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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Learning to be Content

Paul wrote to the saints at Philippi: "I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me." (Philippians 4:11-13, ESV) In this passage, Paul made it clear that he was talking about circumstances over which he had no control, and that the key to his contentment was reliance upon God. By employing this technique, Paul was putting into practice one of Christ's most important teachings about being a part of God's Kingdom.

In his famous Sermon on the Mount, Christ instructed his audience NOT to focus on the mundane things of this life (Matthew 6:19-24). He continued: "Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." (Matthew 6:25-33, ESV)

Thus, we see that Paul had learned Christ's lesson about being content with circumstances over which we have no control. Christ directed his audience to consider the birds and lilies of the natural world, and how God provides for their needs. Hence, we see that Paul did both of the things which Christ taught about learning to be content: 1) Recognize your own powerlessness, and 2) Rely on God to provide for your needs. Moreover, inherent in this teaching is the underlying awareness that God may not decide to intervene and change the circumstance in which you find yourself! As Paul wrote to the Romans, "we know that for those who love God all things work together for good." (Romans 8:28, ESV) Are these lessons that we too can learn and employ to reduce anxiety and the stressful situations which sometimes arise in our own lives? Can we, like Paul, learn to be content in whatever circumstances we happen to find ourselves at any given time?

Sunday, April 14, 2024

Will the Unborn Be Resurrected?

A friend posed some interesting questions about the resurrection, and I thought that I would share them and offer them to my readers to see if they would generate any answers:

Will embryos and fetuses be resurrected to physical life? If so, back as an embryo or fetus? Inside a womb?

How many humans did not need Jesus's sacrifice for sin? For example, embryos and fetuses, children who die at birth or in the first year or so of life, or before they have awareness of right and wrong. Since they did not sin before they died, would they need to be resurrected to physical life in order to at least have the option of sinning? But who would take care of caring for these young children till they are old enough to discern?

I'm not sure that I know how to answer those questions, but there are a few things that Scripture reveals about life, embryos, fetuses, death, and resurrection that may help us to arrive at some satisfactory answers. They are:

1. The book of Genesis seems to equate life with respiration. In KJV English, "the breath of life." (See Genesis 2:7, 6:17, 7:15, and 22)

2. The prophet Ezekiel talks about a symbolic resurrection of Israel in these terms:

"The Lord took hold of me, and I was carried away by the Spirit of the Lord to a valley filled with bones. He led me all around among the bones that covered the valley floor. They were scattered everywhere across the ground and were completely dried out. Then he asked me, 'Son of man, can these bones become living people again?' 'O Sovereign Lord,' I replied, 'you alone know the answer to that.' Then he said to me, 'Speak a prophetic message to these bones and say, ‘Dry bones, listen to the word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Look! I am going to put breath into you and make you live again! I will put flesh and muscles on you and cover you with skin. I will put breath into you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’ So I spoke this message, just as he told me. Suddenly as I spoke, there was a rattling noise all across the valley. The bones of each body came together and attached themselves as complete skeletons. Then as I watched, muscles and flesh formed over the bones. Then skin formed to cover their bodies, but they still had no breath in them. Then he said to me, “Speak a prophetic message to the winds, son of man. Speak a prophetic message and say, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Come, O breath, from the four winds! Breathe into these dead bodies so they may live again.’ So I spoke the message as he commanded me, and breath came into their bodies. They all came to life and stood up on their feet—a great army." (Ezekiel 37:1-10, NLT)

3. In the third chapter of the book of Job, we read: At last Job spoke, and he cursed the day of his birth. He said: 'Let the day of my birth be erased, and the night I was conceived. Let that day be turned to darkness. Let it be lost even to God on high, and let no light shine on it. Let the darkness and utter gloom claim that day for its own. Let a black cloud overshadow it, and let the darkness terrify it. Let that night be blotted off the calendar, never again to be counted among the days of the year, never again to appear among the months. Let that night be childless. Let it have no joy. Let those who are experts at cursing— whose cursing could rouse Leviathan— curse that day. Let its morning stars remain dark. Let it hope for light, but in vain; may it never see the morning light. 'Why wasn’t I born dead? Why didn’t I die as I came from the womb? Why was I laid on my mother’s lap? Why did she nurse me at her breasts? Had I died at birth, I would now be at peace. I would be asleep and at rest. I would rest with the world’s kings and prime ministers, whose great buildings now lie in ruins. I would rest with princes, rich in gold, whose palaces were filled with silver. Why wasn’t I buried like a stillborn child, like a baby who never lives to see the light? (Job 3:1-16, NLT)

A little later, in the same book, we read: "If a man dies, shall he live again? All the days of my service I would wait, till my renewal should come." (Job 14:14)

4. In Paul's first letter to the saints at Corinth, we read: "Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death." (I Corinthians 15:12-26, ESV) Clearly, Paul speaks of the resurrection of the dead as pertaining to those who have accepted Christ during their lifetime on this planet.

5. This notion about the resurrection is reinforced by what we read in the twentieth chapter of the book of Revelation:

"I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years." (Revelation 20:4-6, ESV)

"Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done." (Revelation 20:11-13, ESV)

What do you think? How would you answer those questions posed at the beginning of this post?

Thursday, April 11, 2024

Was Torah for Israel or Everyone?

In the post which preceded this one, we established that Gentiles were not permitted to celebrate Passover unless they were circumcised and became Israelites. Even so, in the way of a reminder (and to underscore the fact), we read in the book of Exodus: "And the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, 'This is the statute of the Passover: no foreigner shall eat of it, but every slave that is bought for money may eat of it after you have circumcised him. No foreigner or hired worker may eat of it. It shall be eaten in one house; you shall not take any of the flesh outside the house, and you shall not break any of its bones. All the congregation of Israel shall keep it. If a stranger shall sojourn with you and would keep the Passover to the Lord, let all his males be circumcised. Then he may come near and keep it; he shall be as a native of the land. But no uncircumcised person shall eat of it. There shall be one law for the native and for the stranger who sojourns among you.'" (Exodus 12:43-49, ESV)

However, in addition to this clear prohibition against Gentiles being permitted to observe this festival, Torah is literally full of passages which make very clear that the commandments and instructions contained therein were addressed to the people of Israel. Indeed, in the very first book of Torah (Genesis), we read: "And God said to Abraham, 'As for you, you shall keep my covenant, you and your offspring after you throughout their generations. This is my covenant, which you shall keep, between me and you and your offspring after you: Every male among you shall be circumcised. You shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and you. He who is eight days old among you shall be circumcised. Every male throughout your generations, whether born in your house or bought with your money from any foreigner who is not of your offspring, both he who is born in your house and he who is bought with your money, shall surely be circumcised. So shall my covenant be in your flesh an everlasting covenant. Any uncircumcised male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin shall be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant.'" (Genesis 17:9-14, ESV) Once again, it is made very clear that the command to circumcise males applied to Abraham and his descendants.

Likewise, in the book of Exodus, we read: "On the third new moon after the people of Israel had gone out of the land of Egypt, on that day they came into the wilderness of Sinai. They set out from Rephidim and came into the wilderness of Sinai, and they encamped in the wilderness. There Israel encamped before the mountain, while Moses went up to God. The Lord called to him out of the mountain, saying, 'Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the people of Israel...if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you shall speak to the people of Israel." (Exodus 19:1-6, ESV) Once again, Torah is very explicit about for whom these commandments and instructions were intended. Indeed, in the very next verse, we read: "So Moses came and called the elders of the people and set before them all these words that the Lord had commanded him." (Verse 7)

Moreover, when God gave Moses the Ten Commandments, there is also no doubt about to whom they were being given. We read: "And God spoke all these words, saying, 'I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.'" (Exodus 20:1-2, ESV) Notice that they were addressed to the people whom God had brought out of the land of Egypt - the people of Israel! And, when he had finished enumerating all ten of those commandments, we read: "when all the people saw the thunder and the flashes of lightning and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking, the people were afraid and trembled, and they stood far off." (Exodus 20:18, ESV) All of which people? Isn't it clear that he was addressing the people of Israel who had gathered at the foot of the mountain? And, lest there be any doubt about who was being addressed, a few verses later, we read: "And the Lord said to Moses, 'Thus you shall say to the people of Israel: ‘You have seen for yourselves that I have talked with you from heaven." (Exodus 20:22, ESV) Once again, it is clearly delineated within the text to whom God was giving those commandments. It is made very plain that those commandments were intended for (and given to) the PEOPLE OF ISRAEL!

Likewise, Torah also makes abundantly clear that Passover wasn't the only festival exclusively intended for the people of Israel. In the book of Leviticus, we read: "The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 'Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, These are the appointed feasts of the Lord that YOU shall proclaim as holy convocations; they are my appointed feasts. Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, a holy convocation. YOU shall do no work. It is a Sabbath to the Lord in all your dwelling places. These are the appointed feasts of the Lord, the holy convocations, which YOU shall proclaim at the time appointed for them.'" (Leviticus 23:1-4, ESV) In verse ten of the same chapter, we read: "Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, When you come into the land that I give you and reap its harvest, you shall bring the sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest to the priest." Also, a little later, we read: "And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 'Speak to the people of Israel, saying, In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall observe a day of solemn rest, a memorial proclaimed with blast of trumpets, a holy convocation.'" (Leviticus 23:23-24, ESV) Also, we read: "And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 'Speak to the people of Israel, saying, On the fifteenth day of this seventh month and for seven days is the Feast of Booths to the Lord." Leviticus 23:33-34, ESV) And, finally, the chapter concludes with: "Thus Moses declared to the people of Israel the appointed feasts of the Lord." (Verse 44) Yes, they are the feasts of the Lord which he gave to THE PEOPLE OF ISRAEL!

Indeed, this same language is used throughout Torah. In the same book, we read: "And the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying to them, 'Speak to the people of Israel, saying, These are the living things that you may eat among all the animals that are on the earth." (Leviticus 11:1-2, ESV) And, after distinguishing between clean and unclean animals, we read this about God's reason for delineating clean and unclean: "For I am the Lord who brought you up out of the land of Egypt to be your God. You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy." (Verse 45) Once again, who did he bring up out of the land of Egypt? Could it be any clearer that these distinctions between clean and unclean were intended for the people of Israel? And, when Moses repeated the Ten Commandments, we read in the book of Deuteronomy: "And Moses summoned all Israel and said to them, 'Hear, O Israel, the statutes and the rules that I speak in your hearing today, and you shall learn them and be careful to do them. The Lord our God made a covenant with us in Horeb. Not with our fathers did the Lord make this covenant, but with us, who are all of us here alive today. The Lord spoke with you face to face at the mountain, out of the midst of the fire, while I stood between the Lord and you at that time, to declare to you the word of the Lord. For you were afraid because of the fire, and you did not go up into the mountain. He said: 'I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.'" (Deuteronomy 5:1-6, ESV)

In the very next chapter of the same book, we read: "Now this is the commandment—the statutes and the rules—that the Lord your God commanded me to teach YOU, that you may do them in the land to which you are going over, to possess it, that you may fear the Lord your God, you and your son and your son's son, by keeping all his statutes and his commandments, which I command you, all the days of your life, and that your days may be long. Hear therefore, O Israel, and be careful to do them, that it may go well with you, and that you may multiply greatly, as the Lord, the God of your fathers, has promised you, in a land flowing with milk and honey." (Deuteronomy 6:1-3, ESV)

Moreover, before the people of Israel crossed the Jordan River to take possession of the land which God had promised to give them, we read: "Now Moses and the elders of Israel commanded the people, saying, “Keep the whole commandment that I command YOU today. And on the day YOU cross over the Jordan to the land that the Lord your God is giving you, YOU shall set up large stones and plaster them with plaster. And YOU shall write on them all the words of this law, when YOU cross over to enter the land that the Lord your God is giving you, a land flowing with milk and honey, as the Lord, the God of your fathers, has promised YOU. And when you have crossed over the Jordan, you shall set up these stones, concerning which I command you today, on Mount Ebal, and you shall plaster them with plaster. And there you shall build an altar to the Lord your God, an altar of stones. You shall wield no iron tool on them; you shall build an altar to the Lord your God of uncut stones. And YOU shall offer burnt offerings on it to the Lord your God, and you shall sacrifice peace offerings and shall eat there, and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God. And YOU shall write on the stones all the words of this law very plainly.' Then Moses and the Levitical priests said to all Israel, 'Keep silence and hear, O Israel: this day you have become the people of the Lord your God. You shall therefore obey the voice of the Lord your God, keeping his commandments and his statutes, which I command you today." (Deuteronomy 27:1-10, ESV)

Now, for the record, what is offered here (in this post) is only a FRACTION of the many passages contained in Torah which make very clear that Torah was intended for the people of Israel. Indeed, the phraseology addressing the various laws and instructions contained therein to the people/children of Israel appears throughout the five books of the Pentateuch. In fact, the phrase "Speak unto the children of Israel" occurs thirty-two times in the King James Version of Torah! And, as I have related in many previous posts on this blog, Torah is also clearly tailored to meet the needs of a specific people, in a particular place, who found themselves in a peculiar set of circumstances. What? Throughout Torah, the various commandments and instructions assume: an agrarian-based society and economy, a people who accepted and practiced slavery and polygamy, and who were steeped in paternalistic notions about the proper roles of men and women within society. In short, Torah was addressed to the people of Israel. It was clearly NOT intended for Gentile peoples or to be universal in its application. Torah itself makes such a notion absurd!

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

So, You Plan on Keeping the "Biblical" Passover This Year?

For my friends who plan on "observing" or "keeping" the Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread in a few days, I would like to recommend the following excerpt from a post by xHWA on the blog As Bereans Did:

So, you're going to "keep" a day that you see in the Bible. How do you plan to do that, exactly?

--HOW/WHERE

What do you plan to do to "keep" the biblical day? Are you going to keep this biblical day according to the biblical instructions for it? So, for example, let's imagine it's Passover. You're going to do what exactly? Eat a Seder? Do you know the Seder as it is kept today by the Jews is not what is instructed in the Bible? The Bible doesn't say to have four cups of wine and a hard boiled egg and vegetables in salt water and gefilte fish. If you are going to keep a biblical day - stressing the idea that you got it from the Bible rather than some made up holiday - don't you think you should keep it the way the Bible says to, rather than, you know, making up ways to keep it?

Don't worry. We have you covered. Here's what you do --

First, you travel to Jerusalem. You can opt to travel to Jerusalem if you're female, but if you're male you are required to. Because that's the only place you are allowed to keep it (DEU. 16: 5-7). You're going to have to do this a little early, because you need to select a lamb or a goat without blemish then keep it with you for four days (EXO. 12: 3-5). So, get there by the 10th of Nissan. Then, at the very start of the 14th of Nissan, you go ahead and remove all leaven from your household (EXO. 12: 15). That means no yeast or baking soda or rising agents of any kind. And no already leavened bread, which includes dough starters, cereals, cookies, crumbs, and etc. Jews will remove grains as well, to make sure they aren't contaminated with microbes that might cause them to rise when cooked. That includes any alcoholic drink made form grains. Anything with leavening in it has to go (DEU. 16: 4). Hint: you might want to check inside your toaster and under the seats of your car, too. (I know that from experience.) For seven days, the only bread you may eat must be unleavened (EXO. 16: 3). It's not just that you must avoid leavened bread, you must actively eat unleavened bread (EXO. 12: 20). Matzo is an easy option. Make sure it's Matzo rated for Passover, because not all Matzo is. (I know that from experience, too.) Removing leavening from your home will be difficult while you're in Jerusalem, we know. Perhaps you might want to divide the responsibilities, because as someone is at home removing the leaven, someone else is going to have to go to the Temple and sacrifice that lamb, or goat if you're bougee (EXO. 12: 6). Then, once the animal is properly sacrificed by the Temple Priests, you can go back to wherever you are staying in town and roast that lamb on its bones with some bitter herbs (EXO. 12: 8). Don't get fancy and try cooking it any other way, as that is not permitted (EXO. 12: 9). Goat burger with feta and arugula is verboten. Leftovers are also not allowed. Anything you can't finish eating that night will have to be burned up (EXO. 12: 10). No gyro for you tomorrow.

And while you're doing all that, the Temple Priests will be doing the offerings in Numbers 28: 19-24.

And that is the minimum requirement for how you keep a Passover! You are now ready to keep your first Biblical day.

You may have noticed an issue regarding the Temple and the animal sacrifices. Yes, that has been a thorny problem lo these past 1,900 years. It does have the unfortunate effect of making it nigh impossible to keep a biblical Passover. And that is a main reason why the early church didn't even try. So, how are you going to "keep" this biblical day, exactly, when you literally cannot keep it as the Bible says to? Make something up? The Jews did! It was the only reasonable thing they could do. So, they made up new traditions. Oh, we are not criticizing the Jews at all. Not one bit. They did what they had to do to continue observing ordinances given to them. It was either that or stop altogether. Can you blame them? We don't. But, that takes us right back to the initial problem, doesn't it? You've made up a holiday.

Oh, you can add in things that were done during the Last Supper, like foot washing - which was also made up, as there is no law for foot washing - but it might be good to bear in mind that Jesus did not have the Last Supper apart from its Jewish context. It was a Jewish Passover performed by Jews living during the final hours of the Old Covenant period. Jesus was doing the things we've reviewed and adding new elements. Adding Last Supper elements to your biblical Passover doesn't do anything to remove your obligation to also do what is required for your biblical day to be Biblical. Forgoing Passover elements and only going for Last Supper elements definitely turns Passover into Easter. It's what the first century church did. They got rid of Passover elements, only kept the bread and wine, and went forward calling it Passover. That would be the opposite of what you're going for, though. You're going for keeping a biblical day, not Easter. But isn't the Last Supper biblical? And you can't do the things required for your biblical day. There is no Temple, nor Priesthood, nor animal sacrifices. So I guess that leaves everyone in a difficult spot. The exact same spot as the first century church.

--WHEN

Now, when will you be enjoying this Passover?

The Bible says to observe it on the 14th day of the month of Nissan (aka Abib) (EXO. 12: 6). But when is that, precisely? Will you follow the Jews? Don't you know the modern Jewish calendar is not the same calendar used at the Temple in Jerusalem? After the destruction of the temple in 70 AD, and after the expulsion of the Jews from Jerusalem due to the Bar Kokhba revolt in 132 AD, the calendar used at the Temple no longer worked. So, Rabi Hillel II revamped the calendar in 359 AD. The calendar the Jews use today is based on but not the same as the one used at the Temple. In fact it's better. But better is still different. You are going to want a biblical calendar to go with your biblical day. What calendar did they use at the Temple? We aren't entirely sure. They kept the formula somewhat of a secret. All we know for certain is it's not exactly the one used today. Since we are on the topic of calendars, didn't you know the Jews had at least three "Hebrew" calendars in the first century (Essene, Galilean, and Judean/Babylonian)? And none of those three are exactly what Moses used. So, you need to decide which calendar you are going to follow. Don't choose a made up one!

What's more, when will you be enjoying this Passover meal?

You should know there is currently a timing dispute among people who attempt to "keep" this biblical day. Not calendar timing. This is different. The dispute is over when on the 14th the Passover rituals, like the Seder & etc., should be performed. Should it be on the evening at the start of the 14th or the evening at the end of the 14th? Hebrew days went from sunset to sunset, so each day technically had two evenings. Several verses say Passover rituals should be "at twilight" or "evening" on the 14th (EXO. 12: 18; LEV. 23: 5; NUM. 9: 3-5, 28: 16; JOS. 5: 10). But what does "at twilight" or "evening" or "between the evenings" mean, exactly? The first or the second? A casual reading could get you equally to either evening. I will spare you the details. Suffice it to say it gets complicated. Jesus kept His final Passover on the first evening, while the Jews kept it on the second. (There is nothing to indicate Jesus always kept Passover this way. It is reasonable to conclude He did not.) Who shall you follow? The one keeping the biblical day, or the one keeping the biblical day? In the end, we have two camps of people "keeping" the same biblical day on two different evenings. Which will you choose? And what will you say to the other camp, or about the other camp, when they question your decision? What will you do if they accuse you of heresy? The majority of non-Jews who "keep" biblical days aren't doing it because they find it fulfilling, they are doing it because they feel commanded to. They call them God's holy days. Any departure from their doctrine will threaten them and win you a negative response. You are a heretic in defiance of God in their eyes. And they will be happy to share that fact with you. You might want to be fully educated on why you chose what you did. But not for their sake. They are right and you are wrong and that is that. No, for your own sake. I suggest starting with a good understanding of the two Great Covenants.

--WHO

I am going to assume you are a Gentile since I cannot imagine any Jew would ever ask a question like this in the first place. So, Gentile, how do you plan on "keeping" Passover as a Gentile? Don't you know that according to the law of Passover, Gentiles were forbidden from observing Passover (EXO. 12: 43-49)? That's the law! That law likely includes Firstfruits and the Days of Unleavened Bread, since they were often lumped together under the term Passover. You must become a Jew in order to observe these days. Men, schedule your circumcision. Ladies, marry an Israelite. People like to say, "God gave us days to keep." But, did He? Because He didn't give them to us Gentiles at all. He gave them to the Jews, and Jews only. This is another main reason why the early church didn't even try to "keep" biblical days.

Jews can be some of the most welcoming people. Once they get to know you, they will invite people to share in their observance of Passover. They do so without expecting anything, including conversion. Conversion is generally not what they want at all. They just want to share who they are. I respect that, deeply. I would go without hesitation. However, it isn't exactly what the Bible prescribes. For a Jew to share their Passover is one thing. It's their day. It was given to them. They can share it if they want to. It's another thing entirely for a Gentile to take the day upon themselves. It's not our day. It wasn't given to us. If you are taking up this day when the Bible clearly says not to, are you doing the right thing, biblically speaking? The point is to be biblical, right?

I would imagine being prohibited from keeping a day we aren't sure when to keep and which we cannot keep as prescribed even if we wanted to is really going to complicate this plan to "keep" a biblical day.

So far, we have only gone over Passover. I haven't gone into the other biblical days, such as the Feast of Unleavened Bread, Firstfruits, Pentecost, Rosh Hashanah, Atonement, or Tabernacles. Not to mention Purim, which is in the Bible, so it's biblical, but it's also "made up" by the Jews (EST. 9: 22-27). Or Hanukkah, which is mentioned in the Gospels (JON. 10: 22-23), so it's biblical, but is detailed only in the Apocrypha, because it's "made up" by the Jews, too. Biblical and made up? Yes. It's enough to make a person think "made up" holidays are entirely permitted by the Bible. Because they are. In other words, it's biblical to make up days to honor God. The Bible allows that. How does that affect your decision?

But believe me, the other days come with just as much if not more detail as Passover. Do you even own a shofar? You'll need one. Will you side with the Pharisees or the Sadducees on when to observe Firstfruits? It matters. Are you going to have a last great day to your Tabernacles or not? Remember when I said you have to travel to Jerusalem to keep the Passover? You actually have to do that three times a year. Yeah. Please take the time to understand what you're getting yourself into before you start down this road of "keeping" biblical days.

Maybe you thought this was going to be a simple thing. Perhaps you thought you would just take a made up day out and put a biblical day in, like changing socks. The reality is it's not so simple in practice as it is in theory. This section has been about the days as they actually are. Using Passover as an example, we have show you the law. In other words, the days as they actually are, not as they are reinvented, or romanticized, to be. Do you love the days as they are, as they actually are, or have you built up an idea in your mind about the days that changes them into something else?

For those interested in reading the entire post, you may do so by clicking on this link:

https://asbereansdid.blogspot.com/2024/04/why-not-keep-biblical-days.html


Sunday, April 7, 2024

Meditation

Joshua was told by God to meditate on his laws continuously. (Joshua 1:8)

The Psalms inform us that we should meditate on the Law of God, day and night. (Psalm 1:2, etc.) They also suggest that we should meditate on God's works - the things that he has done. (Psalm 143:5)

In the book of Isaiah, we read: "You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!" (Isaiah 26:3, NLT)

In reminding his followers not to be anxious about the things of this life, Jesus told his disciples to "Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?" (Matthew 6:28-30, ESV)

Paul wrote to the saints at Philippi that they should "Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise." (Philippians 4:8, NLT)

Questioning God?

The Armstrong Churches of God have always portrayed the "truth" about God and Scripture as fragile, and something that is only revealed to a few and easily lost. In other words, they have always actively discouraged their members from questioning God or their interpretations of Scripture. For them, once you have received the "truth," your sojourn for understanding is over. Indeed, according to them, further questioning or exploration is dangerous and might lead you to lose the understanding that you have attained. Does that bring to mind one of Christ's parables? It should.

The Gospels tell us that Jesus presented the Parable of the Talents and the Parable of the Pounds to his disciples. In both parables, a man commits some of his resources to his servants. In the Parable of the Talents we read that "he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master's money." (Matthew 25:18, ESV) When the man returned, the servant explained to his master "I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here, you have what is yours." (Verses 24-25) Likewise, in the Parable of the Pounds, the servant who had received one pound, told his master upon his return: "Lord, here is your pound, which I kept laid away in a napkin; for I was afraid of you, because you are a severe man; you take up what you did not lay down, and reap what you did not sow." (Luke 19:20-21, RSV) Interestingly, in both of these parables the master of the servants was very displeased with the servant who had failed to increase what had been entrusted to him. Indeed, in the Parable of the Talents, we read that the servant's master replied: "You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." (Matthew 25:26-20) Hence, from these two parables, it is reasonable to conclude that God and Christ expect whatever understanding has been given to their servants to be increased by them. According to Jesus Christ, it isn't a one and done kind of deal!

Indeed, in the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus told those same disciples to "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened." (7:7-8, ESV) In the epistle of James, believers are instructed that "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him." (James 1:5, ESV) And, there is also that ACOG famous quotation from Paul's second letter to Timothy: "All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness." (II Timothy 3:16, ESV) How does that happen? By studying and asking questions! (see Acts 17:11, II Timothy 2:15, and I Peter 3:15) In conclusion, I like that way that my Bing Copilot (AI companion) put it: "In summary, the Bible encourages us to ask, seek, and knock, and it emphasizes the importance of prayer and seeking wisdom from God. 🙏" In other words, if you've never asked those questions, how can you expect to ever be able to answer the folks who are unafraid to ask them?

Friday, April 5, 2024

Ten Years!

From time to time, I check on past posts to see which ones folks are still interested in - still looking over and considering. In recently doing so, I was reminded that this blog was begun ten years ago in January. During those ten years, I've posted 934 articles and over 1,400 comments here. Over those same years, I've also witnessed this blog go from an average of 50 views per day to about 800 views per day currently! No, I'm not bragging - the blog still has many fewer readers than some of the other blogs dealing with the same subject matter. Nevertheless, I do find it extremely satisfying to consider that I've made a small contribution to the spiritual journey of others and have helped a few folks to shake off the shackles of Armstrongism and find their way back to Jesus Christ, THE REAL TRUTH!

My thanks to everyone who has taken the time to read some of these articles, and the folks who were brave enough to comment here over the years (even if you disagreed with me). I hope that this blog has prompted a little introspection, thought, and tolerance of other views. That was my objective when I began this blog in January of 2014, and it remains my objective in 2024. I am also thankful for what this blog has done for me personally - in helping me to deal with some of the mistakes and deceptions of my past. I pray too that God will continue to bless my efforts to serve him and his people and guide all of us into a greater understanding and appreciation of the awesomeness of the God who cannot be contained!