WELCOME IN ADVANCE, brethren in Christ, to the greatest Feast of Tabernacles, 1978! My dear children in Christ, let me tell you how you came to be here — actually the largest conclave or convention held on earth. For this is an EIGHT-DAY Festival held annually with Feast sites scattered over the earth! It started the very SMALLEST. But like the grain of mustard seed, it grew to become the LARGEST! If this were the year 1926, you would not be attending such a great and joyous Festival. So far as I know, no such Feast was held anywhere on earth at that time. Many don't know this Festival came to be resumed after many generations — and for those of you who do, it may be interesting to refresh your memory on how the living Jesus Christ restored God's great conclave in our time.
Driven to indepth study
God called me irresistably in the autumn of 1926 — through my wife. I had been successful in business. I had dropped out of church attendance at age 18. My wife began keeping God's seventh-day Sabbath. To me at the time, this was religious fanaticism. Arguments with her were of no avail. I was driven to an indepth almost night-and-day study of the Bible and the doctrine of evolution. In that intensive research God opened my mind to PROOF of His existence and of the absolute infallible AUTHORITY of the Bible as God's revealed Word. I had to eat crow, however — I was forced to find my wife correct. This first six months' study-in-depth brought me to taking a real beating. I was CONQUERED by God — in real repentance and faith. My mind was SWEPT CLEAN of all previous ideas, concepts and beliefs — OPEN to be taught from God's Word. That same study that opened my mind to the truth of God's Sabbath brought me also the understanding that God gave seven annual Sabbaths commanded to be observed forever! I saw that God made the weekly Sabbath for MAN when man was made — before Adam had sinned. The annual Sabbaths were given to the Church (in the wilderness — Acts 7:38) when the Church (Old Testament) was first established.
Feast observed by two
In the spring of 1927, when this was revealed to me, I did not yet know WHY. I knew only that God commanded. My wife and I began by keeping the Passover and Days of Unleavened Bread in the spring of 1927. I presented this truth to the brethren of the Church of God (Sardis era) in the Willamette Valley in Oregon. They laughed me to scorn! For seven years my wife and I kept God's annual Sabbaths ALONE! Then God raised up the parent Church of this Philadelphia era through me in August, 1933, with 19 members — my converts. They accepted God's truth as I proclaimed it. For 12 years we kept the annual Sabbaths, not knowing WHY. Then, 1945, God gave me UNDERSTANDING of the MEANING and PURPOSE of His Feasts. I saw then that the Feast of Tabernacles pictured the millennial reign of Christ on earth after Satan is removed. For seven years we kept the Feast of Tabernacles, in addition to the other annual Holy Days and the seven Days of Unleavened Bread at Belknap Springs in Oregon. In 1952, having outgrown Belknap Springs, the Festival was held at the much larger Seigler Springs, Calif. But we outgrew Seigler that first year. Beginning 1953 we held the Feast at Big Sandy, Tex. We built what seemed to us then a rather large tabernacle — later to become the college library. We built later the first portion of what later became the college dining hall, auditorium and offices. Outgrowing that, we added a second Feast site at Squaw Valley, Calif., in the early '60s — then added Jekyll Island, Ga., then Mount Pocono, Pa., then Lake of the Ozarks, Mo., Wisconsin Dells, Wis., and the present large tabernacle at Big Sandy. Feast sites continued to be added over the United States, Canada, Britain and around the world. The MEANING of these Festivals is of supreme importance to God's Church to keep reminding us year by year of GOD'S MASTER PLAN for the SPIRITUAL HARVEST of MAN. God's creation of MAN is a DUAL creation. The physical stage began with Adam — the spiritual phase with Christ. In Adam MAN cut himself off from God — and God sentenced man to be cut off from Him for 6,000 years — except the comparative VERY few God called to special service in preparation for God's KINGDOM. Man since Adam has been CUT OFF from contact with God, who only has salvation and eternal life to give. Those called specially by God are, on real repentance and faith, reconciled to God by the shed blood of Christ, the Lamb of God. God called prophets and He called the children of Israel under Moses, to be His separate and peculiar nation. But God gave His Holy Spirit ONLY to the prophets. God gave ancient Israel SUBSTITUTE animal sacrifices, and also, as a SUBSTITUTE for His Holy Spirit, He gave Israel physical rituals and a ceremonial law through Moses. But animal sacrifices could not pay the penalty of human sin — they were only a reminder of sin. When the Holy Spirit came, their substitute was abolished. God's annual Festivals are built around the physical harvest in the Holy Land as symbolic of His SPIRITUAL harvest of HUMANS.
Passover pictures first step
The Passover pictures the first step in the spiritual phase of man's creation. Upon repentance granted by God to those He specially calls and their faith in Jesus Christ, their sins are remitted by the blood of Christ, and they are thereby RECONCILED to God — no longer cut off! Jesus was slain on the Passover day. The following seven Days of Unleavened Bread — when no leaven may be eaten or found in our houses — pictures the putting of sin out of our lives — keeping God's commandments instead. There are two annual Sabbaths — on the first and seventh days of this Festival. The Feast of Firstfruits, called in the New Testament Pentecost, pictures the coming of the Holy Spirit — which came on that day in A.D. 31 — as the time — between then and Christ's second coming — as the comparatively small FIRST HARVEST in man's spiritual creation — as it came at the time of the first agricultural harvest in Judea. The Feast of TRUMPETS, coming on the first day of the seventh month of God's sacred year, reminds us yearly of the coming of Jesus Christ as KING of kings and LORD of lords to rule and offer eternal salvation to all nations — ushering in the KINGDOM OF GOD — which is the FAMILY of God ruling the earth. The Day of ATONEMENT pictures the event making it possible for humanity to be "AT ONEment" with God by the putting away of Satan. Then the Feast of Tabernacles represents the glorious millennial reign of Christ and BORN saints in the Kingdom of God ruling all nations. Satan will be gone. ALL then living will be called. The first day of this seven-day Festival is an annual Holy Day. The very following day is a separate Holy Day, picturing the Great White Throne Judgment after the thousand years. All who ever lived and were uncalled shall then be resurrected MORTAL. They shall then be called, with eternal salvation to those who repent, believe and receive God's Holy Spirit. That COMPLETES the SPIRITUAL phase of God's creation of MAN — reproducing Himself. After that shall come the final resurrection of the incorrigible wicked who were called, but neglected, resisted or failed in being reconciled to God and developing the holy, righteous character from God. After that comes the GLORIOUS ETERNITY finishing the creation of the vast UNIVERSE. WHAT A GLORIOUS MASTER PLAN! YOU are here to imbibe a foretaste of the peaceful, happy WORLD TOMORROW!