Volume 14, Number 1, September-October 2010

 

Catholics Struggle with Resurrection Teaching

Letter: [no date]

Recently, I sat in a Catholic prayer meeting while a self-confessed rebel priest tried to explain the “mystery” of the resurrection. In other words, a resurrection from life to life makes no sense. Two people immediately got up and contradicted him, proclaiming the immortal soul.

Later on, I thought of the verse, “the soul that sins shall die” (Ezk 18:4), but I also thought of the wineskins bursting. Sometimes I wonder if there is a point in trying to pass on true doctrine. People have been martyred over just this kind of thing. I hope it isn’t too cold for you there and that things are working out.

Sincerely,

        —Ray Chandler

Response: We must realize that there are people in religions everywhere who are seeking God from His word. A friend of mine had once attended a funeral conducted by two Catholic priests. The priests explained in detail how the man was dead and awaiting a resurrection. My friend spoke with them afterward, exclaiming, “your church doesn’t teach that—you teach that they are either in heaven, hell or purgatory.” They replied, “yes, that is the teaching for the masses, but there are those of us who study the Bible and we know”.

Christ clearly taught that truth brought freedom (Jon 8:32). But He also realized people are not ready for all truth at once (Mark 4:33; John 16:12; 1Cor 3:1-2). Many times our Savior was most impressed by people who were not Israelites and probably understood little truth, but who had an attitude of love and faith. The famous “love chapter” (1Cor 13) leaves no doubt that love is more important than doctrine, spiritual gifts, etc.

When people literally go to war, or cast someone out of their church over doctrinal heresy, it is not usually because they really want to protect the other person from the “false doctrine” that he believes. If the doctrine were that bad, why don’t they just let the other person believe his “false doctrine” and suffer the horrific consequences of it as punishment? The reason they want to persecute the one with different doctrines is because they tie their own salvation to having all true doctrines. To see someone else with different beliefs, especially doing good Christian works, is upsetting to their own religion’s foundations. So they fight to prove themselves right!

—NSE

Likes Feast & SN

Letter: November 16, 2009

Dear Norman,

Just wanted you to know that we were spiritually blessed to attend the 2009 Feast of Tabernacles at Grizzly Jack’s Resort in Utica, Illinois

We also receive the Servants’ News. Your articles about “What is True Forgiveness” and “Faith to Face the Future” is what we need to help us not to fear but to draw closer to God as we see the time of the end approaching.

Included is an offering of [amount deleted] to help with your ministry.

Sincerely,

       — Mr-Mrs Ralph Stark, Wayne City, IL

Response: I found it to be an excellent Feast site as well. The programs are good, but it also provides a wonderful place for like-minded believers to meet together. Thank you for encouraging our ministry as well!.

—NSE

Proclaiming Biblical Feast Days

Letter: August 28, 2010

Hi Norman,

Thanks for the update. I’m going to the Feast with a group in Tennessee. Michigan a little too far for me.

Question: (not trying to start an argument) Just something to think about. How is it that that the Feast of Trumpets is Sept. 9th? The Scriptures say to keep the Feasts in their SEASONS. (Spring and Fall) The first day of the 7th month is Sept. 22. Moving the Feast Days up and down the calendar out of season is not sound doctrine, is it?

Be Blessed,

        —Mike

Response: Thanks for the letter. There is a short answer to this. Your reference to “in their seasons” is probably from this verse:

These are the feasts of the LORD, even holy convocations, which ye shall proclaim in their seasons (Lev 23:4, KJV).

Many people take this to mean the Feast days need to be observed during certain seasons. However, if one looks at the Hebrew, or a more accurate translation, there is no word in this scripture meaning “season of the year” or “spring, summer, fall or winter”, Both the word for “feasts” and for “seasons” are from the same Hebrew word, moed. The CSB more accurately translates it:

“These are the LORD’s appointed times, the sacred assemblies you are to proclaim at their appointed times” (Lev 23:4, CSB)..

The verse does not really say when to proclaim them, but states that they should be proclaimed when they are kept. Leviticus 23:2 and 37 also command these days to be proclaimed. This means that one calls others to them, invites them, lets them know. The command to proclaim is clear—and most people have done a fairly good job of this.

We do find out more about when, in general, to proclaim the feasts in verses like this one:

“Celebrate the Feast of Weeks with the firstfruits of the wheat harvest, and the Feast of Ingathering at the turn of the year” (Ex 34:22, NIV).

The words “turn of the year” are translated from the Hebrew tequwphah {tek-oo-faw’}  (Strong’s # 8622). The best research I have read says that it refers to the equinoxes and solstices, in this case the first day of fall. It mentions the Feast of Tabernacles as being at the “turn of the year”, not the Feast of Trumpets. With the present Jewish calendar, the Feast of Tabernacles is almost always after the first day of fall. Even so, neither this verse nor any other clearly says that the Feast Days must come after a certain equinox. Clearly the Feast of Weeks must come with the wheat harvest, so we know that must be early summer. Other clues to Feast timing are elsewhere in the Bible.

The Bible contains enough clear commands that I struggle with, causing me not to be overly concerned about the things that are unclear or not even commanded in Scripture. We do proclaim the Feast Days we observe as commanded in Scripture, and I hope you do the same. If I felt I could be of greatest service to my family and fellow believers by attending the Feast you attend, I certainly would do it at the time you proclaimed it.

What are the big commandments that I struggle with? Ones like this:

“This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends “ (John 15:12-13).

—NSE

All Men Created Equal?

Letter: February 2, 2010

Hey Norman!

What does it mean when scripture says, “All men are created equal”?

  — [name withheld]

Actually that is not in the scripture, but in the U.S. Constitution:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Some people teach that some races did not descend from Adam or that some races are superior to others when it comes to salvation. I think that is an evil teaching. Here are the scriptures that show it to be false:

Gen 3:20 And Adam called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living.

Acts 17:26 “And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings.”

Gal 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

God does choose nations and individuals for specific purposes at times, but there is no class of people that are innately superior to any other.

—NSE

Keep Going Through Trial

Letter: August 11, 2009

Hello Norm,

Thank you for the latest Servants’ News. I have a new address:

[address omitted]

From the information I have received from various people, particularly Laura Lee, I know you have come through an extreme trial. Congratulations on your endurance and holding everything together.

Take care,

  — Wily Elder, Florida

Response: Thank you. It has been quite a trial. But it is in trials that we grow. Most the stories of the Bible are about trials that believers went through. There just are not many Bible stories of believers who had a nice job, a nice marriage, nice neighbors and lived in that condition until their peaceful death.

The difficult thing is that not many brethren seem to understand that. Most people take the approach that if we are struggling it is because we are doing something wrong or because God is not in this. Over time I have learned not to worry about this either. There are plenty of trials to go around and God will certainly allow the nay-sayers

—NSE

Don’t Want Denomination

Letter: August 11, 2009

Servants’ News,

I was raised and baptized as a Catholic, I no longer practice the Catholic Faith. I belong to no religious group (denomination). I believe in the god almighty and his son, our lord Jesus Christ and the holy spirit. I believe that the Bible was inspired by god and I believe in following the ten commandments. My purpose in life is to serve God and become one of his chosen children and live forever in his kingdom as part of his family. I want to become a true Christian and find the true church of god.

Response: I consider what you have written to be a very sound doctrinal statement. When people try to write much more extensive ones, in their efforts to try to be clear, they end up putting in their own ideas. Do not look for a denomination to join—that is not the church. However, there may be many true brethren in denominations—they are just in error on that point. (Revelation 2 & 3 shows that the church has errors.)

“By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35).

If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also (1Jo 4:20-21 ).

A church should be a place where you can edify others and be edified yourself (1Co 14:26). Also a place you can serve others, and be served yourself as needed.

There is a long-time Servants’ News reader in Brooklyn named Sydney Brown, [address omitted]. I don’t have a phone or e-mail for him. He said he would not mind being contacted.

Another person in Brooklyn who has a good ministry is Gilford T. Monrose <gmonrose@yahoo.com>.

I am by no means trying to say that these are the only Christians in Brooklyn, or even the “best ones” if there is such a thing. They are just brethren I have known for some years. They may (or may not) help you in your goal to serve the Eternal. Pray and ask that He will lead you to a place where you can serve and edify as well as be served and edified.

—NSE

Repent For The Kingdom of Heaven Is at Hand!!! (Mat. 3:2)

Letter: November 13, 2009

Peace be unto you!

Hear this, all ye people, give ear, all ye inhabitants of the world (Ps. 49:1).

I heard the voice of the Lord God Almighty saying unto me: “Tell all my people to repent and I will forgive all their sins” Thus saith the Lord God Almighty.

And that repentance and remission of sins shall be preached in His name in all the world for a witness unto all nations and then the end shall come (Matt 24:14).

He that hath an ear let him hear what the spirit saith unto the churches (Rev 2:7)

— The voice of the Lord God Almighty

Church of the Holy Spirit Healing Miracle

Sec. Reg. Nos. 200626392

Purok 11, Tupi South Cotabato

Philippines 9505

holyspirithealingmiracle@yahoo.com

+639093052783 +639104991305 +639293968970 +639185251027

Response: I accept that this is a message from God as it is almost completely composed of Scripture. People, churches and nations all need confess their sins and repent of them. This is more important than all of the political, military and doctrinal manueverings that we do in a n effort to protect ourselves.

Since I received identical letters both to Servants’ News and PABC, I would guess you are sending this letter to many groups. May the Eternal bless it. Even though you provided a lot of contact information, our experience has shown that you may not receive much communication and support. Admonishing people to repent has never been very popular. The prophets of the Old Testament and our Messiah himself did not build a large following during their earthly ministry. But the fruit of their work was good.

And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart (Gal 6:9 ).

—NSE

Needs Sabbatarian or Sacred Name Guitar Music

Letter: September 14, 2009

[relevant excerpts of this letter]

I have a small request of you if possible? I’ve been fellowshipping here on Sabbath’s with the Seventh-Day Adventists and for our worship music we’ve been using the Protestant song book which a lot of the music reflects erroneous doctrine as you know. I’ve got a Sacred name song book that I tried to introduce, and most of the guys were ignorant of the Name and used the excuse that they didn’t know how to read “piano” sheet music. Do you guys have a song book with songs about the Sabbath and other true doctrines that have “guitar” sheet music?

If so, could you make a few copies of some select songs and send them to me? I’d really appreciate it!

Thanks in advance, and may Yahuah continue to bless you all at PABC.

— John Joseph Adkins #B-235577

Kinross Correctional Facility, 16770 Water Tower Dr

Kincheloe, MI 49788

Response: We are sending you a few songs that we have with the traditional sacred name in them. It is true that there are less musicians that know how to read sheet music these days. Both guitarists and many keyboard players just play from chord symbols. Those symbols do not convey the melody—the player has to know it. (Our Father has seen to it that a great many people are gifted with the ability to remember thousands of melodies.) However, somebody who does not know a song cannot learn it from just words and chord symbols. I do not know if music can be delivered to prisons via tape, CD or download of some kind..

We hope some of our readers, especially those who use the sacred name, will take it upon themselves to send you some good songs with chord symbols and to possibly write you and find if there is a way to get you a CD or other audio version so that you can learn the melodies. We can assure our readers that you are good at writing back!

—NSE

Sharing the Bible at a Big Church’s Prophecy Meeting

[Suzette wrote a letter asking for help in bringing biblical truth to a large church’s prophecy meetings that she was attending. That long letter is not printed here, but NSE’s response and then her following letter and response are printed.]

Response: May the Eternal grant you wisdom and peace in dealing with the pastor. I can help you a little. Here is an important scripture.

Now John answered Him, saying, “Teacher, we saw someone who does not follow us casting out demons in Your name, and we forbade him because he does not follow us. But Jesus said, “Do not forbid him, for no one who works a miracle in My name can soon afterward speak evil of Me. For he who is not against us is on our side. For whoever gives you a cup of water to drink in My name, because you belong to Christ, assuredly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward. But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea” (Mark 9:38-42).

From that time until now, there have been people claiming to do the Eternal’s work, who are not really follow the master. Some of them do good things “give cups of cold water”, some of them do bad things “cause little ones to stumble”. We can end up causing little ones’ to stumble if we make Christ appear divided unnecessarily. That is not to say that we accept or practice their false doctrines.

Yahshuah spoke the truth in saying:

“He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad” (Matt 12:30).

But, he did not give us the job of deciding who is gathering and who is scattering. Remember the parable of the “good Samaritan”. (Luke 10:30-37). Yahshuah told the Samaritans that they did not know what they worship (John 4:22), but he still honored the works of a Samaritan over the Priest and Levite who would not help the injured man along the road.

As far a prophecy is concerned, I have believed some different prophetic interpretations in my life time, and all of them have turned out wrong. I would much rather work with a group that claims that they don’t know when Messiah will return than one who thinks they know and is wrong. Prophetic teachers almost always use a lot of Scripture, so their writings sound “Scriptural”. But it is still their interpretation of Scripture. In the past, God has shown me things I need to do through other people or in occasional dreams. I trust our Father to continue this. I think we need to read prophecy and know what it says, but it is a mistake to get a group of people together and agree what it means, and then base our actions on that human agreement. Before I can accept that anybody has an understanding of biblical prophecy, I want to see a track record: Read their old writings, see that what they said would come to pass so far has happened, and also make sure they have not claimed things would happened that did not. I never seen this happen. Usually prophetic teachers that are specific just keep revising their predictions every few years.

Anyway, may the Eternal bless your meeting and may everyone be encouraged to study the Bible more!

—NSE

Letter: January 13, 2010

Norm, what a wonderful and encouraging and wise reply. Thank you very much. Bless Yah, He sends messages and gives me information through people like you!

[Section about another prophetic teacher removed.]

I did have the pastor [of the prophecy class] call [me]. It went well, praise Yah. He was concerned that I would go in there with my doctrines and have 30 people follow me out and “sit in my basement with a bunch of candles to wait for Jesus”. I calmly (Praise Yah!) replied that I hoped his opinion of my faith wasn’t that. That by no means are we a cult, that we don’t even have a head minister or have a control factor where we all must agree on every point.

I believe Yah put some good words in my mouth, that hopefully His words came out and not my own. I did get to explain some basics because the pastor asked. Like that I don’t believe in eternal hell,...

Response: I will jump in and commend on each of your “basics”. Dispelling the “sinners eternally suffer in hell” doctrine is one of the best teachings. Most people are glad to find out about it. Many preachers and religious zealots do not like the truth about this getting out because many people attend churches and give to them largely because they think it will keep them out of hell.

Letter: ...that people are not in heaven right now,...

Response: This is obviously true, like the last one, and easy to find scriptures about, but some people will go to Rev 6:9 where there are souls under the altar in heaven. I think this is symbolic or figurative, but with Revelation, almost everybody picks what they think is literal, symbolic or figurative. I have found it is easier and more effective to reach people with the fact that God does not send people to burn in hell forever before dealing with the heaven issue.

Letter: ...that He has a name,...

Response: and it isn’t “Lord” or “adonai” or “ha shem”, etc. Saying exactly what the Name is and how to pronounce It is more difficult. There are so many heartfelt, in-depth writings that come to such different conclusions. I do not stress this teaching.

Letter: ...that the Sabbath is a prophetic picture of Yah’s timeline for man,...

Response: I like to show the Sabbath in Genesis 2 and Exodus 20—it came before the ten commandments were given.

Letter: ...Biblical astronomy, the Bible code,...

Response: I don’t see these as fundamental, but they are good

Letter: …the error of the Trinity doctrine,...

Response: This one is easy to use to wake people up. Many are surprised that the word “trinity” is not in the Bible or that when Stephen sees into heaven in Acts 7:55-56, he is personally full of the Holy Spirit, but he only sees the Father and the Son there.

Letter: …the four blood red moons and 2 solar eclipses on the Biblical Holy days in 2014-2015.

Response: I discovered the four lunar eclipses causing the red moons in astronomy tables, but had not studied the solar eclipses.

Letter: He’s really afraid of The Sabbath (“Jesus fulfilled the Sabbath, we can have Sabbath every day”) and me bringing up the pagan holidays (although I didn’t call them that, but I could tell by the way we skirted around the issue and the fact that one of the first things he asked me was how my holidays were —and it was a test, I just knew it). I think those are his two big concerns. 

Response: Obviously, if people feel compelled to meet on different days, they will no longer meet with His group.

Letter: We ended with an agreement to disagree on several points, for me not to dominate the group (as he said I will have more information than most or all of them—do you think he might want to consider why?) and I can’t take in tracts or handouts. They must be pre-approved. I can live with that for now. I told him I wouldn’t go to cause dissension but that I wouldn’t lie about my faith if asked or deny my faith. He was O.K. with that. So I’m on thin ice. If I get out of line I will be asked to leave. Please keep praying that I can share truth without breaking the “rules of engagement” and without denying or misrepresenting truth.

Response: Yes, it is fine to go with these rules. If people are interested in what you have to say there, they will talk to you another place.

Letter: Ei, Ei, Ei, this stuff can get so complicated. I wish I had the boldness to just walk in there and pronounce some truth like Yahshuah or the apostles did and walk away leaving them with their mouths hanging open and move on, shaking the dust off my feet as I go if they don’t listen to truth. I think a meek approach is going to be best on this one. Yah willing, if I can keep my flesh in check.

Response: Truth is not accepted everywhere. At times, Yahshuah was asked to leave certain areas and He did. He told His disciples they would have to do the same:

“Whatever city you enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you. And heal the sick there, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ But whatever city you enter, and they do not receive you, go out into its streets and say, ‘The very dust of your city which clings to us we wipe off against you. Nevertheless know this, that the kingdom of God has come near you.’ But I say to you that it will be more tolerable in that Day for Sodom than for that city” (Luke 10:8-12).

Now, we do not generally have the miraculous power that He gave this seventy, so we cannot expect quite as dramatic of a reception. Sometimes the apostles were beat up or tossed out of the places they went into. At other times they were asked to leave and they did. Owners of church buildings in this country have the right to send people out who disrupt their studies and services. I want the same right here, though I would certainly try to answer contrary questions for a long time before sending someone out. Be content with the opportunity that you have within the rules of those who run the meeting. (A higher level of confrontation may come soon enough)

Letter:        Thanks again Norm, your words and scriptures that you shared were truly appropriate and very much needed and appreciated. I just love this body of believers!

Shalom,

  Suzette, Michigan

Response:            May the Eternal bless your service to Him.

—NSE

Five Simple Bible Questions

Letter:        December 19, 2009

Dear Norman Edwards,

Could I ask you a few bible questions? They are:

1.  What does 16 Nisan remind you of?

2.  Is the Two House Teaching correct, according to you? Short answer please: False / True.

3.  Is the British Israelism Teaching correct, according to you? Short answer please: False / True.

4.  What is Galatians 3:19 speaking of?

5.  What does 6 Sivan mean to you?

Just 1-sentence replies are fine. I will give my answer as well, after you have done so.

Remain blessed,

       —Tallytha, Amsterdam

Response: Generally, when someone wants very short answers to very complex questions, they are attempting to entrap someone. They may hope to simply make a person look wrong or foolish, or possibly get him to say something that is illegal. This happened frequently to our Messiah (Matt 16:1-4; 19:3-9; 21:23-27; 22:15-46; John 8:3-11; 10:22-39).

When they asked Him if they should pay Roman taxes, they thought He would have to either speak against Roman law, for which they might be able to get Him prosecuted, or that He would have to place Roman authority above God’s authority, which they would endlessly repeat to the people, thus discrediting Him. Of course Christ answered with the famous line: “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”

If they insisted that He answer the question “yes” or “no”, He would not have been able to do it. If the purpose is to impart understanding, then it often takes more than a one-word answer. When people were not looking for understanding, just trying to condemn Him, Christ did not answer (Matt 26:63; 27:12). In an effort to share understanding, I will answer as briefly as I can and still be accurate.

1.   Nisan 16 is the second Day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Rabbinic Jews and some Sabbatarian Christian groups always observe this as the day of the firstfruits or “wave Sheaf” offering (Lev 23:10-14). It was offered on the day after the Sabbath (v 11), which most Rabbis will say is the First Day of Unleavened Bread, but others will say it is the weekly Sabbath in the Days of Unleavened bread. Thoroughly answering that question today requires a book.

2 & 3.          There are so many versions of these teachings and I do not know which one I would be saying “yes” or “no” about. There is no doubt the houses of Israel and Judah were divided by God (1Kngs 11). I do not believe that the prophetic reunification of the two houses has been fulfilled as they do not dwell in peace and a resurrected David is not king over them (Ezk 37:15-28). I think history shows that many people in Britain, the USA and other countries are descended from Israel, but exactly who is and who is not, and where all the tribes are today is a complex issue. Whether each prophecy applies to physical Israel, the church (spiritual Israel) or both is another complex question (Rom 2:29; Rom 11:19-32; 1Cor 3:16; Gal 6:16; Rev 21:12). I reject both extreme views: only Israel/Jews can be saved and Israel/Jews cannot be saved.

4.   Let us quote the section in the KJV, which is more faithful to the Greek as I understand it:

And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after [the promises to Abraham], cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect. 18 For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise. 19 Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator (Gal 3:17-19).

The law in discussion here is that law added by the covenant with ancient Israel at Sinai. The Hebrew torah and its equivalent Greek nomos have broad meanings-much like our English word “law” which can refer to federal, state or local law, case law, church law, private law or even police officers. We cannot quickly answer what law was added, but will briefly state that even before Sinai the Bible teaches the Feast days (Gen 1:14), the Sabbath (Gen 2:2-3, Ex 16), clean animals (Gen 7:2); not eating blood (Gen 9:4), the death penalty for murder (Gen 9:5-6) and for adultery (Gen 20:3). While no law produces salvation, Gods commandments teach us his holiness (Rom 7:12). Too many people are too interested in trying to declare large parts of the Scripture obsolete, rather than understanding it and skillfully applying it to the Christian life.

5.   Sivan 6 is the date of Shavuot or Pentecost observed by Rabbinic Judaism and some Sabbatarian Christian groups. With a fixed calendar (as opposed to an observed calendar where any given month may be 29 or 30 days long), 50 days from Nisan 16 will always be Sivan 6. Hundreds of books and papers are devoted to the dating of Pentecost. I cannot answer every question on the subject. God has clearly told us to proclaim and to observe these days (Lev 23:2-4). We should honor the obedience of believers when they observe these days based upon the sincere (but possibly wrong) proclamation of other believers, lest we be found guilty of offending the “little ones” for whom Christ died (Matt 18:5-6).

—NSE

Passover Papers, Lamb Size & Pentecost Always on 6th?

Letter:        December 28, 2009

Dear Mr. Norm Edwards,

I would like a copy of the Passover Papers

Response: The Passover Papers by Paul Finch was reviewed in our Sept-Oct 2009 issue. We do not give away the books we review, though occasionally the authors make them available free of charge. That issue listed Internet sources for the book, but in addition, almost any book store can get almost any book today.

Letter:        Most C.O.G. churches teach that the Passover lambs were killed at sundown. If that were so, and Christ replaced the passover lamb, then how come he died at the 9th hour and not at sundown? Did Christ break the pattern he set up?

If Christ was the God of the Old Testament, which I think He was, did He not set up the sacrificed pattern from the beginning? Also, in Deut 16:6, the Bible said the lambs were slain in the evening, at the going down of the sun, not sunset.

I have never heard a minister yet, quote that. It also says to keep the lambs until the 14th day, not late evening or night. It was killed the 14th day and eaten that night.

Response: You have raised many of the significant points covered in this book and the many other writings on the Passover timing. Most people on all sides of the controversy, have explanations for their view. Some are honest differences in what a language means. For example, does “going down of the sun” mean “the sun disappearing below the horizon” or does it mean “the afternoon when the sun is visibly going down”? Other teachers, will take issues such as the timing of Christ’s death, and say there is no importance to the time, all he had to do was die on the same day that the Passover was killed.

Obviously, people should practice what they understand the teaching of the scripture to be. As one learns, the main thing to watch out for are Bible teachers who refuse to answer certain questions or who are upset when certain questions are asked. This is not an effort to teach, but an effort to stop people from finding out that they do not have all the answers.

Letter:        I know a family that killed a lamb at sundown and tried to eat it before midnight and it was still raw (against the rules). Also, I heard one minister say [they ate] a 25 or 30lb lamb, which would have been a new born, not a year old or even ½ year old.

Response: This is very interesting experience that most people today do not have. I did a little research and found that lambs typically weigh 8 to 20 pounds at birth and gain around a pound per day. With the biblical requirement for lambs to be with their mother seven days (Ex 22:30; Lev 22:27), and then four more days from Passover lamb selection (10th day) to sacrifice (14th day), the lamb would have to be at least 11 days old for a Passover sacrifice. That makes the absolute minimum weight of a passover lamb in the 19 to 31 pound range, but obviously all lambs are not born on Nisan 3rd.

Lambing time in Israel is typically in February, about two months before Passover. It is interesting that my research showed lambs are usually weaned at 60 days—just in time for Passover. They would be weighing 60 to 80 pounds by then.

Exodus 12:9 commands the lamb to be cooked whole, but cannot be raw, so it does make more sense that the lamb was killed in the afternoon, rather than after sunset, and eaten before midnight.

Letter:        I believe most C.O.G. Churches keep Whit Sunday for Pentecost. In Ex 19:1 it says: in the 3rd month they came into the wilderness on the same or 3rd day. Then the Lord instructed them to prepare and be ready for the 3rd day which would have been the 6th day of the month. I think that set the pattern for Pentecost. I have found nowhere in the New Testament instructing us to count fifty.

Response: I do not think it is harmful to claim C.O.G. brethren are keeping Whit Sunday. First of all, Whit Sunday is counted from Easter, not the Sabbath in the Days of Unleavened Bread as our Brethren count it. Myself, as well as many other brethren kept Pentecost for years, never having heard of “Whit Sunday”, based upon these verses:

“And you shall count for yourselves from the day after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering: seven Sabbaths shall be completed.” Count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath; then you shall offer a new grain offering to the LORD (Lev 23:15-16).

If one starts numbering from an annual Sabbath—the counting method that always arrives at Sivan 6 by the modern Jewish calendar—the fiftieth day is not usually a Sabbath. Whereas, if one begins counting fifty days after the weekly Sabbath, it is always a day after the weekly Sabbath—called “Sunday”, today.

Yes, people will claim that the word “Sabbath” in the above passage should be translated “week”, but the vast majority of translations say “Sabbath” here. Two that do say “week” are Roman Catholic translations: the Douay-Rheims and the New Jerusalem Bible. If keeping Pentecost on Sunday is a “Catholic doctrine”, why do the Catholic Bibles support the opposite translation? I cannot solve all of these issues in this letter response (indeed, I may not be able to solve them all, period), but I know many serious Bible students who have spent many hours and come to the conclusion that they should observe Pentecost on the first day of the week.

I do not believe I have previously heard your explanation of Exodus 19:1:

In the third month after the children of Israel had gone out of the land of Egypt, on the same day, they came to the Wilderness of Sinai (Ex 19:1).

You are taking the “same day” to mean the “day with the same number as the month”. I used my computer Bible to find that the exact same Hebrew expression used 491 times in the Old Testament, and it does not appear to mean what you think it means. It is more often translated “this day” or “that day”. Bible translations vary on this verse, some implying it was the first of the month and others the same day that they left Egypt. In any event, one cannot be sure that no more days elapsed between this verse and verse 10 which says:

Then the LORD said to Moses, “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their clothes. And let them be ready for the third day. For on the third day the LORD will come down upon Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people (Ex 19:10-11).

If you accept that no days elapse between verse 1 and 10, “today”, above, would be the 3rd of the month, “tomorrow”, the 4th and “the third day” the 5th, not the 6th. This is an example of “inclusive counting”, common in the ancient world. With an observed calendar (each month potentially being 29 or 30 days), counting 50 days from the second Day of Unleavened Bread could place Pentecost on Sivan 5th, 6th or 7th. Pentecost on Sivan 6th is not at all certain, here.

But the most important point here is that this verse does not portend to be a command on how to count Pentecost. In fact, the giving of the law on Pentecost is not a Biblical clarity  but a Jewish tradition. Indeed, that tradition may be right, but we should not hold Jewish tradition above Christian tradition—and certainly not above the Scripture. Leviticus 23 and Deuteronomy 16 contain instructions on how to keep Pentecost and these should be our primary source.

You are right that no New Testament verse tells us to “count fifty”, but the New Testament rarely repeats the detailed instructions of the Old. Even so, the New Testament writers choose the Greek word for “fiftieth”, Pentecost, rather than a Greek word that means “weeks”— equivalent of the Hebrew Shavuot.

Letter:        The barley harvest of grain, according to all I can find was the 16th, the 2nd of Unleavened bread, the day after an annual Sabbath, beginning the count of 50 days. If I’m wrong, send me proof.

Response: There are certainly a great many believers who share your view—as well as many who do not. But all is well with this because one commandment of the scripture is clear:

“Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘The feasts of the LORD, which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, these are My feasts (Lev 23:2).

The children of Israel were given the responsibility to proclaim these days, even though they were God’s Feasts. The Children of Israel, the same people responsible for keeping them, are responsible for proclaiming them. There is no chapter telling people they have sinned if they ignorantly miscalculate the days of the Feast. To the contrary, 2 Chronicles 30 shows that God was pleased when His Feast Days were kept an entire month late: Passover (which the Scripture does authorize—Num 9:6-13) and the entire Days of Unleavened Bread (which the Scripture does not authorize)

On that basis, I recommend that you, as well as others, proclaim and observe the Feasts as you understand them. It is also good to share what we know about them, so that we can all grow in true knowledge. I think we need to be very careful not to judge the Feast days other brethren keep:

So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ (Col 2:16-17).

Yes, we all should be keeping those days, but if we condemn our brethren for keeping it wrongly, even though they are doing it according to their Scriptural understanding, what will happen if we turn out to have unknowing error in the judgment:

“For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you” (Matt 7:2).

—NSE

 

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