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**Do you have history in the Worldwide Church of God? Are you still attending one of its offshoots? Do you see cracks in the doctrine and want more information, or do you not know why you're still there anymore? Is there a hole in your heart and just don't know why God isn't granting you the happiness you were promised would come through tithing and following a man? Do you find that no matter how hard you try you cannot live up to your own standards, and you feel like a failure? Do you find your pursuit of God to be based on fear?
Investigate with me the answers to these questions and more!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Three Times in the Year - Part 2

In history, three times, not just one but three times each year, the Jews were to be at the one and only one place where God put His name. Hundreds of thousands of dispersed Jews from all around the Mediterranean arrived in Jerusalem each year to celebrate these three pilgrimage festivals, hence we see so many people gathered for Peter’s Pentecost sermon in Acts 2: 5-11.

What was that place? Where is the place where the Lord put His name? Was it Jerusalem? Close, but not exactly. 

It was the Tabernacle, the Holy of Holies, which was at first carried in the tent of meeting and then located in the temple in Jerusalem. We know from I Kings chapters 5-8 that Solomon was allowed to build a temple in Jerusalem with a tabernacle within it. A wall of this temple was dug up recently at the Temple Mount. This temple was destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BC. A new one was constructed between 535-516 BC, and renovated by Herod the Great in 20 BC.

But the veil separating us from the Holy of Holies was torn in two (MATT. 27: 51). Then in 70 AD the temple was destroyed altogether (MATT. 24: 1-2). This physical tabernacle - it was a symbol of something greater to come (JOHN 2: 13-21). Christ now serves at the tabernacle in Heaven, not the alter in Jerusalem (HEB. 8: 1-5).

Herbert Armstrong, in his desire to follow G. G. Rupert's teachings on the Holy Days, could not quite put back the temple nor ask everyone to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem three times a year. He read the verses that clearly state we must go to the place where God put His name, and didn't quite know how to do that. So he interpreted that as saying travel was required, and he taught we must seek out the place where God put His name. (Let alone how he found it too expensive to carefully follow the law and be at this place three times a year; so he changed the law to one time per year.) Let's ask - was travel required? If it was required, then where did the people who lived in Jerusalem travel to? They didn't travel; they stayed home (NEH. 8: 14-16). So travel is not required, nor is it the focus of what's being said. Travel for travel's sake isn't the point; being where the Lord places His name is. They traveled because they were separated.
 
We must ask ourselves, then, where does the Lord place His name now? In the Old Covenant, that place was the Tabernacle of the Temple. Now, in the New Covenant, that place is still the Temple. But where is the Temple? It is in the Spiritual Body of Christ – His Church.

(II COR. 6: 16) 16 And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will dwell in them and walk among them.  I will be their God, and they shall be My people.”

This is EXACTLY according to prophecy!  In I Chronicles 17, God told David this would happen.

(I CHR. 17: 11-12) 11 And it shall be, when your days are fulfilled, when you must go to be with your fathers, that I will set up your seed after you, who will be of your sons; and I will establish his kingdom. 12 He shall build Me a house, and I will establish his throne forever.”  

This is a prophecy; the “seed” here, the one who will build the house, is Jesus Christ (GAL. 3: 16).

 (I TIM. 3: 15) the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.

There has been no physical Temple for almost 2,000 years. This new place, this new tabernacle, that we carry with us wherever we go, the ONE place where God puts His name, is the one true SPIRITUAL Church! I say true spiritual Church because there is only one, and it is no corporate organization made by men for tax rebates. All who have God's Spirit - be they Jew or Gentile, male or female, slave or free, Catholic, Protestant, or COG - are part of this Church. God alone knows exactly who these are.

Though we labor with Him, it is the Lord who builds this house (PSA. 127: 1). Today, in the New Covenant, this place where God puts His name is not in some hotel somewhere, nor in some distant city or group of cities. It cannot be discerned by local attractions. We did not and do not search it out ourselves, as if it were some hidden place you had to find; no, we were called to it. Called by the Father God Almighty Himself and brought along by Jesus Christ (JOHN 6: 44-45).  
THEY are doing this – God the Father and Jesus Christ are doing this - not us! This is about God and the Son of His love, Jesus Christ, Head over all things to His Church – not about men, and man’s things, and man’s rules, and man’s thoughts, and man’s organizations and cliques and Feast sites and traditions. This is spirit and this is truth and this is power!

As Psalms and Proverbs say, ‘fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge’. Truly concentrate on Christ as the Head of all things to His Church. Put all physical mindedness aside and concentrate on this truth, that Christ is our Savior and High Priest and ALL authority is given to Him.

Once you have that firmly fixed in your mind, the traditions of men and fantasies of men and the power of men to lord over you will melt away in the freedom and simplicity in Christ Jesus. Just like Peter as he sat in prison, the shackles will simply fall away and the prison door will open. And He will put His Spirit all the more in you, that Spirit that He gave on Pentecost day (should you want it); then He and our Father will dwell in you and help you. And they most surely will bring you into their Kingdom.

Brothers and sisters, loved more than words can express by the true God, YOU ARE THAT TEMPLE of the Living God!  YOU ARE THAT HOUSE Christ has built!  YOU ARE THAT PLACE where God places His name!  You need go NOWHERE! You are no longer separated! That place has come to you! And not three times a year, but every second of every minute of every day throughout the year and into eternity! If that Spirit of love and joy and reconciliation is truly within you, open your heart to God and SEE! See how far greater the New Covenant is beyond the Old. See how the old law has been magnified to a degree I can scarcely articulate to you! Put away your apprehension and step boldly into the freedom of the New Covenant!

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