Sabbath, December 5, 2015
An Open Letter
When I began to keep the High Sabbaths of God in 1972, each of the Sabbaths had an explanation, albeit some of the explanations were forced and had not come as the falling of leaves … that expression “falling of leaves” is from Keats, who said that was how poetry should come, or not come at all. Likewise, spiritual understanding should come by just knowing things. Understanding really cannot be forced onto a text, a passage, a verse. Understanding should “just be there” as leaves fall in autumn. Diligent study isn’t needed, and much study usually produces “leaven” similar to the leaven of Sadducees and Pharisees. All that’s needed is familiarity with Scripture and the indwelling of the Parakletos, the spirit of truth—and the courage to believe the Parakletos, which doesn’t speak in words but in awareness and realizations. Therefore, writing as discovery serves the purpose of getting what is known in the subconscious to the foreground of conscious thought in words.
The first High Sabbath (the 15th day of Aviv) physically represented Israel leaving Egypt; in the spiritual, the first High Sabbath represents Christians leaving sin.
Christians, as Paul discovered about himself, haven’t yet left <sin> and will not leave sin until the Second Passover liberation of a second Israel, this liberation being from indwelling [in the flesh] Sin and Death … in Scripture, Sin and Death are two demonic kings, those of the South and of the North respectively.
Paul said he didn’t understand his own actions. He believed what he wrote: Sin will have no dominion over disciples born of spirit, but this isn’t what he saw in his own body. Sin continued to exercise dominion over his fleshly members, causing him to do what he hated. And this he said he didn’t understand. Whereas he believed he had been set free from sin, he couldn’t make his body do what he knew was right. And it is probably for this reason that Martin Luther said the Law couldn’t be kept. In effect, Paul said it couldn’t be kept but must be abandoned, for the Law no longer pertained to those disciples covered by the garment of “grace,” a euphemism for the righteousness of Christ Jesus.
Paul didn’t know there would be a Second Passover liberation of Israel, analogous to Israel’s liberation under Moses from physical slavery to a physical king in a physical land … there will be a Second Passover liberation of a second Israel from indwelling Sin and Death, spiritual kings under the spiritual King of Babylon, the Adversary, that old dragon Satan the devil. And the one doing the liberation is Christ Jesus who baptizes first Israel [greater Christendom] then all living creatures in the spirit of God without giving heavenly life to all … the indwelling of heavenly or eternal life only comes from the indwelling of the spirit of Christ [pneuma Christou] in the spirit of the person [to pneuma tou ’anthropou]. Being filled with the spirit of God [pneuma Theou] doesn’t give to the person indwelling spiritual life, but will free the person from bondage to Sin and Death. The person, however, remains once-born, hence mortal.
Therefore, the first High Sabbath spiritually represents a second Israel’s liberation from indwelling Sin and Death, a liberation that has no geographical coordinates but has theological coordinates; for this liberation occurs everywhere on a particular day, the second Passover of that particular year [a year that has the 15th day of the second month, Iyyar, occurring on a Thursday]. This particular year will also have day 220, the day of the Apostasy, occurring on a Sunday.
In the congregations I attended in the 1970s and 1980s, the second High Sabbath of Unleavened Bread (the 21st of Aviv) didn’t have a good explanation and usually no attempt was made to describe what this High Sabbath day represented other than saying it represented Israel entering the Promised Land … in actuality, the children of Israel entered the Promised Land on the 10th day of Aviv forty years after Passover lambs were selected and penned in Egypt. So the children of Israel entered the Promised Land as symbolic Passover lambs to be sacrificed if unblemished—the children of Israel were a very blemished nation, unfit to be sacrificed as the Passover Lamb of God.
The case can be made that the tribulation will be analogous to Israel’s forty year trek in the wilderness … the seven years of tribulation, according to John, consist of the Affliction and Kingdom [no definite article] and Endurance in Jesus [again, no definite article — Kingdom and Endurance share the definite article for “the Affliction,” thereby disclosing that these three periods are in reality one extended period of three parts]. Thus, Sabbatarian fellowships of forty years ago could have argued that the Second High Sabbath of Unleavened Bread represented a second Israel entering the Promised Land that is heaven. But any such argument would have messed up the tidiness found in explanation of the Feast of Weeks.
Within the Sabbatarian Churches of God, the High Sabbath that is the Feast of Weeks [Pentecost, fifty days after the resurrection of Christ Jesus] represented the resurrection of firstfruits, with this first “harvest” of humanity being analogous to ancient’s Israel’s early barley harvest. And this explanation has mostly stood the test of time.
Not really; for why are two loaves of bread baked from fine barley flour and leavening waved before the Lord on the Feast of Weeks. One loaf should have been sufficient to convey a single resurrection of firstfruits. Two loaves suggest that two resurrections of firstfruits occur on the Feast of Weeks.
If we back up and reexamine the second High Sabbath of Unleavened Bread, the seven days of Unleavened Bread become analogous to the seven counted weeks between the Wave Sheaf Offering and Pentecost, with the seven counted weeks representing the entirety of the Christian era … the Feast of Unleavened Bread represents living without sin, with <sin> defined by John as transgression of the Law (1 John 3:4), but defined by the Apostle Paul as simple unbelief, a lack of faith/belief (Rom 14:23). So if a harvest of humanity comes through the Feast of Unleavened Bread, this harvest will include all who believe God regardless of whether they had or didn’t have the Law. Thus, Enoch, Noah, and Job would be included in this harvest. Abraham and the Patriarchs would be included. Moses and the righteous judges would be included. David and the prophets would be included.
Matthew’s Jesus said to His disciples,
When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. Before Him will be gathered all the nations, and He will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And He will place the sheep on His right, but the goats on the left. (Matt 25:31–33)
How many times does the Son of Man come in His glory, with all the angels with Him? He comes one time, not many times. And those people He places on His right have fed the hungry, given shelter to the homeless, clothed the naked, visited the inflicted in their affliction. Nothing is said about knowing Christ; nothing is said about His name. And we have returned to Paul’s Gospel:
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. For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus. (Rom 2:11–16)
Abraham had his belief of God counted to him as righteousness (Gen 15:6), but according to Paul’s gospel, if a person does what the Law requires without either having the law or knowing God, the person shall be saved. The question now is when: in the resurrection of firstfruits or in the general resurrection of humanity, the great White Throne Judgment about which Paul had no or very little knowledge? And the answer shifts back to what Matthew’s Jesus said, When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him—
The general resurrection of humanity begins with the coming of the Son of Man and with the harvest of firstfruits that are accepted by God as Christ Jesus as the Wave Sheaf Offering was accepted by God … the harvest of firstfruits [the early barley harvest] was one harvest within the “harvest” of the Promised Land. Also harvested was the main crop wheat harvest, and the harvest of olives and the harvest of grapes (the oil and the wine). All together, these four harvests are seen in Deuteronomy when Moses tells the children of Israel that the Lord “‘will give the rain for your land in its season, the early rain and the later rain, that you may gather in your grain and your wine and your oil’” (Deut 11:14).
Moses lumps both grain harvests, the early barley harvest and the main crop wheat harvest, into gather in your grain … too much shouldn’t be made of Moses combining both grains harvests into a single gathering in of grain, but in understanding the second High Sabbath of Unleavened Bread and the Feast of Weeks, when the Son of Man comes with all of His angels and both disciples and righteous persons are judged, what apparently occurs is that the harvest of firstfruits that began with the resurrection of Christ Jesus concludes with the resurrection of His disciples, and with the resurrection of the two witnesses the general harvest of humanity begins but will not conclude until after the Thousand Years of Christ’s millennium reign. And now we return to the Wave Sheaf Offering: a handful of the first ripe barley stems is waved, not a single stem. As the reality of the Wave Sheaf Offering, only one stem of barley would have been needed to be waved to represent Christ Jesus. A handful would have been appropriate if the children of Israel would have served as the Passover lamb of God; a handful is appropriate if the righteous men of old are also resurrected with the firstfruits.
The righteous men of old will have their belief of God counted to them as righteousness, and these righteous men of old are no more than a good sized handful of grain stems.
The two witnesses, two brothers, will straddle both grain harvests, with one being of the harvest of firstfruits and with one having his belief of God counted to him as righteousness even though he wasn’t born of spirit before being glorified.
As the harvest of firstfruits, from the perspective of the heavenly realm, begins on the same day it concludes (inside of time, two millennia later), the gathering in of humanity as grain—again, from the perspective of God—begins on the same day it concludes. Therefore, in the Millennium the great White Throne Judgment is of no significant importance and will not be commemorated as it presently is in the Last Great Day.
The High Sabbath that is the Feast of Trumpets [1st day of 7th month] represented Christ Jesus receiving the Kingdom of this world. Following Trumpets is Atonement, Yom Kipporim (the day of coverings, plural), on the tenth day of the seventh month, with the meaning of this High Sabbath never well explained in the 1970s & 1980s. Then on the fifteenth day of the seventh month was the first Sabbath of the Feast of Tabernacles (Booths), this High Sabbath representing the beginning of the Millennium as explained from pulpits. The Last Great Day, the day following Tabernacles was the High Sabbath that represented the great White Throne Judgment … at least this is what was taught within those Sabbatarian fellowships that observed the High Sabbaths when I was drafted into obedience. But most Sabbatarian Christians keeping the High Sabbaths at the beginning of the 1980s were no longer doing so two decades later.
Keeping the Sabbaths of God causes a person to be out of sync with the world, and being out of sync takes an ideological toll on believing Christians. It is far easier to be like most everyone else.
It was taught from pulpits of observing Sabbatarian Christian fellowships that the High Sabbath calendar—seven Sabbaths representing one spiritual week—represent the entirety of the plan of God, but this was a teaching of Sadducees and Pharisees, and is not the teaching of Philadelphia for missing from the High Sabbath calendar are the two most important non-Sabbaths assemblies to Christendom: the Passover on the dark portion of the 14th day of Aviv, and the Wave Sheaf Offering on the morning of the first day following the weekly Sabbath that falls within the Feast of Unleavened Bread, both assemblies not being Sabbaths because the Adversary remains the prince of this world when the reality of these two assemblies occur …
In Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus addresses signs and symbols:
And the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and to test Him they asked Him to show them a sign from heaven. He answered them, "When it is evening, you say, 'It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.' And in the morning, 'It will be stormy today, for the sky is red and threatening.' You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah." So He left them and departed. When the disciples reached the other side, they had forgotten to bring any bread. Jesus said to them, "Watch and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees." And they began discussing it among themselves, saying, "We brought no bread." But Jesus, aware of this, said, "O you of little faith, why are you discussing among yourselves the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive? Do you not remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many baskets you gathered? Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many baskets you gathered? How is it that you fail to understand that I did not speak about bread? Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees." Then they understood that He did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees. (Matt 16:1–12)
Leavening—yeast—is analogous to unbelief that is sin, according to the Apostle Paul (Rom 14:23, in Greek) … Sadducees and Pharisees were not believers of God even when entrusted with the oracles of God, as mentioned in the previous installment of this letter. The teachings of both sects were those of “unbelief” regardless of what they thought they were teaching. Therefore, in the spiritual portion of Matthew’s Gospel that is itself the spiritual compliment to the physical presentation of John Mark’s biography of Jesus [Mark’s Gospel], Matthew’s Jesus indirectly tells His disciples to beware of the unbelief of Sadducees and Pharisees, a cautioning that is in line with Matthew’s Jesus telling His disciples, See to it, not someone you deceive (Matt 24:4, literal translation).
The indwelling Jesus in every twice-born son of God warns the person to take care that the person deceives no one; for, “‘many will come in my name, saying, “I am the Christ,” and they will lead many astray’” (Matt 24:5).
There should be no need for the indwelling Jesus to warn believing disciples about the unbelief of Sadducees and Pharisees, or to warn disciples about deceiving infant sons of God if there were not real danger afoot … if the unbelief of Judaism, past or present, filtered into the teachings of believing disciples, then these disciples would or could deceive sons of God too young spiritually to defend themselves from false teachings, let alone false brethren and false teachers that will always be present in any sect or denomination.
The teachings of Pharisees and Sadducees apparently have a single meaning assigned to a “sign” or symbol; for in rebuking those who asked Him for a sign that He was from heaven, Jesus used one sign—a red sky—to show that a sign or symbol takes its meaning from its context and can have as many meanings as it has contexts. Thus the sign of a red sky at dusk (going into darkness) indicated calm water in the morning, but the same sign of a red sky at dawn indicated troubled waters, stormy seas, and rough sailing.
The red sky is in the physical position of a thought-couplet that has the sign of Jonah in the spiritual position … when Matthew’s Jesus was previously asked by some of the scribes and Pharisees for a sign (Matt 12:38)—this request for a sign came in the natural or physical portion of Matthew’s Gospel, which again, is the spiritual compliment to Mark’s Gospel, thereby producing the squaring of a narrative thought-couplet in a manner analogous to how David squared and even cubed couplets in his verse—Matthew’s Jesus said the sign of Jonah was the only sign He would give:
An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here. The queen of the South will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, something greater than Solomon is here. (Matt 12:39–42 emphasis added)
If the men of Nineveh, long dead, would rise up with those to whom Jesus could directly address in the 1st-Century CE, then either the men of Nineveh who believed God because of the preaching of Jonah will be in the resurrection of firstfruits (and this without Nineveh having the Law), or none of the Jews to whom Jesus spoke will be in the resurrection of firstfruits but in the great White Throne Judgment. And for now, the question of which resurrection will the men of Nineveh appear before God remains open; for it is the sign of Jonah that here needs discussed.
When the author of Matthew’s Gospel first introduces the sign of Jonah as a symbol representing Christ Jesus, what is mentioned is the three days and three nights Jonah was in the belly of the “great fish” [the whale]. The context is the physical portion of Matthew’s Gospel. Thus, the reference to Jonah is physical … running from his calling, Jonah was thrown overboard in a storm in an attempt to save a ship, and he dies: “‘The waters closed in over me to take my life; the deep surrounded me; weeds were wrapped about my head at the roots of the mountains. I went down to the land whose bars closed upon me forever’” (John 2:5–6). But inside the belly of an air-breathing whale, Jonah lived again: “‘yet you brought up my life from the pit, O LORD my God’” (v. 6).
In his person, Jonah is analogous to the inner self of the man Jesus; for until the whale spewed Jonah out onto dry land, Jonah, resurrected from death (or saved from death) was “alive” inside the fleshly body of an air-breathing whale … once the breath of God the Father [pneuma Theou] descended upon the man Jesus in the bodily form of a dove and entered into Him (Mark 1:10), Jesus’ inner self had spiritual or heavenly life given to Him by the Father. He was resurrected or saved from death even though His living inner self remained trapped inside a fleshly body like that of Jonah in the whale.
Jonah typifies the inner self of a born-of-spirit son of God that when given spiritual life finds this inner self trapped in a huge fleshly body that sustains its life for three days and three nights, analogous to Jesus’ three year earthly ministry, with His ministry forming the shadow and type of Jesus preaching to imprisoned spirits for the three days and three nights His fleshly body was in the grave (again, 1 Pet 3:18–20).
Considerable information about spiritual life inside a fleshly body is given in Matthew’s first mention of the sign of Jonah, but comes about because all of Matthew’s Gospel is the spiritual equivalent of Mark’s Gospel, the physical biography of the man Jesus.
The teaching that the annual High Sabbath Week revealed the plan of God comes from Judaism; for missing from the calendar is both Passover and the Wave Sheaf Offering. Repeated on this calendar is the harvest of firstfruits, with the counting of the seven weeks between the Wave Sheaf Offering and the Feast of Weeks being symbolically moved into the seven days of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, with the second High Sabbath of Unleavened Bread being synonymous with the High Sabbath that is the Feast of Weeks, indicating that on this day of Pentecost there will be two harvests waved and accepted by God, the two loaves of bread. Again, one harvest comes from the counting of seven weeks (the entirety of the Christian era), and one harvest comes from living without sin with belief of God counted as righteousness. Both harvests come together in the Endurance in Jesus, the last 1260 days of the seven endtime years of tribulation. And this coming together of harvests is a reason for Jesus’ mid Feast of Unleavened Bread resurrection as the reality of the Wave Sheaf Offering.
But the teaching of Pharisees and Sadducees never recognized that a sign only takes meaning from its context, and never carries meaning into its context—and the context for the harvest of firstfruits is the Second Advent, the return of Christ Jesus as the Messiah. Therefore, since the present context for the High Sabbath Week has the Adversary as the prince of this world, the prince of the power of the air, the signs do NOT mean today what they will mean when the context changes to have Christ Jesus as the prince of this world, the King of kings and Lord of lords.
Again, the context for the resurrection of firstfruits will have dominion over the single kingdom of this world taken from the Adversary and given to the Son of Man. And with this change of context, a significant change, the meaning of the signs/symbols that are the High Sabbaths of God change … the resurrection of firstfruits cannot precede the defeat of Death, the symbolic King of the North. And it is by the testimony of two or three witnesses that a thing is established: Death isn’t defeated until the testimony of the two witnesses is given.
In the timeless heavenly realm, the seating of the court of the Ancient of Days is a one time event (Dan 7:9–10) that precedes the fourth beast (fourth king) being dealt a mortal wound and having his body taken and burned (vv. 11–12). Death is on trial. And with the resurrection and acceptance of Christ Jesus, the primary witness against Death will testify that this demonic king has lost his sting. Then before this seated court, the resurrection of the two witnesses will confirm that Death has been defeated. And this juxtaposition of Christ Jesus’ resurrection with the resurrection of the two witnesses hasn’t been previously considered. The element of time and its passage separated the testimony of Christ Jesus from the testimony of the two witnesses, but only inside the Creation … the testimony of all three witnesses comes from them living again.
A sign will now have one meaning inside the creation [one context] and another meaning in heaven [a different context], a reality that shouldn’t be difficult for twice-born Christians to grasp; for the defeat of Death permits human sons of God to have indwelling eternal life that cannot be taken from them. Why, because Death has been defeated; is no more.
And why any of this matters is that intelligent men in the early centuries of Christendom anticipated much of this without realizing the magnitude and scope of the timeless heavenly realm: they couldn’t escape from “space-time” for long enough to sustain an apologetic. Hence, they willingly borrowed concepts from Greek paganism that were/are inappropriate, the foremost of which is that human persons are born with immortal souls when they are not. Eternal life is the gift of God in Christ Jesus (Rom 6:23). It is the Adversary who told Eve, and spiritual Eve that she shall not surely die if she ate fruit from the Tree of Knowledge. (Gen 3:4).
As stated in previous installments, in the physical the weekly Sabbath as well as the High Sabbaths represent Israel’s liberation from bondage in Egypt, but in the spiritual the weekly Sabbath and the High Sabbaths represent a still future liberation from indwelling sin and death, not something Pharisees or Sadducees ever considered—and not anything Sabbatarian Christendom considered in 1980s.
There are only eleven sons of Jacob represented in the 144,000, there are only “eleven” in the 144,000 that follows the glorified Lamb of God wherever He goes (Rev 14:1–5) after all authority in heaven and on earth is given to the Son of Man halfway through seven endtime years. And Matthew’s Jesus, having received all authority in heaven and on earth commanded the Eleven who met with Him in Galilee to make disciples of all nations. This command is, therefore, time-specific, and isn’t for this present pre-Second Passover era, when greater Christendom forms the reality of ancient Israel in Egypt.
Whether in song or in messages delivered from pulpits, commands to make disciples for Christ in this age come from not understanding the time-specific nature of the plan of God; for in this present era, no one can come to Christ unless drawn by the Father (John 6:44), meaning that Christian evangelism is inherently wasted effort, wasted resources. No one can make a decision for Jesus and actually come to Christ. The person who makes a decision for Jesus will eventually deny Christ, who in turn will deny the person before the Father.
I believe everything else that needs addressed can be discussed in Sabbath Readings. So here, I will conclude, but not before saying that the second installment of this open letter has one of the most downloaded pieces on Philadelphia’s website. So your question is doing a work far beyond anything you expected … thank you for the questions.
"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.”