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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Three Times in the Year - Part 1

Herbert Armstrong taught the 7 Old Covenant Holy Days were commanded for us today, and necessary for salvation. He taught that we cannot understand God's plan without them. Did he get them right?

From the time the Israelites left Egypt there was one place where the Lord could be found; until the time when the veil of the Holy of Holies was torn in two there was only one place where the Lord could be worshiped. At first, there was the pillar of fire and the cloud, then Mt. Sinai, then the Ark of the Covenant, then the Tent of Meeting, then the Temple. Later, the temple was rebuilt by Zechariah, and a new one was built by Herod. God specifically chose one and only one place from all of Israel in order to emphasize the differences between His true worship and that false worship of the pagan nations (DEU. 12: 5).

This does not mean “seek a new place each fall”. It meant to seek one place, and that place was sought, and it was eventually found in Jerusalem, though previously it was in Shiloh. And the way it was found was most certainly not by looking for the best hotel rates and local attractions. This one place was chosen by God. The place indicated to David for Solomon to build God's temple was also the place Abraham went to sacrifice Isaac, thus it was predetermined by God to be the place of His temple.

All of the people if Israel had to be present at this one place.

(DEU. 12: 13-14) 13 Take heed to yourself that you do not offer your burnt offerings in every place that you see; 14 but in the place which the LORD chooses, in one of your tribes, there you shall offer your burnt offerings, and there you shall do all that I command you.

Here God makes it perfectly clear, there was to be ONE place in ONE of the tribes’ land. There was not a temple in each of the tribe's lands (even though there were meeting places and eventually Synagogues). There was but one temple and one place at which the Lord's presence could be said to remain.

This one place was the location where the Holy Days were kept. To this one place the Israelites traveled to rejoice before God. It was forbidden to do this anywhere else (DEU. 12: 17-18).

The festival tithe items were not to be used in just any place (DEU. 12: 26). But if those items could not be easily transported to this one worship place, they could be sold and the money taken to the one and only worship place. Those holy offerings belong to God and were to be burned up, eaten by the priests, or eaten by the person who offered. But the festival tithe could be eaten, or sold and exchanged for what can be eaten – this makes no difference to God. The important part is that those tithes and offerings made it to this one and only place where God put His name (DEU. 14: 22-25).

Now God begins to explain when these holy meeting days that require being at the place where God puts His name will occur. Unleavened Bread is mentioned first, and it was to be kept only in the one place. You may only see Passover mentioned. Many Jews call the entire period "Passover", whereas the xCOGs do not.

(DEU 16: 1-8) Unleavened Bread
1 “Observe the month of Abib, and keep the Passover to the LORD your God, for in the month of Abib the LORD your God brought you out of Egypt by night. 2 Therefore you shall sacrifice the Passover to the LORD your God, from the flock and the herd, in the place where the LORD chooses to put His name. 3 You shall eat no leavened bread with it; seven days you shall eat unleavened bread with it, that is, the bread of affliction (for you came out of the land of Egypt in haste), that you may remember the day in which you came out of the land of Egypt all the days of your life. 4 And no leaven shall be seen among you in all your territory for seven days, nor shall any of the meat which you sacrifice the first day at twilight remain overnight until morning.
5 “You may not sacrifice the Passover within any of your gates which the LORD your God gives you; 6 but at the place where the LORD your God chooses to make His name abide, there you shall sacrifice the Passover at twilight, at the going down of the sun, at the time you came out of Egypt. 7 And you shall roast and eat it in the place which the LORD your God chooses, and in the morning you shall turn and go to your tents. 8 Six days you shall eat unleavened bread, and on the seventh day there shall be a sacred assembly to the LORD your God. You shall do no work on it.

Being at this one place was required for the Passover.  Next comes Pentecost.

(DEU. 16: 9-12) Pentecost
9 “You shall count seven weeks for yourself; begin to count the seven weeks from the time you begin to put the sickle to the grain. 10 Then you shall keep the Feast of Weeks to the LORD your God with the tribute of a freewill offering from your hand, which you shall give as the LORD your God blesses you. 11 You shall rejoice before the LORD your God, you and your son and your daughter, your male servant and your female servant, the Levite who is within your gates, the stranger and the fatherless and the widow who are among you, at the place where the LORD your God chooses to make His name abide. 12 And you shall remember that you were a slave in Egypt, and you shall be careful to observe these statutes.

Being at this one place was required for Pentecost.
Passover and Pentecost were kept in the exact same place as the Feast of Tabernacles. People were present at that one place for all three of these Holy Days, NOT JUST ONE!

(DEU 16: 13-15) Tabernacles
13 “You shall observe the Feast of Tabernacles seven days, when you have gathered from your threshing floor and from your winepress. 14 And you shall rejoice in your feast, you and your son and your daughter, your male servant and your female servant and the Levite, the stranger and the fatherless and the widow, who are within your gates. 15 Seven days you shall keep a sacred feast to the LORD your God in the place which the LORD chooses, because the LORD your God will bless you in all your produce and in all the work of your hands, so that you surely rejoice.

Verse 16 is a summary of verses 1-15. Again God emphasizes these three Holy Days. Again He emphasizes how being at this one destination was necessary.

(DEU. 16: 16) 16 Three times a year all your males shall appear before the LORD your God in the place which He chooses: at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, at the Feast of Weeks, and at the Feast of Tabernacles

At every one of the seven Holy Days, we were read to from this verse, Deuteronomy 16: 16.  We were told how we must never arrive at church services without money to give because God requires us all to make an offering at each of the seven holy days.  Did anyone ask why all of the burnt offerings were fulfilled, but these? And where in the law does a burnt offering become a money offering?
But that was seven times; not three. So we were told these were three holy day "seasons" spoken of here. Biblically, this simply is not so. This is odd to me, that a church which goes to such great lengths to teach Jesus was dead for 72 literal hours would not go to equal lengths to prove this is not speaking of "seasons" but three very literal Holy Days, mentioned by name in Deuteronomy 16. But that isn't the only place we can look.  Check Exodus 34 as well.

(EXO. 34: 18-24) 18 The Feast of Unleavened Bread you shall keep. Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, as I commanded you, in the appointed time of the month of Abib; for in the month of Abib you came out from Egypt. 19 All that open the womb are Mine, and every male firstborn among your livestock, whether ox or sheep. 20 But the firstborn of a donkey you shall redeem with a lamb. And if you will not redeem him, then you shall break his neck. All the firstborn of your sons you shall redeem.  And none shall appear before Me empty-handed. 21 Six days you shall work, but on the seventh day you shall rest; in plowing time and in harvest you shall rest. 22 And you shall observe the Feast of Weeks [Pentecost], of the firstfruits of wheat harvest, and the Feast of Ingathering [Tabernacles] at the year’s end. 23 Three times in the year all your men shall appear before the Lord, the LORD God of Israel. 24 For I will cast out the nations before you and enlarge your borders; neither will any man covet your land when you go up to appear before the LORD your God three times in the year.

It is well known to the Jews that God meant three specific Holy Days required them being at the place where God put His name. But that doesn't bring in the 7 holy day offerings. By adding to God's very specific law, and taking away from it, Herbert Armstrong broke the very law he said is required for salvation.
(DEU. 12: 1) 1 “These are the statutes and judgments which you shall be careful to observe in the land which the LORD God of your fathers is giving you to possess, all the days that you live on the earth.
(DEU. 12: 32) Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it.

[to be continued]


Bill said...

Armstrong was smart enough to not say one had to keep the law and sabbath in order to be saved. It was however said through the back door through semantics, claiming one sinned by not keeping the law and sabbath, and that no sinner would be in the kingdom.

All ACoG'ers should buy their three round trip tickets to Jerusalem in advance in order to get the best fares. . .

Bill Hohmann

xHWA said...

That's absolutely right, Bill. I never recall hearing anyone say those things are what save you. I think the phraseology was "The law doesn't save you, but you won't be saved unless you keep the law."

Well, brother, I've got news for the people who follow the traditions of Armstrong and think they are keeping the law!

For that very reason, showing Armstrong's legal errors is a large part of this blog. I think the next part of this thread will really drive it home.

Thanks again for your valuable input here at Escaping Armstrongism, Bill. And elsewhere too, btw.

James Pate said...

But don't a lot of Protestants use that same sort of logic? "You're not saved by works, but you're not saved without them."

xHWA said...

James, you bring up two very good points.

First, Protestants. In the mind of an Armstrongist, there are Armstrongists and there are pagans. That's really it. When I was first freed, I had to deal with not having a church to go to. They were all pagan!
Well, I don't exactly know what to say to an Armstrongist about this, except you do not have to take up Christmas and Easter because you have left the COG. There are so very many varieties of churches out there. Perhaps, before you decide to go back to Armstrongism, give a serious look around.

Second, works. I think it's a tragedy that most people confuse 'works' with 'law'. The Armstrongists see 'works' as meaning 'law', and 'law' is necessary or Christ won't save you. SOME Protestants see works as partially 'law' and 'works' are not necessary at all because Christ saves you 'come as you are'.

The New Testament sees 'works' as acts of Christian charity which naturally flow from the indwelling of the Spirit - that's not 'law' at all. Christ saves you, the Spirit changes you, and the 'works' flow from that. Not at all by 'law', or by 'works', but by faith. Faith does not need works, but works are a result of faith as wet is a result of water. The Spirit produces 'fruit' and that is the evidence of salvation. So a person who has no 'works' can pretty much be said to not have the Spirit and thus no salvation.

What Armstrongists would do well to investigate is the relationship between 'works' and 'law'. And do so without referring to what some minister or the other said.