"... not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth." (Hebrews 11:13)
"The best Feast ever!" This is how many have described their experience at the Feast this year, and the only reason successive Feasts can be honestly described this way is because of the personal growth of the collective brethren — growing in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ. For this brings a progressive depth and closeness in the level and quality of fellowship — not only between brethren .... but also in our relationship with God..
However, we return as strangers and pilgrims to a very alien world. A world with the very antithesis of the mindset we need, and indeed yearn for. And yet it is part of God's Plan to have us live in this alien world — so it is vitally important that we do so in the manner God intends. This we can see very clearly in Christ's closing statements to his disciples:
For the eight days of the Feast we lived in an environment of intensive training as disciples – students of the Way of God, and all that Way entails. Each day in services for example, the messages focused on the incredible future that lies ahead of us and all mankind: a one thousand year millennial reign of the God family that the Feast of Tabernacles itself is designed to picture. But what we must understand is that our training does not end on our return home! If anything God's teaching intensifies, even though the format of that training certainly does change.
At the Feast much of the instruction we received was in the classroom conditions of services. But this is not the primary method of teaching found within Scripture. We are told that in the future that God's teachers will be hands-on — instructing very much "on-the-job":
This is also the way the ancient Israelites were instructed to teach their children — and how Jesus Christ Himself taught his disciples when He was on earth — by continually illustrating God's Way using daily events as they arose:
This was also the main teaching experience at Ambassador College. No matter if a student could afford to pay his college bill up front, he was still required to work 20 hours a week, as much of the training of God's Way is gained "on the job". As well as daily classes, there was a plethora of activities and field trips .... more opportunities to put classroom learning into practice with one another, driving home what we were being taught.
And so it must be with all of us — on our return from the Feast our training goes on. We receive on a day-by-day basis detailed, practical instruction from God; very much a case of when we are sitting, walking lying or rising up. God is very much our "personal trainer". Our "life coach". Yes, there is certainly a vital need for the continual daily study of Scripture — so we are indeed "washed by the waters of the word" (Ephesians 5:26) — but without the hands-on application of what we learn, all the study in the world will be of no effect.
But for such daily, 24/7 training to be effective, there must be a clear focus on the relevancy of what is taking place. What the trials and lessons are needed for. Our long-term goal. In that light, the passage in Hebrews 11 that likens us to strangers and pilgrims does so within an immediate context of our need to seek a heavenly/Godly-based country – the very vision for which we were daily reminded during this past Feast of Tabernacles:
So if we are to effectively respond to the training God will surely give us on an everyday basis through this coming year, it is vital that we do not casually forget what this Feast was all about and merely slide back to our old habits of dealing with the curve-balls life repeatedly throws — possibly being overcome with the cares of this world! It is vital we keep this vision of the future firmly before us. Doing so will cause God's view and plan to then take precedence over the current problems that will come along – just as took place within the lives of the examples of faith in Hebrews 11. They all preceded us as strangers and pilgrims in this present world — holding firmly onto the words and promises of God, regardless of their immediate circumstances, and will shortly gain their reward.
One of the profound examples given in Hebrews 11 is the example of Joseph. All it mentions in the faith chapter is: "By faith Joseph, when he died, made mention of the departing of the children of Israel; and gave commandment concerning his bones." (Hebrews 11:22) But this passage found within the book of Hebrews was written to a people who knew the Old Testament Scriptures. We should therefore take careful note of what led up to this example and realise the depth of the day-by-day training that Joseph had been given prior to making this statement.
Back in Genesis 37 we are introduced to the well-known story of Joseph and his coat of many colours. But let us think more deeply about what really took place in his early life! We can well imagine the times he must have been filled with despair when as a young man – a mere teenager – he was sold into slavery by his brothers. Then, having been a faithful steward of his master's goods, he was thrown into prison on a trumped-up charge, where he rose once more to a position of responsibility, only to have his hopes of release dashed when seemingly forgotten by the butler, whose dream he rightly interpreted. Yet all this time, behind the scenes, God was preparing him for the fabulous rulership role ahead of him. Overnight he was catapulted from being a prisoner into second-in-command of the greatest nation on earth at that time. For by then he was ready. And by then he realised why he'd had to suffer and what he had been trained for. As he comforted his brothers:
It was undoubtedly because he had the bigger picture in mind, that caused Joseph to command the children of Israel concerning his bones. By that time, he could see that God had even greater things for him in the future — following his death. Egypt was not his true home — the promised land was! Having learned the faithfulness of God throughout his life he looked forward as a stranger and pilgrim to the ultimate destiny God has prepared.
A similar situation can be seen in the case of Moses. What is mentioned in Hebrews 11 is very much the tip of the iceberg.
Certainly in retrospect we can see the hand of God fully present in his life, but the personal training that God gave is left to the reader to go back and read and research for himself. What is not mentioned is his role as a general in the Egyptian army – clearly brought out by Josephus. But the organisational skills required to move several million Israelites when the time came was only part of the equation. God knew that mere logistical accomplishment was never going to be sufficient for the job He had for him. The quick temper and impetuous nature needed a great deal of modification before Moses would be fit to accomplish the job that was waiting for him. So for 40 long years he was trained in the wilderness by keeping sheep! We can only imagine – knowing his temper, and a little bit about sheep – just how difficult that daily, on the job training would have been for him, and how many sheep were lost in the process!
And yet Moses was able to fulfil the job he was called to do at that time, keeping in mind, and focusing on the fact that an even bigger opportunity was ahead for him in the distant future:
King David has the mere briefest of mentions in verse 32 of Hebrews 11. Yet once again when we consider the way in which God could have given him a smooth ride to become Israel's monarch, yet did not do so, we see a level of training for a future role taking precedence.
David was selected for his future role - like Joseph - as a teenager. Yet it seems that future eternal role was already in God's mind, for from that point forward nothing appeared easy. When Saul was alive David was continually tested to see if he would take the succession into his own hands – or leave such decisions firmly in the hands of God. On the death of Saul David took control of Judah, but it was several years of continual and bloody warfare before the rest of Israel came under his monarchy. Even then, there was constant intrigue and strife on all sides – with even murder between his children and the defence of his throne, first from Absalom then immediately afterwards from Sheba. Yet all this time God's guiding hand was on David, as witnessed by so many of the Psalms – not least Psalm 23 "the Lord is my shepherd". He realised he was being prepared for the ultimate role God had in store for him, as indicated in Psalm 51:
In our own day we have the example of Mr Armstrong himself. Not only was he prepared prior to his baptism in the advertising profession for his future role of taking the gospel to all the world as a witness, but in a similar way to Moses he was then allowed to experience 28 years of poverty and humility as part of the preparation God required — as brought out in his autobiography. What we need to keep in mind is that this preparation was not only what he physically needed in this life but will very much be for developing the character God requires of him to fulfil his ultimate destiny in the very Kingdom of God. At the end of that time of testing, God had seen Mr. Armstrong, "faithful in that which is least" (Luke 16:10) , so He knew He could entrust him with much!
"Please do not misunderstand. It is not wrong to have or enjoy the good material things of life. What is WRONG, and therefore harmful to our own selves, is setting our hearts on these things, instead of on the TRUE VALUES! The LOVE of material things – the VANITY of wanting to exalt the SELF instead of God – of wanting the worshipful praise of MEN by being considered “IMPORTANT” – these are the wrong things to set our hearts upon. When the heart is set on such false values, the soul shrinks inwardly and dries up!THANK GOD! He saved me from such a fate by that 28 years of poverty and humility!" (Autobiography Chapter 35)
And the training certainly did not end there: his continual battle over the college; both to keep it on track and to keep it financed; his battle with false ministers, both those who were liberal and those who were harsh; the death of his son Dick; the death of his wife Loma; the unfaithfulness of his son Ted; the attorney general takeover; and many other trials which he felt it was not necessary to burden the church with. But we have many a written record of the vision of God's end-time apostle and it is crystal clear that like Moses, throughout this personal hands-on training, he endured, "as seeing him who is invisible" and had total confidence in the crown laid up for him, and for "all those that love his appearing".(II Timothy 4:8)
And so we come to ourselves..... doing our best to exist in this shattered stage of God's work, and having just come back from "the best Feast ever". But we need to realise that it is a vital part of our ongoing training that we return as strangers and pilgrims into an alien world. We can regard the on-the-job training of daily activity and trials either a blessing or a curse — depending on our reaction to it. In that context how much do we keep in mind the passage from Isaiah that is displayed on our website:
The words that God places within our mouths are there ready to teach in the future. For this to be possible those same words – the very laws of God – must first be written within our hearts and so produce righteousness – continually handling life's situations God's way. Only then can we be fit to teach the same laws to others when the time comes. What God requires therefore is continual on-the-job education – being students of God's way of life on a day-by-day and hour-by-hour basis.
This "higher form of education" does not stop on leaving the Feast site or Sabbath service by any means. That's merely the high spot of a lifelong process that must actively reflect the living Word of God in everything we do – and make us fit to fulfil our eternal destiny described in the verses above. Let us all reflect deeply on the lessons we learnt this past Feast most certainly, but also appreciate the training we are being given each day, as God promises He will never leave us or forsake us whatever life may throw at us!
And that glorious future is very close!
“The eurozone is yet again in a nasty state…”; “The European Union is just a big mess…”; “The EU’s Break-Up Has Moved From A Long Shot To A Probability” ...
“Britain would be irrelevant without us, claims EU chief. David Cameron will today be accused of leading Britain to the EU exit door where it will not retain even ‘marginal relevance’ on the world stage.
In a highly provocative speech, Jose Manuel Barroso will attack Britain’s ‘defensive’ leaders for failing to ‘make the positive case’ for continued membership of the EU, insisting: ‘Could the UK get by without a little help from your friends? My answer is probably not.’
The intervention by the outgoing head of the European Commission reflects growing fury in Brussels at the increasingly strident anti-EU tone being adopted by Mr Cameron and his ministers.” (dailymail.co.uk)
Daniel Hannan, a Conservative Member of the European Parliament was provoked! He responded:
“No, Mr Eurocrat, the only place where Britain is irrelevant is INSIDE the EU. So we’ve got zero influence, eh? Outside the EU we’d be a second-rate country, would we? The easy reaction is outrage. How dare José Manuel Barroso, the outgoing head of the Brussels civil service, hector Britain, the nation that, by helping liberate Europe from fascism, made the wretched EU possible in the first place?
But I’d rather take Mr Barroso seriously. Let’s assess the claim that, if it weren’t for the EU, we’d count for little in the world.
Consider, first, the assets that the United Kingdom has.
We are either the seventh or the sixth largest economy on the planet (depending on which measure you use, we have either just overtaken, or are just about to overtake, France).
At a time when the eurozone is stagnant, we are the fastest-growing major economy on Earth. We have — this is a truly amazing statistic — created more jobs over the past four years than the other 27 members of the EU put together. Indeed, on current trends, at some point in the next 30 years, our economy will overtake Germany’s. While our trade with the EU is in the red and declining, our trade with the rest of the world is in the black and growing. Nor are our assets purely economic. We have, in London, the world’s greatest city: not just its financial hub but, on most definitions, its cultural hub, too.
Ours is humanity’s most widely spoken language. English has legal status in 37 states, and is used by almost every major international body, from Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (a forum to promote free trade among Pacific Rim countries) to the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries. It’s even used by organisations whose member states don’t speak English, such as the European Free Trade Association.
Our common law system is universally respected — to the extent that two foreign companies from the same country will often pay a premium to sign their contracts in UK jurisdiction, knowing that, whatever their other faults, our judges don’t take bribes. We are the world’s fourth military power, one of only five nations capable of deploying force globally. We are one of seven nuclear states, with renowned Special Forces and a global intelligence-gathering capacity which we share with the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
Our institutions and leading figures are recognised around the world, from Manchester United to Wimbledon, from Downton Abbey to the Duchess of Cambridge. Small wonder we are ranked top in the soft power index (based on countries’ influence in terms of politics, diplomacy, business, culture, sport and education rather than financial or military might), edging even above the United States.
We are a leading member of the G20 and the G8, of NATO and the Commonwealth, and one of five permanent seat-holders on the UN Security Council. How much bigger do we have to be, for Heaven’s sake, before we’re capable of governing ourselves?
How does Mr Barroso think seven million Swiss manage, or 320,000 Icelanders? Or, come to that, the 32,000 people of San Marino, who recently rejected EU membership in a referendum, preferring to remain in a free trade area?” (dailymail.co.uk)
The UK economy growth is less than 1% for the current year. It is not that Britain is doing so well, but rather that the EU is approaching meltdown. UK Chancellor George Osborne said that the UK is ‘leading the pack in an increasingly uncertain global economy’.
The problem is that you cannot look at growth in isolation. There is a huge problem facing not only Britain, but many of the world’s nations – rising national debt.
“The reality is that borrowing has reached £58 billion for the first half of the fiscal year, which equates to 10 percent more than last year. This is catastrophically off-target.” (telegraph.co.uk)
“Profit warnings by UK-listed firms have risen to their highest summer level in six years, according to a new report. The report, by the consultancy firm EY, said quoted firms issued 69 profit warnings in the third quarter of 2014, up from 56 in the same period in 2013. Profit warnings are issued by companies quoted on a stock market to alert investors that profits will be lower than in the previous year.
This implies that at best companies and markets are misreading the post-crisis economy and are struggling to adapt to rapid structural changes, and at worst have once again over-estimated the pace and nature of this recovery.” (bbc.co.uk)
“David Cameron today demanded an emergency finance meeting in Brussels as he came under pressure to tell Eurocrats that Britain will not pay an extraordinary demand for an extra £1.7 billion. The Prime Minister is being urged by Tory MPs to reject the ‘illegal’ request, triggered under rules from 1995 because the UK economy is recovering faster than other member states. The huge sum is equivalent to £56 for every income taxpayer in Britain. To add insult to injury, France will receive a £790 million rebate because its economy is struggling.” (dailymail.co.uk)
If Britain has to borrow over £100 billion just to survive this year, how can the UK economic situation be seen as a success by Europe? How can Britain bail out Europe when the British national debt is now in excess of £1.335 trillion? The interest on this debt is around £50 billion per year, and rising. That’s more than the UK’s annual defence budget!
“The eurozone is yet again in a nasty state. As it suffers from low growth and low inflation, the two combine to make a nasty cocktail. Without much of either, unemployment remains stuck at an eye wateringly high 11.5 percent, and government debt burdens are likely to feel increasingly heavy.” (telegraph.co.uk)
Forbes Magazine, in a recent article stated:
“Suddenly The EU’s Break-Up Has Moved From A Long Shot To A Probability: Although British voters have for decades wanted out of the European Union, that possibility has hitherto been expertly forestalled by a less-than-democratic left-right alliance of London-based elites.
Now suddenly all bets are off. In local council elections England’s long-suffering grass-roots voters finally rose up. They snubbed both main parties, the Conservatives and Labor, to support the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), a relatively new and hitherto marginalized party whose main agenda is to get the UK out of the European Union.
[The] vote, a personal triumph for UKIP leader Nigel Farage, seems likely to trigger a chain-reaction in which it becomes impossible for the London elites any longer to hold out Canute-like against the democratic will.” (forbes.com)
Eurozone still on-course for break-up, warns Saxo CEO:
“Lars Seier Christensen and other speakers at Saxo Bank event share concerns that, despite appearances, the eurozone has not averted the threat of break-up and blasts EU’s ‘totalitarian model.’
The eurozone is set for an inevitable break-up in spite of appearances that the crisis in the region has abated, the co-chief executive and co-founder of Danish trading firm Saxo Bank has warned.
‘The European Union is just a big mess, and it’s quite clear what you would have to do to get Europe back on a growth track: you would have to dissemble the euro and go back to a number of currencies in the area. It will only get worse and eventually it will dissolve, I’m absolutely sure – either by planning or by the markets taking the whole thing apart,’ said Lars Seier Christensen, speaking at an event hosted by Saxo Bank in London on Wednesday.” (euromoney.com)
“A group of 25 banks have failed European health checks, while up to 10 of those continue to have a capital shortfall, two people familiar with the matter said on Friday, providing a snapshot of the health of the region’s lenders. The health checks, led by the European Central Bank, found that banks in countries including Greece, Cyprus, Slovenia and Portugal had fallen short of a minimum capital benchmark at the end of last year and that up to 10 remained in difficulty now, the sources said.” (news.yahoo.com)
For 80 years, the warning has gone out! In his book, ‘United States and Britain in Prophecy’, Mr Armstrong asks the question:
“Why has Britain already lost most of her colonies - her possessions - her resources, wealth, power and influence in the world? Why is Britain no longer considered Great Britain - a GREAT world power?” (US and GB in Prophecy - Chapter 12)
He quotes from the book of Hosea chapter 7:8-12. When we read this scripture in a modern translation, it does make clear the state of Britain today!
“The people of Israel mingle with godless foreigners, making themselves as worthless as a half-baked cake!
Their hair is gray, but they don’t realize they’re old and weak.
Their arrogance testifies against them, yet they don’t return to the Lord their God or even try to find him.
The people of Israel have become like silly, witless doves, first calling to Egypt, then flying to Assyria for help. But as they fly about, I will throw my net over them and bring them down like a bird from the sky.” (Hosea 7:8-12, New Living Translation)
Many experts are saying that while Europe looks doomed to failure, the world’s financial system looks like sharing the same fate! Out of this financial disaster will arise a dictator in a German led Europe. The Bible refers to this man as the Beast! As Mr Armstrong stated:
“…I can see now the event that is going to trigger the formation of reunification in Europe; the resurrection of the Medieval Holy Roman Empire that we’ve been looking forward to, that is prophesied to come.
…I believe that some event is going to happen SUDDENLY just like out of a blue sky that is going to shock the whole world and is going to cause the nations of Europe to realize they must unite.
Well, now I think I can see what may be the very event that is going to trigger it and that is the economic situation in the world.
…Now when the financial structure breaks down, all civilization is going to break down. I just wanted to say that much - maybe you can begin to see how serious this thing can become!” (Sermon - Prophecy Part 1 )
Mr Armstrong warned:
“We don’t understand German thoroughness. From the very start of World War II, they have considered the possibility of losing this second round, as they did the first – and they have carefully, methodically planned, in such eventuality, the third round – World War III!
The Bible foretells that third round – and it spells DOOM for us, as God’s punishment, because we, as a nation, have forsaken Him and His ways! The third round is termed, in prophecy, an invasion by ‘BABYLON’ – a resurrected Roman Empire – a European Union. I have been proclaiming that since 1927.” (The Autobiography)
“Undoubtedly GERMANY will head the new resurrected ‘Holy Roman Empire.’ Who conquered the German armed fist twice – in the two great world wars? It was Britain with the United States pouring in the real knockout power! Who will they go forth to DESTROY? Britain and the United States!” (Co-Worker Letter – August 14, 1978)
“I have been proclaiming and writing, ever since 1935, that the final one of the seven eras of the Holy Roman Empire is coming in our generation - a ‘United States of Europe,’ combining ten nations or groups of nations in Europe - with A UNION OF CHURCH AND STATE.” (Plain Truth - 1979-01)
Now: the Pope is to address the European Parliament!
“VATICAN - ‘Pope Francis will address the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, November 25.
The decision to come to Strasbourg before visiting any individual EU member state as such gives a strong signal that the pope supports and encourages the pursuit of European integration and unity,’ said a statement by German Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich and Freising, president of the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community. ‘We hope that the [Pope] will encourage European parliamentarians in their work and that he will indicate how the foundational values of the Union - inspired to a large degree by the Christian faith - may shape the Europe of tomorrow’.” (catholicnews.com)
The Message to Europe from the Roman Catholic Church… from Pope John Paul II in 1982… pointing back to the Holy Roman Empire!
“Return to yourself! Be yourself! Discover your origins. Revive your roots.
Experience again those authentic values that made your history glorious and your presence in other continents beneficial.” (catholicnewsagency.com)
We see Germany firmly established as the controlling power in Europe.
We see Germany as the financial powerhouse of Europe.
We see Germany re-asserting itself in the world of politics.
We see Germany re-asserting itself militarily.
We see the Roman Catholic Church getting involved in the “future of Europe”!
“Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and puts forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh:
So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors.
Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.
Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My words shall not pass away.” (Matthew 24:32-35)
by Vaughn Duke
Answering Questions with Faith
given KY USA 18 Oct 2014 played UK 25 Oct 2014
|In this life we all have many questions. But whatever the question may be, the true answer will invariably include us having faith in God's faithfulness. (1.1 Mb)|
by Sylvia Duke
Psalm 8 - Oh Lord Eternal One
sung KY USA 18 Oct 2014 played UK 25 Oct 2014