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Letters from Journal Readers

 

A changed Passover

In The Journal March 31, 2008, Bill Dankenbring [in his article in the Connections section] accuses the vast majority of us of not observing the Passover.

Bill thunders: "The Passover has never been changed an iota."

I agree with most of what Bill writes, but not that statement. If Bill selects an unblemished lamb on Abib 10, sacrifices it in the afternoon of the 14th, roasts it, then eats it in the evening of the 15th, I will agree he is keeping the OT Passover observance (Exodus 12:3, 5-6, 8-9, 14, 24).

The Passover, biblically, is the lamb. The OT Passover observance was eating the lamb on the evening of the 15th in a celebratory meal of the saving of the Israelites' firstborn from the death angel and their liberation from Egyptian bondage and slavery.

Jesus changed the Passover observance for Christians. Christians no longer eat the lamb.

We recognize the death of the lamb on the 14th, slain for our sins. It is a memorial service on the 14th observed with the bread and wine.

Jesus said: "This do in remembrance of Me," the Passover Lamb (Luke 22:19, 1 Corinthians 5:7; 11:24-25).

Ron Masek
rmasek@compbenllc.com
17142 Rabbit Run Dr.
Strongsville, Ohio 44136

 

 

Just God

In reference to the grace/law symposium reported in the February '08 Journal: There seem to be serious problems with law and grace that I didn't see addressed.

First, laws require judges. Are we all a bunch of judges ordained to judge and condemn each other?

And then, if God forgives our sins by grace, will we still condemn each other by a law or doctrine that God Himself has not used to condemn us?

If we are under grace and not law as Paul says in Romans 6:14, we become like Adam and Eve were in the Garden of Eden and are somewhat blind to evil and should concentrate on the good we are given.

We have to give grace to be worthy of the grace we have been given (Matthew 18:33-35).

The grace God gives us can be justified only by the grace we give others. If it were otherwise, God would be unjust.

It is time that Christians come out of the closet on this issue. Christians must give as they have been given. We could call this the Law of Grace. If we can't from our hearts forgive others, our sins are not forgiven.

One-way Christianity, with everything coming in our direction, will apparently get us only a "you had your reward" judgment.

How can we expect God to continue forgiving us and reaching out to us with an open hand and generous heart if we keep throwing laws, doctrines, rituals, customs and the like in people's faces and expect them to conform to our righteousness?

It does seem to be all about relationships and the way people treat each other.

Phil Griffith
Delight, Ark.

Choice words from the Herrmanns

All denominations believe (or think they believe) that they want their followers to make choices.

If you are a survivor of the WCG mother church, you know that the only choice a member could make was the one that the WCG's hierarchy had already made for him. There was no choice to make on any subject. It was Mother's way or the highway.

To this day that method has not changed. The WCG splinter groups, those who defected from the one true church (as the defectors used to call the WCG), still say that their members can and must make choices.

But here's the catch. Each splinter group presents its side of the story (its understanding and beliefs) and then tells its followers to make a choice.

But how can anyone make a correct choice if there is only one thing to choose from?

Here is a suggestion for any church that says that we have choices to make: Let the people hear the rest of the story, the other side of the coin, so they can decide what is right and true and then make a correct choice.

We also know that this will never happen. So most true Christians have no choices.

Paul and Micki Herrmann
Metairie, La.

Confused about bread?

Paul and Micki Herrmann in their March 2008 letter maintain that the NT symbols for the Passover bread should be leavened rather than unleavened bread and conclude that John 6:33 depicts Jesus as "leavened."

They cite the NT use of the Greek artos (Strong's No. 740, meaning "leavened bread") rather than the Greek azumos (No. 106, meaning "unleavened bread") for the Passover symbolic bread and Feast of Unleavened Bread (e.g., Matthew 26:26; Luke 24:15-30).

Unfortunately it is easy to reach false conclusions when they are not based on the entire Bible from Genesis 1:1 to Revelation 22:21.

Although the principal meaning of artos is indeed "leavened bread," artos--like the English bread--may also refer to any bread and even to a meal.

Since it was during the Feast of Unleavened Bread that Jesus partook of bread (artos) at Emmaus (Luke 24:30), we must conclude in the light of Exodus 12:18-19 and Leviticus 23:6 that Jesus would have partaken only of unleavened bread.

Just as the NT writers had no need to stress that the Sabbath was the seventh day because to them that was a given, so they had no need to stress that the bread eaten during the Feast of Unleavened Bread was unleavened.

However, in 1 Corinthians 5:6-8 Paul uses azumos to emphasize that Jesus is symbolized by unleavened bread and so rejects the Herrmanns' claim that Jesus is "leavened."

Among the Churches of God have arisen other errors on Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Some partake of the Passover symbols on Abib 15 rather than the commanded Abib 14 (read Numbers 9:1-3).

Others move the Feast of Unleavened Bread from Abib 15-21 to Abib 14-20 to avoid a perceived eight-day period of unleavened bread.

For detailed explanations, including the apparent contradictory Exodus 12:18 and Leviticus 23:6, download (from www.rightly-dividing.net) or write for paper P7, "Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread."

Henk Jens
P.O. Box 121
Belmore, N.S.W. 2192, Australia

No word for cakes in the Greek

In the March 31, 2008, issue there was a letter from Paul and Micki Herrmann. It was in regards to Jesus using "leavened" artos at His Passover supper. The Herrmanns went on to show that Jesus "broke" artos bread when eating with the two disciples.

Paul and Micki are absolutely correct on their teaching of artos. It is nice to see someone taking Scripture seriously.

You can rest assured that no people following any wrong teaching of Herbert Armstrong will readily change their minds. Almost all will continue to use unleavened bread at their "not according to the truth of Scripture" Passover services.

I would like to point out a couple of points regarding the use of unleavened bread as they are mentioned in the New Testament:

  • At no time is the word bread (artos) ever used in conjunction with unleavened. Look up "bread" in Strong's (No. 740) and you will see that where "unleavened" appears there is no number listed.
  • Then look up the word unleavened (azumos, No. 106) and you will not find where artos is used to refer to bread. If you will compare "unleavened" in the NT with "unleavened" in the OT, you will see that the word translated "bread" should be "cakes." Apparently the Greek language didn't have a word for cakes.

The Herrmanns may have missed a point when they refer to Jesus eating artos with the two disciples at Emmaus "during the days of unleavened bread":

"But they constrained Him, saying, Abide with us, for it is toward evening and the day is far spent" (Luke 24:29).

It would seem that when Jesus blessed the artos bread the Feast of Unleavened Bread was over.

Yes, I know. You will ask how could there be any leaven with which to make artos at sunset of the last day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.

The answer is simple. You can study the subject for yourselves. I will just provide the answer:

Since all of the "weakened" old leaven had been destroyed before the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Jews spent the time during the seven days making "strong" new leaven, using the early "green barley." Not that anyone is likely to believe this, but the artos of Emmaus is correct. It doesn't take long to make biscuits.

Ray Daly
3 Santee Rd.
Lincoln, N.D. 58504, U.S.A.

The reason for the Second Death

I read with interest "Is There a Third Resurrection?" by Pallant Ramsundar in the Feb. 29, 2008, issue of The Journal, page 20. His conclusion that there are only two resurrections is quite correct. However, there are three harvests.

The first harvest occurs at Christ's return when the saints (the resurrected dead in Christ, together with those who are alive and remain) receive eternal life (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). This harvest is typified by the barley harvest of the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Leviticus 23:10-14).

The second harvest occurs at the White Throne Judgment when Jesus says to the sheep on His right hand, "Come, ye blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world" (Matthew 25:34).

Since flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God, we know the sheep receive eternal life at this point. This harvest is typified by the wheat harvest of the Feast of Harvest, or Weeks (Pentecost) (Exodus 34:22).

The third harvest occurs when the purpose of the Lake of Fire, which is the Second Death (Revelation 21:8), has been fulfilled: when all cast into the Lake have died the Second Death; that is, spiritual death to sin (Romans 6). This harvest is typified by the grape harvest of the Feast of Ingathering (Tabernacles) (Numbers 13:20).

The purpose of the Second Death is not to destroy people but save them. Is there a neck so stiff or a heart so hard that God cannot save? (Isaiah 59:1). Would God annihilate anyone knowing He can save him? Can the will of any man thwart, defeat, the will of God? (John 3:17).

I think not.

David McMullen
Montgomery, Texas

Buttons and bows

Regarding Roderick Meredith's recent announcement concerning Fred Coulter [see "Fred Coulter Disfellowshipped for Third Time," of this issue]:

I think Fred should mark Roderick and then we'd have a rerun of the popes of East and West excommunicating each other. While there's no progress without disagreement, this kind of behavior is worse than childish. It's retarded. No progress is possible. And I doubt that Jesus Christ would consent to having His name dragged through this mud.

Walter Steensby
Canberra, Australia

Westcott & Hort & Blavatsky

The Bible translators Westcott & Hort had a connection to the infamous medium Madame Blavatsky:

"Among [Madame] Blavatsky's early circle of followers, who met for study and seances, were the author Arthur Conan Doyle, and Westcott and Hort, the retranslators of the Bible version Revised Standard.

"Blavatsky's influence was widely felt, not only in certain philosophies adhered to by the Third Reich, but in the development of what is now referred to as 'New Age' philosophies.

"Westcott and Hort and others of her followers helped found a society to study ghosts, which later became the Society for Psychical Research, which is still extant and studies many instances of paranormal phenomena."

This is from shoaheducation.com/rootrace.html.

Geoff Neilson
Cape Town, South Africa



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