The following Scripture passages are offered to aid beginning fellowships. The readings and commentary for this week are more in line with what has become usual; for the following will most likely be familiar observations. The concept behind this Sabbath’s selection is striving for purity.
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For the Sabbath of January 30, 2010
The person conducting the Sabbath service should open services with two or three hymns, or psalms, followed by an opening prayer acknowledging that two or three (or more) are gathered together in Christ Jesus’ name, and inviting the Lord to be with them.
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. (1 John 2:15–17 emphasis added)
Two things are in the above passage are apparent: If all that is in the world is from the world and is not from the Father, then the wealth of this world is not from the Father. The things that can be stored or saved in this world are not from God. Even a person’s fleshly body—certainly a “thing” that is in this world—is not from the Father, but has come from the Logos who created all things (John 1:3). Therefore, a person’s athletic abilities are not from the Father; the touchdown run is not from the Father. A person errantly gives God thanks for scoring the game’s winning points on the Sabbath.
The second aspect that is apparent in the passage is that there is a doing of the will of God. The person who does [as in doing something, the concept inherent in obedience] the will of the God abides forever; whereas, according to Jesus, the workers of lawlessness [<@:\"<] do not do the will of the Father and will be denied when judgments are revealed (Matt 7:21—23), for they were never known by Christ Jesus regardless of the mighty works they did in Jesus’ name.
The will of God which, if a person does causes the person to abide forever and if a person neglects causes the person to be denied by Jesus, stands in opposition to the things of this world. But the many self-identified Christians who routinely thank the Father for the things of this world will not be convinced by argument or by Scripture that God has not answered their prayers when a fateful pass reception is made in a nationally televised ballgame, or when they are spared death in a natural disaster. Their faith permits them to justify every heinous deed done in the name of Christ regardless of whether that deed was to a Native American or to natural Israelite … when the mountain man Joe Meeks asked a Nez Perce chief for a second Nez Perce wife (because his first Nez Perce wife had run off), the chief struck a deal with Meeks: a second wife would be permitted if Meeks would teach the people about Christ, which Meeks, not necessarily a Believer, did well enough that the Whitman mission was surprised by how much the people knew. But the Whitmans’ fear of the people became their undoing when smallpox was eventually loosed by westward emigrées.
The unfortunate aspect of Christian America’s dealing with Native peoples was that the word of these Christians was worthless. From the Pequot to the cause of the Angoon Incident, Christian America represented neither God nor the best that America pretended to be. Instead, Christian America—an ideological conglomerate that functioned as a singularity—which too many political conservatives in this era have begun to idolize was bigoted, racist, and religious intolerant … the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania jailed Sabbatarian Anabaptists who refused to work on the Sabbath and worked instead on Sunday, and the Commonwealth kept them in jail until they recanted, or as actually happened, until the Commonwealth tired of feeding them and listening to them sing hymns while Christian America toiled.
Jesus said, “‘Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also’” (Matt 6:19–21).
In addition, Jesus said,
No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.
Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, “What shall we eat?” or “What shall we drink?” or “What shall we wear?” For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. (Matt 6:24–33)
If a disciple is not to love the things of this world, nor to lay up treasure in this world; if a disciple is not to be anxious about what the disciple eats or wears, but is to seek first the kingdom of God; if the Apostle Paul wrote of himself, “To the present hour we hunger and thirst, we are poorly dressed and buffeted and homeless … [w]e have become, and are still, like the scum of the world, the refuse of all things” (1 Cor 4:11, 13)—can the disciple who does not seek the things of this world, who strives not to mingle the sacred with the profane expect anything other than to be hungry in this world, to have little or nothing, to be considered a deadbeat in a world that values the acquisition of things? In a patriarchal culture, a person’s worth is quantified in possessions: the person who has little or nothing is “worth” little or nothing in this world even if this person’s word is good. Yet the writer of Hebrews said, “They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated—of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth” (11:37–38).
Doing a work for God comes via a calling by God to do such a work, and does not have a positive correspondence to a person’s worth in this world. If anything, it has a negative correspondence: the more a person seems to be worth in this world, the less the person is worth to God.
As the United States’ moral authority to advocate for freedom necessarily winds down as the world prepares for the involuntary coming of Christ Jesus, with this winding down now occurring at an accelerating pace, the remains of Christian America have begun to reach backward to the nation’s founding fathers in a Tea Party movement intended to recapture the spirit and zeal of 18th-Century Christian America. This movement is anathema to Christ Jesus, yet is being made in an errant attempt to return the nation to Christ … when a person has nothing in this world but a desire to serve God, then serving God is worth more to the person than is the acquisition of things; for even in the poorest cultures, those who desire the things of this world will acquire them, usually by force and by transgressing the commandments. A purity of heart cannot be obtained through the things of this world; it cannot be purchased. There are no venders selling purity. Yet it is of more worth to God than all of the material things that have been created in the Abyss. And this purity of heart is very rarely seen in this era. It has been long forgotten by Christian America.
Americans have acquired considerable wealth in this world by the blessing of the geography they occupy and by the industry of the culture they inherited. There has been a perceived American Exceptionalism at work within the United States, but this exceptionalism has come from mingling the sacred with the profane to produce a bastardize culture that values work (idle hands are the work of the devil) and a rule of law, but does not value the words of Jesus enough to actually walk as Jesus walked. And by mingling the sacred with the profane even though there is an implied separation of Church and State, a separation that allowed Christian denominations and the State to function as puddingstone, a separation that allowed for the last Elijah’s second attempt to breathe life back into the Body of Christ, an attempt that ended quietly in 1962, Americans are today perhaps the most superstitious people on the planet, for they seek the blessing of a God they neither know nor believe before they will play ballgames or eat what no circumcised of heart Israelite should eat. They seek the blessing of this unknown [to them] God before attempting to rescue victims trapped in debris fields or rubble piles. They seek the blessing of this unknown God before they go into battle, and then they persuade themselves that their unknown God gives them the victory when it is their technological superiority that makes the victory possible.
American Exceptionalism is real, but doesn’t come from God but from the Adversary in his last, best attempt to make his rebellion against God work as he promised his fellow rebels. If America fails, the jig is up for him: he will have no credibility even among the rebelling angels. Therefore, it is of primary importance to him—it is an actual matter of life or death—that the American experiment in democracy is successful.
A person living in the United States, a person who has enjoyed the beauty of its geography and the opportunities afforded by its limited governance, a person who has reared children in the nation, homeschooling them until they entered universities from which they took graduate degrees—no such person wants to see the nation fail, nor witness what is presently happening to the nation as it is transformed into a beggar, bankrupted by liberal extremists. But the United States must fail. There is no way for the nation not to fail if the single kingdom of this world is taken from the spiritual king of Babylon and given to the Son of Man halfway through the seven endtime years of tribulation. Thus, it is with inward sadness that America’s demise is witnessed, its collapse discussed, and the man of perdition described. No American will “enjoy” living through the fall of the nation, for the Tribulation will be a time like none preceding these years when humankind’s survival will seem in doubt.
Christians pray, “‘Our Father in heaven, / hallowed be your name. / Your kingdom come, / your will be done, / on earth as it is in heaven’” (Matt 6:9–10) … there is no lawlessness in heaven; the lawless have been cast into the Abyss. Therefore, if the will of the Father is done on earth as it is in heaven, the lawless (the person who transgresses the commandments) will be cast into the Abyss and will perish forever when the Abyss closes as the earth closed on Korah (see Num chap 16). So why—answer if you can—does Christian America practice lawlessness?
To say that neither those American Christians who make war against Muslim fundamentalists, nor the Muslim fundamentalists who make war against the Great Satan know the God of heaven will not endear a disciple to either warring party, but the wars of this world and victories in these wars are things of this world. In WWII, when German mothers prayed for victory and for the safety of their sons and when English mothers prayed for victory and for the safety of their sons, to whom was God listening? Was God on the side of the Allies because of how evil Hitler was? Was Hitler more evil than Stalin? Or the seemingly easy question: was Hitler more evil that Roosevelt, who cheated on his wife [committed adultery] and made political deals that amounted to bribery? Before God, it is more evil to kill six million Jews, or sixty million of the nation’s own citizens, or to be a hypocrite, married to one woman and living with another man’s wife?
The prophet Jeremiah records the Lord saying, “‘Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will punish all those who are circumcised merely in the flesh—Egypt, Judah, Edom, the sons of Ammon, Moab, and all who dwell in the desert who cut the corners of their hair, for all these nations are uncircumcised, and all the house of Israel are uncircumcised in heart’” (9:25–26) … how does the Lord punishing Judah by the Chaldean Nebuchadnezzar differ in effect from what Hitler did, which is not to say that Hitler functioned as an agent of the Lord but to say that Nebuchadnezzar did serious harm to Judah as the Assyrians had previously harmed the northern kingdom of Israel; that the Lord will fight for His people when they obey Him and will fight against His people when they do not. The Lord doesn’t fight on behalf of one Gentile nation against another Gentile nation. And in WWII, the Lord’s people were victims of, not participants in the fighting between Allied and Axis powers.
The Radical Reformers of the 16th-Century understood that a person cannot participate in the governance of this world in this era and remain true to God, but apparently they alone understood at least at a functional level that the Adversary was and will remain the prince of this world until the kingdom of this world is given to the Son of Man (Rev 11:15–18; Dan 7:9–14) at the end of the age [halfway through the seven endtime years of tribulation].
Every governing authority in this world comes through the Adversary even if that authority is of God; for God has consigned or concluded humankind to disobedience (i.e., to being bondservants of the Adversary) so that He can have mercy on all (Rom 11:32). Therefore, the governing authorities in this world must necessarily mingle the sacred with the profane as the holiday Christmas is a mingling of the sacred with the profane. The governing authorities of this world that have been instituted by God govern as agents of the Adversary, who is also God’s servant albeit an unwilling one.
The Adversary is not free to do as he pleases, but remains subject to the authority of the Lord:
Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them. The Lord said to Satan, “From where have you come?” Satan answered the Lord and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.” And the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?” Then Satan answered the Lord and said, “Does Job fear God for no reason? Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.” And the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your hand. Only against him do not stretch out your hand.” So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord. (Job 1:6–12)
Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them to present himself before the Lord. And the Lord said to Satan, “From where have you come?” Satan answered the Lord and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.” And the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil? He still holds fast his integrity, although you incited me against him to destroy him without reason.” Then Satan answered the Lord and said, “Skin for skin! All that a man has he will give for his life. But stretch out your hand and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse you to your face.” And the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, he is in your hand; only spare his life.” (Job 2:1–6)
The Adversary, first, had to present himself before the Lord to give an accounting of what he had been doing, and, second, the Adversary was limited in what he could do by the Lord. Therefore, with Job asking that his words and his righteousness be recorded for posterity, endtime disciples see that even when the sons of Adam have been consigned to disobedience, the Adversary can only exercise the authority given to him as the presently reigning prince of this world. But because he is the reigning prince of this world, he rules over the fleshly bodies of all sons of disobedience. Therefore, until the Father draws a person from this world and gives to this person a second breath of life, the Adversary rules over this person, and by extension, over the person’s family and clan and tribe and nation.
There is no nation that is not today ruled by the Adversary, and this includes the United States of America … by its deeds, Christian America revealed that it was not and is not today ruled by God, but remains the bondservant of the Adversary, who appears as an angel of light (2 Cor 11:14–15) as his servants appear as ministers of righteousness.
Again, within the United States of America are many political conservatives who sincerely believe the nation’s founding fathers were inspired by God to draft the foundational documents of this nation. These conservatives virtually idolize George Washington, who like the Roman Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus (dob 519 BCE), served his nation then returned to his farm. And following the second Passover these conservatives will mobilizes the resources of the United States in a vain attempt to return to the principles of the nation’s founding fathers: they will use the rallying cry of America being the world’s last and best hope, when America merely represents a hybridized mingling of the sacred and the profane into a union that will not hold as religious leaders and secular leaders become indistinguishable in the Tribulation … the separation of Church and State intended to promote religious tolerance for diverse Christian faiths has become a lever used to pry successive generations of Americans away from the hybridized deity whom athletes credit for their Sabbath activities on the ball fields of the nation. Although this separation of Church and State is proving to be the social undoing of the nation, this separation has also prepared the nation to repent from its present godless ways once the Second Passover occurs. Unfortunately, those political conservatives that idolize Washington will convince far too many “Christians” to return to the lawlessness of earlier generations, with their lawlessness manifested in ideological puddingstone.
Christian America sees nothing wrong with celebrating Christmas with its focus on Christ and on the family, even though the man Jesus of Nazareth was not humanly born of Mary on December 25th, the day of the invincible sun … December 25th has been celebrated as a pagan observance of the winter solstice for approximately 3,500 years: the solstice backs up about a day every 900 years so the difference between the 25th and the 21st offers reasonable dating for when the initial observance of the day began in about 1,500 BCE. Therefore, to wrongly assign December 25th as the birth date of Christ Jesus is to figuratively baptize this pagan holiday; for the insertion of Christ into the celebration of the day merely mingles the sacred with the profane in an unholy alliance. It does not commend this day to God or to faithful Christians.
Christmas observance is truly a mingling of the sacred and the profane in a manner similar to this mingling in the founding documents of the United States of America.
The man of perdition will reveal himself as the lawless one on or about Christmas of the year of the Second Passover, and he will reveal himself through his advocacy of a return to the values of America’s founding fathers, not through some insidious plan to force natural Jews to convert to Islam or the Roman See to send a German-led army into the Middle East. The lawless one will be as ancient King Saul was, a humble man who stands head and shoulders above the rest of this people, only his standing head and shoulders above others isn’t manifested in physical size but in ideological zeal. The man of perdition will be a moral/political zealot who does not realize today what he will do to “preserve” his nation after the Second Passover occurs. He presently looks for another George Washington to emerge from the political chaos sure to result from President Obama’s bankrupting of America. He doesn’t today know that he will be that George Washington whom he seeks.
When the prophet Jeremiah complained to the Lord about how little he was accomplishing in bringing Judah to repentance, he asked the Lord to intervene,
Pull them out like sheep for the slaughter,
and set them apart for the day of slaughter.
How long will the land mourn
and the grass of every field wither?
For the evil of those who dwell in it
the beasts and the birds are swept away (12:3–4)
but Jeremiah didn’t get the answer he sought:
If you have raced with men on foot, and they have wearied you,
how will you compete with horses?
And if in a safe land you are so trusting,
what will you do in the thicket of the Jordan? (12:5)
Those disciples who are today of Philadelphia race against other men; their voice is merely one of many in a cacophony of theological explication, with the voices of “the many” vying for contributions so that these many can take Christian America’s puddingstone gospel to the world before the end comes. These many voices will, therefore, be silenced when the economy of the United States dies in fiscal agony when not even monetizing the nation’s debt can keep the nation afloat. But the voice of Philadelphia will continue to be heard for it is not a voice dependant upon men or the contributions of men and women. It is a voice proclaiming the good news of the Endurance, a voice prepared by the Lord long ago.
If the Second Passover were to occur in 2011, a year that would satisfy the prophetic timeline, then the sixth seal (Rev 6:12) would be opened on the December solstice of 2012 and the wrath of the Lamb would be “explainable” by the global alignment that ends the Mayan long count calendar. But if this is the case, then the Wrath of the Lamb was foreordained from the foundation of the world, just as the rebellion of Christian America was foreordained. Thus, Philadelphia will compete with horses as individual Philadelphians come out from thickets to baptize Believers who cross the Jordan, the barrier between the kingdom of this world and the kingdom of God.
Today, Christian America differs little from ancient Athens, about which Luke records:
Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him as he saw that the city was full of idols. So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the devout persons, and in the marketplace every day with those who happened to be there. Some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers also conversed with him. And some said, “What does this babbler wish to say?” Others said, “He seems to be a preacher of foreign divinities”—because he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection. And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, “May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? For you bring some strange things to our ears. We wish to know therefore what these things mean.” Now all the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there would spend their time in nothing except telling or hearing something new.
So Paul, standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said: “Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, for
“‘In him we live and move and have our being’;
as even some of your own poets have said,
“‘For we are indeed his offspring.’
Being then God's offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man. The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”
Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked. But others said, “We will hear you again about this.” So Paul went out from their midst. But some men joined him and believed, among whom also were Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris and others with them. (Acts 17:16–34)
Endtime Christians do not think of God as a gold or silver image even though many Christians pray “through” statuary as if the statuary were a magnifying lens that intensified uttered prayers. But endtime Christian America is as superstitious as the men of Athens were in the 1st-Century CE: these endtime Christians pray to an unknown [to them] Christ, who made the world and all that is in it. The disciple who preaches what the man Jesus of Nazareth actually said preaches a foreign divinity to Christendom—
How can that be? How can it be truthfully said that the Jesus of the Bible, the man Jesus of Nazareth is an unknown deity within Christian America? But the sentence that will initially seem hard to believe is true. Consider an example: Jesus said, “‘Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword’” (Matt 10:34) when Christendom holds that Jesus came to bring peace to this world. Jesus said, “‘I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person's enemies will be those of his own household’” (vv. 35–36) when Christendom holds itself up as the champion of the family.
Christianity is not a family-friendly ideology! Jesus said, “‘Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me’” (v. 37). To Jesus, the family is less importance than a disciple’s relationship with Him. The disciple must love God more than father or mother, brother or sister.
Christianity’s focus shouldn’t be on the family or on familial relationships, but on the inner new self that is a son of God. A ministry that focuses on the Christian’s human family does good works in this world, but is contrary to God. A ministry such as Focus on the Family is not of God and does not do a work for God. This, however, is not to say that such ministries do not do excellent work in this world—they do. There is no disputing the human good that they do, but human good is as a menstrual rag to God.
When disciples step away from ministries that focus on the things of this world, an image of Israel emerges: when Israel was a clan of herdsman, the clan went down into Egypt, taking “their livestock and their goods” gained in Canaan with them (Gen 46:6), with Egypt being a representation of sin … when Abram left his father Terah and journeyed to Canaan, he took with him his wife Sari and his nephew Lot “and all their possessions that they had gathered, and the people that they had acquired in Haran” (Gen 12:5), but the real wealth that Abram acquired was in Egypt where the Pharaoh dealt well with Abram for the sake of Sari. The Pharaoh gave to Abram, “sheep, oxen, male donkeys, male servants, female servants, female donkeys, and camels” (v. 16), and in turn, the Lord afflicted Pharaoh and his household with great plagues. When the Pharaoh realized the cause of the plagues, he called Abram to him and said, “‘What is this you have done to me? Why did you not tell me that she was your wife? Why did you say, ‘She is my sister,’ so that I took her for my wife? Now then, here is your wife; take her, and go’” (vv. 18–19). And Pharaoh sent Abram and Sari away with all that Abram had, including the wealth Pharaoh had given Abram (v. 20).
When Abram left Egypt, he was “very rich in livestock, in silver, and in gold” (Gen 13:2), with most of this wealth coming from his sojourn in sin (i.e., half-truths that were full lies). The herds of Abram and the herds of Lot were too large for them to continue dwelling together (vv. 5–9); for livestock was the growing base for Abram’s increasing wealth, which his grandson Jacob doesn’t get to inherit.
Although Jacob, at his mother’s urging, deceived his father Isaac, tricking his father into blessing Jacob who had earlier conned his brother Esau into selling him Esau’s birthright for a bowl of lentils, Jacob left his father and journeyed with nothing to Haran (to Paddan-aram) to take a wife from his kinsmen: he didn’t take flocks with him, nor wealth. All he took was his great strength and his deceit, which he employed to breed herds for himself.
About the deal Jacob strikes with Laban, his father-in-law, Jacob has the following exchange with Laban:
As soon as Rachel had borne Joseph, Jacob said to Laban, “Send me away, that I may go to my own home and country. Give me my wives and my children for whom I have served you, that I may go, for you know the service that I have given you.” But Laban said to him, “If I have found favor in your sight, I have learned by divination that the Lord has blessed me because of you. Name your wages, and I will give it.” Jacob said to him, “You yourself know how I have served you, and how your livestock has fared with me. For you had little before I came, and it has increased abundantly, and the Lord has blessed you wherever I turned. But now when shall I provide for my own household also?” He said, “What shall I give you?” Jacob said, “You shall not give me anything. If you will do this for me, I will again pasture your flock and keep it: let me pass through all your flock today, removing from it every speckled and spotted sheep and every black lamb, and the spotted and speckled among the goats, and they shall be my wages. So my honesty will answer for me later, when you come to look into my wages with you. Every one that is not speckled and spotted among the goats and black among the lambs, if found with me, shall be counted stolen.” Laban said, “Good! Let it be as you have said.” But that day Laban removed the male goats that were striped and spotted, and all the female goats that were speckled and spotted, every one that had white on it, and every lamb that was black, and put them in the charge of his sons. And he set a distance of three days' journey between himself and Jacob, and Jacob pastured the rest of Laban's flock. (Gen 30:25–36)
Laban’s attempt to prevent Jacob from acquiring flocks of his own was not successful. Exactly what Jacob did to produce spotted and speckled sheep cannot be fully explained by the account given although all of Laban’s sheep would have carried the speckled genes. Regardless, Jacob “increased greatly and had large flocks, female servants and male servants, and camels and donkeys” (Gen 30:43). He increased because the Lord blessed him even though he continued in deceit.
Abram/Abraham increased in wealth through a half-truth—through deceit—when in Egypt, and Jacob increased in wealth in the land of Haran through trickery manifested in selective breeding … the Pharaoh was more honest than Abram, and certainly more honest than either Laban or Jacob; yet it is “Egypt” that, as a physical landscape, represents sin in the spiritual realm. Haran [Assyria] as a physical landscape represents death in the spiritual realm. So as physically circumcised Israel is liberated from physical slavery to a human king in the land of Egypt at the first Passover, circumcised-of-heart Israel will be liberated from slavery to the spiritual king of Babylon (Isa 14:4) at the Second Passover, with this spiritual slavery having dominion over Israel through indwelling sin and death. Therefore, when Israel is recovered a second time (cf. Isa 11:11; Jer 16:14–15; 23:7–8; Ezek 11:17–20; 20:33–38, 42–44; 36:22–27; Deut chap 30), the children of Israel shall be recovered from death: it is death that’s represented by captivity in a far land (Deut 30:1–2), the landscape of the nations. Israel as a nation shall be saved (glorified), but not all of Israel belongs to Israel (Rom 9:6). Not all Christians are Christians. Most, today, are as Israel was in the days of Jeremiah.
In the image of Israel that emerges, the clan’s wealth in this world was not obtained honestly but through deceit, through half-truths and trickery, with the herds and flocks of the patriarchs serving as the shadow and copy of the nation of physically circumcised Israel growing in fiscal wealth, breeding money as if it were cattle, not said as a derogatory comment but as a historical observation. However, since Calvary Israel has been the circumcised-of-heart nation: the physically circumcised descendants of the patriarch have suffered mightily as Jeremiah recorded in the repeated citation, “‘Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will punish all those who are circumcised merely in the flesh—Egypt, Judah, Edom, the sons of Ammon, Moab, and all who dwell in the desert who cut the corners of their hair, for all these nations are uncircumcised, and all the house of Israel are uncircumcised in heart’” (9:25–26). These physical descendants have been punished by the Lord with a punishment like that which Cain bore (they, too, killed their righteous brother), a punishment greater than the nation can bear, a punishment causing the nation to be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth, a nation marked by Sabbath observance, yet a nation that the Lord has avenged seven-times over (Gen 4:14–15) … during the Tribulation, Sabbath observance will mark all who are of God as the left hand enantiomer of the tattoo of cross marking those who are of the Antichrist in the Endurance. Thus, in marking the natural descendants of the patriarch with Sabbath-observance as the nation wandered in this world as fugitives and the scum of humankind (again, what Paul said of himself and those with him) for the past two millennia, God has laid the basis for recovering this natural nation during the Tribulation.
But recovering Israel is based upon the revealing of judgments made, with Christ Jesus doing this revealing when He comes as the Messiah. He doesn’t make judgments about Israel when He comes; rather, He discloses judgments that have already been made, and made by disciples themselves.
When Jesus told His disciples, “‘If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld’” (John 20:23), and, “‘Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven’” (Matt 18:18), He gave to His disciples authority to bind and loose and authority to forgive or withhold forgiveness of sin. And if His disciples have the authority to forgive sin, they have the authority to make judgments on matters concerning the commandments—but only authority pertaining to the commandments, not the authority to change what the commandments are or say. Disciples do not have the authority to loose the 7th day as the Sabbath and to bind the 8th day as the Sabbath; rather, they have the authority to forgive the person who, out of the weakness of the flesh, commits adultery as Jesus addressed the woman in John 7:53 through 8:11, saying, “‘[F]rom now on sin no more.’”
Paul warns disciples against using the authority they have to hold or forgive sin in trivial matters such as food or drink—
Wealth in this world is as the flocks of Israel were in the ancient world; for wealth is needed to purchase those things which a person cannot provide for him or herself when the person is separated from God. As animal protein has apparently been needed to supplement diets since the Flood, wealth has been needed. In most of the world the land doesn’t fully provide for its inhabitants, just as herbs and seeds will no longer easily sustain long life.
But obtaining wealth in this world brings to the disciple a contamination of the type Abram underwent when he said, She is my sister, or that Jacob experienced when he bought Esau’s birthright. The businessman or businesswoman is likely to find it necessary to sell that which the disciple would not consume. The employee will likely be required to make things used to kill other men. The craftsman will be offered commissions for work by individuals whose lifestyles are anathema to God. And these are those situations Paul addresses when he writes, “I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people—not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world” (1 Cor 5:9–10).
Can a disciple maintain ideological purity while doing business with this world? Possibly, but probably not. Scripture does not disclose Jesus doing business in this world. And Moses in Egypt kills a man.
Anabaptists since the 17th-Century have not been able to maintain theological purity even in their communes although a considerable effort has gone into striving for purity. Those Anabaptists who subsistence farm strive to take from the soil (that the Logos created) those things that are necessary for the life that has come from the Logos breathing into the nostrils of the first Adam.
Wealth is necessary to purchase those things the disciple cannot supply him or herself, and the wealth of this world has been given to the Adversary until the kingdom is taken from him and given to the Son of Man. Therefore, the disciple must necessarily interact with the world as Jesus prayed, “‘I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one’” (John 17:15).
It is popularly said that a person is what the person eats. If a person eats what is common to this world, the person is numbered among the “common” population of this world; the person is of the nations. This person is not “special”; is not holy; is not set part for service to God. This person is not outwardly or inwardly of Israel … even though a disciple will not be defiled by what a person eats, the disciple who lusts after that which denotes membership in the common populace of this world covets the disciple’s former life as a son of disobedience. If the Father has drawn a person from this world by giving to the person a second breath of life, the person should value this gift of eternal life enough to strive to be holy as the Lord is holy. This means that the person will do those things that separate Israel from the nations—and outward circumcision is not one of these things, for how is the circumcised Jew different in circumcision from the Muslim? It is the disciple who is circumcised of heart whose circumcision differs from that of the Jew or of the Muslim.
The person who eats as a Gentile will live as a Gentile, not as someone who follows Christ Jesus, walking in this world as Jesus walked. It is the person who eats with understanding as Moses prescribes who separates him or herself from the outward Jew [with his multiple sets of dishes] and the Muslim, as well as separating him or herself from every Gentile.
The Anabaptist who lives as a subsistence farmer, who is a generational descendant from 16th and 17th Century Anabaptists but who also lives as a spiritual Gentile—this Anabaptist is not physically defiled, but is not now a son of God. And unless this Anabaptist repents of his or her lawlessness; unless this Anabaptist comes to Sabbatarian Anabaptists for baptism, our lawless Anabaptist will not be among the firstfruits resurrected to glory.
As a disciple separates him or herself from this world by what the disciple eats physically, the disciple will separate him or herself from this world by how the disciple conducts the disciple’s business affairs. But as Paul addressed Roman converts, saying that “I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself” (14:14), no business activity itself is an abomination before the Lord although prostitution is certainly condemned as is eating swine’s flesh … in Romans chapter 14, Paul doesn’t address the issue of clean animals versus unclean animals, or the issue of a Sunday versus Saturday Sabbath although that would seem to be what’s being said. For a meat to be ceremonially clean, the animal could not be sacrificed to idols. A pig would never be clean, but would always be “common” flesh. However, a bull that was a clean animal would be rendered unclean meat by being sacrificed to Zeus. Paul addresses the issue of eating meat from a clean animal without asking how the animal was slaughtered, or why. The person weak in faith would not eat for the person doesn’t know and couldn’t know how or why the otherwise clean animal was slaughtered; whereas the person strong in faith asks God to bless the meal and believes that God will do exactly that, cleansing impurities (real and ceremonial) from the meal while providing from the meal all of the food value that the disciple’s fleshly body needs. Therefore, whether the disciples eats or doesn’t eat flesh, the disciple will receive—based on faith—all of the food value that the disciple needs from what the disciple eats. Likewise, the person who works will receive the things of this world that the person needs to survive.
To use what Paul writes about not judging the eating of meat as pretext for not purging unrighteousness from Christian fellowships is an abuse of Scripture … Israel has spiritual life as ancient Israel had physical life. Israel can lose its spiritual life as ancient Israel could lose physical life. Until the Son gives life to whom He will (see John 5:21), Israel lives spiritually as ancient Israel lived physically.
If a born-of-God disciple lives spiritually as an ancient Israelite lived physically, then if this son of God neglects obedience and ignores the commandments, this son of God will transgress the law, thereby subjecting the disciple to the penalty of the law: death—in this case, the second death. The disciple can argue until he or she runs out of breath that the disciple is under grace, not the law, but if the disciple chooses to serve sin (what it means to neglect obedience), the disciple makes him or herself a bondservant to sin, which leads to death (Rom 6:16). The disciple proves to be the seed of the Adversary rather than a son of God (1 John 3:8–10), and the disciple should expect nothing from Christ Jesus except denial when judgments are revealed.
Christian hubris holds that the Father and the Son love the disciple regardless of what the disciple does, not realizing that disciples in this era are in the womb of grace and are spiritually as either Esau or Jacob were physically. Addressing this situation, Paul reminds the converts at Rome, “As it is written, ‘Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated’” (9:13). The disciple who chooses to continue to live as a Gentile covets the commonality of all men, and this disciple will eat “common” foods, the animals that were given to Noah and his descendants to eat. But the disciple who chooses to live as an Israelite will spurn what is common and will strive to be holy as God is holy, meaning that this disciple will adhere to the dietary laws given to Israel in the wilderness, but not how rabbinical Judaism idolizes these laws. Thus, one disciple is not to judge another on how the disciple adheres to these dietary laws: there is latitude for reinterpretation. There is not latitude, however, to declare swine as fit food for the fleshly tents of circumcised–of-heart Israel. No Christian can eat pork and be holy as God is holy; the Christian who eats pork can only be “common” as all men are common before being born of God.
Spiritually, a vegetarian diet in the flesh would represent the disciple having no intercourse with this present world. Such a diet and representation will be the norm throughout the thousand year long Millennium, but the kingdom of this world has not yet been given to the Son of Man. Therefore, a disciple needs to physically supplement a diet of vegetables with protein that doesn’t grow naturally on grain stalks. This supplementation can occur by faith through asking God to bless what the disciple eats, but most disciples lack faith of the magnitude necessary to transform five barley loaves and two fish into enough food to feed five thousand. Therefore, most disciples need to eat clean meats that in type represent how the disciple conducts his or her business affairs in this world.
For the disciple who seriously wants to avoid eating animal flesh of any sort, manufactured proteins (i.e., protein taken from soybeans and other vegetative matter by means other than simple cooking) are available for consumption; plus, much has been learned about food combinations that produce complete proteins when eaten together. So a disciple who chooses to eat no meat can obtain in vegetarian dishes all of the food value needed for physical life. But this is not what clean meats or judging the disciple who eats only vegetables is about: eating or not eating clean meats is about living in this world but not being a part of this world. To be holy as God is holy, a person must conduct his or her affairs as God conducts His—and God isn’t in the business of selling SPAM® to customers of a corner grocery store, but a disciple might well be a grocer or the employee of a grocer. If the disciple who is a grocer has customers who want canned hog, does the disciple for reasons of conscience refuse to sell the product? Is the disciple his or her customer’s judge? How should the disciple handle such a problem?
The problem Paul addresses in Romans chapter 14 pertains to a situation within the Church of God, but Paul’s discussion of not judging the one who eats or drinks differently from the disciple has application to the broader world. Does a disciple not work on an assembly line producing GM trucks because they pollute the atmosphere?
All jobs are “clean” [i.e., honorable] as long as the job isn’t an overt transgression of the commandments of God. If a job requires the employee to lie, then the disciple need not be that employee. However if the job itself is a lie, such as that of a school teacher or a college professor, the disciple is not to be condemned by other disciples because a required textbook discusses theoretical evolution. What will condemn the disciple is his or her own deeds, meaning that as long as the disciple is honorable in his or her behavior, striving for righteousness, doing what the disciple knows is right, the disciple is not condemned before God because a customer buys canned hog or because evolution must be discussed in a public school classroom.
In the 1970s, the Russian Orthodox Old Believers of the Alaskan village of Nikolaevsk temporarily solved the problem of teaching evolution in public schools by gluing the pages of biology text books that discussed evolution together. But such a solution can only be temporary. The following paragraphs are from a story in The Homer News (Homer, Alaska), dated October 7, 2009, the story by staff writer Michael Armstrong:
Russian Old Believer high school students taking next spring's high school qualifying exit exam face a choice of conscience: Do they follow the laws of the state or of their God? For the devoutly religious students attending school in the Old Believer communities of Nikolaevsk, Razdolna, Voznesenka and Kachemak Selo, there is no real choice. They will attend Holy Week services and not take the test.
Under the religious calendar used by Old Believers -- and taken into consideration by the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District in setting up village school schedules -- Holy Feast days happen during the area schools' spring break, April 5-9, 2010. The state high school exit exams are held April 6-8.
"Every day of the week is a Holy Feast Day," said Stan White, a teacher at Voznesenka School, told the Kenai Peninsula Borough Board of Education at its meeting in Homer on Monday at Homer High School. "Our students have been denied the opportunity to take the test this spring."
The school district appealed the test to the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development, said Superintendent Steve Atwater. That appeal was denied.
No exceptions can be made, said Erik McCormick, assessment director for DEED. Under a contract with Data Recognition Corporation, the test contractor, the three-part test cannot be taken earlier or later.
If a sect or denomination chooses to educate its youth through the public school system, the sect or denomination enters into partnership (marriage) with the prince of this world. Inevitably, the values of this world will be imposed on that sect or denomination. And the same applies with employment and/or obtaining wealth in this world … Abram didn’t leave his father Terah with the intension of telling Pharaoh a half-truth. That is just the way events “worked out.” That is not how events should have worked out, but the way they will work out when dealing with this world. And disciples are not to judge other disciples who strive to live righteously but are contaminated by the lawlessness of this world. Disciples are to judge other disciples who do not strive to live righteously, but who consciously practice sexual immorality or who are swindlers or idolaters.
Christian America does not seem to strive to live righteously whereas endtime Anabaptists—the quiet folk of rural America—do so even though both share the same error of lawlessness. The difference between Christian America and American Anabaptists comes from the relationship each has with the Federal Government. Christian America will use the power of the government to come after Philadelphians in the Tribulation whereas Anabaptists submit to the government but do not participate in it; they do not partner with the Adversary in an unholy alliance that mingles the sacred with the profane.
Again, all animals were given as food to the descendants of Noah, but the descendants of Israel will choose to only eat those animals that are deemed “clean” … the disciple who chooses to separate him or herself from the commonality of humankind mentally ingests what is “clean,” with the politics of this world being far from clean.
Before God, there is no condemnation of the non-Israelite who eats a hog, or of the person who participates in the governance of this world. But the person who strives to be holy as God is holy will not eat the flesh of a swine; nor will this person stand for public office or vote in elections. If the person unknowingly eats or is unavoidably caught up in a lawsuit, the person is not condemned for the flesh that enters the stomach and exits in a bowel movement just as the person who is trapped in a lawsuit leaves behind the corruption of this world when the suit concludes. But the thought that enters the mind never fully leaves.
The inner new creature that is a son of God, born of spirit, is fed knowledge and ideas as if these things were meat and vegetables. This new creature eats what is holy so this new creature can be holy as God is holy. So it isn’t what enters the mouth that defiles, but what exits from the mouth. And when this new creature is holy as God is holy, this inner new creature will have the tent of flesh in which it dwells eat only those foods that are holy. This new creature will not have the tent of flesh in which it dwells vote for elected representatives, for this new creature cannot be represented in this world by another human being.
More about Christian America’s rejection of God will be discussed in future readings.
The person conducting the Sabbath service should close services with two hymns, or psalms, followed by a prayer asking God’s dismissal.
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"Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved."