Here's the Plain Truth About OLD TESTAMENT POLYGAMY

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Here’s the Plain Truth About

OLD TESTAMENT POLYGAMY

 

By Herbert W. Armstrong [The Plain Truth Magazine – October, 1963]


You may be surprised to learn that Abraham was not a polygamist — that David completely repented of it — that God’s legal statutes made polygamy illegal in ancient Israel!
GOD DID NOT sanction polygamy in Old Testament times. Contrary to the suppositions many have accepted, God FORBADE IT — and PUNISHED for it!
Abraham Was NOT a Polygamist
Many people recall at once a few Old Testament instances of plural wives, and ASSUME that God sanctioned polygamy. That assumption is absolutely false! God has NEVER approved, nor made lawful more than one living wife for any man. Quite the contrary, He FORBADE IT, even to the kings of Israel, and that by written STATUTE! Abraham WAS NOT A POLYGAMIST. While Sarah, his wife, lived, he never married any other woman. Abraham had an illegitimate son by Hagar. But that was an adulterous SIN. Although it renders it nonetheless a SIN, I think we can recognize extenuating circumstances. Sarah was barren. For a wife in ancient times to go childless was felt to be a disgrace. It was Sarah, Abraham’s own wife, who brought to Abraham her servant handmaid, asking him to produce a child for Sarah by this servant woman. We can imagine Hagar to have been attractive, and not necessarily lacking in voluptuous charms simply because she was a servant. The temptation, under these circumstances, at Sarah’s instigation, might have been great. Certainly the very invitation coming from Sarah would have made it harder to resist. Abraham was a strong man. But the temptation appears to have been STRONGER. ALL humans have sinned. Abraham was human. Abraham lied when he twice claimed Sarah was his sister, fearing for his own life. Abraham was not without sin. But neither this adultery, nor the two lies were sins of the nature that springs from a wrong attitude of mind or heart. Abraham, in his heart, was always OBEDIENT to GOD. There was no spirit of hostility or rebellion. These sins were of the FLESH, under temptation — not malicious or rebellious sins of the heart. But THEY WERE SINS! God FORGAVE Abraham’s sins of spiritual weakness, committed under heavy temptation. Nevertheless, we all must REAP what we sow — even though God forgives our sins upon repentance. God refused to approve this adulterous act of Abraham’s. He rejected the illegitimate son, Ishmael, from the birthright. This transgression produced jealousy between the women. It resulted in trouble, controversy, suffering. How many realize that even the Arab-Jewish strife over Palestine, today, was brought on by this very THREE-CORNERED TRIANGLE, and the ensuing jealousy of the two women, Sarah and Hagar, over the one man, Abraham? The Jews are the children of Sarah, through Isaac, born later by a miracle. The Arabs are the children of Ishmael. In Genesis 21:8-21 is the record of Hagar’s departure from Sarah and Abraham. God ordered Abraham to send away the concubine Hagar and her son, and Abraham OBEYED. This was at the time Isaac was weaned. Abraham had, after this, no more relations with Hagar, or his other concubine, Susanna, who is mentioned in the ancient Austrian Chronicle — see Genesis 25:6 where you will read that Abraham’s COCUBINES’ sons were sent away. Sarah’s death is recorded in Genesis 23:1-2. It was after that (Gen. 25), that Abraham married Keturah. This, of course, was a perfectly legal marriage. THERE WAS NO POLYGAMY — NO DIVORCE. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are termed, in both Old and New Testaments, “the Fathers.” Jesus Christ came to confirm the PROMISES made to “the Fathers.” The unconditional promises God made to Abraham were repeated to both Isaac and Jacob.
Isaac Had Only One Wife
Isaac WAS NO POLYGAMIST! There is no mention whatever of any wife for Isaac other than Rebekah. There is no mention of any concubines, or of any act of adultery. In Old Testament TYPES Abraham is the HUMAN type of God the Father. He is called, in the human sense, the father of the faithful. In this same system of types, Isaac is the type of Christ, the Son of God. And Isaac’s wife, Rebekah, is the type of the CHURCH, which is to marry Christ. Did you ever realize this type similarity? Just as Rebekah had to become the affianced bride of Isaac, and in a sense come to LOVE HIM, before she ever saw him — while he was still off in another land, so must we in God’s true CHURCH come to LOVE CHRIST, who is in a far country — heaven — without ever having seen Him! Now CHRIST will never have but the ONE WIFE. And, Isaac, being a type of Christ, had only one wife. Apparently Isaac was spotless from sins of lust or sex. Isaac’s wife, Rebekah, like her mother-in-law, Sarah, was barren. But Isaac did not take things into his own hands and have children by her handmaids, or by concubines. Neither did Rebekah do as Sarah had done, and resort to bringing a servant girl to Isaac to produce a son for Rebekah in this proxy manner. Instead of using human reason, taking things into his own hands, Isaac TRUSTED GOD! “And Isaac entreated the Eternal for his wife, because she was barren: and the Eternal was entreated of him, and Rebekah his wife conceived” (Gen. 25:21). If only we could learn to TRUST GOD to work out our problems!
JACOB: One Wife After Conversion
Jacob is a name that means “Supplanter”. It was God’s will that Jacob receive the birthright instead of his older brother Esau. But in his earlier life Jacob did not rely on God. He took the matter in his own hands, aided and abetted by his mother. As he stole the Birthright from Esau by unfair means, and received Isaac’s blessing by a lying deception, so his father-in-law, Laban, deceived Jacob. Laban supplanted Jacob’s PROMISED and LOVED wife, Rachel, with his elder daughter Leah. Leah was foisted on Jacob by fraud. According to God’s marriage laws, Jacob could have rejected her — put her away as soon as he discovered the deception. In that event, he would never have been truly married to Leah — God would not have bound them as one flesh. But when Jacob accepted her as his wife, she became his ONLY true wife, in God’s sight, as long as they both lived. But Jacob was not yet converted. He leaned to his own understanding. He did not seek wisdom from God, nor did he seek to OBEY God. He did what seemed right to him, in his own selfish interest. So Jacob lived in polygamy with two wives, and also had children by their two personal maids. But you read of Jacob’s conversion in Genesis 32:24-30. He then put idolatry out of his household (Gen. 35:2-4). God appeared to him, changed his name to ISRAEL (“Overcomer”, or “Prevailer with God”), and re-confirmed the PROMISES. Then God took Rachel, his second wife (Gen. 35:19), leaving only his first and true wife, Leah. So, following his conversion, Jacob had but his one original wife. Jacob had repented. He lived no more in polygamy after his conversion.
A Worldly Custom
It is of course true that it was a worldly custom, in patriarchal times, and in the days of the Kingdom of Israel, for kings and wealthy men to take plural wives. A harem was one of the symbols of royalty. But God FORBADE polygamy for the kings of Israel. Here is God’s LAW respecting polygamy by Israel’s kings: “When thou art come unto the land which the Eternal thy God giveth thee, and shalt possess it, and shalt dwell therein, and shalt say, I will set a king over me, like as all the nations that are about me …. Neither shall he multiply wives to himself, that his heart turn not away” (Deut. 17:14, 17). It is spoken of as “THIS LAW” in verses 18 and 19. Israel’s first king, Saul, had plural wives. But in this he disobeyed God and followed the custom of the kings of the worldly nations around Israel. It was SIN. It was not approved by God.
David REPENTED of Polygamy
David had several wives. But after his tremendous sin of taking Bathsheba and having her husband murdered, David repented, in real heart-rending repentance. And he never repeated the sin. Very few seem to realize what actually happened. See II Samuel 12:9-12. “Now therefore,” said God (Verse 10), “the sword shall never depart from thine house; BECAUSE THOU HAST DESPISED ME, and hast taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be thy wife.” Notice, David despised GOD — not merely the commandment of God, as in Verse 9, but also the very PERSON of God! He did it by taking this woman as his wife. Therefore the sword was never to depart from his HOUSE. The HOUSE OF DAVID, at that time consisted solely of these plural WIVES, and his children. This was a tremendous, super SIN. God was meteing out tremendous superpunishment. Now notice the next verse: “Thus saith the Eternal, Behold, I will raise up evil against thee out of THINE OWN HOUSE ….” His own house included his wives and children. WHAT evil? God has just said the SWORD will now come upon his house his family. God continues: “…. and I will take thy wives before thine eyes and give them unto thy neighbor, and he shall lie with thy wives in the sight of this sun.” Notice this was to be done in the sight of THIS sun — before that very day’s sunset. God continues: “For thou didst it secretly: but I will do this thing before all Israel, and before the sun.” The Septuagent Version translates it “THIS sun” here, as in the preceding verse. So a neighbor or neighbors defiled David’s wives publicly, in the open sun that very day — ravished them. God said “I will take thy wives before thine eyes and give them unto thy neighbor.” This was done publicly that very day. But at that point, David repented. All that is mentioned, in this particular text, is: “And David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against the Eternal” (Verse 14). But you will read of David’s private prayer of repentance to God in the 51st Psalm — the prayer of a really broken and contrite heart. It was REAL repentance. David TURNED FROM polygamy. The next words in this text in II Samuel 12 are: “And Nathan said unto David, The Eternal also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die.” However, the son to be born of this adultery was to die.
Even Concubines Put Away
Do you see what God did? He meted out to David a tremendous punishment — God took all his wives, leaving Bathsheba only. With David’s first and only legitimate wife, Michal, probably dead (see II Sam. 6:23), God also had cleared the way for Bathsheba to become the legal wife of David. Apparently this was done, that she might be the mother of Solomon, through whom God was to keep His unconditional, dynastic promise to David — a forefather of Jesus Christ — and a prophet used in writing thee Bible. After that David was away from Jerusalem. But, returning there were ten concubines (his former harem). Here is what David did with them: “And David came to his house at Jerusalem; and the king took the ten women his concubines, WHOM HE HAD LEFT TO KEEP THE HOUSE, and put them in ward, and fed them, but WENT NOT IN UNTO THEM. So they were shut up unto the day of their death, living in widowhood” (II Sam. 20:3). Just as David kept the ten concubines “in widowhood” — that is, he had no relations with them, for they had been defiled — so he put away his other wives (II Sam. 19:6) BECAUSE THEY TOO HAD BEEN DEFILED by a neighbor (II Sam. 12). David had truly repented. He practised polygamy NO MORE! When David was becoming old, he went “fully after the Eternal” (I Kings 11:6). He was “a man after God’s own heart,” because his heart was right. He did repent. He had been a warrior. In his younger life he went after many women. He had sown his wild oats. BUT HE REPENTED! His heart turned to GOD. His life’s race ENDED in victory — he “went fully after the Eternal.” It is not the one who starts out with the biggest burst of speed, but the one who finishes first AT the END of the race who wins it. His son, Solomon, started out righteously, unselfishly, relying on God. But, “when Solomon was old,” he had seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines it must have been a record harem. And his wives turned away his heart from God, and to their idols. It was SIN! Regarding it, God’s Word says: “Solomon did EVIL in the sight of the Eternal” (I Kings 11:6). There was polygamy in ancient Israel. But it was SIN! God CONDEMNED it — He never condoned or sanctioned it. They reaped what they sowed.
What GOD Joins in Marriage
Also Israelites practiced what God had forbidden — divorce and remarriage. On this, Jesus said: “Moses (NOT GOD) because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so. And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery” (Matt. 19:8-9) GOD has NEVER legalized divorce and remarriage. It is not allowable today. Jesus said, in this same connection: “Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female?” Notice, Jesus was dating this from the BEGINNING. And God NEVER CHANGES! “And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?” Notice, a man shall cleave to his WIFE — NOT WIVES. And they TWO — not he and several wives — shall be one flesh. “What therefore GOD hath joined together, let not man put asunder” (Matt. 19:4-6). It is what GOD joins together. That is the definition of MARRIAGE. God does not join together one man with plural women! Any woman a man may “marry” according to man’s codes, in addition to the wife GOD joined him to, is NOT his wife, so long as his real wife lives. Any additional women, whether in polygamy, or by divorce one at a time, is plain ADULTERY! GOD never joins the second, let alone the additional “wives.” They are NOT truly wives — they are adulteresses, and the man becomes an adulterer. THIS BREAKS GOD’S LAW. IT IS SIN. Jesus thus put us straight on monogamous marriage. God made ONE wife for Adam — not a harem! He started the human family out as He ordained they SHOULD go — a family of ONE man and ONE wife! And, remember, God gave this absolute COMMAND regarding future kings of Israel — telling them they must not do as the pagan nations around them (whose kings had their harems): “NEITHER SHALL HE MULTIPLY WIVES TO HIMSELF!” Saul, Israel’s first king, DISOBEYED that command. He let demons take hold of him. God deposed him, and put David in his place. David started out in polygamy, but God punished him. HE REPENTED thoroughly, and he finished his reign with his ONLY living wife. Solomon finished his life in polygamy and idolatry — and God, in punishment, rended the KINGDOM away from his son, Rehoboam. GOD DID NOT CONDONE POLYGAMY! He PUNISHED those who practised it! It was ALWAYS SIN! It is SIN today! Hosea and other prophets constantly dwell upon the thought of monogamous marriage as being a symbol of the union of God and His people, and denounce idolatry as unfaithfulness to this spiritual marriage-tie.
Christ to Marry ONE Church
The marriage relationship, in the New Testament, is the type of the relationship between Christ and God’s Church. The worldly churches are MANY. Those who claim the NAME Christian — Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox Catholic, hundreds of Protestant churches — all claim to be, combined, the Church which Christ started. They seem to believe, somehow, that when Christ returns to earth to marry His church, that Jesus Christ will be a POLYGAMIST — that He will marry HUNDREDS of Churches — have HUNDREDS of WIVES! THEY ARE WRONG! Jesus Christ will marry but ONE Church — the True Church of GOD — and all these worldly churches will be on the outside looking in! Listen! “Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and His WIFE (NOT WIVES) hath made herself ready” (Rev. 19:7). One of the qualifications for a Minister in GOD’S Church is that he have only ONE wife! No POLYGAMIST may be a Minister of Jesus Christ in His True Church! Here it is: “A bishop (elder, overseer, preacher, minister), must be blameless, the husband of ONE wife” (I Tim. 3:2). Likewise, a man may not even be a deacon if he has more than one wife (Verse 12). Let us, then, understand it once and for all! Polygamy is a SIN. God condemns it! It is ADULTERY! IT HAS NEVER BEEN APPROVED OR CONDONED BY GOD AT ANY TIME, IN PATRIARCHAL DAYS — IN OLD TESTAMENT TIMES — OR NOW, TODAY!]]>

An Important Reminder —How Leaven Pictures Sin By George M. Kackos

 (Source)

God offers Christians vital lessons through the Days of Unleavened Bread. What do these days picture, and how can they help you lead a happier life?

The apostles were jolted! First, the sound of a violent windstorm filled the house where they were meeting. Then, almost before they had time to think, glowing flames of fire began leaping upon them.

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The Sure Way to End the Fear of Nuclear War NOW!

The Sure Way to End the Fear of Nuclear War NOW!

By Herbert W. Armstrong [Youth ’85 Magazine, January 1985]

WHY civil wars and violence – with no hope in sight for peace? World leaders do not know! They do not know that they could have peace now, in 1985, in full security for the future. Read how in this eye-opening article. THERE IS A WAY — a tried and proven way – a SURE way – to end all fear of any all-out nuclear hot war between the United States and the Soviet Union. What a pity that the governments and the peoples of this world remain blinded to THAT WAY! And it is so simple! It’s just as simple as this: There is a CAUSE for every EFFECT – yet our whole society and way of life today is based on treating the effect, IGNORING the CAUSE! Our people do it in treating sickness and disease. They do it in dealing with crime. They do it in WORKING FOR PEACE! Working for peace Everybody wants PEACE – or at least, so we profess! We WORK for peace! The pope pleads for PEACE! Prime ministers strive for PEACE! Yet there is no peace! WHY? The very NEWS of all this “working for peace” was reported millennia ago in biblical prophecy! But, it was also reported, “The WAY OF PEACE they know not” (Isaiah 59:8). So, the nations and world leaders CRY for peace – work for peace, while they endorse, sanction and continue the way of WAR! They follow the way that is the CAUSE of WAR, trying to STOP war by dealing with the effect, ignoring the CAUSE! The world today is a good deal like the dope addict, who finds he is “hooked,” and can’t “kick it” on the one hand – and, on the other, he is forced to keep gradually increasing the dosage to just hold his own. It becomes very costly, and most dope addicts resort to stealing, crime – anything to get their hands on enough money to keep up their growing, escalating, ever-more-costly habit. Isn’t it about time we come to UNDERSTAND? Nations never NEEDED go to war Yielding to HUMAN NATURE is the CAUSE of war. Rebellion against God’s law of peace is the CAUSE of war. So now let’s take a look at one of the 10 POINTS of God’s basic spiritual law. I mean that point that has to do with WARS! In respect to WAR, the basic point is the Sixth Commandment. It says, simply, “Thou shall not kill.” If all nations obeyed that commandment and followed the way of LOVE toward other humans, there would be no war. Everybody wants peace – or at least, so we profess! Yet there is no peace – Why? But, one argues, that’s a pretty platitude – but it’s not practical – it won’t work. WHY? Because, he argues, if your nation obeys that commandment and is disarmed with no military force, it would be attacked and beaten by some other nation that disobeyed God’s law, and believed in WAR. Your nation would therefore be helpless. Oh, but it WOULDN’T! The Creator understands human nature better than we humans do. HE PROVIDED FOR THAT! Let’s open our eyes to down-to-earth practical TRUTH – to FACT! You think the Almighty Creator-God is impractical – that He leaves those who OBEY Him, who accept His GOVERNMENT over them, helpless? One of the responsibilities of GOVERNMENT is to protect its own subjects! You think – do you? – that the GOVERNMENT OF GOD is so feeble and lacking in power that it is unable to protect the individual or the nation it governs? Open your eyes, now, to the FACTS! God did take a people to be His nation. He took a family of some two million helpless SLAVES – all descended from God’s friend Abraham – and offered to set them up as a nation under His government. Notice now, in your Bible, the specific application of the commandment, “Thou shalt not kill, to military force and war. Notice how GOD says to those under His GOVERNMENT, that His GOVERNMENT – an all-powerful supernatural and super-national government – will PROTECT His people against any invading force. God said to Israel: “But if thou shalt indeed obey his voice, and do all that I speak; then I will be an enemy unto thine enemies, and an adversary unto thine adversaries … and I will cut them off’ (Exodus 23:22-23). God promised supernaturally to fight any invading enemy to protect the nation and people under His government. I intend to give you ample case histories to verify this. But is it just as wrong for GOD to fight an invading army, and if necessary, take human life, as for humans? ABSOLUTELY NOT! God is the GIVER of human life. Human lives belong to Him! He, alone, has the RIGHT to take human lives. The Sixth Commandment forbids MAN, of his own volition and at his discretion – to take human life! Why ancient Israel went to war But did you notice – there were CONDITIONS to God’s promise of divine protection. He said He would protect them “if thou shalt indeed obey his voice, and do all that I speak.” During this first 6,000 years, in God’s master plan, He does not force any nation, or individual, to come under His GOVERNMENT. That decision is left to man’s free CHOICE. When God, with His own thundering voice, delivered the 10 basic points of His inexorable spiritual law from Mt. Sinai, He was outlining for MANKIND the way to peace, happiness and abundant well-being. This applies to every individual and to every nation. Transgression of this basic law is SIN (I John 3:4). This law – the very principle of RIGHT as distinguished from WRONG – had, of course, existed from the time of Adam. You’ll find the account of God’s delivering of this law in Exodus 20:1-17 and Deuteronomy 5:4-22. But, beginning Exodus 20:18, you will read the account of God laying down basic laws and statutes of His national civil government delivered through Moses. Then, once God had restated before this vast family of Israelites His basic spiritual law – the foundational PRINCIPLE for all the national civil statutes and judgments – and also basic civil statutes and ordinances, God put it to these people, through Moses, to CHOOSE whether they would accept His GOVERNMENT over them. Notice the completing of the COVENANT — the AGREEMENT between God and this PEOPLE – to form them into a NATION under GOD’S GOVERNMENT. “And Moses took half of the blood, and put it in basons; and half of the blood he sprinkled on the altar. And he took the book of the covenant, and read in the audience of the people: and they said, All that the Lord hath said will we do, and be obedient. And Moses took the blood, and sprinkled it on the people, and said, Behold the blood of the covenant, which the Lord hath made with you concerning all these words” (Exodus 24:6-8). Government protection against war NOTICE CAREFULLY! A part of God’s PLATFORM OF GOVERNMENT that He laid before the people before they became His NATION was the promise that His GOVERNMENT would protect its citizens from need of going to WAR. That is the OPEN PROMISE OF GOD, which would apply to ANY nation. Later, God offered the SAME government, and its protection and blessings, to the first WORLD EMPIRE – the gentile Chaldean empire under King Nebuchadnezzar – as we shall see. God plays no favorites. He does not bless one nation and harm another by His arbitrary choice. But human nature is human nature – and facts are facts. And humanity had rebelled against God from the beginning – before the biblical Flood, and after the Flood. From the time of the Tower of Babel, men had organized themselves into nations, with HUMAN ideas of government – CONTRARY TO God’s laws, and God’s government over them. They had chosen other gods. Their religions were empty superstitions. And they were WAR-making kingdoms! God had dealt in no unmistakable manner with mankind, ever since creation! No PEOPLE, except a downtrodden SLAVE people in bondage, would have made the CHOICE to say to God, “All that the Lord hath said will we do, and be obedient.” Not only had this enlarged family of Israelites been suffering under the lash of slavery, but God had DEMONSTRATED to them His POWER – and His LOVE in outgoing concern for them – by delivering them from slavery by SPECTACULAR MIRACLES! By the miracles in PLAGUES upon the Egyptians, God had freed the Israelites. Human nature at work And HUMAN NATURE? Yes, these Israelites were full of it! WHY do world leaders, scientists and educators even today reject God, and ply their trades, professions and interests as if God did not exist? God Himself tells us – in His WORD to mankind: “Because the carnal mind [human nature] is enmity [hostile] against God: for it is not subject to the LAW of God, neither indeed can be” (Romans 8:7). These Israelites, even while being blessed and delivered by God with MIRACLES, still were rebellious. Even before they had reached Sinai a chain of significant incidents occurred. After the MIRACLES God had performed in FREEING them from slavery in Egypt, protecting them, blessing them, FIGHTING their military battle for them, leading them miraculously by a cloud by day and pillar of fire by night, these people began to gripe, grumble, complain and DISOBEY God. Even in the face of such incredible MIRACLES, they began, even then, to LOSE FAITH. These people – 600,000 men, besides women and children – came to the Red Sea. There were no ships, no bridges. They could not swim such a distance. They could not walk on the water. They were STOPPED by this obstacle beyond their own power. They looked, and within eyesight, Pharaoh’s army was coming after them. Right here, before they reached Mt. Sinai – before they heard God’s own great voice thundering His Ten Commandments – God demonstrated the pattern He would follow in preserving His people from having to undergo military service or fighting in war or taking human life! Here is God’s living EXAMPLE NUMBER ONE! Yet even here, the people of Israel, in fright, grumbled, complained, accused – lacked faith in God. These Israelites had started out of Egypt “with an high hand” (Exodus 14:8). “But the Egyptians pursued after them, all the horses and chariots of Pharaoh, and his horsemen, and his ARMY, and overtook them encamping by the sea … “And when Pharaoh drew nigh, the children of Israel lifted up their eyes, and, behold, the Egyptians marched after them; and they were sore afraid: and the children of Israel cried out unto the Lord. “And they said unto Moses, Because there were no graves in Egypt, hast thou taken us away to die in the wilderness? wherefore hast thou dealt thus with us, to carry us forth out of Egypt? Is not this the word that we did tell thee in Egypt, saying, Let us alone, that we may serve the Egyptians? For it had been better for us to serve the Egyptians, than that we should die in the wilderness” (Exodus 14:9-12). But God’s PURPOSE was not to be defeated. He PURPOSED to deliver them out of Egyptian slavery. He PURPOSED to show them and all nations and all humanity that HE would fight their battles for them. So, in spite of their faithless complaining in this initial EXAMPLE of God’s faithfulness, He was determined to fight their battle and save them. “And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, Which HE WILL SHEW TO YOU to day.. . The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace” (verses 13-14). The Israelites were not to fight – but STAND STILL! They were to see God save them from Pharaoh’s ARMY. God was going to SHOW THEM that He would fight their wars for them! They were to remain at PEACE! How GOD fights for us! Then God’s angel moved behind the Israelites, and the great dark cloud moved between them and the Egyptian army. It held the Egyptian army from attacking Israel all night, but illuminated the way before Israel. Then God parted the waters of the sea, holding them back by divine MIRACLE, so that the waters formed a high wall on both sides, and the Israelites marched across on the dry floor of the sea. Now notice the dramatic example of how God miraculously fought Israel’s battle for them, as recorded in the Moffatt translation: “Moses stretched his hand out over the sea; the waters parted. Then the Eternal swept the sea along by a strong east wind, all night, till the bed of the sea was dry, and the Israelites marched through the sea on dry ground, the waters forming a wall to right and left. “The Egyptians in pursuit of them went into the sea, all the Pharaoh’s horses and chariots and cavalry. And in the watch before the dawn the Eternal looked out from the column of fire and cloud on the Egyptian army and threw them into a panic; he clogged their chariot wheels till they drove heavily. “The Egyptians cried, ‘Let us flee from the Israelites! The Eternal is fighting for them against the Egyptians.’ Then said the Eternal to Moses, ‘Stretch your hand out over the sea, to make the waters flow back upon the chariots and cavalry of the Egyptians!’ “Moses stretched his hand out over the sea. Then, as morning broke, the sea returned to its wonted flow, and while the Egyptians were fleeing against it, the Eternal overwhelmed the Egyptians in the middle of the sea; the waters did flow back over the chariots and cavalry, over the whole army of the Pharaoh which had followed them into the sea, till not a single one of them was left. But the Israelites walked through the sea on dry ground, the waters forming a wall to right and left. “Thus did the Eternal save Israel that day from the Egyptians, till Israel saw the Egyptians lying dead on the sea-shore; Israel saw the mighty action of the Eternal against the Egyptians, AND THE PEOPLE STOOD IN AWE OF THE ETERNAL, BELIEVING IN THE ETERNAL and in his servant Moses” (Exodus 14:21-31). Yes, for a short while, the spell of AWE still over them, these people actually BELIEVED in God. Trusting God to DO what He has promised requires believing in MIRACLES, you say? OF COURSE! Salvation requires miracles! God is a miracle-working God! After this miraculous delivery from disaster – from a WAR – a whole army of a then great nation destroyed – those Israelites expressed a little temporary FAITH. With Moses, they sang a song of praise and rejoicing: “I will sing unto the Lord . . . The Lord is my strength and song, and he is become my salvation. ..” (Exodus 15:1-2). But now UNDERSTAND the lesson here! Ancient Egypt is a type of SIN. God was, figuratively in type, delivering these people out of SIN. They were starting out on GOD’S WAY of life. But, UNDERSTAND! – God’s way of life requires FAITH. It is a life of OBEDIENCE to GOD. Obedience requires FAITH. WE are SAVED by GRACE through FAITH “and that not of yourselves: It is the gift of GOD” (Ephesians 2:8). But not by a DEAD faith! It is a LIVING faith that makes obedience possible. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego (Daniel 3) obeyed God’s command against idol worship – but their stout refusal to bow down to Nebuchadnezzar’s idol was possible only by their RELIANCE ON GOD to protect and deliver them. They TRUSTED God (Daniel 3:28). They exercised FAITH – living faith! Empty, dead faith – just BELIEVING that God exists – is not the faith that saves. “The [demons] also believe, and tremble” (James 2:19). But faith and obedience must ENDURE! The newly freed Israelite slaves, still under the spell of AWE after experiencing such miracles, expressed faith and sang. But they didn’t believe very deeply or for very long. When they came to the oasis of Marah, they found the water too bitter to drink. This one little problem in their path brought them again to complaining and DOUBTING (Exodus 15:24). Again, by a miracle, God made the waters sweet. Moses led these people on to the wilderness of Sin – between Elim and Sinai. They had now been gone from Egypt one month. And again, “the whole congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron . . . and . . . said … Would to God we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt… for ye have brought us forth into this wilderness, to kill this whole assembly with hunger” (Exodus 16:2-3). So God gave them a test of obedience, along with miraculously providing food. God said: “I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a certain rate every day, that I may prove them, whether they will walk in my law, or no” (Exodus 16:4). The particular LAW God was testing them on was His Sabbath. And remember, they had not yet reached Sinai. On the sixth day of the week He would provide them with a TWO-DAY portion. On the seventh day, God’s Sabbath, He commanded them to rest and refrain from gathering manna. On the sixth day God provided the two-day supply. Nevertheless, on God’s Sabbath, some of the people, in a spirit of rebellion, and greedy for gain, went out to gather manna. Would it seem preposterous that even now God actually would fight our wars for us – that our nations could actually have peace? “How LONG refuse ye to keep my commandments and my laws?” thundered God at them (Exodus 16:28). They were neither trusting nor obeying God. The vast congregation journeyed on and pitched tents in Rephidim. Again, there was no water. Again they griped, murmured, accused, lost faith and “tempted the Lord” (Exodus 17:1-2). Now we come to the CRUCIAL INCIDENT that explains WHY Israel went to war. Regularly they had been grumbling, complaining, accusing, disobeying, LOSING FAITH – in face of constant MIRACLES from God. Now, again, as God performed another miracle, causing water to gush forth out of a rock, the people DOUBTED that God was with them. “… They tempted the Lord, saying, Is the Lord among us, or not?” (Exodus 17:7). Now consider what had happened. Repeatedly, God had given these people awe-inspiring and miraculous demonstrations of His intention to fight their battles for them. These were VISIBLE miracles, which the people witnessed with their own eyes. God had demonstrated His faithfulness, His POWER, His willingness, His WAY! Yet repeatedly, these people doubted, complained, found fault, grumbled. Repeatedly they LOST FAITH. After all of this OVERWHELMING PROOF, these people DOUBTED God’s faithfulness – DOUBTED His power – even DOUBTED His very existence. They disobeyed. They went the way of SIN! At this point, Moses was distraught, his nerves shattered, his patience about exhausted. After all, Moses was only human! “What am I to do with this people?” Moses appealed to God (Exodus 17:4, Moffatt translation). “They are almost ready to stone me!” God answered Moses, had him move ahead of the people, and smite the rock at Horeb with the same stick he had used in the parting of the waters of the Red Sea. Then again God performed a visible MIRACLE – water gushed out of the rock. But, at this juncture, Amalek came against the Israelites in great strength with an invading army. This time God ALLOWED the Israelites to write the lesson of experience. He allowed them to SIN. God does not forcibly prevent humans from sinning. Moses, at the end of his patience trying to induce these stubborn, rebellious people to believe in and TRUST God, said to Joshua, “Choose us out men, and go out, FIGHT with Amalek” (Exodus 17:9). Lacking the faith to trust God for their protection, Moses feared they would be slaughtered. Although Moses weakened and gave the order for WAR, it was THE PEOPLE themselves who actually had MADE THE DECISION for war, by their utter lack of reliance on God. It was altogether unnecessary for these Israelites to arm themselves and wage WAR. It was WRONG! It was SIN. But God let the decision be theirs! This incident was the turning point. It occurred even before they reached Mt. Sinai. It was after this that God laid before them His PROPOSITION for them to become His nation, ruled by. His government. It was after this that God promised, conditioned on obedience and faith, always to fight their battles for them – to protect them from war – to give them constant PEACE. It was after this that they accepted His government over them. But already they had shown lack of faith and trust, even during the days when God was DEMONSTRATING His power and faithfulness by so many miracles! They had experienced a taste of war. They could have – should have – turned from it, afterward, and relied on God instead of their own power. But they didn’t. God’s PURPOSE stands! Even though God ALLOWS humans to make their own decisions – allows them to SIN – allows nations to go to WAR – nevertheless God’s purpose must stand! His PURPOSE was to settle these descendants of Abraham in the land He had promised Abraham – “the PROMISED LAND.” God’s promise to Abraham, 430 years before, had been made UNCONDITIONAL. Abraham had performed his part of that agreement. He had obeyed God, kept God’s commandments and laws. Now God’s faithfulness demanded that He plant these people in that land, regardless of their conduct! These descendants of Abraham had made their decision to be a fighting, war-waging nation. That decision was theirs to make. And since they had made it, God used them to do the fighting in driving out the inhabitants illegally possessing the land God had allotted to Abraham’s descendants. Consequently God gave orders for them to do what fighting – and killing – was necessary to accomplish God’s PURPOSE of putting them in the land of promise! But that did not make war RIGHT. Whether to DO right or wrong – that is MAN’S decision! These Israelites did not need to fight. So it was BECAUSE of Israel’s faithlessness and disobedience that God ALLOWED them to SIN by taking up arms. And therefore God used them as His instruments in driving out the nations illegally in the land. Even now the Israelites could have REPENTED, changed their decision and trusted God to fight their battles for them. Nations CAN choose peace! Would it seem preposterous to chiefs of state today, to believe that even NOW, in our day, God Almighty actually would fight our wars for us – that OUR nations, today, could actually have PEACE – and have it this very year? Undoubtedly it would! World leaders today – in ALL nations – have gotten so far from God and God’s ways, and God has become so UNREAL to them that it probably would seem ridiculous even to suggest such a thing. The scientists, the industrial and commercial leaders, the educators – yes, and even the CLERGY – have all departed so FAR from God and His WAYS, that such a thought would not even enter their minds. Yet the ETERNAL has not left us without absolute ASSURANCE! He has recorded, in His Word, not only His promises and assurances, but three additional concrete case histories – in addition to those recounted in this article – proving that He ACTUALLY DID DO THE FIGHTING for a nation being invaded, when that nation and its rulers TRUSTED HIM. These can be found in the October, 1984, issue of the Plain Truth magazine.  ]]>

Are You Worthy To Take The Passover?

Are You Worthy to Take the Passover?

What does the Passover mean to you? Do you really know why Jesus had to suffer and die — and what is required of us?

 

By Allen L. Stout 

The Good News Magazine, March 1984 

  Paul wrote to Christians: “For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes. “Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord” (I Cor. 11:26-27). Paul was writing about the Passover, the annual memorial of the death of Jesus Christ, which God commands His people to observe. How few professing Christians understand! If you have not been aware of God’s annual festivals, write immediately for our free booklet Pagan Holidays — or God’s Holy Days — Which? Many have not fully comprehended the significance of Paul’s warning. Some, feeling they were not worthy of Jesus’ sacrifice, have not taken the Passover. Others have taken the Passover in a casual or ritualistic manner. It’s time we all understand! The Passover is the first of the Christian festivals commanded by God (Lev. 23:5). It is not to be taken lightly.   Purpose of the Passover   The Passover originally represented the turning point in the separation of Israel, God’s chosen people, from Egypt, which symbolized sin. The blood of the Passover lamb, sprinkled on the doorposts, distinguished those whom God was sparing (Ex. 12:13-14). The Passover for Christians today is a memorial, an annual reminder or renewal of our spiritual covenant with God. It reminds us not only of when God called ancient Israel out of Egypt, but, more important, of God calling us today out of sin. Let’s make the meaning of Passover clear by examining what the Bible says. What was required to free us from the bondage of sin? God’s sacrifice of His firstborn, Jesus — the blood of the Lamb. Why? Why couldn’t God just forgive our sins without a sacrifice? Why did Jesus have to give up His glory with God, take upon Himself the form of a servant, become a human being and suffer and die for our sins (Phil. 2:7-8)? Because there was no other way to save man from the consequence of sin.   God will not compromise His law   God can do all things, but God will not compromise His law (Matt. 19:26, 5:18). God’s law is perfect (Ps. 19:7). It would, if kept, produce and maintain a peaceful and happy society. Tragically, no human has kept God’s law perfectly — all have sinned (Rom. 3:23). The Bible likens sin to leaven — if sin is not disposed of, it grows and spreads rapidly (I Cor. 5:6). The whole world is suffering under the curse of sin (Gal. 3:10)! Death is the penalty for sin — breaking God’s law (Ezek. 18:4, 20, Rom. 6:23). God will not allow anyone into His holy Family and Kingdom who will compromise His law (Gal. 5:19-21, I Cor. 6:9-10, Rev. 22:14-15). God’s law requires that blood be shed for the remission of sin (Heb. 9:22). Thus blood had to be shed in order that the sins of every human might be forgiven, upon repentance.   The sacrifice of Jesus   The only way God could redeem humanity — all of us! — from the death penalty without compromising His law was to have our penalty paid. Enter Jesus Christ. Notice what God’s Word says: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us…. when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son … through whom we have now received the reconciliation” (Rom. 5:8, 10-11). Our sins had separated us from God (Isa. 59:1-2). We had the death penalty hanging over us. But Jesus’ sacrifice paid the death penalty for sin in our stead (Rom. 3:24-25). Does Jesus’ death save us, then? Let’s see what the Bible tells us.   What is required of us?   What is our responsibility, given Jesus’ sacrifice, in God’s plan of salvation? Notice Acts 2:38: “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Jesus’ sacrifice does not redeem us from the death penalty until we have repented of breaking God’s law, turned from sin and accepted Jesus Christ as our Lord and Master. We must submit to God’s government over our lives and begin to live God’s way. Then what happens? Notice Romans 8:1: “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” Jesus actually lives His life in us (verse 10). We strive to follow Jesus’ example as revealed in the Bible (I Pet. 2:21). We shall, then, be saved by Jesus Christ’s life (Rom. 5:10)! By obeying God’s law with the help of God’s Holy Spirit and by submitting to God’s government, we actually begin to take on God’s very nature. We gradually overcome sin — sin no longer has power over us. We are God’s servants rather than the servants of sin (Rom. 6:12-16). We have embarked upon a new way of life that leads to every blessing and joy for eternity. To turn back from it — to reject God’s way and Jesus’ sacrifice, which paid our death penalty — brings the death penalty on us again, this time with no chance for redemption (Heb. 10:26-29). Now what about observing the Passover?   Are you worthy?   God’s redeemed people are commanded to observe the Passover annually, in its New Testament symbolism, as a memorial of Jesus’ death and to picture what God has done in our lives (Matt. 26:26-28, Mark 14:22-24, Luke 22:14-20, John 13:2-5). And we are to do so in a “worthy” manner, as we have seen from I Corinthians 11:26-27. What, exactly, does it mean to be worthy? Paul warned, “Let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread and drink of that cup” (I Cor. 11:28). What is your attitude? John wrote: “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world — the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life — is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever” (I John 2:15-17). As long as we live in this evil, Satan-ruled society, there will be tests and temptations to break God’s law. We are tempted through our own lusts (Jas. 1:14) to cheat, to lie in business, to boast, to swear, to gossip, to commit adultery (Matt. 5:28) and to put other things before God. And we as Christians — yes, as truly called and redeemed Christians — will slip occasionally and sin! But, as long as we are repentant, striving to overcome sin, God accepts us, applying Jesus’ sacrifice (I John 1:9). God continues to lead us. We live under grace (Eph. 2:8). No one is worthy of Christ’s sacrifice, but not to take the Passover is to deny Christ. To take the Passover in a worthy manner, we must repent of our evil desires and ways, come to hate the sin that Jesus had to suffer and die for and set our will not to compromise God’s law. “For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned [judged] with the world” (I Cor. 11:29-32). Our goal, as Jesus commanded in Matthew 5:48, is to become perfect, as God the Father is perfect. Keeping the Passover and understanding all it pictures, as well as striving to keep all of God’s other laws, is vital to attaining that perfection. So, as Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 5:8, “Let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth”!]]>

Visiting a Nation Fraught With Impending Total Disaster

Personal from the Editor (Herbert W. Armstrong)

[Original Publication]

 

November, 1971

 

Visiting a Nation Fraught With Impending Total Disaster

  ISTANBUL, TURKEY: AS I WRITE, I gaze out the window in my hotel room on the mouth of the Bosporus. It is a scenic and tranquil panoramic view, today. Tomorrow it may be the site of a world-shaking event. The Bosporus is a strait about 18 miles long, between Turkey in Europe and Turkey in Asia. It connects the Sea of Marmara and the Black Sea to the north. Russia borders on the Black Sea. The Bosporus is Russia’s gateway to ocean commerce with the world. Istanbul, Turkey sits astride this gateway. It reeks with history. And it is fraught with ominous portent of total disaster to this country of Turkey. It has been interesting, today, September 11, 1971, to spend a quiet and restful day refreshing my mind on the very beginning of this Turkish nation, its earliest history, a mental review of the general course of its history up to now, and, finally, the Biblical PROPHECIES for its almost immediate future. I will give you, here, the thrilling story. We are en route to Indonesia, where the very first of the planned scientific expeditions jointly conducted between a Belgian Foundation headed by King Leopold III, and Ambassador College, is to get under way. Accompanying us are King Leopold and Professor Heinrich Harrer of Munich, who, later, will lecture at Ambassador College. He is a scientist with a rich experience in scientific expeditions. Another famous scientist is en route by commercial airline, to meet us at Djakarta. While the King and others of our party were out sightseeing today, I refreshed my mind with the intriguing story I give you now. The very first beginning of this nation, significantly, was a struggle between unborn twins. It was emblematic of the final struggle that will involve Britain and the United States, and a prophesied total disaster to Turkey. Indeed, truth is often stranger than fiction! But since the Turkish people are descended from Abraham, let us first get our bearings beginning from Abraham. So notice first, Genesis 25:5-6: “And Abraham gave all that he had unto Isaac. But unto the sons of the concubines, which Abraham had, Abraham gave gifts, and sent them away from Isaac his son.” Abraham also was the father of Ishmael by Hagar, handmaid of his wife Sarah. But Ishmael, too, was rejected from the birthright. Now pick up the story, beginning verse 20, same chapter: “And Isaac was forty years old when he took Rebekah to wife, the daughter of Bethuel the Syrian … the sister to Laban the Syrian. And Isaac intreated the ETERNAL for his wife, because she was barren: and the Eternal was intreated of him, and Rebekah his wife conceived. And the children struggled together within her; and she said, If it be so, why am I thus? And she went to inquire of the ETERNAL. And the ETERNAL said unto her, Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger. “And when her days to be delivered were fulfilled, behold, there were twins within her womb. And the first came out red, all over like an hairy garment; and they called his name Esau” (verses 20-25). Esau was the father of the Turkish nation. God said two nations were in Rebekah’s womb. The other, Jacob, was the father of the twelve tribes of Israel. Continue, verse 26: “And after that came his brother out, and his hand took hold on Esau’s heel; and his name was called Jacob (meaning, Hebrew, supplanter, or one that takes by the heel): and Isaac was threescore years old when she bare them. And the boys grew: and Esau was a cunning hunter, a man of the field; and Jacob was a plain man, dwelling in tents. And Isaac loved Esau, because he did eat of his venison: but Rebekah loved Jacob. “And Jacob sod pottage (red lentils): and Esau came from the field, and he was faint: And Esau said to Jacob, Feed me, I pray thee, with that same red pottage (soup); for I am faint: therefore was his name called Edom (meaning red). And Jacob said, Sell me this day (first of all) thy birthright” (verses 2 & 31). The “Birthright” was a promise God had made to Abraham because of Abraham’s spirit of willing obedience, to be handed down to his descendants. Normally the Birthright was given to the eldest son, though on this occasion God allowed it to be sold to the younger. The Birthright was a promise of national greatness, power, and wealth — all material. It was a different promise than the Scepter Promise, which was spiritual, and involved the GIFT of eternal life by grace through Christ. The Birthright was a RIGHT by birth; the Scepter Promise one of grace, not a right. The Birthright was a promise of RACE, the Scepter of GRACE. The Birthright ultimately was fulfilled in the greatness, power, and wealth of the British and American people. It was of just that TREMENDOUS IMPORTANCE! This is explained in our free book “The U.S. and British Commonwealth in Prophecy”. Continue the story: “And Esau said, Behold, I am at the point to die: and what profit shall this birthright do to me? And Jacob said, Swear to me this day; and he swear unto him: and he sold his birthright unto Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau bread and pottage of lentiles; and he did eat and drink, and rose up, and went his way: thus Esau despised his birthright” (verses 32-34). Next, Jacob, through the scheming of his mother, managed to deprive Esau of Isaac’s blessing. You will find this recorded in the 27th chapter of Genesis. It is too long to print the entire chapter here but I will give you a quick’ synopsis. It occurred when Isaac was old, his eyes so dim with age he could not see. He called for Esau, and asked him to go out to the field and hunt a deer, and make him “savory meat” the way Isaac liked it prepared. Then Isaac would give him his blessing on the Birthright. While Esau was gone hunting, Rebekah told Jacob to quickly bring in two good kids of the goats, and she would prepare them into the kind of “savory meat” of which Isaac was so fond. Rebekah brought to Jacob Esau’s clothes which he donned. She put the skins of the kids of the goats on Jacob’s hands and arms, and “the smooth of his neck,” so that when Isaac smelled of him and took hold of him, he would smell and feel like Esau. However, Isaac was suspicious, because of Jacob’s voice, and because the “venison” came so soon. He said, “The voice is Jacob’s voice, but the hands are the hands of Esau. And he discerned him not, because his hands were hairy … so he blessed him. And he said, Art thou my very son Esau?” Jacob lied, “I am.” Isaac said, “God give thee of the dew of heaven, and the fatness (fat places) of the earth, and plenty of corn and wine. Let people serve thee, and nations bow down to thee: be lord over thy brethren, and let thy mother’s sons bow down to thee: cursed be every one that curseth thee, and blessed be he that blesseth thee.” That was the blessing of the materially rich Birthright to be handed down through many generations. Jacob had scarcely gone from the presence of Isaac when Esau came in. He had returned and made “savory meat.” “Who art thou?” asked Isaac. “I am thy son, thy firstborn Esau,” he replied. “And Isaac trembled very exceedingly, and said, ‘Who? Where is he that hath taken venison, and brought it to me, and I have eaten of all before thou camest, and have blessed him? yea, and he shall be blessed!’ “And when Esau heard the words of his father, he cried with a great and exceeding bitter cry, and said to his father, ‘Bless me, even me also, O my father.'” Isaac said, “Thy brother came with subtlety, and hath taken away thy blessing.” Esau said, bitterly, “Is not he rightly named Jacob? For he hath supplanted me these two times: he took away my birthright; and, behold, now he hath taken away my blessing …. And Esau lifted up his voice, and wept.” “And Esau hated Jacob,” and threatened to slay him after their father’s death. But Rebekah warned Jacob to flee to her brother, Laban, at Haran. Christians are admonished, in the New Testament “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled; lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright. For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears”(Heb. 12:14-17). God intended the Birthright to go to Jacob. But He did not intend Rebekah and Jacob to take it by deceit and lying. Had they been more honest, God would have brought about the transfer in an honorable way. As it was, Jacob had to struggle for years to overcome such ways contrary to the ways of God. But he finally did overcome, and his name was changed from the reproachful Jacob (Supplanter), to Israel, meaning “Overcomer,” or one who prevails with God. Jacob heeded his mother’s warning, fled to the house of Laban. He fell in love with Laban’s younger daughter, Rachel. He worked for Laban seven years for her. At the wedding, foxy old Laban pulled a switch on Jacob. Apparently women wore veils at weddings which completely hid their faces in those days, and Jacob found old Laban had gotten rid of his elder and not-so-beautiful or marriageable daughter, Leah. Jacob was forced to work another seven years for his beloved Rachel. By these two sisters, and the handmaids of each, Jacob had twelve sons. They became the fathers of the twelve tribes of Israel. Jacob and his family later departed secretly from Laban. Jacob finally repented, overcame, prevailed in wrestling with an angel, and his name was changed to Israel. Meanwhile, Esau had grown rich. Finally, Israel and Esau met, and were reconciled (Genesis 33:1-4). Esau’s riches and descendants are recorded in Genesis 36:1-2, 8-9: “Now these are the generations of Esau, who is Edom” (Gen. 36:1). And, “Thus dwelt Esau in Mount Seir: Esau is Edom” (verse 8). Mount Seir is in the area of Petra. One of Esau’s sons was named “Teman.” His descendants developed into the Turkish Empire, called the “Ottoman” Empire. Through the centuries there developed more or less continuous rivalry between the descendants of Esau and of Israel. Also a rivalry developed between the descendants of Judah — one of the Twelve Tribes — and the Arabs, who are the descendants of Ishmael. That rivalry stemmed from the jealousy of two women — Sarah, Abraham’s wife, mother of Isaac, and Hagar, Sarah’s maid, mother of Ishmael, also son of Abraham. All these ancient rivalries are playing crucial parts in the tense world conditions of TODAY! The Turks grew to become a considerable Empire. Prior to World War I, the Ottoman Empire included European Turkey, Anatolia, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan, Palestine, Arabia, Yemen, and islands in the Aegean Sea. But they joined Germany in World War I, and their defeat resulted in loss of empire. Turkey was reduced to a small and unimportant nation. Now look to the future from this point. See what is prophesied. The book of Obadiah is devoted to Turkey. It is a short book, of only one chapter. It begins: “The vision of Obadiah. Thus saith the Lord Eternal concerning Edom … Behold, I have made thee small among the heathen: thou art greatly despised. The pride of thine heart hath deceived thee, thou that dwellest in the clefts of the rock, whose habitation is high … “Shall I not in that day, saith the Eternal, even destroy the wise men out of Edom, and understanding out of the mount of Esau? And thy mighty men, O Teman (Ottoman Empire??), shall be dismayed, to the end that every one of the mount of Esau may be cut off by slaughter. “For thy violence against thy brother Jacob shame shall cover thee, and thou shalt be cut off for ever.” Now WHEN? Of what TIME is the prophecy speaking? Continue: “In the day that thou stoodest on the other side, in the day that the strangers carried away captive his forces, and foreigners entered into his gates, and cast lots upon Jerusalem, even thou wast as one of them” (verses 10-11). Compare this casting lots upon Jerusalem to Joel 3:3. The entire context of Joel from 2:28 through chapter 3 is speaking of a time very shortly future from now — just prior to the “Day of the Lord” — a time which will cut short the imminent “Great Tribulation” and immediately follow it — a time leading quickly into the coming of the Messiah to rule all nations. But continue in Obadiah: “But thou shouldest not have looked on the day of thy brother in the day that he became a stranger; neither shouldest thou have rejoiced over the children of Judah in the day of their destruction ….” This, in past tense, may refer, typically, looking back, to the captivities and exiles of Israel, 721-718 B.C., and of Judah, 604-585 B.C., respectively — but merely as a type of captivities now imminent. The time of the prophecy is NOW — and the immediate future. Continue: “Thou shouldest not have entered into the gate of my people in the day of their calamity …” (verse 13) — speaking of the coming Great Tribulation (Matt. 24:21-22, Dan. 12:1-2; Jer. 30:5-7) — greatest time of trouble of all history, the time of “Jacob’s trouble,” meaning U. S. and British nations — see free book, “United States and British Commonwealth in Prophecy” — “… nor have laid hands on their substance in the day of their calamity; neither shouldest thou have stood in the crossway (the Bosporus — Turkey stands astride it), to cut off those of his that did escape; neither shouldest thou have delivered up those of his that did remain in the day of distress” (verses 13-14). Now the TIME when this shall happen is made clear in the next verse: “For the day of the Lord is near upon all the heathen …” (verse 15). The “Day of the Lord” is to follow immediately the Great Tribulation — compare Matthew 24:21-22, 29 with Joel 2:31. It is the time when God will first intervene supernaturally in this world’s affairs, to END the Great Tribulation, into which the world is now heading, and to punish the Gentile nations for having so frightfully punished Britain-U.S. and the Jewish people in World War III, and the imminent Tribulation. This “Day of the Lord” — that is, the first phase of it — will climax in Christ’s return to earth as the Messiah, as King of kings and Lord of lords (verse 30 of Matthew 24). Continue in Obadiah, verse 15: “… As thou hast done, it shall be done unto thee …. But upon Mount Zion (Jerusalem) shall be deliverance, and there shall be holiness (at Christ’s coming); and the house of Jacob (U.S.- British, NOT Jews) shall possess their possessions. And the house of Jacob shall be a fire, and the house of Joseph (U.S.-British) a flame, and the house of Esau (Turkey) for stubble, and they shall kindle in them, and devour them; and there shall not be any remaining of the house of Esau; for the Eternal hath spoken it.” And the one-chapter book ends, “… and the kingdom shall be the Eternal’s.” The Kingdom of God set up at Christ’s coming — the world-ruling Kingdom to rule all nations, and to bring PEACE to the whole world! There can be no mistaking the TIME of this prophecy. It is the near future — probably much nearer than you think! Other prophecies, tying in with this are Jeremiah 49:7 and 25:21; and Ezekiel 25:13-14.]]>

♛ After 2,550 Years…JEWS ARE A NATION AGAIN!…Prophesy Fulfilled?

 

After 2,550 Years…

JEWS ARE A NATION AGAIN!

…Prophecy Fulfilled?

 

by Herbert W. Armstrong

[Original Publication]

  Here are the real facts back of the strange dilemma in Palestine, exclusive in The Plain Truth, from private interviews with chief leaders of both Arabs and Zionist Jews.  

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Why Did God Raise Up The Nation Of Israel-And Deny Them Spiritual Salvation?

Why Did God Raise Up the Nation Israel — and Deny Them Spiritual Salvation?

by Herbert W. Armstrong

Published in the Good News Magazine, May 1984

Did anyone ever think to ask WHY God raised up the ancient nation Israel, denying them His Holy Spirit and eternal salvation – except their prophets only? Why “chosen people”? WHY were Old Testament Israelites called God’s “chosen people” —and still denied the Holy Spirit to beget them into eternal life? “Chosen”—for what? To be teacher’s pet? For special favors above other nations? Was God a respecter of nations? To understand, we need to start with Adam and Eve. It is an intriguing story, and I have never seen it put together in this manner before. The true reason for ancient Israel is an integral part of God’s supreme master plan.

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"What We Need Most Is Peace" A Palestinian Speaks Out

“What We Need Most Is Peace”

A Palestinian Speaks Out  

By Adnan Abu Odeh, Minister to the Royal Court of Jordan

[Original publication]

  From time to time, the editorial staff of The Plain Truth endeavors to bring to the attention of its audience the views and opinions of leading personalities who have, or will have, a significant impact upon the world in the months and years ahead. One such individual is Adnan Abu Odeh, former Minister of Information and now Minister to the Royal Court of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Mr. Abu Odeh is a frequent traveler with His Majesty King Hussein. The following vigorous address was presented in the Ambassador Auditorium, Pasadena, California, before 1,200 assembled guests on the occasion of His Majesty King Hussein’s 1985 visit to the U.S.

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The Status of Jerusalem Today – And The Prophecies For Tomorrow

Personal

by Herbert W. Armstrong

page 1 Plain Truth October/November 1980

OLD JERUSALEMNew capital for state of Israel, or should it be an international city? What prophecy says will now happen!

NO SPOT ON EARTH is as fraught with explosive international tension as the Old City of Jerusalem. It is now a powderkeg, which could be loaded with nuclear potential.

It is the religious shrine of three major religions. It is the city that GOD chose, and therefore that is emotionally and violently a center of contention between religions and nations of this world.

Prime Minister Menachem Begin is rapidly preparing to move his government administration seat from the newer Jewish city to the west over to Mount Scopus in Old Jerusalem. This is for the moment threatening complete breakdown of the Camp David agreement between President Anwar Sadat of Egypt, Prime Minister Begin and President Carter. Mr. Sadat is furious.

The Arab world wants the Old City of Jerusalem back into Arab control. Some nations contend Jerusalem should be made an international city. But the State of Israel has control, having wrested it from Jordan in the war of 1967.

What has been happening in Jerusalem since the Israeli take-over in that war?

I have been somewhat personally involved in events there since that war.

Immediately after the death of my wife of 50 years, April 15,1967, I flew to Jerusalem. I had two urgent reasons. I had seriously wanted to buy time on Radio Jerusalem, then owned and operated by the State of Jordan. Also I wanted to get away from Pasadena immediately into a totally different environment to ease the grief of losing the companionship of my beloved wife and partner in God’s Work.

I wanted not only to go on Jerusalem Radio, I wanted to manipulate the increase of its power to one million watts to give coverage over the entire Middle East. At Amman, Jordan, and in Jerusalem, in conference with the Jordanian government and its radio management, I arranged for a price for a choice time on an extended contract whereby our monthly payments for that time would finance the Jordan government in the purchase of German Telefunken equipment to boost the station power to this maximum wattage. It was one of the largest contracts for purchase of radio time ever signed.

On Sunday morning, June 4, 1967, I left my home on our campus in England for London airport to fly to Amman to broadcast in person that evening, the first broadcast on this new contract. En route to the airport we heard on the car radio the sensational news that the Six Day War had started early that morning. No planes were allowed to get through to Beirut or to Amman. My broadcast on Jerusalem Radio never got started. By the following Friday, June 9, the Old City of Jerusalem was in Israeli hands.

But I had made a personal favorable contact with a foreign government, King Hussein’s Jordan. God had started opening doors for me to carry Christ’s Message to many heads of state and into their countries.

In the summer of 1968 I had been invited to visit King Leopold III of Belgium. He had been shown by a friend a copy of the Ambassador College 1968 yearbook, the Envoy. The king got word to me he would like to meet me.

Also in the late summer of 1968 the Israel Archaeological Society had invited Ambassador College to come into joint participation in their largest and major-sized excavation southwest of the Temple Mount. In October I flew to Jerusalem to inspect the archaeological project and decide on participation. I had conferences with principal men of the Archaeological Society, the Hebrew University and the government. We had a luncheon in a private room in the Knesset, Israel’s capitol building. I told them Mr. Stanley R. Rader, who accompanied me, and I would return on December 1 with a final decision.

We flew on to Tokyo, and there I was invited to luncheon with Prince Mikasa, brother of Emperor Hirohito. Doors were opening rapidly to heads of state—and through them to proclaim Christ’s Message to leaders in many nations.

December 1 we were again in Jerusalem with an answer in the positive. An official ceremony was arranged in the residence of President Shalmon Shazar.

Through the years we have contributed much to this largest neareastern archaeological project of our time, beside sending many students there for summer vacation work on the “dig.” Our acquaintance and close friendship with leaders in government, education and archaeology in Israel have developed and cemented. As Moshe Kol, minister of tourism in Israel, suggested at our Knesset luncheon, we have built an iron bridge between Hebrew University and Ambassador College. Mr. Kol since has publicly designated me as a “builder of bridges between nations for PEACE.”

Mayor Teddy Kollek of Jerusalem and I have become close friends. One day some five or six years ago he came to my hotel suite in Jerusalem, to “pay his respects,” and wanted to show me his plans for a downtown city park in Jerusalem.

Jerusalem,” he said, “is the only world-known city without a public park.” He took me to the site, close to the city center and only a block or two from the former border line of the walled Old City. It was a perfect site for the purpose. I was invited to a luncheon attended by Israeli officials, the United States ambassador and the architects for the project. The plans were studied. Mayor Kollek asked if I would sponsor the children’s playground first inside the entrance to the park. I did, and now a stone post marker there bears my name just inside the entrance to the park—now a most beautiful project.

Another time Mayor Kollek took me over the city to show me what he had learned from his visit to the Ambassador College campus in Pasadena.

“I am trying to follow your example, and make Jerusalem one of the most beautiful cities in the world,” he told me. It is being beautifully landscaped. Trees are being planted along all main boulevards. The Mayor took me into the Old City. There he showed me how he is completely remodeling and renewing old stone structures and renewing the rooms within them to a beautiful new finish.

In front of the International Cultural Center for Youth (ICCY) building on the edge of downtown Jerusalem is a square about 100 feet square. A sign erected now calls it “Herbert W. Armstrong Square.”

So, beside personal acquaintance with President Sadat and King Hussein, as well as the resigned, though still active, President Franjieh of Lebanon and other Arab heads of state, I have close personal acquaintance with leaders in Israel. I believe, therefore, that I can tell our readers how they feel about these problems, as well as what is revealed in biblical prophecies.

Literally hundreds of new high-rise apartment residences have been erected near the Old City, to the east and northeast of the wall of Old City. The new Hebrew University has been built on Mount Scopus, just northeast of the city wall. The Israelis would never have erected these massive high-rise residential properties merely in order to hand them over to Arab neighbors as a gift! Mayor Kollek would never have done the extensive and upgrading renewing of ancient stone buildings within the walled city, if there were any intention of turning this over to either Arab nations or to become an international city! I know our Israeli friends well enough to know their determined intentions without asking them.

However, Mayor Kollek will be the first to point out that none of the scores of new high-rise residential buildings nor the new Hebrew University were built on land occupied in any way by Arabs. All was built on vacant land, totally unoccupied. No buildings nor residences occupied by Arabs in the Old City have in any way been molested.

The Arabs who lived in the Old City still live there. And they live at a higher economic standard than Arabs in neighboring Arab countries. They have little crime and violence. Most violence there has come from outside PLO, Palestine Liberation Organization, commandos.

I have personally been very active in supporting the ICCY in Jerusalem. This center is working to bring peace, harmony and friendly relations between Arab and Israeli youth. And with remarkable success.

I also know the views and feelings, firsthand, of the Arab peoples in regard to Jerusalem. They, too, are sincere in their view.

What about making Jerusalem an international city? I would ask, as Mayor Kollek asks, WHO—and from what race or nation—would RUN the international city? The Jews would never accept an Arab and the Arabs would never accept a Jew. And neither would accept someone else. The very idea is out of the question.

What, then, does the Almighty Creator GOD say about it?

God once chose Jerusalem as His city. But ancient Israel polluted it and their covenant with God. They were conquered and driven out. God turned His back on Jerusalem. He says He will YET choose Jerusalem—it will YET become His chosen city—but it is not that today.

Look at the status of Jerusalem today, and the prophecies for tomorrow, in the Bible.

First, in the 12th chapter of Zechariah. “Behold I will make [am about to make—Revised Standard Version] Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the people round about, when they shall be in the siege both against Judah and against Jerusalem. And in that day [near future now] will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it [against it] shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered against it. . . . In that day will I make the governors of Judah like an hearth of fire among the wood, and like a torch of fire in a sheaf; and they shall devour all the people round about, on the right hand and on the left: and Jerusalem shall be inhabited again. . . .

“In that day [now soon] shall the LORD defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and he that is feeble among them at that day shall be as David; and the house of David shall be as God, as the angel of the LORD before them” (Zechariah 12:2-3, 6, 8).

I pause here to mention something that may or may not be significant—God knows and time will tell. I, personally, am of the house of David. I have my personal ancestry recorded every generation through my father, his father and so on back to King Edward I of England. And, through the royal ancestry of the British dynasty the ancestry is traced back to the ancient King David of Israel. Already God has given me close and warm favor in the eyes of many leaders in the State of Israel. A Message (Isaiah 40:9-10) is yet to go by a servant of God to THE CITIES OF JUDAH. In whatever way God wills, it shall go.

But now continue in Zechariah 12:9: “And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem.”

But at Christ’s coming as KING of kings to rule ALL NATIONS—to usher in WORLD PEACE—He shall again choose Jerusalem as HIS CAPITAL—then to become the CAPITAL FROM WHICH THE WHOLE WORLD SHALL BE RULED FOR A THOUSAND YEARS!

I personally have come to love Jerusalem, as I know my friend Teddy Kollek loves it, and I expect to spend much time there in the future—if Christ so wills!

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