News Letter 5848-034
10th day of the 8th month?5848 years after the creation of Adam
The 8th Month in the Third year of the third Sabbatical Cycle
The Third Sabbatical Cycle of the 119th Jubilee Cycle
The Sabbatical Cycle of Earthquakes Famines, and Pestilences
This is also the end of the Thirtieth week of this the Third Tithe Year for the Levite, the alien, the fatherless and the widow Deuteronomy 26:12
We are now just 4 years & 4 months from the Sabbatical year in 2016
October 27, 2012
Shabbat Shalom Brethren,
This week in the News was an air raid on a munitions factory in Sudan. http://theextinctionprotocol.wordpress.com/2012/10/25/sudan-blames-israel-for-strike-on-munitions-plant-promises-retaliation/
We continue to watch for the fulfillment of Daniel 11 in which Sudan along with Egypt and Libya fall to the King of the North. And at the same time the king of the North invades Israel in the name of Peace. Once again the news of the day is confirming that things are moving in that direction. It is looking more like these three nations will be at war with Israel and in order to stop it the UN AKA the King of the North; Europe will come in the name of peace to safe Israel and to put these others down. Read again the prophecy in Daniel 11.
Brethren I ask you who else is telling these things? Who else is telling the very year they are going to take place in? Tell me who else is teaching you about the Sabbatical and Jubilee years and what they mean in Prophecy? You can look at the things I have said in the past and you can see those events, which were and are worldwide events, did take place as we have shown you from the Prophecies of Abraham. They were not done in a back room where no one saw them. They made the News every night for weeks and months at a time. Again I ask you who else is showing you these things.
Then are you telling others about sightedmoon.com and the Prophecies of Abraham? If not then why not.
I have not asked for tithes from you. Even on the recent tour of Israel I did not make one penny from the brethren. Not one. 100% of the donations for the farm in Israel went to the farm in Israel, less bank charges. I can count on one hand the number of people who have donated to support this ministry. And this is not why I do this. It is not for money or fame. It is because there is truth to be shared and those who do not know will die. They will die if they do not keep the Sabbatical year in 2016. 270 Million American will die in just over 7 ½ years from now. Think about that number. Will you support this ministry? Will you tell others to buy the book The Prophecies of Abraham or to watch the DVD about the Sabbatical year?
If I have been right about those things in the past 7 years that I have told you about before hand, then maybe, just maybe those things I am telling you that are coming might just come as I have warned you; as your bible warns you, and as Yehovah is warning you; Because it all comes from His revelations and not mine.
This bombing of Sudan by Israel is going to be justifiable revenge by Sudan along with Egypt on Israel. If the Prophecies of Abraham are to be understood correctly then Egypt should be at war with Israel in 2013, which is the exact same time in the 3rd Sabbatical cycle when the King of the North came down in Abrahams day and captured Lot and many of the cities of the plain. Jerusalem in bible prophecy is likened to Sodom. The King of the North today is disguised as the great Peace Keeper and is called the UN and is led by the United Nations and Europe. This King of the North is about to come in and sweep over the Holy Land in an effort to bring Peace to the region as a result of a war with Egypt.
This is all explained to you in The Prophecies of Abraham starting on page 62 Chapter 3 and going into chapter 4, finishing at 112. But the other chapters add more information as well. But do you read this? Do you tell others what your reading and warn them before the time runs out. You have just 7 ½ years; how are you going to stand before Yehovah if you do nothing and tell no one. Their blood will be on you hands. This is what Ezekiel tells you as watchmen. You have to tell others.
We had an awesome time on tour in Israel this year and we had a few bumps along the way. Last week I told of our week in the Negev on the Farm. Each week now until we have heard from all of those on the Tour I am going to post their comments for you to consider in case you should want to come to Israel. Or to help you to decide to come to Israel.
Here is my take on our 2012 Sukkot tour.
After keeping the Feast of Tabernacles for 16 years within the churches of God system, I was delighted to have the opportunity to participate in Avi and Dina’s “Coming Home Sukkot Tour of 2012 in Israel.
Through your “Sighted Moon” newsletter promoting the trip and speaking with you personally during several teachings, I was convinced in my heart that I must visit the land of my fathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
Happy was I with that decision! Because … a cliché applies here; the scriptures came alive! Not only from the physicality of being at the location of a biblical/historical site, but in the way Avi enthusiastically and animatedly brought a story to life, eg, 2Kn 9 when we stood in Jezreel “RIGHT HERE” at the tower of the watchman, v17, who saw Jehu coming across “THAT VALLEY” (the property of Naboth) just near Mount Gilboa where Saul was pursued and died and where his 3 sons were killed. Where Jezebel was thrown out of the window and her blood splattered on the walls right where we were standing (2Kn 9). The same place as in 2Kn 10, Ahab’s 70 sons were beheaded and their heads laid in two heaps at the entrance of the gates, again, “RIGHT HERE”!!!
This is the graphic way Avi teaches at all the sites we visited. It helps you to visualize the actual events taking place.
Avi’s teachings are thorough and enlightening and therefore the highlight of every site visited. Dave Sekerak From Ontario
Coming Home Sukkot 2012 Study Tour (Avi Ben Mordechai and Dina Orit)
“ Real People, Real Places, Past and Present.” Submitted by Margaret Douthart Sekerak
How can I possibly sum up 12 days of a tour celebrating Sukkot, fellowshipping with wonderful people and learning about Israel in one or two paragraphs or even a page and do it justice?
Every day Avi strove to let us know, as he said with ardor “folks, these were real people, these are real places.” Every day of the tour, his corresponding bible verses and passionate explanations are what brought the bible alive for me. I enjoyed all of the sites but I guess the people and places past that became most real for me where:
a) The tour started out in Tel Dan, where Jeroboam built his temple complete with a golden calf. Then on to Banias, at the foot of Mt Hermon, in the north of Israel where the worst of paganism was practiced and where Jesus was believed to say to Peter “Who do people say I am?”
b) Tiberius and the boat trip on the Sea of Galilee, where we sang, danced and saw a lovely sunset. Think of the fellowship Jesus had with his disciples on the Sea of Galilee – did we experience a piece of that, I wonder?
c) Gamla, – that challenging 1/2 day trail hike, where the 6 day war earned Gamla, the name Masada of the North, with all its implications for the Jewish people. We also were asked to be open for the consideration of the possibility that it may have been the ancient Nazareth (bible verses to substantiate – considering how many time Jesus was coming from Capernaum to Nazareth).
d) The Safari Jeep tour, which was rugged, breezy and fun. For me, David came alive on this tour when Avi played out the battle in the Valley of Elah, between David and Goliath before David became king and the Adullam Caves where David sought refuge from Saul. And between these two sites a refreshing lunch under a huge, gnarled red berry tree. We even saw a shepherd!
e) And finally the tour was completed with underground Jerusalem, where Avi, back to his robust self after a couple of days not feeling well, brought to life the Gihon Spriings, Hezekiah’s Tunnel and the Shiloach Pool and the real people who walked these places.
The people and places present included meeting 30 plus people from all over the world – South Africa, Taiwan, Japan, Switzerland, United States, Canada and Israel. These were real people from far spread places who had lots in common , but one thing in particular – a desire to honour our Father by celebrating Sukkot and living in our temporary dwelling in harmony. Sharing our gifts of service and friendship was easy. Sleeping on an air mattress with the huge moon and a million stars lighting up the sky wasn’t difficult – yes the snoring was a challenge; sharing a suitcase room was a challenge; waiting for a free bathroom was a challenge but through it all, there were no notable issues. Those that cooked deserved Kudos. The praise and worship, with guitar accompaniment was special. Men’s voices debating and singing was a treat. It was a preparation of things to come and it was a delight. My thanks go to Avi and Dina who opened up their home and the size of their tour group to this challenge. My thanks go to Joe Dumond for his teachings, which as always remain, thought provoking. My thanks to those with whom I had meaningful conversations and a promise of continued friendship. Shalom “Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom.” James 3:13
Margaret Sekerak from Ontario
This week we want to share with you How To Keep the Sabbath day Holy. We have many new brethren and more being added each week. We also have some who after many years in this walk are still not sure how to the Sabbath and Holy Days Holy. So that is going to be the subject this week.
But before we do that we must first tell you of an article showing us once again just how far down the road in Prophecy we have come. It is a very sobering article that I almost overlooked.
In our heading each week we tell you which Sabbatical cycle we are in and the curses that are associated with that cycle. So this current cycle we are in is the 3rd Sabbatical cycle and it is The Sabbatical Cycle of Earthquakes Famines, and Pestilences.
I get daily earthquake reports from around the world. They are increasing and although not too many major ones have made the news lately, they are still happening around the world.
This cycle also began right after the Swine Flu Pandemic, which scared the world, but never really killed as many as was expected. We still wait for a major epidemic to strike.
Most of you do not think that a famine is possible. Yet today as you read this the prices for food that you paid just one or two years ago has almost doubled.
Look once again at the monthly drought monitor of the USA and notice that much of the USA is still in drought conditions. http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/monitor.html
Here in Ontario the guys at work and even my wife now have commented on the fact that there are very few apples on the shelves. This is due to the 80 decree weather we had in January and February when the trees blossomed and then were frozen off in March. But now people are beginning to notice. Famine is not something you wake up one day and it is here. No it is something that grows quietly upon you until you then see that you do not have enough money to buy or there is no food to be bought. It is a slow moving curse that comes up with out much notice and then suddenly your in it and can’t get out.
Global Food Reserves Have Reached Their Lowest Level In Almost 40 Years
October 16th, 2012
For six of the last eleven years the world has consumed more food than it has produced. This year, drought in the United States and elsewhere has put even more pressure on global food supplies than usual. As a result, global food reserves have reached their lowest level in almost 40 years. Experts are warning that if next summer is similar to this summer that it could be enough to trigger a major global food crisis. At this point, the world is literally living from one year to the next. There is simply not much of a buffer left. In the western world, the first place where we are going to notice the impact of this crisis is in the price of food. It is being projected that overall food prices will rise between 5 and 20 percent by the end of this year. It is becoming increasingly clear that the world has reached a tipping point. We aren’t producing enough food for everyone anymore, and food reserves will continue to get lower and lower. Eventually they will be totally gone.
The United Nations has issued an unprecedented warning about the state of global food supplies. According to the UN, global food reserves have not been this low since 1974…
World grain reserves are so dangerously low that severe weather in the United States or other food-exporting countries could trigger a major hunger crisis next year, the United Nations has warned.
Failing harvests in the US, Ukraine and other countries this year have eroded reserves to their lowest level since 1974. The US, which has experienced record heatwaves and droughts in 2012, now holds in reserve a historically low 6.5% of the maize that it expects to consume in the next year, says the UN.
“We’ve not been producing as much as we are consuming. That is why stocks are being run down. Supplies are now very tight across the world and reserves are at a very low level, leaving no room for unexpected events next year,” said Abdolreza Abbassian, a senior economist with the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
But the population of the globe is much larger than it was back in 1974. So needless to say, we have a major league problem on our hands.
The United States exports more food than anyone else in the world, and so the devastating drought that the U.S. experienced this summer is putting a lot of stress on the entire global food system.
According to Reuters, the drought hit U.S. ranchers particularly hard. Many of them had to kill off large portions of their herds because they couldn’t afford to feed them any longer. So there was a short-term surge in the supply of meat, but because herds are smaller now in the long-term the supply of meat is going to become much tighter. So expect meat prices to start to go up significantly…
The worst drought to hit U.S. cropland in more than half a century could soon leave Americans reaching deeper into their pockets to fund a luxury that people in few other countries enjoy: affordable meat.
Drought-decimated fields have pushed grain prices sky high, and the rising feed costs have prompted some livestock producers to liquidate their herds. This is expected to shrink the long-term U.S. supply of meat and force up prices at the meat counter.
Some analysts are already projecting “a world shortage of pork and bacon” according to the Los Angeles Times…
The price of corn — a key component in livestock feed and an ingredient in powdered sugar, salad dressing, soda and more — catapulted 60% in early summer. A British trade group recently predicted “a world shortage of pork and bacon next year,” which most analysts interpreted to mean that higher prices are ahead.
In the meantime, chickens and turkeys are getting more expensive just in time for the holidays. Already, chicken prices are up 5.3% from a year earlier, while the cost of turkey and other poultry is up 6.9%. Eggs cost 18% more in September than they did a year earlier.
Sadly, the truth is that food prices have already been steadily rising in the United States in recent years. We have come to accept this as “normal”, but these horrible price increases are really squeezing the budgets of middle class families and we certainly don’t need food prices to start going up even faster.
One man recently came came across a grocery receipt that was eight years old. When he compared those prices to what he is paying now he was absolutely stunned…
1 can Campbells Vegetable soup was listed as $0.89?We now pay $2.19 for the same can.
Fresh Haddock Fillets were $3.99lb. Now $7.99lb.
4 litres of Skim Milk was $4.59…now $7.59.
1 loaf of whole wheat bread was $.99…now $2.99.
Fresh Green Pepper was $1.99lb…now $3.99lb.
Canned tomato juice was $0.99 a can…now $2.29 a can.
Many prices had doubled on him in just eight years.
Now that food prices are projected to start rising even more rapidly, how soon will it be until food prices double again?
Many Americans will be shocked by rising food prices, but at least for now we won’t have to deal with actual food shortages like many on the other side of the globe will be soon.
At the end of August, the World Bank issued a global hunger warning…
“Food prices rose again sharply threatening the health and well-being of millions of people,” said World Bank group president, Jim Yong Kim. “Africa and the Middle East are particularly vulnerable, but so are people in other countries where the prices of grains have gone up abruptly.”
The bank said food prices overall rose by 10% between June and July to leave them 6% up on a year earlier. “We cannot allow these historic price hikes to turn into a lifetime of perils as families take their children out of school and eat less nutritious food to compensate for the high prices,” said Kim.
The price of food can mean the difference between life and death in some of the poorest areas of Africa. What some African families face on a daily basis would be absolutely unimaginable to many of us in the western world. The following example is from a recent article in the Guardian…
On the other side of the world, Mary Banda, who lives in Mphaka village near Nambuma in Malawi, has had a year during which she has barely been able to feed her children, one of whom has just gone to hospital with malnutrition.
Government health worker Patrick Kamzitu says: “We are seeing more hunger among children. The price of maize has doubled in the last year. Families used to have one or two meals a day; now they are finding it hard to have one.”
How would you feel if you only got one meal per day?
In many parts of India and in many parts of Africa more than 40 percent of all children have stunted growth due to malnutrition and a lack of clean water.
So if your family has enough to eat and drink every day you should be thankful for your blessings.
What makes things even worse is that the big banks have turned betting on the price of food into a giant casino game.
Many are making huge amounts of money through commodity speculation, but by driving up prices they are severely hurting millions of families on the other side of the planet. The following is from a recent article by Heather Stewart…
The Institute of International Finance has estimated that by the middle of last year, $450bn of financial assets was invested in commodities – or derivatives, betting on future price movements.
In principle, there would be nothing wrong with financiers moving into the food market if it directed billions of dollars of investment towards expanding production, bringing new land into cultivation and developing new technologies to boost yields.
But – as the thoroughly mad market for mortgage-backed securities in the run-up to the credit crisis, and the resulting building boom across the US, illustrated very clearly – the price signals emerging from the stampeding herds of Wall street can be deeply misleading.
In a recent paper, provocatively titled “Don’t Blame the Physical Markets,” the UN’s trade and development arm, Unctad, argued that the wall of money flooding into commodities has badly distorted the price signals a well-functioning market should send to producers and consumers.
The era of seemingly endless cheap food has come to an end. In future years, there simply will not be enough food for everyone on the globe. Some people are going to go hungry. That is one reason why I am encouraging everyone to start preparing for the coming global food crisis.
Some experts are projecting the worst for the years ahead…
Evan Fraser, author of Empires of Food and a geography lecturer at Guelph University in Ontario, Canada, says: “For six of the last 11 years the world has consumed more food than it has grown. We do not have any buffer and are running down reserves. Our stocks are very low and if we have a dry winter and a poor rice harvest we could see a major food crisis across the board.”
“Even if things do not boil over this year, by next summer we’ll have used up this buffer and consumers in the poorer parts of the world will once again be exposed to the effects of anything that hurts production.”
Let us certainly hope for the best, but let us also prepare as if the absolute worst is headed our way.
I am busy preparing.
At the Feast in Israel this year an incident came up over how to keep the Sabbath Holy. We had in our group many new brethren who were just learning how to keep the Sabbath and we had some veterans with many years of observing it.
This past Sabbath I was seeking information about learning how to speak Hebrew and before I realized it I had signed up and paid for the lessons. It was still Shabbat and I could not believe I had just done this. For the moment I just stopped thinking and I was talking to this guy in Israel where the Sabbath was now over and we were talking about learning Hebrew and then bam I bought it and as soon as I clicked the buy button I realized what I had just done doing business on the Sabbath and prayed for forgiveness.
I was being shown how easy it was to forget and buy and sell on Shabbat. This is similar to the incident at Sukkot. People just did not think for a moment and walked in and had others serve them during Sabbath.
I am not here to condemn or point fingers. I am not above any one else and as I have just shown you, even I can easily fall into breaking Shabbat without thinking.
We all need to be reminded and we all need to be refreshed from time to time about how to keep the Sabbath Holy; whether you are a 30 year Sabbath Keeper or this is your first year.
I am going to provide you with two articles on this subject. I have edited the second one, which condones eating out in restaurants on the Sabbath. I agree with the first article that having others serve you on Shabbat is not in accordance with Deut 5:13 which states you are not to have anyone of your children or slaves working on Shabbat. To me that includes restaurant staff and others who work on Shabbat.
On another issue, I also want to point out that we are to come to the Feasts each year with JOY!!!
Lev 23 lists the Feasts we are to keep. We are not to keep any others not found in Lev 23. None. And we are to come to these Feasts with Joy. The First feast mentioned in Lev 23 is the weekly Sabbath. We are to keep the weekly Sabbath with Joy as well.
I am still not able to get The Scriptures 1998 on my mac so I am using the NKJV for now.
We are commanded to rejoice in the Feast.
Psa 100:1 A Psalm of Thanksgiving. Shout to Jehovah, all the earth.
Psa 100:2 Serve Jehovah with joy, come before him with singing.
Psa 100:3 Know that Jehovah He is God, He made us, and we are His, His people–and the flock of His pasture.
Psa 100:4 Enter ye His gates with thanksgiving, His courts with praise, Give ye thanks to Him, bless ye His Name.
Psa 100:5 For good is Jehovah, to the age His kindness, And to generation and generation His faithfulness!
There is one verse that made me think about the importance Yehovah places on joy. It is striking:
Deu 28:47 `Because that thou hast not served Jehovah thy God with joy, and with gladness of heart, because of the abundance of all things–
Deu 28:48 thou hast served thine enemies, whom Jehovah sendeth against thee, in hunger, and in thirst, and in nakedness, and in lack of all things; and he hath put a yoke of iron on thy neck, till He hath destroyed thee.
Yehovah expects us to take joy in everything He gives us, He wants us to serve Him gladly! The following verses emphasize the same idea, the fact that we are to serve Yehovah joyfully, just like you would be working for the best paying Company in the world, a Company you know will never come to bankruptcy and will always want you to work for them, appreciating what you are as a human and also rewarding you for your work for them.
Deu 12:7 and ye have eaten there before Jehovah your God, and have rejoiced in every putting forth of your hand, ye and your households, with which Jehovah thy God hath blessed thee.
Deu 16:14 And you shall rejoice in your feast, you, and your son, and your daughter, and your male slave, and your slave-girl, and the Levite, the stranger, and the fatherless, and the widow inside your gates.
Deu 27:7 And you shall offer peace offerings, and shall eat there, and rejoice before Jehovah your God.
On Face book this year you will see many pictures of me rejoicing and dancing and singing, and the brethren with me also rejoiced and sang and I was finally able to get a few up to dance. But they are learning. David Danced before the Ark and rejoiced. So rejoice and be glad in the Knowledge of Him that you are learning. Rejoice always in what your learning.
How should we keep the Sabbath?
Those who think that since we are in Yahushua, everyday is the Sabbath would think twice if they knew that if this were the case, then they would never be permitted to work or do anything having to do with our own pleasures on the Sabbath. There are many blessings attached to keeping the Sabbath day holy. So lets find out what it means to keep this day Holy:
Deut 5:13 (NKJV) Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 14 but the seventh day [is] the Sabbath of Yahweh your Elohim. [In] [it] you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your ox, nor your donkey, nor any of your cattle, nor your stranger who [is] within your gates, that your male servant and your female servant may rest as well as you.
So not only are we to rest, but those who work for us are to rest also. If we own a business, it is not acceptable to have all the employees working while we enjoy a restful Sabbath day. This commandment also includes anyone who we temporarily hire to work for us. For instance, when we go to restaurants we are hiring the cook and the waiter and the person who rings up the bill as a servant to work for us. Also anytime we purchase anything on the Sabbath such as groceries and other merchandise we are hiring others to stock the shelves, clean up and ring up the bill for us because we are paying for their service when we purchase the items. Nehemiah rebukes buying and selling quite sharply in this scripture:
Nehe 13:15 (NKJV) In those days I saw [people] in Judah treading wine presses on the Sabbath, and bringing in sheaves, and loading donkeys with wine, grapes, figs, and all [kinds] [of] burdens, which they brought into Jerusalem on the Sabbath day. And I warned [them] about the day on which they were selling provisions. 16 Men of Tyre dwelt there also, who brought in fish and all kinds of goods, and sold [them] on the Sabbath to the children of Judah, and in Jerusalem. 17 Then I contended with the nobles of Judah, and said to them, “What evil thing [is] this that you do, by which you profane the Sabbath day? 18 “Did not your fathers do thus, and did not our Elohim bring all this disaster on us and on this city? Yet you bring added wrath on Israel by profaning the Sabbath.”
So buying and selling is clearly forbidden on the Sabbath. Going to restaurants and shopping malls and grocery stores is no way to keep the Sabbath holy. The Sabbath is a day of rest and prayer and worship. Not a day for doing our own pleasures:
Isai 58:13 “If you turn away your foot from the Sabbath, [From] doing your pleasure on My holy day, And call the Sabbath a delight, The holy [day] of Yahweh honorable, And shall honor Him, not doing your own ways, Nor finding your own pleasure, Nor speaking [your] [own] words, 14 Then you shall delight yourself in Yahweh; And I will cause you to ride on the high hills of the earth, And feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father. The mouth of Yahweh has spoken.”
So keeping the Sabbath day holy not only means that we aren’t to buy or sell, but also means that we are to refrain from our own pleasures such as sporting events, television, movies, etc. Also we are not even to speak our own words! Even our speech should be about Yahweh and His word. I assure you, if we keep the Sabbath day in this manner it will be much easier keeping Yahweh’s commandments because we have one day each week to refresh ourselves spiritually. It is a day that we can look forward to during the week that we can fully refresh ourselves both physically and spiritually. Yahweh never made our bodies to withstand constant labor day after day. It is no wonder that so many people we meet are so tired all of the time. And it is no wonder that people often fall away.
Cooking and Preparation day.
When Yahweh brought the children of Israel out of Egypt, he re-instituted the Sabbath day. No doubt that the Egyptians expected them to work seven days a week. Here is Moses telling the children of Israel what they should do in preparation for the Sabbath:
Exod 16:23 (NKJV) Then he said to them, “This [is] [what] Yahweh has said: `Tomorrow [is] a Sabbath rest, a holy Sabbath to Yahweh. Bake what you will bake [today], and boil what you will boil; and lay up for yourselves all that remains, to be kept until morning.’ “
On preparation day, we should prepare our food that will be eaten on the Sabbath so that we will not have to cook or prepare it on the Sabbath. There are many variations of how to do this which will not be discussed in this study. I encourage all who want to know more to study it out for themselves.
What is permitted on the Sabbath?
Now there are some things that are always okay to do on the Sabbath that the Scribes and Pharisees in Yahushua’s day would think forbidden:
John 5:10 (NKJV) The Jews therefore said to him who was cured, “It is the Sabbath; it is not lawful for you to carry [your] bed.”
Luke 13:14 (NKJV) But the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation, because Yahushua had healed on the Sabbath; and he said to the crowd,
“There are six days on which men ought to work; therefore come and be healed on them, and not on the Sabbath day.”
Luke 6:7 (NKJV) So the scribes and Pharisees watched Him closely, whether He would heal on the Sabbath, that they might find an accusation against Him.
Luke 6:1 (NKJV) Now it happened on the second Sabbath after the first that He went through the grainfields. And His disciples plucked the heads of grain and ate [them], rubbing [them] in [their] hands. 2 And some of the Pharisees said to them, “Why are you doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath?”
Note that in the above verses that the issue was not whether or not to keep the Sabbath but rather how the Sabbath should be kept! Let’s look at Yahushua’s response to these accusations:
Healing on the Sabbath:
Luke 13:15 (NKJV) The Master then answered him and said, “Hypocrite! Does not each one of you on the Sabbath loose his ox or donkey from the stall, and lead [it] away to water it? 16 “So ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has bound–think of it–for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath?”
Luke 14:5 (NKJV) Then He answered them, saying, “Which of you, having a donkey or an ox that has fallen into a pit, will not immediately pull him out on the Sabbath day?” 6 And they could not answer Him regarding these things.
John 5:16 (NKJV) For this reason the Jews persecuted Yahushua, and sought to kill Him, because He had done these things on the Sabbath. 17 But Yahushua answered them, “My Father has been working until now, and I have been working.”
Mark 2:27 (NKJV) And He said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.
John 7:22 (NKJV) “Moses therefore gave you circumcision (not that it is from Moses, but from the fathers), and you circumcise a man on the Sabbath. 23 “If a man receives circumcision on the Sabbath, so that the law of Moses should not be broken, are you angry with Me because I made a man completely well on the Sabbath?
Also take into consideration that the Levites sacrificed animals on the Sabbath day and therefore had to work. This is Yahushua’s answer to them when the disciples began to pluck grain to eat on the Sabbath:
Matt 12:3 (NKJV) But He said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, he and those who were with him: 4 “how he entered the house of Yahweh and ate the showbread which was not lawful for him to eat, nor for those who were with him, but only for the priests ? 5 “Or have you not read in the law that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath , and are blameless? 6 “Yet I say to you that in this place there is [One] greater than the temple. 7 “But if you had known what [this] means, `I desire mercy and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless Yahweh expects us to keep the Sabbath day holy. But it is always ok to do good on the Sabbath day and clearly Yahushua and the disciples did not have time to prepare for the Sabbath because they were doing Yahweh’s work. So if we have to do a little work on the Sabbath or cause another to do a little work on the Sabbath for Yahweh’s purpose then this is not breaking the Sabbath. Of course one could take this to the extreme as well and say that it is impossible for them to refrain from going to work on the Sabbath or they would be fired and then not have any food. This is ridiculous. Yahweh will provide for us. We needn’t be concerned about our food if we are obeying His Sabbath.
So, in summary we can see that Yahweh wants us to keep His Sabbath Holy by not working, buying, selling, causing others to work for us, speaking idle or vain words or doing our own pleasures on the Sabbath. There are only exceptions if we are fulfilling Yahweh’s purpose for something. And this I leave to one’s own heart for only Yahweh knows our heart. To add a bunch of laws to try and apply to specific situations is legalism. And this is what the scribes and Pharisees were practicing. Yahushua clearly taught against that.
I want to emphasize the scriptures for the preparation day. It was on this preparation day that the meals for Shabbat were prepared. It was on the preparation day that things were done so that work was not done on the Sabbath. Meals should not be prepared on Shabbat. This should be done the day before.
The Preparation Day, That Is, the Day Before the Sabbath
Exodus 16:11 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,?12 I have heard the murmurings of the children of Israel: speak unto them, saying, At even ye shall eat flesh, and in the morning ye shall be filled with bread; and ye shall know that I am the LORD your God.?13 And it came to pass, that at even the quails came up, and covered the camp: and in the morning the dew lay round about the host.?14 And when the dew that lay was gone up, behold, upon the face of the wilderness there lay a small round thing, as small as the hoar frost on the ground.?15 And when the children of Israel saw it, they said one to another, It is manna: for they wist not what it was. And Moses said unto them, This is the bread which the LORD hath given you to eat.?16 This is the thing which the LORD hath commanded, Gather of it every man according to his eating, an omer for every man, according to the number of your persons; take ye every man for them which are in his tents.?17 And the children of Israel did so, and gathered, some more, some less.?18 And when they did mete it with an omer, he that gathered much had nothing over, and he that gathered little had no lack; they gathered every man according to his eating.?19 And Moses said, Let no man leave of it till the morning.?20 Notwithstanding they hearkened not unto Moses; but some of them left of it until the morning, and it bred worms, and stank: and Moses was wroth with them.?21 And they gathered it every morning, every man according to his eating: and when the sun waxed hot, it melted.?22 And it came to pass, that on the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers for one man: and all the rulers of the congregation came and told Moses.?23 And he said unto them, This is that which the LORD hath said, To morrow is the rest of the holy sabbath unto the LORD: bake that which ye will bake to day, and seethe that ye will seethe; and that which remaineth over lay up for you to be kept until the morning.?24 And they laid it up till the morning, as Moses bade: and it did not stink, neither was there any worm therein.?25 And Moses said, Eat that to day; for to day is a sabbath unto the LORD: to day ye shall not find it in the field.?26 Six days ye shall gather it; but on the seventh day, which is the sabbath, in it there shall be none.?27 And it came to pass, that there went out some of the people on the seventh day for to gather, and they found none.?28 And the LORD said unto Moses, How long refuse ye to keep my commandments and my laws??29 See, for that the LORD hath given you the sabbath, therefore he giveth you on the sixth day the bread of two days; abide ye every man in his place, let no man go out of his place on the seventh day.?30 So the people rested on the seventh day.?31 And the house of Israel called the name thereof Manna: and it was like coriander seed, white; and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey.
Take special note of this verse: 23 And he said unto them, This is that which the LORD hath said, To morrow is the rest of the holy sabbath unto the LORD: bake that which ye will bake to day, and seethe that ye will seethe; and that which remaineth over lay up for you to be kept until the morning.?
You do your cooking for Shabbat before Shabbat on the preparation day. On Shabbat your wife is also to enjoy the Sabbath and not have to work feeding you and the family. If your not practicing this now then this coming Shabbat is the perfect time to begin doing so. Give your wife the day off as you have been commanded to do.
Matthew 27:57 When the even was come, there came a rich man of Arimathaea, named Joseph, who also himself was Jesus’ disciple:?58 He went to Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be delivered.?59 And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth,?60 And laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock: and he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed.?61 And there was Mary Magdalene, and the other Mary, sitting over against the sepulchre.?62 Now the next day, that followed the day of the preparation [NKJV: the Day of Preparation; NIV: the Preparation Day], the chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate,?63 Saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again.?64 Command therefore that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night, and steal him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead: so the last error shall be worse than the first.
Mark 15:42 And now when the even was come, because it was the preparation [NKJV, NIV: the Preparation Day], that is, the day before the sabbath,?43 Joseph of Arimathaea, an honourable counsellor, which also waited for the kingdom of God, came, and went in boldly unto Pilate, and craved the body of Jesus.?44 And Pilate marvelled if he were already dead: and calling unto him the centurion, he asked him whether he had been any while dead.?45 And when he knew it of the centurion, he gave the body to Joseph.?46 And he bought fine linen, and took him down, and wrapped him in the linen, and laid him in a sepulchre which was hewn out of a rock, and rolled a stone unto the door of the sepulchre.
Luke 23:50 And, behold, there was a man named Joseph, a counsellor; and he was a good man, and a just:?51 (The same had not consented to the counsel and deed of them;) he was of Arimathaea, a city of the Jews: who also himself waited for the kingdom of God.?52 This man went unto Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus.?53 And he took it down, and wrapped it in linen, and laid it in a sepulchre that was hewn in stone, wherein never man before was laid.?54 And that day was the preparation [NIV: the Preparation Day], and the sabbath drew on.
John 19:10 Then saith Pilate unto him, Speakest thou not unto me? knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee??11 Jesus answered, Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above: therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin.?12 And from thenceforth Pilate sought to release him: but the Jews cried out, saying, If thou let this man go, thou art not Caesar’s friend: whosoever maketh himself a king speaketh against Caesar.?13 When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he brought Jesus forth, and sat down in the judgment seat in a place that is called the Pavement, but in the Hebrew, Gabbatha.?14 And it was the preparation of the passover [NKJV: the Preparation Day of the Passover; NIV: the day of Preparation of Passover Week], and about the sixth hour: and he saith unto the Jews, Behold your King!?15 But they cried out, Away with him, away with him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Shall I crucify your King? The chief priests answered, We have no king but Caesar.
John 19:30 When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.?31 The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation [NKJV: the Preparation Day], that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day, (for that sabbath day was an high day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away.
John 19:38 And after this Joseph of Arimathaea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, besought Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus: and Pilate gave him leave. He came therefore, and took the body of Jesus.?39 And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight.?40 Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury.?41 Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid.?42 There laid they Jesus therefore because of the Jews’ preparation day [NKJV: Preparation Day]; for the sepulchre was nigh at hand.
On another note, we are in the sixth millennial day. The Seventh Millennium is about to begin in the year 2045. So this sixth millennial day is the preparation day for the seventh Millennium. How are you preparing for the seventh one now? Are you getting ready for this time and studying His word and contemplating it at all sorts of levels of understanding? The time for preparing is now. Be a wise virgin and have your oil, your holy spirit filled with the knowledge of His word now while you still can do so. Darkness is coming and soon you will not be able to share His word as we now can.
I also must state here a few other things that I have come to know about. Recently in this past year I have seen brethren travel for 48 hours straight on the Sabbath and the High Day of Shavuot. They were not traveling a short distance to go to an assembly. They were traveling to get to a job, which once they began, would require them to work 7 days a week and they knew this before they left. But they insisted that the still small voice from god was telling them to go. So they did.
It was just a few weeks later that they were fired and had a hard time getting back home.
Another person in a very tough situation was seeking help to move from one place to another. They were able to get help but only on Shabbat. So they moved all their things to this other place on Shabbat. Once they got there disasters began to happen. And they had to move again to another place.
IN both of the cases above the people think they did nothing wrong. They had to do it this way. Well they both will not know what blessing Yehovah had for them if they had of passed the test and kept the Sabbath. The Sabbath is a test commandment. We get tested each week to see if we will obey it or not. We get blessed by obeying and when we do not obey we never know what blessing we missed out on.
This year at Sukkot we ended up eating in a restaurant on Shabbat. I protested by not joining in. But everyone like sheep to the slaughter just walked in and never considered the people who would be serving them on Shabbat. They were working on Shabbat to feed them. And they got paid for it.
We then began to experience one disaster and problem after another. The first day our sewage backed up and began to stink as it ran down the street on our first High Holy Day. That evening we experienced bus problems. The Drivers Dad died and a new driver had to be found and then the bus could not find us and then the restaurant we were to go to after Sabbatt could not be found. And after two days people were getting sick in our group. Some were very sick. We then brought this to the attention of the group. And we prayed and asked for forgiveness from Yehovah in the very place where Yehshua healed and fead the many.
Immediately after this we had a boat ride on the Galilee change and suddenly we were given more time to enjoy our relaxing time by the Galilee where some swam and others walked about and enjoyed the afternoon. Our boat ride was changed to sunset so we could watch it set while we were at sea. A beautiful time and I rejoiced, as can be seen by some videos on fb. Others who were sick got better and were also dancing with me. It was Yehovah blessing us for repenting. And then that night we ended up eating at the exact same restaurant we had sinned in a few days earlier. We had now come full circle. Three of those who were sick asked for anointing and with some other men we did so and they were restored by the next day. Miracles do happen if we are obedient to Yehovah.
So instead of ignoring the troubles you are in, go back and see if you are breaking any of Yehovah’s laws and repent and mean it. Stop breaking them or treating them so lightly as insignificant. Then watch and see if things do not improve.
On this tour of Israel we had an awesome demonstration of Yehovah’s love and mercy for us once we repented. You can too.
Have you ever noticed this one verse right in the Ten Commandments.
Exo 20:5 You shall not bow yourself down to them, nor serve them. For I Jehovah your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the sons to the third and fourth generation of those that hate me,
Exo 20:6 and showing mercy to thousands of those that love Me and keep My commandments.
Yehovah is quick to show mercy, which is called Grace in the New Testament, He will show mercy to those who repent and show they Love Yehovah by keeping the Commandments. To those who do not He says He does not know you. Your sins have separated you from Him. He does not hear your prayers unless you repent and begin to obey. But to those who repent and begin to obey, He does show Mercy and He does show grace and forgive you. But you must keep the commandments in order to retain this mercy and this grace.
Stop cooking on Shabbat. Stop eating out in restaurants and having others serve you on Shabbat. Stop doing your own pleasure on Shabbat. Stop working on Shabbat. Any of the Sabbaths. Repent and begin to obey and then you will be blessed. Test Him and see if this is not true. Stop making excuses as to why you must break the Sabbath. Stop making excuses period. Just do it and then allow Yehovah to bless you.
How to Keep the Sabbath Day Holy
article by Richard Pinelli
Sabbath-keeping reflects our relationship with God. How can we recapture positive principles and grow in this area?
Exodus 19 and 20 talk about how God, when He gave the Ten Commandments, caused the earth to tremble and shake—the manifestations were absolutely awesome. God said He came to test them “that His fear may be before you, so that you may not sin” (Exodus 20:20
And Moses said unto the people, Fear not: for God is come to prove you, and that his fear may be before your faces, that ye sin not.
How do we respond to these words? In this article we are not talking about proving the Sabbath. We are really talking about what we need to do as members of God’s Church in keeping this particular day.
A Test Commandment
We have talked for many, many years about the fact that the Sabbath is a test commandment. God measures the Church by what it does with His law. And we have come to realize that judgment begins at the house of God (1 Peter 4:17
For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?
Many times people think of this judgment as condemnation. But it’s a process of evaluation, of learning, of growing, of walking with God. We are the people of God and He is showing us how to observe this day and to keep His laws in the way that He intends so that we can be prepared to enter His family.
One of the most important things that we can understand about this subject is that our job is to continually expand our understanding of God’s law concerning the Sabbath.
So how we keep the Sabbath says something about us. God wants to learn something about our character, what we are going to do with this command. It is important for us to continue to grow in understanding not only the letter of the law, but the spirit.
God made a very special Sabbath covenant with His people back in Exodus 31. We see from that chapter that the Sabbath is an identifying sign of God’s people. It identifies people, not agreements. And so the Sabbath day is a very important day, not greater than the other nine commandments, but a part of the Ten Commandments and a sign between us and our Creator. As we serve Him on this day, there is something special that we learn about the Sabbath.
Ezekiel wrote about the severe consequences when the people defiled God’s Sabbaths (Ezekiel 20:11-13
 And I gave them my statutes, and shewed them my judgments, which if a man do, he shall even live in them.
 Moreover also I gave them my sabbaths, to be a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am the LORD that sanctify them.
 But the house of Israel rebelled against me in the wilderness: they walked not in my statutes, and they despised my judgments, which if a man do, he shall even live in them; and my sabbaths they greatly polluted: then I said, I would pour out my fury upon them in the wilderness, to consume them.
God was very serious about the Sabbath being a test commandment. How we keep God’s Sabbath tells God something about how much we really want to be in His family.
The Jews were convinced that the Sabbath was the primary reason they went into captivity. So they proceeded to make rules for their Sabbath. But they went into the other ditch, becoming so “pharisaical” that they developed 39 categories of activities that comprised “work”—everything from swatting a fly to helping an injured man. No wonder Christ condemned the Pharisees. But if that ditch is wrong, the other ditch is wrong as well. There is a balance.
I am not trying to create some kind of yardstick religion. But over the last few years many of our ministers have asked for a little bit more information on Sabbath-keeping, because in the early ’90s it was watered down. The observance of the Sabbath became in many cases something different than it was years before. People began to dress inappropriately. People treated the Sabbath as simply another day rather than a feast day, a special day. They didn’t get involved as they used to in preparing for it and looking forward to it. And so all I am trying to do is to reemphasize some of these areas to help us better understand how we should keep the Sabbath.
I think the most interesting thing that happened after I gave a sermon on this subject was how many young people from age 18 to 30 came up and said they had never heard things like that before. And that was shocking to me because it made me realize that we haven’t spoken on this topic for a long time.
I am not here to judge the intent of your heart. I am here, like you, to try to better understand how to keep God’s law every Sabbath.
Four Primary Principles
There are four primary principles of Sabbath-keeping. First, the commandment tells us not to work. This means not to make a productive increase from working—receiving pay and so on.
Second, the commandment tells us to rest. This does not mean that we stay in bed all day. Rest means to change the overall approach that we have from the six days of go, go, go and work, work, work, to being able to just stop and enjoy the day.
Third, we are told to assemble with others for worship. We are required to congregate. It is a part of true Christianity. You really can’t just be a living room Christian. A great part of keeping God’s law has to do with interaction and involvement with the people of God on a regular basis.
Six days shall work be done: but the seventh day is the sabbath of rest, an holy convocation; ye shall do no work therein: it is the sabbath of the LORD in all your dwellings.
that it is a holy convocation. The word implies the product of official summons to worship. To put it another way, God said be there. When we receive a summons to appear in court, what do we do? We take it seriously. Similarly, God has said to us that we should respond by being here.
There was a man in one of the churches a few years ago who brought a portable dialysis machine in his truck so he could be at church! And there are many wonderful examples of people who desperately want to be at church.
The fourth point is that we are here to fellowship . Hebrews 10:25
Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.
we need to be gathering ourselves together so much more as we “see the Day approaching.” We are here to learn from the other members, to hear the sermon and sermonette. Apostasy sets in when Christian fellowship becomes lukewarm.
It is very important that we gather together to help and encourage the brethren, and to allow them to give us encouragement when we have need after a bad week. We receive prayer updates and find ways we can serve the brethren.
The Sabbath was designed to serve mankind (Mark 2:27
And he said unto them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath:
On it we learn about life’s purposes, why we’re here, where we’re headed. Most important, we learn how to live.
Proper Sabbath observance allows us to develop and maintain a personal relationship with both the human family and the spiritual family of God.
Reverencing God’s Sanctuary
Part of properly keeping the Sabbath is reverencing God’s sanctuary (Leviticus 19:30
Ye shall keep my sabbaths, and reverence my sanctuary: I am the LORD.
This includes respect in the way we dress and the way we get to church on time. We need to be in our seats, ready to be a part of the song service, the sermonette and the sermon.
We need to have our “wedding garment” on (Matthew 22:11-14
 And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment:
 And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless.
 Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
 For many are called, but few are chosen.
We need to be properly attired, wearing the best we have. It’s like the high priest who on the Day of Atonement wore a special garment to show respect and reverence (Leviticus 16:4
He shall put on the holy linen coat, and he shall have the linen breeches upon his flesh, and shall be girded with a linen girdle, and with the linen mitre shall he be attired: these are holy garments; therefore shall he wash his flesh in water, and so put them on.
The Preparation Day
Exodus 20:8 says, “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.” It is interesting that the word remember is used. The Soncino commentary says this means we should always keep the Sabbath in mind during the week. If we are thinking about the Sabbath, then we will begin to make some of the modern-day preparations that are needed.
Instead of running for six days and coming to an abrupt stop all of a sudden when the sun goes down, we can take the opportunity to begin to switch gears early enough to think about what we are going to do. For example, shining our shoes, pressing our clothes, preparing foods and thinking about what we are going to do with our children.
One of the most enjoyable times for my wife and me was when we had Friday nights together as a family. Every Friday night we would have one of our favorite meals. The first time it would be my daughter’s choice, the second time my son’s, the third time my wife’s and last of all the old man’s.
We shut everything down and it became our time. Sometimes we would go downstairs and play a game. Sometimes we would sit in front of the fireplace and talk and have our dessert there. It was very special.
Now, with the principles of Sabbath-keeping that we have gone through, we must individually grow in proper judgment, continually expanding our understanding of God’s laws concerning the Sabbath. In this article, rather than giving you the don’ts, I want to give you the dos. I want to show you some very positive things you can do based on the teachings of Isaiah 58.
Isaiah 58:13-14  If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words:
 Then shalt thou delight thyself in the LORD; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.
says, “If you turn away your foot from the Sabbath, from doing your pleasure on My holy day, and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD honorable, and shall honor Him, not doing your own ways, nor finding your own pleasure, nor speaking your own words, then you shall delight yourself in the LORD; and I will cause you to ride on the high hills of the earth, and feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father.”
In the context of the right kind of fasting and the wrong kind of fasting mentioned earlier in Isaiah 58, God then addresses the Sabbath. As with fasting, God contrasts the right approach to His holy time and the wrong approach. The right approach will cause God to take notice, enhance our relationship and cause us to take delight in the things that are eternal.
We have to be careful that our Sabbath does not degenerate into a meaningless weekly ritual. There is more to the Sabbath than simply acknowledging that it is Saturday and not Sunday, and not working, and of course going to church. The Sabbath is set apart for a particular purpose, and this is the positive side of understanding what we should be doing with the Sabbath.
So let’s start with a question that many people raise. How do I use my television set? What about my computer? What about a radio? What about printed material such as books and magazines and newspapers?
The world we live in comes into our home through many vehicles. How we use these vehicles on the Sabbath will depend on our interpretation of Isaiah 58:13-14
 If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words:
 Then shalt thou delight thyself in the LORD; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.
Do we use these vehicles for personal entertainment? Do we use these vehicles for information?
The Sabbath turns out to be a day of highly positive import. It liberates man for meeting God. Do these vehicles help you do that? This is what you have to evaluate. These are some of the questions we must judge in our Sabbath-keeping.
Now let me give you two sides to the story. Let’s say that there are some people who spend seven hours watching television on the Sabbath. They might decide to watch an R-rated movie on Friday night. Now to me that is one ditch. The other side of that might be simply turning it off and never using it at all, when there are some things that can be used in a proper way.
Sabbath observance is not a burden. It liberates man for meeting God. It is a day of joy. It is a day of delight. The person who calls the Sabbath a delight is one who delights in the Lord. Our thinking begins to shift. We worship God and find enjoyment through and in Him and in what He provides, both spiritually and physically.
Our Ways Vs. God’s Ways
Isaiah 58 contrasts our ways versus God’s ways. God claims the Sabbath day as His, and I think the Sabbath is to be a pleasurable and an enjoyable day. It is to be a day of happiness and cheerfulness.
What makes us happy? Not the same thing that makes the world around us “happy”—not just physical pleasures. We focus on the spiritual aspects of the day, thinking about God, getting closer to God, learning about His ways. In essence God says, “Pay attention to Me on the Sabbath. Treat the Sabbath as an honor to Me.” When you begin to do that, you find that television, radio and the computer all find their proper place. But their place is not in spending hours watching R-rated movies on the Sabbath. That just doesn’t seem to be the ditch the Christian should be in.
In verse 14 God shows that we are going to be a part of His Kingdom. Thinking about those things on the Sabbath day and the life we have chosen becomes a very important thing.
 If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words:
 Then shalt thou delight thyself in the LORD; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.
tell us to focus on God and not self. Secondly, they tell us to focus on the eternal things and not the trivial. That is basically God and the big picture. It is not saying it would be wrong to think about other things, more mundane things, but the big picture should take center stage.
The Sabbath pictures the Millennium. The Sabbath pictures the coming of Christ to bring God’s government. And so from the concept of, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also,” we recognize that if our thoughts are only on our own interests, our own pursuits and our own pleasures, then our focus will be on the self.
In Isaiah 58:13
If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words: “your own ways” means the course of life, your employment, your enterprises, your finances, the serious business of making a living that we have to do six days a week. We don’t involve ourselves in working at that on the Sabbath day. We do that the rest of the week. Those things by which you feed, clothe and care for yourself physically, you put away. You remove yourself from that and you begin to think about those areas that are important spiritually.
Forsaking “your own pleasure” does not mean the Sabbath is a rigorous day of abstinence. I found that those Friday nights with my children were a wonderful time. I found that being with the brethren after church services or being able to enjoy a picnic or a walk in nature was very much a part of having our mind and our energies taken up in that Sabbath attitude.
“Nor speaking your words”: I think this is a spiritual application of the first two principles. “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:34
O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.
What we talk about, what we are thinking is known every Sabbath day when we talk with the brethren.
Making the Sabbath a Delight
Now let’s look at some ideas about making the Sabbath a delight. I told you about one that my family did for many years when my children were at home.
The Sabbath can also be a chance to visit the sick and the widows. When we begin to reach outside of ourselves, wonderful relationships can be established.
Many people have used the time to write a letter or a card of encouragement to someone. It’s wonderful to know someone was thinking about you and cared enough to send you a card.
Studying the Word of God and reviewing God’s plan is another important use of the Sabbath. It is a crazy world we live in right now. Find escape in what God is going to do, and realize that it is going to happen because He can’t lie. Take the time to review God’s plan.
The Sabbath is also a good time for talking about goals, about the future, especially the spiritual future ahead. I find that looking back on what God has done for us, and then looking forward to what He is going to do, is very encouraging. This is a day to think about the positive things, to reach forward and to reach upward.
Some people read sections of the Bible that deal with God as Creator, the Sabbath theme, and then watch videos or certain programs that highlight the creation of God. There are some wonderful videos from Moody Bible Institute about different aspects of the creation. Focus on the Family also has some wonderful videos on family.
Take a walk in the park. Sometimes, we don’t get a chance to smell the roses. Alvin Toffler said we are stressing ourselves half to death. The Sabbath gives us a chance to reverse that.
Have interactive discussions with your family about newspaper and magazine articles on current events and prophecy. Talk about the problems of the world and the solutions that God is going to bring.
Special family time at meals is very important. I found one of the most enjoyable things was having a picnic in the park after Sabbath services, where you just sit down, take off your tie and visit with a group of brethren. Or have a potluck at home. Have special friends over Friday evening.
So considering all these things, how much would you get involved with the world coming into your house during the Sabbath? Probably a whole lot less.
Taking the Sabbath More Seriously
The Sabbath is a wonderful gift that God has given us in worshipping Him. Generally today the tendency is to take the Sabbath for granted. More people seem to be too liberal with the Sabbath than those who are too strict. I hope we will get back to remembering these important things.
Notice what the prophet Ezekiel says to us. “I gave them My statutes and showed them My judgments, ‘which, if a man does, he shall live by them.’ Moreover I also gave them My Sabbaths, to be a sign between them and Me, that they might know that I am the LORD who sanctifies them” (Ezekiel 20:11-12
 And I gave them my statutes, and shewed them my judgments, which if a man do, he shall even live in them.
 Moreover also I gave them my sabbaths, to be a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am the LORD that sanctify them.
The Sabbath is a sign between God and His people. Israel forsook God and the holy time that He set aside. They paid the price for it, a very dear price to pay.
Can we assume that if God held a whole nation accountable for breaking the Sabbath, that He would spare one individual? We as a Church need to take the Sabbath more seriously. I think we need to understand that perhaps we’ve let some things slip.
We must keep the Sabbath holy because our salvation depends on it. I hope you will bring these basic principles back to your Sabbath-keeping and allow it to make your Sabbath day most enjoyable and most delightful. UN
This article is based on two sermons given in the Cincinnati East, Ohio, congregation Feb. 7 and March 6, 2004. The full transcripts are available at http://www.ucg.org/sermons/transcripts.htm.
What About Ox-in-the-Ditch Situations?
 And it came to pass, as he went into the house of one of the chief Pharisees to eat bread on the sabbath day, that they watched him.
 And, behold, there was a certain man before him which had the dropsy.
 And Jesus answering spake unto the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath day?
 And they held their peace. And he took him, and healed him, and let him go;
 And answered them, saying, Which of you shall have an ass or an ox fallen into a pit, and will not straightway pull him out on the sabbath day?
 And they could not answer him again to these things.
Sometimes people look at their job or their situation as an ox in the ditch. The Bible shows that emergencies, ox-in-the-ditch situations, justify work. When one has a legitimate emergency, a life-or-death illness or accident, he or she is not condemned for doing what is necessary to meet the challenge of the emergency.
Dealing With Legitimate Emergencies
The Second Narrows Bridge between North Vancouver, British Columbia, and the mainland collapsed. Hundreds of people were thrown into the water from this high bridge. Many died and some were badly injured. A member of the Church in Vancouver—a nurse at a hospital—was asked to come to work. She worked an entire shift during that time because there was death, mayhem and confusion. There was an emergency where they needed to have trained people there. This lady had always told her boss that she could not come in from Friday night sunset until Saturday night sunset, and they honored that. But they said to her, “We have an emergency that we have never had before. Will you come?” And she said, “Yes, I will.”
We had a man in the Church who used to work on high power lines. He made sure his boss knew that he would not be there to work on the Sabbath. But one Friday night there was a terrible, terrible storm. He had to spend eight hours taking care of lines that had fallen across roads and would have injured people.
Now, he let his boss know. The nurse let her boss know. These people recognized that if their bosses were to continue time after time asking them to come to work, then they would have to face the question, What is a legitimate emergency and what is created by the boss?
Someone asked the question, How do you handle situations when responsibilities considered critical by your company keep encroaching into Friday evening? I think the answer is that we have to begin to plan ahead to avoid foreseeable “emergencies.” If they continue to encroach upon the Sabbath, you may need to find another place to work.
But in most cases—I would say in 99 percent of cases—when people plan ahead and talk to their employer and explain their needs, it all works out. And then there may be a legitimate emergency that requires you to make a judgment.
Is the Sabbath Worth Dying For?
Someone asked another question: If you could not find a way to survive because every occupation required you to work on Saturdays, is the Sabbath worth dying for?
Strong question, isn’t it? But there’s a scripture that addresses it. It’s found in the context of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego and the fiery furnace. They, too, faced this question of faith. They refused to bow down to the image, to break one of the Ten Commandments, and the king said he would throw them in the furnace.
They responded, “If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand… But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up” (Daniel 3:17-18
 If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king.
 But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.
It comes down to a matter of faith.
We have found over the past 45 to 50 years that most people who have held their ground and obeyed God’s Sabbath command have found a way to make it through the problem and actually be blessed! But you must understand, this is not an ox in the ditch. It comes down to a matter of a choice about God’s Word and God’s law. Now some people, if they are weak in faith, may give in to something. But you will find that over a period of time you will be convicted, and you will be finding yourself having to either decide to justify or to realize that you are going to have to carry out that command regardless of what men say or think or do.
Rediscovering the Sabbath
Nan Chase, a writer of Jewish background, wrote an interesting article about rediscovering the Sabbath. Here are excerpts:
“In a moment of divine inspiration I decided to try an old-fashioned cure for my space-age blues. It is called the Sabbath. And it’s a mental health tool that works as well today as it did 3,200 years ago…
“Now if someone told you that there was a way to stop the onslaught of everyday obligations, improve your social life, keep the house clean, revive your tired marriage, elevate spiritual awareness, improve productivity at work, all overnight without cost, you would probably say the claim was absurd. I certainly did, but I was willing to see if some cosmic miracle cure might really work…
“No shopping or paying bills, no pulling weeds or pruning shrubs, nor cleaning or repairing the house. Not even talking about or thinking about work and the office. The Sabbath is a day without labor, a time to savor the sweetness of life with a delicious meal, wine and lovemaking, napping, reading and strolling. My personal life, my professional life, my family life have all improved, and I plan to go on celebrating the Sabbath, the most powerful and illuminating discovery for me because of the sudden understanding of how an ancient edict can have such thoroughly modern applications…
“My quest began at a marriage counselor’s office. After 22 fruitful years of marriage my husband, Saul, and I found ourselves deadlocked over crises of time management, of growth and change…
“The first Sabbath I took Friday afternoon off from work to clean the house from top to bottom. If a family with three teenagers is going to get a day without work, we should start with everything extra clean. This practice proved to be an instant winner, and I have permanently changed my workweek to the benefit of our home life…
“Saul came home from work Friday afternoon, cleared away a stack of bills, and before the sun went down finished all that he had to do. What next? We felt duty bound to try the wine. And the lovemaking rules. And yes, even romance took on a profound and delightful new aspect. How marvelous to be told to make time to enjoy the physical and emotional pleasures of a mature relationship.”
—Source: Nan Chase, “Ancient Wisdom,” Hemispheres, July 1997.
Triennial Torah Cycle
We continue this weekend with our regular Triennial Torah Reading
Num 25 Amos 5 Lam 3 1 Cor. 4-5
Harlotry and Idolatry of the Israelites (Numbers 23:27-25:18)
Israel’s journey is basically over. They stand at Acacia Grove in Moab (25:1), just across the Jordan River from the city of Jericho (26:63). But what happens? Chapter 25 describes one of the most horrible episodes in the book of Numbers. How Israel here plunged headlong into such idolatry and sinfulness is almost inexplicable without looking elsewhere in the Scriptures. But when we do look elsewhere, we find that Balaam advised Balak to set a trap of sin for the Israelites so that God would curse His people: “Balaam…taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality” (Revelation 2:14). And just how was this accomplished? In Numbers 31, we will see more of the advice that Balaam gave to Balak: “Look, these [Midianite] women caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to trespass against the Lord in the incident of Peor, and there was a plague among the congregation of the Lord” (31:15-16).
Balaam’s plan worked. The women of Moab and its Midianite allies sexually enticed many of the Israelites to join with them in their sexually immoral idolatrous practices. This was likely presented as an offer of national friendship and perhaps even a new way to worship God. Yet it was, in fact, flagrant rebellion against the true God. No doubt, temple prostitutes seduced Israelite men into sexual rites linked with their religious sacrifices to Baal or Chemosh, also known as Molech. Such worship often included human sacrifice—the word “cannibal” actually being derived from Cahna-Bal, meaning “the priest of Baal” (Alexander Hislop, The Two Babylons, 1959, p. 232). Thus, when the Israelites ate of the Moabite sacrifices (25:2), they may have been participating in this ghastly practice. Psalm 106:28 says they ate “sacrifices offered to the dead,” but the original King James is more literal in rendering this “sacrifices of the dead”—which, again, may imply human sacrifices. In any event, “this was not just another time of trouble, this was the most serious challenge yet. The people had been seduced into joining the worship of Baal. And it was Baal worship that they had been sent to Canaan to eliminate!” (Nelson Study Bible, note on Numbers 25:4-5). God was infuriated, ordering Moses to execute every offender by hanging them in the sun till sunset (verse 4; Deuteronomy 21:23).
Zimri, an Israelite prince of Simeon, brazenly presented a princess of Midian, Cozbi, who was probably a temple prostitute, before Moses and the whole congregation. Although it is not entirely clear, it appears that they may have been performing their lewd rites in an open tent in full view of those at the door of the tabernacle of meeting! Aaron’s grandson Phinehas, in impassioned zeal for God and righteous indignation, took a spear and drove it through the two. Shamefully, the idolatrous worship must have been rather widespread as the plague was stopped only after 24,000 people died. In terms of the death toll, this was an even worse disaster than the rebellion of Korah, wherein 14,700 died. God was pleased with the zealousness of Phinehas in executing judgment (Numbers 25:11; Psalm 106:30) and gave the line of the priesthood to his descendants as an everlasting covenant of peace (verses 12-13).
Following this terrible incident, God gives Moses instructions to “harass” the Midianites, that is, to engage them in battle as His vengeance on them. And this battle, which will be Moses’ last, will be fought shortly—though it is not reported until chapter 31.
God says, “Therefore thus will I do to you, O Israel; because I will do this to you, prepare to meet your God, O Israel!” (verse 12). For some, this will be by death. But for the rest, it means God soon coming to earth—i.e., in the end-time return of Jesus Christ. “To be confronted—inescapably—by the God it had scorned and rejected would be a fate more terrible than Israel could imagine” (Nelson Study Bible, note on verse 12). In chapter 5, God lists a seventh calamity through Amos: captivity (5:3), a punishment mentioned in 4:2-3 and made clearer in 6:7. In 5:3, we are told that of those who go into captivity, only a tenth will survive (compare Isaiah 6:11-13, Living Bible).
God explains that He is the ultimate power to whom Israel should look—not their false gods. Interesting in His proclamations is a mention of the hydrological cycle of evaporation and rain, also referred to elsewhere in Scripture (compare Ecclesiastes 11:3; Job 36:27-29). One might wonder how this could have been so accurately understood by ancient authors—thus perhaps providing further evidence of God’s inspiration of Scripture.
In Amos 5:18-20, God issues a warning through Amos to those desiring the Day of the Lord, for that Day will bring judgment on the disobedient—and they themselves were thoroughly disobedient, just as modern Israel is today. “The lesson for us is clear. Look eagerly for Christ’s return—but not if you’re living a life of sin” (Bible Reader’s Companion, note on verses 18-20). It should be noted that while these prophecies are primarily for the end of this age, we can certainly see a secondary relevance for those to whom Amos preached—against whom an invasion by the Assyrian Empire was imminent. We can even envision the worshipers at Bethel cringing as Amos foretold its destruction, along with that of other centers of false worship in Gilgal and Beersheba (verses 5-6). In mentioning Beersheba, Judah is condemned along with Israel. These places of false worship serve as types of great houses of false worship in the end time. The true God is not to be found in them, but in seeking “good and not evil” (verse 14). And this, of course, is to be found in the revealed Word of God.
Israel of Amos’ day had forsaken God and all His ways as found in His Word. For instance, since the days of Jeroboam I, Israel had her own feast days, which God utterly despised (compare verse 21). He had told them before that they should not look to the pagan nations and copy their modes of worship (Exodus 23:24, 33; Deuteronomy 12:29-32; Jeremiah 10:1-4), but that’s just what they did. Likewise, today, the nations of modern Israel have forsaken God’s biblically commanded Sabbaths and Holy Days for pagan celebrations such as Christmas and Easter (Astarte).
Furthermore, God did not and does not want any worship that is “hypocritical, dishonest, and meaningless” (Nelson, note on Amos 5:21-23)—whether offerings, music or anything else. “After dismissing Israel’s empty worship as noisy and tumultuous, God called for the honest tumult of the rolling waters of justice and the perennial stream of righteousness, the only foundation for true praise and worship of the Lord” (note on verse 24). If Israel would only listen to God and heed, then He would not send the calamities (verses 14-15). But history shows that the Israelites failed to listen—and Israel, as a political entity, ceased to exist. Just so, history will repeat itself in the end time.
The Heart of the Matter (Lamentations 3)
The third lament is 66 verses long, as each of the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet is used to begin three consecutive verses. This dirge details the personal complaint of the poet. The writer identifies himself in the opening verse as “the man who has seen affliction by the rod of His wrath.” Again, the book is traditionally ascribed to Jeremiah, and that seems likely. Yet there is clear identification throughout with the entire nation (verses 40-47 even being written in first person plural). However, the words of this chapter could not have been written by just anyone.
The Expositor’s Bible Commentary does not agree with the assessment of some “that ‘every man’ is speaking. It would be an exceptional Israelite who could use this language, and some of his experiences could hardly be generalized. The commentary [here] is based on the assumption that Jeremiah is speaking… The reminiscences of many psalms [in what is written] is one of the arguments used against authorship by Jeremiah. Behind this lies—consciously or unconsciously—the supposition that many of these were written later than the prophet, an assumption that modern psalm-studies have almost completely dissipated. If the prophet adopted the difficult treble acrostic…as a curb on his anguish, the adoption of familiar phrases from the Psalms, especially from the psalms of lamentation, should create no psychological or literary difficulty in the ascription of this lament to him” (note on Lamentations 3).
Verses 1-18 appear to describe Jeremiah’s own suffering at the hands of his people—ultimately ascribed to God since He has ultimate oversight of all things. Verses 6-9 seem to describe the time Jeremiah spent in the prison dungeon. The statement “He shuts out my prayer” in verse 8 may recall God forbidding Jeremiah to pray for Judah’s deliverance (see Jeremiah 11:14; 14:11). Of course, it may also refer to times Jeremiah called on God to rescue him and didn’t immediately hear from Him. Yet we can also see in these verses the entire nation describing its plight of being bound in the chains of Babylonian captivity. (There is some irony, and justice, in the comparison in that the people are crying out in their affliction just as Jeremiah cried out over what they did to him.)
Verses 10-12, about God being like a bear or ambushing lion who has torn in pieces, seem more a reference to what the nation experienced. Yet Jeremiah may have felt this way at times during his own suffering, thinking that God was responsible for it since He could have prevented it if He chose to. Verse 14’s statement “I have become the ridicule of all my people” fits Jeremiah and does not seem to fit the Jews as a whole. Nevertheless there is a parallel in that the Jewish nation became the ridicule of all the nations around them. We should also bear in mind that what happened in Jeremiah’s day—to himself and his people—was a forerunner of what all Israel will experience at the end of the age.
Regarding verse 16, “some suggest the feeding on gravel and dust (or ashes) [is] in mockery; some, the violent grinding of the face in the ground by others. The latter seems the more probable. Yet again it could be argued that it refers to the type of bread made from the sweepings of the granary floor that Jeremiah must have received toward the end of the siege” (Expositor’s, note on verse 16).
In verses 19-20 it appears that Jeremiah is praying, “Remember all the terrible things I’ve gone through. I remember them—and, alas, I feel worse than I did before.” Then, in verse 21, he seems to recover, saying essentially, “But!…I also remember how I came through it all.” That is, “I survived—You have not abandoned me.” “Jeremiah’s remembrance of God’s faithfulness brought about a change in the prophet’s emotions. As long as we contemplate our troubles, the more convinced we will become of our isolation, our hopelessness, our inability to extricate ourselves from the present trouble. But when we focus on the Lord, we are able finally to rise above, rather than to suffer under, our troubles” (Nelson Study Bible, note on verse 21).
Verse 22 is truly remarkable. Jeremiah expresses his conviction that in all the troubles, God is yet being merciful. For the entire nation to be totally exterminated would be justice—because the penalty for sin is death—but God continually shows mercy. “This verse seems to contradict all that had been written up to this point (see 2:1-5). Yet the very fact that there was a prophet left to write these words and a remnant left to read them show that not every person in Jerusalem had been consumed. The fact that there was a remnant at all was due to the mercies and compassions of God. Even in His wrath (2:1-4), God remembers to be merciful” (note on 3:22). Indeed, God’s compassions “are new every morning” (verse 23). “Every day presents us with a new opportunity to discover and experience more of God’s love. Even in the midst of terrible sorrow, Jeremiah looked for signs of mercy” (note on verse 23).
And then the pinnacle confession: “Great is your faithfulness” (verse 23). “Here is the heart of the Book of Lamentations. The comforting, compassionate character of God dominates the wreckage of every other institution and office. God remains ‘full of grace and truth’ in every situation (see Ex. 34:6, 7; John 1:14)” (note on Lamentations 3:23). Verses 22-24 are like a balm on a sore. Jeremiah is reminding himself of the true good and loving nature of God. That is one vital point that will strengthen a person throughout a trial.
This is not the mere painting of a happy face over a grievous situation. There is great blessing for those who wait on God (verse 25). “The idea here is the acceptance of God’s will and His timing (see Ps. 40:1; Is. 40:31)” (note on Lamentations 3:25). This idea carries through to verse 33 and helps us to understand the meaning of verse 27, which states that it is good to bear the yoke while young. The idea is that of a person of full vim and vigor willingly and humbly accepting the judgment God has placed on him. This is more clearly stated in verse 28. Putting one’s mouth in the dust in verse 29 means willing lying prostrate on the ground with, by implication, the conqueror’s foot on one’s back.
In verse 30, we see the idea of turning the other cheek in the face of oppression and maltreatment, just as Jesus would later direct the Jews of His day to do (Matthew 5:39). The point in Lamentations 3 is that we must not fight the judgment of God. We must bear it willingly and patiently, waiting on Him, with full hope and trust in the next verse: “For the LORD will not cast off forever” (verse 31). This is exactly why God’s message to the Jews of Jeremiah’s day was that they surrender to Babylon. Whatever the chastening, we must remember that it is only a temporary condition. God is full of mercy and compassion (verse 32). He does not afflict men willingly or easily (verse 33), but only when He, in His omniscience, deems it absolutely necessary. It hurts God to hurt His people—just as it does human parents to discipline their children. As many scriptures show, after Israel is humbled and repentant, God’s plan is to regather and restore His nation.
Jeremiah uses his own experiences that kept him humble to show the way that his people could once again regain the blessings of God. Verses 40-41 are a call to self-examination and change, which will renew the relationship with God. That is the path for all people ultimately. Repentance is required. This was the answer the apostle Peter gave to the Jews of his day in Acts 2:38: “Repent and be baptized.” Action is required to “be saved from this perverse generation” (verse 40). So, too, Israel was encouraged to act.
When the people lament their suffering at the hands of their enemies in verses 46-47 of Lamentations 3, Jeremiah in verses 48-51 again describes his own uncontrollable weeping and grief over what they must endure. He then looks back at his own sufferings at the hands of enemies (verse 52)—those enemies being some of the same people he is now weeping for. Jeremiah’s time in the cistern or dungeon is evidently referred to in verse 53 and 55, though the pit could also figuratively represent any dire situation. It appears that in verses 52-66 Jeremiah’s personal situation is again being used to represent the situation of the whole nation. His words in verses 55-58 are words of hope. God rescued Jeremiah in the past—and He would do so again. Just the same, God had rescued the Israelites in the past—and He will do so again.
Though calmed through renewed hope, Jeremiah “cannot contain a last cry to God to judge those enemies whose brutality has brought him and his people such pain (vv. 58-66)” (Bible Reader’s Companion, chapters 1-3 summary). Again we can see the irony and justice here. Jeremiah was personally referring to what many of his own people had done to him—and that they deserved to be judged. And they are judged—by the enemy nation God has brought against them. Now they plea for justice using Jeremiah’s own words. (In the last days, we can perhaps imagine true Christians crying out over persecution they experience from fellow Israelites—and later those same Israelites crying out in the same terms over what they will suffer at the hands of end-time Babylon.)
Serving God included suffering for the prophets just as it did for the apostles of Christ centuries later. Christians today also suffer for their beliefs and their work, as well as in the normal course of life. Yet there is a purpose to all of these experiences as each human being is carefully prepared for a future that is much more wonderful and rewarding than anything we can comprehend. Even Jesus was made perfect for a position in the future through what He suffered (Hebrews 2:10, 5:8; 1 Peter 5:10). James 1:2 tells us to rejoice when we face a trial. It takes a strong belief in God’s overshadowing care for a follower to accept that the negatives that often come will ultimately work toward his good (see Romans 8:28).
Almost all of the prophets of God, and in all likelihood all His people who have suffered, have at times experienced moments of weakness and discouragement. Depression was the result for a time. God also experiences hurt and is afflicted by the suffering of His children. But there is purpose to it all. We learn genuine empathy for the sufferings of others by sharing their experiences. Paul wrote of how the experience of suffering, coupled with God’s comfort during the trial equips us to serve others (2 Corinthians 1:3-4). Sometimes, we also have to learn the hard lesson that giving in to Satan’s temptations or to our human nature brings painful consequences. Jeremiah felt forsaken at times—and we see his depth of feeling over it portrayed in this powerful book. There are profound lessons for all of us in his experiences and in his emotions.
1 Corinthians 4
Chapter 4 continues to read of Paul’s admonishment to the Corinthian assembly. Topics of the letter are: being a servant and what that means, judging of one another, teachers and ministers, insight and blessings of knowledge or understanding, the true condition of being a servant, and the ugliness of pride or being “puffed up.” Paul does a comparison between a proper assembly and its members according to Messiah and the pure Good News and that of “other” types of worship. For the Good News preached is by a servant, one who has understanding of the deeper things of God yet is humble and shares them with others. In most other types of religions, men hold on to “secret knowledge” and keeps that for only the initiated. The Gospel of Messiah is not to be that way at all.
God alone is our judge and it is important for each of us not to be concerned or worried about the opinions of other men and women upon us. We are not to focus on the approval of groups for our truth. “do not judge any at all before the time, until the Master comes, who shall bring to light what is hidden in darkness and reveal the thoughts of the hearts. And then each one’s praise shall come from Elohim.” (verse 5). Paul cautions the new assembly not to go beyond what is written plainly in Scripture – to stay on the true path. The secret things will be revealed in time. Why? So that people will not become “puffed up” against one another with some thinking they now have some secret knowledge. There is a lot of that going on in the Hebrew Roots movement and causes many problems.
We are all equal. Even those who appear to have more knowledge are even equal. How do we know this? Because all of what is received is given to each one by the Same Elohim. None of any at all is obtained by our own doing. Why do people boast of some knowledge as if they did not receive it as a gift? Many of us can relate to this teaching of Paul here in this chapter 4. There are many many “teachers” but few true fathers. It is one thing to have knowledge and teach the “secret matters” of Elohim and a completely different thing to be a true servant and emissary of Messiah. Paul delineates this very well. Emissaries are spectacles, they hunger, they thirst, lack for new clothing, sometimes beaten or homeless, persecuted, suffer, etc. These teachers in the assembly are revered, looked up to, adored, satisfied, enriched, and praised.
So what does Paul say to them? Ha! “Therefore I appeal to you to become imitators of me.” At this point… everyone begins to worry don’t they? Questioning themselves about whether or not they are on the true path. It is something to consider and he wants them to consider it. There seem to be severe problems in this assembly to be sure.
1 Corinthians 5
Listen to some of these reports Paul writes about: there is whoring among the assembly persons… sure whorings that they are WORSE than what even the gentiles (non believers) do! Incest among possible other things! And yet they have the audacity to be prideful in their knowledge? He admonishes them that they should rather mourn and remove this from them.
Paul tells this assembly quite plainly to put this, or these, members out of the assembly. They cannot stay as if nothing is the matter. To accept this behavior is the same as condoning it and approving of it. The one in the sin will never become uncomfortable enough to change. This is what is meant when he says, “deliver such an one to Satan for destruction of the flesh, in order that his spirit be saved in the day of the Master Yeshua!” True love is telling someone you love them and meaning it, but also telling them the destruction they are in for and that their sin will not be tolerated among you.
A little leaven (sin) leavens the whole lump. This type of acceptance of sinful behavior always infects everyone. When we are told not to keep company with wickedness, whoring, greediness, idolaters, etc… it is not the ones “outside” the camp or assembly being spoken of. These people are the lost ones, the spiritually sick ones, the ones who need our kindness and our light. These ones who we are warned not to keep company with who are involved in these things and the people (brothers and sisters) who are in the assembly!! Being in the assembly means there has been a change, and renewed mind, a new walk… a desire for righteousness. There is no judgment on the people outside of the assembly, in the world, who are not hearing the Gospel preached and the way of righteousness, NO, the judgment is upon those who know better but continue to rebel willfully.
Do you not judge those who are inside??? Only God judges those who are outside, because He truly can see the heart. The Body of Messiah judges those inside and we are to be set apart, different, Holy as He is Holy. Keep the Body clean and when we bring someone inside to worship with the Body it should look different than the world, not the same – or worse! Put away the wicked one from among us!