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 ideological impurity—or mixing what is holy with the profane.
For the Sabbath of December 26, 2009
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.
Thus says the Lord to me, “Go and buy a linen loincloth and put it around your waist, and do not dip it in water.” So I bought a loincloth according to the word of the Lord, and put it around my waist. And the word of the Lord came to me a second time, “Take the loincloth that you have bought, which is around your waist, and arise, go to the Euphrates and hide it there in a cleft of the rock.” So I went and hid it by the Euphrates, as the Lord commanded me. And after many days the Lord said to me, “Arise, go to the Euphrates, and take from there the loincloth that I commanded you to hide there.” Then I went to the Euphrates, and dug, and I took the loincloth from the place where I had hidden it. And behold, the loincloth was spoiled; it was good for nothing.
Then the word of the Lord came to me: “Thus says the Lord: Even so will I spoil the pride of Judah and the great pride of Jerusalem. This evil people, who refuse to hear my words, who stubbornly follow their own heart and have gone after other gods to serve them and worship them, shall be like this loincloth, which is good for nothing. For as the loincloth clings to the waist of a man, so I made the whole house of Israel and the whole house of Judah cling to me, declares the Lord, that they might be for me a people, a name, a praise, and a glory, but they would not listen. (Jer 13:1–11)
Ancient Israel clung to the Lord not by that nation’s doing, but because the Lord decreed that the nation should be His people. But Israel would not listen to the Lord. It wouldn’t listen when it was in Egypt (Ezek 20:8); it wouldn’t listen in the wilderness; it wouldn’t listen when under the judges or the kings. The nation continually went after other gods, doing what it deemed right. And the nation formed the visible shadow and copy of the Christian Church, which has pursued a Jesus different from the Observant Jew born to Mary; for the Church has stubbornly trekked the path of classical Greek paganism, chasing after the wisdom of this world as if it were something to be desired. The Church has not heard the voice of Jesus, for the prerequisite to hearing Jesus’ voice is to believe the writings of Moses (John 5:46–47). And the Church has steadfastly refused to believe Moses, who would have every Israelite keep the commandments in a lawless world.
Ancient Israel was like the loincloth the prophet Jeremiah buried on the banks of the Euphrates, far from Jerusalem … the Lord didn’t ask Jeremiah to bury the loincloth next door, but on the outer boundary of the land He had promised to the nation but which the nation had never obtained. And where Jeremiah buried that loincloth served as a shadow and type of where the Lord would “bury” Israel in physical Babylon, and where He has buried the Church in spiritual Babylon.
As the loincloth Jeremiah buried was good for nothing after he retrieved it, the remnant of Israel that returned from Babylon was, when the remnant returned to Jerusalem (when the Lord would seem to have retrieved Israel), good for nothing … rabbinical Judaism considers the remnant’s return from Babylon as one of the high periods in its history, for during the period the temple was rebuilt; the Great Assembly convened; an oral tradition was at least partially codified. But the rebuilt temple was missing the Ark of the Covenant, as well as missing the Urim and Thummim [i.e., the Hoshen and everything associated with the determination of God’s will]. The glory of the Lord left the temple before it was razed by the Chaldeans, and the glory didn’t return until Christ Jesus entered the temple to cleanse it six months into His ministry. Thus, for the centuries after Israel returned to Jerusalem, the worship of the people was worthless; the priests perpetrated a hoax on the people, for they were not able to make atonement for the people. Nevertheless, the temple needed to be visible in Jerusalem for its reconstruction, begun under a physical Zerubbabel, would not be finished until the harvest of firstfruits was resurrected in glory—the temple goes from being a lifeless building of stone and timber to being a construction of living stones just as Israel goes from being a spiritually lifeless people outwardly circumcised to be a nation born of God, circumcised of hearts cleansed by faith.
Jesus’ cleansings of the temple forms the shadow and type of the hearts of disciples being cleansed by faith, with these cleansings driving greed and lust for the things of this world from the hearts of disciples on an individual level. Collectively, Jesus’ cleansings of the temple denote those three times (two of which are close together) when the restored Church is purged of false disciples, with the first purging having occurred on or about 1577 CE, and the second purging being ongoing. The third purging will be when the lawless one, the man of perdition, is revealed.
A remnant is a scrap of fabric at the end of a bolt that is too small to be of use, too small for even a loincloth. The remnant of Israel that returned from earthly Babylon made an effort to worship the Lord in purity as Anabaptists in the 16th-Century made an effort to worship God in purity when they left spiritual Babylon. But the remnant that left earthly Babylon wasn’t very good at obeying God as Nehemiah records, and the Anabaptists that left spiritual Babylon weren’t very good at obeying God either, for the purity of English Puritans disappeared into the lawlessness of Dispensationalists as the zeal of German Anabaptists became fossilized in the quietness of Mennonites, Amish, and Hutterites. For it was a remnant of a remnant that would, every so often, theologically pull up the stake with which it was tethered to this world and journey closer to heavenly Jerusalem.
On that day they read from the Book of Moses in the hearing of the people. And in it was found written that no Ammonite or Moabite should ever enter the assembly of God … as soon as the people heard the law, they separated from Israel all those of foreign descent.
Now before this, Eliashib the priest, who was appointed over the chambers of the house of our God, and who was related to Tobiah, prepared for Tobiah a large chamber where they had previously put the grain offering, the frankincense, the vessels, and the tithes of grain, wine, and oil, which were given by commandment to the Levites, singers, and gatekeepers, and the contributions for the priests. While this was taking place, I was not in Jerusalem … [when I returned] I then discovered the evil that Eliashib had done for Tobiah, preparing for him a chamber in the courts of the house of God. And I was very angry, and I threw all the household furniture of Tobiah out of the chamber. Then I gave orders, and they cleansed the chambers, and I brought back there the vessels of the house of God, with the grain offering and the frankincense.
I also found out that the portions of the Levites had not been given to them, so that the Levites and the singers, who did the work, had fled each to his field. So I confronted the officials and said, “Why is the house of God forsaken?” And I gathered them together and set them in their stations. Then all Judah brought the tithe of the grain, wine, and oil into the storehouses. …
In those days I saw in Judah people treading winepresses on the Sabbath, and bringing in heaps of grain and loading them on donkeys, and also wine, grapes, figs, and all kinds of loads, which they brought into Jerusalem on the Sabbath day. And I warned them on the day when they sold food. Tyrians also, who lived in the city, brought in fish and all kinds of goods and sold them on the Sabbath to the people of Judah, in Jerusalem itself! Then I confronted the nobles of Judah and said to them, “What is this evil thing that you are doing, profaning the Sabbath day? Did not your fathers act in this way, and did not our God bring all this disaster on us and on this city? Now you are bringing more wrath on Israel by profaning the Sabbath.”
As soon as it began to grow dark at the gates of Jerusalem before the Sabbath, I commanded that the doors should be shut and gave orders that they should not be opened until after the Sabbath. And I stationed some of my servants at the gates, that no load might be brought in on the Sabbath day. Then the merchants and sellers of all kinds of wares lodged outside Jerusalem once or twice. But I warned them and said to them, “Why do you lodge outside the wall? If you do so again, I will lay hands on you.” From that time on they did not come on the Sabbath. Then I commanded the Levites that they should purify themselves and come and guard the gates, to keep the Sabbath day holy. Remember this also in my favor, O my God, and spare me according to the greatness of your steadfast love.
In those days also I saw the Jews who had married women of Ashdod, Ammon, and Moab. And half of their children spoke the language of Ashdod, and they could not speak the language of Judah, but only the language of each people. And I confronted them and cursed them and beat some of them and pulled out their hair. And I made them take oath in the name of God, saying, “You shall not give your daughters to their sons, or take their daughters for your sons or for yourselves. Did not Solomon king of Israel sin on account of such women? Among the many nations there was no king like him, and he was beloved by his God, and God made him king over all Israel. Nevertheless, foreign women made even him to sin. Shall we then listen to you and do all this great evil and act treacherously against our God by marrying foreign women?”
And one of the sons of Jehoiada, the son of Eliashib the high priest, was the son-in-law of Sanballat the Horonite. Therefore I chased him from me. Remember them, O my God, because they have desecrated the priesthood and the covenant of the priesthood and the Levites.
Thus I cleansed them from everything foreign, and I established the duties of the priests and Levites, each in his work; and I provided for the wood offering at appointed times, and for the firstfruits.
Remember me, O my God, for good. (Neh 13:1–30)
What Nehemiah records is not the record of a people eager to serve God, but reluctantly doing so; for Nehemiah has to cleanse the temple of foreign occupation, shut down commerce of the Sabbath, and purge foreign women from the beds of Israel. Nehemiah had the authority to carry out his reforms, even though the people were reluctant to obey the Lord. Christ Jesus, by faith, exercised His authority to cleanse the temple when He drove out the livestock and the money changers; He is again cleansing the temple (i.e., the Church); for He has driven from His presence those that deny Him, those that practice lawlessness, and those who do not love their brothers. Oh, just as that son of Jehoida who was the son-in-law of Sanballat remained in the priesthood even though Nehemiah had chased him from his presence, those “Christians” and Sabbatarian Christians whom Christ Jesus has driven from His presence remain in this world, and they continue to proclaim Christ while posing as servants of God and deceiving the people of Israel—
In human reasoning, it wouldn’t seem that marriage to a foreign wife, especially a politically advantageous marriage, should desecrate a priest. Certainly the woman a priest marries doesn’t undercut the priest’s ability to sacrifice animals. The priest’s knife is not made dulled by marriage to a Moabite woman, with the equivalent to this seen in inter-faith marriage among Christians.
But God’s ways are not the ways of men: foreign women in the physical realm equates to alien mindsets in the heavenly realm … a person cannot have the mind of Christ if the person harbors alien thoughts. Cleansing the spiritual temple will have Christ Jesus purging alien thoughts from disciples’ minds, with removal of the disciple from the Body if those thoughts cannot be driven out as if they were bleating sheep.
A man and a woman are not really one if they do not philosophically agree [walk together] on spiritual matters. If they marry, yes, they share the same bed. They can like each other, even love each other; they can raise a family together. But if they do not share the same mindset, they are not really one flesh. They are merely two distinct people living together.
Because mixed marriages have become the norm in Western culture, endtime disciples in the Western nations do not understand the gravity of maintaining ideological purity. Occasionally in Muslim families that have immigrated to a Western nation, the father or a brother will kill a daughter or sister because she has left the faith and/or has, by her lewd behavior, brought shame to the family. In the West, the father or brother is universally condemned, not just for the murder but for the reason why the murder was committed. The daughter or sister should be “free” to do as she pleases, to act and dress however she chooses, to marry whomever she wants. And the intolerance of Islam is reprehensible even though—sans the murder—the father or brother does what God commands … it is never all right with God for a person to kill another person; taking life is His prerogative, not that of another human being. King David, a man after God’s own heart, could not build the temple because of the blood he had shed. Thus, when Israel remained a spiritually-lifeless, physical nation, Israel did shed blood by divine command as the shadow and copy of disciples condemning ideologies and those holding those ideologies to the lake of fire. But the firstborn sons of God—disciples born of God—will not deliberately shed the physical blood of anyone; they will be pacifists. Even the two witnesses in the Tribulation will act only to defend themselves, and they will die as Moses had to die. They will not physically live into the Endurance.
The Land beyond the River represents God’s rest. Crossing the physical Jordan River represents entering into God’s rest, just as giving the kingdom of this world to the Son of Man represents giving “rest” to this world, with the first 1260 days of this rest being the Endurance when Satan is cast down but before he is bound for a thousand years. Therefore, as Moses could not cross the Jordan, the two witnesses cannot cross into the Endurance as physical men. King Saul’s reign over Israel becomes a type of the man of perdition’s reign over Christendom, whereas David’s reign over Israel becomes, in type, a representation of the Endurance when the saints will “battle” and overcome the Adversary, not with swords or physical weapons, but by enduring in faith until the end, with all who endure to the end being saved. This is the endtime good news [gospel] that must be proclaimed to the world as a witness to all nations.
Saints battle by enduring; they prevail mentally, not physically. They battle for ideological purity, and they will prevail.
The celebration of diversity that Western culture embraces views the concept of ideological purity as arcane, and evidence of mental deficiencies—
Christmas is the archetypical example of ideological impurity, of a mixed marriage between Israel and a foreign woman.
The children of God have never well understood what was expected of them. Yes, when Ezra fasted and Nehemiah commanded, Israel put away their foreign wives and the children of those women. Yes, Shecaniah the son of Jehiel, of the sons of Elam, addressed Ezra, and said, “‘We have broken faith with our God and have married foreign women from the peoples of the land, but even now there is hope for Israel in spite of this. Therefore let us make a covenant with our God to put away all these wives and their children’” (Ezra 10:2–3). But the nation really never understood why it was to shun foreign women. The nation was not a self-aware text, understanding that in putting away foreign women it was forming an example for the Christian Church to put away foreign ideologies and pagan teachings (such as the immortality of the soul), with the difficulty Israel had in putting away foreign wives exemplifying Christendom’s difficulty in separating itself from the ideologies of this world.
The man of perdition will not come as a charismatic leader that outwardly appears evil, but will come as a “man of God” who wants to return Christians to the traditions of their forefathers—to an ideologically similar mixed marriage as those of the remnant that had returned from earthly Babylon.
Understand the problem with observing Christmas: if disciples are to remain ideologically pure, then baptizing a pagan holiday such as the day of the Invisible Sun [Dies Natalis Solis Invicti], even when acknowledging the possibility/probability that Jesus was conceived on or near the Winter Solstice, and celebrating the holiday as the birthday of the Son of Man is a mingling of the profane with the sacred. It is an ideologically mixed marriage, from which the “children” of Christian fellowship and peace to all men—as well as mass merchandising—are born as cute infants that tug on heartstrings. Who doesn’t desire joyful family gatherings and watching happy children opening presents? But were not the foreign wives and children of the remnant that returned to Jerusalem also a delight to husbands and fathers? Did the Israelite men of the remnant “hate” their foreign wives? No, they loved them.
Solomon loved his foreign wives: Scripture records,
Now King Solomon loved many foreign women, along with the daughter of Pharaoh: Moabite, Ammonite, Edomite, Sidonian, and Hittite women, from the nations concerning which the Lord had said to the people of Israel, “You shall not enter into marriage with them, neither shall they with you, for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods.” Solomon clung to these in love. … And his wives turned away his heart. For when Solomon was old his wives turned away his heart after other gods, and his heart was not wholly true to the Lord his God, as was the heart of David his father. (1 Kings 11:1–4)
Solomon loved his foreign wives more than he loved the Lord … the problem wasn’t the number of wives that the king had, but that his heart was no longer pure.
There are seven endtime churches, with not all agreeing upon doctrine but with all seeking to worship the Lord in spirit and in truth; with all striving for pure and undefiled worship. These seven differ:
· The Lord has no complaint against Smyrna, but Smyrna has no works. Thus, the saints of Smyrna will be thrown into prison, where, if they are faithful unto death, they will receive the crown of life.
· Ephesus hates the heavy handed rule of the Nicolaitans, but the saints of Ephesus let their first love wane. They are to return to doing the works they did at first if they are to live.
· Pergamum has some saints who hold to the teaching of Balaam, saints who are in ideologically mixed marriages that will lead to idolatry and sexual immorality; e.g., to keeping Christmas at the time of the Rebellion, the endtime manifestation of Balak putting stumbling blocks before the sons of Israel. Plus, Pergamum has some who support heavy handed rule over disciples like that employed by Herbert Armstrong during his ministry.
· Thyatria tolerates that woman prophet who channeled with spirits and who claimed to have the spirit of prophecy, but lied. This woman has taught Thyatria not to keep the Passover or the high Sabbaths of God, but rather, to celebrate Easter, thereby ideologically marrying disciples to the paganism of this world in idolatrous mixed marriages sustained by sexual immorality. Yet some few in Thyatria have not learned the deep things of this woman and shall live.
· Sardis is a sleepy work, incomplete in all things.
· Laodicea is a careless work that thinks more highly of itself than it ought.
In each of the named churches are genuine disciples who will be in the resurrection of firstfruits. But it falls to Philadelphia to deliver the endtime good news that all who endure to the end shall be saved; it falls to Philadelphia to deliver knowledge of the Endurance that John left with his endtime brothers and partners. And without great strength, Philadelphia does the job for which this church was commissioned. It works without an organizational structure in this world. It works as a self-aware text, understanding that it is both shadow and reality. And it continues to grow in grace and knowledge as if it were an individual on a quest for the truth.
Those disciples who are of The Philadelphia Church will not keep either Christmas or Easter because they strive for ideological purity, and not the “mixed marriages” into which the remnant of Israel that returned from earthly Babylon entered. These Philadelphians are, yes, intolerant of tolerance. They are unwilling to compromise with the truth. They reject ideological diversity … the outward appearance of a person has no spiritual significance. Biological ethnicity is meaningless. But the ideas within the person’s mind have significance. Therefore, the purity sought is of the mental landscape from which thoughts spring forth as vegetation grows from a garden.
A disciple will come short of perfection even when striving for it. Grace covers this shortfall. But the disciple needs to be striving for ideological purity; for possessing the mind of Christ. And a disciple kids him or herself if the person thinks that ideological purity can be obtain through marriage to a pagan ideology, or by baptizing pagan holidays and calling them Christian.
The person conducting the Sabbath service should close services with two hymns, or psalms, followed by a prayer asking God’s dismissal.
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"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."