Pastors Report - 14 Apr 2017
gavelAndBible

God's Unleavened Judges:

"The God of Israel said, the Rock of Israel spake ... He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God. And he shall be as the light of the morning ... clear shining after rain." (II Samuel 23:3-4)

Law In The Mouth:

We now find ourselves within the days of Unleavened Bread and as we meditate on the task of getting sin out of our lives one passage of Scripture that should almost certainly come to the fore is a section found in Exodus 13. These verses stress not only the removal of leaven, but also the positive side – that eating unleavened bread demonstrates the Eternal's law being in our mouth:

  • Unleavened bread shall be eaten seven days; and there shall no leavened bread be seen with thee, neither shall there be leaven seen with thee in all thy quarters.
  • And thou shalt shew thy son in that day, saying, This is done because of that which the LORD did unto me when I came forth out of Egypt.
  • And it shall be for a sign unto thee upon thine hand, and for a memorial between thine eyes, that the LORD’S law may be in thy mouth: for with a strong hand hath the LORD brought thee out of Egypt. (Exodus 13:7-9)

But why is it important to picture the Eternal's law "in our mouth"? Why not "in our heart"? Or "in our being"? Clearly, one way of looking at it would be to say physically eating unleavened bread – i.e. placing it in the mouth – is being obedient to God's law. Another way is that it's merely as a preliminary stage prior to internalising it upon swallowing. But I think there is also another aspect – a third point to consider – which for us in God's Church particularly should be even more profound.

Conveying The Law:

From the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks, so if the Eternal's law fills our heart, what comes out of our mouth will reflect that law, that lifestyle – both in general conversation and also, more importantly, in what we teach. This was certainly true in what God gave to ancient Israel – to her kings – her priests – her rulers.

The judgements made by the king were to remain fully subservient to the laws of God:

  • And it shall be, when he sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write him a copy of this law in a book out of that which is before the priests the Levites:
  • And it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life: that he may learn to fear the LORD his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them:
  • That his heart be not lifted up above his brethren, and that he turn not aside from the commandment, to the right hand, or to the left: to the end that he may prolong his days in his kingdom, he, and his children, in the midst of Israel. (Deuteronomy 17:18-20)

We can see that intent for righteousness being faithfully implemented by the actions of Jehoshaphat:

  • And he set judges in the land throughout all the fenced cities of Judah, city by city,
  • And said to the judges, Take heed what ye do: for ye judge not for man, but for the LORD, who is with you in the judgment.
  • Wherefore now let the fear of the LORD be upon you; take heed and do it: for there is no iniquity with the LORD our God, nor respect of persons, nor taking of gifts
  • Moreover in Jerusalem did Jehoshaphat set of the Levites, and of the priests, and of the chief of the fathers of Israel, for the judgment of the LORD, and for controversies, when they returned to Jerusalem.
  • And he charged them, saying, Thus shall ye do in the fear of the LORD, faithfully, and with a perfect heart. (II Chronicles 19:5-9)

The law of truth was also to be in the mouth of the priest as he taught the words of righteousness as God's messenger:

  • And ye shall know that I have sent this commandment unto you, that my covenant might be with Levi, saith the LORD of hosts.
  • My covenant was with him of life and peace; and I gave them to him for the fear wherewith he feared me, and was afraid before my name.
  • The law of truth was in his mouth, and iniquity was not found in his lips: he walked with me in peace and equity, and did turn many away from iniquity.
  • For the priest’s lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth: for he is the messenger of the LORD of hosts. (Malachi 2:4-7)

And when Joshua took over from Moses, the Logos who became Jesus Christ stressed to him the need for the law to remain within his mouth as he directed and guided the entire nation under him according to God's will and purpose:

  • Now after the death of Moses the servant of the LORD it came to pass, that the LORD spake unto Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ minister, saying,
  • This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success. (Joshua 1:1,8)
The Big Picture:

But were the above words written only for ancient Israel – for people long ago? Were they just pertinent to the rulers of millennia past? Not according to the apostle Paul who declares that such things are recorded and "written for our admonition upon whom the ends of the world are come" (I Corinthians 10:11) – something further elaborated upon by Mr Armstrong regarding who the Scriptures as a whole were primarily designed for:

"It has been seeming more and more to me, as the years go by, that the Bible was written primarily for the Philadelphia era of the Church. It has not been understood previously to now. The Bible was not all written yet during the beginning of the Church (during the Ephesian era, the first era of the Church)". ( Mission Of The Philadelphia Church Era - Sermon - December 17, 1983)

Those of us who aspire to the first resurrection are thereby destined to subsequently be the "priests [teachers] of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him [as Kings] a thousand years." (Revelation 20:6) We thus become the kings, the priests, the rulers – and the above Scriptures have therefore been written specifically for our learning! The Word of God must remain within our mouths, ready to teach, yes, but also to regulate our judgement as kings when the time comes, as part of a truly righteous, spiritually unleavened judiciary.

Judiciary versus Legislature:

I use the term "spiritually unleavened judiciary" deliberately – largely separating our future function from the legislature, or lawmaking process. A dictionary definition of judiciary is "the branch of government that is endowed with the authority to interpret and apply the law, adjudicate legal disputes and otherwise administer justice" (The Free Dictionary) This distinction is because of the foundational principle found in James which reminds us that, " there is one lawgiver who is able to save and to destroy" (James 4:12) . That Lawgiver has defined but a single law that can be summarised in the one word: "love" (I John 4:8,16). This then is broken down into two broad principles governing love towards God and love towards neighbour – further clarified for humans by the 10 Commandments themselves and the basic principles seen within the statutes and judgements found in Scripture. All subsequent judgements handed down by the future spiritual judiciary will remain fully subservient to this spiritually perfect law already laid down by God. Even the judgements of Jesus Christ – the King of kings and Lord of lords – will always be made with total respect for what God has already determined:

  • And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots:
  • And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD;
  • And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the LORD: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears:
  • But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked.
  • And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins. (Isaiah 11:1)
The Contrast:

How different in today's world! With the recent activation of article 50, Brexit negotiations now begin in earnest for the next two years here in the UK – and at the heart of the entire process is the Gordian knot of EU legislation – 50,000 separate laws in the last 20 years alone! Extracting the UK from this legalistic quagmire is a truly daunting task. But it graphically illustrates the fundamental difference between the law of God and the laws of man – as Mr Armstrong explains in the Good News article on Divorce and Remarriage:

THERE IS ONE great difference between the law of God and the laws made by human government. God has given us His law in form of general principles to be applied in various cases, whereas in national laws, state laws and city ordinances, MAN tries to make multiple thousands of laws, “spelling out” every little detail in a separate law.

It is made clear for us in the third chapter of II Corinthians. ”[God] also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit” (verse 6).

God’s law is given in one single word – LOVE. God is love, His law is love – that word sums up God’s CHARACTER. The law then is amplified into the two Great Laws, love toward God, and love toward neighbor. God amplifies it a little further in the Ten Commandments – the first four giving the broad principles of how to love God and the last six how to love neighbor. But God intended us to understand the PRINCIPLE involved and apply it honestly.

Now it comes to my attention that many are finding gray areas in the D & R law. I will try to spell out a little further in a general way, and those who seek the WAY OF GOD instead of their own way will have, I hope, no difficulty in applying God’s law properly according to its intended spirit. Otherwise, those who try to reason around God’s law to have their own way will stand condemned in the sight of God.

GOD DOES NOT COMPROMISE WITH, OR WATER DOWN HIS LAW. Rather than that He GAVE His only begotten Son Jesus to pay the penalty of repented sin in our stead. ( Spelling Out The Official Doctrine On D&R - GN Oct/Nov 1979)

Applying Principles:

As Mr Armstrong brings out above, God's law can be summarised in a single word, "Love". However, that love is not human love – but, "the love of God shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit" (Romans 5:5) which is ALWAYS outgoing and concerned for others. This is true, whatever the emotional response may be, even to the point of putting the wicked to death in a lake of fire rather than allow them and others to suffer needlessly as a result of their actions. And the way that spiritual law must then be administered is always but always according to its spirit and intent – not the mere letter (II Corinthians 3:6).

Getting to grips with and applying the principle of God's law in this way is a vital subject that is not only relevant to our future roles as king-priests in the Kingdom of God, but also now, at this time – particularly when seeking to get sin out of our lives during these days of Unleavened Bread! Since the death of Mr Armstrong, we are being forced to get to grips with a "spiritual heritage" that was left, rather than compile a "tick/check list" of every major or minor point brought to us during his ministry as God's end-time apostle. Society has moved on ... it has sunk even lower than it was in his lifetime ... and sometimes the ministry is called upon to make judgements on situations that would not have even come to mind a few decades ago: transgender issues; a fractured church; Internet pornography; smartphones; social media; cyber bullying; GM foods; unclean gene splicing; Fukushima fish pollution, etc. And not only the ministry, but church members also – especially those striving to bring up children in this cesspit of a society.

But God is allowing this. He is wanting to see if we can faithfully understand and apply His basic principles – as in the future we may well be asked to take His way of life to other planets and even other life forms, and our little check list that worked fine in our home town, 2017, might not have the same relevance to angelic beings in a star system thousands of light years from Earth – for Paul tells us we are to indeed judge angels! (I Corinthians 6:3). But His overall spiritual law of love will remain inviolate – rock solid throughout the ages and areas of His domain – designed to be expertly administered in a vast range of situations by each one of us as the Eternal's spiritually unleavened Judges.

Today's world:

Compared to what we see today, the founding fathers of the USA 200 years ago had a good deal more worldly wisdom when it came to moral matters. Contrast the following observation by John Adams in 1798 with the legalistic quagmire of the EU's approach today:

"... we have no government, armed with power, capable of contending with human passions, unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge and licentiousness would break the strongest cords of our Constitution, as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other." (John Adams' letter to the officers in Massachusetts, 11 October 1798)

The constitution they constructed dealt largely with principles. Yet in today's world it is the opposite. Those who draft legislation have to continually try to block every twist and turn because the human heart has indeed become progressively more and more unbridled by morality and religion. We have the constitution they so carefully drafted using just 4,400 words, being used in ways that would have been utterly unthinkable 200 years ago – to justify the acceptance of sexual perversion on a vast scale; the murder of the unborn; and at the same time the removal of the 10 Commandments or other religiously moral directions from all courts of the land. God rightly summarises the chaos we find ourselves witnessing:

  • The way of peace they know not; and there is no judgment in their goings: they have made them crooked paths: whosoever goeth therein shall not know peace.
  • Therefore is judgment far from us, neither doth justice overtake us: we wait for light, but behold obscurity; for brightness, but we walk in darkness.
  • We grope for the wall like the blind, and we grope as if we had no eyes: we stumble at noonday as in the night; we are in desolate places as dead men...
  • ... And judgment is turned away backward, and justice standeth afar off: for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter.
  • Yea, truth faileth; and he that departeth from evil maketh himself a prey: and the LORD saw it, and it displeased him that there was no judgment. (Isaiah 59:8-10,14-15)
Unleavened Bread:

Yet within such spiritually bereft judgement, God allows us to function as witnesses of this end time condition – and at the same time insists that we simultaneously develop the ability for righteous judgement ourselves. The irony is, an end time church is due to appear to which God gives the name Laodicea – which can be translated both "let the people decide – or judge" – and also "let judgement be now on the people".

It is only those people who can indeed decide and judge correctly – according to God's principles and laws – who will themselves be judged sufficiently on track to become the kings and priests God requires. Unleavened Bread is certainly an excellent time for every one of us to examine ourselves in that light – whether we are indeed becoming ready to be part of the truly spiritually unleavened judiciary – one of God's spiritually unleavened judges.

God looks on the Heart:

The problem is, as we progressively understand more and more how far-reaching sin is – we can become discouraged. During this time of self-examination, we might well feel we are losing the battle – rather than overcoming as we should. Fortunately, the picture God gives us – the process of cleaning our homes of leaven – should actually teach us that humanly it is impossible, as leaven permeates the whole atmosphere. But with God all things are possible (Matthew 19:26). Instead of giving up in despair, we can therefore take heart, as we have also been given a High Priest that has already been through it all before – and God the Father has given our judgement over to Him – the Son of Man – because as such, He knows firsthand the massive temptations and pitfalls of being human.(John 5:27)

God knows what He's doing. So we can be fully "confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ" (Philippians 1:6) . Having spent our human lives battling Satan and his vile mindset and the system based upon it, we should then be able to have the same approach and compassion as our elder Brother when our time comes to judge others – human or otherwise! God's law is indeed inviolate, but how we administer that law today – with true spiritual balance and an understanding of the principles involved – will reveal if we are indeed ready to be part of His soon-coming world ruling and judging family ... spiritually unleavened judges ... administering the very government of God.

  • Behold, a king shall reign in righteousness, and princes shall rule in judgment.
  • And a man shall be as an hiding place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest; as rivers of water in a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land...
  • They shall lament for the teats, for the pleasant fields, for the fruitful vine...
  • Until the spirit be poured upon us from on high, and the wilderness be a fruitful field, and the fruitful field be counted for a forest.
  • Then judgment shall dwell in the wilderness, and righteousness remain in the fruitful field.
  • And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever.
  • And my people shall dwell in a peaceable habitation, and in sure dwellings, and in quiet resting places. (Isaiah 32:1-2,12,15-18)