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 very few believe the gospel.
For the Sabbath of December 6, 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.
The elder to the beloved Gaius, whom I love in truth. Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul [psuche]. For I rejoiced greatly when the brothers came and testified to your truth, as indeed you are walking in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth. Beloved, it is a faithful thing you do in all your efforts for these brothers, strangers as they are, who testified to your love before the church. You will do well to send them on their journey in a manner worthy of God. For they have gone out for the sake of the name, accepting nothing from the Gentiles. Therefore we ought to support people like these, that we may be fellow workers for the truth. (3 John 1–8 emphasis added)
Spiritual truth isn’t “discovered” by the person who undertakes a journey of opening up what has been hidden—and this must be understood by those Sabbatarian Christians who believe that because they have a little knowledge, they have been called to teach what they know or think they know—but by the person who forms the mirror image of an Old Testament prophet, someone who spoke the words of the Lord but didn’t limit the referents that could be assigned to Hebraic consonant clusters … no Hebrew text is complete as it is written or printed; for Hebrew is a partially inscribed Semitic language that when written, lacks vowels or vowel pointing. Therefore, every Hebrew text needs to be “read” by its author so that auditors can “hear” the author’s intended vowels, added by the reader to transform inscribed consonant clusters into words. And if the author doesn’t read his [or her] text in the hearing of the text’s audience, later readers cannot eliminate the ambiguity inherent in partially alphabetized inscription.
The preceding is a problem the Lord addressed with Moses, who could have written in Egyptian hieroglyphs which he would have known from being reared in Pharaoh’s household.
Then [YHWH] said to Moses, "Write this as a memorial in a book and recite it in the ears of Joshua that I will utterly blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven." (Ex 17:14 emphasis added)
Moses is no longer with us to read his writings; yet the assumption made by Jesus in John’s Gospel is that Moses could be read by those Jews who were seeking to kill Him:
You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life. I do not receive glory from people. But I know that you do not have the love of God within you. I have come in my Father's name, and you do not receive me. If another comes in his own name, you will receive him. How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God? Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father. There is one who accuses you: Moses, on whom you have set your hope. For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?" (John 5:39–47)
How were the Jews misreading Moses? Were they not killing the Passover on the afternoon of the 14th day of the first month? Did not Moses tell Israel that no one was to leave their houses on the night of the Passover? Indeed he did:
Then Moses called all the elders of Israel and said to them, "Go and select lambs for yourselves according to your clans, and kill the Passover lamb. Take a bunch of hyssop and dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and touch the lintel and the two doorposts with the blood that is in the basin. None of you shall go out of the door of his house until the morning. For the Lord will pass through to strike the Egyptians, and when He sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the Lord will pass over the door and will not allow the destroyer to enter your houses to strike you. You shall observe this rite as a statute for you and for your sons forever.” (Ex 12:21–24 double emphasis added)
Forever for Moses had passed away before Herod’s Temple was constructed … Pharisees, unlike Sadducees, placed more importance on what was inscribed in Deuteronomy than on what was inscribed in Exodus:
You may not offer the Passover sacrifice within any of your towns that [YHWH] your God is giving you, but at the place that [YHWH] your God will choose, to make his name dwell in it, there you shall offer the Passover sacrifice, in the evening at sunset, at the time you came out of Egypt. (Deut 16:5–6 emphasis added)
There is an important difference between the covenant made with the fathers of Israel when the Lord took Israel by the hand to lead the people out from Egypt, and the Moab Covenant, made with the children of Israel forty years later. This difference should not be overlooked or underappreciated:
These are the words of the covenant that [YHWH] commanded Moses to make with the people of Israel in the land of Moab, besides the covenant that he had made with them at Horeb. And Moses summoned all Israel and said to them: "You have seen all that the Lord did before your eyes in the land of Egypt, to Pharaoh and to all his servants and to all his land, the great trials that your eyes saw, the signs, and those great wonders. But to this day the Lord has not given you a heart to understand or eyes to see or ears to hear. I have led you forty years in the wilderness. Your clothes have not worn out on you, and your sandals have not worn off your feet. You have not eaten bread, and you have not drunk wine or strong drink, that you may know that I am the Lord your God. And when you came to this place, Sihon the king of Heshbon and Og the king of Bashan came out against us to battle, but we defeated them. We took their land and gave it for an inheritance to the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of the Manassites. Therefore keep the words of this covenant and do them that you may prosper in all that you do.
You are standing today all of you before the Lord your God: the heads of your tribes, your elders, and your officers, all the men of Israel, your little ones, your wives, and the sojourner who is in your camp, from the one who chops your wood to the one who draws your water, so that you may enter into the sworn covenant of the Lord your God, which the Lord your God is making with you today, that He may establish you today as His people, and that He may be your God, as He promised you, and as He swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. It is not with you alone that I am making this sworn covenant, but with whoever is standing here with us today before the Lord our God, and with whoever is not here with us today. (Deut 29:1–15 emphasis added)
The Moab Covenant forms the shadow and type of the spiritual covenant made with all who endure to the end (from Matt 24:13; 10:22) when the third part of humanity (from Zech 13:9) is refined as silver is refined and tested as gold is tested and says that the Lord is the God of this third part … none of this third part is today Christian. Many are Muslim. Many are Hindi or Buddhist. Some worship Gaia, the earth goddess. But again, none profess that Jesus is Lord and believe in their hearts that the Father raised Jesus from death.
But backing up to what Moses tells the children of Israel and the strangers among them: to this day the Lord has not given you a heart to understand or eyes to see or ears to hear … who is the Christian with a little knowledge and a desire to teach who has a heart to understand the mysteries of God, this heart given to the Christian by the Lord?
Let’s keep this simple: who is the Christian who understands that Passover instructions under the Moab Covenant differ from Passover instructions under the First Passover Covenant?
With whom is the Moab Covenant made? The heads of your tribes, your elders, and your officers, all the men of Israel, your little ones, your wives, and the sojourner who is in your camp, from the one who chops your wood to the one who draws your water, so that you may enter into the sworn covenant of the Lord your God, which the Lord your God is making with you today, that He may establish you today as His people, and that He may be your God, as He promised you, and as He swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. It is not with you alone that I am making this sworn covenant, but with whoever is standing here with us today before the Lord our God, and with whoever is not here with us today. This will have the sojourner eating the Passover as well as the person who isn’t of Israel (whoever is not here today), and this doesn’t square with the First Passover Covenant:
It was a night of watching by [YHWH], to bring them out of the land of Egypt; so this same night is a night of watching kept to [YHWH] by all the people of Israel throughout their generations. And [YHWH] said to Moses and Aaron, "This is the statute of the Passover: no foreigner shall eat of it, but every slave that is bought for money may eat of it after you have circumcised him. No foreigner or hired worker may eat of it. It shall be eaten in one house; you shall not take any of the flesh outside the house, and you shall not break any of its bones. All the congregation of Israel shall keep it. If a stranger shall sojourn with you and would keep the Passover to [YHWH], let all his males be circumcised. Then he may come near and keep it; he shall be as a native of the land. But no uncircumcised person shall eat of it. There shall be one law for the native and for the stranger who sojourns among you." All the people of Israel did just as [YHWH] commanded Moses and Aaron. And on that very day [YHWH] brought the people of Israel out of the land of Egypt by their hosts. (Ex 12:42–51 emphasis and highlighting added)
Are not wives uncircumcised? Indeed they are. So how can a wife or the sojourner who chops Israel’s wood participate in the Moab Covenant if there is not a change made to the Passover when Israel enters the Promised Land, an earthly representation of heaven?
Pharisees recognized that there would be or had been a change in when the Passover was eaten, but Pharisees didn’t understand the Moab Covenant that has a initiating trigger:
And when all these things come upon you, the blessing and the curse, which I have set before you, and you call them to mind among all the nations where [YHWH] your God has driven you, and return to [YHWH] your God, you and your children, and obey His voice in all that I command you today, with all your heart and with all your soul, then [YHWH] your God will restore your fortunes and have mercy on you, and He will gather you again from all the peoples where [YHWH] your God has scattered you. (Deut 30:1–3)
Was this initiating trigger pulled? The Apostle Paul said, No, it wasn’t.
As indeed He says in Hosea, "Those who were not my people I will call 'my people,' and her who was not beloved I will call 'beloved.'" And in the very place where it was said to them, 'You are not my people,' there they will be called 'sons of the living God.'" And Isaiah cries out concerning Israel: "Though the number of the sons of Israel be as the sand of the sea, only a remnant of them will be saved, for the Lord will carry out his sentence upon the earth fully and without delay." And as Isaiah predicted, "If the Lord of hosts had not left us offspring, we would have been like Sodom and become like Gomorrah." What shall we say, then? That Gentiles who did not pursue righteousness have attained it, that is, a righteousness that is by faith; but that Israel who pursued a law that would lead to righteousness did not succeed in reaching that law. Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as if it were based on works. They have stumbled over the stumbling stone, as it is written, "Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense; and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame." (Rom 9:25–33 emphasis added)
The Law that would lead to righteousness is the Moab Covenant, and to activate the Moab Covenant, two things need to be done: (1) the Lord scatters Israel by sending them into a far land[s], and (2) when in this far land, Israel returns to the Lord (an act of faith not based upon what eyes see but upon what the heart desires), thereby keeping the Commandments and all that is written in the Book of Deuteronomy (Deut 30:10).
The act of faith that would be required for Israel to return to the Lord when a captive nation in a far land is what Paul identified as the righteousness based on faith (Rom 10:6), and Paul goes on to cite Moses (cf. Rom 10:6–8; Deut 30:11–14 Paul’s citation is from the Septuagint).
The righteousness based on faith is analogous to Abraham’s belief of God that was counted to him as righteousness … this all seems straightforward and simple; so why would any Christian teach others not to walk in this world as Jesus walked?
To walk as Jesus walked causes the Christian to undertake a journey analogous to the expedition of Lewis and Clark’s Corps of Discovery between May 1804 and September 1806, even when <truth> is the negation of “what has been concealed.”
We proceed on — words Lewis wrote at the end of each day’s journal entries. And so it is with Philadelphians for they, too, trek into hither unexplored theological lands for which no reliable map exists; they trek along “a Way” marked only by a two millennia old shadow, that of Christ Jesus.
Solomon wrote in a poetic thought-couplet,
It is the glory of God to conceal things, [the physical portion of the couplet]
But the glory of kings is to search things out. (Prov 25:2) [the spiritual portion]
Physically—what is of this world—God hides what can be known about Himself from humanity, with Solomon also writing,
He [God] has made everything beautiful in its time.
Also, He has put eternity [olam] into man's heart,
yet so that he cannot find out
what God has done
from the beginning to the end. (Eccl 3:11)
God conceals in His glory what man [humankind] cannot discover on his own … it is not possible for humankind to accidently discover the plan of God; it is not possible for sons of disobedience to have spiritual knowledge. Rather, it is the glory of kings to search out [discover] what God has concealed, and when this concept is truly understood, what Jesus, in John’s gospel, told Pilate makes greater sense:
So Pilate entered his headquarters again and called Jesus and said to him, "Are you the King of the Jews?" Jesus answered, "Do you say this of your own accord, or did others say it to you about me?" Pilate answered, "Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered you over to me. What have you done?" Jesus answered, "My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world." Then Pilate said to Him, "So you are a king?" Jesus answered, "You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice." Pilate said to Him, "What is truth?" (John 18:33–38)
As the future King of kings, it was the glory of Jesus to search out [discover] those things that God had hidden from humanity, including Himself; for in John’s Gospel, Jesus had previously said,
Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, since you have given Him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given Him. And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed. I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you. … I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them iGnto the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth. … O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them." (John 17:1–7, 15–19, 25–26 emphasis and double emphasis added)
Gaius walked in truth, which sanctified him. Gaius listened to Jesus’ voice. Yet it is extremely unlikely that Gaius had ever heard the man Jesus speak
Now, consider whether <truth> has being, existence in this world, or whether truth is merely mental, an attribute of the mind that does not manifest itself through presence in this physical realm forming the world as human person know it. Well, does your life cause you to be the personification of truth?
Jesus as the future King of kings and Lord of lords—the Messiah—searched out and discovered what He, as His natural Father, had concealed from humanity … yes, God the Father [the God—ton Theon—from John 1:1] was not the Father of the man Jesus until His breath [pneuma Theou] in the bodily form of a dove descended upon and entered into [eis, from Mark 1:10] the man Jesus when John raised Jesus from the watery grave of baptism. It was at this time when the heavenly voice identified Jesus as, My Son, the Beloved. Before this moment, the man Jesus was the unique Son of the Logos [’o Logos], the deity that was the God [Theos] of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob; the God [Theos] of living ones, not dead ones; the God [Theos] who created heaven and earth and all things physical; the God [Theos] who entered His creation not to condemn it but so that some might be saved (John 3:16–17; 12:47).
But very few Christians believe what Jesus said in John’s Gospel. Most—nearly all—believe the Adversary and his ministers and servants, super-apostles who do mighty works in the name of Jesus, but prevent the Christian laity from walking in this world as Jesus walked.
How can a super-apostle prevent a Christian from walking in this world as Jesus walked? … When do these super-apostles schedule their worship services? Not on the Sabbath, but on the day after the Sabbath. Does not the simple act of scheduling worship services on the day after the Sabbath imply that the Law—the Royal Law (from Jas 2:8)—has been abolished and no longer pertains to Christians? Now when this implication is reinforced from the pulpit by pastors declaring that Jesus fulfilled the Law so you don’t have to keep it, can a soul remain healthy for long? Will not the soul become spiritually ill, weak, ready to perish?
In three Sabbath’s ago Reading, the concept of faith having or not having <being> was briefly introduced … ontological questions go back in Greek philosophy to Plato and Aristotle, but most Christians do not set out to seriously discuss even the existence of deity: most Christians assume God exists; assume that God created the world and all that is physical; assume that their pastors believe what their pastors preach from pulpits. And to assume is to make an ass …
"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."