I arrived at the Community Center. Actually in spite of hurrying when finally awakened, I was about 10 minutes late arriving at the auditorium. I guess you all heard the long applause when I entered — as Mr. Rader was speaking. That was inspiring, and now I knew God would lift me up to the occasion!
Local TV station cameras were there. One local TV news report that night said I started out slowly and a little tired, but gained momentum. The huskiness left my voice. I was now in the hands of the Lord Jesus Christ, safe from any further thrusts of Satan. The living Jesus DID lift me up to the occasion. I knew I had HIS message!
I feel God had given me the best and most complete final-day message of my life. It is awesome to realize that God has revealed and given to all of you through me such a message, summarizing God's great master plan from original creation to now — and on through the Great White Throne Judgment after the millennial reign with Christ.
Jesus Christ wanted you and all His people to really fully grasp that message, which came from HIM. No man outside God's Church today has ever spoken such a message in 1,900 years! IT WAS FOR YOU AND ALL OUR MEMBERSHIP — GOD'S CHURCH!
How many really listen? How many really GET the overwhelming MEANING of God's great PURPOSE? Are there some like Ezekiel reports? "Also, thou son of man, the children of MY PEOPLE... come unto thee... and they sit before thee as my people [not as outsiders], and they hear thy words, but they will not do them: for with their mouth they shew much love, but their heart goeth after their covetness.
"And lo, thou art unto them as a very lovely song of one that hath a pleasant voice, and can play well on an instrument, but they do them not" (they do not really LISTEN — do not get the MEANING — could not remember afterward what was really said — did not grasp or understand the real MESSAGE) (Ezek. 33:30-32). Is not that a message for the Church — GOD'S people — in these latter days?
I have a single-track mind, which can be consciously on but ONE THING AT A TIME. If I hear a song, it is natural for me to hear really ONLY THE MUSIC, unconscious of the WORDS. If I especially want to grasp the words of the song or hymn, I concentrate on the WORDS and their meaning, but not the tune. I simply seem unable to consciously hear BOTH the tune and the words.
I wonder if some people do not hear the sound of the VOICE — but not the WORDS — during a sermon.
Jesus Christ knew our brethren — the ENTIRE U.S. MEMBERSHIP AND MUCH OF CANADA — hearing on this MIRACULOUS NEVER BEFORE INTERNATIONAL HOOKUP — needed to HEAR and UNDERSTAND this message! The vast organization of America's largest corporation had gone into unprecedented NIGHT-AND-DAY emergency activity for five days and nights to make this possible for us!
ALL THANKS of the Worldwide Church of God to the unprecedented emergency effort and accomplishment of the AT&T. And ALL PRAISE to OUR GREAT GOD!
It was, indeed, A MIRACLE!
We are going to work NOW, a year in advance, for an even greater international hookup by satellite for next year, and hope to make it possible for ALL sites to have it visually on a large screen to SEE — as well as to hear!
As to the Feast itself, I know that here at the Tucson Festival site it seemed the BEST EVER! Sermonettes, as well as sermons, were EXCEPTIONAL. Subjects were properly varied, yet every one covered an important phase of the MEANING of this Feast — preparing for and looking into the WORLD TOMORROW in the Kingdom of God reigning on earth!
I especially want to compliment Leroy Cole for a very moving sermonette on ENDURING TO THE END. He, like some others, has seen two members of his family — two older brothers, go out from God's Church. He spoke with some emotional feeling, but gave us a fine example of remaining LOYAL AND FAITHFUL TO CHRIST AND GOD'S CHURCH, in spite of heart-breaking divisions in the human family. I had never heard Leroy preach before. The other sermonettes were equally good, and every sermon was an inspiring masterpiece. And the fellowship among the brethren was the best ever — a wonderful attitude of close-knit loyal fellowship — showing GROWTH in the Holy Spirit of God! The massive assault to destroy God's Church in January has only drawn us closer together than ever.
The living HEAD of God's Church, Jesus Christ, is now moving to PREPARE HIS CHURCH TO BE READY FOR CHRIST'S SOON COMING. God's people are responding. The few out-of-harmony and embittered ones are leaving. Christ is putting us through a HOUSECLEANING.
A foretaste of the Kingdom Our fellowship during this Festival was with ALMIGHTY GOD and with CHRIST, as well as with one another. As we were enjoying a foretaste of the millennial Kingdom of God with the GOVERNMENT OF GOD, and SATAN PUT OUT — SO in this Festival we EXPERIENCED the fellowship of one another WITH God and with Christ, and hopefully with most, if not yet quite all of the malcontents and out-of-harmony dissenters having purged themselves from us! Let's pray earnestly, in love, that those who have gone out may be brought to see their error, be brought to repentance, and returned in harmony and rejoicing.
Yet God's Word says, "They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us" (I John 2:19).
Now, let us joyfully dedicate our lives to GOING ON toward complete harmony and unity, adorning the Church of God with increasing RIGHTEOUSNESS — with GOD'S righteousness increasing in our lives, looking toward another even greater Feast NEXT YEAR — preparing for the soon coming of our Lord JESUS CHRIST!