Is self-examination only for Passover, or should we be examining ourselves prior to the Feast of Trumpets as well?
The amount of energy necessary to refute b******* is an order of magnitude bigger than to produce it.
~ Alberto Brandolini, software developer.
I’ve written a lot about bad political leaders through the years. I’ve written a lot about false prophets and false teachers who go off into the weeds, split off, start their own following and begin putting out reams and reams of unmitigated rubbish. I’ve written about, albeit far less, about people who have fallen away.
I was once again in a conversation this week about how this person or that person up and did a 180 degree turn and abandoned practically all that they claimed to believe in. There have always been those who seemed to not quite be with it all along, but certainly not all. One person was always a little odd, sort of on the fringe in one respect, but then he seemed to be putting more of himself into it, steadying out the plow as he worked the spiritual field, and then one day left. Another gave sermonettes — mighty fine sermonettes, and suddenly the entire family veered right into Sunday keeping mainstream Christianity as though a switch had been flipped.
I have written before about the time of the judges, and there is a Bible study link above you can click on to see the series. It was a time of chaos and confusion, not to mention great evil. It was a time when everyone did what was right in his own eyes.
All of these things are related. All of these things point to why Christ must return. All of these things are tied to the beginning of The Book and the end of The Book, but practically no one wants to hear about it.
Including people who might very well sit by you and I at services.
I’m not going to quote too many Bible verses at you today. I want to pull back and look at the bigger picture. I want you to study the Bible on your own and determine if what I say is true or not. I’m not going to do all the work for you. In the end, I couldn’t if I wanted to.
If you don’t know where these are in the Bible, and/or if you don’t check up on me, then shame on you, anyhow! You are exactly the person who needs to read this and verify or refute what I’m saying.
“As the Lord Liveth”
Here is what is odd about much of the goings on of evil men in the Bible: They will still use God’s name to describe this or that thing, including their own plans and actions.
Saul perhaps is the one that sticks out the most in this regard. He was corrected by God twice for his disobedience, yet he would be the first to bless someone in the name of the Lord, especially when it was someone revealing the whereabouts of David, an innocent man before God yet Saul wanted to kill.
When God did not answer Saul as to whether or not he should pursue the Philistines, Saul became curious about it. He had lots thrown, and he stated that “as the Lord liveth” even if it were Jonathan his son, the guilty person would die. What makes this more interesting is that it was as if he knew or suspected something because the first lot is thrown against him and Jonathan on one side and yet the entirety of all Israel on the other. Normally, it would have been thrown for tribe, then family and then for individual, as we saw when lots were thrown to show who would be made king and Saul was chosen.
In spite of using God’s name, Jonathan was not killed. The people “saved” Jonathan out of it, but then what became of Saul’s credibility? He gave in to the people, and he did so again when the people spared the best from the battle against Amalek instead of destroying everything. Even when confronted by Samuel, Saul at first was in denial and said he had obeyed God!
Saul did what was right in his own eyes, and he justified it even when it went against “as the Lord liveth”. He blamed David and wanted to kill an innocent man, himself ordered the deaths of the innocent priests of God and in God’s name blessed those treacherous enough to turn in an innocent man.
How many political leaders, how many who have fallen away, how many false prophets and teachers, and how many of us every day claim to be doing God’s will and yet are using His name in vain?
Layer Upon Layer, “Line Upon Line”
13 But the word of the Lord was unto them precept upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little; that they might go, and fall backward, and be broken, and snared, and taken.
The Bible is much like a puzzle, where you have to put the pieces together. There is only one right way to solve the puzzle, though. Many try to hammer in the pieces where they don’t fit because of their preconceived notions or poor understanding of what the final picture is supposed to look like. Instead of changing their view, they try to make the puzzle into what they think it should be.
The Bible is also like a roadmap, though. By seeking out the correct routes and pointing one’s self in the right direction, a person can get to where they should be going — the Kingdom of God.
However, if they have insisted upon putting the puzzle pieces together a different way, then it is quite unlikely they will wind up where they think they are going.
However, a puzzle map is two dimensional. The journey doesn’t become three dimensional until you begin traveling and following the map. You begin to notice other things by putting into practice what you know, and you learn a lot more about people, including yourself, and God.
Because it is three dimensional, you see things differently than before. You notice that what looks like a circle is really overlapping items. Prophecies have multiple fulfilments, to use a well know principle.
However, by putting into practice the holy days, there is a symmetry, you begin to notice. There are spring days and fall days. There is a seven day festival at the beginning and at the end. In the spring, there is an observed day at the beginning, and in the fall there is an observed day at the end, which makes a balance of eight days for each in a symmetrical fashion.
Line upon line, layer upon layer, symmetry upon symmetry, and cyclical pattern emerges.
Christ came fulfilling the spring holy days. Christ’s second advent will fulfill the fall holy days. Christ came to die and opened the door to gentiles the first time (spring). Christ will come again to live and rule and open the door to the entire world (fall). Individuals are to put out sin (leaven) pictured by the spring days, and the entire world will be purged of evil when Satan is put away as pictured by the fall days.
“Days of Awe”
I’ve written about this before as well. The Jews today consider the days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur the “Days of Awe” or “Days of Repentance”.
… This is a time for serious introspection, a time to consider the sins of the previous year and repent before Yom Kippur.
Among the customs of this time, it is common to seek reconciliation with people you may have wronged during the course of the year. The Talmud maintains that Yom Kippur atones only for sins between man and G-d. To atone for sins against another person, you must first seek reconciliation with that person, righting the wrongs you committed against them if possible.
~ Judaism 101, “Days of Awe“
When you think about it, it sounds a lot like what we are supposed to do before Passover, doesn’t it? And why not? What does “atonement” mean, after all? What is the “Day of Atonement” all about if not about putting away sins, both collective and individual?
Or, are we somehow beyond that? Are we too good for that?
Are we like Saul, vainly using God’s name and thinking we are too good to invoke God’s anger?
Line upon line, layer upon layer, symmetry upon symmetry, and the cycle is there before our eyes.
The real question is: Do we the Church need Christ’s return as much as the world does?
What problem is Christ coming to solve, anyhow?
“Name of God Is Blasphemed Among the Gentiles”
Here is another question: Do we boast about keeping God’s Law? Is that even a valid thing to do?
23 Thou that makest thy boast of the law, through breaking the law dishonourest thou God?
24 For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you, as it is written.
Seems to me that boasting about keeping the Law can be pretty dangerous! Maybe it would be best to knock off the pride and admit that we are utter failures at doing what we should be dong!
Ready for another question: How can gentiles determine it is blasphemy unless they have a solid sense of right and wrong?
It has been stated by others before, and I will state it again now, that it is to our shame that sometimes the world produces “good” role models, or at least better ones than even the Church does. The world’s churches are sometimes applauded by even ardent atheists for feeding the poor and caring for the sick. Sometimes, they themselves get sick from rubbing shoulders with the diseased, have to be rushed back to the States for treatment, and afterwards they are on camera giving glory to God.
Sometimes, even pagan kings and queens outshine our “Christian” political leaders. Take the King and Queen of Thailand, who are well known for their generosity and deeds of good works. Their selfless service, and at that in a country where royalty were once worshipped as demigods, has brought much respect and the ability to hold together the country in spite of periodic coups (it is a constitutional monarchy, where the king and queen are figureheads).
LIfe Hope & Truth recently published “A Heart of Service“, the last half or so which has an interview with Princess Sarvath El Hassan of Jordan. Almost single-handedly, she started a volunteer effort for the mentally disabled of her country. Her generosity and effort caused others to become generous and aid her efforts. Foundation Outreach International is following in the steps of the old Ambassador Foundation in aiding her in Her Highness’s efforts.
Princess Sarvath El Hassan: Well, that was very simple. I came to Jordan 46 years ago, and I wanted to do something, but I didn’t want to be what I call a “ribbon-cutting princess.” I wanted to do something that made a difference. I looked around and found at that time there was nothing in the country for the educable handicapped. I thought, “What about the young people who actually can make something of their lives and what about their families?”
It started with very small beginnings. There was no money. …
So we started fund-raising. We started making, literally, jams and jellies; and I sewed so many soft toys and made candles–you know, that really sort of small cottage industry. …
Wow! How many of us are that determined to make a difference selflessly? Let’s not forget that she is royalty and certainly wouldn’t have been expected to do that!
Even Queen Elizabeth II, who has received some flak over the years, started out modesty and selflessly trying to help pull Britain out of WW II. Britain might have been on the side of victory, but we sometimes forget the cost, which was London being bombed, dealing with severe rations and shortages of all kinds.
One interesting parallel between Queen Elizabeth and King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand is that neither were expected to ascend to the throne at birth. Queen Elizabeth’s father ascended to the throne when his brother abdicated. King Bhumibol’s brother was killed by gunshot, which changed the direction of then Prince Bhumibol’s future.
Neither then could legitimately feel they had a “right” to the throne, and, IMO, is a huge factor in their styles of leadership.
Do we feel like we are privileged to be called now? Do we think we have a “right” to be kings and priests in the World Tomorrow? Or, should we be mindful that left to our own devices we would be going down an entirely different path had not circumstances (and God) intervened?
“The Two Trees”
Yes, it is the way of selflessness. It is the opposite of the way of get. And yet, why is it that even pagans sometimes seem to have it more together than some in the Churches of God?
For one thing, we do have to remember that Eve picked the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. It was not the “Tree of Evil”. Also, so many painters only have one tree in the middle of the garden, and they totally ignore the other tree!
Perhaps you can still picture the throng gathering in the Ambassador Auditorium for the traditional Friday night Bible Study. Mr. Armstrong would walk to center stage, and then sit down behind his desk. As soon as the audience recognized who would be presenting the Bible study, many would turn to their neighbors and whisper, “The two trees!” Sure enough, many times they had guessed exactly right as to the evening’s topic!
Back then, some members professed to be “tired of hearing” the “same message” from Mr. Armstrong so often. They thought they were wise and deeply converted, and they wondered why Mr. Armstrong kept harping on the same topic. Sometimes they would wonder, “Is it because he is so old and infirm? Doesn’t he know that we ‘get it’ already?”
Why did Mr. Armstrong so often return to the second and third chapters of Genesis? Consider the story of the pastor who kept repeating the exact same sermon, week after week. Finally, one of his congregants worked up the courage to ask the minister when he was going to move on to another subject. The preacher answered, “When you all come to understand what I am trying to teach you!”
~ Living Church of God, “The Two Trees“
Well, many did not “get it”, did they? Part of my conversation that I spoke about at the beginning was about HWA booming out, “Many of you just don’t get it! Half of you just don’t get it!” Well, HWA was an optimist!
As a teenager listening to that, I had trouble understanding it. I don’t recall if it was a broadcast of some type or a tape (probably the latter), but I do remember quickly glancing around and seeing some fidget in their chairs. All I could think was, “All of these people — can half really not get it?”
Another quote from the LCG article and other places on the web: “Brethren, I don’t think half of you are converted!” Supposedly, he even at least once said he wondered if more than one-tenth were converted. Yet, how large is the Church overall really these days?
Do you see it yet? Do you understand why it is important to understand? All of mankind’s troubles boil down to picking fruit — “good” or “bad” — from the wrong tree.
The problem, as I see it, is that some have stopped picking from any tree whatsoever! They are like the man with one talent. He did not overtly sin, at least in his mind, but he did not produce righteous fruit either. What was the end result for him?
Why We Need Christ’s Return
Yes, I understand why we concentrate upon the practical aspects of Christ’s return. It is the stuff that preaching the Gospel is made of, after all. However, can we miss the forest for the –*ahem*– trees? Or, a better analogy, are we concentrating upon the fruit of the wrong tree and forgetting about the tree in the first place?
Why do nations war and kill? They are picking the fruit from the wrong tree. Why can science bring us such good things and wonders like space flight and cures for polio? They are picking good fruit — but from the wrong tree. Why does the same science make nuclear bombs, biological warfare agents and computer malware? They are picking bad fruit — but from the same tree. You see, you cannot just observe the fruit and always know which is poison and which is not.
Something bares repeating, and it does not matter if it is two nations at war, a church split or a couple getting divorced:
10 Only by pride cometh contention: but with the well advised is wisdom.
~ Pr 13:10
You may initially believe that this has nothing to do with the two trees, though. However, remember how James started out his epistle talking about lusts causing wars? Not only that, but they were too proud to ask, so they stole instead. John said something similar about Eve taking the forbidden fruit:
16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.
~ 1Jn 2:16
What did Eve do? She looked at the fruit and hungered. She saw it looked good. She believed it would make her wise, thus appealing to her sense of vanity.
It is the beginning of all of it. If Christ were not to intervene, it would also be the end of all of it.
So, again, I ask whether or not we need the meaning of the Feast of Trumpets, and I mean we in the Church. I ask if our pride hides the fact that we are in the end miserable and wretched creatures in need of a Savior just as much as anyone else.
Because, you know, pride is the fruit of the wrong tree. When Eve physically held that fruit in her hand, she already had spiritually partaken of the fruit of lust and pride.
Adam and Eve walked and talked with God in an intimate and protected environment yet they were able to turn away. Are we any better?
Is the spring the only time for introspection? Isn’t it an ongoing effort? We need to rid ourselves of the works of the flesh — that fruit that comes from the wrong tree. We need to pick from the correct tree. We need to honor God in all we say and do.
It needs to start now, brethren.
This whole Church has been going wrong, and we’ve had to get back on the track. Brethren, you have to keep yourself on the track privately and individually. I have to keep myself on the track. I know where I was beginning to get off a little bit. And maybe you didn’t realize I was getting myself back on the track while I’ve been getting you all back on it. You thought I was just so ‘good’–I was getting you all back Well, don’t kid yourselves. I’m human too, brethren. Well, I’ve been trying to get ME back on the track too, along with you.
Let’s all get back because it isn’t going to be much longer until Christ is going to come! And I hope we’ll all be together–so we can rise and be changed from mortal to immortal in the moment, in the twinkling of an eye; and rise to meet Christ in the air as He comes. What a GLORIOUS time that CAN be; [but] only IF we really repent, IF we acknowledge when we’re wrong, IF we confess it, IF we’re willing to CHANGE.
~ HWA, “Passover Examination“