General Question 36 – Calendar: It is accepted that the annual Holy Days should be calculated from local time, but why do we in the southern hemisphere start the year in autumn when clearly it should be started in the spring, that is September?
This is a very logical question, except that beginning the year in spring is by inference only and not a direct command. The direct command is contained in Ex 12:2, which commences the section on when to observe the Passover.
Ex 12:2 (NKJV)
"This month shall be your beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year to you."
Ex 12:3 (NKJV)
"Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying: ‘On the tenth day of this month every man shall take for himself a lamb, according to the house of his father, a lamb for a household."
Ex 12:6 (NKJV)
"Now you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month. Then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it at twilight."
Accordingly, although we start the new year on local time, it is still started with the first new moon (visible crescent) after the March equinox.
Your question is very important, as it directs us to the fact that the annual Holy Days always were intended to have a spiritual meaning concerning mankind, NOT physical crops of grain, and that is why we are to keep the Holy Days today – during the time of the New Covenant, a spiritual covenant. The Holy Days spell out the spiritual Plan of Salvation and are like stepping stones providing us with the major events in that Plan which are relevant to the New Covenant. The spiritual meaning of each of these Days is provided in the articles on this site.
Why do you say the equinox signals when the year is about to begin when the equinox is not mentioned in the Bible?
Technically, the Bible does not mention the word “equinoxes”, but it does refer to them directly by a different name – borders. This can be seen in Psa 74:16-17.
Psa 74:16-17 (KJV)
“The day is thine, the night also is thine: thou hast prepared the light and the sun.
Thou hast set all the borders of the earth: thou hast made summer and winter.”
To think that the "borders of the Earth" refer to physical land and sea barriers does not make sense when the context is considered. By placing this clause between a reference only to the great heavenly light and to significant consequences of that light, God has made a special effort to show that the borders to which He is referring are indeed the intangible borders of times and seasons. Verse 16 only refers to days and their division into two parts, while Verse 17 only refers to the two great divisions of the year (summer and winter). What separates summer and winter are the two equinoxes – a time when day and night are very nearly the same length. This means the same length by observation (sundial), not calculation.
From the original Hebrew, Psa 74:17should read as follows:
“You have set the borders of the earth forming summer and winter.”
When the Hebrew is translated correctly, one would automatically be directed to ask the question, “what are these borders that form summer and winter?” The answer would automatically be, “the equinoxes.” There would be no guessing or confusion. The introduction of English grammar, due to a misunderstanding of the reference to “borders”, has led to the current unfortunate confusion by many commentaries and readers.
Also, of necessity the observation was done locally – there was never any reference to setting days, times and seasons according to one geographical location on Earth (Gen 1:14-18), as the Jews would like people to believe. When God gave this direction on how to calculate days, seasons and years there were no Jews, there was no Israel, there was no Jerusalem – God was referring to how these times should be calculated from anywhere on Earth, because that is all there was at that time.
There are those who rely on the calendar of the Jews, who base the beginning of the year on crops, but this is disobedience to God's instruction in Gen 1:14 that all calendar calculations shall be based on the heavenly lights (sun, moon and stars). The equinoxes are the natural dividers between the two great seasons of summer and winter – they are the God-given sign of season division by the sun. The Jewish calendar is NOT the Hebrew calendar given by God to the Israelites. The Jewish crop-based calendar will always have the year starting in spring (northern hemisphere), but when this method causes the year to begin before the March equinox (as in 2013) the festival of ingathering season, which starts with the Feast of Trumpets, will commence before the ingathering of all crops has been completed. The ingathering is supposed to be completed before festival time so the people could travel to the festival site and enjoy the fruits of the land with which God has blessed them. However, an early false start to the year before the March equinox would result in the crops being left in the field while the people were attending the "Feast". It would still be summer, the crops would be ready to harvest, but nobody to do the harvesting. There would be little with which to celebrate at the Feast of ingathering and the people would be concerned about their crops instead of enjoying the festival of God.
Given the above, it can be seen that it is crucial for the calendar to be applicable for the whole year, not just the beginning and the only way it is assured always to be applicable is for the start of the year to be determined by the lights in heaven, NOT crops. The above also shows why it is just as important for the year to commence on or after the March equinox, not before. For more detail on this subject please see the Calendar page.
General Question 34 – Salvation: You say that we have God’s guarantee of salvation because we have the Holy Spirit, but do not the parables of the Talents, Pounds, Sewer and Seed in four types of ground and Foolish Virgins, show just the opposite, that we can miss out on salvation?
On the surface it can appear that way. However, each of the parables about the kingdom of God (Kingdom of Heaven) show us different attributes of who is ascended into the Kingdom at the first resurrection and each of these attributes must be combined to give us the total picture. The parables are not separate descriptions of who ascends, they each only show a part, or trait, of the ones who ascend.
Take the last two parables you mentioned as examples. The one who scattered the seed on different ground was God, so He knew exactly what was going to happen – He does not condemn His own spirit begotten children to failure.
1Cor 10:13 (NIV)
“No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”
The parable of the foolish virgins is even more revealing. The bridegroom, Jesus, tells the ones who are late that he never knew (approved) of them. Thus clearly indicating that they were never predestined to be in the first ascension even though the parable indicates that they did have a small measure of the Holy Spirit.
The second point to the parable actually confirms what I have said previously – those virgins who arrived on time were all known (approved) by the bridegroom. They were the predestinated ones, the ones who had been foreknown and approved to be part of the bride of Christ “before time began” (2Tim 1:8-9, NKJV). NONE of these were rejected by the bridegroom. Some of the relevant Scriptures are as follows:
Rom 8:29-31 (NKJV),
“For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified. What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?”
1Pet 1:2 (NLT)
“God the Father knew you and chose you long ago, and his Spirit has made you holy. As a result, you have obeyed him and have been cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ.’ ”
2Tim 1:8-9 (NKJV)
“…according to the power of God, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began,…”
Accordingly, all of the parables about ascension, to be part of the bride of Christ, which is the primary message of the parables (everyone in the first resurrection is predestined to be part of the bride of Christ), are speaking of the attributes of the bride – they are not speaking about those who fail, because those who are not part of the bride were never intended to be part of the bride. So, there is no contradiction in the Word of God, it just needs to be understood that the bride was always going to be the bride (not a single part missing) and the main point of the parables is that they are defining different attributes of the bride, which God will ensure it has developed. Those who "fail" were always intended for the second resurrection; there is no actual "failure". Those who miss out on the first resurrection do not miss out on salvation, it just means they will not be part of the bride.
General Question 33 – The two Witnesses: The fruit and gifts of God's Holy Spirit was manifest so extraordinarily in the apostolic era, but why such gifts seem to be so sporadic now if they occur at all? Will the Two Witnesses or Elijah to come have such gifts do you think?
There is every indication that the two witnesses will have more power than any other prophets in the history of the world. To come to this conclusion what we have to do is look at past "pairs" of witnesses and although they were very powerful and did mighty work for God, it appears as though they were all just TYPES and displayed some of the gifts all to be combined in the final two witnesses.
Joshua and Caleb:
Few even bother to consider these as witnesses, but that is what they were and of the twelve sent out they were the only two that were faithful and believed God – that the Israelites could conquer the land with God's help, as God said He would. They were the only two original members of the Israelites to survive the wilderness and enter the promised land. Once there, they were unstoppable in destroying the heathen, just as the two last day witnesses shall be unstoppable. Joshua was an Ephraimite (modern England) and Caleb was a Jew. Joshua's land would become the northern Kingdom of Israel, while Caleb's land would become the southern Kingdom of Judah and these two witnesses working together powerfully symbolize the reunification of both kingdoms into one (Jer 50:4).
Eldad and Medad:
These two are much-overlooked in the grand scheme of things, but they were given God's spirit in great power and prophesied (preached) among the Israelites to such an extent that it was brought to the attention of Moses, who blessed their work (symbolic of the two witnesses being protected by God). So, from this we can be sure that the two witnesses will be preaching the Word of God in a very powerful way.
Moses and Elijah:
What brings these two together as a "pair" is Christ himself in that he chose them to be witnesses with himself in the transfiguration (Matt 17:2-3). Elijah’s prayer stopped rain and resulted in a drought in Israel for 3.5 years (1 Kings 17:1; 18:1; James 5:17) and Moses brought the great plagues upon Egypt (symbolic of Satan's world) which brought about its destruction in finally drowning Pharaoh's army in the Red Sea. Both were very powerful in their destructive deeds, but it must not be forgotten that God used Moses to feed and water the Israelites while in the wilderness. Also, Elijah did likewise for a widow and healed her son.
However, it is emphasized that what draws attention to them will be their authority to preach and to destroy, as often as they desire.
Rev 11:3-6 (NRSV)
And I will grant my two witnesses authority to prophesy for one thousand two hundred sixty days, wearing sackcloth."
These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth.
And if anyone wants to harm them, fire pours from their mouth and consumes their foes; anyone who wants to harm them must be killed in this manner.
They have authority to shut the sky, so that no rain may fall during the days of their prophesying, and they have authority over the waters to turn them into blood, and to strike the earth with every kind of plague, as often as they desire.
On the other hand, it seems that the man of sin (the false prophet) will have liberal authority to heal the sick as one of his “lying wonders”.
2Thes 2:9-12 (NRSV)
The coming of the lawless one is apparent in the working of Satan, who uses all power, signs, lying wonders, and every kind of wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.
For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion, leading them to believe what is false, so that all who have not believed the truth but took pleasure in unrighteousness will be condemned.
The word translated “wonders” is the same word which was used many times to describes what kind of power was given to the Apostles. So, if anyone will be using healings as signs that people should follow them it will be the “man of sin”, the “false prophet”. He will be working in opposition to the two Witnesses, trying to deceive the world while they are trying to witness to it of its wrongdoing. His power to heal the sick will be just another lying wonder intended to deceive a corrupt world that it is good and the two Witnesses are bad.
Regarding Elijah, the relevant Scripture referring to this event is in Mal 4:5-6 (KJV),
"...Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse..."
The prophecy in Malachi stipulated that such an one must come before the “Day of the Lord”, which could be any time between the prophecy and the Day of the Lord. Speaking of John the Baptist, Luke records the following message from an angel to the parents of John. If you note the wording of the two events (prophecies concerning the Elijah to come and John the Baptist), they are almost identical. Accordingly, I have to say that he has already come.
Luke 1:17 (NLT)
“…‘He will be a man with the spirit and power of Elijah. He will prepare the people for the coming of the Lord. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and he will cause those who are rebellious to accept the wisdom of the godly.’…”
Jesus himself supports the angel’s statement, that John the Baptist was the one prophesied to come in the spirit and power of Elijah:
Matt 11:12-14 (NLT)
“…And from the time John the Baptist began preaching until now, the Kingdom of Heaven has been forcefully advancing, and violent people are attacking it. For before John came, all the prophets and the law of Moses looked forward to this present time. And if you are willing to accept what I say, he is Elijah, the one the prophets said would come…”
Accordingly, there is no point in waiting for someone who actually arrived about 2000 years ago, from the testimony of Jesus himself. The ones for whom we are now waiting to commence the last 3½ years of man’s reign are the two Witnesses and just as it was impossible to not notice the work of the three pairs of witnesses cited above, so it will be impossible not to be aware of the work of the two witnesses of the end time.
2 – Anointed Cloths : I was wondering whether you send out anointed cloths to anyone that requests it?
To support the practice of sending out anointed cloths when there are no ministers within driving distance, many church organizations quote Acts 9:11-12, but this scripture does not provide any such authority. Miracles were performed by Christ and the first century Apostles to draw everyone’s attention to the fact that God was starting His New Testament Church and as proof that Christ and the first century Apostles were of God. Paul’s situation was no different when Scripture is translated correctly:
Acts 9:11-12 (NLT)
“God gave Paul the power to perform unusual miracles. When handkerchiefs or aprons that had merely touched his skin were placed on sick people, they were healed of their diseases, and evil spirits were expelled.”
This is not a doctrine given by Paul – the above is an historical account recorded by the disciple Luke. It is to be understood as a proof that Paul was doing the work of God, it was not providing authority to use anointed cloths to heal the sick. It is a similar apostolic sign that was given to Peter – when his shadow passed over the sick they would be healed.
Acts 5:15 (NLT)
“As a result of the apostles’ work, sick people were brought out into the streets on beds and mats so that Peter’s shadow might fall across some of them as he went by.”
If there is no minister who can come and anoint you with oil when you are sick, in accordance with James 5:14-15, then the answer is in the very next verse, verse 16 – we ask our fellow brethren to pray for us.
14 Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord:
15 And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.
16 Confess faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.
How the practice of sending out anointed cloths first began is not known, but it is believed to be yet another mechanism the previous ministry used to control Church Members – making the Members totally dependent upon them, rather than having faith in God and God's own Word that any Member of the Church can pray for another that they may be healed. Sending out anointed cloths for healing is an invention that has become a church tradition. Not only does it have no Biblical foundation, it is a perversion of the Word of God denying the special miracle that was given to the Apostle Paul. As a result of this perversion many people are aware of "anointed cloths for the sick", but almost no one is aware of the special miracle given by God to Paul.
Feast of Tabernacles Question: You have stated in your article that for the 1st day of the Feast of Tabernacles God requires a display of effort from His people. I have no idea how to make a 'display of effort' for the 1st day of the Feast. In the days of WCG, we actually travelled and 'dwelt in booths', as in somewhere else. Short of pitching a tent in the back yard, I don't know what to do.
The command relating to this display of effort for the Feast of Tabernacles is found in Lev 23:42-43 (RSV) and is demonstrated by people constructing and living in temporary shelters,
“You shall dwell in booths for seven days; all that are native in Israel shall dwell in booths, that your generations may know that I made the people of Israel dwell in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.”
This appears to be a very inconvenient way to celebrate one of God’s festivals, so what was the point of constructing and dwelling in temporary shelters? Unfortunately, remembering that God is the deliverer is all that most people get from the Feast of Tabernacles experience. They do not consider what God did to the Israelites during their forty years of dwelling in tents or why He did it; they do not consider that this was a time of testing by God. It was indeed a time of great inconvenience. In fact it was so inconvenient that all but two of the original men died and did not get to see their permanent home.
Duet 8:2-5 (NKJV)
"And you shall remember that the LORD your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.
"So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the LORD.
"Your garments did not wear out on you, nor did your foot swell these forty years.
"You should know in your heart that as a man chastens his son, so the LORD your God chastens you.”
Accordingly, the "Feast of Tabernacles" is to be observed by living in temporary shelters. These shelters may be tents in our own back yard or roof-top (as some did anciently in Judea), under a mosquito net on a veranda or balcony, or in hotels or motels – “Inns” as they were called at the birth of Jesus (Luk 2:7). In fact any place external to the house you own. There is no problem with using the kitchen or bathroom facilities of your home or anyone else’s facilities. The main point here is that you will be experiencing a token of the inconvenience suffered by Israel in the wilderness. Many people today live in rental homes and the uncertainty that goes with that situation is inconvenience enough for the purpose of this festival . Why is this inconvenience factor so important? It is to reinforce the remembrance of the occasion and what actually happened – how the ancient Israelites were dealt with by God. God rescued them and corrected their ways as a parent would do for his own children.
This brings us to why the first fruits, the Saints, should also live in temporary shelters for the Feast of Tabernacles.
It would be sufficient to say that we do it because of God’s command, or that it is to celebrate one of the great stages in God’s plan of salvation. Both would be totally valid reasons of and by themselves. However, the deeper meaning has to do with our place in the plan of salvation – that we and Christ are to be the spiritual parents of those in the second resurrection and children look to the parents for example. Even though, through the doctrine of predestination, we have already been approved and looked upon by God as already perfect, being justified by the blood of Christ, the children still require the example of the spiritual parents. Eating unleavened bread for seven days during the Feast of Unleavened Bread symbolizes us being justified and free from sin all the days of our converted lives. The spiritual children will also be required to keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread, so they can remember and appreciate what the parents went through for them, even though we were already approved by God (Rom 8:29-30) to the extent that we are classified as “glorified” (past tense).
So, even though it is a command of God, the family relationship side of the matter is what really counts, because God is creating a spiritual family through His plan of salvation.
However, if dwelling in a temporary shelter for this time aggravates any medical condition, then it is not recommended. God has not designed His Holy Days for the purpose of causing our health to deteriorate. Also, God is a reasonable God and this work was expected to be done by the men of the family, NOT the women let alone a grandmother or a person with infirmities. If living in a motel for the Feast deprives people of finances with which to enjoy the Feast, then complying with the letter of the law is not a requirement. If constructing or living in a temporary shelter for the Feast is going to have a detrimental affect on one's health, then complying with the letter of the law is not a requirement. In all these situations God expects us to apply judgment and reason. This is an example of how God thinks (how He tempers the letter of the law with mercy and kindness) and He not only wants us to think the same way, He has instructed us to think the same as Him in Matt 12:7 and Hos 6:6;
Mat 12:7 "But if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless.” [NKJV]
Hos 6:6 "For I desire mercy and not sacrifice, And the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.” [NKJV]
With the above in mind, there is nothing to prevent someone from complying with the letter of the law for the Feast of Tabernacles if they so desire, despite any adverse affects. However, an individual must weigh these adverse affects against God’s command to “rejoice” (be joyful) before Him for seven days (Lev 23:40). As for your personal situation, if you are thinking of pitching a tent in the back yard or some type of shelter on the veranda, then sleeping on a surface well clear of the ground or sealed off from the ground is recommended in order to avoid those things that naturally have the ground as their home. A small, fully sealed one-man tent on the veranda would probably be best, remembering that it is only for the purpose of sleeping at night. Your usual home can be used for all other daily functions.
Some say there are three possible views, as follows:
(1) Moses and Elijah,
(2) Enoch and Elijah,
(3) two unknown believers whom God calls to be His witnesses in the end times.
There is no precedent in the Bible for God using anyone twice – which is to say once they have accomplished their mission and their spirits taken by God, then they will not be seen again until the return of Christ. This is true even of the Messiah himself. Accordingly, views (1) and (2) must be dismissed, because God is predictable and does not change (Mal 3:6). Jesus is the express image of the Father (Heb 1:3 and John 14:7-9) and he does not change (Heb 13:8). Once a man has completed his God-appointed mission, he has never and will never come back again on some other mission. This is not limiting God – this is the pattern God has given us.
Also, there is nothing in the Bible that requires us to attach a "famous" identity to the two witnesses. God is perfectly capable of taking two "ordinary" believers and enabling them to perform the same or greater wonders than Moses and Elijah. Indeed Jesus is recorded as saying precisely that in Matt 3:9, stating that God is able to raise up stones to be the sons of Abraham. At the time of their calling, Elijah was an ordinary inhabitant of the town of Tishbi in Gilead and Elisha was only a farmer's son.
All evidence points to the two witnesses simply being two believers in this era of the Church. Just as the Apostles were not recognized by the priesthood in their day, similarly the two witnesses will be seen as ordinary members of the Church by the ministry of today. That is to say, they will not be ministers ordained and paid by Church of God organizations. They are the “anointed ones”, appointed by God Himself to perform His work, not the work of manmade organizations (corporate churches).
Zech 4:12-14 [NRSV]
"...And a second time I said to him, 'What are these two branches of the olive trees [olive flows], which pour out the oil through the two golden pipes?' He said to me, 'Do you not know what these are?' I said, 'No, my lord.' Then he said, 'These are the two anointed ones who stand by the Lord of the whole earth'..."
In Rev 11:3-4[NRSV] we are told the identity of these two individuals that stand before the Lord of the whole Earth".
"...'And I will grant my two witnesses authority to prophesy for one thousand two hundred sixty days, wearing sackcloth. These are the two olive trees [olive flows] and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth.
They are indeed a representation of the Church. References to the 24 elders can be found scattered though chapters 4-19. When all references are put together we find these 24 are "clothed in white", meaning they achieved salvation through struggle (Rev 7:14), they were saved by the blood of Christ and are ruling over Earth (Rev 5:9-10). These are promises to the Saints of the New Covenant.
Some find it odd that the Church may be found talking to itself, but apparently this was a common style of writing in the early Church – see the"Shepard of Hermas" as a complete example, which may be downloaded free from a number of web sites.
General Question 29:There are many first century writings from the Apostles and those who came after them. So, the question is, do we have the whole Bible or has some of it been lost or not included?
This is an interesting question, not because the answer is difficult, but because the answer can be both yes and no. It is probably best to start with what actually qualifies as being canonized, then moving on to the adequacy of the current canon. All commentary I have studied regarding this matter first tries to ascertain what is the Word of God by using some imaginary yardstick of spirituality which they have defined – this is a mistake. We should always let God decide such matters and He is not silent concerning the canon – what He considers relevant as His Word. We are given the answer in Eph 2:20,
"...Together, we are his house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself..." [NLT].
Accordingly, any epistle written by the Prophets or Apostles is relevant and qualifies to be included in the canon. Conversely, if something is not written by the Prophets or Apostles, then it does not qualify and may be considered a mere historical document. The Book of Esther falls into this latter category and is merely an account of how a Jew gave his daughter to a pagan in order to obtain favour and eventual release from captivity. This Book does not mention God even once and has no claim to any particular author, let alone a Prophet. The Gospels of Mark and Luke and the Book of Acts were not written by Apostles and while they can be counted as interesting corollaries to the Gospels of Matthew and John, there is no basis for their inclusion in the canon. It may be a surprise to many, but neither Mark nor Luke were among the twelve Apostles named and empowered by Jesus. Also, neither of them were selected by lot to replace the discredited Judas Iscariot – he was replaced by Matthias (also called Barnabas).
On the other hand, the Gospel of Thomas does qualify for the canon and its content has been verified as genuine Apostolic writings.
Nevertheless, while there are some books that should be left out of the canon and others that should be included, God is in charge of His Word not man and therefore we can be certain that while there are other valid writings from the Prophets and the Apostles, God has not left us without the essential Word of salvation. One of the main values of these other writings is that they expand on some of the more difficult areas to understand and provide answers to questions that may be otherwise difficult to find in the existing canon. If one thinks that he can be satisfied with the status quo, then it would be well to remember God’s command about searching Him out and about diligence.
“…But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge,…” [NKJV].
There is no line drawn against diligence, so everyone is encouraged to study both the canonized and non-canonized writings of the Prophets and Apostles, for God says that they are the foundation of Christianity and He puts no limit on whether the writings are canonized or not. We are to be diligent in seeking out the knowledge of God. As for the canon, the Books God wants us to include are the books written by the Apostles and the Prophets ONLY, and we need to be diligent in seeking out these books. Other historical writings written by people other than Prophets and Apostles, such as historical writings before Christ or early Christians, can be very helpful, but should not be considered as part of the canon. To be of value, these other writings must be built on the foundation of the Prophets and Apostles (1Cor 3:10-11) – that is to say, such writings must either agree with or expound upon the Prophets and Apostles, not disagree with them.
General Question 28: When do you think the great tribulation will start, if it has not started already?
Even the original Disciples asked a similar question of Jesus about 2000 years ago, so this is not an unusual question (Matt 24:3). Many people have tried to predict such a time and thus far all have been wrong. Even according to attempts to determine time by using Biblical genealogies and the reign of various kings has failed to yield an accurate answer. The primary reason for failure here is that according to genealogies the end of days should have come and gone years ago and we should now be in the Millennium – genealogies are not entirely accurate. Others have used the “12 signs” method of determination, but unfortunately not all use the same 12 signs which means that there are probably more than 12 signs or the wrong signs have been used. There are actually more than 12 when one considers the prophetic events from the Old Testament concerning the last days, but they shall not be discussed as part of this question.
In Matt 24:4-24 Jesus tells of certain events which must come to pass before the tribulation and others that shall come to pass during the tribulation. However, all these events notwithstanding, Jesus advice as recorded in Matt 24:32-33 is considered the most accurate method of calculation.
Matt 24:32-33 [NKJV]
"Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near – at the doors!”
Whether one calculates using genealogies or prophetic events, it is clear that“summer is at the doors”. So, what happens next is probably only a matter of degree – natural disasters of greater proportions. However, even that is not going to get us closer to an answer.
Indications are that the two witnesses will be witnessing for 3½ years (Rev 11:3), the duration of the tribulation. They will be witnessing for God, therefore they and their deeds will be known to the world. They will be killed at the end of their witnessing and then resurrected after 3½ days at the return of Christ, which event shall be seen by the whole world (Matt 24:27). These men have not yet commenced their witnessing, therefore the tribulation has not yet started.
Accordingly, the tribulation may start any time between next year and an indefinite time in the future. This time in the future is not able to be determined because God allocates a "little season" to Satan at the end (after) the Millennium (Rev 20:3) and we do not know the duration of this little season. Just as the 100 year period of judgment after the second resurrection (after the Millennium) must be subtracted from the first 6000 years, so too must this "little season" be subtracted, because the whole plan of salvation is to last only 7,000 years according to God's day for a 1,000 year principle as recorded in 2Pet 3:8 when this same question of the return of Jesus was being taught by alluding to the Genesis 7 days of creation. Since God's number for trials is recognized as usually some multiple of 40, we can guess that the "little season" is 40 years just as ancient Israel was tested for 40 years in the wilderness to see what was in their hearts and whether or not they would obey Him (Deut 8:2):
"...And you shall remember that the LORD your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not..." [NKJV]
However,the same wording (little season) is used in Rev 6:11 referring to the time the dead Saints must wait for their resurrection and this time was between the opening of the fifth seal and their resurrection, which time may be shorter than a literal season lasting less than 6 months (summer/winter the two Biblical weather seasons). If this is the case, then the time for the "little season" to be subtracted from the 6,000 years of man is much less than 40 years.
With these factors in mind the calculations, no matter how meticulous, would have an end result that would still be a guess and therefore we must go back to the teaching of Jesus in Matt 24:32-33 (see above). Looking at the signs given by Jesus as well as genealogies in general, both the tribulation and his return will probably be sooner rather than later.
Only adults should bebaptized, because only they can be held accountable for their actions – they must be able to “count the cost” of becoming converted:
“…Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me, cannot be my disciple. For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build, and was not able to finish.’
Or what king, going to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and take counsel whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand?...” [RSV]
WhenChrist talks of one “bearing his own cross and coming after me”, clearly he is talking about conversion – baptism into the Christian way of life. Following this introduction, Christ then likens such a person to one who is about to undertake a major construction project, or to a king preparing for war. In considering this decision to follow Christ, he is likening us to seasoned adults capable of making life-altering decisions, not to children who are not capable of making such judgments.
Evenunder the secular law of today a 12 year old is considered a minor, not an adult.
Godmakes it clear that He only considers people who are twenty or over to be adults.
1. Must be twenty and over to give offerings (Ex 30:14)
"...Every one that passeth among them that are numbered, from twenty years old and above, shall give an offering unto the LORD..."
2. Men able to go to war (Num 1:3)
"...From twenty years old and upward, all that are able to go forth to war in Israel: thou and Aaron shall number them by their armies..."
Accordingly, any baptism of a 12 year old is considered not valid and that individual should be baptized again when they are an adult. The number of times someone is baptized as a minor is not important, because none of them are valid.
General Question 26: Who are the “sheep not of this fold” mentioned in John 10:16.
John 10:14-16 [RSV]
“I am the good shepherd; I know my own and my own know me, as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. And I haveother sheep, that are not of this fold; I must bring [bring forth] them also, and they will heed my voice. So there shall be one flock, one shepherd.”
Just as God went to the gentiles, because of lack of reception from His own people (Israel & Judah), so too it seems God may have other people in what the Church of God movement considers “mainstream Christianity”, which He is calling out of those organizations to form their own small groups rather than becoming part of the general Church of God movement. That is to say, they are not becoming part of an existing Church of God organization. These groups may not be conforming to general Church of God dogma, but they will be obeying God in accordance with the understanding He has given them. Where they should be attending services is a matter for God to decide – it is NOT a matter to be decided accordingly to the estimation of men. The most important factor is as Christ says “he must bring them” or as shown in brackets "bring forth", meaning separate them from their previous association, just as when he "brought" the disciples it meant separating them from the Jews and the Old Covenant (their old belief system) – it does not mean becoming part of an existing Church of God organization.
These small groups, many of which are Messianic groups, are searching for the truth of God with much enthusiasm. They are researching original first century Church doctrine and re-establishing the original calendar for Holy Day observance. The accuracy of their research is not to be questioned, as it is God’s responsibility to reveal truth to individuals in His time not ours. In this regard it is well to remember what is recorded in Rom 14:4,
“Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand.” [NKJV]
These sheep that are not of this fold look remarkably like those workers in the parable who were hired at the eleventh hour:
“And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle, and saith unto them, Why stand ye here all the day idle? They say unto him, Because no man hath hired us. He saith unto them, Go ye also into the vineyard; and whatsoever is right, that shall ye receive. So when even was come, the lord of the vineyard saith unto his steward, Call the labourers, and give them their hire, beginning from the last unto the first. And when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny. But when the first came, they supposed that they should have received more; and they likewise received every man a penny.” [KJV]
Noting that parables are just another form of prophecy, we can know that God never intended to call these people until the “eleventh hour”. These people are not late‑comers – the parable reveals that God calls people when they are needed to accomplish His purpose. Just because we do not know where they are does not mean they do not exist or should not ever be called and here we are reminded of when even Elijah complained that he was the only one obeying God, but God said that He had 7,000 others who had not bowed to Baal (1King 19:14-18).
General Question 25: Are the beginnings mentioned in Gen 1:1 and John 1:1 the same?
No, the two beginnings are very different.
Gen 1:1 is referring to the start of the physical universe – the creation of space, time and matter. Only the "start" of the physical creation is referred to, because this creation is still happening – see the section entitled "The Big Bang Theory" in the article on "Creation of the Universe". This beginning in Gen 1:1 is very different than that referred to as “the beginning…” in John 1:1. Although the latter is also not “The” beginning of everything, as some try to imply, it was a definite beginning of something and was in the ages of eternity before time began. To understand this beginning, spoken of in John 1:1, we need to understand what creation is all about, that is to say understand what the Bible is talking about overall – essentially, it is talking about God’s plan of salvation for mankind. Accordingly, the beginning being spoken of in John 1:1, the first beginning of the Bible, is in fact speaking of the beginning of mankind, or to be more precise the creation of the spirit in man. We know we have this spirit because God says so:
1Cor 2:11 “For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him?”
Rom 8:16 “The Spirit itself [God’s spirit] beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:…”
What is this spirit in man? It is us, thus making the physical body merely the vessel of the spirit. It is this physical vessel that enables our spirit (us) to have a conscious awareness – without the body (physical vessel) we cease to be aware and of this fact we are told in Eccl 9:5,“…For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing,…”. When our bodies die, our spirit (us) ceases to be aware, but death of the body does not mean death of the spirit. In the Bible the terms which denote sleep are applied frequently to death (Psa 76:5; Jer 51:39; John 11:13), but this is a dreamless sleep with total lack of awareness, as is stated in Eccl 9:5.
Now, what does this spirit in man have to do with the first beginning? From Eph 1:4 and 2Tim 1:9 it appears our spirit (us) has been around for an extremely long time. God says that the choosing and predestinating among man was before the foundation of the world:
"...According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world [Kosmos], that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:..." [KJV]
"...Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world [Kosmos] began,..." [KJV].
What is meant by "before the foundation of the world"? Here, the Greek word translated as "world" is Kosmos and generally means the orderly arrangement or decoration of everything – a newly created work of art – which in context, means before creation of the entire physical universe. How long before we are not told, but the implication is a very long time. Of this time there are several interesting commentaries and supports:
Barne’s Commentary states: "Before the foundation of the world. This is a very important phrase in determining the time when the choice was made. It was not an after-thought. It was not commenced in time. The purpose was far back in the ages of eternity."
The I.S.B.E. (extract) maintains: "In Rom 8:29-30 the word "foreknow" occurs in immediate connection with God's predestination of the objects of salvation. Those whom God foreknew, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His son. Now the foreknowledge in this case cannot mean a mere prescience or foresight of faith (Meyer, Godet) or love (Weiss) in the subjects of salvation, which faith or love is supposed to determine the Divine predestination. This would not only contradict Paul's view of the absolutely sovereign and gracious character of election, but is diametrically opposed to the context of this passage. These Verses form a part of the encouragement which Paul offers his readers for their troubles, including their own inward weakness.”
As stated above, the expression, “before the world began”, requires a more accurate rendering and this is provided by both Strong and Young – A correct rendering from Strong's would be “before eternity” and the YLT has it as “before the times of the ages”. The language is clearly stating that our spirit was with God before the ages of time began. This is the beginning of man and since the Bible is essentially concerned with the plan of salvation for mankind, this is also the beginning spoken of in John 1:1. It does not refer to the ethereal beginning of God and the Word, because they had no beginning.
Finally, in having a plan of salvation for mankind, it is axiomatic that there was a need for mankind to be saved prior to the time that plan was devised. God’s allusion to predestinating the elect of this time, prior to creation of the universe, bears witness to this need. So, no, the beginnings to which you refer are very different with the beginning in Gen 1:1 being relatively young compared to the beginning in John 1:1, but both have to do with mankind as explained above.
Pentecost Question 2: Why do you say that Pentecost pictures the first resurrection when almost all the other Churches of God say it pictures the out-pouring of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost 31 A.D.?
Saying that Pentecost pictures the out-pouring of the Holy Spirit is getting events out of sequence in God's plan of salvation and ignoring the symbolism in granting the Holy Spirit. The pouring out of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost 31AD was a mere foreshadow of the real event that Pentecost represented, which is ascension as full spirit beings into the family of God. As always it is the real event that is to be celebrated, not the shadow.
One of the main purposes of the Holy Spirit is to help the people of God resist the wrong way of life and to strive for God's way of life. For this purpose it is called the "Spirit of Power", Luk 24:49
"..'And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.'..." [NKJV].
This power is granted to us at baptism when we receive the Holy Spirit – it helps us to overcome and strive to live God's way for the rest of our lives. The symbolism for this striving to live God's way is seen in putting out leavened bread and the eating of unleavened bread for seven days during the Feast of Unleavened Bread, after Passover. The granting of the Holy Spirit is therefore celebrated on the first Holy Day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, not Pentecost (see the full article on Pentecost). It is the first day of this seven day Feast that symbolically begins our lives as Christians (Spiritual Israelites), not Pentecost. Pentecost, which is 50 days after the wave sheaf offering, is at the time of restitution of all things (pictured by the 50 year Jubilee) and is at the return of Christ. At the return of Christ we have the first resurrection, when the dead in Christ shall rise first, then those who are alive shall rise to meet him. This is the first resurrection and is what Pentecost represents in God's plan of salvation. Ascension of the first fruits into the family of God as spirit beings is after the end of our lives as spiritual Israelites, not at the beginning when the Holy Spirit is poured out upon us.
"...Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord..." [NKJV].
Passover Question 6: How do you eat and drink in an unworthy manner during Passover service?
The Passover ceremony commemorates the sacrifice Christ made for us; paying the penalty for our sins so that our ailments may be healed and so we do not have to suffer everlasting death (1Pet 2:24). Passover pictures God's OFFER of salvation through Christ’s sacrifice of suffering and death for the remission of sins (pictured by the bread and wine) should we choose to live God’s way of life (pictured by the foot washing ceremony). As we partake of the emblems each year, we are commanded to remember what they mean – what Christ did for us (1Cor 11:24-25). The self-examination spoken of in 1Cor 11:28-29 is directed at this issue – it is a matter of gratitude and how much we ought to regard and appreciate each other and the sacrifice that was made for us. The self-examination should not be primarily concerned with us reviewing our sinful lives – rather, we should be focusing and reflecting more on what Christ was willing to do for us in order to become our saviour. Only in this way can we fulfil the requirement in 1Cor 11:28-29 and avoid partaking of the Passover unworthily.
“…But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eats and drinks unworthily, eats and drinks damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body…” [KJV].
Almost no-one understands what it means to "eat and drink unworthily" and no help in this area has been forthcoming from the commentaries. I have found no exceptions to the "understanding" that what God means here is that we should examine ourselves for sin and repent. In other words, be introspective, self-centred, negative and depressed. Nothing could be further from the truth! Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread are about putting sin to death at the beginning of our Christian lives, then LIVING God's way of life for the rest of our lives.
We are also given the answer to this question in verse 29 where it states that we eat and drink unworthily because we are not discerning the Lord's body. What is the Lord's body ? It is the church, the people that make up our congregation.
Eph 4:15 (NLT)
"Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church."
So, what does this mean? It means we are to look after one another – we are to be our brother's keeper, which relates directly to the very next Passover symbol – the washing of feet which symbolizes serving our brethren. When we see our brethren in need we are to help out in accordance with the gifts God has given us. We may be able to pray for the sick, we may be able to help out in times of financial need, we may be able to visit or telephone those who are not able to fellowship. On this last point it should be known that there are many more types of prisons than those built to incarcerate criminals. When our brethren are afflicted in some manner, it is not our place to judge them, it is our place to comfort them.
Also, the vast majority of Christians do not suffer because they have sinned – they suffer by decree of God to fill up what was lacking in the afflictions of Christ! This is why Paul said that he counted it joy to be afflicted and was joyful when he saw that the church was being likewise afflicted. He was not some sado-masochist – he knew that this was happening as a result of the church fulfilling its commission to fill up what was lacking in the afflictions of Christ. We are the body of Christ and we are sacrificed daily, we die daily.
Paul, speaking of himself:
Php 2:17 (NKJV)
"...Yes, and if I am being poured out as a drink offering on the sacrifice and service of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all..."
"...I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service..."
Being more specific, how do we do this? We do it by serving our brethren!
Matt 25:34-40 (KJV)
"Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
‘for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in;
‘I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’
"Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink?
‘When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You?
‘Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’
"And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’
This service and sacrifice is pictured by the foot washing ceremony, which symbolizes living God's way of life and please do not think that the above list is complete. The list only contains some examples of how we can serve each other. Just remember, be kind to each other on a daily basis and you will find the list is almost endless.
Paul, speaking of himself and the church:
Col 1:24 (NLT & Strong's)
"...I now rejoice in my sufferings, moreover yours, filling up that which is lacking in the afflictions of Christ in my flesh and continuing in his body, which is the church.”
Rom 8:36 (NKJV)
"...As it is written, "For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter."..."
Gal 4:29 (KJV)
"...But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now..."
So, with Christ's sacrifice of a broken body we have two components – the memorial of the actual sacrifice which was for the purpose of setting us free from sin and the ongoing sacrifice in the church by the individual members on a daily basis. The references in 1Peter and Isaiah to being healed because of Christ's stripes are actually referring to our spiritual healing and this meaning is clear both from the context and the fact that we are told we must expect to be afflicted.
2Cor 1:7 (NKJV)
"And our hope for you is steadfast, because we know that as you are partakers of the sufferings, so also you will partake of the consolation."
Heb 12:8 (NKJV)
"But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons."
Thus, while the torture of Jesus was very real and comprised part of his sacrifice to provide for the forgiveness of sin, it also was symbolic and prophetic in that it revealed what was to befall true Christians during their lives on Earth in the Adamite age.
Since Christ took with him only a basin of water and a towel (John 13:5), the foot washing would have been by the use of hands only. Taking into account special preparation for the occasion, the disciples' feet would have been clean by standards of the day making the foot washing ceremonial and for remembrance purposes, as was the small piece of unleavened bread and sip of wine from the same glass. It seems that Christ used the same basin of water for all 12 disciples, so their feet could not have been all that dirty, thus confirming the ceremonial purpose. Bearing all this in mind, the foot washing would have been by a simple light rubbing of water over the feet by his hands followed by rubbing with the towel to clean and dry.
The key is to keep it simple, because the actual washing itself is not important – the real importance of the ceremony is what foot washing represents, which is a willingness to serve in a true Christian manner as well as a willingness to be served. How does one serve in a true Christian manner? Be kind to one another (Eph 4:32) – try to relieve your brother’s burden, not add to it.
"...And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you..." [NKJV]
Passover Question 4: What do you say during foot washing?
As with drinking the wine and eating the bread, during foot washing there is usually very little, if any, speaking by participants. It is also noteworthy that for this part of the service it was simply done – there was nothing said by Christ until someone objected. Foot washing is about true Christian service – service that can be understood only by those with the Holy Spirit. Christ was the only one with the Holy Spirit when he instituted the foot washing ceremony and stated that the disciples did not understand what he was doing at that time, but that they would understand later – after they received the Holy Spirit the following Pentecost (John 14:26).
“…But the Counsellor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you…” [NIV].
So, while talking is not forbidden during the foot washing ceremony, this is usually a time for stimulating and contemplating both the giving and receiving of Christian service, as brief as that time may be during foot washing.
To answer this question I could simply quote Gen 6:6,
“…And the LORD was sorry that he had made humankind on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart...” [NKJV]
This simple statement by God makes it clear that God does not know everything and that He seriously miscalculated the result of His creation, even to the extent where He had to start over with Noah and his family.
On the positive side, Christ, the actual creator of mankind was astonished, he marvelled, he was amazed when he saw the faith of the Roman Centurion.
“When Jesus heard this, he was astonished and said to those following him, "I tell you the truth, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith.” [NIV]
This was Christ talking, God in the flesh (1Tim 3:16 and 1John 4:3), and he was genuinely surprised – so, no again, God does not know everything whether good or bad.
However, to answer this question properly we need to go back to the time of Adam, when man was created and where God actually defines what is man.
More literal translation of Gen 1:26
“…The Godhead said, ‘Make man of our image, of our likeness; they have dominion over fish, the sea, the fowl, the air, the cattle, the earth and the creeping things that creep on earth.’…”
The more literal translation is much more active than the modern popular translations. Note that there is no “let them have” in the original text, the dominion comes with being created in the likeness of God and therefore requires no additional “permission” from God – the dominion is as a result of being made in the likeness of God and is absolute.
The interesting aspect of being made in the image and likeness of God is that it is a two-way street – something which few have ever considered. What this means is that if we were made in His image, then He must be like us. Remembering that this likeness and image was relating to Adam when he was first made, restricts this likeness to abilities, not character. Even the knowledge of good and evil came after Adam was made. One may also assume that these abilities, while like the creator’s, seem different in scale only. However, God would appear to say differently in Gen 11:6,
“…God said, ‘The people are one, having one language; and this they begin to do. Absolutely nothing is restrained from them which they imagine to do.’…”
What God is saying here is that without His intervention, man’s creative ability is unlimited. With this creative ability comes experimentation and with experimentation there is always the prospect of making mistakes, of making miscalculations. Thus we can see from what God says of man and the examples of God’s own admitted lack of foreknowledge that God did indeed make man in His likeness and in so doing we can know that God is like us. Where free will is concerned it is not possible to know everything and this is the way God has made us, in His likeness with the possibility of miscalculating.
General Question 23:
There are many people, even in the Church of God, who feel the same way – they believe that it is the right thing to do even though it may not be strictly correct as far as Christ's actual birthday is concerned and think that such observance is acceptable to God & Christ. However, we must look at what Christ himself has to say of this type of attitude.
Mark 7:7 “…‘Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.’…” [KJV].
Mark 7:9 “…‘And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.’…” [KJV].
These verses fly in the face of traditional belief that all you have to do is “accept” Christ and you will be saved. What God & Christ are saying plainly is, “not only must you worship me, you must do it my way or it is not acceptable”. If we want to worship God and honour Christ, then we must do it properly by obeying God, by keeping His Commandments, by celebrating His festivals not pagan festivals.
More importantly, in this case, by being present at these pagan festivals, such as Christmas, we are showing others that we tacitly approve of the festivals even though we may not actually approve. You see, how we appear to others is our example to them and we are commanded to be examples of God's way just as Christ was the example of God's way. Christ observed God's Holy Days and took no part in any pagan festival.
"...20 For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. 21 For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: 22 Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth:..." [KJV].
A more detailed explanation is contained in the article on Christmas and Easter.
General Question 22:
There are some who claim that Psalms 81:3 shows that the full moon is the new moon. If this is not the case, then how should the verse be understood?
The more modern translations of Psa 81:3 are incorrect and this includes the NKJV. The Hebrew word used here is “Kece” and is used only twice in the Bible. On both occasions it is correctly translated as appointed time or appointed day.
Psa 81:3 “Blow up the trumpet in the new moon, in the time appointed, on our solemn feast day.” [KJV].
Prov 7:20 “He hath taken a bag of money with him, and will come home at the day appointed.” [KJV].
The next verse, verse 4 states, “For this was a statute for Israel, and a law of the God of Jacob.” There never was a command to blow the trumpet on the full moon – the command to blow the trumpet was for every new moon (chodesh) and every feast day (annual Holy Day). The new moon is just after the fullness of the covering of the moon, or in context, “when the moon has completed being covered”.
Young has translated this verse as,
“Blow in the month a trumpet, In the new moon, at the day of our festival,” [YLT].
Both Gill and JFB agree that verse 3 (and Prov 7:20) is speaking of the Day of Acclamation (Feast of Trumpets), which is the first day of the seventh month – both a new moon and an annual Holy Day. Many assume that because some of the following verses in Psa 81 speak of coming out of Egypt, then verse 3 must be speaking about the Passover full moon. However, the following verses in Psa 81 and indeed the whole of Chapter 81 is speaking of deliverance from Egypt, entry into the Promised Land, and Israel’s covenant with God – a marriage covenant (the very covenant pictured by the Day of Acclamation).
Accordingly, both the context and the clear commands of God require the trumpet to be blown on the new moon and God’s Feast Days – the full moon interpretation is expressly denied on both accounts.
General Question 21:
Please use the true Sacred Names of the Father and Son, Yahweh and Yahshua. God is a pagan title, we are to know and proclaim His name.
There are now a number of organizations that require use of the words “Yahweh” and “Yeshua” instead of the words “God” and “Jesus”. Due to this trend in some organizations a number of people have either commented on the fact or wanted to know what is actually required. The fact that there are questions about the matter means that clarification is needed in order that people may continue with a good conscience.
The simple answer and really the only answer is that we speak English, not Yiddish, Arabic or some other language. In English the word for God is “God”. English has adopted many words from many languages and is now the foremost internationally spoken word between nations. A substantial amount of legal terms and phrases are from Latin, while the history of the English speaking peoples automatically means that some traces of Hebrew, German, Greek and Norman would be retained to varying degrees.
God created the different languages, not man. Accordingly, it would be unreasonable to draw the conclusion that God would be displeased if each language had a different title for Him, indeed the creation of different languages requires it to be so. In accordance with God’s own creative designs it is proper that everyone addresses God in his own language and if a person is blessed to speak more than one language, then it is also proper to address God by His Title in those other languages. What would be improper is someone using a foreign Title for God and not understanding the full meaning of that Title. For the vast majority of English speaking people “God” has a much more significant meaning than “Yahweh” and therefore "God" is the most appropriate word for English speaking people. Also, whether it be one word or an entire discourse, God requires translation into the local language.
"...If any man speak in an unknown tongue, let it be by two, or at the most by three, and that by course; and let one interpret. But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God..." [KJV].
Finally, one should always proceed in accordance with conscience, regardless of language, and not be offended by someone who uses a different Title with equally good conscience.
General Question 20:
Who is the false prophet of Rev 19:20?
All successive administrations of the various churches of God have taught that the Pope would be the false prophet, but historically God has shown very little interest in pagan prophets – God's main focus in this area has been on warning people about false teachers from within the church.
“…Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves…” [KJV].
“…But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction…” [NKJV].
“…Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are of God; for many false prophets have gone out into the world…” [RSV].
Even in the O.T. God warned about these false teachers:
“…If there arises among you a prophet or a dreamer of dreams, and he gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder comes to pass, of which he spoke to you, saying, ‘Let us go after other gods’ – which you have not known –‘and let us serve them,’ you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams, for the LORD your God is testing you to know whether you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul…” [NKJV].
Accordingly, in searching for the false prophet we must look much closer to home. In 2Thes 2:3-12 God shows us many features by which we can identify the false prophet. Starting with verse 3 we are told that he is also the man of sin and the son of perdition – verse 9 shows he is the false prophet (coming with power, signs and lying wonders). This is the same one who is spoken of in Dan 7:25 where we are told that he will think to “change times and laws”.
“…And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time…” [KJV].
Due to this prophecy many have concluded that the Pope is the false prophet, because he seems to have changed times and laws, especially the law to do with the Sabbath. However, when we realize that Constantine, a sun worshipper, was the first Pope and all he did was combine the major pagan beliefs into one universal religion and simply call that universal religion “Christianity” he changed nothing of the law of God. Although true Christians were persecuted and murdered for observing the seventh day Sabbath, Constantine simply created one universal pagan religion by reworking the various major pagan religions of the time. There was no real deception here. To view the Pope as the false prophet is looking in the wrong place.
Having eliminated the primary suspect we must now look for the actual guilty one.
Signs from 2Thes 2:3-12 [NKJV]
3 Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition,
4 who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.
5 Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things?
6 And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his own time.
7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way.
8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming.
9 The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders,
10 and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved.
11 And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie,
12 that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
From 2Thes 2:3 & 9 we have already seen that the false prophet is also the “man of sin” and the “son of perdition” – Judas was only a type of the real “son of perdition” who is to appear in the last days (man of sin to be revealed – verse 3). The main point here is that he was one of the original 12 disciples – he was one who seemed to be a true Christian.
The next aspect that must be addressed is a question: Is the reference to the man of sin to a single man or to a series of individuals of the same general character in a single administration? Other occasions where the latter view is the case is as follows:
1. In Dan 11:36, the word "king" is used which denotes a succession of kings.
2. The same is true of the beast mentioned in Daniel Chapters 7, 8. Rev 13, representing a kingdom or empire through its successive changes.
3. The same is true of the "woman arrayed in purple and scarlet," (Rev 17:4,) which cannot refer to a single woman, but is the emblem of a continued corrupt administration.
In addressing this matter with Timothy, Paul said in verse 7 that the "mystery of lawlessness is already at work” and provided Timothy with the names of five men involved in the apostasy – Hymenaeus and Philetus (2Tim 2:16-19), Alexander (1Tim 1:20), Phygellus and Hermogenes (2Tim 1:15). From Paul’s account we have the answer to our question in point – the reference to the false prophet is actually a reference to a series of individuals of the same general corrupt character in the church administration, lasting from the time of Paul until the end of days, with the last of these men being the "man of sin yet to be revealed".
However, note carefully that all these men were from within the Church of God movement – they were not men belonging to an external pagan religion. All of these men were recognized as members of the Church of God movement – none were what we would consider as "outsiders".
Since the last man of sin (the false prophet) has not yet been revealed his identity is still hidden, but from the examples God has given we can be sure of at least three things:
1. he will arise from within the Church of God movement;
2. he will be in a position to deceive; and
3. he will deceive the majority within the Church of God (those not predestined for the first ascension).
Times and laws have already been changed by the hierarchy of the Church of God and a few examples are given below:
General Question 19:
When does Jubilee commence? Lev 25:10 appears to have it commencing on the Day of Atonement.
After looking at various translations, as well as the original Hebrew text, we see that the word "Jubile" (Jubilee) is a mistranslation in this verse. The YLT comes closest to the literal meaning, but still lacks a little of the intent which has to do with Christ's sacrifice (celebrated as the Passover for the first fruits) now also applying to those in the second resurrection. The true wording links Passover directly to the Day of Atonement – the tenth day of the seventh month.
Lev 25:9 [KJV]
Then shalt thou cause the trumpet of the Jubile to sound on the tenth day of the seventh month, in the day of atonement shall ye make the trumpet sound throughout all your land.
Lev 25:9 [YLT]
and thou hast caused a trumpet of shouting to pass over in the seventh month, in the tenth of the month; in the day of the atonements ye do cause a trumpet to pass over through all your land;
Lev 25:9 [RSV]
Then you shall send abroad the loud trumpet on the tenth day of the seventh month; on the day of atonement you shall send abroad the trumpet throughout all your land.
Lev 25:9 [NIV]
Then have the trumpet sounded everywhere on the tenth day of the seventh month; on the Day of Atonement sound the trumpet throughout your land.
Lev 25:9 [Translation by author]
The trumpet of joy shall pass over on the tenth day of the seventh month, in the Day of Atonement make the trumpet of joy to pass over all your land.
Jubilee was for a whole year (Ex 25:11) not five months and it could not possibly have commenced on the day of Atonement, because the start of the Hebrew year is Abib, not Ethanim, (Ex 12:2). Indeed, the word “Jubile” does not appear in the original text and the more modern translations correctly omit this word (see above). The blowing of the trumpet always signifies either the presence of or the arrival of God/Christ. The blowing of the trumpet at this time was to signify that God had returned all His people to Himself – the people were now in the presence of God. This is significant because being in the presence of God means the absence of Satan, which is shown symbolically on the Day of Atonement by banishing the Azazel goat (representing Satan) into the wilderness.
After the second resurrection any allusion to God’s people refers to the whole world and the word “sound” should be translated “pass over” – a direct reference to the sacrifice of Christ now applying to and passing over the sins of not just the first born (those in the first resurrection), but all of humanity. Far from detracting from the significance of the Day of Atonement, correct translation of Lev 25:9 shows how the spiritual children of Christ and the Church are to be included in the Family of God – Christ’s sacrifice is also to be made available to the repentant of the second and great resurrection. Hence, the reference to the passing over of the trumpet sound represents Christ’s sacrifice now passing over and covering the sins of the repentant of the second resurrection, as well as the people now being in the presence of God.
Part of the restitution of all things (pictured by the Jubilee) will be God returning humanity to Himself, after humanity having been imprisoned spiritually. Accordingly, in Lev 25:9 God is explaining how and when the Jubilee will apply to those in the second resurrection – the verse is not stating that Jubilee shall commence on the Day of Atonement during the year of the Jubilee.
Lev 25:9 has to do with the timing of the application of Christ’s sacrifice for those in the second resurrection, not when the year of Jubilee should commence. Lev 25:8-54 is an explanation, in detail, as to how Jubilee is to apply and for those in the second resurrection – it commences when they repent and claim Christ’s sacrifice.
General Question 18:
I believe your question relates to Heb 4:2, which states,
“…For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profitthem, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it…” [KJV].
The context of this verse, being Heb 3:17 – Heb 4:9 makes it clear that the “them” being spoken of refers to ancient Israel during their 40 years of wandering in the wilderness. Indeed, a gospel was preached to them and that gospel was the good news that they would enter into their rest – such rest being a physical rest from their enemies in the “promised Land”, the land of Canaan. This was part of the Old Covenant promise – the Old Covenant and its physical blessings being types of the New Covenant and its spiritual blessings.
The Israelites knew of this gospel when they set out on their journey to the promised rest and the purpose or point of this good news was to give them encouragement as they suffered through various trials in the wilderness. Likewise, with the New Covenant, the gospel of attaining the Kingdom of God is to serve as hope to spiritual Israel as we suffer through trials in this modern wilderness God has prepared for our testing. We are told this very thing by God 1Pet 1:3-6,
“…Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials,…” [KJV].
Also, in Rom 6:8
“…And since we died with Christ, we know we will also live with him…” [NLT].
For us, resurrection means ascension into the family of God as spirit beings – resurrection means entering our final rest. This is the rest typified by the seventh day Sabbath and the ancient land of Canaan.
General Question 17:
What is Prophecy, as mentioned in 1Cor 13:2?
Prophecy is a revelation from God about His way or about the future. By revelation it is meant a revealing of something about God’s intentions (the future) or way of life previously not known to the listeners. There are two major divisions to prophecy, but both these divisions must contain the element of revelation – a revealing of God’s purpose, plan or way of life under inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
The Two Divisions of Prophecy
Expounding the Oracles of God
This is inspired preaching and must contain the element of revelation. The preaching must reveal things about God’s way or plan not previously understood by the listeners. It is a revealing of God’s thoughts, intentions and plans, not the preacher’s. An example would be John revealing that the law of God covers both desires as well as deeds, not deeds alone:
Any one who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. [RSV].
Likewise with circumcision, the physical act was merely a type of the real thing, being spiritual circumcision which takes place at baptism with the Holy Spirit
But he is a Jew, which isone inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God. [RSV].
Historically, the relevance of circumcision was that it changed a person’s nationality from being of a heathen nation to being part of physical Israel (the Old Covenant peoples) and therefore permitted that person to observe the Passover (Ex 12:48). Under the New Covenant, baptism with the Holy Spirit changes a person from being what God considers to be dead to being a live spiritual Israelite – it changes them from being an ordinary human being to a person with the promise of eternal life and indeed God considers these people as already being glorified (Rom 8:30).
The importance of inspired preaching (expounding the oracles of God) cannot be overstated, because it serves to reveal God’s true spiritual message to His people.
Preaching in the absence of revelation is called teaching, not prophecy.
The Telling of Future Events
This division of prophecy is the least understood of the two divisions, because people tend to confuse prophecy with possibility. Prophecy is absolute, it cannot be changed and is not dependent upon obedience or disobedience to God. This type of prophecy is God making a declaration of what He is going to do and bringing that event to pass. Prophecy is not God foretelling the future, prophecy is God stating what He is going to do and bringing it to pass. Having God as a “fortune teller” makes Him a helpless bystander and He is anything but helpless or a bystander. God himself provides us with His definition of this type of prophecy In Isa 46:10-11:
“…Declaring the end from thebeginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure: Calling a ravenous bird from the east, the man that executeth my counsel from a far country: yea, I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it’…” [KJV].
The prime example of this definition is that of the four great kingdoms of the world revealed in Dan 2:28-44. Of these great kingdoms please note that they were to be established unconditionally. There is no mention of obedience – in fact we know that the last of these physical kingdoms in particular will not only be disobedient to the laws of God, it will actually attempt to engage in combat with the returning Jesus Christ.
A common example taught as prophecy, but is in fact mere possibility, is that of Jonah warning Ninevah of impending destruction if it did not change its ways. Threats regarding disobedience and promise of rewards for obedience are obviously conditional and therefore are mere possibilities not prophecies. There is not even foresight here, there is no determining the future by intervention – here future events unfold in accordance with human behaviour, not in accordance with the will of God. There is no revelation here, there is just the threat of punishment or the promise of reward and therefore is not prophecy – prophecy is unconditional and absolute.
General Question 16:
The new man is created when one is baptized with the Holy Spirit. Being baptized with the Holy Spirit was typified by the ancient rite of physical circumcision. Such was the power of physical circumcision (now baptism with the Holy Spirit) that, in God’s eyes, the individual was transformed into a person of completely different heritage. Circumcision made strangers (aliens) as native born Israelites.
“…And when a stranger dwells with you and wants to keep the Passover to the LORD, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it; and he shall be as a native of the land…” [NKJV].
This type of transformation is what God sees when we are baptized with His Holy Spirit. God sees before Him a totally different person, a new creation, a spiritual Israelite who has the New Covenant as his heritage – he is the new man.
To answer the second part of the question – does the new man sin? – we need to remember that just as circumcision can happen only once, so too it is with the remission of sin. Circumcision typified baptism with the Holy Spirit, removal of the old man and the creation of the new. This symbolism is also seen in the Feast of Unleavened Bread, where the removal of all leaven on the first day of the festival happens only once during the festival and pictures complete removal of sin. The eating unleavened bread during the seven day festival pictures the new creation (us) living God’s sinless way of life for the rest of our days.
We (the new man) are sinless because we have been justified by the sacrifice of Christ and although we can claim his sacrifice only once, that sacrifice is good for our entire future. Having accepted Christ’s sacrifice and been baptized with the Holy Spirit, God sees us as already justified.
“…Much more then,being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him…” [KJV].
“…Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he alsojustified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified…” [KJV].
Yes, we will make mistakes just as Paul shows in Romans Chap 7, but God sees only the new man who does not sin – the sins belong to the “old man” which He sees as being dead at baptism.
“…4 Therefore we wereburied with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, 6 knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin…” [NKJV].
Does this mean it is okay to commit sin, because sin is attributed to the “old man”? Absolutely not! It is our struggle against sin that defines our conversion as Christians and if any should sin wilfully, then there is no forgiveness or covering of that sin by the sacrifice of Christ.
“…For if we sin wilfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins,…” [NKJV].
In summary, the new man is that part of us (the spirit in man – Job 32:8), together with the Holy Spirit, that wills to do good – this new man is sinless and is the being that God sees and shall glorify. Us being seen as sinless by God is dependant upon us continuing to will to do good. The struggles we have with the old man, the dead man, serve to show God what is in our hearts and serve to keep us humble before Him and Christ. So, the new man is indeed without sin and does not sin, but there are conditions as cited above.
I'm wondering if there is something I need to learn by being alone on the Holy Days, or something I need to learn before I can have brethren to fellowship with?
1Pet 4:12"...Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you..." [NIV].
There can be several reasons for this situation, but as your main areas of concern seem to be whether or not you have done something wrong or perhaps there is something you need to learn, those are the areas which we will address.
It is unfortunate that when unpleasant things happen to God’s people they automatically think that they are in some way responsible – have done something wrong – whereas, in point of fact God just wants to see what we will do. This is not to say that sometimes we do not create a rod for our own back, but Scripture indicates that most of the time situations are created by God to see what we will do, NOT to correct us for something we have already done. God did this on a national scale to ancient Israel when He caused them to wander in the wilderness for 40 years,
Deut 8:2,“…to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands …” [NIV].
So, contrary to popular belief, God does not know everything, but He will do what He can to find out what we are truly thinking.
The classic example is that of Job.
When something goes wrong, for some reason people feel guilty and believe that they are somehow responsible, just as Job’s three friends all accused him of doing something wrong and God was punishing him for that wrongdoing. However, this wrong assessment of Job and “accusation” against God led God to be angry with these men;
“…After the LORD had said these things to Job, he said to Eliphaz the Temanite, ‘I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has.’…” [NIV].
Even until recently, we were incorrectly taught that Job was self-righteous and he was being punished until he recognized that particular sin in himself. However, at the outset God calls him "perfect and upright" (Job 1:1), an assessment by God any of us would love to receive. A large part of Job’s testing was actually for the benefit of the angels – they were all watching this most unusual situation where God was apparently allowing a righteous man to be all but totally destroyed. Yes, he did have something to learn, but that learning took place only when God started to explain Himself, not directly as a result of his trials – which appear to have been for the benefit of the angels, no-one else. We are not told that Job’s friends actually learnt anything from this state of affairs, for clearly they were not informed of God’s reasons behind these actions as the angels were informed. Throughout this whole tragic affair Job was righteous, but God still wanted to know how he would react in the face of losing everything – his wealth, his health, his dignity and even his children. Even though Job was not impressed with the way he had been treated by God, he still remained loyal to God throughout the trials.
Abraham was also tested, not because he had done something wrong, but because God wanted to know what was in his heart. Abraham was asked by God to sacrifice (Kill) his only son, Isaac. Believing in the resurrection, Abraham showed God that he was prepared to go through with the request and remain loyal to God. Again, God does not know everything, but He will test us to find out those things He does not know.
“…He said, ‘Do not lay your hand on the lad or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.’…” [RSV].
Getting back to your specific situation, the people in the latter part of this Era of the church appear to be quite different from those in other Eras or even from those at the beginning of this Era – preferring their own company, or their own family, or a very small number friends, rather than association in larger numbers. It seems that this preference to be alone stems partly from fear due to past experience with organizations and partly due to an extremely aggressive attitude to hold onto what they understand to be the truth of God. However, even with this apparent preference, it is difficult to conclude that such condition is not the will of God, particularly in light of Eph 1:22 (speaking of Christ);
“…And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church,…” [NIV].
This Verse is stating plainly that whatever circumstance arises in the church is a result of Christ’s doing. Having created the situation, he can then have only one thing in mind – how will we respond? While God does manipulate the attitudes of others to bring about His purpose, He must give His people complete free will to see how we respond to different circumstances.
If one were to take a look at the history of the church, then it would be seen that very often the people of God have experienced much deprivation, suffering and even death. This view of Christians as a suffering people is contrary to what has been taught, but this is what God says will happen to us – men teach that we suffer only because we sin, but this is not what God says.
“…If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable…” [KJV].
In this life we are not promised physical blessings – such physical blessings being for the Old Covenant, which was a covenant for the physical nation of Israel. We are under the New Covenant, which is a spiritual Covenant with spiritual promises and spiritual blessings. This is not an easy life, but it is the life all Christians have been given down through the ages and it is the life where God can learn what is truly in the hearts of His people.
So, when difficult times come please remember it is more likely that God simply wants to learn something related to our true loyalty rather than it being a punishment for some wrongdoing. Also remember that some situations can last a long time, even a lifetime.
General Question 14:
You say that the Holy Spirit will not be available during the Millennium. From where do you get that information?
In Gal 3:19-25 we are told that the Law (Mosaic Law) was given as a schoolmaster until the coming of Christ. We find this time is more specifically referring to Pentecost 31AD when the Holy Spirit was poured out by God to reside within His people. The Holy Spirit provides understanding of God’s Law and goes well beyond the codified law of the Old Covenant.
“…‘But the Counsellor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.’…”[NIV].
The Mosaic Law was the entire system of law given by God to Moses for the purpose of administering the Old Covenant. This system encompassed the entire Levitical system of Priesthood and sacrifices, as well as the entire codified system of law, statutes and judgements. In Jer 33:18-21 we are told that the Mosaic Law (all the sacrificial elements requiring a Levitical Priesthood) will be restored at the return of Christ.
“…‘And there will always be Levitical priests to offer burnt offerings and grain offerings and sacrifices to me.’ Then this message came to Jeremiah from the LORD: ‘This is what the LORD says: If you can break my covenant with the day and the night so that one does not follow the other, only then will my covenant with my servant David be broken. Only then will he no longer have a descendant to reign on his throne. The same is true for my covenant with the Levitical priests who minister before me…” [NLT].
Also, Isa 66:20-23
"...'And they shall bring all your brethren from all the nations as an offering to the LORD, upon horses, and in chariots, and in litters, and upon mules, and upon dromedaries, to my holy mountain Jerusalem', says the LORD, 'just as the Israelites bring their cereal offering in a clean vessel to the house of the LORD. Andsome of them also I will take for priests and for Levites', says the LORD. 'For as the new heavens and the new earth which I will make shall remain before me', says the LORD; 'so shall your descendants and your name remain. From new moon to new moon, and from Sabbath to Sabbath, all flesh shall come to worship before me', says the LORD..." [RSV].
The time-frame for these verses is given by the context and is definitely the Millennium – the schoolmaster is restored for the Millennium. Now, if the schoolmaster of physical sacrifices is restored and the Levitical Priesthood is restored, then so too is the entire Law of Moses. God makes it clear that subjection to one part of the Law means subjection to the whole of that Law:
“…Now I, Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. I testify again to every man who receives circumcision thathe is bound to keep the whole law. You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit, by faith, we wait for the hope of righteousness…” [RSV].
(NB: Here Paul is not speaking out against circumcision per sé, but against a misguided compliance with certain physical requirements of the Old Covenant by those with the Holy Spirit.)
Gal 3:2“…Let me ask you this one question: Did you receive the Holy Spirit by obeying the law of Moses? Of course not! You received the Spirit because you believed the message you heard about Christ…” [NLT].
So, if the “schoolmaster” is returned, then the Holy Spirit must be absent. The schoolmaster existed only under the terms of the Old Covenant. Some would have the law (commandments of God) abolished completely under the New Covenant, but that is not so. Just as the sacrifices under the Old Covenant were replaced by the sacrifice of Christ, so too is there a new meaning to the law under the terms of the New Covenant – note that both sacrifice and law is still required, it is just that the real meaning of both are now in effect. The guides of the codified law are NOT diminished, rather they are expanded as shown by the following examples given by Christ himself.
“…‘You have heard that our ancestors were told, You must not murder. If you commit murder, you are subject to judgment.But I say, if you are even angry with someone, you are subject to judgment! If you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the court. And if you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell.’…” [NLT].
“…‘You have heard the commandment that says, You must not commit adultery.But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.’…” [NLT].
Under the New Covenant, Christ gave us much more detailed commands – more detailed because they apply principles and attitudes as well as applying the simple works of the codified law:
“…Jesus answered, ‘The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is this, You shall love your neighbour as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.’…” [NLT].
Gal 5:14“…For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: Love your neighbour as yourself…” [NLT].
Getting back to the Millennium: In Ezek 11:19 and 36:27 the Hebrew word“qereb” has been rendered “within” instead of “among” or “midst”, by some popular translations thereby giving the impression that the pouring out of the Holy Spirit will continue into and through the Millennial age. However, Young’s Literal Translation faithfully renders this word as “in your midst”.
During the Millennium the Holy Spirit is to be working WITH (among) not within people.
Isa 30:21“…And when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left, your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.’…” [NRSV].
Finally, just before the return of Christ, just before the Millennium, we are told to remember the Law of Moses– why, because it will shortly be in use once again, the schoolmaster shall return for the people in the Millennium, just as explained above!
"...'For behold, the day comes, burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and
all evildoers will be stubble; the day that comes shall burn them up, says the
LORD of hosts, so that it will leave them neither root nor branch. But for you
who fear my name the sun of righteousness shall rise, with healing in its wings.
You shall go forth leaping like calves from the stall. And you shall tread down
the wicked, for they will be ashes under the soles of your feet, on the day when
I act, says the LORD of hosts.
Remember the law of my servant Moses, the statutes and ordinances that I
commanded him at Horeb for all Israel.'..."
General Question 13: Use of Second Tithe
Is the tithe mentioned in Deuteronomy 14:22-26 for use only during the Feast of Tabernacles ?
Due to past emphasis on the Feast of Tabernacles many of God's people have assumed that this tithe was intended to be used only for the Feast of Tabernacles. However, there is no such specification mentioned anywhere in Scripture. What God says about His second tithe is both very clear and quite different from previous teaching:
"...'You shall truly tithe all the increase of your grain that the field produces year by year. And youshall eat before the Lord your God, in the place where He chooses to make His name abide, the tithe of your grain and your new wine and your oil, of the firstborn of your herds and your flocks, that you may learn to fear the Lord your God always.
But if the journey is too long for you, so that you are not able to carry the tithe, or if the place where the Lord your God chooses to put His name is too far from you, when the Lord your God has blessed you, then you shall exchange it for money, take the money in your hand, and go to the place which the Lord your God chooses.
And you shall spend that money for whatever your heart desires: for oxen or sheep, for wine or similar drink, for whatever your heart desires; you shall eat there before the Lord your God, and you shall rejoice, you and your household.'...” [NKJV].
The above passages simply refer to WHERE the tithe was to be used – not the festival for which the tithe was intended to be used.
In Deut 16:16 it can be seen that the place that God chose (where God put his presence) was a place set aside for celebrating ALL of the festival seasons, not just the Feast of Tabernacles
“ Three times in a year shall all thy males appear before the Lord thy God in the place which he shall choose; in the feast of unleavened bread, and in the feast of weeks, and in the feast of tabernacles: and they shall not appear before the Lord empty: ...” [KJV].
The tithe mentioned in Deut 14:22-26 (the second tithe) is intended to be used in celebrating ALL of God’s festivals listed in Deuteronomy 16:16 – not just the Feast of Tabernacles.
A second question immediately arising from this topic is, "How do we know what is the place God has chosen?"
Under the Old Covenant, a physical covenant, God confinedHis presence to a particular place like the tabernacle in the wilderness or the temple in Jerusalem – the place God chose was a specific physical location. However, under the New Covenant God has set a different criterion and He does not limit or confine His presence to a particular physical location – His people are His temple (the temple in which the Holy Spirit dwells), wherever they meet together He is there.
“...For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them...” [KJV].
Under the New Covenant God does not have to place His name anywhere, because through the Holy Spirit we already have His name – God has merely stated that He IS there. Therefore, when observing the Festivals of God it is not a matter of God’s people going to a set location "where God is present", He is already present within His people wherever they assemble together to keep the festivals of God.
Pentecost Question 1:
While the primary purpose of Pentecost is to be the Holy Day marking ascension for the Saints, it is also the day picturing some other events resulting from Christ’s return. The return of Christ will be a little sooner than the ascension of Saints, because Christ must be returning before the first resurrection takes place (1Thes 4:16-17). Now, beginning with or shortly after the return of Christ there shall also be a restitution of all things, that is a restoration of the condition of things to what they once were under the literal administration of God. In Acts 3:21, in speaking of Christ we are told,
“…He must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets…” [NIV].
This restitution of all things is pictured by the Jubilee, where every 50 years in ancient Israel all debts were written off and all people were returned to their family property – their inheritance.
Lev 25:10 “…‘And you shall consecrate the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a Jubilee for you; and each of you shall return to his possession, and each of you shall return to his family.’…” [NKJV].
At the return of Christ this restitution of all things shall extend to all peoples of Earth and they will be returned to their own lands, just as all Israelites (not just the Jews) shall be returned to the land of Israel. Some commentaries apply this restoration only to the nation of Israel, but we must remember that at this time Christ will be ruler of the entire planet, not just one physical nation. At that time God will require the entire world to come under His single administrative system –
Zec 14:18-19 "...And if the family of Egypt go not up, and come not, that have no rain; there shall be the plague, wherewith the LORD will smite the heathen that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles. This shall be the punishment of Egypt, and the punishment of all nations that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles..." [KJV].
So, with the Old Testament physical example of Jubilee now being expressed in symbolic terms by Pentecost we have the promise of both physical and spiritual restoration. This subject will be covered in greater detail at a later date in the Study Notes section, but in simply addressing the question, as well as having the clear restitutional connection between Jubilee and Pentecost, we have the 50 days to Pentecost applying the Biblical prophetic counting principle of 1 day for 1 year – Jubilee every 50 years and Pentecost always 50 days after the ascension of Christ. The resurrection/ascension of the Saints at Pentecost marks the beginning of the restoration of all things.
Passover Question 3:
Why did God tell the Israelites to be ready to travel when they ate of the Passover lamb in Egypt (Ex 12:11).
A comparison of Old and New Testament verses shows that Exodus12:11 was intended to illustrate how Christians should not partake of the emblems of bread and wine unless they are prepared to travel out of Spiritual Egypt, that is be prepared to live God’s way of life.
“…In this manner you shall eat it: your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it in haste. It is the Lord’s Passover…” [RSV].
“…Stand therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the equipment of the gospel of peace;…” [RSV].
“…Therefore gird up your minds, be sober, set your hope fully upon the grace that is coming to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in all your conduct; since it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy.’…” [RSV].
“…So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all men, and especially to those who are of the household of faith…” [NIV].
This same subject was addressed by Paul in 1Cor 11:29-32. These people were eating both the old Passover meal publicly and partaking of the new Passover emblems, but their selfish and irreverent conduct clearly showed they were not prepared to leave spiritual Egypt. The command in Ex 12:11 to"eat it in haste" and be prepared to travel is symbolic of the command to be prepared to leave spiritual Egypt and start living God's way of life. Although those in Corinth partook of the emblems as Christ commanded, they were not caring for each other, and were showing by their conduct that they were not yet prepared to live God’s way of life, hence the reprimand
General Question 12:
A lot, an awful lot – too much to cover as an answer to a question in this section. However this much I can say, it has to do with,
All of these things either happened or were decided upon well prior to the angels being created. As time permits study notes on these matters will be placed in the "Study Notes" section of this site if articles do not already exist. However, there is nothing to prevent private study given the starting points just provided – all the pieces of the puzzle are there, they just need to be put together.
General Question 11:
Rev12:17 “…And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ…” [KJV].
The short answer is, no they are not the same.
Historically, the Church has taught that the remnant are those of the Laodicean Era who have to go through the great tribulation while those of the Philadelphian Era go to some physical place of safety. However, this teaching was error – God has an entirely different explanation and His is the only one that matters.
Descendants of Saints Continue Into the Millennium
The Church is always described as a “woman” or the “woman” and the Church has always been comprised of the Saints. However, here we have a reference not only to the “seed” of the woman (the Saints) but to the remnant of the seed (children) of the Saints. The remnant of the seed of the woman are the final generation of the children of the Saints at the time of the great tribulation. They are the remnant because they are the final descendants of the Saints that have lived throughout the generations.
In Isa65:23 we have a similar reference to the group mentioned in Rev 12:17:
“…They shall not labour in vain, nor bring forth for trouble; for they are the seed of the blessed of the LORD, and their offspring with them…”[KJV].
“…21 They shall build houses and inhabit them; They shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit. 22 They shall not build and another inhabit; They shall not plant and another eat; For as the days of a tree, so shall be the days of My people, AndMy elect <972> shall long enjoy the work of their hands. 23 They shall not labour in vain, nor bring forth children for trouble; For they shall be the descendants of the blessed of the Lord, And their offspring with them. 24 It shall come to pass that before they call, I will answer; And while they are still speaking, I will hear. 25 The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, the lion shall eat straw like the ox,…” [NKJV].
At this point it is important to know that God has both a spiritual elect (those with the Holy Spirit) and a physical elect (those without the Holy Spirit). Among the physical elect there was a further division – the individual physical elect and the national physical elect. Anciently, the national physical elect was the entire nation of Israel, while the individual physical elect were the children and descendents of the Saints throughout history (Isa65:23). Apparently, this distinction between the physical elect will continue on through the Millennium (Isa 61:9) as part of the restitution of all things.
That is, "chosen," "selected." In the Old Testament the word represents derivatives of bachar, elegit; in the New Testament eklektos. It means properly an object or objects of selection. This primary meaning sometimes passes into that of "eminent," "valuable," "choice"; often thus as a fact, in places where the King James Version uses "chosen" (or "elect") to translate the original (e.g. Isa 42:1; 1Pet 2:6). In the King James Version "elect" (or "chosen") is used of Israel as the race selected for special favour and to be the special vehicle of Divine purposes
Strong’s0972 ryxb bachiyr
chosen, choice one, chosen one, elect (of God)
ELECT – a term sometimes applied in the ancient Church
Properly used in reference to survivors into the Millennium, as the Mosaic law will be restored and the children of the church members (the blessed of the Lord) will be the “chosen ones” in the Millennium.
Only God’s physical elect shall continue into the Millennial Age, and these shall be descendants of the Saints. This means those people may be descended from any and all Saintly lines throughout history – they are not limited to being descended from Saints who lived in the last 100 years or so. This corresponds with God’s promise that His people would be sifted through the nations, but not one grain would fall to Earth (Amos9:9). There is duality in this prophecy and by the time of Christ’s return these people will be a very great multitude – possibly 10% of Earth’s population, since 10% is always God’s percentage of everything.
Being the “physical elect” in the Millennium is also symbolic that in the Kingdom there will be only God’s spiritual elect. However, even with the end-time descendents of the Saints (the physical elect) God does have conditions they must meet before being permitted to enter the Millennium:
“…9 "For surely I will command, And will sift the house of Israel among all nations, As grain is sifted in a sieve; Yet not the smallest grain shall fall to the ground. 10All the sinners of My people shall die by the sword, Who say, 'The calamity shall not overtake nor confront us.'…” [KJV].
Verse 10 makes it clear that not all of the last day descendents of the spiritual elect will survive into the Millennium – only those descendents who “revere my name” (Mal4:2) will enter into that physical rest, the Millennium.
“…1 ‘Surely the day is coming; it will burn like a furnace. All the arrogant and every evildoer will be stubble, and that day that is coming will set them on fire,’ says the LORD Almighty. ‘Not a root or a branch will be left to them. 2 But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings. And you will go out and leap like calves released from the stall. 3 Then you will trample down the wicked; they will be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day when I do these things,’ says the LORD Almighty. 4 ‘Remember the law of my servant Moses, the decrees and laws I gave him at Horeb for all Israel…” [NIV].
Now, what is the meaning of verse4? The setting is the end of the great tribulation, the end of the Day of the Lord, just before the start of the millennial reign of Christ on Earth. So, when the people are told to remember the law of Moses it is not just a pleasantry of conversation – it means learn and remember that system of administration as preparation for what is to come under the Government of God. It means that this is the administrative system they will be under as opposed to the administrative systems of man. The law of Moses will be restored at the beginning of the Millennium! The temple of God will be at Jerusalem where there will be daily sacrifices, declarations of seasons and new moons for the Feasts of God. The combined nation of Israel (northern kingdom of Israel and southern kingdom of Judea) will be the physical elect to which the surrounding nations look for guidance as to how the new administrative system is to operate and hence the distinction between the national physical elect and the rest will be also restored (Isa 61:9).
With regard to descendents and ancestors, it is important not to be too restrictive, for God had His Saints during the times of the prophets as well as after the Messiah. For those of Physical Israel we need only refer to the 7,000 of Elijah’s time (Rom 11:4). Even among the Syrians there must be tens if not hundreds of thousands of descendents of Naaman, the righteous Syrian General who was healed of leprosy through Elisha.
“…14 Then went he down, and dipped himself seven times in Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God: and his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean. 15 And he returned to the man of God, he and all his company, and came, and stood before him: and he said, Behold, now I know that there is no God in all the earth, but in Israel: now therefore, I pray thee, take a blessing of thy servant… 17 And Naaman said, Shall there not then, I pray thee, be given to thy servant two mules’ burden of earth? for thy servant will henceforth offer neither burnt offering nor sacrifice unto other gods, but unto the LORD….” [KJV].
The implication of the “two mules’ burden of earth” is that they would be hidden under the king’s idol so when Naaman worshipped he would always be facing the God of Israel, not some pagan idol.
As for the Assyrians (modern Germans), we have the whole nation repenting at the preaching of Jonah. So, among them there really is no numbering, only God knows.
In short, the remnant to which Rev12:17 refers are the physical, penitent descendents of the ascended Saints and are therefore not the 144,000, who are the spiritual Israelites from within physical Israel (the designated 12 tribes) at the end time. Aside from the saints in physical Israel, there will be a "great multitude" of saints from other nations of the world (Rev 7:9 & 7:14).
General Question 10:
The verse on which people rely to show that there is a “place of safety” for God’s people is Rev 12:14,
“…And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent…”[KJV].
Much time could be spent on this question, but the main points are as follows:
1. In Ex 19:4 when God said that He took Israel out of Egypt on eagles’ wings the people actually walked (even for physical Israel the phrase was not intended to be literal);
2. There is nothing that really says this “wilderness” is a “place of safety”;
3. The wording in verse 14 indicates the entire church (the woman) is taken into the wilderness, but the wording in verse 17 indicates the church is persecuted by Satan, talking about making “war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ”. Only the church members keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ;
4. The flight from Egypt was that of physical Israel for physical well-being, while those referred to in Rev 14 are spiritual Israel and therefore it would seem that the nourishment would be for spiritual well-being;
5. Apart from the wording of “time, times and half a time” there is not much to link verse 14 with the tribulation. Conventional understanding has been that verses 14 and 17 are concurrent, but there appears to be an equally strong case for these verses being separated by many years, even decades;
6. With God’s people being scattered over all the world in this era of church history, while not impossible it is improbable that verse 14 will apply physically to any of God’s people of this time; and
7. For any era of the church, the real place of safety has and always will be Christ.
Are we to keep Purim? NO – this is a Jewish memorial day of no more importance than a secular holiday. All of God’s commanded assemblies and Holy Days were given to the entire nation of Israel at Sinai. The Jews merely started to observe this additional day after they came back from the Babylonian captivity.
General Question 9:
The article entitled God's Plan of Creation willprovide you with some detail and a general overview of your question. More specifically, the age of the physical universe is not certain. Astrophysicists have done a very good job in calculating the possible age based on a “uniformitarianist” approach, even though they do concede to the “Big Bang” theory, which states that the universe came from nothing presently known to science.
However, the reality of the historical record is one of cataclysm not uniformitarianism and continental drift is a case in point. At the rate the continental plates are drifting today it would indeed take millions of years to have reached their current positions relative to the original position of Pangaea. When it is stated that the continents were split, the authorized KJV language is very passive and does not convey the true events of the day.
“…And unto Eber were born two sons: the name of one was Peleg<06389>; for in his days was the earth <0776> divided <06385>;…” [KJV].
There are three crucial words in this verse that reveal what actually happened at that time:
From these words we see that the event affected the entire world, not just some isolated place in the Middle-East. The word translated divide is better rendered “split” and this is verified by Peleg’s name (who was named after the event transpiring at the time) which actually means earthquake. This is an extremely tumultuous time in the history of Earth’s continents when there would have been planet wide earthquakes, associated volcanic activity and the separate parts of Pangaea literally fleeing from some parts and colliding with others parts forming massive mountain ranges and new oceans. (These are the events that allowed Nimrod to assume control of a fearful people and become the first king on Earth.) All this happened only 100 years after the great flood.
The HBME (The Holy Bible in Modern English, from the tyndalearchive.com) appears to be one of the few translations to get close to the original meaning. However, it still seems that Strong's Complete Word Study provides the most complete picture.
So, while there may only be what is known as “drift” today, it actually began as something extraordinarily different – a rapid shattering of a single super-continent into what we have today. The “drift” merely keeps the natural boundaries in place, as decreed by God.
Similarly, we do not know if God indeed started the physical universe as a “Big Bang” 13.7 billion years ago and that it grew gradually as the astrophysicists believe, OR if the speed of light was not constant at that time, or there was something faster than the speed of light. Indeed, the last proposition would seem most plausible even from a scientific point of view, as there is currently more energy in the universe than what has been calculated should be present from the original “Big Bang” – the galaxies are actually increasing in speed as they expand away from each other. Cosmologists have determined that the outer universe is still expanding faster than the speed of light.
In conclusion, we can know that planet Earth, along with the physical universe, is old but probably not nearly as old as conventional science has currently found.
General Question 8:
I have decided to keep the seventh day Sabbath and although my husband agrees that the seventh day Sabbath is correct, he says I am causing division in the household by refusing to go to his church meetings on Sundays and Thursdays. Am I causing division?
The first four of the ten commandments are very specific - we obey God and only God and we keep His seventh day weekly Sabbath. Regarding division, the principle is simple - division is caused by the one who separates themselves from the way of God. This principle is true for all situations so, the question that needs to be asked is, "who is the one separating themselves from the way of God and who is trying to keep His ways?" The answer to this question will give you the answer to who is causing the division. God states that the husband is the head of the wife just as Christ is the head of the church (Eph 5:22-23). However, the point missed by most husbands is that Christ was obedient to God and we are to follow his example. Christ never caused anyone to sin, especially by forcing them to fellowship with non-believers on their day of worship or anything akin to that situation.
“…22 Wives, submit to your own husbands,as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Saviour of the body…” [NKJV].
The phrase "as to the Lord" does not mean blind obedience – it means obedience as to Christ, who would never condone going against God's way of life. No-one can claim immunity from sin just because they were obeying an unlawful command – we are all told that we are individually responsible for our own salvation. No-one can save anyone else and no-one can blame anyone else for not following God.
Php 2:12 “…Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling;…” [NKJV].
General Question 7:
Do you believe that a woman should not speak to a man when they are in church [about doctrinal matters] and that they should cover their heads ?
God says that women are to be in silence in the Church. The main point of the relevant Scriptures is that a woman should not take any part in preaching, which includes asking questions of the person doing the preaching – this latter part is for the ones judging what the speaker is saying, because these "questions" are actually challenges to the current veracity of what is being preached. This judging of the speaker involves being willing and able to rise and speak to the congregation should they wish to question or correct the speaker on some point (1Cor 14:29-30) – this is the type of speaking and questioning that God prohibits for women, not general conversation.
1Cor 14:29-30 29 Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge. 30 If any thing be revealed to another that sitteth by, let the first hold his peace.
1Cor 14:34 Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law.
1Ti 2:11 Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection.
1Ti 2:12 But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.
Questions put by women on this site are regarded as questions asked in private, which is not only permitted it is encouraged. This site is not a public "chat room", which would loosely be akin to the Sabbath meetings the subject of the above Scriptures.
Regarding head coverings, God says that a woman’s head is already covered – with her hair – therefore there is no need of further covering her head.
1Cor 11:15 “But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering.”
General Question 6:
Can you demonstrate how a sundial can be used to follow God's calendar?
Yes. There is now an additional section to the calendar page providing a detailed explanation (with diagrams), but essentially the procedure is as follows:
1. Select a level site clear of bush or buildings;
2. On any sunny day simply place a rod in the ground using a plumb-line (small weight on a string) to ensure it is vertical.
3. Wait until sunset (the moment the sun's disk is about to pass below the horizon), then mark the position of the rod's shadow;
4. The next day at sunrise (the moment the sun's disk appears above the horizon), then mark the position of the rod's shadow;
5. Draw an east-west line by measuring equal angles for the sunrise/sunset shadow lines.
The east-west line is also the equinox line at the time of year when the rod shadow lines fall on the east-west line. The first night the new crescent moon appears after the equinox commences the first day of the first month of the new year – 1 Abib. The day of 1 Tishri is determined simply by counting seven new moons (visible crescent) from and including 1 Abib. Using just the visible sightings of the sun and moon God's calendar can be constructed with amazing simplicity and accuracy.
One of the links at the foot of the calendar page even provides instructions on how to make necklace/keyring size sundials.
General Question 5: Perfect in the Kingdom of God?
Will we not be perfect spirit beings in the Kingdom of God? After all, how can we judge angels if we are not perfect?
Whenever this word (perfect) is mentioned in connection with the New Covenant, it refers to a growing state of becoming more like God the Father or Christ. We were placed in human vessels for the following major reasons:
1. To test us to see what is in our hearts;
2. In order that God could train us up in the way that we should go;
3. Become subject to affliction and death and either accept Christ’s sacrifice or die; and
4. Experience the family system as did Jesus.
There is no argument from any of the Christians churches that human beings will never be perfect while still physical, but it is a common misconception that Godly spirit beings have been or will be perfect. This misconception is just as far from the truth as the teaching that spirit beings, once they choose an ungodly path, cannot change and return to the true path of God. God states with great clarity that Christ’s sacrifice was for both physical AND spirit beings:Col 1:20 “… and through him God was pleased to reconcile to Himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross...” [NRSV].
This means that angels can repent and if angels can repent, then so too can all spirit beings. Christ's sacrifice was “once for all”(Heb 10:10), meaning past, present and future – there is no limit for the application of Christ's sacrifice.Heb 10:10
“…By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all…” [KJV].
Some quote Rom 6:22 to prove perfection of ascended humans:
“…But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life…” [KJV].
Those who quote this verse to prove perfection of ascended humans forget that being free from sin does not mean “not sinning”, it means being free from the penalty of sin, which is death – in other words, we are free from sin because sin has no power over the sinner due to the claiming and application of Christ's sacrifice. The verse also states that we are “now” free from sin, but I see no child of God who does not sin on a daily basis. What can be seen are people of God who, daily, accept the blood of Christ to cover their sins.
Finally, we are told in Isa 9:7 that God’s government and peace will be forever growing, which is the very definition of conversion – a process of growing in God’s way that takes place over a period of time (forever).
Isa9:7 “…Of the increase of His government and peace There will be no end, Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, To order it and establish it with judgment and justice From that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this…” [KJV].
Most commentaries will limit the meaning of “increase” to quantity or time, but the language of the original text places no such limits on the word. Had the commentaries not made the assumption that ascension equated to spiritual perfection, then it would have been clear that this verse is also referring to a process of improved “quality” over a period of time (indefinite). Thus continued reliance on the blood of Jesus to cover, also now becomes a literal and continual laying down of life by the husband for the wife and family. The New Covenant is now shown to be a very literal, eternal covenant requiring an eternal relationship.
Concerning “judging angels” (1Cor 6:3), we will be judging them with God’s judgement not ours. While this verse alone implies that being free from the human vessel also means not being subject to the carnal spirit as we are today, it does not imply that we will be perfect. However, we will be able to apply Godly judgement much more than we can as humans.1Cor 6:3
“…Do you not know that we shall judge angels? How much more, things that pertain to this life?...” [NKJV].
General Question 4:Matthew 5:17-20 has been interpreted by professing Christians different ways. Some have used this verse to prove that ALL of the old covenant regulations are binding on Christians, while others just say that it proves only the 10 commandments are binding on Christians. Can you explain what is God's intended meaning?
“…17 ‘Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfil. 18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. 19 Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.’…” [NRSV].
There are several points here and for the sake of clarity they shall be addressed separately.
1. Christ came to “complete” the law – he was the sacrificial lamb that replaced all the sacrificial elements of the Mosaic law. He also came to die and become the High Priest of God under the New Covenant, thereby replacing the Levitical Priesthood. However, this aspect of passing of the law (the old schoolmaster) only applies to predestined Christians with the Holy Spirit – the old law will still remain in place for another thousand years and be operational during the Millennium. The old aspects of thelaw were never done away for those without the Holy Spirit, otherwise Christ would be contradicting what will be required during the Millennium. Also remember that during the Millennium these people, who will be required to comply with the Levitical system will not be married to Christ, as was the case in the Old Covenant, but they will be required to comply nevertheless. The old sacrificial/Levitical system serves as a “schoolmaster” for those without the Holy Spirit.
The reference to"heaven and earth passing away" refers to a real event after the completion of God's plan of salvation and is mentioned in Rev 21:1 & 5:
Rev21:1 "...And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away;..." [KJV].
Rev 21:5 "...And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new..." [KJV].
2. To whom was Christ talking? He was talking to the disciples, none of whom had the Holy Spirit – as we know the Holy Spirit was not poured out upon the predestined until Pentecost 31AD (after the death of Christ). As part of completing the law, Christ explained to the disciples the deeper, spiritual intent of the law so that they would remember it later, upon receipt of the Holy Spirit.
John 14:26 “…But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you…”
3. What is binding on Christians is Christ’s example:
John 13:15 “…For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you...” [KJV].
Here, Christ was giving an example of service to fellow Christians.
1Pet 2:21 "...For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:..." [KJV].Are we to suffer and die on a cross because that is what Jesus did? No – Jesus did this as an act of service and as an example that we must also obey the Father. Jesus had a different mission to us, as did the prophets and the apostles, but they all obeyed the Father in carrying out their appointed missions.
The Sabbath and Holy Days picture the Kingdom of God and various stages towards that Kingdom, which we are required to observe as picturing our ultimate goal and as remembrances of the stages in the journey towards that goal. So, even though they were elements of the Old Covenant they are still to be observed as requirements apart from the Old Covenant in obedience to the Father and because the plan of God has not changed. This plan, which is fulfilment is spiritual, will not be completed until the event pictured by the Last Great Day has come to pass – the event being pictured is ascension of the remainder of humanity into the spirit family of God (the Kingdom of God).
General Question 3:
Could you please explain to me why gentiles have to observe Israeli holy days when Acts 21:25 states that there are only four things a gentile has to observe?
This is a very valid question and is the source of confusion for most of Christendom today. The problem started when the Roman church persuaded Emperor Constantine to rule against the seventh day Sabbath and decreed that no one was to “Judaize and be idle on the Sabbath, but must work on that day”. Neither the law, nor the Holy Days, nor the Sabbath are of Israel or the Jews – they are God’s and are for all mankind.
Lev23:2 “…Speak to the people of Israel and say to them: These are the appointed festivals of the LORD that you shall proclaim as holy convocations, my appointed festivals…” [NRSV].
God does not have one law for one and another law for someone else; He has one law for all and this will never change.
Mal3:6 “…‘For I am the LORD, I change not;’…” [KJV].
Indeed, after Christ returns the whole world will have to obey God’s law, or accept the consequences.
“…16 ¶ And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles. 17 And it shall be, that whoso will not come up of all the families of the earth unto Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, even upon them shall be no rain. 18 And if the family of Egypt go not up, and come not, that have no rain; there shall be the plague, wherewith the LORD will smite the heathen that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles. 19 This shall be the punishment of Egypt, and the punishment of all nations that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles…”[KJV].
The Feast of Tabernacles is only one of God’s appointed festivals, accordingly the stated requirement to keep one is symbolic of the requirement to keep all. So, is this a fifth command that the gentiles must keep? No, it is symbolic that the entire law of God will be restored and kept by humanity – it is a statement concerning the restoration of all things, including the law, at the return of Christ.
Act3:21 (speaking of Christ)
“…‘whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began.’…”[KJV].
The reason the gentiles were required to obey only a few laws at that time was because they were being slowly introduced to the law of God. Christ did the same with the 12 disciples – he taught them of spiritual matters only what they could bear up to that time. Just like babies, feeding them milk first, then gradually going on to more solid food until finally they could eat meat.
John16:12 “…‘I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.’…” [KJV].
This is part of the process known as conversion – it is something that happens over time as we grow in the knowledge and truth of God.
General Question 2: Tithing – Who should we tithe to?
Prior to answering this question, there are some important background issues that need to be addressed:
1. Is tithing still required by God under the New Covenant?
2. If tithing is required, then on what do we tithe?
3. Type of income.
Is tithing still required by God under the New Covenant?
Too often the argument is presented that, as tithing was part of the Old Covenant it is now no longer required because the Old Covenant has been done away. However, tithing actually preceded the Old Covenant by at least hundreds of years and was practiced by Abraham:
“…and Abraham gave him [Melchisedek] a tenth of everything. First, his name means ‘king of righteousness’; then also, ‘king of Salem’ means ‘king of peace’…” [NIV].
Jesus, the bringer of the New Covenant, made it clear that tithing was still a Godly requirement by firstly, condoning the practice and secondly, mentioning tithing as a minor matter of the law of God compared to the weightier matters of the law.
“…‘What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens, but you ignore the more important aspects of the law––justice, mercy, and faith. You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things.’…” [NLT].
Tithing in connection with the Old Covenant applied only to agricultural produce, but the original form of tithing, as practiced by Abraham and accepted by Melchizedek the priest of the most high God (Jesus prior to being born human) applied to the whole of one’s increase. Abraham was under the covenant of promise (the Kingdom of God), what we call the New Covenant. Also, Christ is of the Order of Melchizedek, a superior priesthood than the Order of Aaron (Heb 7:21-24).
Regarding the lighter and weightier matters of the law, Jesus spoke in these terms to the Pharisees because they had divided the law in this way and there is a mass corruption among Christendom today that supports a differentiation between “mortal” and “venial” sins. However, God’s thinking on the matter is very different:
“…For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it…” [NIV].
1John 3:4 “…for sin is the transgression of the law…” [KJV].Rom 6:23 “…For the wages of sin is death;…” [KJV].
God makes no distinction at any level; sin is sin and the penalty is the same for all sin – death.
If tithing is required, then on what do we tithe?
Tithes are not paid on our gross or net or any other artificial amount invented by humans – tithes are paid on our “increase”. Abraham is our first example in this regard and the more limited tithing in the Old Covenant also details that tithing is on the “increase”. Our increase is a private matter between God and us, but a guide would be that amount which remains after all our taxes, living expenses, working expenses, accident expenses and medical expenses have been deducted. For this reason it is recommended to tithe only once or twice a year, for one does not know what God will give or take on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.
For those who are surviving solely on social welfare or pension benefits there is no increase, therefore there is no tithe. Effectively, this is the third tithe the government has collected and administrates through the taxation system. For those retirees who are more well-off and survive off superannuation, tithes may be payable depending on the government superannuation co-contributions (if any) and investment interest, but ultimately any tithing is still calculated on the increase – living expenses, accident expenses and medical expenses reduce the amount on which tithes are calculated.
Inheritance is not increase and therefore there is no tithe.
God commands offerings from everyone. There are three times (seasons) in the year when offerings are obligatory but this does not prevent free will offerings at any other time during the year.
“…16 Three times a year all your men must appear before the LORD your God at the place he will choose: at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Weeks and the Feast of Tabernacles. No man should appear before the LORD empty-handed: 17 Each of you must bring a gift in proportion to the way the LORD your God has blessed you…” [NIV].
Here God actually spells out, very succinctly, how to calculate the offering, but still it is between God and the individual to decide.
With the above information as background, it is now possible to answer the question without imposing an undue yoke on God’s people.
If you wish to contribute to the work of God, then you should support whomsoever you consider is actually doing the work of God. Many claim to be doing the work of God, but this should be tested against God’s Word – i.e., the truth of God needs to be preached not the dogma of an organization.
1 John 4:1
“…Dear friends, do not believe everyone who claims to speak by the Spirit. You must test them to see if the spirit they have comes from God. For there are many false prophets in the world...” [NLT].
In the final analysis no-one can tell you to support either this one or that one – tithing is required by God, but to whom one tithes is a personal conscience decision as a result of prayer, individual Bible study and research.
General Question 1:
“How do we know what are the dates for the Holy Days?”
This is an interesting question and resulted in fresh research into the subject. Prior to this time, calculations for dates of the annual Holy Days by the major Church of God organizations were accepted as true. However, research has revealed that this trust was misplaced and the times have been amended accordingly.
We must always start with the first month of the year, the month of ABIB. For thousands of years this has been the month in the Middle East when the ears of grain were still green (Abib = green ears). At this time of year it is the wheat that has green ears (the barley is already ripe) and while this may be interesting agriculturally, it is an aside from the actual calculations, which are determined by the sun and moon alone (Gen 1:14). In constructing the calendar now used for observance of God’s annual Holy Days seven basic principles were used and are as follows:
One: God says that the great lights were given to determine seasons, days and years. These are heavenly objects which are observable without the need for any complicated instrumentation or technology.
Gen 1:14 “…Then God said, ‘Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs <226>, and seasons <4150>, and for days and years;’…” [NKJV].
eth (Strong’s 6256) – means season, as in spring, summer, autumn, winter.
mow‘ed (Strong’s 4150) – means appointed time or feast
owth (Strong’s 226) – means sign, in the sense of something’s appearance. This word is considered a reasonable substitute for “eth”, which has the specific meaning of season or time of year. However, the Greek equivalent of “owth” can also be applied to weather conditions (Matt 16:3) and therefore is seen as a more appropriate general term that encompasses both signs for times of the year and weather conditions.
Matt 16:3 “…And in the morning, It will be foul weather to day: for the sky is red and lowring. O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times?...” [KJV].
Given the context, this second part of verse 14 would be better read according to contemporary understanding of terms by applying the following translation:
“…and let them be for seasons and signs<226>, and for the appointed feasts <4150>, and for days, and years:…”
Two: The year is divided into four parts – spring, summer, autumn and winter – with the vernal and autumnal equinoxes marking the end of winter and the end of summer respectively. An astronomical equinox is when the geometric centre of the sun is directly above Earth’s equator and this happens twice every year. With an observed equinox the length of day and night are almost the same and therefore can be easily determined by using a simple sundial. The Biblical evidence shows that simple solar and lunar observation is to be the method to be used in calculating the Hebrew Calendar dates and therefore it is considered that the "observable equinox" (when day and night are approximately the same length, using the appearance and disappearance of the solar disk) is a more appropriate measurement than the "astronomical equinox". This means the "observable" vernal equinox (northern hemisphere) will fall on 15/16 March, not 20/21 March.
Three:Each month is to begin with the sighting of the first crescent of the new moon (chodesh – with the root meaning of new thing) by the unaided eye (assuming normal vision). Modern astronomy has taken on the practise of calling the lunar conjunction the new moon, when it is darkest, but a dark moon cannot be seen (it is not observable) and therefore has not yet become something new. The new moon rises on the third night after it has died (become completely dark), so there is no real surprise when the annual Sabbath of 1 Tishri is to commence.
Four: Each new year begins on the first sighting of the new moon (small crescent) after the vernal equinox (northern hemisphere). There are some who begin the new year with the new moon closest to the vernal equinox even though it may be before the equinox. However, it is not considered reasonable to have the first month of the year begin before winter of the previous year has ended. Accordingly, even if the new moon is only one day before the equinox, that entire month belongs to the previous year.
Five: Each Biblical day begins at evening, not at midnight (Gregorian Calendar) and accordingly when a Roman day is cited, the intent is that the Biblical day commences the evening before. For example, the Roman day of 10 January will commence (Biblically) at sunset (evening) on 9 January.
Six: Sunrise and sunset are when the top of the solar disk first appears above horizon to start the day and when the top of the solar disk disappears below the horizon to start the night. As official equinox times are calculated using the geometric centre of the solar disk as it passes over the equator, rather than using equal length of day and night, there is about 5 days difference between an official (astronomical) equinox and an observed equinox (approximate equal observed length of day and night).
Seven: Currently, some elements associated with festival observance in Jerusalem are done through convenience rather than correct observance of the Word of God and therefore festival observances are not always on the correct days. However, as all festivals shall be coordinated with Jerusalem during the Millennium consistency with correctly calculated Jerusalem time is essential for annual festival days (not weekly Sabbath times). If this were not done, then the nations would not consistently be able to go up to Jerusalem to observe the Feast of Tabernacles in the Millennium, as commanded by God.
Zec14:19 "...This shall be the punishment of Egypt, and the punishment of all nations that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles..." [KJV]
Since God is consistent in all things it is reasonable to conclude that God expects His people to do their best to observe properly seasons and appointed times in this present day.
Mal3:6 "...For I am the LORD, I change not;..." [KJV]
Sunrise and sunset times were obtained from the World Clock at http://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/
Passover Question 2:
Just one point I'd like a little clarification on. You state that as Christ was sinless he was therefore an immortal human being and couldn't die. But what about the DNA that he would have inherited from his mother surely this would have contained the penalty of sin and death as passed onto us all from Adam and Eve. He had to receive DNA from his mother otherwise he could not have been a descendant of the house of David.
The short answer to your question is twofold and is as follows:
Following is an excerpt from the article on Passover Observance, which provides much more detail:
A brief outline of the history of Jesus is recorded in the Books of John and Philippians:
”…In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made…”[KJV].
“…And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth…”[KJV].
”…For, let this mind be in you that [is] also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, thought [it] not robbery to be equal to God, but did EMPTY himself, the form of a servant having taken, in the likeness of men having been made,…” [YLT].
We can summarize further as follows:
Some of the other facts about Christ:
One of the most challenging questions to ponder about Jesus relates to the emptying of himself and what it was that was emptied. Part of the answer is found in what Christ asked the Father to return to him after his resurrection. Christ wanted his “GLORY” returned – that is all:
“…And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was…” [John 17:5 – KJV].
The glory referred to here is the appearance of God and all that accompanies the office of one who is a member of the Godhead; glory has nothing to do with the POWER of a member of the Godhead. So, when Christ emptied himself he either only emptied himself of his glory or his total power. For the answer we need only consult the written Word of God: John 3:34 (referring to Christ):
“…For He whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God does not give the Spirit by measure…” [NKJV].
Here we have it; Christ emptied himself completely and was given back his full and infinite power by the Father. This Scripture shows that Christ already had his unlimited power returned, which is why he only sought for the return of his glory. No mention is made as to how long Jesus was without his power, but as he had his full power while he was a physical human being it is considered that his power was returned very quickly after he gave it up.
In this picture, the most significant point that may be missed is that Christ had the Holy Spirit WITHOUT measure. He did not have the full portion of the Holy Spirit or the complete measure of the Holy Spirit – Christ had the Holy Spirit "without measure"! What this means is that he had the infinite power of the Godhead within him while he was a human being! God’s Word leaves us in no doubt concerning this matter where, in Col 2:9, Christ’s deity and Godhead status is made plain – that Jesus was God in the flesh (both God and man):
“…For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily;…” [NKJV].
This being, Christ Jesus, had unlimited power, including the power of life and death and the power to command both Angels and demons. This power he exhibited on a number of occasions, including resurrecting himself. Christ mentioned several times that he would be resurrecting himself and one such account is given in John 10:18 (Christ speaking about his life):
“…No man takes it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father…”[KJV].
Later, the apostles state that God raised Christ (Acts 4:10), but Christ said that he raised himself. There is no contradiction, because Christ operated under the chain of command system of government. Although Christ was the one who had the power to raise himself and indeed did so, he received the authority for this action from the Father. Accordingly, as the one authorising the action it is correct to say the Father raised Christ, but it is also equally correct to say that Christ raised himself as he was the one who actually performed the job. Likewise in creation, although the Word said, “Let US create man in our image,” It was the Word alone who performed the actual creating and we know this from John 1:3 which states,
“…All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made…” [KJV].
Regarding the miracles performed by Jesus, we are told that God, the Father, did these miracles through Christ, Acts 2:22:
“…Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know…” [NKJV].
However, there should be no mistake; just as it was Jesus who made all things, so too was Jesus doing these other miracles (including self-resurrection), but only such miracles as he was authorized to do by the Father.
Also, it was not possible for the grave to hold Jesus because even as a man, not only did he have the Holy Spirit without measure, he had life within himself as a self-existent being, just as God the Father has life in himself as a self-existent being and we are told this by Jesus himself,
“…‘For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself,’…” [NKJV].
Add to this that Christ was without sin and therefore was an immortal human being! It was this physical immortality which was given up that we may be pardoned for our sins and later be granted the GIFT of eternal life as spirit beings. Regarding Christ’s human immortality, we know that the“…wages of sin is death…” (Rom 6:23) and since Christ committed no sin it was impossible for him to be killed or die naturally, unless he himself gave his life, which is exactly what happened. Only as one with the power of God, having the power of life and death, could he do such a thing. Even a sinless normal human could not have made this sacrifice, because he would not have had the power of life and death as does Christ.
The concept of an immortal Christ is new to many, but it is Scriptural.
Passover Question 1:
would like to know who took of the Passover in the Old Testament? Was it men,
women, and children or was it just the men, the heads of each household.”
The whole of Ancient Israel symbolized the whole of spiritual Israel (adults baptized with the Holy Spirit). The type was complete for all ages – for example the physical babes in ancient Israel typified the spiritual “babes in Christ” (those adults newly baptized into the faith). So, the answer to your question is, yes the whole family partook of the physical Passover, just as today the whole church (adults baptized with the Holy Spirit), spiritual Israel, partakes of the Passover emblems introduced by Christ. The matter is made clear in Ex 12:4,
“…And if thehousehold <01004> be too little for the lamb, let him and his neighbour next unto his house <01004> take it according to the number of the souls; every man according to his eating shall make your count for the lamb…” [KJV].
Hebrew word used for “household” and “house” is the same and means “family”. The
eating was “according to the number of souls”
(in each house), not just the head of the family, or males, or adults, but the
total number of souls (individuals).
Feast of Unleavened Bread Question 2: "What CAN we eat during Unleavened Bread"
It is a common question to ask, “What else do we eat during the feast of the unleavened bread and how many times and when do we eat unleavened bread” – it is a very logical question.
The answer is that we eat normally during the Feast except we avoid foods containing leavening agents such as yeast, baking soda or chemical raising agents – all of which are usually declared in the list of ingredients on the packaging. What is leaven – it is any food that can cause a puffing up of and by itself. Leaven is not just anything that increases in volume. For example, beaten egg white must have the air beaten into it, it cannot cause either itself or anything else to rise. Popcorn is not a leavening agent – it simply increases in volume when heat is applied. Water does the reverse – it increases in volume when frozen into ice, but neither ice nor water are leavening agents. Beer is not leavened because it experiences no increase in volume. For leaven to be leaven it must cause the rising effect by itself
When it is said “eat normally”, this assumes normal Biblically clean foods (click link to see list) such as beef, sheep, goat, various foul and fish that would normally have scales and fins prior to eating. Unclean foods only refer to meat, not vegetables.
During the Feast it is a command to partake of some unleavened bread each day – the amount is not important. The amount is not important, because it is symbolic of living God’s way for our entire lives (the seven days) – accordingly, so long as we eat some unleavened bread each day of the seven day festival we have symbolically lived God’s way for our entire lives. The command to partake of unleavened bread for the full seven days is given several times by God and can be seen in Ex 12:15, Ex 13:6, Ex 13:7 and Ex 34:18:
“…‘Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread.On the first day you shall remove leaven from your houses. For whoever eats leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel.’…” [NKJV].
“…‘Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, and on the seventh day there shall be a feast to the LORD.’…” [NKJV].
“…‘Unleavened bread shall be eaten seven days. And no leavened bread shall be seen among you, nor shall leaven be seen among you in all your quarters.’…” [NKJV].
“…‘The Feast of Unleavened Bread you shall keep. Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, as I commanded you, in the appointed time of the month of Abib; for in the month of Abib you came out from Egypt.’…” [NKJV].
There is no command to partake of wine during the Feast – this command is restricted for the Passover and usually the amount of wine taken for this service is less than a mouthful. Accordingly, during this festival, as with any other time, people are free to either imbibe moderately or abstain – whichever is their preference on the day.
Feast of Unleavened Bread Question 1:
“Should the Feast of Unleavened Bread be kept for seven days as the Feast of Tabernacles?”
The short and simple answer to your question is, yes – the Feast of Unleavened Bread should be kept for the entire seven days, just as the Feast of Tabernacles is kept for seven days.
The Biblical Commands:
Ezek 45:21-23 (NKJV)
21 In the first month, in the fourteenth day of the month, ye shall have the Passover, a feast of seven days; unleavened bread shall be eaten.
22 And upon that day shall the prince prepare for himself and for all the people of the land a bullock for a sin offering.
23 And seven days of the feast he shall prepare a burnt offering to the LORD, seven bullocks and seven rams without blemish daily the seven days; and a kid of the goats daily for a sin offering.
Ezek 45:21-23 [Keil and Delitzsch Commentary]
21. “…In the first (month), on the fourteenth day of the month, ye shall keep the Passover, a feast of a full week; unleavened shall be eaten.
22. And the prince shall prepare on that day forhimself and for all the people of the land a bullock as a sin-offering.
23. And for the seven days of the feast he shall prepare as a burnt-offering for Jehovah seven bullocks and seven rams without blemish daily, the seven days, and as a sin-offering a he-goat daily…"
Offerings to be made at every Festival of God by the men of the family, not just the princes.
Deut 16:16-17 (NLT)
Each year every man in Israel must celebrate these three festivals: the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the Festival of Harvest, and the Festival of Shelters. On each of these occasions, all men must appear before the LORD your God at the place he chooses, but they must not appear before the LORD without a gift for him. 17 All must give as they are able, according to the blessings given to them by the LORD your God.
Specific Place for Offerings:
Deut 12:13-14 (NKJV)
"Take heed to yourself that you do not offer your burnt offerings in every place that you see; 14 but in the place which the LORD chooses, in one of your tribes, there you shall offer your burnt offerings, and there you shall do all that I command you."
Deut 12:13-14 (NKJV)
"You may not eat within your gates the tithe of your grain or your new wine or your oil, of the firstborn of your herd or your flock, of any of your offerings which you vow, of your freewill offerings, or of the heave offering of your hand. 18 But you must eat them before the LORD your God in the place which the LORD your God chooses, you and your son and your daughter, your male servant and your female servant, and the Levite who is within your gates; and you shall rejoice before the LORD your God in all to which you put your hands."
Anciently, to go to the place where God had placed His name (usually Jerusalem) meant the people had to leave their homes and many had farms or lived in small towns. They had to cease their usual work, pack their belongings and temporarily move. It is common practice today for people to cease work and only observe the first and last days of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. However, thesedirect commands from God leave no room for argument! As we are now under the New Covenant God has placed His name on every individual member of His congregation. So, while we no longer have to go to a specific geographical location, the requirement to cease work and observe God's Holy time for eight days remains unchanged.
The offerings for the Feast of Unleavened Bread provides the pattern for offerings in the Feast of Tabernacles
Ezek 45:25 (NKJV)
In the seventh month, on the fifteenth day of the month, at the feast, he shall do likewise for seven days, according to the sin offering, the burnt offering, the grain offering, and the oil.
1. Egypt:The prime Biblical example for this practice is the original Feast of Unleavened Bread where God required release of His people by Pharaoh so they could go and sacrifice and worship Him, free from their normal labours. An entire nation, Egypt, was destroyed by the plagues of God so His people would be free to worship Him (starting with the seven days of unleavened bread – days on which sacrifices are to be made every day) and it is impossible that God has changed His mind on the subject;
(Mal 3:6, "...For I am the LORD, I change not;...").
2. Hezekiah: Old Testament examples also show very strongly that the Feast of Unleavened Bread is to be kept for the entire seven days – the principal example is that of King Hezekiah, when he re-instituted observance of the whole law of God. This example is seen in 2Chron 30:21:
“…The Israelites who were present in Jerusalem celebrated the Feast of Unleavened Bread for seven days with great rejoicing, while the Levites and priests sang to the LORD every day, accompanied by the LORD's instruments of praise…”[NIV].
As a side-note here, it should be remembered that at this time the northern and southern kingdoms had split and formed the separate nations of Israel and Judah, respectively. This is why it said in the above verse, “The Israelites who were present in Jerusalem”, indicating that the rest of Israel did not keep the Feast. However, we are told in verse25 that the entire assembly of Judah took part in this Feast.
Spiritual Intent of observance for seven days: Apart from God's plain command and Biblical examples that the festival be observed for seven whole days, this requirement is also seen from the purpose which is symbolized by these seven days. The Feast of Unleavened Bread pictures our entire lives as Christians (the Household of God), not just the start and the finish of our lives. After repentance, baptism and receiving the Holy Spirit we cannot then go back into the world and start living Satan’s way of life again, with the wishful thinking that a death-bed repentance will be acceptable to God. Yet, this is what people are unwittingly doing when they only observe the Sabbaths on the first and seventh days of the festival and not the whole seven days. Only the first and seventh days of the Feast of Unleavened Bread are commanded Holy convocations, but the entire seven days is holy time that God set apart for His purpose. With the Feast of Tabernacles there is only one Holy convocation, but still the entire seven days is holy time that God set apart for His purpose.
What is Holy? Briefly, the Oxford Dictionary definition is, anything that belongs to or has been consecrated (set aside for a specific purpose) by God. Accordingly, while five days of the Feast of Unleavened Bread are not Sabbaths they are in fact holy days, because they have been set apart for a specific purpose by God. All such time or days belong to God for the purpose He has designated and therefore requires that we should use such time for His purpose. With the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the eating of unleavened bread for seven days is symbolic of living God’s way of life for our entire life, not just the beginning and the end.
Further Notes & Scripture List
The spirit God places in man at birth to make him a sentient, thinking being. It is the essence of a human and contains all of his conscious thoughts.
1 ¶ Or do you not know, brethren (for I speak to those who know the law), that the law has dominion over a man as long as he lives?
2 For the woman who has a husband is bound by the law to her husband as long as he lives. But if the husband dies, she is released from the law of her husband.
3 So then if, while her husband lives, she marries another man, she will be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from that law, so that she is no adulteress, though she has married another man.
4 Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another––to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God.
5 For when we were in the flesh, the sinful passions which were aroused by the law were at work in our members to bear fruit to death.
6 But now we have been delivered from the law, having died to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter.
7 ¶ What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, "You shall not covet."
8 But sin, taking opportunity by the commandment, produced in me all manner of evil desire. For apart from the law sin was dead.
9 I was alive once without the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died.
10 And the commandment, which was to bring life, I found to bring death.
11 For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it killed me.
12 Therefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good.
13 Has then what is good become death to me? Certainly not! But sin, that it might appear sin, was producing death in me through what is good, so that sin through the commandment might become exceedingly sinful.
14 ¶ For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin.
15 For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do.
16 If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good.
17 But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.
18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find.
19 For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice.
20 Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.
21 I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good.
22 For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man.
23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.
24 O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?
25 I thank God––through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.
Rom 8:1-2 [NKJV]
1 ¶ There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.
2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.
Lev 23:15-21 [NKJV]
15 ¶ ‘And you shall count for yourselves from the day after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering: seven Sabbaths shall be completed.
16 ‘Count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath; then you shall offer a new grain offering to the LORD.
17 ‘You shall bring from your dwellings two wave loaves of two–tenths of an ephah. They shall be of fine flour; they shall be baked with leaven. They are the firstfruits to the LORD.
18 ‘And you shall offer with the bread seven lambs of the first year, without blemish, one young bull, and two rams. They shall be as a burnt offering to the LORD, with their grain offering and their drink offerings, an offering made by fire for a sweet aroma to the LORD.
19 ‘Then you shall sacrifice one kid of the goats as a sin offering, and two male lambs of the first year as a sacrifice of a peace offering.
20 ‘The priest shall wave them with the bread of the firstfruits as a wave offering before the LORD, with the two lambs. They shall be holy to the LORD for the priest.
21 ‘And you shall proclaim on the same day that it is a holy convocation to you. You shall do no customary work on it. It shall be a statute forever in all your dwellings throughout your generations.
Long after the death of Christ it was still common practice to eat a meal, along with partaking of the Passover emblems. True to following Christ’s example of the time, the Passover emblems were taken during or at the end of the meal. For small family sized groups of people this practice is still commended, but for those who wish to meet in larger groups the family meal should be eaten at home as an ordinary meal, leaving only the Passover ceremony (eating of the bread, drinking the wine and foot washing) to be done within the larger group. The fact that people were still eating the old "Passover meal" is evidenced in 1Cor 11:20-22 where Paul is recorded chastising those people for poor behaviour, which exhibited a lack of understanding about the Passover service. There was nothing wrong with eating a meal per sé; it was the disregard those people showed for the sacrifice of Christ that was being criticized. The Passover is about sacrifice, service and selflessness for those wanting reconciliation with God, which is the opposite of the behaviour being shown by the people and therefore demonstrating that they did not want reconciliation.
"...Therefore when you come together in one place, it is not to eat the Lord’s Supper. For in eating, each one takes his own supper ahead of others; and one is hungry and another is drunk. What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the Church of God and shame those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you in this? I do not praise you..." [NKJV].
The principal issue here actually concerns whether or not one is partaking of the Passover in a worthy manner – an issue which has caused some anxiety for many of God's people for a long time. However, the people of God need not be in any doubt or be anxious when they partake of the Passover emblems. You see,“not discerning the Lord’s body” as mentioned in 1Cor 11:29 (For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body) is the New Testament equivalent of treating the old Passover meal as any other common meal, not realizing that it (now the emblems) symbolize a great sacrifice which resulted in the opportunity for freedom – freedom to live God’s way of life. This is what Paul was trying to explain to the NT church in 1Cor 11:29-32. These people were eating both the old Passover meal publicly and partaking of the new Passover emblems, but their selfish and irreverent conduct clearly showed they were not prepared to leave spiritual Egypt. The command in Ex 12:11 to "eat it in haste" and be prepared to travel is symbolic of the command to be prepared to leave spiritual Egypt and start living God's way of life – something these people showed by their conduct that they did not understand. Accordingly, they partook of the Passover in an unworthy manner. Partaking of the Passover in a worthy manner is exactly the opposite – not just being prepared to live God's way of life, but since we have been baptized with the Holy Spirit we must be fully committed to God's way of life.