Zion Ministries - Bible prophecy
WHY THE CONFUSION ABOUT GOD'S GOVERNMENT?
Did Christ institute a hierachical government among his disciples? How does God govern His Church? Who is in charge of the Body of Christ? Do you really know?
By Neville V. StevensNew International Version used throughout unless otherwise stated.
For some years now a verbal battle has raged over how government is structured in God's Church. Some insist that hierarchical government is God's way, others have refuted this claiming this form of government has its roots in paganism. Both factions claim impressive support from the Bible. Which is right? Or are they both wrong? Whatever faction you support, the true answer to the question will shock you!
For too long the Church has been narrowly focused; always believing that God's whole focus was directed to them. For some strange reason, they have imagined that their whole existence is of primary concern to God and the welfare of the nations is of secondary importance. So bizarre has this perception become, that one fruitloop leader believes that prophecies that date back thousands of years, were directed against a relatively insignificant man who happens to control the administration of one of the Churches.
God is sufficiently concerned about the nations of this earth that He has given them perfect Laws to obey. These were given from the first day that human beings were placed on the earth. God made Adam aware of them from that very day! What is more, Adam taught them to his sons and his son's sons. Abel obeyed his father, Cain didn't! Adam, according to Josephus, Ant.1:2:3, footnote) had 33 sons and 23 daughters. After Abel, Adam had many sons. None of them followed their father in righteousness. Then Adam fathered a son in his own likeness and image - his name was Seth.Gen 5:3 "When Adam had lived 130 years, he had a son in his own likeness, in his own image, and he named him Seth." It was through the line of Seth that every righteous man (apart from Adam and Abel) who has ever lived was born. Of all Adam's sons, only Seth carried the righteous seed. What is meant by 'in his own likeness and in his own image'? Adam was created in the likeness and image of God (Gen 1:26) - and Seth had that same likeness and image!
Christ is called the second Adam(1Cor 15:45). It is unconscionable to believe that Adam was not a righteous man, otherwise why would Christ be compared with him. Adam was indeed a righteous man and taught righteousness to his children. The Apostle Paul makes it clear that Adam was not deceived: ITim 2:14 "For Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner." Of all Adam's offspring, only one son obeyed his father in the worship of God, and instilled within his progeny the need for obedience to God. All of Adam's other children listened to, and were beguiled by, their mother Eve. Through the offspring of Seth, the thin line of righteous seed continued to weave its way through humanity for 6,000 years, and always in the extreme minority.
Seth lived 912 years and saw vast nations of human beings proliferate on the earth. In the absence of a moderating factor, the nations of this earth have committed the most vile acts imaginable against each other. Mindless cruelty and bestial behaviour has been the hallmark of many if not most of these hostile degenerates. It was men like Seth that were the moderating factor in the behaviour of the races of the earth. Through the line of Seth came another righteous man; his name was Noah. This man recognized the benefits, and indeed, the necessity, to obey the perfect laws of God. He became a preacher of righteousness(2Pet 2:5). According to Josephus, Noah had to pack up his belongings and leave the area in which he lived because of the hostility towards him. He feared for the lives of his family. (Jos.Ant.1:3:1). God recognized the faithful obedience of the man, and observed that he was perfect in his generations and that he walked with God (Gen 6:9).
So right at the outset, God made provision for the emergence of a righteous line of human beings. They were always the minority, and they were always under attack from the degenerative seed of Satan. It was in this atmosphere of hostility that God set forth to do His mighty work.
Some in the Church have tried to keep one foot on each side of the fence by claiming a form of hierarchical government, yet opting to inject elements of democracy into their constitutions. These people support neither one nor the other, but rather, they blend a mixture of the two.
What characterizes God's way is the 'rule of law.' God has set lasting precedents for the administration of the 'rule of law' from the very earliest days. All nations are subject to God's 'rule of law.' Throughout the history of the human kind, God has placed His Law foremost and above the contrived laws of humanity. And all of humanity is required to obey them whether they are aware of them or not! This is an undeniable fact!
The bitter lesson of human experience is that all attempts by people to institute forms of government apart from God's Laws has resulted in abominable oppression and failure. Recognizing the diabolical nature of oppressive regimes throughout history, mainstream christianity has spearheaded a drive for co-existence in the absence of God's Laws. They speak with 'much love' yet deny the power of God. Their philosophy is to 'mould' God to their form of righteousness, insisting that any form of law is oppressive including God's eternal Law. They happily comply with the laws of the land for fear of retribution, but refuse to acknowledge that retribution from God is inevitable for disobedience.
Central to the whole theme of the Bible is the need to comply with God's Laws and statutes. This is an essential requirement for all of humanity.
When God chose Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and all the descendants of Jacob, He was their King and Ruler. Abraham worshipped the King of Peace and paid tithes to Him(Gen 14:18-20). God told Abraham, almost from the very outset, that his descendants would be subjugated in a land of evil - Egypt! They were to have no permanent home for 430 years. And after this period which started shortly after Abraham's death (probably the very same year) in 1876BC, God would deliver them, and lead them to the land of their inheritance. In 1446BC, Moses led the tribes of Israel out of Egypt.
GOD RULES OVER ALL
No one on this earth rules in any capacity without the consent of God. God sets up kings and He also destroys them. All are responsible to God whether they acknowledge it or not.Dan 5:21 "...that the Most High God is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and sets over them anyone he wishes."
God made it obvious from the days of Adam and Eve that every human being was subject to His authority, and that their allegiance was to be directed to Him - not to any man! Those who served God received the blessings of a servant of God. Those who chose to serve man received the curse of such service. Within a generation or so from Adam, mankind rebelled against their Creator, and sought a government apart from God. They clearly didn't want God to rule over them.
In time, despots arose who subjugated those under them to severe penalties for disobedience. Tyranny became the accepted form of government, and led people to forget God, concentrating their efforts on obedience to a human ruler under threat of death for disobedience. This type of unyielding, uncompromising rulership soon forced humanity to serve its human master to the exclusion of God. Christ rightly said, that no man can serve two masters(Matt 6:24). Christ was speaking of 'storing treasures in heaven.' The only treasure that we can store in heaven is the tribute that we pay to God in righteousness. This, Christ pointed out, is the real treasure! Paul said that to whom you yield yourself a servant to obey, his servant are you to whom you obey (Rom 6:16). Herein lies the truth about government - either we obey God or we obey a human master. The choice is yours - but you cannot have both and still please God.
Paul made it clear that he was speaking in human terms(V19) of spiritual things. He drew the distinction between obedience to sin and the obedience to righteousness and labelled them exactly the same! Rom 6:16 "Don't you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey - WHETHER you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?" Paul clearly tells us that obedience to anyone whether for sin or righteousness is a personal submission to slavery. This seems like a strange thing to say until you realize that he goes on to explain to whom we are slaves: V22 "But now that you have been set free from sin and become slaves to God, the benefit that you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life." The problem with mindless obedience to those who pretend to teach the Gospel is that all too often lies and distortions are taught; and it you have yielded yourself to obey these people, then you feel obligated to believe them. If we are truly slaves to God then we will follow His teachings. This means that we will be devoted to understanding His Word. Even if an angel from heaven were to teach contrary to the Word of God we should reject him! How much more a foolish human being!
CAPTAINS OF THOUSANDS...
Many have pointed out that in the days of Moses God established a form of government with captains of thousands, captains of hundreds and so on. This system was established following a suggestion by Jethro, the Midianite priest, the father-in-law of Moses. (The Midianites were the descendants of Abraham through Keturah, his wife after Sarah died -Gen 25:1). Seeing Moses sitting all day long judging disputes among the Israelites, he suggested that Moses appoint people to judge the lesser matters, and to restrict his own judgments to the weightier matters only. This, say the ministry, was God's form of government in the days of Moses and afterwards, and therefore establishes the principle of government in the Church. They believe that God later changed this form of government to that of a system of Apostles, pastors, elders, etc, who would rule over the Churches of God today. They don't observe this principle of captains of thousands, hundreds, etc, but choose to supplant it with a system of apostles, evangelists, pastors, preaching elders, local elders, deacons, etc. This is what they believe is the New Testament version of God's form of government.
This is totally wrong as we shall soon see!
Matthew frequently referred to the Kingdom of God as the Kingdom of heaven. The other gospel writers usually used the term 'Kingdom of God.' The Worldwide Church of God constantly reinforced the distinction between the word 'of' and 'in', implying that the Kingdom that was meant was the Kingdom OF heaven, not the Kingdom IN heaven. The implication being that there is no Kingdom IN heaven, and that God's Kingdom is yet to be established. This was a foolish and insensitive distinction to make. God has a Kingdom IN heaven. He rules from His throne. He is the Great King(Ps 47:2, 95:3, Mal 1:14). He is soon to establish THAT Kingdom on earth.
God has not yet established His Kingdom on earth. There are kingdoms on earth, and they are ruled by humans and for humans. But not one of them rules without God's permission. God, the Great King in Heaven, sets up kingdoms and kings and destroys them as He sees fit. God, through His Sovereign power, appoints whom He will. These however, are not God's kingdoms or kings. God's Kingdom has never failed and will never fail. Only one assault on God's Kingdom has occurred - this was by Lucifer who became Satan the devil, and that coup failed!(Luke 10:18). God's Kingdom is invincible and is yet to be set up on earth (Dan 2:44). No kingdom or government on earth can claim invincibility! Not even the kingdom of Israel and Judah. Both eventually were defeated.
God permitted ancient Israel to have a king, even though this request for self-government was a rejection of God.I Sam 8:7-8 "But when they said, "Give us a king to lead us," this displeased Samuel, so he prayed to the LORD. And the LORD told him: "Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected as their king, but Me."
Samuel was a priest and prophet that ruled over them, and they acknowledged him as such. But it was God they were rejecting. They didn't want God to rule over them. We learn that they had never served God anywayV9 "As they have done from the day I brought them out of Egypt, until this day, forsaking Me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you."
Was the kingdom of Israel an invincible force? No it wasn't!. They were beaten in war on many occasions, and finally, they were totally defeated and went into captivity. Their invincibility was dependent on their relationship with God. To imagine that the kingdom of Israel was the Kingdom in heaven - God's Kingdom, over which He rules - is ludicrous! They rejected God from the day they were led out of Egypt! Before the tribes of Israel demanded a king, they were called the 'church in the wilderness'.(Acts 7:38). This applies only to the period of 40 years when they were led by Moses. Afterwards they were known as the children or house of Israel.
Since the Kingdom of God has not yet been established on earth, no government structure is yet in place. No one has been appointed to any government office. There are no human positions of authority in God's government yet! Christ is to return with His rewards - positions in His Kingdom. Christ will be appointed Ruler over all the Father's Kingdom. Christ will be the King of kings. The kings referred to here are those who qualify for entry into God's Kingdom.
There are people in the Churches of God who believe they have already established God's Kingdom or government on earth; that they have received their rewards and positions of authority, even though the King has not yet returned to appoint them, and neither has He set up His government on earth!
The Worldwide Church of God has consistently asserted that the words 'kingdom' and 'government' can be used interchangably. This is true sometimes! They do mean basically the same thing, even though a government is not necessarily a kingdom. For instance, the United States of America has a government but they don't have a kingdom. God's only form of Government is the kingdom form. His government is not based on democratic principles. It is rulership from the top down. The history of human existence has proven again and again and again, that this form of government doesn't work with human forms of government. Inevitably, it leads to a form of tyranny that is unjust.
Even in the most perfect form of democracy, there is still government from the top down, and this doesn't work either. The President of the United States pushes laws through the houses of government that are destructive to the broader masses. Legalized homosexuality, abortion laws, laws that favour minority groups to the detriment of the broader masses. The system simply doesn't work! Even democratic governments, based on the principle of 'by the people and for the people' never fully accomplishes these objectives.
God, in his wisdom, has not ceded his Kingdom to anyone. Nor has He ceded his government to any man or group of men. Christ, in saying 'let this not be so among you' was clearly saying that as sons and heirs, the people of God don't have human beings ruling over them.(Matt 20:25, Mark 10:42, Luke 22:25). They are under the control of their Father, and as sons, they honour their Father by honouring His other sons and daughters.
Now some might say that in a family situation, the firstborn has precedence over the rest of the sons. The Bible certainly supports this. So who is the firstborn in the Church? Is it a self-appointed ruler of the brethren? Is it an apostle, or an evangelist or pastor? You had better believe that it's Christ! He is the firstborn of many brethren(Col 1:18, Heb 12:23). He is the One who holds that privilege. All the rest are equal in status.
Christ is yet to return and establish His Kingdom on earth and of this government there will be no end:Dan 2:44 "In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure for ever." Christ has not yet returned so His government has not yet been established on earth! Those who state that it has, are dangerously close to blasphemy! What is more, by making such assumptions they demonstrate that they have no understanding of the reasons why God's government must soon be established on earth. Even the Jews at the time of Christ were expecting Him to set up a kingdom. Again and again the Bible speaks of the time when many people will be in the Kingdom of God, and always this refers to the time of Christ's second coming. Those who use the argument that 'kingdom' and 'government' are interchangable would find difficulty in presenting plausible argument for their form of government over the Body of Christ! God's Kingdom and government are not yet established on earth! They say that a type of God's government is already here and that the Worldwide Church of God, under Herbert W. Armstrong, commanded God's government. If they imagine that the rebellious behaviour that arose under that hierarchy and which they claim is God's government, then the very act of claiming it as God's government on earth is blasphemy!!
The whole reason for the establishment of God's Kingdom and Government on earth is so that rebellion will never arise again:Isa 24:20-23 "The earth reels like a drunkard, it sways like a hut in the wind; so heavy upon it is the guilt of rebellion that it falls - never to arise again." God's true servants will NEVER rebel against His government! It cannot and will not happen!
Those who seek to be reverenced by others in God's Church, who appoint themselves above all others, who believe that they are the leaders of God's government on earth are blasphemers! No Christian should take this matter lightly!
To illustrate the potential evil of the hierarchical form of government that the Worldwide Church of God observed and enforced, one need only to go back to the mid-to-late 70's and note what happened. Certain doctrinal questions were raised at Pasadena by prominent individuals. These questions challenged the concept of hierarchical government and other issues. The fuse that ignited these questions was shocking disclosures of sexual misconduct by the upper echelons of the hierarchy. This was the catalyst that emboldened those who were dissatisfied with the questionable doctrine that they had been required to preach for so many years. The general reaction to these questions by the upper echelons of the hierarchy was complete hostility! Rather than discussing and reviewing all these questions according to the principles and teachings of the Bible, the brute beasts of Pasadena began casting all dissenters out of the Church.
In the book of Jude, we find a passage of scripture that describes this type of conduct:Jude 1:3 "Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints. For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of God into a license for immorality and DENY Jesus Christ our ONLY Sovereign and Lord." Notice to whom the faith was entrusted! Was it to the ministry? No! It was to the saints! ALL of them! So the self-proclaimed leaders of the Body of Christ don't monopolise the faith that was once delivered to the saints. These are 'godless men'! This may seem a little strong, but when you discover whom this scripture refers to, it takes on a whole new dimension! We should also remember the words of Christ in the parable of the ten virgins. Of the five foolish virgins Christ had this to say: Matt 25:12 "But He replied, 'I tell you the truth, I don't know you.'" Christ is speaking to those who had His Holy Spirit but had allowed it to flame out. He considered these as though they had never had it. So the 'godless men' is significant regardless of whether they were once true Christians or not!
Within the context of Jude's epistle, we find that these men were prophesied to end in eternal condemnation!'For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you' describes the stealth these people have employed to gain their own ends. Zechariah forewarns us of those who enjoin to the worthless shepherd and ride the gravy train to the end: Zech 11:15 "Then the LORD said to me, "Take again the equipment of a foolish shepherd. For I am going to raise up a shepherd over the land who will not care for the lost, or seek the young, or heal the injured, or feed the healthy, but will eat the meat of the choice sheep, tearing off their hoofs." This was a parable where Zechariah is told to act out the part of a foolish shepherd. God tells him what to do to portray this foolish shepherd who was to come. V17 "Woe to the worthless shepherd who deserts the flock! May the sword strike his arm and his right eye! May his arm be completely withered, his right eye totally blinded." This prophecy has been fulfilled after 2,500 years. God used this parable to identify a man by name. When God finally struck this man down, no longer was his ARM STRONG and he was blind in his right eye - both physically and spiritually! Just so you would understand what is meant, Christ told us that the eye is of special significance: Matt 6:22 "The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness." Significantly, the parable of Zechariah specifically mentions the right eye. This is the eye that is directed to the sheep who stand on the right. The goats stand on the left. This is the eye through which this shepherd should have illuminated the flock! But he was blind in his right eye! For further information see the article "Who is the Flock Marked for Slaughter?"
Jude says these godless men 'deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.' And what are they denying? They are denying Christ's Sovereignty and Lordship over His flock - these imposters claim this for themselves! Like the brute beasts that they are, they try to totally dominate Christ's Body!
Jude continues:"In the very same way, these dreamers pollute their own bodies (as well as the body of Christ) reject authority (Christ's authority) and slander celestial beings." They actually believe they have authority over Christ's Body!! Notice now what Jude says: "But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not DARE to bring a slanderous accusation against him, but said, "The Lord rebuke you." Even Michael wouldn't dare to assume God's authority, but merely said that the Lord rebukes him.' The spirit world fears and trembles before God's awesome power. These words alone would have reminded Satan of fearsome consequences for disobedience. But the men that Jude speaks of don't fear God! In the past, they feared only the worthless shepherd! They feared losing their jobs! V11 "Woe to them! They have taken the way of Cain, they have rushed for profit into Balaam's error; they have been destroyed in Korah's rebellion."
ContinuingV10 "Yet these men speak abusively against whatever they don't understand, and what things they do understand, by instinct, like unreasoning animals - these are the things that destroy them." There was certainly plenty they didn't understand! Whatever they didn't understand, they made it up as they went along. In regard to prophecy they understood nothing! Like mindless animals they believed and taught whatever was told them, refusing to put it to the test from the Bible. Consequently they were barren and worthless and like the wandering demons: V12 "These men are blemishes at your love feasts, eating with you without the slightest qualm - SHEPHERDS who feed only themselves. They are clouds without rain, blown along by the wind; autumn trees, without fruit and uprooted - twice dead. They are wild waves of the sea, foaming up their shame, wandering stars, for whom the blackest darkness has been reserved for ever."
Yes, this is referring to shepherds who have crept into the ministry by boasting, and flattery of others, to their own advantage(V16). Of course Jude was speaking of 'certain men' and by no means all ministers. Some of those in the ministry don't fall into the category of that described by Jude. Many, who had no ability as teachers, should not have been in the ministry in the first place. Teachers or elders are those who have been given special ability to understand the scriptures. Instead, most were chosen for their special ability to flatter the hierarchy and to prove themselves 'solid' in the doctrine proclaimed by 'shepherds who feed only themselves.'
You must judge these matters for yourself. If you are to judge angels, then you must certainly be able to exercise the Spirit to discern the righteous from the unrighteous. If the 'ministers' don't speak according to the scriptures it's because there is no light in them! Don't be beguiled!
MOSES - A TYPE OF CHRIST
It's commonly understood that Moses was a type of Christ. In fact, Moses told us so in a prophecy. He spoke of a prophet that would arise from them.Deut 18:15 "The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own brothers. You must listen to him. For this is what you asked of the LORD your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly when you said, "Let us not hear the voice of the LORD our God nor see this great fire any more, or we will die." This is what Moses said in regard to Christ, who was the prophet just like Moses. Then God spoke! God ALSO spoke of a prophet, a second prophet who would come - just like Moses! V17 "The LORD said to me, "What they say is good. I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers; I will put my words in his mouth, and he will tell them everything I command him. If anyone does not listen to my words that the prophet speaks in my name, I myself will call him to account. But a prophet that presumes to speak in my name anything I have not commanded him to say, or a prophet who speaks in the name of other gods, must be put to death."
This is the famous prophecy of Moses that told of the coming of Christ. This prophecy of Deuteronomy is quoted twice in the New Testament -Acts 7:35-37 and Acts 3:22. After Christ's resurrection, He met with two disciples, seven miles from Jerusalem. It is evident that these two men were of the 120 disciples not of the Eleven whom they immediately went to tell of these things (V33). As they walked towards a village He explained to them all the prophecies concerning Himself, starting with Moses and all the prophets: Luke 24:25-27 "He said to them, "How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?" And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He explained to them what was said in all the scriptures concerning Himself."
There is great significance in Moses' prophecy. There are four main points:
1. It identified the coming of Christ.
2. It identified Christ with the statement that He would only speak the words of His Father - which Christ constantly re-asserted throughout His ministry.
3. It stated "You must listen to Him." Of course, this applies to God's own people - and specifically the tribes of Israel - not the rest of the world. After all, there are billions of people who don't listen to Christ and who don't get called to account by God. Those of God's own people that don't listen to Christ's words are called to account by God Himself - not by a human being!
4. It was this very prophecy that inspired the Jewish leaders to put Him to death. They were expecting another Moses to free them from slavery. There was also confusion because Christ was of the tribe of Judah and of the line of David. They didn't recognize that the man that God spoke about 'just like Moses' was fulfilled in John the Baptist who had to appear first. Similarly, in the latter days the Levite prophet will appear first. The second prophet of the tribe of Judah and the line of David will come afterwards, and jointly they will complete a 3½ ministry JUST LIKE CHRIST! The Scribes and Pharisees refused to believe He was the Son of God - accusing him of being of the devil. Because of their mistaken belief, they used this very scripture to condemn Him.
Moses was a type of Christ, and as such he communed directly with God face to face. After Moses' departure, Joshua assumed command over the nation. God no longer spoke directly to Joshua, but through the medium of the Urim and Thummin of the high priest:Num 27:18-23 "So the LORD said to Moses, "Take Joshua, the son of Nun, a man in whom is the Spirit, and lay your hand on him. Make him stand before Eleazar the priest and the entire assembly and commission him in their presence. Give him SOME of your authority so that the whole Israelite community will obey him. He is to stand before Eleazar the priest, who will obtain decisions for him by inquiring of the Urim before the LORD.""
The high, Christ-like office of Moses was not passed on. It ceased with Moses. The death of Moses ushered in a whole new contractual arrangement. Joshua received only some of Moses' authority. No longer did God deal with the leader of Israel face to face, but through the priesthood and the Urim. So Joshua, who ruled after Moses, was not given all the power of Moses. The tribe of Levi, however, retained their power through the priesthood. But Joshua, of the tribe of Ephraim, retained the physical rule over all the tribes. So here we see an example of leadership on a national basis. Joshua was the leader, but he wasn't a priest. He did have God's Holy Spirit to enable him to rule effectively according to God's way. Joshua was the first of the judges, and Samuel was the last.
Whereas Moses spoke to God face to face - just like Christ, and who was a prophet - just like Christ, those who followed after him, and who actually sat in his seat(Matt 23:2) were not given this privilege. Moses spoke of another prophet, just like himself - he did not speak of many. Just one! God spoke of the other! The prophet that he referred to was Christ! Moses was a type of Chrst who ruled over a physical nation. Christ did not sit in Moses' seat because Christ rules over a spiritual nation - His Body! Moses was a type of the Christ, and since Christ was 'just like Moses', He was a type of Moses. Christ will return and rule over the physical nation of Israel, and also the whole world.
DID THE LAW OF MOSES END WITH CHRIST?
The law of Moses continued until Christ. Thereafter, the law came by the second prophet - Christ! Once again, this Prophet spoke face to face with God. This Prophet ushered in a whole new contractual arrangement called the New Covenant or Testament. Under the terms of this Covenant, His followers were to be granted the same privileges as Himself. No longer would they enquire through the priesthood, but they were given the right to commune directly with the Father. No human intermediaries. Even Christ did not place Himself as an intermediary between God and man - He became our Mediator - our advocate. He presented His body (His physical body after the resurrection), and His spiritual body (the body of Christ - the Church) to the Father, who accepted them as His sons and daughters. That supreme offering, in both forms was accepted by the Father and their names were placed in the book of life:Heb 12:23 "But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the Living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the Firstborn, whose names are written in heaven." This acceptance was exemplified on the Day of Pentecost with the outpouring of His Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1-2). This manifestation of the Holy Spirit is a type of a greater event in the future and described in verses 17 to 21. Acts 2:20-21 "The sun and the moon will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord. And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." This verse is a direct quote from the book of Joel!
Now notice what Joel said.Joel 2:31-32 "The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD. And everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved; for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be deliverance, as the LORD has said, among the survivors whom the LORD CALLS."
So the scripture that Luke quoted in the Book of Acts refers to the 'survivors' or remnant whom the LORD calls.
Has the law of Moses been done away? Absolutely not!! Christ said that not the least stroke of the pen will pass away from the law or the prophets till all is fulfilledMatt 5:17-18. "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them, but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law UNTIL EVERYTHING IS ACCOMPLISHED." Have all the prophecies been fulfilled? No they have not! If one part is not fulfilled then NONE of them have passed away.
Christ said that the Scribes and Pharisees sit in Moses's seat:Matt 23:1-2 "Then Jesus said to the crowds and to His disciples, "The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat. So you must obey them and do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach."" This scripture seems to say that we must obey the Jewish leaders - the Scribes and Pharisees. This would appear to conflict with many other scriptures - not the least of which is Christ's tirade against them in the whole chapter of Matt 23. The truth of this matter will shock many people!
MOSES' SEATMoses, believe it or not, sat in Christ's seat. Christ was a prophet who was just like Moses (Deut 18:15). Here, in Matt 23:1-2, is a clear example of obedience to the priesthood. Christ gave the crowds, and His disciples, this clear message of obedience towards the Scribes and Pharisees - because they sat in Moses' seat! As an interesting aside, the Scribes and Pharisees were not all of the tribe of Levi through whom the priesthood was to continue forever. The Apostle Paul was once a Pharisee and he was of the tribe of Benjamin. Many of them were of the tribe of Judah - not Levi! See John 1:19 and notice the words 'priests AND Levites.'
SACRIFICES IN THE MILLENNIUM?
Did Christ take over the authority of the priesthood of the Pharisees? The Bible answers this with a very clear NO!Heb 8:4 "If He [Christ] were on earth, he would not be a priest, for there are already men who offer the gifts prescribed by the law. They serve at a sanctuary that is a copy and shadow of what is in heaven....But the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which He is mediator is superior to the old one, and it is founded on better promises."
So the ministry of Christ is different to the Levitical priesthood - which still exists and functions according to law. If Christ was on earth, He would not be a priest! This scripture makes it plain that Christ didn't take over the Levitical priesthood. Notice the words 'there are already men who offer gifts prescribed by law.' Obviously, the Levitical priesthood is still functioning - it has not been done away! In fact the levitical priesthood will function, along with the throne of David, after Christ returns.Jer 33:14, 17-18 "The days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will [future tense] fulfil the gracious promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah....For this is what the LORD says, "David will never fail to have a man to sit on the throne of the house of Israel, nor will the priests who are Levites, ever fail to have a man to stand before me continually to offer burnt offerings, to burn grain offerings and to present sacrifices.""
This is a prophecy - one of the many that has not passed away - that will be fulfilled in the future. Continuing inV19: "This is what the LORD says, "If you can break my covenant with the day and my covenant with the night, so that day and night no longer come at the appointed time, then my covenant with the Levites who are priests ministering before me - can be broken, and David will no longer have a descendant to reign on his throne.""
Has the covenant with the night and day been broken? No! Then neither will the Levites, who are priests ministering before God, lack a man to stand before Him to continually offer sacrifices and burnt offerings.V22 "I will make the descendants of David my servant and the Levites who minister before me, as countless as the stars of the sky and as measureless as the sand of the seashore.""
THE LAW OF MOSES
The Levites, who in days that are coming, will minister continually before God, and again, in those days, they will be as countless as the stars of the sky, and as measureless as the sand of the seashore. Most people today would be unable to identify a Levite from a Jew! Yet they are to be as countless as the stars and as measureless as the sand on the seashore. You either accept this as true or you call God a liar! The choice is yours! But we all know that this has not yet happened!
And neither has the law of Moses been done away! In speaking of the time immediately before the coming of the 'great and dreadful day of the LORD' the book of Malachi says this:Mal 4:4 "Remember the law of my servant Moses, the decrees and laws I gave him at Horeb for all Israel." This would be a strange verse to record if God planned to 'do away' with the law of Moses. And particularly in the context of the coming of 'the great and terrible day of the LORD.' Obviously, the law of Moses is not 'done away.'
Since the Scribes and Pharisees sat in Moses seat, it is evident that the priesthood took over Moses' role at his death. Not Joshua! It was the priesthood that communed with God through the Urim and the Thummin; and it was by this means that Joshua communicated with God through the priesthood. Clearly, at this point, the physical nation and the spiritual nation were divided according to their alloted function. Christ didn't come to usurp their authority as the physical priesthood on earth. Now that Christ is no longer on earth, He is a High Priest, but not to those who minister on earth under the Old Covenant! Christ is High Priest to those He has chosen!
The Levitical priesthood will continue on to be a huge nation of countless people. If, therefore, this is true, then it means that the Old Covenant is still in effect! Surely not! Didn't Christ replace the Old with the New? Absolutely not! The whole world is still under the Old Covenant - except those whom Christ has called at this time as His own. Everyone on earth is required to sacrifice to God, and this will be enforced to in the Millennium, or they will die of starvation(Zech 14:16-18).
Where a lot of confusion arises is in the composition of the population in the millennium. Christ will decide who lives and who will die. This is explained in the parable of sheep and goats. Here we have the whole human race divided into two categories - sheep and goats!Matt 25:31 "When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on His right and the goats on His left. Then the king will say to those on His right, 'Come, you who are blessed by My Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world." You will notice that 'all the nations' are to be divided up into the two groups - sheep on the right and goats on the left! And what of the goats? Here it is: V41 "Then He will say to those on His left, 'Depart from me, YOU WHO ARE CURSED, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels." V46 "Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."
Did you notice when this is to happen? Here it is again:"When the Son of Man comes in His glory..." How can this be? Weren't you always taught that judgment is reserved for after the millennium? Perhaps Christ got it wrong! No, Christ didn't get it wrong! The false prophets have got it all wrong! This subject is covered in other articles, but importantly, Christ is to eradicate all of Satan's seed who 'are cursed', and will preserve the seed of the woman (Gen 3:15). In that day and at that time God will remove the enmity that He, Himself, put between the seed of Satan and the seed of the woman. And the seed of Satan, will be destroyed and burnt to death, and their ashes will be trodden underfoot by the righteous sheep: Mal 4:1 "Surely that day is coming: it will burn like a furnace. All the arrogant and every evildoer will be stubble, and that day that is coming will set them on fire," says the LORD Almighty. "Not a root or branch will be left to them. But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings. And you will go out and leap like calves released from the stall. Then you will trample down the wicked; they will be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day when I do these things," says the LORD Almighty"
THE COMING KINGDOM OF GOD
Dwelling at Jerusalem will be the bride of Christ:Rev 19:7 "Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and His bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear." Who are these people that make up the bride of Christ? These are the ones who are admitted into the very family of God and who will bear His name and the name of His Son: Rev 14:1 "Then I looked, and there before me was the Lamb, standing on Mount Zion, and with Him the 144,000 who had His name and His Father's name written on their foreheads. And I heard a sound from heaven like the roar of rushing waters and like a loud peal of thunder. The sound I heard was like that of harpists playing their harps. And they sang a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders. No-one could learn the song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth. These are those who did not defile themselves with women, for they kept themselves pure. They follow the Lamb wherever He goes. They were purchased from among men and offered as firstfruits to God and the Lamb. No lie was found in their mouths; they are blameless."
THE IRISH IN PROPHECY
All these will be spirit beings, with eternal life dwelling within them. These 144,000 are sealed from all the tribes of Israel, except Dan - the Irish people today. In the days of Jacob, the tribe of Dan was given over to Satan the devil to be a serpent along the way(Gen 49:16-18). These people are venomous serpents and will have no part of the bride of Christ. God will, however, call some of them and cleanse them in the Great Tribulation along with those of every nation, language, people and tribe (Rev 7:9). The tribe of Dan like the rest of the world is still awaiting deliverance (Gen 49:18). God has not, and will not, entrust these people with His oracles or the testimony of Jesus. This will be done by the other eleven tribes - with special emphasis on the tribes of Levi and Judah!
Beside the bride of Christ, which will consist of 144,000 of the tribes of Israel, there will be an innumerable multitude who will also be given eternal life to serve God the Father as kings and priests.Rev 1:5 "To Him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by His blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve His God and Father - to Him be glory and power for ever and ever."
So clearly, God's Kingdom will be a structured government. Everyone else will be human beings. All human beings will live out their entire lives - some will live for hundreds of years. Anyone that doesn't live to a hundred will be considered to be cursed. Little children will not die prematurely.Isa 60:22 "The least of you [Israel] will become a thousand, the smallest a mighty nation." Isa 65:20 "No longer will there be an infant that lives but a few days, or an old man that does not live out his years; he that dies at a hundred will be thought a mere youth; he that fails to reach a hundred will be considered accursed."
Of all the people on earth, only Israel has been chosen by God:Amos 3:1-2 "Hear this word the LORD has spoken against you, O children of Israel, against the whole family which I brought up from the land of Egypt, "You ONLY have I chosen of ALL the families of the earth; therefore I will punish you for all your sins.""
Where does this leave the innumerable multitude that are called from every nation, tribe, language and people? This is the glory of God, that He has made it possible for people of all walks of life to be grafted into the tree and become the seed of Abraham. The Apostle Paul explains this and gives warning of what this great privilege entails.Rom 11:17 "Is some of the branches have been broken off, and you [Gentiles], though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root, do not boast over the branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you. You will say then, "Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in." Granted. But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but be afraid. For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either."
THE RETURN OF THE LOST TRIBES
When Christ returns He will gather the people of Israel from all nations where they have been scattered and they will dwell in the promised land:Isa 66:20-23 "And they will bring all your brothers, from all nations, to My holy mountain in Jerusalem... They will bring them, as the Israelites bring their grain offerings, to the temple of the LORD in ceremonially clean vessels. I will select some of them also to be priests and Levites. As the new heavens and the new earth that will endure before me, declares the LORD, so will your name and descendants endure. From one new moon to another, all mankind will come and bow down before me, says the LORD."
Of the house of Israel, God says:Eze 36:26-28 "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my [Holy] Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees [statutes] and be careful to keep my laws. You will live in the land I gave to your forefathers; you will be my people, and I will be your God." V37 "This is what the Sovereign LORD says; "Once again I will yield to the plea of the house of Israel and do this for them; I will make their people as numerous as sheep, as numerous as the flocks for OFFERINGS at Jerusalem during her appointed feasts. So will the ruined cities be filled with flocks of people. Then they will know that I am the LORD.""
It's obvious that God has not yet poured His Spirit on all the house of Israel. Notice also the reference to 'the flocks for OFFERING at Jerusalem during her appointed feasts.' Yet another one of dozens of references to animal sacrifices in the Millennium. Ezekiel chapters 40 to 48 prove it beyond any doubt. See also Ezekiel's vision of the river of life flowing from the temple(Eze 47). There can be no doubt about when this period is. It speaks of the Millennium. Compare Ezekiel 47 and Revelation 22.
THE 10 TRIBES REBELLED IMMEDIATELY!
There is considerable evidence that during the 40 years in the wilderness under Moses, the house of Israel failed to serve God and make offerings and sacrifices.Acts 7:42-44 "And they made a calf in those days, and offered sacrifice to the idol, and rejoiced in the work of their hands. Then God turned, and gave them up to worship the host of heaven; as it is written in the book of the prophets, "Did you bring me sacrifices and offerings for forty years in the desert, O house of Israel?" Yes, you took up the tabernacle of Molech, and the star of your god, Remphan, figures which you made to worship them.... Our fathers had the tabernacle of witness in the wilderness as He had appointed, speaking to Moses.." The house of Israel actually carried the tabernacle of Molech in the wilderness! And this was while the Tabernacle of Witness was being carried in the wilderness by the Levites. Amos 5:25-26 "Did you bring me sacrifices and offerings for forty years in the desert, O house of Israel? You lifted up the shrine of your king, the pedestal of your god - which you made for yourselves."
The Levites and the tribe of Judah did worship God - though not with a perfect heart. God all but ignored the other tribes 'and gave them up to worship the host of heaven...the star of their god Molech'; He then concentrated on these two tribes. Before Christ began His ministry He had to fulfill Ezekiel's prophecy of the 40 days of deprivation (a day for a year), before confronting the Adversary(Eze 4:6, Matt 4:1). This was done for Judah and Levi! Christ's fast of 40 days was done in the desert or wilderness, just as Levi and Judah served under Moses for 40 years. The ministry of Christ started with the Jewish/Levite people and filtered out to the distant tribes of Israel. Jerusalem is today, and always will be the Holy City. Salvation came from Jerusalem, and all the house of Israel will return to receive salvation in Jerusalem.
EZEKIEL'S PROPHECY OF 390 AND 40 YEARS
After Moses' 40 year ministry (the Church in the wilderness) a 390 year period began under Joshua, an Ephraimite. This period is the same as the one spoken by Ezekiel regarding the endtime(Ezekiel 4:4-6). For 390 years they refused God's rule and did what was right in their own eyes - and suffered severe consequences. God raised up judges to help them from time to time. Then after 390 years they demanded a king! God gave them a king; Saul, an Benjamite. Saul was a big powerful man like the gods they so admired and worshiped, and particularly the arch-rebel Nimrod. Fighting and terror overwhelmed them during Saul's reign and God rubbed their noses in it to show them that their king, whom they saw as their saviour, was useless! Israel was always rebellious! They refused to be ruled. They wanted their own form of government, even as the Churches of God in Ephraim today, the U.S,. want their own form of hierarchical government - they don't want God to rule over them. They want to rule themselves - over God's people! Ephraim always wanted to choose their own leaders (Hos 8:4).
After 390 years, God raised up a kind and humble young man - a man after God's own heart - to deliver them. King David was of the tribe of Judah. It was David that fought and won the battles that brought peace to the kingdom. The Kingdom of God will be taken by violence and force - the like of which has never been seen on earth. There will be no more soft options for anyone in that day!
Importantly, David reigned for 40 years, and began a royal linage from which Christ would be born. And it's from the throne of David that the Kingdom of God will be established at Christ's return.
During Christ's ministry everything that Christ preached was by direct command from His Father(Luke 10:22, John 8:28, 10:18, 37, 15:15). Even the Book of Revelation was written by the Father and handed to Him to pass on to John (Rev 1:1). Christ listens to and obeys every word of God.
When all the prophecies are fully understood, the most striking aspect is the overwhelming intricacy with which Christ fulfilled all the prophecies about Himself. Those who have imagined that Christ will return before all these amazing prophecies are clarified and fulfilled are spiritually asleep. Of course God is going to reveal all before the return of Christ, even though this is not evident from anything that is currently being taught in the Churches of God.
JUDGMENT OF MEMBERS
God made allowances for the judgment of disputes between members in His Church. And who are those who are to judge these matters? Are they captains of thousands or hundreds? Or are they the Apostles, evangelists, pastors, etc,? No, they are not! The Bible tells us we are to set judges who are least esteemed in the Church(I Cor 6:4). Those who are least esteemed are generally those who are not eloquent of tongue, not highly educated, nor born-leaders; they are those who are from the most humble of origins. It is through these that the might and power of God's Holy Spirit is most evident, and it is through such people that God's judgments are most glorious. God's great power is most evident in weakness. By using the least esteemed in an important role, the Church would be recognizing that there is equality among all the brethren in the eyes of God. It's a principle that should be vigorously applied! This is why God has not called the mighty and affluent of this world. Such people generally believe that they are above those who they consider to be less successful. This attitude should never exist in the Church - but all too frequently it does!.
The captains of thousands, hundreds, etc, were appointed to judge matters that arose between individuals in the house of Israel. They were trained to be expert in the statutes of God and to decide these matters on these principles. They were not a part of the priesthood. Their function was purely secular. They were not kings, priests or prophets - they were judges.
THE LAW OF CHRIST
These principles seem to have been forgotten in the mad power-struggle hierarchy of the ministry of the Church today. They set the most highly esteemed - themselves - to judge all matters! It's strange indeed that they place themselves above the law of the Bible. And it is law; its the law of Jesus Christ that He has instituted over the members of His Church:Gal 6:2 "Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ."
What then, is the law of Christ? Does it differ from the law of Moses? Or is it the same law?Heb 7:12 "For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law." The Apostle Paul wrote a letter to the Hebrews. The Hebrews were of the tribe of Judah; this is evident because of the legalistic nature of this book. The Jewish people were the foremost authorities on the law of God and had been for millennia. They were not easily dissuaded by argument against their understanding. The whole focus of this book was to prove that Melchisedek was the One who became Christ, thereby setting the scene for a whole new priesthood. The book of Hebrews focuses on the new priesthood and the departure from the traditional Levitical priesthood that had existed from Moses. The very nature of this book clearly shows that the law is an important part of understanding the nature of the New Covenant. The thrust of this book was to show, using the existing law that a change of law and a change of covenant was prophesied.
A CHANGE OF THE LAW
Importantly, if Christ was not Melchisedek then the whole New Covenant fails the test! There would be nothing in the whole Bible that would justify the changing of anything, since the Levitical priesthood will be established forever.(Jer 33:21). It is on this basis that the whole New Covenant stands or falls. Since the Apostle Paul uses the Melchisedek/Christ relationship to establish the New Covenant in the minds of the legalistic readers of this epistle, he had to be doubly sure of his grounds for establishing facts. The Jewish keepers of the law were not about to be duped by opinion. They demanded the type of evidence that could only be found in the Holy Scriptures. And since the New Covenant necessitated a change in the law, the evidence had to be convincing! Heb 7:12 "For the priesthood being changed, of necessity there is also a change in the law." This verse shows that a whole new priesthood was put in place by Christ. Did it then do away with the old? If it did, it also did away with all the laws of the old! But did it?
Christ plainly stated that He didn't come to do away with the law of the old but to fulfill it. Now if Christ didn't come to do away with the law, then it is still in effect!
What does it all mean? Christ says He didn't come to do away with the law, but Paul has written that those who keep the law are under a curse. This is the enigma that has plagued the Churches of God during this entire century. They have never understood!
The book of Hebrews explains all, and the salvation of every Christian depends on their understanding of this vital truth! In fact,Heb 8:1-4 state that the main point of the whole book is to identify the role of the New Covenant Priesthood: "Now this is the main point of the things we are saying: we have such a High Priest, who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens. A Minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle which the LORD erected, and not man. For every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices. Therefore it is necessary that this One also have something to offer. For if He were on earth, He would not be a priest, since there are priests who offer the gifts according to the law."
Did you notice the reason why Christ would not be a priest if he were on earth? The scripture tells us -'since there are priests who offer the gifts according to law.' If Christ were on earth He would not usurp the rights and the responsibilities of the priests to offer gifts and sacrifices! The reason is that Christ is NOT the High Priest to those for whom the priests on earth sacrifice! Christ is High Priest and Mediator only to those whom He has called: Heb 9:15 "For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that THOSE WHO ARE CALLED may receive the promised eternal inheritance - now that He has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the FIRST COVENANT." Which COVENANT was that? The sins that you committed prior to being called were COMMITTED UNDER THE FIRST COVENANT! Because you were under that COVENANT! Yes, you! God is speaking to you! Everyone else on earth is still under the Old Covenant! And they will be for generations to come!
A NEW PRIESTHOOD
Since Christ is High Priest for those whom He has called. All the rest of humanity require their own high priest in order to serve God. Any true Christian who offered sacrifices or performed any of the priestly duties of the Old Covenant would be in danger of having their names removed from the book of life. In the first place they would need to be Levites. Then it would not be wrong provided they observed ALL the laws. But any Christian who felt the NEED to do it, would be denying their own High Priest!
If Christ were on earth He would not be a priest - because He is not a priest to the rest of the world. The very act of following the earthly priests would be an act of treachery against the rule of Christ as High Priest. For a Christian to do so, would be acknowledging that he was not a Christian - and he would then be required to do ALL the requirements of the law.
This is very serious! The thought of Christians in Galatia returning to the beggarly elements of servitude under the Old Covenant, alarmed the Apostle Paul. He pointed out to them that Christ had appointed for them a New Law and a New Covenant.
As for the existing law, if Christ did not come to destroy it, then obviously it has yet a role today, and on into the future. The book of Hebrews again makes this very plain! Rather than abolish the laws of God, they are to be written into the minds and hearts of God's people, Israel and Judah. At a future time (and it hasn't happened yet!) they will no longer need to ask about the laws of God because they will literally be a part of their being. Notice the scripture:Heb 8:8-12 "The time is coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they did not remain faithful to my covenant, and I turned away from them, declares the Lord. This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time, declares the Lord; I will put My laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God and they will be my people. No longer will a man teach his neighbour, or a man his brother, saying, 'Know the Lord,' because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. For I will forgive their wickedness and remember their sins no more."
Has the law of God been put into the minds and written in the hearts of every Israelite and Jew 'from the least of them to the greatest'? The answer is an obvious NO! And so neither has a New Covenant been given to them - yet! When this happens, God will make a new covenant with them. This is yet another covenant or agreement to be made in the future with the tribes of Israel and Judah. All indications are that it will be different from the covenant made with the firstfruits, since the firstfruits will have all been gathered prior to the return of Christ, and the great harvest by the angel reapers, and appointed to their spiritual inheritance. There will only ever be one FIRSTfruits!
For those who believe the law of God is done away - or even the smallest point of the pen, then you understand nothing! Not only is the law of God, or any part of it, NOT done away, it is yet to be put into the minds and written into the hearts of ALL the 12 tribes of Israel!
ONLY THE FIRSTFRUITS
Those who resist the truth of God would insist that the animal sacrifices have all been done away because Christ was offered as the divine Sacrifice for all time. Sacrifices are a part of the law of God and have NOT been done away! Christ said no part of the law has been done away!
Obviously, then, the laws of God are still in full effect - but for whom?
The answer is - for everybody! The only distinction to the contrary is for those whom God has called at this time and for whom the sacrifice of Christ has been offered and accepted by God. These represent the early harvest - the firstfruits, whom God has called at this time, and who have Christ living within their flesh. For these people, Christ is the High Priest and Mediator and the One to whom we must focus on and obey!
As the Apostle Paul put it, we are no longer our own - we are the property of Christ who has purchased us.ICor 7:22-24 "For he who was a slave when he was called by the Lord is the Lord's freeman; similarly, he who was a free man when he was called is Christ's slave. You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men. Brothers, each man, as responsible to God, should remain in the situation God called him to." ICor 6:19-20 "Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought with a price. Therefore honour God with your body."
When one considers the horror that is soon to befall this world as God begins to deal with mankind, the realization of the blessing of being called now is greatly magnified. Materialism has become the focus of the whole world. It's a disease that occupies the hearts and minds of all people - including many in God's Church. The pursuit of worldly goods transfixes people to the extent that most never give the laws of God any thought at all. Conveniently, they assume that Christ has done it all in their stead. They have decided that as long as they are 'good' according to human values then all will be right on the day. Again and again God thunders the warning in the pages of the Bible that all is NOT well!
The shallow perceptions of this world, and even some of those in God's Church are an offence. It seems the Church has never understood the difference between the physical and the spiritual! This is obvious in all they say and do. The children of Israel are the physical nation of God. The Churches of God are the spiritual nation of God. God treats them entirely differently! Every Christian is a type of Moses. Moses, in turn, was a type of Christ. And every Christian is a type of Christ! In fact, Christ lives in the flesh of all Christians:Gal 2:20 "I am crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me."
In the physical nation of Israel God gave them certain laws to regulate behaviour. These required the death penalty for certain offences. For example, adultery and fornication required death by stoning. In the Millennium, these very laws will be vigorously enforced. God will be dealing with nations of physical people, and these are the laws that will apply.
OBEYING THE WHOLE LAW
In the Churches of God today, are these laws applied vigorously? Does the Church stone adulterers and fornicators? If they believe they are under the form of government that applied to the physical nation of Israel, then they should be observing all the laws that apply in that government! Under the physical government in the days of Moses, these laws were applied, and the offenders died without mercy(Heb 10:28). God's people today, that is, His spiritual nation, receive mercy and act mercifully towards others.
The Churches of God today, have endeavoured to adopt a small portion of the law of Moses; the part where certain leaders ruled over certain groups of people as in the physical nation of Israel. All the rest of the requirements under the law of Moses they ignore. For instance, circumcision is not mandatory: no-one is stoned to death in the Churches of God for violation of God's law, nor are they obliged to make animal sacrifices. Yet if, as they believe, they administer God's government in the Church, then they should be applying all the laws that apply to the Old Covenant. The Apostle Paul made this very, very clear!Gal 5:3 "Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is required to obey the whole law." If you choose to observe part of the Old Covenant, then you are obliged to observe it all!
Obviously, there are similarities between the Old Covenant and the New Covenant (or more properly, the New Testament since it has been ratified with the blood of Christ). But equally, there are major differences too! For instance, those who served under the Old Covenant didn't have God's Holy Spirit (with the exception of the prophets). Therefore, it was necessary for God to ensure that their lives were subject to rule of law that would ensure harmonious cohabitation. The importance of that rule of law was preserved by the house of Israel, even though they were hostile to God's rule.
Under the New Testament, however, a whole new system was instituted. Through God's Holy Spirit, the laws of God have been revealed to those God has called and chosen. Since this was the very Spirit of God living within his people, there was no need for the administration of death. The seed of Satan consistently killed the prophets of God who had God's Holy Spirit, and Christ warned the Scribes and Pharisees with considerable foreboding! The very act of casting God's people out of the synogogues and/or the Church unjustly is the identification mark of Satan the devil!
When Moses sinned by marrying the Ethiopian (Cushite) woman, some of those who criticized him were severely chastened by God. This is what God said:Num 12:8 "When a prophet is among you, I reveal myself to him in visions; I speak to him in dreams. But this is not true of my servant Moses; he is faithful in all My house. With him I speak face to face, clearly and not in riddles; he sees the form of the LORD. Why then were you not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?"
Aaron and Miriam were prophets; they had God's Holy Spirit just like all the prophets. They, like Moses, were directly responsible to God, and God directly dealt with them. They represented God, and received justice and punishment directly from God. God punished Miriam with leprosy. It's important to note that God didn't tell Moses to punish her according to the physical laws that applied at that time; God Himself dealt directly with His prophet - according to spiritual law!
Moses was the most humble man on earth at that time(Num 12:3), and being a man of high character, he immediately interceded on her behalf. God honoured His faithful servant and reduced Miriam's sentence to seven days of isolation outside of the camp. At no time did God instruct Moses to execute His law against another who had His Holy Spirit! All who have God's Holy Spirit are directly responsible to Him. Moses, being the true shepherd that he was - just like Jesus Christ, of whom he was a type - interceded on behalf of God's Spirit-led servant. This is also what Christ does. Christ is always there to intercede for His flock. So should every Christian intercede for our brothers and sisters - not cast them out of the Church!!
Because Christ has paid the extreme penalty for sin, the Father consults Him on all matters of punishment of those who are redeemed and have received God's Holy Spirit. God knows what His own law says, but in all matters relating to God's spiritual nation or church, He allows His beloved Son to judge the sin of His people, and to plead for mercy or punishment - and God honours Him in this regard. Christ has first hand experience of the horrors of human nature and the incredible influence of the spirit world. Where flagrant abuses of the law occur among His Spirit-led people, and where there is no true repentance for the sin, Christ will suggest chastisement. Where deep remorse exists, God will apply the blood of His Son to wash away the sin - and He will forget it(Jer 31:34, Heb 8:12, Heb 10:17). Christ recognizes the authority of the Father in all matters, but the Father honours His Son in all matters because of the deep love He has for Him.
This is the fundamental difference between physical government and spiritual government. In ancient Israel, the spiritual ruled over the physical; but the spiritual never ruled over the spiritual. God rules over His spiritual nation of sons and daughters directly and there is no-one who has the power over another - not even Moses! God made the judgment against Aaron and Miriam and God executed the punishment.
In the matter of God's spiritual government today, if the Churches of God want to adopt the physical form of government that existed under Moses, then they should be ruling over the physical nations of Israel today, just like Moses did! They've correctly understood that this is not God's intention - at this time! But they have failed to understand that neither does God intend for them to rule over His subjects who are directly answerable to Him. The Churches of God are well aware that we are responsible directly to God, and accordingly all of God's people pray directly to Him in private. If the self-proclaimed leaders of the Churches want to install themselves as some sort of intermediary or authority between God and His people, then it would be logical to assume that any Christian that prays directly to God is by-passing the chain of authority. In the days of Moses, the people petitioned Moses, and Moses made the judgment for the physical nation, according to law. Christ changed this for the spiritual nation - the Church; and permitted them to petition God directly(Matt 6:6, 9).
Why is it so difficult for the Churches of God to understand this?
Some of the self-proclaimed 'leaders' in the Churches of God are saying there will be no animal sacrifices in the Millennium. How could any true student of the Bible suggest such a thing? The Bible is full of evidence that there will be! Anyone who doesn't understand that there must be animal sacrifices in the Millennium have not understood anything!
Under the Old Covenant, the children of Israel were required to keep the annual festivals in a manner entirely different to that under the New Covenant. Anciently, they observed ceremonial washings, sacrifices, and the priests were required to wear specific garments and conduct themselves in a manner of great and exacting ceremonial procedures. All of these things have distinct and important meanings(Heb. ch. 9). Spirit-begotten Christians are not required to attend to all these elements of servitude, because they are the spiritual nation of God. In the book of Galatians, Paul reminded them that while they kept the days, months times and years, they were not required to abide by the ceremonial procedures. The reason for this is that Christ is now our High Priest. Is Christ the high priest for the rest of the world? NO! He is not! The scriptures tell us that if Christ was on earth He would not be a priest (Heb 8:4). He is high priest to His own flock of called-out ones - and no other! (Heb 9:15).
CHRIST SERVES AT THE SANCTUARY
Furthermore, human priests today are required to offer gifts and sacrifices to God exactly as they were offered in the days of Moses as prescribed by law! Notice what the scriptures say:Heb 8:4-5 "If He (Christ) were on earth, he would not be a priest, for there are already men who offer the gifts prescribed by the law. They serve at a sanctuary that is a copy and shadow of what is in heaven. This is why Moses was warned when he was about to build the tabernacle, "See to it that you make everything according to the pattern shown you on the mountain."" Heb 8:1-2 "The point of what we are saying is this: We do have such a High Priest, who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, and who serves in the sanctuary, the true tabernacle set up by the Lord, not by man."
The Levitical priesthood today is required to offer sacrifices for all of the tribes of Israel just as they did in the time of Moses. God requires it, and they will do it prior to the return of Christ. And they will do it under the laws of the Old Covenant - because they are still under the Old Covenant, just as everyone else on earth is - except those whom God has called under the New Covenant! And those whom Christ has called under the New Covenant are very few people indeed! Mainstream Christianity, per se, are not under the New Covenant - they are still under the Old. They are counterfeiters of the New and very imperfectly at that!
The Churches of God are not innocent in this matter, since for many years they have insisted that the law of Moses is done away - contrary to what Christ Himself said! They acknowledge that Christ said that none of the laws, not the smallest point, have been done away, and then go on to claim that vast sections of the law are done away. Because of their penchant for refusing to change their mistakes, and their ferocity against anyone who challenges their 'authority' on spiritual matters, their evil contradiction of Christ has been perpetuated for the entire period of the 20th century.
SPECIAL NOTE: Paul said the Galatians observed days, months, times and years. And so they did - in accordance with God's law. These dates are designed to instruct God's people into the understanding of His great plan for the coming Kingdom of God. Paul was showing them that they had begun on the right path by the observance of these, but had turned again to the beggarly elements. The Churches of God consistently indicate that these Galatians were observing pagan holydays - based on this verse inGal 4:10. Paul was not implying this at all! And there is no such suggestion in the entire book of Galatians! The Galatians were familiar with all the requirements of the Commandments and the Holydays. They observed and obeyed them as they should. They failed, however, to understand what these special days pointed to.
If as some have assumed that these days, months, times and years were additions to the requirements of the law, and some were observing them, it was not necessarily wrong! For instance, some Jews today, by choice, fast in the fourth, fifth, seventh and tenth months, as they did anciently.. Only the fast in the seventh month is commanded, but God says these other fasts are to be glorious in the future:Zech 8:19 "This is what the LORD Almighty says, The fasts of the fourth, fifth, seventh, and tenth months will become joyful and glad occasions and happy festivals for Judah. Therefore love truth and peace." Christ also attended the temple on the day of dedication which was not required by law (John 10:22). The Feast of Dedication was a commemoration feast started by Judas Maccabaeus nearly 200 years before in 165 BC.
The criticism that Christ levelled at the Scribes and Pharisees was for oppressive additions to the law on small, trivial matters. These tend to impede the desire of the people to serve God. The problem was that while they enforced all these additions to the law, they themselves didn't do them(Matt 23:1-5). Hence the 'hypocrite' tag that Christ put on them.
Honouring God in additional ways is not wrong. In fact Christ said that when you have done all that is required of you, you are unprofitable servants(Luke 17:10).
All those who will later follow in the Millennium will come to the realization that they must obey God, and they will be required to do all these things that God required of the children of Israel. They, like Israel, will be required to learn through the works and servitude of the law and this will ultimately lead to their salvation.
Those in the Church today live in the most privileged time ever. The New Testament has been instituted to prepare a spiritual nation to be kings and priests and to oversee all the nations of the earth in all the procedural law that will be required of them - just as it was required of the children of Israel! Only the house of Israel will have the law of God written in their hearts shortly after the start of the Millennium(Jer 31:33, Heb 8:8). All Israel will be saved after they emerge from the great tribulation, and after they have completed their service and begun observing the physical laws of the covenant: Rom 11:25 "I do not want you to be ignorant of this MYSTERY, brothers (Gentiles), so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a HARDENING in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved, as it is WRITTEN: "The deliverer will come from Zion; he will turn godliness away from Jacob. And this is My COVENANT with them when I take away their sins." And where was it WRITTEN? In the Book of Isaiah: Isa 59:20 "The Redeemer will come to Zion, to those in Jacob who repent of their sins." And this refers to Zion or Jerusalem. The second verse Paul quoted was also from Isaiah but this refers to the fruitful vineyard (V2) of the LORD which is the 10 tribes of Israel (Isa 5:7). These are the verses Paul quoted from: Isa 27:2, 8 "By WARFARE AND EXILE you contend with her - with His fierce blast He drives her out, as on a day the east wind blows. BY THIS, THEN, will Jacob's guilt be atoned for, and this will be the full fruitage of the removal of his sin..." V12 "In that day the LORD will thresh from the flowing EUPHRATES to the Wadi of Egypt, and you, O ISRAELITES, will be gathered up one by one. And in that day a GREAT TRUMPET will sound. Those who are perishing in Assyria (Iran - Ezra 6:22-7:1) and those who were exiled in Egypt will come and worship the LORD on the Holy Mountain in Jerusalem."
Continuing Paul's comments in Romans, he tells these Roman Gentiles why God has HARDENED and blinded the Jews:Rom 11:28 "As far as the Gospel is concerned, they (Judah) are enemies on YOUR ACCOUNT; but as far as election is concerned, they are LOVED ON ACCOUNT OF THE PATRIARCHS, for God's gifts and His CALL are IRREVOCABLE. Just as you who were at one time disobedient to God have now received mercy as a result of THEIR DISOBEDIENCE, so they too have now become disobedient in order that they too may now receive mercy as a result of God's mercy to you. FOR GOD HAS BOUND ALL MEN OVER TO DISOBEDIENCE SO THAT HE MAY HAVE MERCY ON THEM ALL."
Just to paraphrase what is said here, these verses are saying that God blinded Judah so that the Gentiles could be brought into the glorious truth. God Himself HARDENED their hearts just as He hardened Pharoah's heart. They became disobedient and refused to hear the truth. But God is now going to use this very disobedience to bring them to repentance. The prophet Zechariah foretells of this event:Zech 12:10 "And I will pour out on the House of David and the inhabitants of JERUSALEM a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on Me, the One they have pierced, and they will mourn for Him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for Him as one grieves for a firstborn son." When this happens, the VINEYARD (the house of Israel) will be plunged into war and exile from their lands.
Scattered among them in the great tribulation, as spiritual mentors will be the Churches of God, and they will repent in the great tribulation of their spiritual slumber and actively instruct many.
Special note: The great tribulation is the punishment for the tribes of Israel - not the whole world. Just prior to the great tribulation is a time of trouble that will come upon the whole world(Rev 3:10 and Rev 6:2-8) when 25% of all humanity will die. These are the first four seals; and it is this period that the Church mentioned in Rev 3:10 will be spared. They will be persecuted and killed: Rev 6:9-11 "When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the WORD OF GOD and the TESTIMONY they had maintained." In the past you have lived with the perception that the Church of God is to go to a place of safety and be spared the great tribulation. This is not so! There is a small group of repentent Jewish people that will be taken to the place of safety and they will be living in Judea (Israel - the Jews homeland). This is the 'woman' that gave birth to the man child (Christ) Rev 12:1. Understand this! The Church of God did not give birth to Christ - the tribe of Judah did!! It is this Church in Jerusalem that will flee from Judea to a place of safety! And there are many scriptures that clearly prove this! See the article: "WHO PREACHES THE GOSPEL TO THE WHOLE WORLD?"
THE TRUE MEANING OF GALATIANS
This book has been used by many to 'prove' that the law of God has been done away. Yet Christ said that not one dot or comma, not the smallest stroke of the pen, will disappear from the law until all is fulfilled. Notice what Christ said:Matt 5:17-18 "Think not that I have come to destroy the law or the prophets; I have not come to destroy but to fulfill. For verily I say to you, till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all is fulfilled."
Has the heaven and the earth passed away yet? No! So neither has the smallest stroke of the pen disappeared from the law or the prophets!
Obviously, the Apostle Paul was not contradicting Christ, so what does this book mean? On the authority of Christ we should understand at the outset that nothing, not even a single word, is to disappear from the law. This includes every part of it, including circumcision, sacrifices, washings and priestly ceremony. So what is the Apostle Paul saying when he refers to the works of the law as beggarly elements that the Galatians shouldn't be observing?
The main points of this book are:
1. The law continued until Christ.
Christ confirmed this. His sacrifice fulfilled the law. So did it then end? Christ said that nothing would disappear from the law or the prophets until heaven and earth pass away. Since they haven't passed away, then the law and the prophets are still in effect. So absolutely nothing has been done away! This poses a great dilemma for those who say, 'Faith without works is alive.' The scripture says, "...faith without works is dead."(Jas 2:17, 20, 26).
2. The law that is being spoken of is the one that requires 'works.'
Let's be logical about what 'work' is. God says "You shall have no other gods before Me." Does this require any sort of work? On the contrary, it would require work only if you break this first command. Similarly with the second command. Taking the name of the LORD in vain also requires you to do something. If you don't take the LORD's name in vain then you have done nothing against the command. Breaking the Sabbath command requires you to do something. Observing the Sabbath requires you only to rest. Similarly with stealing, adultery, murder and coveting. All of these require you to do something in order to break these commands. It's clear then that obedience to God's Ten Commandments requires no work - disobedience does require work! To break the Ten Commandments you actually have to do something. It's vitally important that this principle is clearly understood.
3. Christ lives in the flesh of those who obey him.
This knowledge, more than anything else, is what powered the original apostles. They knew that the living Christ was living His life within them. So strong was this realization in the Apostle John, and the importance of it was of such paramount importance, that he even said that those who said that Christ was not living in the flesh of true Christians were against Christ. The term he used was anti-Christ. It's difficult to understand how any Christian could function as a Christian without this realization. It's the ultimate inspiration for the everyday life of all true Christians.
4. The Galatians were following others who were circumcised (Jewish) who had convinced them that they should obey all the 'works of the law.'
One of the identifying signs of what Paul was talking about was the question of circumcision. This requires work - and a lot of pain for adult males!
5. Paul reinforces their freedom against the requirements of these works.
He constantly makes mention of the slavery that they were putting themselves back into. At no time did the apostle say that it was wrong to observe the law, but he made it very clear that if they were to observe this law of works, then they must do all of it. It was not an option for them to selectively choose which parts of it they would obey. It's all or nothing!
6. Paul makes a clear distinction between their calling and the requirements of the 'works of the law.'
Foolish people have assumed, contrary to what Christ said, that the law has been done away. Nothing is done away! All of the law is still in effect - except to those whom God has called to His special spiritual nation of kings and priests. These people, the firstfruits, have Christ dwelling in them. They are all Christ's representatives on earth. Christ's sacrifice applies to them, and there is no need for further sacrifice for them. The rest of the world will be called as the latter fruits, and like the children of Israel prior to Christ's first appearance, they will be required to observe all the laws and live by them, until their change comes. They will then become spirit beings.
7. More than anything else this matter arose because certain Jews had insisted that they should all be circumcised which was required of all from Abraham to Christ.
Abraham and Christ were both circumcised. By accepting circumcision as a mandatory requirement, the Galatians were opening the door to all the other requirements of the 'works of the law.' That is, all the washings, sacrifices and priestly procedures. Paul was telling them that the grace that had been extended to them by the blood of Christ was being treated contemptuously by their actions. They were spiritual kings and priests of a special calling and Christ their High Priest dwells in them. What possible need could they have for the requirements of the law that applies to all those who are outside this special nation? The law of works was a shadow of things to come(Heb 10:1, 8:15, Col 2:17). The book of Hebrews was written long after the death and resurrection of Christ, yet we find that law of works are still a shadow of things to come - yet in the future! Obviously, they haven't been 'done away' if they are still a shadow of things to come yet in the future!.
8. Paul makes it very clear that Christ is our High Priest and we require no other.
Christ is our heavenly High Priest. He currently performs this function in heaven on our behalf. Those who see the need to duplicate Christ's priestly duties, on earth and at this time, are denying that Christ is our High Priest! Paul was speaking to Spirit-led Christians who were being sanctified for the greater role they are to play in the Kingdom of God yet to come. To be joined with another body, who are not yet being sanctified would be the same as being joined to a harlot. To them it would be sin. This is the reason that Paul was so dismayed to learn that they believed that they had to return to the slavery of the works of the law.
9. Paul also compares this law with the Law of Christ clearly showing that there is law under the priesthood of Christ.
Sacrifices are still required for the remission of sin - but for Christians this is fulfilled by the once only sacrifice of Christ. Until a Christian is brought to repentance (and only God grants repentance), and they receive God's Holy Spirit, they are still under the works of the law. Except for true Christians, the whole world is under the works of the law. It's just that they don't know that, and hence they don't observe them. But they will - all of them, when Christ returns, and they will be required to observe all of them, including sacrifices, washings, priestly procedures and all the trappings that went with the service of the temple and tabernacle. Those who are expert in matters of temple worship will institute these proceedings prior to the second coming of Christ. The tribe of Levi are the ones who will institute and conduct the temple services. The temple they are to build is the very one that Christ Himself will enter when He returns(Mal 3:1-4, Hag 2:6-7). This temple is to be more glorious than the temple built by Solomon, because this temple is to host the establishment of Christ's reign which will last forever.
10. The law spoken of in the book of Galatians was added because of transgressions in the time of Moses. Clearly, the 10 Commandments were in effect since creation, and Abraham observed them as required by God(Gen 26:5). The laws referred to in Galatians are sometimes referred to as the law of Moses. Many have assumed that they were added as a punishment for transgressions. They were not a punishment, but rather a means to atone for sin. Those who transgressed God's law had a means to seek forgiveness. Sacrifices were the only means available to them. The need to make sacrifices to atone for sin was a great deterrent to sin itself. It was a constant reminder that any transgression of the law would require a sacrifice, therefore God was not always pleased when sin offerings were made, because of the sin committed that made it necessary.
The time will come when those who sin and are required to make a sin offering will be reviled - and the sacrifice as if a dog's throat were cut(Isa 66:3). This is yet a long way into the future. Sin offerings will be a humiliating and public experience. They will not only be required, they will be essential for those who transgress!
By the end of the Millennium, a large proportion of humanity will have learnt their lesson, come to total repentance, and will be admitted into the family of God. A large section of humanity, who have traditionally worshipped the dragon, will remain unconvinced, and will be an easy mark for the deception of Satan the devil when he is released for a short time. These are some of the descendants of Japheth, and some of the descendants of Ham. These will be annihilated and will never live again!(Isa 26:13-14, Isa 14:20-21). This is the final rebellion that will lead to total annihilation of all of those people who rebel against Christ and His Kingdom, who will rule from the holy city - Jerusalem.
The great danger to the Galatians was that they were drifting back to Judaism, and ignoring the freedom granted them by Christ and His sacrifice. This freedom had given each and every one of them the status of sons of God. They are no longer ministered to by an earthly priest but directly under the Father as sons and heirs. Paul makes it very clear that no-one in the household rules over the son and heir once he comes of age(Gal 4:1-7). Gal 4:1-3 "Now I say that the heir, as long as he is a child, does not differ at all from a slave, though he is master of all, but is under guardians and stewards until the time appointed by the father. Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world."
Notice what this scripture says. We, and our children, were in bondage under the elements of this world until the time appointed by the father. The time appointed by the father, in the case of a Christian, is when we receive the Holy Spirit. We are still heirs until the father gives his inheritance then we become inheritors. In the meantime, once we receive the Holy Spirit, we enjoy the status of sons and heirs. We are no longer under the curse of sin, but we are subject to forgiveness by the blood of Christ. We no longer need to offer up physical sacrifices.
This verse says so much more! For instance, 'the time appointed by the father' is further expanded inV19 to show that at this time Christ is formed in us: "My little children, for whom I labour in birth again until Christ is formed in you." Paul called them 'little children' and said that Christ had still not formed in them. They were still as little children who were not yet of full age. God's seed (Holy Spirit) remained in them, but had not begun to form the persona grata that was Christ, and who would live in them.
So it is among the people of God. While they are yet children (spiritually speaking) they are under tutors. Just like in a classroom. A teacher is not obliged to endure a student refuting his teachings. A new student who is there to learn is under the authority of the teacher until he graduates. Graduation in the Church of God is when Christ is formed within us. Is Christ formed only in the ministry of the Church? Clearly no! Once a spiritual child is granted God's Holy Spirit and Christ is formed within Him, he is no longer under the influence of the teachers or tutors but they are equal in the body of Christ. In the Church of God they are now elders, and are under the direct tutorage of Christ Himself. The good work that Christ has begun in them will continue to perfection.
But until a spiritual child has reached full age he is under the tutor of the overseers of the Church. They do not enjoy the same privileges as the members who have Christ formed within them. This is to guard against those who want to infiltrate the Church with heresy. Those who have come to the full measure of the stature of Christ are qualified to challenge heresy in all who teach or even speak it.
The Apostle Paul gave a perfect example of this in the book of Philemon. Onesimus was a slave to a man called Philemon. He ran away and became a disciple (student) of Paul. When Paul realized that he was an escaped slave he appealed to Philemon whom he knew was a convert of Christ. Paul appealed to him to take him back as a brother, and emphasised to him that he was not to consider him a slave anymore. Paul said that he had the power to command this(Philemon 1:8), but chose to appeal to him as a fellow Christian. He recognized that Philemon was not understanding the requirements of God perfectly and was in danger of defiling the requirements of the law of Christ. Philemon was no longer permitted to 'lord' it over another Christian as Onesimus now was. Paul was an authority - an authority on the Law of Christ! He was trained by Christ Himself in the desert of Arabia for 3 years. Obviously, Philemon, as a new convert, not fully aware of the requirements of Christ, had not fully developed as a full-stature Christian. Paul recognized this, and having confidence in God's Spirit within him, appealed to him as a brother. Christ doesn't allow anyone in His flock to preach or practice heresy. It is the duty of anyone who is established in the Law of Christ to challenge heresy and to set a wayward brother on the right track; even literally pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment spotted by the flesh Jude 22 "Be merciful to those who doubt, snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear - hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh."
The Galatians had foolishly imagined that they should be serving God under a system of priestly service conducted by human beings. Christ had elevated them above this requirement, and it no longer applies to those who have God's Holy Spirit and have Christ, as their High Priest, living in their flesh. Those who don't believe that Christ lives in their flesh probably don't have Christ living in their flesh, because they don't have God's Holy Spirit! Nor are they a spiritual Temple of the Holy Spirit. Their only hope of salvation will be in the physical Temple and the works of the law that will be vigorously applied at the return of Christ. Those who exhibit none of the fruits of the Spirit would do well to look closely at their lives and consider their position! There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth as these people are thrust out of the light of the glorious Kingdom. They will still be human.(Matt 8:11-12, 24:48-51, 25:29-30, Luke 13:28).
Is this great dispensation going to continue into the Millennium for all human beings? Clearly no! It will only apply to the firstfruits. Christ Himself, was the firstborn of the firstfruits(ICor 15:20, 23). All of those called from Christ's first appearance on earth to the second appearance are the firstfruits, as well as Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and all the prophets (Luke 13:28). All those who are called after Christ's return are the latter fruits. All of these will be subject to the 'works of the law' and will be ruled over (with a rod of iron) by the firstfruits (Rev 2:25-27). This is the great distinction of being a firstfruit; these are the ones that have all the privileges of sons and heirs and whom Christ has specifically determined are all equal. None has the ascendancy over any other. How could they? Do the members of the household have jurisdiction over the son and heir? (Gal 4:1-7).
God never gave anyone authority to impose any penalty on anyone except those penalties that apply under His law. Any penalty exacted on anyone must be subject to the law of God and carried out under the direct authority of God Himself. In the Body of Christ, however, God Himself deals with His people directly and punishes them for their transgressions. It is absolutely unconscionable against the Holy Spirit for a brother to inflict any form of punishment on a fellow Christian(Deut 18:19, Rom 12:9).
Christ Himself refused to be subject to the authority of Roman law by paying His taxes from His own purse, instead He told Peter to catch a fish and a coin would be found in its mouth to pay the taxes of Himself and His disciples. Christ was teaching an important principle in doing this! Christ was teaching that God's servants are subject only to the laws of God.
Did Christ advocate civil disobedience? Absolutely not! He paid the tax, but He made it plain that such taxes were not exacted under the authority of the laws of God. Christ did not recognize the government of man; He was totally committed to the laws of God and God's government. Christ also illustrated another principle when He said, "Render unto Caesar those things which are Caesar's."(Matt 22:17-21). The law of God makes plain that no-one rules on earth without God's express permission, and God's people are to live in peace with all men and obey those people who rule over the nations. Worldly rulers exercise authority over their subjects, but among God's people, Christ said, "Let it not be so among you." (Matt 20:25-26)
THE PHYSICAL AND THE SPIRITUAL
What most people cannot understand is that the difference between the two forms of government on earth today is that one is physical and the other spiritual. Physical human governments are structured to comply with the directions of mankind, and spiritual government complies with the overriding authority of God. For this reason God's people are required to obey God rather than man, whenever conflict of law exists(Acts 5:29). God's people are under the Kingdom of God IN heaven. Our King is in heaven, and our allegiance is to Him and Him alone!!
The servants of God obey the laws of God and are directly governed by God. It is God that exacts the penalty for disobedience, and it is God that rules over them - not any man! In this spiritual government we are to fear God, and fear to disobey Him - not any man! And this leads us to a number of important principles:
1. God's laws and His government were designed to rule the world - forever!.
2. God's chosen people were chosen to rule the world under the laws of God.
3. As a nation, the 12 tribes of Israel were ruled as Christ plans to rule in the Millennium and beyond. This time they will be subject to the Law of God and they will obey!
4. Even God's chosen nation Israel was never given authority to legislate laws that were not based on God's law and the principles contained therein.
5. There will be no human government in the Millennium - it will be God's government! The role of the leaders of the clans will be to instruct in righteousness. Spirit beings will be the ones to wield the 'rod of iron' (Rev 2:26-27).
6. All forms of human government are in rebellion against God, including hierarchical government in the Churches. Christ will seize the power of all earthly government and will rule over all nations.Isa 9:7 "Of the increase of His government and peace, there shall be no end. He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever." Rev 11:15 "The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said, "The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever.""
7. In God's Church, God's spiritual government applies, and all His subjects are subject to Him and Him alone; first and foremost, totally and completely! There is no human authority in God's Church. Those who would be foremost in the Church are to be least esteemed!(Matt 20:16, 25, Matt 23:11-12, Mark 9:35, 10:43). Our citizenship is in heaven - because we are citizens of God's Government in Heaven! Phil 3:15-20 " All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too, God will make clear to you. Only let us live up to what we have already attained. Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you. For, as I have told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven..." Some versions translate 'citizenship' as 'conversation'. The original Greek is 'POLITEUMA' [Strong's 4175] and means political citizenship.
It's amazing how twisted and perverted the views of humanity have become. Even those in the Churches of God have an overwhelming desire to rule as the human governments do. Again and again, those in authority exhibit utter confusion over what government is! They continue to confuse the physical with the spiritual. The 12 tribes that God brought out of Egypt were God's physical nation. They didn't have God's Holy Spirit, they were a nation of unconverted people who were privileged to be the called-out nations of God. God freed them from slavery by a series of amazing miracles, and then continued to provide for their every need. In addition to this, God promised to give them the choicest land on earth, just as He promised to the Patriarchs. God had revealed His great power to them, so they knew that He was the great God and that He could deliver all that He had said He would do.
God made it clear right from the outset that they would have to fight for the Kingdom of which they were now a part. God was the King and they were His subjects. This was a physical Kingdom on earth under the Old Covenant, a type of the future spiritual Kingdom of God which would exist under the terms of the New Covenant at the return of Christ. Just as the tribes of Israel were required to fight for God and to conquer all nations occupying the lands that God had given them, so will the future Kingdom of God fight for God. Christ, Himself, foreshadowed this when He said:John 18:36 "My Kingdom is not of this world [era], if it were, then would my servants fight..."
In the book of Zechariah, it describes the return of Christ and the day of battle. Which tribe is to go out and fight beside Christ? None other than the tribe of Judah! Notice what it says:Zech 14:1 "I will gather all nations to Jerusalem to fight against it; the city will be captured, the houses ransacked, and the women raped. Half the city will go into exile, but the rest of the people will not be taken from the city." Notice that half the people remain in Jerusalem. It's this remaining half that God will use for His glory! V3 "Then the LORD will go out and fight against those nations, as He fights in the Day of Battle. On that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives...." Here we see Christ, Himself, fighting against the nations that He has gathered against Jerusalem. And the Jews will fight with Christ as His servants? Read V14 "Judah too will fight at Jerusalem." And it is they who will collect the spoils of war (V16). Even at this late stage, with Jerusalem under siege, and with the imminent return of Christ, half the city will go into captivity. The prophet Micah describes this event: Micah 4:10 "Writhe in agony, O Daughter of Zion, like a woman in labour, for now you must leave the city to camp in the open field. You will go to BABYLON; there YOU WILL BE RESCUED. There the LORD will redeem you out of the hands of your enemies. But now many nations are gathered against you." There is absolute purpose to everything God does! Unless you understand the purpose of God then you won't understand prophecy!
Virtually all prophecy for the endtime centers on Jerusalem and the country of Judah - called by the name 'Israel'(Isa 48:1-2). At the very time that God is about to pour out on these people 'a spirit of grace and supplication', the land called by the name of the United States of America [Ephraim] where the Church of God is headquartered is about to be shattered and enslaved. God has allowed the Church of God to descend into disobedience because they have not been willing to search the scriptures to know His will. They have taught lies and believed lies! They are now deeply into the disobedience phase and the lampstands are now transferred to Jerusalem (Rev 11:4). Like the Scribes and Pharisees of old, you belabour minor insignificant points of doctrine being taught by the different groups - but you totally ignore the weightier matters! You read literature that is childishly flawed and childishly written as if you were five-year-old children! Haven't you noticed that the intensity with which Bible prophecy is written is not matched by the childish rubbish that you are accustomed to reading? Called-out children of God - come to your senses!
Again and again the WCG and its offshoots have used the word 'Kingdom' in relation to the Kingdom of God interchangably with the word 'Government', thereby indicating that the Kingdom of God is to be the Government of God. They fully acknowledge that the Kingdom of God has not yet been established; that it will be when Christ returns. They therefore know that the Church doesn't represent God's Kingdom or Government - THEY ARE HIS SUBJECTS, yet they have maintained that they head the Government of God on earth just like the Roman Catholic Church! They always conveniently forget that Christ is the Head of the Church - not them! When God's Government is established on earth, then will His servants fight!(Jo 18:36) But God's Kingdom or Government is not yet established and therefore God's servants have not yet begun to fight! But they will - so says Christ!
The nations of Israel are still under the Old Covenant - believe it or not! God deals with them as physical nations - His nations; but not under the terms of the New Covenant. When they go to war, even today, they go in the name of the Eternal - whether they recognize this or not! Those who refuse are under a sentence of death just as those who refused to fight against the Canaanites in the days of Moses, Joshua and Calib.
Again and again, articles have appeared in the PT and other magazines denouncing the evils of war. Self-righteous critics have even described it as murder which it is not! There is an obligation for every human being to fight for the government to whom he or she is committed. God, Himself, ordered the tribes of Israel to go to war and to kill man, woman and child in all the nations He sent them against! Those sanctimonious and self-righteous self-proclaimed leaders of God's people stand in rebellion against God when they oppose wars involving the tribes of Israel!
When Christ returns, He will fight! And what is more, the tribe of Judah, the only tribe that will be totally obedient and committed to God at that time, will fight with Him!(Zech 14:3).
The tribes of Israel are still God's elect, and they are still subject to obedience to God. They are obligated to fight in the name of God. Sadly, this resolve is almost totally diminished. Today they rely solely on their own strength and power. Because of this, God is soon to remove their ability to wage war. Only the tribe of Judah will stand against the pagan nations in the name of God in the end time! And just so you understand the enormous power that God will place in the hands of those in Jerusalem and Judah at that time, notice what the Bible says:Zech 9:14 "Then the LORD will appear over them; his arrow will flash like lightning. The Sovereign LORD will sound the trumpet; he will march in the storms of the south, and the LORD Almighty will shield them. They will destroy and overcome with slingstones."
SHOULD A CHRISTIAN FIGHT?
Every human being on earth is obliged to fight for his government. Even a true Christian! Notice what Christ said inJohn 18:36 "My kingdom is not of this world [aion = age]. If my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight.....but now is my kingdom not from hence." KJV. The key issue here is what government does the true Christian recognize? If he recognizes human government then he must be prepared to fight for that government. If he recognizes the government of God in heaven, then he should only fight for that government! This is where the lines become blurred in the minds of those who don't understand God's government! Obviously then, a true Christian would not fight for the governments of this world since they are not citizens of any earthly government (Phil 3:20). They are citizens of God and are responsible directly to God. It is God they must fear and not any man!
Ancient Israel was subject to the government of God and each and every man, woman and child was directly responsible to Him. God decided when they would move, where they would go, what nations they would attack, and also which tribe would attack them. God was prepared to speak directly to them all but they chose to let Moses be the intermediary and specifically requested this(Ex 20:19).
Today, God speaks directly to His called-out people through His Spirit. And His people speak to Him directly without an intermediary. Even Christ has not placed Himself between God and His people! Christ told us to pray directly to the Father and He would answer us directly. This perfectly describes God's government and our obligations to this government. Those self-proclaimed leaders in God's Church who believe that they can exercise lordship over God's people as the pagans do are in direct defiance to God. Many of them have exercised this pseudo-authority to the extent that many members have feared them instead of fearing God!! The twisted minds of these worthless shepherds have assumed that God is incapable of controlling His own subjects, and that the Holy Spirit is powerless to guide His servants into all righteousness. In many matters of doctrine they have placed themselves between God and His people! They have cast people out of the Church for questioning doctrine - even when they, the ministers, were teaching lies! They refused to reason together from the scriptures, and as virtual tyrants sought to destroy any who had an opposing view - regardless of whether or not it was Biblically correct!
Many of these ministers feared their superiors more than God! They knew that challenging doctrine with the tyrants of Pasadena, they too could lose their jobs. It was easier to cast a member out of the Church than to risk their own livelihood.
Worthless shepherds have dominated and deluded God's people into believing that they have the authority over them, not just in matters of doctrine, but in all aspects of their lives. Some of God's people who have been in God's Church for many years will be aware that the ministry actually required members to consult them in matters of changing jobs, investment, or even in such matters as buying a house or taking a holiday. The implication being that only the ministers had the authority in the lives of the members; the Holy Spirit counted for nothing unless the minister made the binding decision. The members were reduced to clockwork automatons. Some true Christians will also have observed the colossal blunders of these ministers in their decisions. If they think back, they will realize that God didn't bless most of these decisions, especially where they made a decision against a proposal by a member.
Quite frankly, it's common knowledge that many who lost their jobs for going to the Feast of Tabernacles were often told they would get a better job. Most never did! Many farmers returned to find livestock dead, crops ruined, and other disasters. They were always assured at every Feast that any setbacks experienced as a result of attending the Feast would be compensated by God in a greater way. Rarely did it happen.
There were a number of reasons for this. It should also be mentioned that, in a similar manner, many who requested healing were never healed. In fact, divine healing became the exception rather than the rule. Requesting anointing was done as a matter of form, without any expectation of a miracle from God. In addition to this, from the early 1970's the Church did a back flip on what divine healing was, and began to recognize medical intervention as a form of God's healing. From that moment on, miraculous healing virtually ceased to exist except where a new member, full of faith in God, and unencumbered with sterile faith of the ministry, had requested it. To add insult to injury, they introduced a psychological component where they suggested that some of those who were chronically ill had already been healed. Herbert Armstrong reinforced this with a silly story where he told of someone saying that they had not been healed. Whereupon he replied "How do you know? Just because you still feel all the symptoms it doesn't mean God has not healed you." This clearly shows the tricksterism that has developed within the Church. If someone still has all the symptoms then they have not been healed! God's healing is absolute, positive and miraculous. The healing can be instantaneous or rapid recovery. But God's healing is sure and certain! You don't have to be a psychologist or a philosopher to understand God's power. Nor is it necessary for a worthless shepherd to con someone into believing they have been healed when they have not! (See the article: Who is the Flock Marked for Slaughter).
When God doesn't heal it's because He is warning the people that all is not well. Herbert Armstrong had no trouble understanding this principle whenever the flow of funds into the Church coffers dried up. He'd lay a guilt-trip on the membership with a co-worker letter to 'help' God to fill the coffers. Total lack of healing or the other gifts of the Holy Spirit never seemed to faze him unless it was a minister or a minister's wife.
In the matter of after-Feast disasters, the ministry were full of predictions of good outcomes, but were unanimously indifferent to the failures. In one celebrated case where a minister lost $50 worth of food when his freezer failed, the members throughout the world were told of it. Farmers who lost a hundred times more livestock endured their trial alone. Whenever a minister or his wife got sick, the whole Church was asked to pray. Yet other members were dying around the world and these were never mentioned. The ministry were wholly concerned about themselves. In their eyes, their own welfare was far more important than that of the common member. All this was because they had elevated themselves above the members, and like the governments of this world believed themselves to be of greater importance.
On the authority of God, the job of the ministry, as good shepherds, is to protect the flock from predators, heal the sick and search for and find those that were lost and restore them to the flock. Instead the ministry became the predators, devouring the fat of the flock, tearing off their hooves so they unable to leave(Zech 11:16). The ministry brain-washed them into believing that salvation was on their authority - that they alone had the power to bind all decisions on earth and God would honour them. In reality, God cursed them for their unscriptural actions, and the Church has continued to live with that curse.
All this in the name of Church government, the type of government exercised by the pagans of this world(Matt 20:25). Christ said, "It shall not be so among you."
Like brute beasts, made to be snared and taken, the shepherds of God's people have utterly failed in their duty, and will shortly lose their authority. They are to have the type of government over them which they have so coveted for themselves. They will serve cruel masters and plunge God's people into a holocaust - every one of them! Then they will know who is LORD over God's people!
Each of the splinter Church groups believe it is they who are to go to the place of safety. The truth is that none of them is to go. The 'woman' who is to flee to a place of safety is the one that gave birth to Christ!(Rev 12:1-6, 13-15). The Church of God didn't give birth to Christ - the Jews (Zion) did! It you think otherwise you are totally deceived. This great deception has been taught for decades by a crazy, hierarchical Church 'government' who used it to force its membership to heel to its influence!
Paul demonstrated the mystery of the government of God when he described how Christ is the Head of the Church just as a husband is the head of the wife. Paul also emphasised the need to follow Christ, and also the importance of those who were leaders or shepherds to set the example. He said:1Cor 11:1 "Be you followers of me, even as I also am of Christ." He then went on to describe the structure of God's government: V3 "But I would have you know, that the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God." Eph 5:22-25, 32 "Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the Church; and He is Saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it." "This is a great mystery; but I speak concerning Christ and the church."
Here the Apostle Paul says that he speaks a great mystery! What is this great mystery?
It is this: that the husband appears as the persona of Christ Himself in the family unit! The wife is the persona of the Church! This is what Paul was saying when he said,"..I speak concerning Christ and the church." The church is directly responsible to Christ - not to any man! There are no intermediaries, no elevated authority figures who stand between the Church and Christ! Every individual is directly answerable to, and under the authority of Christ their king. The woman has been made to reverence her own husband even as the church is made to reverence Christ (Eph 5:33).
Now if Paul were trying to reinforce the authority of the shepherds over the flock, then he chose a very bad example. Why didn't he refer to the shepherds and the flock? Of course he wrote this under the inspiration of God, and it was God who made this distinction so that it could not be misinterpreted! Can you imagine someone else's husband giving orders to your wife? Any red-blooded man would immediately leap to his wife's defence! Such a man would immediately respond with "Who gave you authority over my wife? Shut your mouth, you arrogant cretin! How dare you assume authority over my wife!" This is the great mystery; that the family unit is embodied as Christ and the Church. Just as Moses said of the prophet (Christ) which was to come 'just like him', you 'must listen to Him', so also the wife must listen to her husband.
Yes it's true, Christ (the husband) doesn't allow any man to exercise authority over His wife, the Church! Those who presume to do this are in defiance of God!
Where this great dilemma has developed is in the attitude of those who attempt to lord it over others. They don't have any faith in the power of God's Holy Spirit, because they have never exercised it as God requires! God's Spirit makes each individual a king or priest in his own right. He governs and rules over himself. This is what the Holy Spirit is for; to bring everyone into focus with, and subject to, the righteousness of God. Each individual member is a temple of the Holy Spirit. To whom did God ever give authority over His Temple? Even the Levites were Temple servants! They were meticulous in their service to God, because they knew that God alone decided on all matters relating to the Temple and the worship therein. The temple was holy because it represented ChristJohn 2:19 "Jesus answered them, "Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days."" God's people also represent Christ as a living Temple of the Holy Spirit. ICor 6:19 "What? Know you not that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit which is in you, which you have of God, and you are not your own?" Which man was ever given authority over Christ? The Worldwide Church of God and their offshoots are not ignorant of this - they are rebellious!!
The ministry of the Churches of God has lacked for many years any sign of the manifestation of God's Holy Spirit. There have been NO prophets, none with the gift of healing, none that could speak in tongues, nor any of the other gifts described in the Bible. Those who have had a long association with the Church of God will be aware of the many articles explaining why there are no manifestations of the Holy Spirit within the church.
Today there are vast sections of the Bible that none in the church understand! Now, as they claim, the Spirit leads them into all understanding, then it would seem that they don't have the Holy Spirit, or else the flame has flickered and gone out!
HEALING IN THE CHURCH
And what about the appalling lack of healing in the Church? Or are you one of those who believes that God now heals through doctors? Christ healed instantly and miraculously! He didn't need a diagnosis from someone in the medical profession. Afterwards the Apostles exercised the same healing. Indeed, Peter healed people by his very shadow passing over them. Yes, Peter did heal! God had given him power to heal! He had the power to heal anyone he chose, and whenever he chose. It's true that God gave him this power, but the power was in the hands of Peter.
The airy fairy attitude of the Church is that when the ministers anoint someone, it's up to God whether they are healed or not. This is the attitude of a false spirit, not the power of the Holy Spirit. God has empowered His true followers with this extraordinary power - and God honours it. Was the Apostle Peter praying and anointing people as he walked by? The scriptures tell us that this enormous power radiated from his very shadow! His shadow only needed to fall upon someone and they were healed. Little wonder that Christ said "Will the Son of man find faith when He returns?" Notice also the words, "the prayer of faith WILL heal"(Jas 5:15). If the prayer doesn't heal, then it's because the person praying lacks faith! Jas 5:14-16 "Is any one of you [in the Body of Christ] sick? He should call the elders of the Church [those who have Christ living in them] to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith WILL make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to one another [not to the ministry or priesthood] and pray for each other so that you may be healed."
Oops! Weren't we always led to believe that the prayer of faith came from the ministry, and that it was them who had the power to anoint? Don't believe the lie!!
It's true that Peter was a very special man, and was a type of another who is yet to come. Peter was the Apostle to the Jews of Jerusalem. It was upon his shoulders that God placed a very special responsibility. He epitomised the very faith of God above all the other Apostles. But he didn't have the preeminence over them as many scriptures prove. Even before his conversion, his faith was unprecedented for someone who had not yet received the Holy Spirit. Who was it that walked on the water after he asked Christ to bid him to? Who was it that sliced off the high priest's servants ear? Peter was invincible in his belief in his Master. But when he became separated from Christ he became powerless and afraid. His faith faltered, and he actually denied that he knew Christ.
The ministry of the Church of God have all turned their backs on Christ and gone their own way. This is why they lack the gifts of the Holy Spirit! Don't believe for one moment that all the articles that have been written are true, that purport to prove that God's Holy Spirit is no longer needed or effective in the healing of God's people because God has chosen to work through doctors - who don't have His Spirit! They are lies! Never did God say that His power or willingness to provide the gifts of the Holy Spirit would diminish - NEVER! This is a form of madness that has emanated from a ministry power-soaked with greed and lack of faith!
And believe it or not, if someone were to emerge from the Church, not being a minister, and began to heal people miraculously, or began to understand and to proclaim prophecy, they would be hated - by the ministry! They would eventually be cast out of the Church! This happened to some who began to understand certain scriptures in a way that the Church had never understood. They were cast out as heretics. How much more someone who proved that God's Holy Spirit is still active in those who have the right measure of faith? This is exactly what happened during Christ's ministry. The religious leaders of His day resented anyone who exhibited the power of God because they could not. The jealousy eventually led to them plotting Christ's death.
The Spirit of Christ is not active in God's Church, at least to the degree that it was originally. This is to the shame of the shepherds and the flock. It's certainly not God's fault! God's power has never diminished and neither have His promises!
The lack of the gifts of God's Holy Spirit rests squarely on the shoulders of the Church; it is they who have diminished God's power in their own minds! And they will be held accountable!
WHO ARE THE CLERGY?
The New International Dictionary of the Bible tells us that the power of the clergy was something that developed long after the original Apostles. Notice the reference to 'Bishop' on page 166: "(Gr. episkopos, overseer) Originally, the [bishop] principal officer of the local Church, the other being the deacon or deacons (I Tim 3:1-7). The title 'elder' or 'presbyter' generally applied to the same man; 'elder' referring to his age and dignity, and 'bishop' to his work of superintendence. As the churches multiplied, the bishop of a larger church would often be given special honor, and so gradually there grew up a hierarchy, all the way from presiding elders to bishops (over groups of churches), then archbishops."
What this shows is that the hierarchical form of government in the Church did not exist originally. It was under the pagan influence of Rome that the bishop/archbishop hierarchy began. It is true that the word 'bishop' is used in the English-translated Bibles to identify those who preached the word of God. The Greek word for bishop is 'episkopos' and means overseer. The word 'bishop' is correctly translated 'overseer' in some Bible versions such as the NIV. It's unfortunate that many of the translators of early manuscripts (e.g. Eusebius and Josephus) continued to use the term 'bishop' which casts a totally different slant on what is meant.
The Apostle Peter wrote:"Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind. Neither as being lord's over God's heritage, but being examples to the flock."
The New Bible Commentary Revised makes an interesting observation concerning the word 'heritage.' This is what they say: "[Gr. kleroi] Kleros was originally an allotment of land, then an office assigned by lot, and here refers to the flock assigned to a particular pastor. From this root comes our word 'cleric.'" (Pge 1247). And from this, the word 'clergy' developed.
The Scofield Reference Bible, on page 1332, goes even further in their explanation. They state that the word 'clergy' originated from this word 'kleros' and throughout the original Greek manuscripts of the New Testament, the word always applies to the whole flock and never to the pastor exclusively. In short, the flock are the clergy!
PYRAMID STRUCTURE OF GOVERNMENT?
The pyramid structure of government has been the centre-piece of the Worldwide Church of God to describe how and why they rule over Christ's flock. They have convinced themselves that the ministry is located high in the apex, and the rest of the flock is graded from there down. Does such government exist in God's Church? The WCG and their offshoots would have us believe that it does! But let's see what the Bible says about this form of human government.
The Bible makes it very clear that there is government from the top down in heaven. God is worshipped by 24 elders who are seated at His throne. They have crowns. Then there are archangels that command large forces of angels. Clearly there is a hierarchical structure in heaven.
The landmass of the New earth will be pyramidal in shape with clear well-defined boundaries. Jerusalem will be at its centre. The new Jerusalem is pyramidal in shape. Christ is the chief cornerstone - the uppermost block. In this great structure will be many places of abode for the bride of Christ.John 14:2 "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In My Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going to prepare a place for you [in His Father's house]. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with Me, that you also may be where I am." This is a clear reference to where the Bride of Christ will live. In the House of God! And where will this House be? On earth! That great House is the New Jerusalem which will descend to earth to house God's people. Christ is currently preparing it for placement on earth. This is where He will house His bride. For more information on the meaning of the pyramid structure, see the articles on GEOLOGY.
The Apostle Paul made an amazing revelation about the offspring of Abraham. Here it is:Gal 4:19 "My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you, how I wish I could be with you now and change my tone, because I am perplexed about you! Tell me, you who want to be under the Law, are you not aware of what the Law says? For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the slave woman and the other by the free woman. His son by the slave woman was born in the ordinary way; but his son by the free woman was born as a result of a promise. These things may be taken figuratively, for the women represent two covenants. One covenant is from Mount Sinai and bears children who are to be slaves: this is Hagar. Now Hagar stands for Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present city of Jerusalem, because she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem that is above is free [of slavery], and she is our mother. For it is written: "Be glad, O barren woman, who bears no children; break forth and cry aloud, you who have no labour pains; because more are the children of the desolate woman than of her that has a husband." Now you, brothers, like Isaac, are children of promise. At that time the son born in the ordinary way persecuted the son born by the power of the Spirit. It is the same now. But what does the scripture say? "Get rid of the slave woman and her son, for the slave woman's son will never share in the inheritance with the free woman's son." Therefore, brothers, we are not children of the slave woman, but of the free woman. It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery."
This scripture plainly tells us that by aligning ourselves with the Old Covenant given at Mount Sinai, we are aligning ourselves with Hagar and Ishmael who are under the Law of the Levitical priesthood along with the rest of the world. The New Covenant is given by promise through the Holy Spirit - not by slavery to others under the former priesthood. It is totally separate from the Old Covenant given under Moses at Mount Sinai which was administered through a priesthood. The New Covenant is administered by just one priest - a High Priest - Christ! We don't have human kings, priests, head clansmen, judges or any other! We have one authority - Christ!
What then are our obligations under the New Covenant? As freemen are we to be lawless men? That is, law-breakers?Heb 5:8-10 "Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from what He suffered, and, once made perfect, He became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him and was designated by God to be High Priest in the order of Melchizedek."
We are to keep all of God's Commandments, statutes and laws. We don't however, administer them - Christ does! We don't administer or conduct priestly duties - Christ does! Our duty is to do and keep - and teach the Commandments of GodRev 22:14 "Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city, but outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolators, and whosoever loves and practices a lie." Rev 14:12 "Here is the patience of the saints, here are those who keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus." Rev 12:17 "And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ." NKJV
We have not come to Mount Sinai, but to Mount Zion the heavenly JerusalemHeb 12:22 "But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the Living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the Church of the Firstborn whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the Judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, to Jesus the Mediator of a New Covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. See to it that you do not refuse Him who speaks. If they did not escape when they refused Him who warned them on earth, how much less will we, if we turn away from Him who warns us from heaven?" Verse 28 "Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire."
To summarize, remember these points:
You no longer have any connection with the Old Covenant priesthood. If you do, then you are denying our own High Priest - and you are guilty of idolatry. You cannot serve both priesthoods. You are a holy people; you are a temple of God's Holy Spirit. You are a spiritual nation. You serve under the direct authority of the High Priest Christ.
If however, you choose to serve under the old priesthood, then you will forsake your inheritance in the New Jerusalem as the Bride of Christ, and will take your place with the physical nations who will also serve God in the Millennium as physical human beings. The choice is yours! Those who want to serve as human beings instead of serving under Christ directly, will find themselves thrust out into outer darkness with the physical nations of Israel. Your inheritance will then be the physical lands that God promised to the 12 tribes of Israel.
What does God require of you? He requires you to obey all His laws. These are the Ten Commandments, the statutes, the Holydays, observance of clean animals for eating, and anything that is not connected directly and exclusively to the old Levitical priesthood. The rare exception would be where you have made a vow to God. The only means recorded in the Bible for the discharging of that vow is through the Levitical priesthood. You should not vow in the first place. Merely tell God what you want to do as a means to honour Him and then do it! God no longer requires you to make vows - BUT IF YOU DO - God will hold you responsible to its fullest extent! And if you can't fulfill it, then your only means of redemption is under the ordinances of the Levitical priesthood. In short, don't make vows!
End of Part One.
PART TWO WILL FOLLOW SOON.
All rights reserved.