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 God asleep?.
For the Sabbath of March 15, 2014
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.
Lest you be wise in your own sight, I want you to understand this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And in this way all Israel will be saved, as it is written, "The Deliverer will come from Zion, He will banish ungodliness from Jacob"; "and this will be my covenant with them when I take away their sins." As regards the gospel, they are enemies of God for your sake. But as regards election, they are beloved for the sake of their forefathers. For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. For just as you were at one time disobedient to God but now have received mercy because of their disobedience, so they too have now been disobedient in order that by the mercy shown to you they also may now receive mercy. For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all. Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and how inscrutable His ways! (Rom 11:25–33 emphasis added)
The fullness of Gentiles (or of Israel) coming to God is the totality of all who will come when no stumbling block exists. Since the 1st-Century CE, a stumbling block for Jews has existed: Christ Jesus. This stumbling block originating with the partial hardening of the minds of natural Israel, a hardening that is of God and that is analogous to the God of Abraham having hardened the heart and mind of Pharaoh in the days of Moses. And this stumbling block of Christ Jesus does not go away until dominion is taken from the Adversary and the Adversary is cast to earth.
If Christ Jesus is a stumbling block for the natural descendants of the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, with Christ being a stumbling block because of the partial hardening of minds and hearts that came upon Israel, then it follows that the inner repulsion felt by uncircumcised adult males toward outward circumcision—a repulsion that effectively serves as a stumbling block preventing the uncircumcised from coming to God—is itself of God and has served God’s purposes.
But why would God not want greater humanity to come to Him? Why would God not want Israel to come to Him?
Perhaps the better question to ask is why would Jesus in John’s Gospel say, “‘No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day’” (John 6:44)?
If a person of his or her own volition cannot come to Christ Jesus, what actually prevents the person from doing so? In John’s Gospel, Jesus says the Father prevents the person from coming to Christ Jesus …
Jesus came to reveal the Father to those disciples whom the Father gave to Jesus. Jesus didn’t come to reveal the Father to all of Israel, or to the nations [Gentiles], but to specific individuals foreknown and predestined by the Father; for what does Jesus say in John’s Gospel: “‘And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent’” (John 17:3).
A partial hardening of minds will now prevent Israel as well as Gentiles from knowing God the Father, the only true God, as well as Christ Jesus, the Son of Man; for if the person—any person for God shows no partiality—comes to know the Father and Christ Jesus, the person has indwelling eternal life … the person who doesn’t know Father and Son does not have eternal life, for humanity is not born with immortal souls but receives indwelling eternal life as a gift of God in the form of Christ Jesus (Rom 6:23).
Thus, God the Father either wants a person to come to Christ and thereby draws the person from this world, offering to the person salvation—making the person an offer that he or she cannot refuse … and if God makes the person an offer that cannot be refused, what is the role of “freewill” in God drawing a person from this world and delivering the person to Christ Jesus, who will then raise the person up on the last day. Freewill plays no part in an offer that cannot be refused; freewill has nothing to do with whether the person is numbered among the Elect.
The Apostle Paul wrote,
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, in order that He might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom He predestined He also called, and those whom He called He also justified, and those whom He justified He also glorified. What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God's Elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, "For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered." (Rom 8:28–36 emphasis added)
It is not all of Christendom that is foreknown and predestined, called, justified, and glorified: it is the Elect, who were not more righteous than others prior to being called, justified, and their inner selves glorified. It is the Elect whose minds have been opened so that they know the only true God, and Christ Jesus, the Beloved of the only true God.
But it is in the juxtaposition of the Elect being foreknown, predestined, and justified by God and Paul’s citation where understanding lays:
For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered—who is the “we,” and who is the “you/your”?
Paul’s citation is from a Maskil of the Sons of Korah: Psalm 44,
O God, we have heard with our ears, our fathers have told us,
what deeds You performed in their days, in the days of old:
You with Your own hand drove out the nations,
but them [our fathers] You planted;
You afflicted the peoples,
but them [our fathers] You set free;
for not by their own sword did they win the land,
nor did their own arm save them,
but Your right hand and Your arm,
and the light of Your face,
for You delighted in them.
You are my King, O God;
ordain salvation for Jacob!
Through You we push down our foes;
through Your name we tread down those who rise up against us.
For not in my bow do I trust,
nor can my sword save me.
But You have saved us from our foes
and have put to shame those who hate us.
In God we have boasted continually,
and we will give thanks to Your name forever. Selah
[the turn, v. 9] But You have rejected us and disgraced us
and have not gone out with our armies.
You have made us turn back from the foe,
and those who hate us have gotten spoil.
You have made us like sheep for slaughter
and have scattered us among the nations [among Gentiles].
You have sold Your people for a trifle,
demanding no high price for them.
You have made us the taunt of our neighbors,
the derision and scorn of those around us.
You have made us a byword among the nations,
a laughingstock among the peoples.
All day long my disgrace is before me,
and shame has covered my face
at the sound of the taunter and reviler,
at the sight of the enemy and the avenger.
All this has come upon us,
though we have not forgotten You,
and we have not been false to Your covenant.
Our heart has not turned back,
nor have our steps departed from Your way;
yet You have broken us in the place of jackals
and covered us with the shadow of death.
If we had forgotten the name of our God
or spread out our hands to a foreign god,
would not God discover this?
For He knows the secrets of the heart.
Yet for Your sake we are killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.
Awake! Why are You sleeping, O Lord?
Rouse Yourself! Do not reject us forever!
Why do You hide Your face?
Why do You forget our affliction and oppression?
For our soul is bowed down to the dust;
our belly clings to the ground.
Rise up; come to our help!
Redeem us for the sake of Your steadfast love! (Ps 44:1–26 emphasis added)
The Sons of Korah who bring accusation against the Lord, claiming that although they are righteous the Lord has become negligent, not delivering them from their enemies, could well be American Christians lamenting what has become of their cherished United States that seems to be ruled by a popularly elected King, one who ignores laws he doesn’t like while simultaneously promoting a progressive agenda that ensures his kingdom’s place with Sodom in the historical parade of nations—
This psalm was obviously on Paul’s mind when he writes that if God is for us, who can be against us … God can be against us; God can not hear prayers. God can turn His face away from Christians, and has turned His face against Christians who sincerely believe that they have not broken covenant with Him, that God is at fault in permitting open homosexuality in the U.S. military, or permitting a Canadian business that refused to print a gay couple’s wedding invitation to be fined, or permitting a New Mexico photographer who declined to photograph a gay couple’s wedding to be brought to court.
Does God sleep? Must He be roused from a millennia-long nap?
Were not the natural descendants of the patriarchs regarded as sheep to be slaughtered by Nazi Germany, or as vermin to be exterminated? Were not Anabaptists—Christians who believed in adult baptism—hunted as if they were wild sheep to be slaughtered whenever found by both the Roman Church and the Reformed Church in the 16th and 17th Centuries? Certainly they were, the reason my ancestors on both mother’s side and father’s side came to Plymouth and Germantown respectively in the 17th-Century.
Where was God when Russian Orthodox peasants were herded like sheep into the Gulag? Was He not sleeping? Or was He merely keeping His hands off the demonstration underway, a demonstration that the way of the Adversary is destined to fail, that every way of the Adversary and his angels is doomed to failure?
Does God sleep through the Adversary’s governance of this world? Or does God do with Christians what the natural descendants of the patriarchs realized; what the Sons of Korah realized? Does God begin well, but then neglect His firstborn son (from Ex 4:22) for whom He once fought? That is the core of the Sons of Korah’s accusation: God delivered their ancestors, but had turned His back on them.
Consider “the turn” in Psalm 44 as it could apply to Christians, with the 1st-Century Church being analogous to Abraham and the patriarchs.
Before the turn, God interceded on behalf of Israel, but as geographical distance is compressed by a high-magnification camera lens, the historical perspective of the Sons of Korah was compressed by the narrative of history; for God had not intervened on behalf of Israel for 400 years and wasn’t seemingly intervening on behave of Israel at the time of Moses’ birth. He didn’t appear to intervene in the affairs of Egypt until it was time to liberate Israel from physical slavery to a physical king in a physical land as the shadow and type of a spiritual liberation of humanity from indwelling sin and death.
The Sons of Korah gave God credit for Israel’s military successes against the Canaanite kings, but then blamed God for their more recent defeats … if God is against us when we do those things that pertain to keeping covenant with Him, where does the fault lie? That is the question the Sons of Korah asked and answered for themselves: the fault lay with God, who was apparently sleeping. And an endtime disciple should hear in their mind the words of Elijah:
When Ahab saw Elijah, Ahab said to him, "Is it you, you troubler of Israel?" And he answered, "I have not troubled Israel, but you have, and your father's house, because you have abandoned the commandments of [YHWH] and followed the Baals. Now therefore send and gather all Israel to me at Mount Carmel, and the 450 prophets of Baal and the 400 prophets of Asherah, who eat at Jezebel's table." So Ahab sent to all the people of Israel and gathered the prophets together at Mount Carmel. And Elijah came near to all the people and said, "How long will you go limping between two different opinions? If [YHWH] is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him." And the people did not answer him a word. Then Elijah said to the people, "I, even I only, am left a prophet of [YHWH], but Baal's prophets are 450 men. Let two bulls be given to us, and let them choose one bull for themselves and cut it in pieces and lay it on the wood, but put no fire to it. And I will prepare the other bull and lay it on the wood and put no fire to it. And you call upon the name of your god, and I will call upon the name of [YHWH], and the God who answers by fire, he is God." And all the people answered, "It is well spoken." Then Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, "Choose for yourselves one bull and prepare it first, for you are many, and call upon the name of your god, but put no fire to it." And they took the bull that was given them, and they prepared it and called upon the name of Baal from morning until noon, saying, "O Baal, answer us!" But there was no voice, and no one answered. And they limped around the altar that they had made. And at noon Elijah mocked them, saying, "Cry aloud, for he is a god. Either he is musing, or he is relieving himself, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened." And they cried aloud and cut themselves after their custom with swords and lances, until the blood gushed out upon them. And as midday passed, they raved on until the time of the offering of the oblation, but there was no voice. No one answered; no one paid attention. Then Elijah said to all the people, "Come near to me." And all the people came near to him. And he repaired the altar of [YHWH] that had been thrown down. Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, to whom the word of [YHWH] came, saying, "Israel shall be your name," and with the stones he built an altar in the name of [YHWH]. And he made a trench about the altar, as great as would contain two seahs of seed. And he put the wood in order and cut the bull in pieces and laid it on the wood. And he said, "Fill four jars with water and pour it on the burnt offering and on the wood." And he said, "Do it a second time." And they did it a second time. And he said, "Do it a third time." And they did it a third time. And the water ran around the altar and filled the trench also with water. And at the time of the offering of the oblation, Elijah the prophet came near and said, "O [YHWH], God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that you are God in Israel, and that I am your servant, and that I have done all these things at your word. Answer me, O [YHWH], answer me, that this people may know that you, O [YHWH], are God, and that you have turned their hearts back." Then the fire of [YHWH] fell and consumed the burnt offering and the wood and the stones and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces and said, "[YHWH], He is God; [YHWH], He is God." And Elijah said to them, "Seize the prophets of Baal; let not one of them escape." And they seized them. And Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon and slaughtered them there. And Elijah said to Ahab, "Go up, eat and drink, for there is a sound of the rushing of rain." (1 Kings 18:17–41 double emphasis added)
Perhaps God has been relieving Himself for the past two millennia when He hasn’t answered the prayers of the saints in the way that Christians would have expected … did Christian Crusaders expect God and Christ Jesus to give them victory over the infidels that had overrun earthly Jerusalem? Yes, they did. Do Christian patriots expect God to give them victory over human secularism when they protest the murder of the unborn in abortion clinics? When do endtime Christian patriots conclude that God has turned His back to them, that their prayers are not being heard, that God must be roused from His seemingly perpetual nap?
The preceding question is central to greater Christendom’s rebellion against God on day 220 of the Affliction, this rebellion being the great Apostasy when the lawless one—the man of perdition—declares himself God in the temple of God that is the Body of Christ (cf. 1 Cor 3:16–17: 12:27; 2 Thess 2:3).
Following the Second Passover liberation of the second Israel (i.e., greater Christendom, the nation that is to be circumcised of heart), all who profess that Jesus is Lord will be filled-with and empowered by the spirit of God [pneuma Theou], but being filled with spirit is NOT being born of spirit. The one differs from the other as wedged clay differs from flesh.
The Elect are born of spirit, what it means for the inner self of the disciple to be glorified (again Rom 8:30), with all disciples numbered among the Elect having passed from death to life without coming under judgment (John 5:24).
· As the Creator-of-all-things-physical chose Abram/Abraham as His human cultivar from which He would propagate firstborn sons (Ex 4:22), God the Father chose His Beloved whom He sent into this world to be the First of His firstborn sons;
· As the Creator made from red clay one Man then from this one fleshly Man made one Woman, God the Father raised the inner self of one Man from death thereby creating the last Adam—
· Then God raised the fleshly body of this one Man from death thereby creating from this last Adam the life-giving spirit that would give birth to all other sons of God;
· The glorified Christ Jesus represents both the last Adam and the last Eve;
· Hence God the Father no more causes a human person to be born of spirit than Elohim [singular in usage] caused you and me to be born of flesh …
Yes, Elohim is responsible for your human birth as well as responsible for my human birth, but His responsibility is limited to His creation of first Adam then His creation of Eve, the mother of all biologically born human persons. Likewise, God the Father is the progenitor responsible for all sons of God, but His responsibility is limited to His resurrection of the inner self of the man Jesus from death then His resurrection of the outer self of the man Jesus, thus returning to His Beloved the glory His Beloved had with God before the world existed (John 17:5). And once He returned to His Beloved the glory His Beloved had previously possessed, the relationship between God and His Beloved changed from a relationship represented by a man and his wife to that of a father and his firstborn son, thereby leaving an opening in heaven for the Son as the Bridegroom to marry His Bride, consisting of other sons of God to whom the Son has given indwelling heavenly life as Eve gave birth to Cain, Abel, and Seth.
Is God like a man, who after engaging in procreation with his beloved, rolls over and falls to sleep, not to be wakened until morning?
The mistake greater Christendom has made; the mistake that Judaism has made; the mistake that Islam makes is in assuming God the Father is the Creator of all things physical when this is simply not true: the Beloved of God was the Creator of all things physical. The Beloved of God was the God [Theos] of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God [Theos] of living ones, not of dead ones (Matt 22:32). God the Father was and is the God [Theos] of dead ones. God the Father is the God [Theos] who raised the dead inner self of the man Jesus from death; who raised the dead outer self of the man Jesus from death. And God the Father determines who can come to Christ Jesus by whether He draws the person from this world or leaves the person in this world as a slave of the Adversary; as a son of disobedience. If He draws the person, He delivers the person to Christ Jesus who then dies for the person at the appropriate time while the person remains a sinner (Rom 5:8). In this way, the dead spirit of the man [to pneuma tou ’anthropou] is born of spirit [pneuma] through the indwelling of Christ Jesus in the spirit of the man, with the spirit of Christ [pneuma Christou] penetrating the spirit [pneuma] of the man as Adam penetrated Eve to cause Eve to bring forth Cain and Abel, with the heavenly life that gives life to the spirit [pneuma] of the man being the indwelling of Christ Jesus, the vessel that has come from heaven and that is able to contain the breath of God [pneuma Theou] which would otherwise consume the spirit of the man.
In the above can the problem facing Greek Christian converts be seen? Zeus was god [theos]; Apollo was god [theos]; Poseidon was god [theos], with the linguistic icon <Theos/theos> written only in uncials [all capitals], and with the /os/ case ending disclosing that the noun is masculine singular in the nominative case. Monotheism precludes there being more than one God; thus if the Creator of all things physical is God, then there can be no other God. Christ Jesus cannot be God. The breath of Christ [pneuma Christou] (from Rom 8:9) cannot be God. The breath of God the Father [pneuma Theou] (from Rom 8:11) cannot be God. Only the Creator of all things physical can be God, the contention of Arian Christendom, Judaism, and Islam.
But if the Creator of all things physical is God, then humanity can have no indwelling eternal life—cannot have an immortal soul, which is spiritual; which is of heaven, the timeless supra-dimensional realm of God and the angels—for the Creator of all things physical is the God of physically living ones, not the God of dead ones (Matt 22:32) that are no longer physically living. The Creator of all things physical is not the God of the dead suicide bomber, the jihadist who believed the lie of the serpent, You shall not surely die (Gen 3:4), when this jihadist is dead from committing self-murder, a sin for which no post-transgression repentance can occur. The only possible covering the jihadist has for his sin will be in whether Christ Jesus chooses to lay upon the Adversary the jihadist’s delusion, an unlikely possibility when the jihadist’s heart was filled with hate against Christians and Jews.
If any human person is to escape death, the person needs the help of the Son of Man, whose spirit/breath serves as the container, the vessel that is capable of holding the bright fire that is the glory of God (see Ezek 1:26–28), with this bright fire being the means of sustaining life in the timeless heavenly realm.
The spirit of the man [again, to pneuma tou ’anthropou] that dwells in the soul [psuche] of the human person cannot receive heavenly life directly from God the Father—the soul [psuche] of the person can be filled with the spirit of God, but the dead spirit of the man that is in the soul cannot receive inside itself the spirit of God that would utterly consume it. Only a vessel that comes from heaven and that can penetrate the spirit of the man as a husband penetrates his wife can give spiritual birth to the spirit of the man, with this heavenly vessel remaining in the spirit of the man [to pneuma tou ’anthropou] as a husband leaves his seed in his wife, with one seed giving life to a previously dead ovum in the woman’s womb.
In drawing a person from this world and delivering the person to Christ Jesus, the Father in type does what a human father does, but not literally. Rather, the Father does what Elohim [singular in usage] did when creating Adam and Eve, with the glorified Jesus representing both Adam and Eve and thus able to give life to and to deliver as an infant son of God the spirit of the man that is in the soul of a human disciple, with Jesus then causing the soul of the person to put on imperishability when all who will come to God have come in the Affliction and Endurance. The Bridegroom will then marry His Bride, with the Elect—selected by God the Father—as younger siblings [brothers] of Christ Jesus being part of the Bridegroom’s wedding party, not part of the Bride’s wedding party.
This reading will be continued next Sabbath.
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."