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 everyday conduct when no one is watching.
For the Sabbath of March 29, 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 partial hardening that came upon Israel—a hardening that continues and a hardening that will permit the liberation of physical Israel to form the shadow and type of the liberation of spiritual Israel, the nation to be circumcised of heart—is an intermediary state between the full inclusion of Israel in the Passover liberation of that nation in the days of Moses and the full inclusion of spiritual Israel in the Second Passover liberation during the days of the two witnesses, with Moses and Aaron being analogous to the two witnesses who will also be two brothers …
Typological exegesis has two aspects, the first is that of chiral or mirror imagery (as the left hand is the non-symmetrical mirror image of the right hand) and the second is that of narrative analogy; i.e., a narrative forming a shadow or type of a second narrative, this second narrative at a higher hierarchal level than the first but not necessarily being a reversed image as in chirality (e.g., Moses and Aaron are a type of the two witnesses in the Affliction, with the birth order of the two witnesses being reversed, but Moses and Aaron are also a type of Christ Jesus and the Remnant in the Endurance of Jesus). Hence the ministry of Moses to the nation of Israel began with Moses speaking to Pharaoh, telling Pharaoh to let the firstborn son of the Lord (Ex 4:22) go into the wilderness three days journey to worship the Lord. In his messaging to Pharaoh, Moses on the Lord’s instructions called into existence ten plagues, the last of which was the death of all uncovered firstborns at the midnight hour of the 14th day of the first month. In typology, the sacrifice of the Passover Lamb of God has already occurred, and all that remains of the tenth spiritual plague to occur is the death of all uncovered firstborns, with these spiritual plagues to be counted backwards and ending with the two witnesses going to the prince of this world, the Adversary, the spiritual king of Babylon (from Isa 14:4), where they will be killed by Abaddon, then resurrected from death three days later as the prince of this world will be forced to let the people of God go free … the three days journey into the wilderness for which Moses asked Pharaoh becomes a type and shadow of the three days that Christ Jesus was in the Garden Tomb, as well as the three days that the two witnesses lay dead in the public street. The wilderness to which Moses would have taken Israel becomes analogous to the wilderness in which the Azazel is led and released, with this wilderness becoming the type and shadow of both Tartaroo, the outer reaches of the Greek underworld where Peter said Jesus went before being resurrected and ascending to heaven, and of heaven itself.
The ministry of the two witnesses will begin in a wilderness before the 1260 days of their public ministry (Rev 11:3), the period when these two will be in mourning garb and the period analogous to the post-Passover journey of Israel, of the men numbered in the second year, into the wilderness … the two witnesses will wear mourning garb or rough clothing because the men numbered in that first census are analogous to greater Christendom that rebels against God; whereas the children of Israel numbered in the census taken on the plains of Moab (Num chap 26) are analogous to the third part of humanity that follows the Lamb and the Remnant into the Promised Lands of heaven (for those who have taken judgment upon themselves) or into the Millennium (for those who do not take judgment upon themselves).
The ministry of the two witnesses will begin with these two fostering rebellion against the Adversary by telling the Christian slaves of the Adversary to repent, to turn from their lawless ways, and to begin to walk uprightly in this world—to begin to practice righteousness by keeping the Law, James’ royal law, thereby turning away from disobedience and the ways of the reigning prince of this world. And for a Christian slave of sin, which leads to death, to rebel against his or her present master, this Christian will become a slave of righteousness that leads to life (Rom 6:16), something that is inwardly possible through the indwelling of Christ Jesus.
But Christians contend that they are not slaves to sin, that they have been set free by Christ Jesus, that they are no longer under the Law but are under grace, which to them means that they do not have to keep the Law—and Paul wrote,
For God shows no partiality. For all who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law. For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified. (Rom 2:11–13)
Christians who are under grace but who nevertheless transgress the Law because of their unbelief [pisteos] (cf. 1 John 3:4; Rom 14:23) will perish without the Law … does grace permit the Christian to have an affair with the neighbor’s spouse? Does grace permit the Christian to steal from the neighbor? Does grace permit the Christian to worship idols, dishonor parents, commit murder, covet the neighbor’s property? What exactly does grace permit the Christian to do? Which Commandment does grace permit the Christian to transgress? What about the Sabbath Commandment? Does grace permit the Christian to do his or her weekly shopping on the Sabbath, then steal into an idol’s temple and attempt to enter into God’s presence on the day after the Sabbath? No? Then why would a Christian neglect the Sabbath Commandment?
No Christian should to be a slave of sin, a son of disobedience (Eph 2:2–3), but a hardening came upon the minds of the 1st-Century Christian Church that caused this early Church—as with Judaism—to continue to profess belief of God while the people were far from God. This hardening caused the spiritual Body of Christ (1 Cor 12:27) that is the temple of God (1 Cor 3:16–17) to suffer a similar fate to that of the earthly body of Christ as well as that of the earthly temple of God. And as the gates of Hades could not prevail against the earthly body of Christ, the gates of Hades will not prevail against the spiritual Body of Christ. As God the Father returned life to the “natural” body of Christ after three days in the heart of the earth, God will return life to the spiritual Body of Christ after the third day of the spiritual creation week that saw Christ Jesus as the light of day one (2 Cor 4:6).
Enslavement by sin and to sin comes from all persons being consigned to disobedience so that God can have mercy on all (Rom 11:32), and it is God who consigned all to disobedience, not something He would have done if He were looking to save all of humanity at this present time. Therefore, today, before the Second Passover liberation of Israel with this Second Passover liberation of Israel to begin the seven endtime years of tribulation, God is mostly keeping His hands off the demonstration He established with potentially self-aware demonstrators that were delivered to the Adversary for a certain period for the Adversary to use as he wills to “prove” that his concept[s] of self-governance are viable. God is watching. Angels are watching. We—humanity—are the most popular show in the history of the universe, with the Deadliest Catch being a show inside a show.
The Adversary will resist every effort made by the two witnesses to disentangle human sons of God from the affairs of this world in what will be the deadliest catch of all time.
The dynamics of the Bering Sea crab fishery, where the television series the Deadliest Catch is set—with the waters of the Bering Sea being a character in the on-going series—will have the Bering Sea being analogous to the fire that separates the supra-dimensional heavenly realm from the creation with its four unfurled dimensions: the world will be baptized in water and fire, with the baptism of the world in water having occurred in the days of Noah. The Lord baptized the world in water and unto death but saved the Eight in the Ark Noah and his sons constructed, and the Lord will baptize the world in fire at the end of the Millennium, but before the world is baptized in fire with the coming of new heavens and a new earth, the Lord will baptize the world in spirit, the divine breath of God [pneuma Theou]. The Lord will first baptize greater Christendom in spirit and into life at the Second Passover liberation of Israel, then baptize all living creatures in spirit and into life when Satan and his angels are cast to earth, thereby saving the seed of the Second Adam as Noah saved the seed of the first Adam.
In typology, Noah and the seven with him on the Ark are represented by the glorified Christ Jesus and the angels to the seven named churches. This will now have the seven named churches representing the seven pair of every species of clean animals that entered the Ark, and will have—as a type of Caleb, who had about him a different spirit—the single pair of every species of unclean animals representing a single unit from every other Christian sect, denomination, or ideology that exists, with this single unit [the size of this unit only vaguely defined in typology] having about it a different spirit from the remainder of the sect or denomination … the seven pair that represent the seven churches are also represented by Joshua [Gr: Ίησου], with the elder of the two witnesses also being typologically represented by Joshua (see Zech chap 3).
Before the Lord baptizes the world into life, Death must be publicly defeated by the “testimony” of two or three witnesses, with Christ Jesus being one witness and the two witnesses being the two who establish the defeat of Death, the fourth horseman of the Apocalypse. And because the things of this world serve to reveal the invisible hidden things of God, and because of the worldwide popularity of the Deadliest Catch, it is reasonable for the Bering Sea to serve as the mirror image of the separating fire that prevents those things that are physical from entering into heaven; however, for the Bering Sea to be a maquette for the Flood of Noah’s day as well as a chiral representation of the fire that separates the third heaven from earth, the Elect [Christians born of spirit] would necessarily need to be at least represented in the Bering Sea fishery … this is a subject to be further addressed.
The problem inherent with a street demonstration is the phenomenon of the crowd—the demonstrators—playing to news cameras, doing for the cameras’ sake what the crowd would not ordinarily do. Thus, known observation changes the dynamics of a demonstration and its demonstrators, and this includes the demonstration in which all of humanity participates.
If a person knew for certain that God was watching the person, the person would “play” to God, not disclosing by the person’s acts and deeds what was truly in the person’s heart. The person would become an actor on a stage, with Shakespeare declaring that the world is a stage. The person would do everything possible to conceal any ugliness in the person’s heart while showcasing the good that the person’s hands and body can do.
A dog has limited self-awareness; thus, dogs don’t wear masks that conceal what they really think about this situation or that situation. However, people wear masks—
The problem with using the preceding analogy is that God knows what is in the hearts of the actors. However, angels do not. Other human persons do not. And the demonstration underway isn’t for God but for those angels that either rebelled against God, or didn’t rebel and therefore haven’t made up their minds about the Adversary’s claim that they can determine for themselves good and evil, right from wrong.
Sin isn’t necessarily ugly; sin is simply unbelief, not believing God, the reason the nation of Israel that left Egypt could not enter into the Promised Land (Heb 3:19). Thus, any form of unbelief is sin, and this includes not keeping the Commandments with heart and mind, not just with hands and body. Lust for strange flesh is adultery (Matt 5:27–28), even if the person who lusts never touches anyone.
Typological exegesis by analogy will have murder becoming anger and adultery becoming lust and the Sabbath commandment pertaining to the thoughts of the mind and desires of the heart. Thus, for a Christian, transgression of the Sabbath isn’t about what hands and body does on the Sabbath, but about thoughts not related to God and desires unrelated to spirituality being foregrounded on the Sabbath, the seventh day. To think about subjects such as the mundane affairs of this world or weekly shopping for groceries on the Sabbath is the inward transgression of the Sabbath that is comparable to lust. However, movement of the Law from hand to heart permits hands and body to do good on the Sabbath, with what constitutes “good” becoming a matter determined by the doer who has the mind of Christ.
The Law remains an absolute, but an absolute inside a fleshly body that is still consigned to disobedience; hence Paul wrote about doing the things he hated (Rom 7:15). But with the Second Passover liberation of Israel, the fleshly body will no longer remain consigned to disobedience, but will become virtually invisible, not that it cannot be seen but that it will do and reveal whatever is in the heart and mind of the filled-with-spirit Christian.
Doing “good” on the Sabbath doesn’t really permit a person employed in a healthcare facility to do the person’s regular job on the Sabbath, even though it would permit a surgeon to perform emergency surgery on the Sabbath. Discernment is needed, and the universal characteristic of minds of infants is their inability to discern shades of gray: the minds of infants understand black and white, this is wrong and that is right, but every bipolar schema is connected by an element of Thirdness. Black and white is connected by a gray highway of undetermined mileage. And somewhere along this gray highway, a motorist has broken down, an “ox in the ditch” situation? Perhaps. That will be for the son of God to determine, with the son of God to err on the side of righteousness. And in every case, the son of God must determine where the boundaries of righteousness lay.
In the spring of 1974, I stayed home from Sabbath services because my back was out [a vertebrae dislocated and in need of being manipulated]. It wasn’t possible for me to have ridden 90 miles one way to services without experiencing excruciating pain. So I was home, reading Scripture and watching the river [the Yaquina River] when I noticed that a cow with a calf of her own was kicking off a second calf, one a little smaller than hers. This second calf tried to nurse the cow, and she was having none of it. Obviously there was a problem; so I telephoned the owner of the cattle in the long narrow river pasture, and I told him what was happening. He said he would be right there. And in about twenty minutes he was at the gate leading into the pasture. I walked down to talk with him.
During the night a heifer had given birth to her first calf, and she didn’t want anything to do with the calf that was hungry and was now trying to nurse the older cow. Dick, the owner, had a bad back. In his forties, his back was then as bad is mine is now (his from a logging accident). So I gave him a hand cornering the heifer, roping her, and snubbing her to a fencepost so her calf could nurse. This meant running the length of the pasture several times when neither Dick nor I could run because of back problems. Eventually, we got the heifer tied to a post by the gate. But she had kicked her calf so many times that her calf wouldn’t come near her. So Dick, wanting to get the heifer’s first milk into the calf found a couple of pop bottles alongside the railroad tracks, filled them with the heifer’s milk and started down the tracks with the calf on his shoulders …
He hadn’t gone ten steps before his back gave out. I took the calf on my shoulders, crossed the trestle, and walked the half mile down the tracks to where Dick had parked on my side of the covered bridge at Elk City, the covered bridge in the movie Sometimes a Great Notion, the bridge now washed out.
I didn’t know if I could get home, my back hurt so much.
On that Sabbath day, I worked harder than I would have if my back had been fine and it wasn’t the Sabbath. But my back problem was then temporary. Dick’s problems were permanent. And the calf needed to be bottle fed and raised by Dick’s wife, who seemed to have a crop of orphans to raise on their back porch every spring.
I made a judgment call, and on the way back to the house, again walking the tracks—the road to the house was too muddy to drive even with a four wheel pickup—the dislocated vertebrae in my lower back slipped into place without being externally manipulated. When my wife and daughters returned from Sabbath services, my back was fine.
There was in the former Worldwide Church of God a widely circulated story of a minister who refused to help victims of a traffic accident that occurred near the front of his house because its was his Sabbath … he too made a judgment call, a legalistic interpretation of what it meant to do good on the Sabbath. And every Sabbatarian can expect to make one or many such judgment calls in a lifetime. No Sabbatarian will avoid being tested on just how far will the Sabbatarian go in keeping the intent of the Sabbath.
Humanity cannot escape being tested concerning whether the person individually and collectively truly believes God. Abraham was so tested (Gen chap 22). Even Jesus was tested when on the cross (Matt 27:46). So you should expect to be tested on one question alone: do you believe God? Adam failed this test. Abraham passed; Jesus passed.
If you truly believe God, you will do those things that please God even when the cameras are gone; even when no one is looking; even when you believe God isn’t looking.
The Sons of Korah in Psalm 44 were certain that the Lord slumbered, that the Lord was no longer watching Israel but had abandoned Israel, leaving Israel to its own devices … if this were true, the Lord would not know what Israel did in the dark of night, when neighbors neighed after each other’s wives, and evil men planned their murders and thievery. But the Lord always knew even when He did nothing.
When Israel believed that the Lord slumbered, Israel—figuratively with cameras gone—was free to reveal what was in the hearts of the people. Greater Christendom, believing that Christians are not under the Law, is free to reveal what is truly in the hearts of these Christians … the ones who truly believe God will voluntarily keep the Law while those who really don’t believe God and want nothing to do with Moses, will ignore the Law and live as Gentiles live. And this element, this majority of Christendom will respond to the two witnesses as they presently respond to Moses: they will vilify the two witnesses, who in turn have the authority to turn this vilification into plagues and famine against them.
In 1979, after the Feast of Tabernacles, I returned alone to Dutch Harbor where I had fished since July; I returned to fish our boat as winter weather set in. I had no other source of income.
When I returned to Dutch, cameras were figuratively gone: there was no Deadliest Catch TV series, and no one to impress. No one would really know what I did out there. I was free to do whatever seemed right to me—and what I did was honorable. I was a reasonable ambassador for Christ. Same in 1980 when I was again alone in Dutch … on one Sabbath, when the cannery mechanic with whom I was sharing a cabana invited friends over for kālua pig and a luau, I left, hiked over the bridge completed the previous winter when I was tied to the Old Sub Dock, and went to Stormy’s where I ordered my first and only 18-inch taco pizza. The cook broke the pizza in half; the owner offered it to me for half price, and I ate about half of it before taking the other half back to the cabana where the party was in full swing.
The old hospital building was still standing so I paid it a visit … I sat outside until doing so was obviously uncomfortable for everyone there, which included the State Representative and most of the city officials. So as not to needlessly offend, I went in and began to play chess, two boards against all comers, mostly everyone all together as my opponent on each of the two boards. I, however, had a distinct advantage: they were all smoking hash, I wasn’t. And I was winning every game on both boards.
On that Sabbath, was my mind on God and godly subjects? It certainly was on obeying God and the difficulty of doing so in a libertine society. At no time was my mind on not obeying God. Rather, I continually questioned how far could I go and still not offend hosts and guests. So after I won enough games of chess that it was obvious I could win every game, I got up and went back outside where I finished that taco pizza, on which the lettuce had wilted and become slimy. … The party was still on-going and the pig only partially eaten when I went to bed alone, not because I had to but because that was the right thing to do.
In 1979, 1980, Dutch Harbor wasn’t the end of the world, but you could see it from there, a figurative expression akin to Sarah Palin’s about being able to see Russia from her kitchen window, a figure of speech for which she has been pilloried. Well, sailing out of Dutch, I looked into tomorrow, and it looked a lot like today.
Dutch was close enough to tomorrow [the International Date Line] that the things that happened in Dutch remained in Dutch—until the person returned to the Mainland. Those things that a person did or does when no one seems to be looking remain with the person for as long as he or she lives; hence that ad campaign for Las Vegas is a lie.
How do you escape from yourself? Drugs and alcohol don’t lead to escape. Illicit sex doesn’t lead to escape. The only means of escaping disobedience is turning to obedience.
Hash and a luau, Southern Comfort and Jack Daniels, coke for hanging bait to catch a cannery rat—such was life in Dutch the fall of 1979, when a crew member on a crabber made roughly $8,000 per trip, a trip lasting from ten days to two weeks. I was fishing a small boat and making $1,700/day, the only decent money I ever made after being baptized before Passover 1973.
I knew there was a narc on the island when someone asked me for coke in the men’s head in UniSea … by the end of the summer of 1980, those who belonged on the island knew that I wasn’t involved in any drug use. Only a newcomer (someone who didn’t belong) would have ever approached me for drugs even though I regularly played Backgammon in UniSea’s restaurant with the local dope dealer, a young woman who was a virtual chameleon. But I have written about all of this in the novel Shelikof.
A Christian can keep the Law and not be a prude about doing so, but this means walking the lip of the schism separating righteousness from sin. But did Jesus not eat with tax collectors, sinners?
A Christian’s conduct can be upright without the person opening his or her mouth except to answer questions. And what value is it to you or to a State Representative to preach repentance to this Representative when he is high on hashish. Your conduct; your decline of the shared pipe is a greater witness than anything you could possibly say. That was my witness to them.
A partial hardening came upon Israel so that this State Representative could come to God … only this State Representative still hasn’t come to God so did God make a mistake? Or is it not yet the midnight hour when humanity can get no farther away from God?
When I was in Dutch, Herbert Armstrong returned to Pasadena from Arizona and said that the entire Church had jumped the tracks, that no one was still on the track to righteousness. And I remember sitting on my bunk, my boat tied to the Sub Dock, thinking about different members I knew personally: no one was where the person should have been, including myself. Indeed, the entirety of the Worldwide Church of God was far from where all should have been. However, Armstrong didn’t realize he too was off-track.
In 2011, I wondered how humanity could get farther away from God … well, humanity has. But is there still additional room for unbelief? That is a question to be answered this spring.
As the ministry of Moses began not with Moses preaching to Israel or with Moses leading Israel anywhere but with Moses going to Pharaoh, who exercised authority over the people of Israel, the ministry of the two witnesses will begin (or has begun) with these two confronting agents of the Adversary, his ministers that pose as servants of righteousness.
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."