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 that innocence doesn’t remove quilt.
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For the Sabbath of March 31, 2012
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.
Now when they drew near to Jerusalem and came to Bethphage, to the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, "Go into the village in front of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, 'The Lord needs them,' and he will send them at once." This took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, saying, "Say to the daughter of Zion, 'Behold, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.'" The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them. They brought the donkey and the colt and put on them their cloaks, and he sat on them. Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, "Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!" (Matt 21:1–9)
Now when they drew near to Jerusalem, to Bethphage and Bethany, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples and said to them, "Go into the village in front of you, and immediately as you enter it you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever sat. Untie it and bring it. If anyone says to you, 'Why are you doing this?' say, 'The Lord has need of it and will send it back here immediately.'" And they went away and found a colt tied at a door outside in the street, and they untied it. And some of those standing there said to them, "What are you doing, untying the colt?" And they told them what Jesus had said, and they let them go. And they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it, and he sat on it. And many spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut from the fields. And those who went before and those who followed were shouting, "Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!" (Mark 11:1–10)
Is there a difference between Matthew’s account and Mark’s account about how Jesus entered Jerusalem as the Lamb of God and as the future high priest of Israel? There is a difference: the presence of the donkey … Jesus didn’t ride both the donkey and her yet unridden colt as some critics would have disciples suppose in their efforts to turn a discrepancy into a serious issue: He rode only the colt, and His feet would have, most likely, dragged the ground. For it was the high priest of Israel that entered Jerusalem on this 10th day of Aviv with the select Passover lamb for Israel—and Jesus would not have been presumptive enough to have ridden the donkey and thereby signify that He was the present high priest of Israel. He was the future high priest, a high priest after the order of Melchizedek; hence, He rode the offspring of the donkey.
As stated in last Sabbath’s reading, milk is for infants, but northern Europeans and their colonizing descendants drink milk all of their lives … for spiritual milk drinkers, the prophecy Jesus cites is from Zechariah and is in three thought-couplets,
Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! [physical]
Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! [spiritual]
behold, your king is coming to you; [physical]
righteous and having salvation is he, [spiritual]
humble and mounted on a donkey, [physical]
on a colt, the foal of a donkey. [spiritual] (Zech 9:9)
If Matthew had not understood Zechariah’s prophecy and had thought that Jesus rode both donkey and colt into Jerusalem as might be construed by milk drinkers from Matthew having written, 6"Â |B,6V24F,< |BV<T "ÛJä< (“and He sat on them” — Matt 21:7), permit those of us of Philadelphia to assured milk-drinking critics that Jesus did not ride both donkey and her colt into town … actually Matthew understood more than Mark did; for Jesus to have sat but not ridden the donkey would symbolize that Jesus was aware that He was the Passover Lamb selected by God that the physical high priest would have slain as the atonement for the sins of Israel—and this is reading nothing into Matthew’s words, but reading Matthew’s words as someone who no longer only drinks milk.
Critics are unable to find in Matthew’s gospel references about Jesus being the Passover Lamb of God, references that they find only in John’s gospel. But these critics are truly milk drinkers—
Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not listen to the law? For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by a slave woman and one by a free woman. But the son of the slave was born according to the flesh, while the son of the free woman was born through promise. Now this may be interpreted allegorically: these women are two covenants. One is from Mount Sinai, bearing children for slavery; she is Hagar. Now Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia; she corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother. For it is written, "Rejoice, O barren one who does not bear; break forth and cry aloud, you who are not in labor! For the children of the desolate one will be more than those of the one who has a husband." Now you, brothers, like Isaac, are children of promise. But just as at that time he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to spirit, so also it is now. But what does the Scripture say? "Cast out the slave woman and her son, for the son of the slave woman shall not inherit with the son of the free woman." So, brothers, we are not children of the slave but of the free woman. (Gal 4:21–31 emphasis and double emphasis added)
In Zechariah’s prophecy, Zion is the present day Jerusalem, the Jerusalem below; whereas Jerusalem is the Jerusalem above, the barren one, the desolate one whose children shall be many (Isa 54:1). And whereas Jesus as the Messiah, the King whom natural Israel has long awaited and still awaits, will come to Zion, to the Jerusalem that is of this world when the Second Advent occurs, this King for whom Zion waits will also bring salvation of Israel, to the nation circumcised of heart first then to the outwardly circumcised nation of Israel. And in bringing salvation to Israel [to two nations of Israel] He is the selected Passover Lamb of God whom sits on the donkey but doesn’t ride it as the bleating lamb that Zion’s high priest has selected will sit on the donkey while in the arms of the high priest riding the donkey into earthly Jerusalem on this 10th day of Aviv.
This is not too difficult for anyone to understand, is it? Certainly Matthew understood the prophecy, but then Matthew would have been among the first disciples who met with Jesus after He was glorified:
Then [Jesus] said to them, "These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled." Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, "Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high." (Luke 24:44–49 emphasis added)
Neither Mark nor Luke would have been there when Jesus opened the minds of His first disciples so that they understood Scripture. Rather, Mark and Luke would have received their understanding through the giving of the parakletos, the spirit of truth, a holy spirit that comes from the Father.
And in Luke we find,
When [Jesus] drew near to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount that is called Olivet, He sent two of the disciples, saying, "Go into the village in front of you, where on entering you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever yet sat. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, 'Why are you untying it?' you shall say this: 'The Lord has need of it.'" So those who were sent went away and found it just as he had told them. And as they were untying the colt, its owners said to them, "Why are you untying the colt?" And they said, "The Lord has need of it." And they brought it to Jesus, and throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it. And as He rode along, they spread their cloaks on the road. (Luke 19:29–36 emphasis added)
What must be understood is what caused the Sadducees to marvel, being astonished at Jesus’ teaching:
You [Sadducees] are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. And as for the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was said to you by God: “I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob”? He is not God of the dead, but of the living. (Matt 22:29–32 emphasis added)
According to Matthew, Jesus said that the Creator of all that has been made; that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob was not the God of the dead but of the living. The One who resurrects the dead is the God of the dead. The One who judges the living is the God of the living. And these two deities are not the same deity—and this is what astonished the Sadducees. This is what most 1st-Century Jews would not and could not accept. But this is what Matthew understood and what John understood and what Paul understood but couldn’t emphasize beyond his salutations and what he wrote to the holy ones at Philippi, an epistle accepted by most scholars as being part of the genuine Pauline corpus.
Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, He humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Phil 2:4–11 emphasis added)
According to Paul, Jesus existed as God before taking the form of a servant and being born in the likeness of men. This is what John’s gospel is all about—and this was understood by Matthew as revealed by the details that Matthew, a bean-counter [tax collector], reveals in little things like Jesus mounting the donkey that is absent in both Mark’s and Luke’s account.
The importance of the donkey was not understood by either Mark or Luke; hence by the principle of narrative economy, the donkey is not mentioned by either writer. And while it might seem that Luke lifted his account from Mark, there is a fundamental difference between Mark’s Jesus and Luke’s Jesus, enough difference that plagiarism isn’t a problem.
In his gospel John doesn’t mention either the donkey or the colt, but then, John isn’t interested in the prophecies that Jesus fulfilled but in Jesus Himself, the only Son of the God of the living and the First of the firstborn sons of the God of the Dead … two deities that functioned as one deity as if the two were married, with the change in the structure of their relationship from a figuratively horizontal relationship to a vertical relationship as in a father and his primogeniture: the Father and His Firstborn Son.
The change from horizontal relationship as represented by the marriage of a man and his wife to a vertical relationship as represented by a father and his eldest son leaves an opening for the son to marry a bride and thereby add an additional member to the otherwise closed relationship—for in marriage a man is not to have a relationship with any other woman, nor is the woman to have a relationship with any other man. Long term close friendships between a man and another man’s wife should never occur, nor should long term close friendships between a woman and another woman’s husband. Shouldn’t happen! For any close relationship between a man and a woman outside of marriage steals from either the man’s or the woman’s ability to form a close bond with his or her spouse, and is a physical form of idolatry.
Can innocence conceal sin? Can the historical critic who holds graduate degrees in theology from the institutions of this world and holds a tenured faculty position in one of these institutions commit the unpardonable sin without ever being born of spirit? Can blasphemy against the divine breath of God occur before the person ever tastes the goodness of God? Did Israel as a married woman commit the unpardonable sin at Mount Sinai when it commanded Aaron to make for the nation elohim of gold to go before the people? What is the command not to kindle a fire on the Sabbath about? if not a prohibition against Israel ever having indwelling eternal life in the presence of the God of the living—and that is what not kindling a fire on the Sabbath is about, with fire [the dark fire of cellular oxidation that sustains physical life and the bright fire that represents the glory of God] being the representation of life, and with the Sabbath representing entering into the presence of the God of the living in heaven.
Jesus told curious Pharisees,
Jesus said, "For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind." Some of the Pharisees near him heard these things, and said to Him, "Are we also blind?" Jesus said to them, "If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, 'We see,' your guilt remains.” (John 9:39–41 emphasis added)
Were the Pharisees innocent? Yes and no. But they thought they understood the mysteries of God in a manner similar to how academics practicing historical criticism today believe they understand the New Testament—and in a manner similar to how presently living Sabbatarian Christians believe they understand the prophecies of God. But there is limited understanding at best when a Christian doesn’t comprehend the ramifications and magnifications of the marriage relationship that will have a man having only a close personal relationship with his spouse and not with another woman regardless of whether she is single or married … idolatry didn’t come upon ancient Israel suddenly, but left Egypt with ancient Israel and never went away throughout the entirety of Israel’s history, even into this present era. Idolatry doesn’t suddenly come upon one who is of the Elect but left the Sabbatarian fellowship the person formerly attended with the person who is of the Elect. Whereas Islam holds an idolatrous relationship with the Koran, Judaism holds an idolatrous relationship with monotheism, and Sabbatarian Christians hold an idolatrous relationship with the Sabbath, the sign that will mark them for death in the Affliction, the first 1260 days of the seven endtime years. And yes, the Sabbath is to be kept!! This means that the holy ones will be marked for physical death before the single kingdom of this world is taken from the present prince of this world and given to the Son of Man, Head [Christ Jesus] and Body [the Christian Church]. This means that the holy ones will die as Jesus died. This means that the holy ones will be selected as Jesus was selected when He sat on the donkey that neither Mark nor Luke mentioned because they didn’t understand Zechariah’s prophecy. This means that little things that others do not notice, that even other truly born-of-God saints do not realize are important will make a difference as to who lives to do a work in the Endurance and who does not live into the Endurance; for all Sabbatarian Christians will be marked for death in the Affliction, including the Elect and perhaps especially the Elect if the Elect do not “pay much closer attention to what we [they] have heard” (Heb 2:1).
For the Elect, innocence does now and will in the future prevent sin/unbelief from being seen for what it is … if Jesus were to personally confront one of the Elect and tell this person that he or she was guilty of unbelief, the person would feel remorse and want to know how and where and when. But this same person will not respond that same way to another human person, which is why another human person is given the task of telling the Elect what they need to hear.
The innocence of ignorance; the innocence of outward obedience to the commandments of God with truly understanding the mysteries of God—both will conceal unbelief of the sort that will not keep the Elect from the kingdom, something that cannot be done, but will keep the Elect from entering the Endurance of Jesus, the last 1260 days before Jesus returns as the Messiah, the King of kings.
The historical critic who finds that in Matthew’s gospel, Jesus’ disciples bring Him both the donkey and her colt, whereas in Mark’s and in Luke’s gospel the disciples only bring a colt to Jesus wants to develop a case against these three gospels being the inspired word of God—and while a difference exists, with Mark’s Jesus saying almost nothing but suffering greatly and with Luke’s Jesus saying much more and seeming to suffer much less, the case is a mirage, the reflection of real events as seen through the wavering and rising breath of God in these three men, four actually for the critic cannot see how John’s gospel fits into the pattern when Jesus speaks almost everything in John chapters 13 through 17. But simply said, the critic not born of God is not supposed to understand, and cannot understand, and most likely will never understand … understanding of the mysteries of God is a non-transferable gift. Ask anyone who takes these Sabbath readings but who is not of born-of-God (there are some) if the person can understand what is written. Inevitably, the person not born-of-spirit will say that these readings are too convoluted and too complex and too circular to be understood. And indeed they are for that person.
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.
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