Pastors Report - 17 May 2019

This Polluted Earth

"And the land is defiled: therefore I do visit the iniquity thereof upon it, and the land itself vomiteth out her inhabitants". (Leviticus 18:25)

Ecological Collapse

Hardly a week goes by but for some report or dire warning is given of impending ecological disaster of one sort or another. People are becoming so worried by what they see on the horizon that some have even taken the conscious decision not to start a family. The group that has done this calls its movement "Birth Strike". And a new psychological term has also come into vogue - "Eco Anxiety" - and with good reason, considering the bombardment in this area from the internet, TV and newspapers, with an 1,800 page report from the UN just one week ago, highlighting the ecological disaster of a million species at risk from extinction, and it adds:

Future generations will be at risk of starvation as food and water shortages grip the world... "The essential web of life on Earth is getting smaller and increasingly frayed", said another lead author, Professor Josef Settele, of the Helmholtz-Centre for Environmental Research in Leipzig. "This loss is a direct result of human activity and constitutes a direct threat to human wellbeing in all regions of the world". (The "i" Newspaper May 7 2019)

This past week the same paper has been full of the catastrophic human cost within the third world caused by plastic pollution in particular. A shocking report by the Tearfund Development agency gives alarming new figures to show that plastic and other waste is causing up to a million deaths a year in poorer countries.

"This death toll amounts to one fatality every 30 seconds and is the result of dumping or burning a double-decker load of waste every second in developing countries, where less than 10% of rubbish is properly disposed of.... "

"Mismanaged waste, including plastics harms people's health in developing countries in the following ways: ... blocking waterways and drains leading to flooding and waterborne diseases... creates a breeding ground for flies, mosquitoes and vermin....doubles the incidence of diarrhoeal diseases....when burnt it releases pollutants, increasing risk of heart diseases and cancers, respiratory ailments, damage to the nervous and reproductive systems ....pollutes water and soil and enters the food chain via microplastics...." (The "i" Newspaper May 14 2019)

The Gaia Hypothesis

Earlier this month my wife and I were watching a documentary on countries bordering the Caribbean that had such issues. One indigenous Indian tribe saw this destruction of the natural habitat as the desecration of their 'Earth Mother'. This is a concept that you find throughout paganism and was probably originally seized upon by Semiramis - under the direction of Satan - as the earth does indeed seem to possess a balance of interrelated multiple systems, very much like a living organism.

In ancient Greece this deity was called Gaia and as with so many things Greek, the term has been commandeered within the modern ecological movement and others as the Gaia hypothesis.

One thing is certain, the current balance of interrelated systems finds itself under increasing pressure - and the underlying problem, unrecognised as such by the world at large, is invariably spiritual. Mankind himself is very much part of the interrelated systems and how he thinks - and then acts - is having a progressively devastating effect within this beautiful habitat that the Creator God made for us.

The fact is, Gaia as a thinking, living organism simply does not exist. But the qualities that gave rise to such a concept most certainly do! It seems as if God has built into the very fabric of creation a transcendental link between spiritual thought and the resulting human actions... and the land eventually reaching a point at which it "vomits out" the perpetrators. What is happening today can be traced back to a spiritual deficiency - generally unrecognised by the world - and at its core is how the concept of creation without a creator allows individuals to "do their own thing" without worrying about a higher authority. Yet the One who made reality also reserves the absolute right to define morality. And whether we realise it or not, our immorality has a drastic affect on ecological reality - because the Creator has deemed it so!

As brought out in the initial quote from the "i" newspaper: "This loss is a direct result of human activity." Yes indeed, but that activity is not just that we consume too much, throw away with abandon (the 'disposable society') produce too much CO2, are addicted to plastics etc etc. It goes far deeper than that - in fact back to the Two Trees and the Garden of Eden!

Garden of Eden

When our first parents chose to turn their backs on God's Way of life and instead took to themselves the decision of what is right and wrong, they started along a path from an alien spiritual perspective. Having accepted Satan's prompting to disobey God, they realised for the first time they were physically naked - Satan having injected into their minds a warped approach to sex and its God-given uses and blessings. And as we will see from later examples, such thinking would have a far-reaching impact on their descendants' spiritual 'nakedness' in God's eyes.

From that wrong tree and human reasoning/spiritual basis, a cascade of consequences flowed. Their expulsion from the Garden itself; being barred from access to God's Holy Spirit; their decision-making becoming deviant; placing themselves firmly under the government of Satan.

This perverted mindset based on the way of Get even resulted in a change of the natural environment - they found themselves in competition with thorns and briars for the first time - much the same grasping, competitive frame of mind we find today in the natural world that may even appear to be increasing in the ecological mayhem. Survival of the fittest is now the norm, both in the natural world and increasingly in our own...."got to get mine while the getting is good".... "Nature red in tooth and claw." Even the earth's crust appears to be reacting with aggression as we witness increasing volcanic activity and earthquakes.

The Two Trees

And at the heart of the account of Adam and Even is the lesson of the Two Trees - which is also at the heart and core of the chaos we see around us today, both ecologically and socially. For it will take more than efficient recycling programmes, hemp instead of timber, paper straws instead of plastic etc etc to solve the horrendous pollution and destruction of our planet. It is a spiritual issue, and without a spiritual solution - a concept presently lost on the world - all physical attempts are doomed to failure.

Towards the end of his life, the main thrust of Mr. Armstrong's preaching revolved around the lesson of the two trees and how often did he tell us, in frustration...."Brethren, I don't think you are getting it!" And sadly, this is still true today. We are all still struggling to grasp the full scope of what he tried to get across to us, for it's more than just the world being cut off from the Holy spirit for the present time, but has much more to do with the two ways of life involved and the degree of difference between the two, as they are diametrically opposed to one another. One is "all about me" and the other is described in 1 Corinthians 13 as agape... the very love of God, totally away from self, outgoing concern, loving neighbour as self... the second of the "great Commandments":

  • Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.
  • For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
  • Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. (Romans 13:8-10)

The point is that the 'get' frame of mind, which saturates the spiritual airways does not affect us only in one direction, but is multi-faceted. Yes, it certainly impacts our immediate environment - as we greedily cut down acres and acres of forest - the "lungs of the planet", and we selfishly exhaust the land till it dies and then pour artificial fertilizers on it, thereby polluting waterways and making matters worse for subsequent generations. But this incoming, selfish approach produces effects in totally different areas as well. This identical 'get' mindset - from the wrong tree - is just as visible in the sexual area also. We can see the very fabric of society itself collapsing as we strive to satisfy our personal desires by getting immediate gratification in our sexual choices while forgetting and/or ignoring long-term consequences. And the resulting chaos strikes at the very heart of what we are humanly - as the family is the very crucible of the next generation.

Ancient Canaan

Just as Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden by their actions, so also were the gentile tribes that were in the Promised Land before Israel:

  • Defile not ye yourselves in any of these things: for in all these the nations are defiled which I cast out before you:
  • And the land is defiled: therefore I do visit the iniquity thereof upon it, and the land itself vomiteth out her inhabitants.
  • Ye shall therefore keep my statutes and my judgments, and shall not commit any of these abominations; neither any of your own nation, nor any stranger that sojourneth among you:
  • (For all these abominations have the men of the land done, which were before you, and the land is defiled;)
  • That the land spue not you out also, when ye defile it, as it spued out the nations that were before you. (Leviticus 18:24-28)

The thing to notice is the automated process Jesus Christ - the living Word of God - used: "as it (the land) spued out the nations that were before you" (v28). The land itself expelled the nations concerned when their iniquity reached a certain point (Genesis 15:16). And "the iniquity" being referred to deals with sexual deviancy of all kinds, including various forms of 'nakedness' (see Leviticus 18:6-19) - a perverted mindset towards sex that initially was injected into Adam and Eve. But the underlying problem remained spiritual. How they thought - and then acted - caused the land to expel its inhabitants.

Ancient Israel

Israel was given plenty of warning that the identical process would happen to them should their thinking and resulting actions go along the same lines.

  • After the doings of the land of Egypt, wherein ye dwelt, shall ye not do: and after the doings of the land of Canaan, whither I bring you, shall ye not do: neither shall ye walk in their ordinances.
  • Ye shall do my judgments, and keep mine ordinances, to walk therein: I am the LORD your God. (Leviticus 18:3,4)

Because it seems an automated process, we can logically conclude that any nation going in the same spiritually polluted direction today will ultimately suffer the same fate. Homosexuality (Leviticus 18:22) was listed in the range of deviancies and transvestitism is specifically mentioned in Deuteronomy: "The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the LORD thy God." (Deuteronomy 22:5) Today we have taken this to an extreme through the use of medical science which enables children as young as 8 years old to put on the outward appearance of the opposite gender - an extreme form of both homosexuality and transvestitism.

And let's not forget the horror of abortion on demand. Leviticus 18 also mentions " thou shalt not let any of thy seed pass through the fire to Molech," (Leviticus 18:21) - an abomination that manifests itself today in the murder of the unborn within our hospitals - something our Western nations are even stooping to make money from, with aborted foetuses available by the millions.

Our entire liberal world clearly stands in increasing jeopardy of suffering the same fate as Canaan and ancient Israel. No wonder the very land and ecology itself appears to be in chaos!

Christ's Spews out Laodicea

But the deep spiritual problem such as we see today requires a profound spiritual solution. Such a solution needs to be of a magnitude that will 'raise the bar' spiritually, in order to put right the underlying problem itself. Such a solution must remove the pollution at its true source - i.e. the heart of man. And if we are not ready to do this, just as Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden by God's Word and the Canaanite and Israelites were vomited out of their lands, so we are told that in a similar way, Christ - the Living Word - will vomit the lukewarm, spiritually 'naked' church members out of His mouth - as they are simply not fit for purpose.

Merely ticking a few boxes of knowledge is clearly not enough. Being clothed in true loving righteousness is key:

"I know thy works that thou art neither cold nor hot [here is the lukewarm church]: I would [that] thou wert cold or hot [now here are people that know the truth, here are people that think that they have everything spiritually that they could want]. So then because thou art lukewarm and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth [says Jesus Christ]. Because thou sayest [this is what the people of this church think; because thou sayest], I am rich, and increased with goods..." (Revelation 3:15-16) In other words, spiritually rich, 'We have knowledge that the people have not had before.' You know at the end time knowledge is to increase and the wise are to understand but none of the wicked would understand. If these people were not people that were obedient to God and that had repented of their sin, which is the transgression of God's laws, of God's rule, God's sovereignty, they would not be His church. These are commandment keeping people or they wouldn't be called the Church of God in the first place.....

... it is only those that keep the commandments of God that could have this knowledge. Now here are people who have this knowledge. Here are people that know things that the apostles couldn't know. Here are people that look down on the other people in the world. They look down on even popular churches, [or other church groups?] shall we say, that don't have all of the knowledge that they think that they have, and they say; "Well we're better than they are. We're spiritually rich and increased with goods," speaking of spiritual goods, in other words, knowledge, understanding. "We have the knowledge, we are very important because we have these things." And in their own conceits they have grown spiritually lukewarm.

They're not exactly cold, but neither are they very hot, they're losing out on zeal. They're not really doing the work of God at all.

"Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment [which is always the symbol of the righteousness of saints (Revelation 19:8), the righteousness of God, which is the righteousness that God gives to us through and by His love, His Holy Spirit, the love of God shed abroad in our hearts by His Holy Spirit. The very love that does and will fulfil His law - white raiment], that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear;" (Revelation 3:17-18) ( WT - True Church of Revelation 2 and 3)

Our Actions Today

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8) and we are to be consistently the same, with the identical agape love clearly evident, all through this life and into the very resurrection itself:

  • And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.
  • Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world. (I John 4:16,17)

If we don't want to appear spiritually naked, spewed out of Christ's mouth, it behoves each one of us to take a good look at ourselves in comparison with Christ Himself, and assess how much of this world's "pollution" we have unwittingly absorbed over the years. If we are to be used as the teachers of tomorrow - to transform this earth into an ecological utopia - it is essential that the character and Mind of God - the very love of God shed abroad in our hearts by His Holy Spirit - is consistently being built in us. Then and only then will we indeed be fit to be used by God to teach the same way of life in the future.

Yes, this world is in deep trouble, as vividly expressed by the apostle Paul in Romans, but he also shows the answer - it's us - in training now..
  • For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.
  • For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope,
  • Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.
  • For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.
  • And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. (Romans 8:19-23)

Unlike many in the world, denying themselves children, suffering Eco Anxiety and joining politcal rallies to try to get things changed, we're blessed to know that a new world is just around the corner, and it's what is in our heart that determines whether we'll be part of that everlasting, spiritual solution.

  • A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.
  • And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.
  • And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be my people, and I will be your God.
  • I will also save you from all your uncleannesses: and I will call for the corn, and will increase it, and lay no famine upon you.
  • And I will multiply the fruit of the tree, and the increase of the field, that ye shall receive no more reproach of famine among the heathen.
  • Then shall ye remember your own evil ways, and your doings that were not good, and shall lothe yourselves in your own sight for your iniquities and for your abominations.
  • Not for your sakes do I this, saith the Lord GOD, be it known unto you: be ashamed and confounded for your own ways, O house of Israel.
  • Thus saith the Lord GOD; In the day that I shall have cleansed you from all your iniquities I will also cause you to dwell in the cities, and the wastes shall be builded.
  • And the desolate land shall be tilled, whereas it lay desolate in the sight of all that passed by.
  • And they shall say, This land that was desolate is become like the garden of Eden; and the waste and desolate and ruined cities are become fenced, and are inhabited.
  • Then the heathen that are left round about you shall know that I the LORD build the ruined places, and plant that that was desolate: I the LORD have spoken it, and I will do it. (Ezekiel 36:26-36)