October 7th, 2021
Greetings from Charlotte,
What wonderful Feasts we just celebrated! I hope all of you enjoyed the Feast of Tabernacles and Last Great Day as much as Carol and I did. While some areas were still in various stages of lockdown, preventing some members from meeting together in person, other areas opened up at the last minute and allowed members to be together. One such area was South Africa. President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the nation just before the Feast and announced that the country would move from adjusted Coronavirus Alert Level 2 to adjusted Alert Level 1—permitting gatherings of up to 250 attendees indoors. Even with other restrictions, this allowed all S.A. Feast Site Coordinators to finalize their arrangements as initially planned. Mr. Hugh Stewart served as a guest speaker at two S.A. sites. Mr. Stewart and his lovely wife Maxine also visited the office there and saw a bit of the country before returning to the U.K., where they serve, and before traveling to the U.S. for a visit here.
We are also rejoicing for our brethren in Mexico, where they were all able to meet together this year, after being restricted to no more than twelve in a gathering last year. Livestream works where that is the only option, but we look forward to when every able-bodied member will be able to fellowship in person again.—Gerald Weston
Feast of Tabernacles
From the Festival Office, we wish to thank so many brethren for their service at the Feast. As they say, “Many hands make light work!” The countless hours putting together flower arrangements, manning Information Tables and Business Offices, getting to the hall early to set up sound equipment, standing out in the rain directing traffic in parking lots, serving in special music, and so many other service areas, were much appreciated! It all helped us to have a smooth-running Feast that was encouraging and uplifting. Your service was much appreciated!
If you have not yet filled out the festival survey, please do so by Sunday, October 10. Your feedback is important! You can access it at fotsurvey.lcg.org. (Only one person per household need fill out the form.)
Goals for the Coming Year: The book of Proverbs advises, “Ponder the path of your feet, and let all your ways be established. Do not turn to the right or the left; remove your foot from evil” (Proverbs 4:26–27). Returning from the Feast, inspired by sermons and fellowship, is a good time to set goals for the coming year. What changes can you make to improve your physical and spiritual health? How can you improve your relationship with God, your family, and others? How can you use your time more effectively? What can you do to serve others? How can you prepare for the Kingdom of God? We need to think and pray about these important aspects of our life. The Apostle Paul urged Christians to “walk circumspectly” and make the most of the opportunities we have (Ephesians 5:15–16). Peter advised his audience to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). Consider reviewing the Bible Study Course or reading a booklet each month or taking a Living Education course. Now is a good time to set goals and prepare for the future and the coming Kingdom of God.
Have a profitable Sabbath,
Douglas S. Winnail
News and Prophecy—October 7, 2021
Unleashing Evil in Afghanistan: The U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan was criticized by global leaders and President Biden’s own party, but its ramifications go well beyond politics. The region has been a quagmire for other nations for nearly two millennia. In recent times, Britain tried to control the nation three times over the last 100 years. Russia also tried to subdue Afghanistan three times, from 1939 to 1979. The most recent effort in the region, led by the United States, has also failed—a failure brought into sharp relief by the killing of 13 American soldiers and 169 Afghans in two suicide bombings during the withdrawal effort.
As retired U.S. Foreign Service officer Jeff Goodson wrote, “The Afghanistan-Pakistan region hosts the largest collection of terrorist organizations in the world, including 20 of 61 groups designated by the U.S. State Department as foreign terrorist organizations. All of them—including Al Qaeda and the Islamic State—are now celebrating this epic victory over the infidels.” Rather than making peace and ending conflict, President Joe Biden has “opened the gates of hell,” according to Goodson, who concludes, “Fourteen centuries of war between Islam and the West just got ramped up on steroids” (MSN, August 30, 2021).
The European Union’s high representative for foreign affairs, Josep Borrell, noted, “It’s clear that the need for more European defense has never been as much as evident as today after the events in Afghanistan.… There are events that catalyse the history. Sometimes something happens that pushes the history, it creates a breakthrough and I think the Afghanistan events of this summer are one of these cases” (The Guardian, September 2, 2021).
Afghanistan may act as a “catalyst” that pushes history in a new direction—both for a coming European “beast” power and a Middle Eastern “King of the south” (see Daniel 11:40–45). America’s withdrawal already calls to mind the prophecy against sinful Israel, that “you shall flee when no one pursues you” (Leviticus 26:17). It appears that prophetic events are picking up speed. To learn more about the history of Afghanistan and end-time events that will impact Europe, the Middle East, and the United States, be sure to listen to or read “Kabul and Prophecy” and The Beast of Revelation: Myth, Metaphor or Soon-Coming Reality?
Ethnic Cleansing in Ethiopia? In the Tigray region of northern Ethiopia, ethnic forces from a neighboring region, apparently allied with Ethiopia’s Nobel Peace Prize-winning prime minister and troops from neighboring Eritrea, may be committing serious atrocities. According to observers, these forces are rounding up Tigray natives and “throwing thousands of men, women and children into makeshift ‘concentration camps,’ cutting off limbs and dumping mutilated bodies into mass graves as part of an orchestrated ethnic purge” (The Telegraph, September 5, 2021). Satellite imagery shows large pits next to each alleged concentration camp slowly filling up.
The Bible predicts that, as the end of the age approaches, “nation will rise against nation” (Matthew 24:7). This phrase can also be translated as one ethnic group against another. In northern Ethiopia, there are three major ethnic groups, including the Tigray. The alleged aggressors are another ethnic group, the Amhara.
However, the Bible also reveals that a peaceful future is coming, when the weapons of war will be turned into farming implements (Isaiah 2:4). This coming time of peace is depicted by the annual fall Festivals commanded by God in the Bible. Although many theologians claim the annual Festivals are only “for the Jews,” the Bible clearly states these are the “feasts of the Lord” (Leviticus 23:1–2) and will eventually be observed by everyone in the world (Zechariah 14:16–19). To learn more about the way to lasting peace pictured by the biblical Festivals, watch “The Biblical Holy Days, Part 3.” This program provides awesome insight into a time when ethnic cleansing will occur no more!—Scott Winnail and Francine Prater