Sabbath, December 5, 2015
An Open Letter to Marcia
You asked about the Holy Days, their traditions, symbolism, meanings to Philadelphia; you asked good questions about the High Sabbaths and about what they represent to endtime Philadelphians—and as Paul publicly answered the questions of the holy ones at Corinth, it seems a reasonable thing to answer your questions in a form others can also read …
Before Moses, Israel did not have the Law; the patriarchs did not have the Law; Noah and Job did not have the Law. And the Apostle Paul in his treatise to the holy ones at Rome said that sin is not counted where there is no Law (Rom 5:13), with “sin” being transgression of the Law because of unbelief. Thus, there were no “counted” transgressions of the Sabbath or of the High Sabbaths until the Law was given, the Law bringing “sin” to life so that sin might devour unbelievers. But brought to life only for a period, a certain length of time—brought to life from the first Sinai Covenant to implementation of the New Covenant, which is where theological difficulties originate within greater Christendom for as a condition of the New Covenant, the Law will be written on hearts and placed in minds so that “all” will “know the Lord,” and that hasn’t yet happened. So regardless of what seems to be written by 1st-Century converts or spoken by angels, the reality under which greater Christendom lives will have implementation of the New Covenant occurring at the Second Passover liberation of Israel.
When the Law [Torah, from Jer 31:33] is written on hearts and placed within all who are Israel, all will be taught by God (Isa 54:13). There will be no need for Christian ministry … those persons who engage in Christian evangelism will be out of work.
All of the preceding becomes important for under the New Covenant, the Second Passover Covenant, God will be merciful toward Israel, no longer remembering sin (Heb 8:12; Jer 31:34). Thus, all of Israel will be as Noah was; as Abraham was before the Law was given. It will be belief of God that matters—an attribute of the mind—not what hands and bodies do or don’t do.
The Law doesn’t go away when it is written on hearts and placed in minds so that, again, all of Israel “knows the Lord,” but rather, the Law will become part of the person’s character and will not be something the person filled with spirit thinks about. This person will simply keep the Law because that is what the person does …
When in the graduate writing program at University of Alaska Fairbanks, considerable time was spent discussing the difference between the scribbling of tourists and the voice of those who possessed “a spirit of place” … an example cited was Englishmen visiting Egypt wrote about camels being everywhere whereas Egyptians almost never mentioned camels, which were as ordinary as televison sets in American homes. An example I experienced when selling fishing articles to outdoor magazines was editors being reluctant to take stories from Alaskans who did get excited about catching spawning salmon [sorebacks]. Out of state writers were very excited about catching dark fish that shouldn’t be harassed on their spawning beds. And their enthusiasm was evident in their articles whereas an Alaskan writer would walk past spawning fish, not casting to them and therefore not mentioning them.
How this relates to what the Law and the High Sabbaths mean to Philadelphians is that keeping the Law and keeping the High Sabbaths is the background for what it means to be a twice-born son of God. Keeping the High Sabbaths is not ordinarily “special,” but needs to be made special by a change of routine that goes beyond simply keeping the High Sabbaths, which the Philadelphian has likely been doing for thirty, forty, fifty or more years.
Upon entering a Philadelphia fellowship, the person who has not been keeping the Law and the High Sabbaths for decades will have a “first love” affair with the Law that needs to be honored by older disciples and savored by the proselyte. And a central attribute of this first love affair will have the proselyte being nearly overwhelmed by the magnitude of understanding that floods the disciple through simply keeping the Law to the best of the person’s ability … doing by faith produces the reason for doing. Understanding follows and does not precede doing. So the person who begins to keep the High Sabbaths because the person believes God but really doesn’t understand why he or she should keep the High Sabbath will discover the logic for keeping them after having kept them. And it is this concept that undergirds all of Christendom: if a person waits to do this or to do that until the person understands why he or she should do this or that, the person will never receive the understanding the person desires and will be overcome by unbelief.
Therefore, in narratives about keeping the Law or keeping the High Sabbaths, action based on faith [pisteos] will precede comprehending the logic for undertaking the action, an effective means for God to establish a separation between believers and pretenders, with believers soon having spiritual understanding far beyond educational levels.
So, in analogy greater Christendom is today represented by enslaved Israel in Egypt, the geographical [earthly] representation of Sin—and by Moses, who entered into God’s rest, God’s presence atop Mount Sinai. Two entities. Thus as Israel in Egypt included Moses after he returned from herding his father-in-law’s sheep, greater Christendom includes the Elect, those disciples who have been genuinely born of spirit through the indwelling of the spirit of Christ [pneuma Christou] in the spirit of the person [to pneuma tou ’anthropou] … greater Christendom as a spiritual nation is spiritually enslaved by Sin and Death regardless of whether the individual Christian has or has not been born of spirit, with Sin and Death seen in Scripture as the king of the South and the king of the North respectively, both being demonic kings. Greater Christendom is not enslaved by any earthly person or power; for the Christian Church is not an assembly of fleshly bodies, but the assembly of living inner selves that have been resurrected from death in a resurrection like that of Christ Jesus within the far larger assembly of all who profess that Jesus is Lord. Hence, the Elect form a spiritually living inner self [soul, psuche] inside greater Christendom, which today remains spiritually dead (not yet truly born of spirit). So greater Christendom can be compared to a human person born of spirit: the inner self [the Elect] lives but the outer self, the fleshly body that according to Paul will not enter heaven (1 Cor 15:50), remains spiritually dead, awaiting resurrection.
Christian enslavement by Sin and Death is not a subject about which the spiritually dead Body of Christ spends much time or energy, even though the Apostle Paul wrote,
I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. … I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin. (Rom 7:22–23, 25)
Until the Second Passover liberation [from Paul’s law of sin] of a second Israel, greater Christendom is analogous to ancient Israel in Egypt, with the law of sin that dwells in the fleshly members of believing disciples being for these disciples as great or greater a problem than was ancient Israel’s physical enslavement by Pharaoh. Yet endtime Christians tend to dismiss their lawlessness as spiritually unimportant since presumably Christ Jesus paid the death penalty for Christian transgressions of the Law. And Paul was accused of preaching a message of lawlessness, to which Paul answered, “And why not do evil that good may come?—as some people slanderously charge us with saying. Their condemnation is just” (Rom 3:8).
Evil produces additional evil whereas good produces additional good; so as Israel in Egypt “adjusted” to being an enslaved people, not fighting their enslavement but merely complaining to any deity that might hear them, greater Christendom has adjusted to being enslaved by Sin and Death, their enslavement continuing until the Second Passover when all who profess that Jesus is Lord will be filled with and empowered by the spirit of God and thereby liberated from indwelling Sin and Death.
For Philadelphia, the heart of the living inner self of greater Christendom, the traditions of greater Christendom were long ago jettisoned without being replaced by things done with hands and bodies … in rebelling against rebellion, the twice-born son of God will necessarily abandon the trappings of greater Christendom and will be hesitant to replace these trappings with anything. But this doesn’t mean that there should be no traditions; for in an ongoing example, it is difficult to take note of new moons without a ceremony that doesn’t presently exist in Philadelphia. Thus, far too many months pass without the new moon being noticed or noted. And Isaiah wrote of the Lord saying,
For as the new heavens and the new earth that I make shall remain before me, says the LORD, so shall your offspring and your name remain. From new moon to new moon, and from Sabbath to Sabbath, all flesh shall come to worship before me, declares the LORD. And they shall go out and look on the dead bodies of the men who have rebelled against me. For their worm shall not die, their fire shall not be quenched, and they shall be an abhorrence to all flesh. (Isa 66:22–24)
To Isaiah; to the Lord, observance of the new moon was of equal importance to Sabbath observance, with similar importance seen in Colossians:
Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ. (Col 2:16–17)
To understand the concept imbedded in the cited verses, High Sabbaths, new moons, the weekly Sabbath form shadows of Christ in a similar way that the human body forms a shadow and type of greater Christendom, which in turns forms a shadow of heaven itself. Thus, the man Jesus on the cross formed the shadow and type of the Adversary’s rebellion in heaven, with heaven being likened to the human body and the wound in Jesus’ side likened to the rent in the fabric of heaven through which spirit poured and from which the creation was made—and with Death, the demonic king of the North, appearing as the cross. So greater Christendom’s love affair with the cross symbolizes the nature of the Adversary’s rebellion in heaven that apparently caused the death of heaven, thus making necessary the recreation of heaven. Therefore, the resurrection of Jesus from death symbolizes the recreation of heaven that will have New Jerusalem as its core.
Readers will spend more time unpacking the preceding paragraph than I spent writing it—and it has been forty years in the making although the words came in a manner of minutes.
Ceremonies and traditions serve as memory aids, as reminders of where the person is in the plan of God; so when these traditions align with the understanding that, say, Philadelphians have of the plan of God, traditions will form shadows of things that have happened and of things that will happen.
As outwardly circumcised Israel still remembers and celebrates its exodus from Egypt, greater Christendom will celebrate its exodus from enslavement by Paul’s law of sin, with the Lord through the prophet Jeremiah saying,
The days are coming, declares the LORD, when it shall no longer be said, “As the LORD lives who brought up the people of Israel out of the land of Egypt,” but “As the LORD lives who brought up the people of Israel out of the north country and out of all the countries where he had driven them.” For I will bring them back to their own land that I gave to their fathers. (Jer 16:14–15)
The days are coming, declares the LORD, when they shall no longer say, “As the LORD lives who brought up the people of Israel out of the land of Egypt,” but “As the LORD lives who brought up and led the offspring of the house of Israel out of the north country and out of all the countries where he had driven them.” Then they shall dwell in their own land. (Jer 23:7–8)
The Hebrew tetragrammaton YHWH began life as an always silent (never read aloud) linguistic determinative, not as a naming noun. It became a naming noun through scribal redaction between the reforms of Josiah and the work of the Great Assembly, when Judaism sought to purge all forms of pluralism from the Hebrew godhead. Therefore, it can be stated with certainty that the Lord would not have uttered the words, As YHWH lives. The phrase as an inscribed utterance is both unnatural as well as being prima facie evidence of redaction (either in Babylon or by the Great Assembly), meaning that Jeremiah’s utterance itself was not considered sacred in the first two or centuries after being made. Rather, the concept contained within the utterance was considered inspired.
The traditions employed by Judaism in remembering the Passover exodus from Egypt are not what Moses commanded: bleating lambs were to be sacrificed and roasted whole (not dressed) beginning at even on the dark portion of the 14th day of the first month, this first month to begin with the first sighted new moon crescent following the spring equinox, with the spring equinox not seen in Moses’ command but implied by the Passover being a spring festival, with spring not beginning until the equinox.
But when Christ Jesus forms the reality that cast as His shadow the Passover, the commands of Moses will have the man Jesus being the selected Passover Lamb of God, eating the Passover on the dark portion of the 14th day of the first month, taken captive about the midnight hour of this same night, crucified on the light portion of the 14th day, dying on the cross about the ninth hour [3:00 pm], and placed in the grave at sunset; thus being in the grave all of the 15th day, the High Sabbath, all of the 16th day, all of the 17th day, the weekly Sabbath, and gone from the grave before dawn on the 18th day, the day after the Sabbath, the first day of a new week, and the day of the Wave Sheaf Offering as reckoned by Sadducees. Therefore the day and date of Jesus’ crucifixion can be conclusively stated: April 25th (Julian), 31 CE, a Wednesday.
However, this date appears on rabbinical Judaism’s calculated calendar as the 14th day of Iyyar, the second month, which through the reality that cast His shadow as the Passover will have Judaism’s calendar off a month approximately one of three years, the nature of the error coming through when the calculated calendar begins and when the month of Veadar is added.
So all traditions have to be “adjusted” by the reality that is Christ Jesus …
A person wanting to use the future exodus of the Christian Church from indwelling Sin and Death—what Jeremiah prophesies—as a narrative subject should feel free to alter Scripture as a translator would to produce perceived linguistic clarity so long as the alteration maintains the concept found in the passage. The words themselves are not sacred; for the words are human words that pertain to the things of this world. They are used by persons to describe the things of God; so at best they are used metaphorically. They were used by Jesus as figures of speech (John 16:25).
Christianity has no sacred language. Attempts to make bastardized Hebrew Christendom’s sacred language are misguided, the work of spiritual novices.
Concerning traditions, endtime disciples lost what the 1st-Century Christian Church observed, lost these traditions late in the 1st-Century CE; so we are relatively free to develop new traditions that will be carried on for a while … as bleating lambs are no longer sacrificed on Passover; as broken unleavened bread and wine today represent the body and blood of Christ Jesus, the Passover Lamb of God, the Second Passover liberation of a second Israel will introduce new traditions; for the reality that casts His shadow as “bread and wine” will move from being Israel’s high priest to being King of kings and Lord of lords when dominion is taken from the Adversary and given to the Son of Man.
The High Sabbaths given to Moses who gave them to Israel were not written in stone, but were added as traditions to cause Israel to remember an unseen reality that would not appear until centuries in the future. Observance of new moons was given to Israel as a memory aid; for the moon reflects the light of the sun. The moon has no glory apart from the sun. Israel has no glory apart from that of the Lord, the light and life of humanity (John 1:4). Thus, for as long as the Lord remained “outside” of Israel, the people of Israel would [were to] reflect the glory of the Lord as the moon reflects the glory of the sun. But when the spirit was given and the glory of the Lord entered into the glory of the person, the twice-born person became a son of light, not reflecting the light of Christ Jesus but emitting light …
I have concluded that the reason Philadelphia has problems keeping new moon observances isn’t because of neglectfulness on the part of Philadelphians, but because these observances don’t pertain to twice-born disciples who are sons of light.
When Christ Jesus is the reality that casts His shadow as festivals, new moons, and the Sabbath; when Christ Jesus in the form of His spirit [His glory] enters into the spirit of the person, the person inwardly also ceases to be a shadow … the spiritually lifeless fleshly body of the person now becomes the “screen” upon which the reality [the living inner self] casts its shadow.
This open letter will continue to grow, and will therefore have to be posted in installments. For it is long enough: you, other readers need to reflect upon you being a son of light, emitting light because of the indwelling of the glory of Christ in whom is the glory of God. And because you emit light, your inner self doesn’t reflect light. Your fleshly body reflects the light your inner self emits. Your fleshly body is analogous to festivals, new moons, and the Sabbath that reflect the glory of the Lord. And in this, your fleshly body will [should] be a reflection that looks like the reflection of Christ Jesus, with the application of this reality having twice-born disciples keeping the High Sabbaths in their season, not after the season they represent ends … bleating lambs sacrificed on the Passover no longer represent the glory of the Lord. However, they will again represent His glory for a new nation of Israel in the Millennium.
Seasons come and go and then come again.
"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."