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 “true belief in God.”
For the Sabbath of November 14, 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.
We are all Parisians
Paris mourns. France mourns. Western nations mourn as the world awakened to the grim reminder that Islamic apocalyptic teachings have again brought death to seeming innocents late Friday evening … but there are no innocents. There are no bystanders. There is nowhere to hide, nowhere to escape, not even in Christ where martyrs will be made. Humanity simply has to accept the reality that the world is a dangerous neighborhood; that time and chance happens; that supernatural protection isn’t extended to all of Christendom.
Supernatural protection is extended to the two witnesses for a time, times, and half a time: 1260 days. And then this protection is given to these two to keep them alive to a specific day when they will be killed, their bodies visibly dead in this world until they are resurrected from death, their testimony that Death, the demonic king of the North, has been defeated … a “thing” is not established by the testimony of one witness, but by the testimony of two or three witnesses. The resurrection of Christ Jesus from death is the testimony of one witness albeit a very important witness within greater Christendom, but not an important witness to Buddhists or to other people not of the Book. Thus, it has been left to the two end-of-the-age witnesses to testify that death has lost its sting through their public resurrections from death.
But there is a back-story to Paris mourning this morning: the person who believes God (the Christian who keeps the Law and teaches others to do likewise, or the Observant Jew) wouldn’t have been attending a concert, a soccer game, or out to eat so late on Sabbath evening. And while being at home would not have been a guarantee of safety, being at home on the Sabbath would have reduced the odds of becoming a target on this particular day—wouldn’t have helped any on 9/11, though.
Terrorism is a tactic employed in asymmetrical warfare. And use of suicide bombers is a desperation tactic that reduces enemy combatants one at a time …
Until the Adversary’s dominion over the single kingdom of this world is taken from him and given to the Son of Man, asymmetrical war will be the reality with which all citizens of the world have to deal; for superpowers are just that, super powers, nations that have no military or economic equivalency among the smaller nations of this world. And possession of land and population size limits the number of potential superpowers to less than a double handful, with the United States of America, Russia, and China being in a club by themselves. India is a potential member of this club, as is Brazil. Otherwise, those who would like in cannot get in—such as the European Union—because they lack central sovereignty over sufficiently large territorial expanses that they have potential internal self-sufficiency; hence, the Islamic desire for a califate that will initially stretch from the Indian sub-continent to the Atlantic Ocean before engulfing the world so that there is no other ideology, no other competitors for the affections of humanity, no other perversion of thought or body.
Secular humanity is troubled by any ideology that curbs “expression of the self” as in lifestyle, notably sexual relationships … Islamic fundamentalism is such an ideology, but then, so in fundamental Christendom—
The hope and desire of Christianity is the Second Advent, the return of Christ Jesus as the Messiah for whom Israel has long waited. The prayer of Christendom has been, “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven’” (Matt 6:9–10). And if the will of God is done here on earth as it is done in heaven, then there will be no place found here on earth for the Adversary and his broadcast of rebellion against authority and his advocacy of transactional economics.
When the will of God is done here on earth as it is in heaven, human persons will not engage in buying or selling [nor in bartering] to acquire the things they need for life. They will not work for wages; will not sell handwork; will not live as people imagine they will in a millennial reign by Christ Jesus. Rather, people will dwell under their own vine and tree, taking from nature what grows of itself as the Land enjoys its Sabbath for a thousand years … the Millennium—the Thousand Year reign of the Messiah here on earth—will be the long denied Land Sabbath for which the earth has patiently waited. So the prayer of every Christian that God’s will shall be done here on earth as it is in heaven is a prayer against the American way of life; against self-rule; against socialism; against all forms of collectivism, including a global caliphate.
If the will of God is done on earth as it is in heaven, there will be no dissent, no free will, no soccer games on Sabbath evening—probably no soccer games at all, for the spirit of competition will have ceased with, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
What Western nations fear the most is their potential loss of so-called individual freewill, something an Islamic caliphate would strip from society. For since the days of Moses and the children of Israel on the plains of Moab, Western culture has been based on the concept of individual freedom and personal responsibility, with the individual being rewarded for doing “good” and being condemned for doing what is “evil.”
What real evil were those Parisians at the theater doing when they were murdered? Certainly they were not obeying God, but last night, who in Paris was living in covenant with God? In this great city, how many even know the will of God? How many pray for the Second Advent? How many believe God?
Humanity has an accuser, Satan the devil … when calamity came upon Job, his first response was,
Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. And he said, "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord." (Job 1:20–21)
But when the calamity that outwardly fell upon Job turned inward and afflicted his person (as opposed to his possessions and his offspring), Job still did not sin with his mouth yet a crack in his faith became evident:
So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord and struck Job with loathsome sores from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. And he took a piece of broken pottery with which to scrape himself while he sat in the ashes. Then his wife said to him, "Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die." But he said to her, "You speak as one of the foolish women would speak. Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?" In all this Job did not sin with his lips. (Job 2:7–10 emphasis added)
The Lord didn’t strike Job with sores: the Adversary did. So a fault enters into Job’s speech, not a fault that is a sin but a fault which the Lord will personally address: <Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil> … does all “good” come from God? Does “evil” come from God? Perhaps the more germane question this Sabbath day is, did God have anything to do with the Islamists murdering more than a hundred Parisians late last night? No, He did not. And yes, He could have prevented what happened if this were, today, His world. But it isn’t His world. If it were, there would have been no soccer game on Sabbath evening; no theater performance by an American rock band; no late night dining.
Those Parisians (and others) who were murdered were not murdered because God desired their deaths for transgressing the Sabbath … God simply doesn’t work that way: He has consigned all of humanity to disobedience so He can have mercy on all (Rom 11:32). He has chosen to keep hands off a world that serves as a demonstration of self-rule and transactional economics; a world He has delivered to the Adversary as He delivered Job to the Adversary for the destruction of the flesh.
Again, Job believed that the harm that had come to him had come from the Lord, and he was willing to accept this harm although he would go on to say that he wished he had never been born, that he would have died at birth (Job chap 3). But the harm that had come upon him wasn’t from the Lord, but from the Adversary. And this point needs to be remembered: the Adversary bears responsibility for the Parisians murdered by jihadists, not God.
Without John’s vision, which 1st-Century Christendom didn’t have (which Paul didn’t have, which Peter didn’t have), endtime disciples would have more difficulty placing the transition from this world being governed by the Adversary to being governed by the Son of Man in its context, the doubled day 1260 between the Affliction and the Endurance in Jesus:
As I looked, thrones were placed, and the Ancient of Days took His seat; His clothing was white as snow, and the hair of His head like pure wool; His throne was fiery flames; its wheels were burning fire. A stream of fire issued and came out from before Him; a thousand thousands served Him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him; the court sat in judgment, and the books were opened. I looked then because of the sound of the great words that the horn was speaking. And as I looked, the beast was killed, and its body destroyed and given over to be burned with fire. As for the rest of the beasts, their dominion was taken away, but their lives were prolonged for a season and a time. I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and He came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before Him. And to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him; His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom one that shall not be destroyed. (Dan 7:9–14)
Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, "The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever." And the twenty-four elders who sit on their thrones before God fell on their faces and worshiped God, saying, "We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, who is and who was, for you have taken your great power and begun to reign. The nations raged, but your wrath came, and the time for the dead to be judged, and for rewarding your servants, the prophets and saints, and those who fear your name, both small and great, and for destroying the destroyers of the earth." (Rev 11:15–18)
Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, "Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death. Therefore, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!" (Rev 12:7–12 emphasis added)
Today, the prince of this world remains the Adversary, who has been a murderer from the beginning—and God consigned all of humanity to disobedience; to servitude to the Adversary as sons of disobedience so that He could have mercy on all (again, Rom 11:32, also Eph 2:2–3). Hence, both the jihadists that murdered Parisians and the Parisians that were murdered were sons of disobedience, delivered to the Adversary for the destruction of the flesh, what Paul understood but didn’t well explain when he wrote to the holy ones at Corinth:
It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father's wife. And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you. For though absent in body, I am present in spirit; and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment on the one who did such a thing. When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord. (1 Cor 5:1–5)
The person consigned to disobedience cannot have fellowship with sons of God genuinely born of spirit. Likewise, humanity, because of unbelief, has separated itself from God, who then turned His back to humanity by delivering the world to the Adversary for him (the Adversary) to use in a demonstration of those things he advocated in his rebellion against God; for an idea is hard to kill, and the Adversary’s introduction of the superiority of self-governance over theocratic rule as an idea would have outlived the Adversary if God would have immediately executed this guardian cherub when iniquity was found in him. Thus, to kill an idea that would potentially pop-up to undergird future rebellions, God had to kill the idea before He executed the Adversary, neither of which has occurred inside of space-time but both of which has occurred in the timeless supra-dimensional heavenly realm.
This morning, there are not many Parisians inclined to show love to the jihadists who murdered so many last night: their nature, human nature as received from the Adversary, wants to justifiably kill jihadists, both in France and in Iraq and Syria. But doing so merely illuminates the mental servitude to the Adversary of the executioners.
There are not many places outside of the person’s mind where a person can go to see why he or she thinks the thoughts they do … one place is the Book of Job:
Then Eliphaz the Temanite answered [Job] and said: “If one ventures a word with you, will you be impatient? Yet who can keep from speaking? Behold, you have instructed many, and you have strengthened the weak hands. Your words have upheld him who was stumbling, and you have made firm the feeble knees. But now it has come to you, and you are impatient; it touches you, and you are dismayed. Is not your fear of God your confidence, and the integrity of your ways your hope? Remember: who that was innocent ever perished? Or where were the upright cut off? As I have seen, those who plow iniquity and sow trouble reap the same. By the breath of God they perish, and by the blast of His anger they are consumed. The roar of the lion, the voice of the fierce lion, the teeth of the young lions are broken. The strong lion perishes for lack of prey, and the cubs of the lioness are scattered. Now a word was brought to me stealthily; my ear received the whisper of it. Amid thoughts from visions of the night, when deep sleep falls on men, dread came upon me, and trembling, which made all my bones shake. A spirit glided past my face; the hair of my flesh stood up. It stood still, but I could not discern its appearance. A form was before my eyes; there was silence, then I heard a voice: “Can mortal man be in the right before God? Can a man be pure before his Maker? Even in His servants He puts no trust, and His angels He charges with error; how much more those who dwell in houses of clay, whose foundation is in the dust, who are crushed like the moth. Between morning and evening they are beaten to pieces; they perish forever without anyone regarding it. Is not their tent-cord plucked up within them, do they not die, and that without wisdom?” (Job 4:1–21 emphasis and double emphasis added)
Apparently the Adversary claims that God places no trust in His servants and charges His angels with error in their rebelling against Him … it would seem reasonable to charge rebelling servants [angels] with error; so where is the Adversary’s complaint against God? Is not the Adversary’s complaint against of God that of God being intolerant of diversity; that of God not permitting things being done any way but His way, the prayer Jesus had His disciples pray.
Paul stated that death reigned over humanity from Adam to Moses (Rom 5:14); so between Adam and Moses—this includes the lifetimes of Noah, Job, and Abraham—no human person could escape being consigned to disobedience although sin [unbelief] was not counted against them where there was no Law (v. 13). So these three were notable exceptions to common humanity, with Abraham becoming the ancestor of the human cultivar the Lord choose from all men.
And from Noah through Abraham came Moses, who on the plains of Moab wrote,
For this commandment that I command you today is not too hard for you, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that you should say, “Who will ascend to heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?” Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, “Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?” But the word is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it. See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil. If you obey the commandments of the LORD your God that I command you today, by loving the LORD your God, by walking in His ways, and by keeping His commandments and His statutes and His rules, then you shall live and multiply, and the LORD your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to take possession of it. But if your heart turns away, and you will not hear, but are drawn away to worship other gods and serve them, I declare to you today, that you shall surely perish. You shall not live long in the land that you are going over the Jordan to enter and possess. I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, loving the LORD your God, obeying His voice and holding fast to Him, for He is your life and length of days, that you may dwell in the land that the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them. (Deut 30:11–20)
For Moses writes about the righteousness that is based on the law, that the person who does the commandments shall live by them. But the righteousness based on faith says, "Do not say in your heart, 'Who will ascend into heaven?'" (that is, to bring Christ down) "or 'Who will descend into the abyss?'" (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? "The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart" (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, "Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame." For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For "everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." (Rom 10:5–13)
In his “righteousness based on faith,” Paul cites Moses’ Moab Covenant which has as its context Israel being in a far land and far theologically from God and then turning to the Lord and beginning to keep the Commandments with heart and mind as an act of belief of the Lord, an act based on love for the Lord:
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 the LORD your God has driven you, and return to the LORD 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 the LORD your God will restore your fortunes and have mercy on you, and He will gather you again from all the peoples where the LORD your God has scattered you. (Deut 30:1–3)
The condition necessary for Paul’s “righteousness based on faith” to be implemented is belief of God, manifested by professing that Jesus is Lord and believing that the Father raised Jesus from death (Rom 10:9); for professing that Jesus is Lord will have the person walking in this world as Jesus walked (1 John 2:1–6), imitating Paul as he imitated Jesus (1 Cor 11:1 et al).
No person can profess that Jesus is Lord and not walk in this world as Jesus walked … certainly a person can mouth words that would have Jesus being the person’s lord and not mean what the person speaks, the story of greater Christendom. But if the person truly means that Jesus is the person’s Lord, the unique Son of the Beloved and the Firstborn Son of the Father, then the person will attempt to please his or her Lord and Teacher, keeping the Commandment of Christ Jesus that He left with His disciples.
The Adversary accuses God of wrongly distrusting His servants, and he uses the weakness of humanity to accuse human persons of being like himself, murderers from the beginning, liars, unfaithful, and disobedient. But he really sees himself in common humanity, as do the angels who didn’t join his rebellion. Thus, the murderous jihadists and the Sabbath evening revelers in Paris serve to make visible the Adversary’s mindset when true belief of God isn’t in evidence.
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