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Why Political Speech Is Inappropriate from the Pulpit!

For years now, I have been criticizing the preaching of politics from the pulpit. Why? What's so wrong with talking about issues and can...

Thursday, August 31, 2023

Jesus Completed His Mission: He FULFILLED the Law and the Prophets

Christ's disciples were bewildered by his arrest, trial, crucifixion, death, and burial. They had expected him to restore David's throne over Israel. In short, they hadn't really understood the things which he had been telling them about himself, and the things which would have to happen to him to fulfill those Scriptures.

After his resurrection, however, Christ made clear to his disciples just how he had fulfilled Torah, the Prophets, and the Writings of the Hebrew Scriptures (the only Scriptures extant at the time - there was NO New Testament then - the documents which would be a part of it had not even been written yet). In the Gospel of Luke, we read that Jesus addressed them in their sadness, and they didn't even know that it was him who was talking to them! They said: "You must be the only person in Jerusalem who hasn’t heard about all the things that have happened there the last few days." (24:18, NLT) "What things?" Jesus asked. They answered: "The things that happened to Jesus, the man from Nazareth,' they said. 'He was a prophet who did powerful miracles, and he was a mighty teacher in the eyes of God and all the people. But our leading priests and other religious leaders handed him over to be condemned to death, and they crucified him. We had hoped he was the Messiah who had come to rescue Israel. This all happened three days ago.'" (Verses 19-21) They went on to explain that some of their group had gone to this man's tomb and found it empty (verses 22-24).

Christ replied: "You foolish people! You find it so hard to believe all that the prophets wrote in the Scriptures. Wasn’t it clearly predicted that the Messiah would have to suffer all these things before entering his glory?' Then Jesus took them through the writings of Moses and all the prophets, explaining from all the Scriptures the things concerning himself." (Verses 25-27) Did you catch that? Christ explained to his disciples how he had FULFILLED the Law and the prophets by showing them how those writings related/pointed to HIM! Even so, Luke tells us that they still didn't fully comprehend the extent to which those documents pointed to Christ. Finally, we are told that Jesus had to open their minds to understand what he was trying to explain to them. He said: "When I was with you before, I told you that everything written about me in the law of Moses and the prophets and in the Psalms must be fulfilled.' Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures. And he said, 'Yes, it was written long ago that the Messiah would suffer and die and rise from the dead on the third day. It was also written that this message would be proclaimed in the authority of his name to all the nations, beginning in Jerusalem: ‘There is forgiveness of sins for all who repent.’ You are witnesses of all these things." (Verses 44-48)

To be clear, early in his ministry, Christ had told his disciples that he had been sent to this earth to fulfill the Law and the Prophets (Matthew 5:17). Jesus made clear to them that he had done just that - THAT HE HAD FULFILLED THE LAW, PROPHETS, AND WRITINGS OF THE HEBREW BIBLE! Indeed, EVERYTHING he had done during his time on earth (his obedience, ministry, death, burial, and resurrection) had fulfilled those Scriptures! In short, Jesus completed his mission - ALL was FULFILLED!

Tuesday, August 29, 2023

The Gospel of Luke: Jesus and the Sabbath

The Gospel of Luke probably gives us more insight into Christ's attitude toward the Sabbath than any of the other accounts of his life and teachings. Indeed, in the fourth chapter of that Gospel, we read: "And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written, 'The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.' And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. And he began to say to them, 'Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.'" (Verses 16-21, ESV)

Notice that Christ was in the habit of going to the synagogue on the Sabbath, and that he decided to read a passage from the book of Isaiah on this occasion. Notice too, after he was finished reading the passage aloud, Jesus told them that that particular prophecy had just been fulfilled by him on that Sabbath day! Strangely, the prophecy was all about the work that God had given him to perform - to proclaim good news, freedom to those who were imprisoned, healing of the blind, and the time of the Lord's favor. Why did I characterize that as strange? Because the Sabbath is NOT usually associated with work. Instead, Scripture normally associated the Sabbath with resting from one's work. Interestingly, Jesus then went on to predict that they would not believe in the work which God had given him to do, and that other folks would be the beneficiaries of that work (verses 22-27). Unfortunately, when Christ told them that, they became enraged and tried to kill him! (Verses 28-30)

From there, we are informed that he went down to Capernaum and also taught them on the Sabbath. In that synagogue, we are informed that Jesus cast a demon out of a man who had been possessed (verses 31-37). Later that day, we are told that he healed Simon Peter's mother-in-law of a fever (verses 38-30). Now, this was something very different from what the Jews had been accustomed to! They were not used to someone "working" on the Sabbath day.

In the sixth chapter of this same Gospel, we read that Jesus' disciples picked and ate some grain while they were walking through a field (verse 1). Next, we are told that the Pharisees pointed out that it was not permissible to do this kind of work on the Sabbath (verse 2). Jesus, however, responded: "Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, he and those who were with him: how he entered the house of God and took and ate the bread of the Presence, which is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and also gave it to those with him?" (Verses 3-4) In other words, taking care of one's needs on the Sabbath was consistent with the Sabbath's purpose. Then, we are told that he finished with what would have been for them another startling declaration: "The Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath." (Verse 5) Hence, Jesus (a human) declared that he was superior to the Sabbath!

Next, we read: "On another Sabbath, he entered the synagogue and was teaching, and a man was there whose right hand was withered. And the scribes and the Pharisees watched him, to see whether he would heal on the Sabbath, so that they might find a reason to accuse him. But he knew their thoughts, and he said to the man with the withered hand, 'Come and stand here.' And he rose and stood there. And Jesus said to them, 'I ask you, is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to destroy it?' And after looking around at them all he said to him, 'Stretch out your hand.' And he did so, and his hand was restored. But they were filled with fury and discussed with one another what they might do to Jesus." (Verses 6-11) So, we see that Christ taught that not only was it acceptable to see to one's own needs - he asserted that it was also acceptable to see to the needs of others on that day!

To reinforce this conclusion, another Sabbath healing followed that one in Luke's account of Christ's life and work. We read: "Now he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. And behold, there was a woman who had had a disabling spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not fully straighten herself. When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said to her, 'Woman, you are freed from your disability. And he laid his hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and she glorified God. But the ruler of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, said to the people, 'There are six days in which work ought to be done. Come on those days and be healed, and not on the Sabbath day.' Then the Lord answered him, 'You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger and lead it away to water it? And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath day?' As he said these things, all his adversaries were put to shame, and all the people rejoiced at all the glorious things that were done by him." (13:10-17)

Notice that the woman had been ill for eighteen long years. In other words, from the perspective of the leader of the synagogue, there would have been numerous opportunities to heal her over that period. Jesus, however, pointed out that Torah had made provisions for taking care of animals on the Sabbath. Hence, it was absurd to believe that it wasn't acceptable to heal this "daughter of Abraham" who had been afflicted for so long on the Sabbath!

Then, in the very next chapter, we read: "One Sabbath, when he went to dine at the house of a ruler of the Pharisees, they were watching him carefully. And behold, there was a man before him who had dropsy. And Jesus responded to the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, 'Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath, or not?' But they remained silent. Then he took him and healed him and sent him away. And he said to them, 'Which of you, having a son or an ox that has fallen into a well on a Sabbath day, will not immediately pull him out?' And they could not reply to these things." (14:1-6) Once again, Christ "worked" on the Sabbath day by healing a man. Now, of course, I'm sure that all of these individuals who were healed appreciated what Christ had done for them. Jesus, however, clearly used these situations to demonstrate that the strict ways in which the religious leaders of his day observed the Sabbath contradicted God's purpose for the day!

Hence, we can see that Christ clearly believed and taught that it was acceptable and good to do God's work on the Sabbath day - to help others - to see to their needs. In other words, the Sabbath wasn't all about resting. According to Jesus of Nazareth, the spirit of the Sabbath was all about demonstrating our love for God by helping others! For Jesus, the scrupulous physical observance of the day which the religious leaders of his day lived and taught were NOT consistent with God's intent for the day! Indeed, Christ's actions and teachings regarding the Sabbath recorded in this Gospel suggests that the Jews had completely misunderstood the day which God had given them to observe!

Thursday, August 24, 2023

A Christian Heresy: The Doctrine of the Lesser Magistrate

In recent years, many of us have wondered at the contempt and disdain which has been displayed by many on the "Christian" Right for the rule of law and government institutions. Indeed, I have commented extensively on the widespread contempt for public health measures and vaccines among certain so-called "conservative" religious elements of our society during the Covid-19 Pandemic. We've all heard the discussions about the "duty" of Christians to resist these tyrannical regulations and even fight back against government intrusions on our "rights." Now, I thought that I was fairly knowledgeable about the thinking within these elements of our society, but I must confess that I had not heard about "The Doctrine of the Lesser Magistrate" until a friend mentioned it in an email a few days ago!

More particularly, he forwarded to me a synopsis of a book by Pastor Matthew Trewhella titled Doctrine of the Lesser Magistrate. After reading that description, I knew that I wasn't interested in reading the book, but I desperately wanted to understand why the book was causing such a stir in ultra-conservative circles. Toward that end, I discovered an interview with Trewhella that was done in the summer of 2020. That interview, Resisting Tyranny: The Doctrine of the Lesser Magistrate, was found on the Stand in the Gap website (which purports to be "A media ministry of American Pastors Network").

Host, Sam Rohrer, declared that the theme of the program was "Resisting Tyranny God's Way." He went on to say: "You know, the greatest ally of tyranny are citizens and pastors and government officials who’ve refused to confront lawlessness and aggressive immorality in a biblical and historical way." There it was - that awful and now familiar unscriptural justification for pastors and religious leaders to wade into politics and discourse on "God's" policy! Rohrer continued: "Without a doubt, COVID-19 has been the political justification for presidential and gubernatorially declared emergencies. And it certainly has been a vehicle to catapult tyranny right smack into our culture, our businesses, our homes, and even our churches." Now, I recognized that I had heard that same rhetoric many times before - in the sermons of CGI pastors Bill Watson and Adrian Davis!

As he prepared to introduce the author of the above-mentioned book (Trewhella), Rohrer said: "We’ll either define the problem of tyranny and resist it God’s way, and therefore defend freedom, or we’ll embrace tyranny by choosing to work the system to our own selfish advantage. And the dangers of embracing tyranny should be obvious, but I’m afraid it’s not to many. And because of the need to provide a biblical and historical solution and a roadmap to resisting tyranny, so that the more obvious historical examples of violent ways do not become necessary, we’re going to define, today, the terms of tyranny and the principle of what is known as the doctrine of the lesser magistrates. We’ll talk about that next. We’re going to talk and give both biblical and historical examples of this truth in action. And then, we’re going to conclude with a consideration of the consequences of our failure to identify and properly respond." Notice, that Rohrer takes it for granted that God wants his people to resist this "tyranny."

Next, he asked Pastor Trewhella where he would place the United States on his tyranny scale - ten representing tyranny and one representing freedom. Trewhella responded: "We’re definitely at eight, 10 being you’re sitting in a Gulag or being hunted by the officials for simply trying to live free and faithful and true to Christ. We’re definitely at eight. This is a pernicious evil, this whole COVID thing. They are actually using the citizens against each other. And they’ve convinced so many citizens that their actual lives are at stake. So, they’re vehement little tyrants themselves, playing the role of citizen Gestapo across our nation. And it’s coming to the fore with this whole masking matter." After quoting the late great CS Lewis, he continued: "People are convinced by our government and the media that their very lives are at stake because of this virus. And they are running to the arms of the state, not realizing the state is using this in order to increase their power. I’m telling you people better wake up. Don’t underestimate what’s going on, here, with this masking thing. I’ve read numerous posts, now, where the pro-mask people are talking about how the children should be taken away from those who refuse to wear masks. I’ve seen numerous videos where they’re shaming people who don’t wear masks, publicly, at stores or in public areas." Hmmmmmm, who was using Covid-19 to advance their own agenda?

Later, Rohrer set up the question that would get to the heart of what Trewhella was advocating for Christians to do. He said: "where tyranny raises its ugly head, the question arises, 'Well, what can we do about it?' What should be done about it? From a Christian perspective, we ask the question, 'How does one balance the command to submit oneself to the ordinances of man and the command to be salt and light and to resist the devil, which we are commanded to do?'"

Pastor Trewhella responded: "Sure. Well, the standard for true Christianity, down to the ages, Sam, has been that when the state commands that which God forbids or forbids that which God commands, we are to obey God rather than man. We’re to obey God rather than the state." He then went on to cite two Biblical examples of this phenomenon - 1) When Pharaoh ordered the Hebrew midwives to kill the male babies as they were delivered, and they refused; and 2) When Daniel was ordered not to pray to God, and he continued to do so. The lesson of these examples, according to Trewhella, "when the state commands that which God forbids, like murdering little babies, or forbids that which God commands, like saying, 'You can’t pray.' We are to obey God rather than man. We are to obey God rather than the state." Then, he came, at long last, to the thesis of his book: "So, it’s extremely important that we understand the law and the Word of God. So, as his people, we can live faithful to it. When it comes to the magistrates, the lesser magistrate takes the doctrine of interposition and demonstrates or exercises it with his office, with his lawful public civil office. He stands in the gap between the superior authority that is doing evil, decreeing evil, and those that they are wanting to victimize or oppress, hugely important doctrine for us to understand."

Hmmmm, so this doctrine is focused on Christians serving as civil magistrates? Why not the average Christian lay person? And, where is the basis for this doctrine in the writings of the New Testament? Why were both of his examples from the Old Testament, and did he accurately portray those examples?

Nevertheless, Pastor Trewhella went on to make clear that Christian lay people have an important role to play in pressuring those Christian "lesser magistrates" to do "the right thing." He continued: "the duty of the people is to press their lesser magistrates to interpose when evil is being done by the superior authority, and to rally with their lesser magistrates when they do do right. That is hugely important. So, you have to prod the magistrate to do right, let him know what his duty is, and then, assure him you will stand foursquare with him when he does do right. Massively important." Trewhella also made clear that he believes that their shepherds (pastors) should be talking about elections and making clear to their flocks exactly what God's will was in these matters. Unfortunately, most of the rest of the interview is concerned with providing historical examples of these principles in action.

Again, what about the Scriptural evidence for this doctrine? Where are those Scriptural citations? And, again, why this indirect way of addressing a Christian's political obligations to resisting government tyranny? Why is this accomplished through these "lesser magistrates" instead of by ordinary Christians?

The TRUTH is that there is NO Scriptural foundation for this teaching! In fact, this "Doctrine of the Lesser Magistrate" is the antithesis of the teaching of Christ and his apostles!

Of course, we should all be aware of the elephant in the room. I'm speaking of the fact that our Savior submitted himself to the Roman authorities and allowed them to put him to death! Now, if we are to follow Christ's example, what does that say about a Christian's responsibility to submit him/herself to the civil authority? Also, does anyone seriously believe that Jesus Christ personally approved of all of the ways that Romans used the taxes which they collected from their subjects? And, yet, when Christ was asked about paying taxes, Mark tells us that he said: "give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and give to God what belongs to God." (12:17, NLT)

In his Epistle to the Romans, Paul wrote: "Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God's wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God's wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed." (13:1-7, ESV) Yes, we MUST obey God over men, but we (as Christians) must also be willing to suffer whatever penalty/punishment the civil authority wishes to impose upon us when the two are in conflict!

Remember, Matthew informs us that Jesus said: "Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." (5:10) He also is reported to have said: "if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles." (5:39-41) Notice, that Christ explicitly teaches AGAINST actively resisting those who would mistreat or abuse us! Yes, that's hard, but there is no getting around the fact that this is what Christ taught!

Likewise, in the First Epistle of Peter, we read: "Be subject for the Lord's sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor." (2:13-17) In Paul's First Epistle to Timothy, we read: "First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way." Paul also wrote to Titus: "Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work." (3:1)

Now, what about those two examples that Pastor Trewhella cited in his remarks? First, the Hebrew midwives would have had to submit to Pharaoh's judgment if God hadn't intervened on their behalf. Likewise, although Daniel continued to pray in violation of the King's decree, notice that he was thrown into the Lion's Den as a consequence (see Daniel 6:1-28). We could also cite the example of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego who were thrown into the fiery furnace for their refusal to worship the king's image (see Daniel 3). To be sure, in all of these examples, God protected his servants! Nevertheless, the fact remains that ALL of them were subject to the civil authority who was placed over them.

Finally, Jesus instructed his disciples to pray for God's Kingdom to be established on this earth - for God's will to be done on this earth as it is in heaven (Matthew 6:10). Moreover, Scripture continuously warns Christians to NOT be a part of this world - to NOT become entangled in civilian affairs - to NOT participate in the Beast or in Babylon! The clear implication being that a Christian's primary citizenship is reserved for them in Heaven! Hence, from a Scriptural perspective, the "Doctrine of the Lesser Magistrate" is shown to be heretical, and that it should be avoided by all TRUE disciples of Jesus Christ!

Monday, August 21, 2023

The Essence of the Law and the Prophets

In the Gospel of Matthew, we read that Jesus Christ said: "Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets." (Verse 12, New Living Translation)

Saturday, August 19, 2023

Christian Sunday Observance Did NOT Originate in Ancient Pagan Practice!

In the The Good News (April 1957, Volume 6, Number 4), Herman Hoeh declared that: "Sunday observance came from sun worship." This statement, however, is NOT consistent with the history of the calendar which was in use during the First Century of the Common Era. In short, the narrative promulgated by many Sabbatarian Christians (including Herbert Armstrong and his disciples) that Christians borrowed Sunday observance from the pagans sometime in the Third Century (and made mandatory in the Fourth) is disproven by what we know about the history of the seven-day week.

As we all know, the Roman Empire ruled over Judea and the surrounding territories at the time of Christ's birth. And, although the Jews had observed the seven-day week for several hundreds of years by that time (the extent of that antiquity is debated by scholars), the seven-day week had only been introduced to the Romans a little over forty years before Christ was born. In other words, this way of measuring time was still brand new to the Roman world, and the old way of measuring time was still predominant among the pagan Romans.

Under the original Roman calendar, the solar year was divided into lunar months, and the individual days within each month were governed by the position of three important markers based on the phases of the moon. They were the: Calends (first appearance of the New Moon), Ides (Full Moon), and Nones (Quarter Moon or nine days before Ides). As far as a "weekly" cycle is concerned, the Romans had an EIGHT-day cycle (Nine days according to the inclusive way that Romans counted). In other words, the "nundines" constituted the traditional Roman day of rest. Of course, this system of reckoning time did NOT immediately disappear when Julius Caesar instituted his famous reforms of the Roman calendar.

Now, the old Roman calendar was so inefficient that it was completely out of sync with the solar year by the time that Julius Caesar assumed control of the Republic. As a consequence, Caesar consulted with the Egyptian astronomer Sosigenes to formulate a calendar that would keep up with the solar year. As part of this three hundred sixty-five-and 1/4-day year calendar of twelve months, the Babylonian/Jewish seven-day week was incorporated into the new system. Moreover, in keeping with the astronomy of the time, the seven classical "planets" (Sun, Moon, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus, and Saturn) were each assigned a day of the week to rule over (i.e., the day of the sun or Sunday).

The Catholic Encyclopedia article on Sunday informs us that: "the name of the first day of the week, is derived from Egyptian astrology. The seven planets, known to us as Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, the Sun, Venus, Mercury, and the Moon, each had an hour of the day assigned to them, and the planet which was regent during the first hour of any day of the week gave its name to that day (see CALENDAR). During the first and second century the week of seven days was introduced into Rome from Egypt, and the Roman names of the planets were given to each successive day. The Teutonic nations seem to have adopted the week as a division of time from the Romans, but they changed the Roman names into those of corresponding Teutonic deities. Hence the dies Solis became Sunday (German, Sonntag). Sunday was the first day of the week according to the Jewish method of reckoning, but for Christians it began to take the place of the Jewish Sabbath in Apostolic times as the day set apart for the public and solemn worship of God. The practice of meeting together on the first day of the week for the celebration of the Eucharistic Sacrifice is indicated in Acts, xx 7; I Cor., xvi, 2; in Apoc., i, 10, it is called the Lord's day. In the Didache (xiv) the injunction is given: 'On the Lord's Day come together and break bread. And give thanks (offer the Eucharist), after confessing your sins that your sacrifice may be pure'. St. Ignatius (Ep. ad Magnes. ix) speaks of Christians as 'no longer observing the Sabbath, but living in the observance of the Lord's Day, on which also Our Life rose again'. In the Epistle of Barnabas (xv) we read: 'Wherefore, also, we keep the eight day (i.e., the first of the week) with joyfulness, the day also on which Jesus rose again from the dead'." The article goes on to say that the writings of Justin Martyr (mid Second Century) include the first recorded mention of "Sunday" by a Christian.

In his article, Origins of the days of the week, Coolman wrote: "The seven-day week originates from the calendar of the Babylonians, which in turn is based on a Sumerian calendar dated to 21st-century B.C. Seven days corresponds to the time it takes for a moon to transition between each phase: full, waning half, new and waxing half. Because the moon cycle is 29.53 days long, the Babylonians would insert one or two days into the final week of each month." Coolman went on to assert that some scholars have even speculated that the Hebrews inherited their seven-day week from the Babylonians. He also corroborated the notion that the Romans did not begin using the seven-day week until Julius Caesar instituted the Julian Calendar.

Thus, from this history, we can see that the notion that Christians inherited the observance of Sunday from the Romans is absurd. Indeed, this chronology clearly suggests that the importance of Sunday or Saturday as a Christian day of worship and/or fellowship belongs wholly to the Christian era. In short, there wasn't any special connotation attached to the "venerable day of the Sun" prior to the Christians appropriation of the day for their own purposes. And, as we have suggested elsewhere, that association had to have begun in the First Century, not later (see other posts here dealing with that history). 

Sources:

Medium, Lessons from History, The Fascinating History Behind the Seven-Day Week, Published 20 February 2022

Baker, Nick and Watson, Joey, NewsWhere does the seven-day week come from and why does it govern our lives?, Published 4 January 2022

UNRV Roman HistoryThe Roman Calendar, Accessed 19 August 2023

BritannicaJulian Calendar, Accessed 19 August 2023

Bikos, Konstantin and Hocken, Vigdis, timeanddateThe Roman Calendar, Accessed 19 August 2023

Catholic Encyclopedia OnlineSunday, Accessed 19 August 2023

Coolman, Robert, Live Science, Origins of the days of the week, Published 7 May 2014

Friday, August 18, 2023

The Gospel of John and the Jewish Festivals

Herbert Armstrong and his associates have always downplayed and/or ignored the fact that the Torah makes plain that the annual festivals were given to the children of Israel (Leviticus 23:1). Nevertheless, the Gospel of John makes clear that the author regarded the festivals as Jewish artifacts.

We read there: "The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem." (John 2:13, ESV) Notice that it is described as "the Passover of the Jews, and that "Jesus went to Jerusalem" to observe it. This plainly contradicts the Armstrongist assertion that God intended for everyone everywhere to observe this festival.

Likewise, in the fifth chapter of the same Gospel, we read: "After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem." (5:1) In this case, the festival is not even identified. We are merely informed that "there was a feast of the Jews." And, once again, Jesus "went up to Jerusalem" to observe it.

Also, in the sixth chapter, we read: "Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was at hand." (6:4) And, in the next chapter, we read: "Now the Jews' Feast of Booths was at hand." (7:2) In the eleventh chapter, we read: " Now the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and many went up from the country to Jerusalem before the Passover to purify themselves." (11:55) Moreover, in the tenth chapter, we find Jesus observing the Feast of the Dedication (10:22). Hence, obviously, it does NOT follow that simply because Christ observed a Jewish festival that his Gentile disciples would be obligated to do the same!


Sunday, August 13, 2023

The Sermon on the Mount: The Written Commandments of Torah Are Insufficient!

In his Sermon on the Mount, Christ said: "unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." What did he mean by that? After all, the scribes and Pharisees were known for their teaching of, and obedience to, the commandments of Torah. Christ's meaning becomes clearer as we proceed in Matthew's account of his sermon.

Continuing, we see that Jesus enumerated several of the individual commandments of Torah, and then proceeded to insist that MORE was needed. He said: "You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire." Hence, for Jesus, we see that the literal commandment against murder was insufficient. He insisted that anger and insults would result in the same judgment that actually going out and murdering someone would effect.

Christ went one to say: "You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart." Once again, according to Jesus, obedience to the actual commandment by remaining physically faithful was not enough. Christ said that thinking about it - lusting after someone other than your spouse - was the equivalent of being physically unfaithful.

Jesus continued: "It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery." He then went on to render the commandment to keep one's oath obsolete by insisting that it was inappropriate to even swear to do something.

Christ continued: "You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you." Christ went on to insist that we love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. He said that reciprocal love was not enough - that we must love even those who do not love us. (See Matthew 5:20-48, ESV)

In all of these instances, Christ taught that his disciples must go beyond the literal commandment found in Torah. In other words, scrupulous obedience to those written commandments often did NOT fulfill the Divine intent which motivated them! Moreover, Christ's teachings on this occasion serve as the foundation of the New Testament understanding/interpretation of Torah/The Law. 



How Israel Made God Hate His Sabbaths and Festivals!

In the Torah, God revealed his Sabbaths and Festivals to Israel and commanded them to observe them as important reminders of his covenant with them. Even so, among the books of the Hebrew canon covering Israel's history, we find that their observance of those appointed times often fell short of God's expectations. Indeed, during the entire history of the kingdom(s), we find that there were only a few times when the festivals were actually observed in the manner prescribed by Scripture.

Hence, when God raised up prophets to warn the people of Israel about the consequences of their many violations of the terms of his covenant with them, it is no great wonder that we find in them a number of references to those Sabbaths and Festivals.

In the book of Isaiah, we read: "When you come to appear before me, who has required of you this trampling of my courts? Bring no more vain offerings; incense is an abomination to me. New moon and Sabbath and the calling of convocations— I cannot endure iniquity and solemn assembly. Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hates; they have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them." (1:12-14, ESV) Israel's failure to cherish and observe God's Sabbaths and festivals had made them a burden to God - something he didn't enjoy or appreciate. Indeed, we see in this passage that God no longer regarded them as HIS appointed times!

Likewise, in the book of Hosea, God speaks of Israel as an unfaithful wife - one who has violated the terms of the marriage covenant. We read there: "Now I will uncover her lewdness in the sight of her lovers, and no one shall rescue her out of my hand. And I will put an end to all her mirth, her feasts, her new moons, her Sabbaths, and all her appointed feasts." (2:10-11) Notice, once again, the Sabbaths and festivals have become HERS, not God's.

Also, in the book of Amos, we read: "I hate, I despise your feasts, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies. Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them; and the peace offerings of your fattened animals, I will not look upon them. Take away from me the noise of your songs; to the melody of your harps I will not listen. But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream." (5:21-24) The people of Israel became obsessed with the superficial appearance of righteousness. They had elevated the symbols of their faith and had completely ignored the weightier matters of the Law/Torah (Matthew 23:23).

Friday, August 11, 2023

Herbert Armstrong's Tempest

In the first week of August, I had the opportunity (with my family) to see the Illinois Shakespeare Festival production of The Tempest. Now, a little over a week later, I was thinking about Herbert Armstrong's life's work, and one of Prospero's speeches came to mind:

Our revels now are ended. These our actors,

As I foretold you, were all spirits and

Are melted into air, into thin air;

And like the baseless fabric of this vision,

The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces,

The solemn temples, the great globe itself,

Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve,

And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,

Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff

As dreams are made on, and our little life

Is rounded with a sleep. --The Tempest, Act 4, scene 1, Prospero (A play by William Shakespeare)

Sunday, August 6, 2023

CGI has a new booklet available

The Church of God International is currently accepting orders for "He Made Them Male and Female"

My reaction:

Yes, God created humans to be male and female. He also made them to have two eyes to see, two ears to hear, two arms, two hands, two legs, ten digits on both, two lungs to breathe, a heart to pump blood, a brain, etc. Sometimes, however, we produce copies without some of these features or with serious defects which cause them not to function in the manner that HE intended!

Friday, August 4, 2023

The Sabbath as a SIGN

Ironically, some of the passages of Scripture most often cited as prooftexts for carrying the Sabbath forward into the New Covenant do exactly the opposite! In the thirty-first chapter of Exodus, we read: "And the Lord said to Moses, 'You are to speak to the people of Israel and say, 'Above all you shall keep my Sabbaths, for this is a sign between me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I, the Lord, sanctify you. You shall keep the Sabbath, because it is holy for you. Everyone who profanes it shall be put to death. Whoever does any work on it, that soul shall be cut off from among his people. Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, holy to the Lord. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day shall be put to death. Therefore the people of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, observing the Sabbath throughout their generations, as a covenant forever. It is a sign forever between me and the people of Israel that in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested and was refreshed.'" (Exodus 31:12-17, ESV)

Notice, God said that the Sabbath was "a sign between me and you throughout your generations" - so that they would always know that it was God who had sanctified them or set them apart as his people! Indeed, the statement is reiterated to underscore its importance: "It is a sign forever between me and the people of Israel." Like male circumcision, the Sabbath was to serve as a SIGN of the covenant which God had made with the people of Israel.

Interestingly, the prophet Ezekiel also referenced this special role that the Sabbath played in God's relationship with the Israelites. In recounting the sordid history of their failure to live up to the terms of the covenant which God had made with them, we read: "I gave them my statutes and made known to them my rules, by which, if a person does them, he shall live. Moreover, I gave them my Sabbaths, as a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am the Lord who sanctifies them. But the house of Israel rebelled against me in the wilderness. They did not walk in my statutes but rejected my rules, by which, if a person does them, he shall live; and my Sabbaths they greatly profaned." (20:11-13) There it is again. Yes, they were GOD'S Laws and HIS Sabbaths, but HE specifically gave them to ISRAEL! And, like the reference in Torah, the statement is reiterated to underscore its significance. A few verses down, we read: "And I said to their children in the wilderness, ‘Do not walk in the statutes of your fathers, nor keep their rules, nor defile yourselves with their idols. I am the Lord your God; walk in my statutes, and be careful to obey my rules, and keep my Sabbaths holy that they may be a sign between me and you, that you may know that I am the Lord your God.’ But the children rebelled against me. They did not walk in my statutes and were not careful to obey my rules, by which, if a person does them, he shall live; they profaned my Sabbaths." (Verses 18-21)

This is significant! The Sabbath was a sign of the covenant between God and the Children of Israel - the Old Covenant. Gentiles were NOT part of that covenant! Indeed, the only way that a Gentile could be a part of that covenant was to become a Torah observant Jew! Moreover, there is NOTHING in Scripture to suggest that God EVER regarded the Sabbath as a sign between him and the other peoples of the earth! In the language of the New Covenant, Gentile Christians would NOT be required to become Torah observant Jews (Acts 15), and the signs of the Old Covenant (circumcision and Sabbaths) would only apply to them in a spiritual sense (Romans 2:26, 28 and Hebrews 4).

Tuesday, August 1, 2023

The Gospel of Herbert Armstrong vs The Gospel of Jesus Christ (Part 4)

In his book Mystery of the Ages, Herbert Armstrong wrote: "Why do the churches disagree on what actually is 'the gospel of Jesus Christ'? During the first twenty or thirty years after the founding of the Church in A.D. 31 a violent controversy arose over the very question of what is 'the gospel of Jesus Christ.' There ensued a hundred years in which all history of the New Testament Church was destroyed. It has been called 'the lost century of Church history.' When the curtain lifted, about the middle of the second century, there appeared an entirely different type of church calling itself Christian, but in the main preaching its own gospel ABOUT Christ, not the gospel OF Christ. The gospel OF Christ was the gospel Christ proclaimed. Jesus was a Messenger sent from God with a message, and that message was THE KINGDOM OF GOD. Christ’s message was Christ’s gospel-the gospel OF Christ. It had not been proclaimed to the world until the first week in 1953, when for the first time in about 1,900 years-a century of time cycles-it went out on the world‘s most powerful radio station, Radio Luxembourg in Europe." (Pages 293-294)

Now, we have already seen that Mr. Armstrong's characterization of Christ's Gospel message was flawed, and we have clearly demonstrated from Scripture that the Gospel of the canonical New Testament was focused on Christ and salvation through him. Moreover, we will shortly see that Armstrong's claim that Christ's Gospel had not been proclaimed for 1,900 years was ABSURD!

In the Catechism of the Catholic Church, under "Article 2: The Transmission of Divine Revelation," we read: "God 'desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth': that is Jesus Christ. Christ must be proclaimed to all nations and individuals, so that this revelation may reach to the ends of the earth: God graciously arranged that the things he had once revealed for the salvation of all peoples should remain in their entirety, throughout the ages, and be transmitted to all generations." Continuing, under the subheading of "The Apostolic Tradition," we read: "Christ the Lord, in whom the entire revelation of the most high God is summed up, commanded the apostles to preach the Gospel, which had been promised beforehand by the prophets, and which he fulfilled in his own person and promulgated with his own lips. In preaching the Gospel, they were to communicate the gifts of God to all men. The Gospel was to be the source of all saving truth and moral discipline." The document goes on to note that this Apostolic preaching of the Gospel was handled in two ways: orally and in writing (Scripture).

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia Online, the first four books of the New Testament canon (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) were designated as "Gospels" very early in the history of the Church. Indeed, we read there: "The first word common to the headings of our four Gospels is Euaggelion , some meanings of which remain still to be set forth. The word, in the New Testament , has the specific meaning of 'the good news of the kingdom' (cf. Matthew 4:23; Mark 1:15). In that sense, which may be considered as primary from the Christian standpoint, Euaggelion denotes the good tidings of salvation announced to the world in connexion with Jesus Christ, and, in a more general way, the whole revelation of Redemption by Christ (cf. Matthew 9:35; 24:14; etc.; Mark 1:14; 13:10; 16:15; Acts 20:24; Romans 1:1, 9, 16; 10:16; etc.). This was, of course, the sole meaning connected with the word, so long as no authentic record of the glad tidings of salvation by Christ had been drawn up. In point of fact, it remained the only one in use even after such written records had been for some time received in the Christian Church: as there could be but one Gospel, that is, but one revelation of salvation by Jesus Christ, so the several records of it were not regarded as several Gospels, but only as distinct accounts of one and the same Gospel. Gradually, however, a derived meaning was coupled with the word Euaggelion."

Hence, we see that what the Catholic Church has to say on the subject is consistent with what we have already read in Scripture. In other words, the basic message which that organization has promulgated down through the centuries is consistent with that Scriptural formula of a message about Christ and salvation through him. Now, this should NOT be regarded as an endorsement of the Roman Catholic Church or its doctrine. Rather, it simply demonstrates that that organization has proclaimed the same basic message which Christ and his apostles had proclaimed in the First Century. Indeed, even if we make an attempt to make the case that their messaging is not the same, their logic that that message is transmitted in the writings of the New Testament canon is unassailable! In other words, the narrative that the Gospel of the Kingdom was not proclaimed for 1,900 years does NOT hold up to scrutiny!

Likewise, in The Large Catechism of Martin Luther, we read: "Let it then be considered the sum of this article that the little word Lord signifies simply as much as Redeemer, i.e. He who has brought us from Satan to God, from death to life, from sin to righteousness, and who preserves us in the same. But all the points which follow in order in this article only serve to express and explain this redemption; that is, how and whereby it was accomplished, how much be suffered and what he paid and risked, that he might redeem us and bring us under his dominion, namely, that he became man, conceived and born without [any stain of] sin, of the Holy Ghost and of the Virgin Mary, that he might be Lord over sin; that he suffered, died and was buried, that he might make satisfaction for me and pay what I owe, not with silver nor gold, but with his own precious blood. And all that in order to become my Lord. For he did none of these for himself, nor had he any need of it. And after that he rose again from the dead, destroyed and swallowed up death, and finally ascended into heaven and assumed the government at the Father’s right hand; so that the devil and all principalities and powers must be subject to him and lie at his feet, until finally at the last day he will part and separate us from the wicked world, from the devil, death, sin, etc." Now, I don't know about you, but that reads like the Reader's Digest condensed version of the Gospel of Christ to me, and this from the man who inaugurated the Protestant Reformation!

On the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) website, we read: "The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) is a body of like-minded local churches cooperating together to reach the world with the Good News of Jesus Christ." As part of their Baptist Faith & Message 2000, under the section on "Evangelism and Missions," we read: "It is the duty and privilege of every follower of Christ and of every church of the Lord Jesus Christ to endeavor to make disciples of all nations. The new birth of man’s spirit by God’s Holy Spirit means the birth of love for others. Missionary effort on the part of all rests thus upon a spiritual necessity of the regenerate life, and is expressly and repeatedly commanded in the teachings of Christ. The Lord Jesus Christ has commanded the preaching of the gospel to all nations. It is the duty of every child of God to seek constantly to win the lost to Christ by verbal witness undergirded by a Christian lifestyle, and by other methods in harmony with the gospel of Christ."

Also, in To be a Christian: An Anglican Catechism, we find a rather comprehensive summary of "The Gospel." We read there: "God created the world and made us to be in loving relationship with him. Though created good, human nature became fatally flawed, and we are now all out of step with God. In Bible language, we are sinners, guilty before God and separated from him. The good news of the Gospel is that God took loving action in Jesus Christ to save us from this dire situation. The key facts of this divine remedy are these: God the Father sent his eternal Son into this world to reconcile us to himself, to free us to love and serve him, and to prepare us to share his glory in the life to come. Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary through the Holy Spirit, lived a perfect life, died for our sins, and rose bodily from the dead to restore us to God. Given authority by his Father, Jesus now rules in heaven as King over all things, advancing God’s kingdom throughout the world. In the fullness of time, Jesus will return to establish his kingdom in its glory on earth, and all things will be renewed. Reigning in heaven over all things, Jesus Christ continues to draw sinners to himself. He enables us by his Holy Spirit to turn wholeheartedly from our sinful and self-centered ways (repentance), and to entrust ourselves to him to live in union and communion with him (faith). In spiritual terms, sin is the way of death, and fellowship with Christ is the way of life." (Page 20)

Hence, as we have demonstrated here, the notion that the "true" Gospel had not been proclaimed for 1,900 years is ABSURD! While we may not agree with all of the doctrines/beliefs of the various denominations of the traditional Church, it is very clear that they proclaimed the message about Jesus Christ, and the salvation which was available to us through him. And, if we insist that their message must be correct in all particulars, we must conclude that Herbert Armstrong and his followers have also failed that test!

* Also, the notion that a "lost century" of Church History occurred has been thoroughly discredited on this blog and elsewhere.

The Gospel of Herbert Armstrong vs The Gospel of Jesus Christ (Part 3)

As with the epistles of Paul, the writings of the other New Testament writers reflect the same preoccupation with Jesus Christ and salvation through him. In the first epistle of Peter, we read: "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time." (I Peter 1:3-5) Moreover, Peter sees this message as having been anticipated by the Hebrew prophets. We read: "Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look." (Verses 10-12)

This Christ-centered message is also apparent in the first epistle of John. We read there: "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete. This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin." (1:1-7) Once again, the message is focused on Jesus Christ and salvation through him.

Likewise, in the anonymously authored epistle to the Hebrews, we read: "Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high." (1:1-3) And, after discussing in more detail the preeminence of Jesus, we read: "Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable, and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard, while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will." (2:1-4) Continuing in the epistle, we read about Christ's superiority to Moses, his role as our High Priest, and how the sacrificial system of Torah pointed to him. In other words, once again, the message is focused on Jesus Christ and salvation through him!

Moreover, as we will now demonstrate, Christ was also the focus of those prophecies which Herbert Armstrong loved to quote in his writings about the Gospel of the KINGDOM of God! In the book of Daniel, we are informed that King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon had a dream, and that the prophet interpreted its meaning for him. After informing him that his kingdom would be followed by three more great empires, he said that the fourth kingdom would be replaced by God's eternal Kingdom (Daniel 2:31-45). And the contrast with those human kingdoms could not be any plainer. Once again, God's Kingdom would be the very antithesis of those human kingdoms. Later, Daniel wrote: "I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed." (Daniel 7:13-14) Now, that this passage is referring to Jesus is acknowledged almost universally by Christian scholars (even Armstrong believed it did).

That Jesus would be the king of that future kingdom was also underscored by the writings of Isaiah. In that book, we read: "For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this." (9:6-7) A little later, in the same book, we read: "There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit. And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. And his delight shall be in the fear of the Lord. He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide disputes by what his ears hear, but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked. Righteousness shall be the belt of his waist, and faithfulness the belt of his loins." (11:1-5)

Now that we have established that both Daniel and Isaiah place Christ at the center of the Kingdom of God, what about the salvation that was to be achieved through Jesus? In that same book of Isaiah, the prophet predicted that Jesus would be despised and rejected when he appeared on this earth (53:1-3). In the same passage, his salvific work was predicted. We read there: "Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people? And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth. Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors." (53:4-12)

Thus, we have seen, in both the Old and New Testaments, that the Good News about God's Kingdom is inextricably linked to Jesus Christ and salvation through him. Likewise, we are forced to confront the absolute absurdity of the notion that the Gospel which Christ and his apostles proclaimed was focused on government and the establishment of a physical kingdom. Next, we will take a closer look at Herbert Armstrong's assertion that traditional Christianity has been preaching a false gospel for most of the last nineteen hundred years!