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 “the spirit of the person - part two.”
For the Sabbath of April 18, 2015
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.
For who knows a person's thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the spirit that is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual. The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?" But we have the mind of Christ. (1 Cor 2:11–16)
What do head coverings have to do with the Passover, a person might ask? … Perhaps the better question is what does Christ being the Head of every disciple have to do with the Passover? And as the Head of every disciple, does not Christ’s righteousness “cover”—as a garment covers—the disciple? Indeed it does. But how do we know that Christ’s righteousness covers the disciple? By believing that Christ’s blood has been poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins, with the author of Matthew’s Gospel having His Jesus say, after blessing the Passover Cup, “‘Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins’” (Matt 26:27–28), and with Paul writing, “In the same way also He took the cup, after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me’” (1 Cor 11:25).
Most Christians do not believe Christ; do not take the Passover sacraments on the dark portion of the First Unleavened (from Matt 26:17 in Greek); do not accept the sign of Jonah as significant. Most Christians would have Christ Jesus fulfilling the Law so they do not have to keep the Law; so that are not under the Law but are under grace, the garment of Christ Jesus’ righteousness. Most Christians consciously refuse to walk in this world as Jesus, an observant Jew, walked; for they are not Jews …
Indeed, they are not:
Circumcision indeed is of value if you obey the law, but if you break the law, your circumcision becomes uncircumcision. So, if a man who is uncircumcised keeps the precepts of the law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? Then he who is physically uncircumcised but keeps the law will condemn you who have the written code and circumcision but break the law. For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the spirit, not by the letter. (Rom 2:25–29 emphasis added)
The Christian who is not under the Law but who transgresses the Law will perish without the Law:
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)
But there is a problem with Paul’s writings: as Jesus only spoke to His disciples in figures of speech, metaphorical and metonymic language usage, Paul seems to digress, changing subjects then returning to a previous subject, never really saying what he means. For example, between Paul writing that doers of the Law will be justified and the uncircumcised person who keeps the Law will have his or her uncircumcision counted as circumcision, thus making the person a Jew according to the spirit, Paul talked about Jews needing to instruct themselves, and about Jews dishonoring God by breaking the Law … but who was the Jew that knowingly broke the Law and dishonored God?
Jesus in John’s Gospel said to Jews in the temple, “‘Has not Moses given you the law? Yet none of you keeps the law’” (John 7:19). Apparently all Jews were not keeping the Law, and if all were not keeping the Law, then all were lawbreakers, sinners. None would have had their outward circumcision counted to them as circumcision. All would have been dishonoring God in their worship of God, thus making Christendom an unusually anti-Semitic ideology that doesn’t reject the Law but rather, keeps the Law, thereby creating in Judaism instant jealousy.
But isn’t this what Paul wrote later in his treatise to the holy ones at Rome:
I ask, did they stumble in order that they might fall? By no means! Rather through their trespass salvation has come to the Gentiles, so as to make Israel jealous. Now if their trespass means riches for the world, and if their failure means riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their full inclusion mean! Now I am speaking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry in order somehow to make my fellow Jews jealous, and thus save some of them. (Rom 11:11–14)
Do you cause a person to come to Christ by making the person jealous, telling the person that his circumcision—the mark of his physical and spiritual identity—has no meaning, that even an uncircumcised Gentile by keeping the Law will have his or her uncircumcision counted as spiritual circumcision? This means that a woman, by keeping the Law, will be spiritually circumcised and able to enter the heavenly temple of God, thereby devaluing the maleness of the circumcised Israelite, condemning the circumcised Israelite to the outer court where Gentiles congregated. And this leads to Paul’s tour de force allegory:
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 the 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)
Paul would have natural Israel [because of the state of being natural] the son of the slave woman, Hagar, while he would have Christian converts being the son [spiritual Isaac] of the free woman, with Christ Jesus being the spiritual counterpart to the patriarch Abraham. And all of this is “implied” or better indirectly stated between justified by keeping the Law and the spiritually circumcised keep the Law.
But Paul wrote, You who desire to be under the Law, not at all meaning that the righteous would not keep the Law:
What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. (Rom 6:15–18)
What Paul writes—“God has consigned all to disobedience, that He may have mercy on all” (Rom 11:32)—has a witness in John’s Gospel when John’s Jesus said to Jews in the temple, Yet none of you keeps the law (again, John 7:19); for all of Judaism, as well as all of the Gentiles, had been consigned to disobedience [sin] so that God could have mercy on them. But there seems a great distance between God shows no partiality and sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace (Rom 2:14)—if sin had dominion over all of Judaism, the Lord’s firstborn son (Ex 4:22), and if the man Jesus is the firstborn son of God (John 3:16; also see Matthew’s 2:15 citation of Hosea 11:1, with the citation coming the spiritual presentation of Hosea thought-couplet verse), then the God of Abraham cannot be the God of Jesus. And it would have been so simple if Paul had simply written the preceding, what Matthew’s Jesus tells Sadducees testing Him:
You 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 [Theos] of Abraham, and the [Theos] of Isaac, and the [Theos] of Jacob”? He is not [Theos] of the dead, but of the living. (Matt 22:29–32 emphasis added)
How could Sadducees not know Scripture? Perhaps the better question is, how can Christians today not know Scripture or the power of God? Is it because their cannot read indirect discourse?
Comprehending indirect discourse is a problem for any people who say what they mean and mean what they say … this is not as large of a problem for primarily oral cultures, where assigning meaning to words is never as simple as a word having denotative and connotative meanings: words are also used metaphorically, as metonymic signifiers, and in more distant figurative expressions, such as one adult person saying to another adult in the presence of a child, “I wonder why [the child] does that?” The child has been thoroughly scolded in many Native American cultures—at least before satellite television penetrated the solitude of rural villages. The disapproval of an adult expressed through a seemingly innocence question would have been devastating, if the child chose to “hear” what was being said to the child. If the child chose not to hear, it would not be long before the child was banished from the village, with Tlingits putting disrespectful youths on uninhabited islands for some period of time, perhaps a year or more, letting the youth fend for (usually) himself for long enough that reincorporation into society is of a person who now wants to conform to the mores of the culture.
Indirect discourse permits the auditor to “hear” or not “hear” what is being said … if the auditor chooses not to hear, no offense has occurred [except among people that say what they mean]. If the auditor chooses to hear a portion of what has been said, then only that portion is heard. The remainder of the discourse is remembered, almost always, and can be recalled when the auditor wants to hear more of what was said. Hence, Paul’s use of indirect discourse concerning the Passover doesn’t establish a hard link between head coverings and the Passover that can be easily understood within a culture that says what it means. So while the women of Mennonite sects and Hutterites and other theological descendants of 16th-Century Radical Reformers wear fabric head coverings in addition to their longish hair, these sects do not keep the Passover and thereby do not cover their sins with the blood of Christ Jesus. Oh, they take a communion service, but their communion services do not amount to keeping the Passover as Christ left the example with His disciples.
In John’s Gospel, Jesus said to His disciples,
Whoever believes in me, believes not in me but in Him who sent me. And whoever sees me sees Him who sent me. I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness. If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word [’o logos] that I have spoken will judge him on the last day. For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has Himself given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak. And I know that His commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me. (John 12:44–50 emphasis and double emphasis added)
If the word of Jesus will do the actual judging of unbelievers, doubters, those persons who corrupted worship of the Father and the Son, what will be the fate of the Christian who refuses to take the Passover sacraments of bread and drink on the night Jesus was betrayed, this night being the dark portion of the 14th day of the first month, with the first day of this first month marked by observation of the first new moon crescent following the spring equinox wherever the person dwells. Does the Christian who refuses to cover him or herself with the blood of Christ, poured out for many for the forgiveness of sin, by drinking from the Cup on the night Jesus was taken have any covering for his or her transgressions of the Law? And what is the point of professing that Jesus is Lord if the person refuses to walk as Jesus walked; refuses to eat the body of Jesus as represented by the broken unleavened bread on the First Unleavened; refuses to drink the blood of Jesus as represented by the blessed Cup on one night a year, the Passover of dark portion of the 14th day, when Israel in Egypt killed and roasted with fire their selected Passover lambs?
Again, Paul asks,
I speak as to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say. The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? …
You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. Shall we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than He? (1 Cor 10:15–16, 21–22)
Well, shall we? Shall we provoke the Lord? Shall we mock His sacrifice by offering to God Cain’s sacrifice? That is what Christians do when they take the Passover sacraments of bread and drink on any day or at any time other than on the night that Jesus was taken … on only one night a year—the dark portion of the 14th day of the first month—does unleavened bread [the fruit of the ground] and the fruit of the vine represent the body and blood of the Passover Lamb of God. On every other day and at every other time, bread and wine represents Cain’s sacrifice, with the Lord telling Cain,
Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it. (Gen 4:6–7 double emphasis added)
Cain’s offering didn’t cover Cain’s transgressions … in order for Cain’s transgressions to be covered, Cain had to commit no transgressions: If you do well—
Cain’s offering covered nothing: the Christian who takes communion services at any time other than on the Passover, doesn’t cover his or her transgressions. This Christian’s transgressions are only covered by doing well; by not committing any transgressions, with Paul writing [again cited],
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 emphasis added)
The Christian who sins but who insists that he or she is not under the Law but under grace will, nevertheless, perish without the Law, according to Paul; for this Christian is the slave of the one whom the Christian obeys [again cited for emphasis]—
For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace. What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification. (Rom 6:14–19)
What is your natural limitation? Is it having the mind of a child? Is it having the mind of a newly born son of God, having the spiritual equivalent of having a mind of a child, a mind unable to comprehend indirect discourse that will have Christ as the Head of every disciple and God being the Head of Christ, and thereby “covering” Christ Jesus, who when here on earth only spoke the words of God the Father (again, John 12:49)?
Is the son of God housed in the fleshly body of a male person free to speak as an earthly man? Is the son of God housed in the fleshly body of a female person free to speak as a woman? Or should not both imitate Paul as he imitated Jesus, who only spoke the words of God the Father?
In order to imitate Christ Jesus, we must cover our heads with the glory of Christ for the sake of the angels who observe us day by day. We must respond to the mind of Christ that is in us—and we do so by showing that we are under the authority of Christ Jesus our Head.
Why would a Christian consciously or unconsciously deny Christ by refusing to cover his or her sins by drinking from the Cup on Passover? This person apparently isn’t interested in covering his or her sins. And if this person is a biological or legal firstborn—this includes the inner son of God that dwells in truly born of spirit disciples—this person will be slain on the day of the Second Passover liberation of Israel. Slain because this person is an uncovered firstborn.
Now, look at the tradition that was in practice in 1st-Century Judea of women covering their hair as a sign of being under the authority of their husband: Paul uses this tradition to express the significance of keeping the Passover in a commendable manner; for if Christians are to become the Bride of Christ at the Wedding Supper [the resurrection of firstfruits], then every glorified Christian will be under the authority of Christ Jesus.
When the head that has significance moves from being outwardly circumcised [made naked and figuratively returned to the Garden] to being the “head” on a person’s shoulders, hair length [the natural covering of this “head”] discloses the relationship between being outwardly circumcised [short cropped hair] or uncircumcised [longish hair length], with both male and female having hair that doesn’t stop growing at a predetermined length, thereby disclosing an equality between the sexes that separates Homo sapiens from the great apes. A covering over this top-of-head hair now becomes a secondary sign of authority: of the submission of one person to another. And at this secondary level of symbolism, the husband bears to his wife—not to other women—a relationship typified by Christ’s relationship to disciples. Thus, in type, a fabric head covering worn by the wife is analogous to drinking from the Cup on Passover, with the male’s short hair symbolizing the male’s nakedness before God. And about this there is more to say; thus, there will be a third Reading about this subject.
"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."