The Philadelphia Church

And He said to them, "Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men. (Matt 4:19)"

The following Scripture passages are offered to aid beginning fellowships. The readings and commentary are offered as openings into dialogue about the subject or concept. And the concept behind the readings for the Feast of Trumpets in the plan of God.

Printable/viewable PDF format

High Sabbath Readings

For services on Trumpets, October 4, 2005

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 person conducting the services should read or assign to be read Leviticus chapter 23, verses 23 through 25, followed by Numbers chapter 29, verses 1 through 6, and Hebrews chapter 8, verses 1 through 7.

Commentary: The tendency with the greater Church is to label the High Sabbaths as “Jewish” days that New Testament, or Second Covenant Christians do not need to observe. The same logic is used by the greater Church to support its neglect of the weekly Sabbath. What is of Moses, according to teachers within the greater Church, no longer pertains to born anew disciples of Christ Jesus. But the writer of Hebrews labels those things of Moses a copy and shadow (Heb 8:5) of invisible spiritual realities, thereby making the things of Moses the dark glass through which disciples view the things of God. Disciples do not see with their eyes Christ Jesus as their high priest, but must accept on faith that the glorified Jesus is seated at the right hand of the Father, interceding on their behalf as their high priest. The only way disciples have of “observing” what Jesus does for them is through comprehending His shadow, circumcised Israel’s high priest. Likewise, the only way disciples have of seeing themselves as the holy nation of God, a royal priesthood called for service (1 Pet 2:9-10), is through comprehending the responsibilities of the Levitical priesthood, which had no inheritance in Israel but relied upon the Lord. Literally, the descendants of the tribe of Levi were “in their world, but not of their world” in the same way that disciples are separate from the world (John 17:11, 16).

The principle responsibility of the Levitical priesthood was temple service—today, disciples are the temple of God (1 Cor 3:16-17). Collectively, the fleshly tabernacles in which the spiritually circumcised new creatures, born from above as sons of God, dwell is the temple of God the Father. The collective bodies of disciples form, in the same way that off-site shaped stones formed the temple Solomon constructed, the yet unassembled temple of the Most High. Disciples are as the stones that were designated to be part of the house of God, in that disciples are being shaped and sculpted with hard tools in anticipation of glorification, when they will be assembled without the sound of iron on stone being heard. Those disciples who are of Philadelphia will be pillars (Rev 3:12). The forming of them into pillars will be accomplished prior to their resurrection or change.

The two stone tablets upon which the commandments of God were written by the finger of YHWH [singular in usage] were not first housed in a stone temple, but in a perishable tent of fabric. King David desired to built the Lord a more permanent house, and he received permission to assemble materials, metals, and moneys—David’s reign began with him seeking God and bringing again the ark of the covenant to Israel (1 Chron 13:3). But David was a bloody man. His son Solomon was a man of peace, and the man to whom YHWH gave rest (1 Chron 22:9). So it was during Solomon’s reign that work began on rough stone and timber in the hill country outside of Jerusalem. Work began on living stones three days after Calvary.

The reader should read 1 Peter chapter 2, verses 1 through 8.

Commentary: The rejected living stone upon which the temple of God is built is Christ Jesus, but each disciple is also a living stone comprising the spiritual temple. As the stone temple built by Solomon housed the two stone tablets upon which the finger of YHWH had written the commandments of God, the living temple of flesh houses the two tablets of flesh (i.e., the hearts and minds of disciples) upon which the laws of God are today written. Under the second covenant, the laws of God move from stone to flesh, from hand to heart, from body to mind, from outside physically circumcised Israelites to inside spiritually circumcised disciples.

The reader should read Matthew chapter 5, verses 17 through 30.

Commentary: The greater Christian Church teaches that Jesus did, in fact, abolish the law. But that isn’t what Jesus taught. Rather, He taught that murder, conducted with the hand, becomes or equates to anger, a production of the heart, that under the spiritual covenant, what was outside a person—a physically circumcised Israelite was “under” an outside law—moves inside the person. Hence, Jesus taught that the inside of the cup should be cleaned, and the whole cup would be clean.

Adultery, committed with the body, under the spiritual covenant equates to lust, committed with the mind. And so it is with all of the laws of God. Breaking the Sabbath through doing work with the hands moves to breaking the Sabbath through the desires of the hearts and the thoughts of the mind being on subjects other than loving God and loving neighbor. The Sabbath doesn’t go away, nor does it change from the seventh day to the eighth day. Likewise, the annual Sabbaths don’t dissolve into nothingness with the passing from the physical covenant governing the physically circumcised nation to the spiritual covenant governing a spiritually circumcised nation. The movement of the law from two stone tablets in a stone temple to two tablets of flesh in a temple of flesh doesn’t abolish the law. Jesus confirmed this: Don’t think that I have come to abolish the Law and the Prophets (v. 17). Thus, if a person will not hear the words of Moses, the person will not hear Jesus.

The reader should read John chapter 5.

Commentary: Jesus “worked” at healing on the Sabbath, because His Father was working until then—the Sabbaths, weekly and annual, represent diminutive rests that are to be kept by the people of God (Heb 4:9). They are a type and shadow of the heavenly realm, just as is the Millennium.

In the timeless heavenly realm, there is no day one, two, three, four, five, or six. There is only the oneness that constitutes the unity of God. There is only the Sabbath, where no physical work is performed, for nothing physical exists. This is what Jesus conveyed to His disciples, but what the scribes and the Pharisees were incapable of understanding. The rest of God is the movement from physical to spiritual. In God’s rest, all physical work ends, but all activity doesn’t end. Doing those things that pertain to the spiritual realm are, indeed, appropriate Sabbath activities, for these are the things that will be done when disciples are glorified. And those things will be done physically during the Millennium—there will be peace on earth, with all humanity dwelling in unity.

Because the physically circumcised nation never understood the things of God—and because that nation serves as the actual shadow of the greater Church, meaning that the greater Church likewise doesn’t understand the mystery of God—Israel made the Sabbaths of God burdens that must be borne in sin. The greater Church has made the Sabbath a day of lawlessness, the principle shopping day of the week. The greater Church has, therefore, burdened the spiritual nation of Israel with sin in a similar manner to how Pharaoh placed the physically circumcised nation under physical bondage.

The reader should read Hebrews chapters 3, 4, & 5.

Commentary: The writer of Hebrews, indeed, had much to say that the greater Christian Church hasn’t heard. The promised landscape of Judea equates geographically with the invisible mental landscape of entering God’s rest (compare Heb 3:19 with Ps 95:10-11). Judea was promised to Abraham’s physical seed, just as entering on the Sabbaths of God the mental landscape of the heavenly realm is promised to disciples.

While the patriarch Israel yet lived, the nation that was then seventy or seventy-two in number (seventy-five counting Joseph and his two sons) left Judea and journeyed to Egypt, the geographical representation of sin, just as Judea was the representation of God’s rest. The nation grew in number as God promised the patriarch Israel (Gen 46:2-4), and the nation left Egypt as God promised. But the nation that left Egypt never entered into God’s rest because of its unbelief.

The analogy holds: the greater Church went into sin when it compromised with the laws of God that were written on hearts and minds, when it rejected the Sabbath and attempted to enter God’s rest on the eighth day. Mentally, the Church journeyed into sin just as the physically circumcised nation physically journeyed to Egypt. The Church entered into sin when it was still small, when it was only as large as where the seventy sent forth by Jesus had journeyed.

The reader should read Luke chapter 10, verses 1 through 24.

Commentary: When the seventy or seventy-two returned, Jesus thanked the Father that the Father had hidden knowledge of the mysteries of God from the wise and had given understanding to small children [adolescent sons of God]. And one of the hidden mysteries was that the Church would journey into sin, and go into spiritual bondage to the spiritual king of Babylon (Isa 14:4-21) in the same way that the physical nation journeyed down to Egypt and ended up in physical bondage to Pharaoh. And as the physical nation was liberated from bondage to Pharaoh on a particular night [the 15th of the first month] and at a particular hour [midnight], so too will the spiritual nation be liberated from bondage to sin and the spiritual king of Babylon at a particular hour. Disciples are now living through the long night of watching, during which they roast and eat the Passover Lamb for the household of God.

Livestock are innocent of sin. Farm animals have no capacity to understand right from wrong. They are naphesh (i.e., breathing creatures) as human beings are, but they are fully the responsibility of human beings. Their natures have been assigned to them, as evidenced by King Nebuchadnezzar being given the mind of an ox for seven years. During those seven years, he wasn’t the king of Babylon trapped in the body of a beast. Rather, his reason, his ability to think as a human being was taken from him—and in its place, he was given the thoughts, the nature, the mental landscape of a farm animal. He was, during those years, a human being content to live as a beast; he didn’t know otherwise. He didn’t remember that he was the king of Babylon while he was grazing in the field, wondering if the grass on the other side of the meadow was better than where he presently was.

The reader should read Daniel chapter 4.

Commentary: The forgotten lesson of Nebuchadnezzar’s seven years of living as a beast is that human nature is not a product of biology, but is assigned to humankind by the creator of all that is. And it is here where interesting juxtapositions lie: the spiritual king of Babylon, Satan the devil, will be cast into time and to the earth halfway through seven endtime years of tribulation. He will have his reason taken from him just as Nebuchadnezzar had his taken from him, and Satan will be given the mind of a man just as Nebuchadnezzar was given the mind of a beast. For the last three and a half years of the Tribulation, Satan will be among men, thinking as a man, meaning that born-from-above disciples can mentally beat him. (The remaining time represented by Nebuchadnezzar’s seven years will be allotted Satan after the thousand years of Christ’s reign—that short period during which Satan is loosed will probably be three and a half years long.)

Satan will come as a roaring lion when he is cast from heaven; he will come claiming to be the Christ; he will come as the true antiChrist in the fall of the year, on or about the Feast of Trumpets. It will not be Christ Jesus who returns after three and a half years of tribulation, after the split Mount of Olives swallows the armies that surrounded Jerusalem. It will be Satan—and he will deceive many that, in the splintered Churches of God, have been taught this is when Jesus will return.

The abstract of the plan of God appears in the Genesis creation account—the Holy Day calendar details the two-harvests of God, and how the latter, main crop wheat harvest is foreshadowed by the early barley harvest. And because spiritually blind teachers of the splintered Churches of God have taught without understanding, neither the remnant of spiritual nation that left Babylon to rebuild the house of God nearly five centuries ago, nor the greater part of this spiritually circumcised nation that remained in Babylon realize where humanity is in the overall plan of God. Both the remnant Church and the greater Church have set themselves up to rebel against God when the Son of Man is revealed. For neither understand what “revealed” means. Neither have an understanding of grace.

Grace as unmerited pardon is a poor understanding, at best, of the garment of Christ’s righteousness that cloaks every disciple. A physical grace existed prior to the giving of the law from atop Sinai: sin or lawlessness was not reckoned against those who transgressed the law…no sin was imputed to any human being prior to the giving of the Law from atop Mt. Sinai. Every person was as spiritually innocent as livestock are even though the person was a descendant of Adam and Eve, who had been created in the image of Elohim.

The reader should now read Romans chapter 5.

Commentary: Lawlessness entered the world through Adam’s disobedience. Although Eve ate first of the tree of Knowledge, she was of Adam, just as the Church is of the last Adam, Christ Jesus. The first Adam was Eve’s covering, just as the last Adam is the covering for the last Eve. Or better, the righteousness of the last Adam covers the lawlessness of the last Eve as a mantle or a cloak. The garment of Grace, which disciples daily put on, covers disciples in the manner foreshadowed by the daily sacrifice of a lamb covering the sins of the physically circumcised nation of Israel. Therefore, as the first Adam’s obedience would have covered Eve’s lawlessness, his disobedience left both naked. Adam had no covering for his sin except his obedience to his parent. He could not hide his nakedness with fig leaves. Rather, clothing made from animal skins—animals sacrificed in the garden of God—were required to cover Adam and Eve’s nakedness. Thus, when Adam ate of the same tree from which Eve ate, sin entered the world. And death for sin followed even though sin was not imputed to those who died.

Again, sin or lawlessness (from 1 John 3:4) was not reckoned as sin until the giving of the Law even though all died as a result of Adam and Eve being driven from the garden of God before they could eat of the Tree of Life. Literally, with Adam and Eve being driven from the garden before they could eat of the Tree of Life, God consigned all of humankind to disobedience, to death, to darkness (Rom 11:32). Only a handful of men (and women) sought and obeyed God prior to the giving of the law, and those who obeyed did so by faith. No other reason compelled these few individuals to do the things that are required by the law except their desire to please God. And upon long-time demonstrated obedience, these few were given the Breath of God [Pneuma ’Agion], with the resulting birth in the heavenly realm where no sacrifice but their obedience to God could cover their sin.

Prior to the giving of the law from atop Mt. Sinai, spiritual life was offered to only a few, who by nature and by faith did those things required by the law. It is today offered to only those individuals drawn by the Father (John 6:44). It is not today offered to everyone, but only to earthenware vessels (i.e., fleshly tabernacles) selected for special use. It will be offered to all others in the great White Throne Judgment, so God is not a respecter of persons, offering salvation to some and not to others. Everyone will receive birth from above one time, just as physical birth is once received. But this birth occurs for most human beings in a resurrection from death in the evening of the sixth spiritual day—and herein is the problem for the Sabbath-keeping Churches of God. Humankind presently lives in the second spiritual day of a seven day long spiritual creation week foreshadowed by the physical creation. The derivative splinters of Herbert Armstrong’s Worldwide Church of God inevitably teach that humanity is at the end of the sixth day, and that the Millennium constitutes the seventh day, which leaves two major events (Satan being freed from the bottomless pit and the great White Throne Judgment) occurring on an eighth spiritual day. This line of reasoning assumes that the Apostle Peter’s observation that a day with the Lord is as a thousand years and a thousand years is as a day (2 Pet 3:8) establishes the hard ratio of one spiritual day equals one thousand years. This is not what Peter was saying. Peter was reminding dispersed brethren that God doesn’t reckon time in the same way human beings do. Peter isn’t establishing a seven day spiritual week that is seven thousand years long; for the Millennium is only a type, a shadow of entering God’s rest, which will be crossing dimensions and entering the heavenly realm as glorified sons of God, a little above the angels that are also called sons of God (for they have no parent but God). The Millennium, like the weekly Sabbath, and like the promised land of Judea—all serve as copies and shadows of heaven, which flesh and blood bodies cannot enter.

The first three and a half years of the Tribulation form the night, or twisting away from the light portion of the third day of the spiritual creation week. The last three and a half years of the Tribulation form the hot portion of this third spiritual day. Thus, the fourth day begins with the resurrection of the saints to form the greater light. The reflected light of the lesser light is formed by all of humanity having the Holy Spirit, just as drawn disciples today have the Holy Spirit in fleshly bodies.

The sacrifice of sheep and goats, bulls and doves is the shedding of innocent blood for the lawlessness of a holy people (Exod 19:5-6), the firstborn son of the Lord (Exod 4:22). Jesus, as innocent of sin as any lamb, is the acceptable sacrifice for the lawlessness of a spiritually holy people—everything is moved “up” a level when going from physical to spiritual. Likewise, the grain harvests (the early barley harvest and the latter wheat harvest) of Judean hillsides move up to represent a first resurrection (from the grave) upon Jesus’ return, and a second resurrection in the great White Throne Judgment. The barley harvest does not occur on Pentecost, but at the end of seven years of tribulation that are represented by the seven days of Unleavened Bread. The first High Sabbath of Unleavened Bread represents the liberation of the Church from bondage to sin, just as this high day commemorates Israel leaving Egypt and bondage to Pharaoh. The last High Sabbath, then, represents Christ’s return and the wedding supper.

Today, disciples live through the long night of watching that will, at its darkest hour, the midnight hour, see death angels pass throughout spiritual Babylon. Today, the separation of who is of heaven and who remains in darkness continues. The Feast of Trumpets isn’t about Jesus’ imminent return, but about Day 1260, that long awaited day in the middle of the seven endtime years of tribulation, that day when the kingdom of the world becomes the kingdom of the Most High and of His Christ (Rev 11:15 & Dan 7:9-14); when Satan is cast from heaven (Rev 12:9-10); when the split Mount of Olives swallows the armies surrounding Jerusalem (Zech 14:4-5, Rev 12:16, & Exod 15:12); when the Holy Spirit is poured out on all flesh (Joel 2:28), thereby changing even the natures of the great predators (Isa 11:6-9); when death, that fourth horseman (Rev 6:8) and fourth beast (Dan 7:7, 11), is publicly defeated by the resurrection of the two witnesses (Rev 11:11-12). This will be a glorious day, for all of humanity will be born from above and empowered by the Holy Spirit. Now, all who endure to the end shall be saved (Matt 24:13). And this is the good news that must be proclaimed to all nations before the end comes (v. 14)

The person conducting the Sabbath service should close services with two hymns, or psalms, followed by a prayer asking God’s dismissal.

* * * * *

"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."