In Consequence

 

This is a sequel to my last article titled  “In Retrospect.” I would like to point out here the salient consequences of Joseph W.Tkach (JWT) and company’s crucial decision to junk just about everything that Worldwide Church of God (WCG) founder and Pastor General Herbert W. Armstrong (HWA) had taught as Bible truths and practices.

The Grace Communion International (GCI), the now totally “Protestant” or “evangelical” church that once was the WCG, now believes it is no longer required of church members to observe the “old covenant” laws that have, supposedly, kept the members from truly experiencing the grace, faith, mercy – and liberty – that Jesus Christ brought on order to save mankind from sin and death.

In consequence, the GCI has forgotten what the Bible itself defines sin to be: transgression of God’s law and commandments (1 John 4:3).  But, GCI would counter: that law, under the new covenant, is now replaced by Christ’s simple two-fold law: to “love God with all your heart, with all your mind, with all your soul” and to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:35-39).  To this let our Lord Himself reply: “Do not think that I have come to destroy the law or the prophets.  For assuredly, I say to you, ‘Till heaven and earth pass away, not one jot or tittle of the law will by no means pass from the law, till all is fulfilled.  Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven’” (Matthew 5:17-19). Furthermore, Jesus said, “On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 22:40). [See: The Law of Christ, Moses and Jesus – Are They Contraries? and Saved for Good Works.]

In addition, the apostle Paul wrote: “What shall we say then?  Is the law sin? Certainly not! On the contrary, I would not have known sin, except through the law.  For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said ‘You shall not covet” (Romans 7:7).

The GCI now believes that WCG members had been needlessly burdened or oppressed by their keeping the “old covenant” laws, such as those concerning the Sabbath, the holy days, the tithes, the food law, etc.  That somehow these laws were “bad” for the WCG members.

In consequence, GCI comes under condemnation of such Scripture passages as 1 John 5:3, “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments, and His commandments are not burdensome.”  Romans 7:1-2, “Therefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good.” [See: Freed From Bondage, and The De-liberation of the Worldwide Church of God.]

Furthermore, CGI leaders come under the condemnation of Isaiah 5:20, “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil, who put darkness [lie] for light [truth, 1 John 1:5-6], and light for darkness,” and Ezekiel 22:25-28, “Her priests [like today’s ministers] have profaned My holy things. They have not distinguished between holy and unholy, nor have they made known the difference between the unclean and the clean, and they have hidden their eyes from My Sabbaths, so that I am profaned among them. Her princes in their midst are like wolves tearing the prey. To shed blood, to destroy people, and to get dishonest gain.” [See: What if the Sabbath Is Still Holy? God’s Feasts in the Book of Acts: Mere Time Markers – Or to Be Observed?  Did Christ Cleanse All Meats? and “Be Holy for I Am Holy.”]

By adopting the doctrines of mainstream “Christianity,” the CGI has now become a “friend” to the world; whereas previously as WCG, the church had been declared an “enemy” of the mainstream community.  As a result, God’s condemnation, in James 4:4, falls on the CGI: “Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with [hostility against] God?  Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” Furthermore, Hebrews 10:26-27, 30-31 says:  “For if we sin willfully [knowing what God’s law forbids but knowingly doing it], after we have received the knowledge of the truth [Psalm 119:142, 172 says God’s law and commandments are truth and righteousness], there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries [God’s enemies]…For we know Him who said, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord [Deuteronomy 32:35].  And again, ‘The LORD will judge His people’ [Verse 36].  It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”

In consequence, God promises as sure to come: “Therefore I have poured out My indignation on them. I have consumed them with the fire of My wrath, and I have recompensed their deeds on their heads” (Verse 31).

Will you save yourself from this evil generation?

Seeing all these consequences – and the ultimate consequence of sin, unless repented of and forgiven through the shed blood of Jesus Christ: the “second death” in the “lake of fire” (Revelation 20:8) – will you move soon to save yourself from this evil [“perverse,” NKJV] generation (Acts 2:40, KJV)?

I hope and pray that you will!

 

Pedro R. Meléndez, Jr.
11062024/22062024

 

 

 

 

In Retrospect

For days the opened editorial or Personal page of The Good News (GN) Magazine, issue of July-August 1988, atop my steel filing cabinet stared me in the face. But I hadn’t read it — not until today, as I write.  And what a pleasant and refreshing surprise it was! [To access this issue, see this link: https://www.herbert-armstrong.org, click ENTER HERE, select “Good News (1951-1989),” then 1980-1989, and scroll down to the issue of 1988 Jul-Aug, page 1.]

Joseph W. Tkach (JWT), who took over as Pastor General (PG) of the Worldwide Church of God (WCG) and publisher/editor of the GN Magazine, the official publication of the WCG for its members and co-workers, wrote the Personal, titled “Do You Know the Lord?”  This was written some two and a half years after the death, in February 1986, of Herbert W. Armstrong (HWA), who had appointed JWT to succeed him after he was gone.

After reading the said Personal, I got the impression that Mr. JWT pretty much echoed faithfully what Mr. HWA had taught all his time as the first PG of the WCG and publisher of The Plain Truth (PT) Magazine. Mr. Armstrong strongly felt that, as the humble and unassuming “widows’ elder,” JWT would faithfully follow in his footsteps, teaching the same doctrines he had taught for decades. So much was HWA’s trust in JWT that, months before his death, HWA made a strong and frightening statement in his sermon on the Feast of Trumpets (Sept. 16, 1985) that was heard via delayed tape recording in all the WCG congregations worldwide.  Mr. Armstrong said:

If I were not here, it would be another who would be Pastor General. And if that should happen, if you want to get into God’s Kingdom you will follow that Pastor General; and you will remain united, and you will remain one. And your eternity depends on that, every one of you. Don’t you forget it!

[See: https://www.herbert-armstrong.org, click ENTER HERE, select “Sermons & Bible Studies,” look on the leftmost column, and scroll down to 1985 Feasts, then to Trumpets, Side 2. HWA’s parting admonition can be heard beginning at 28:39 on the timer.]

Fast forward to 1995 and onward

What do we see?

Mr. JWT, after consulting his son Joe, Jr. and a cadre of evangelists and other WCG big-wheels, and supposedly having asked the guidance of the Holy Spirit, made a pivotal and seminal decision for the WCG. This illustrious bunch declared with one voice that all the legacy of teachings that HWA left behind was so erroneous and defective that “It can’t be fixed!” “It has to be dismantled brick by brick – demolished!” They dismissed HWA as an autocratic “cult” leader who was a “heretic” and a “false prophet!”  They described WCG members as having been “so blind,” “so theologically ignorant” as to have believed HWA! [To see a video of this religious “caucus,” Google search “Called to Be Free” and click on the entries until you find one that works. My apologies for the clumsy way of accessing the video; I had tried giving the URL, but for some reason, it wouldn’t open.]

The “New Covenant/Old Covenant” or, simply the “Changes” that Mr. JWT proclaimed in his sermon (originally given on December 17, 1994, thus known as his “Christmas Eve Sermon”) was later viewed and heard in almost all WCG congregations worldwide on January 10, 1995. The sermon was also published in The Worldwide News (WN), the official bi-weekly newspaper for WCG members; however, this issue has been removed from the WCG Archives.  The “Changes” sent the brethren on a tail spin!  Those loyal to HWA felt offended and angry, and sought to remain in “the faith once delivered.” Many gladly accepted the new teachings as “liberating,” while others were confused and didn’t know what to do or whom to believe. [To read a transcript or excerpts of that sermon and some members’ reaction to it, see: https://exitsupportnetwork.com, “The Day Joseph Tkach, Sr. Gave His New Covenant Sermon.” If this doesn’t work, Google search “Joseph W. Tkach – New Covenant Sermon,” and click on the entry that works.]

The WCG has since been renamed “Grace Communion International” (GCI), and has been warmly and lovingly embraced by evangelicals as one of their own; whereas before, they denounced WCG as a dangerous heretical “cult.”  The GCI is now a member of WEF (World Evangelical Fellowship) and the PCEC (Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches). In this regard, Jesus’ statement in John 15:18-19 is worth pondering!

With the WCG/GCI having now turned a full 180 degrees from what it used to be, I ask seriously: Did Mr. Tkach really know the Lord as he wrote in his 1988 GN Personal? I hope he pondered that well, before his death in 1995. If indeed JWT was inspired by the Holy Spirit to write that Personal, how could he have suddenly turned away from what he had written? I heard a story, attributed to WCG evangelist Dean Blackwell, a close friend of JWT, who heard the latter’s death-bed “confession” about what he has done with HWA/WCG: “I have been a fool!” Is it possible that JWT could have repented of his crucial decision  as so much “foolishness” to destroy HWA’s teachings?  I certainly hope so!  Sadly, though, it seems that his successor, his son Joe Jr., is bent on perpetuating his dad’s “folly!”

Relevantly, Paul wrote: “For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God” (1 Corinthians 3:19).  And “Because the foolishness of God [Christ crucified as the power of God, Verse 22] is wiser than men” (1 Corinthians 1:25).

And to those who may have felt confused by Mr. HWA’s charge about keeping unity in following Mr. JWT in order to get into God’s kingdom and not lose one’s eternal reward, let me assure you this.  Mr. Armstrong, although used mightily by God, was only human.  Unlike Christ, who knows what’s inside the heart of every man (Acts 1:24; John 2:24-25), HWA could not see what was really in JWT’s heart when he appointed him as his successor. If Mr. Armstrong were suddenly alive again today, he would be horrified at what his successor has done to his legacy! That voids his charge to the WCG brethren about staying loyal to JWT and his son Joe Jr.!

The more important question we should ask ourselves is: “Does the Lord Knows Us?” Or, to be more personal: “Does the Lord Know Me?” Jesus made this sobering statement about His soon return to earth: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say in that day [of Christ’s return], ‘Lord. Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, I never knew you, depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!” (Matthew 7:21-23). [SeeI Never Knew You!]

What “spirit” moved them?

I had to wrestle with JWT and company’s claim to have been led by the Holy Spirit in their decision to junk just about all of HWA’s teachings.  I also sincerely asked the guidance of the Holy Spirit when I started to read WCG literature, with the aim to prove with my Bible that HWA’s teachings were wrong!  Quite the opposite to the conclusion of JWT and company, I was led to believe and accept that HWA indeed taught the plain truth of God’s Word, and I became baptized as a WCG member.

Mr. HWA recounts in his Autobiography [ go back to the Armstrong Library, select “Books & Booklets” and scroll down to the booklet titled “The Autobiography of Herbert W. Armstrong”] how he was challenged to prove his wife Loma wrong in believing that the seventh-day Sabbath is still required of Christians today.  He thought that she had taken up with some shameful fanaticism! He studied all the relevant literature he could get his hands on and checked every claim with the plain Bible testimony, asking God for His Holy Spirit to guide him into all truth (John 16:13). HWA humbly admitted that he had to “eat crow” about his wife’s challenge — admit that she was right after all, and he was wrong! He went on to prove or disprove other teachings such as evolution, the relevance and meaning of Bible prophecy, Christian living,   etc.

It cannot be that the Holy Spirit that guided HWA to teach as he had taught was the same Spirit that guided JWT and company to teach the very opposite!  God is not — and never can be — divided against Himself (Matthew 12:25)! His kingdom will stand forever (Isaiah 9:7; Daniel 2:44; Revelation 11:15)!

Interestingly, 1 Kings 22:1-28 records the story about how the kings of Judah and Israel (who, like Ahab, were Baal-worshipers) sought the word of the prophets as to the outcome of the wars they were to engage in. As it turned out, those prophets had a “lying spirit” (demonic) which God allowed to go out in the mouths of those false prophets.  The result: disaster for the king and the people!

Is it quite possible that some kind of “lying spirit” was behind the “Changes” that have brought disaster to the brethren who followed in JWT’s lead? I believe so! [See: “The “De-liberation of the Worldwide Church of God,Protestants and Sunday-keeping,” and “Protestants and Roman Holy Days.”] Has God allowed this in order to test and purify His people during these end-times (Daniel 12:7 -10; Acts 20:28-31; Jude 4-5; 2 Peter 2:1-3, 10-22)?

My prayer is that you, dear readers, will “abide in the truth” (Colossians 3:16), and be saved!

 

Pedro R. Meléndez, Jr.
17052024/15062024

 

 

The “Ark of the Covenant” Mystique

 

The “ark of the testimony” (also called the “ark of the covenant”), which the God of Israel instructed His servant Moses to construct, has been the subject of great interest, awe, terror, admiration, desire, or puzzlement, as the case may be.

The ark was constructed after the children of Israel had left the land of their bondage, Egypt, miraculously crossed the Red Sea as on dry land, and reached the other shore in the land of Midian in the Arabian Peninsula, roamed the surrounding wilderness, before they reached the Land of Promise – Canaan.

Exodus 25:10-17 records God’s instructions about the measurements/dimensions, the materials to use, details of the construction of the ark, which looked like a box, chest, or trunk made of acacia wood. The distinctive feature of the ark was the “mercy seat,” which was a removable top cover of the ark and was made of beaten pure gold; at the end of the seat knelt two cherubim (angelic beings with four wings) carved from gold, facing each other, their upper wings stretched upward, their tips touching each other, while their lower wings covered their bodies. [For an illustration of the ark, Google search “ark of the covenant illustration,” and scroll down  or click “Ark of the Covenant/Location & History.”]  Ezekiel 1:5-11 describes Ezekiel’s vision of angelic “living creatures” which, in Ezekiel 10, are identified as cherubim.

The actual construction of the ark was not done until later, by Bezalel, as closely guided by Moses (Exodus 37:1-9). God must have already given Moses a visual image of cherubim, as he wrote about them in Genesis 3:24. This construction happened after God had spoken His Ten Commandments to the people of Israel from the top of the holy Mount, Sinai or Horeb. God then wrote those Commandments on two tablets of stone with His own fingers and gave them to Moses.

God then gave the people more laws – judgments, ceremonial ordinances, and statutes – through Moses (Exodus 21-23).  God gave instruction on the building of a tabernacle, a place for the people to worship God with all its furnishings, including the garments for the priesthood and their consecration for the sanctuary and worship of Israel (Exodus 25-30).

Then the people of Israel went into idolatry by worshiping an image of a golden calf, with the participation of Moses’ elder brother Aaron as High Priest.  Moses became so angry (as God did) that as he came down from the mount, he threw down the tablets, dashing them to pieces, and chiding everyone and breaking down the image (Exodus 32). God slew some 3,000 men of Israel.

God then had Moses cut two new stone tablets, on which He wrote the Ten Commandments again with His own hands as before (Exodus 34).

Finally, the tabernacle was built, and its furnishings made (Exodus 35-40). The new tablets of the law were placed inside the ark (40:20). As God told Moses, it was from the ark’s mercy seat that He would speak or testify to Moses about His other commandments to the people (Exodus 25:22); thus, it was called the “ark of the testimony.”

In addition, God commanded that a bowl of manna be placed in the ark as a testimony to the succeeding generations, of God’s unfailing provision for His people (Exodus 16:22).  As well, Aaron’s almond branch that budded (Numbers 17:1-10) was placed in the ark as a testimony against wannabe priests who were not of Aaron’s ancestry, as God had ordained.

The tablets were also called the “tablets of the covenant” (Exodus 9:15; 34:28;   Deuteronomy 9:11); thus, the ark was, more often, also called the “ark of the covenant.”

The ark of the covenant was where God’s earthly presence dwelt.  For the most part, it rested in a special place in the tabernacle later called the “Holy Place” (Leviticus 16:16-17).  Only the High Priest was authorized to enter the Holy Place, and that only once a year, during the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16:2, 29-34; 23:26-32). The ark had rings on the sides, through which two poles of acacia wood were inserted so the assigned Levites, the Kohathites (Numbers 10:21), could carry the ark whenever the tabernacle was moved, or whenever the people of Israel were commanded to move.

Miraculous events with the ark’s presence

After Moses died, Joshua took over as the leader of the people of Israel (Deuteronomy 31:7-8, 23; 34:9), to lead then into the Promised Land. The first miracle that involved the ark was the crossing of the people through the Jordan River from its east bank to the west (Joshua 3-4). Upon hearing of the wondrous divine intervention for Israel, the Canaanite kings became filled with dread and terror (Joshua 5:1), just as the people of Jericho were when they heard about Israel’s God drying up the Red Sea and Israel’s conquest of the Amorite kings Sihon and Og (Joshua 2:9-11; Numbers 21:21-38).

The most famous and storied conquest that Joshua undertook was the formidable walled central city of Jericho. Joshua 6 records the details of the Israelite army’s seven-day march around the city’s walls, with the ark at the front behind the seven priests blowing seven trumpets, and how the walls fell on the seventh day of their march (Joshua 6:6-21).   With the ark in their camp, Joshua and his army went on to conquer the kingdom of Ai and several kings (Joshua 8-12).

After Joshua’s death, God appointed judges to lead the growing tribes of Israel.  Because of the people’s unfaithfulness to their God, He allowed them to be harassed and subdued by hostile Canaanite people whom they were unable to eliminate.  Among their persistent enemies were the Midianites and the Philistines.

At this juncture, God raised up a great prophet (Samuel), borne miraculously by a barren woman, Hannah, whose husband Elkanah was a descendant of the Levite ancestor Kohath (1 Chronicles 6:33-38). In his time Israel was especially beleaguered by their Philistine neighbors.  The High Priest then was the elderly Eli, who had two unruly sons (1 Samuel 1-3).  In a battle with the Philistines, Israel was defeated, the ark of the covenant was taken by them, and Eli’s two sons (Hopni and Phinehas, who apparently bore the ark) died (1 Samuel 4:1-11).

1 Samuel 5 records the mysterious, tragic events that happened to the Philistines and their idol god Dagon.  Alarmed by the great damage to themselves, the Philistines sent the ark outside of their country, and eventually back to Beth Shemesh in Israel (1 Samuel 6), where over 50,000 of the people were plagued by God for looking into the ark.

Finally, the ark was brought from there by the people of Kirjath Jearim into the house of Aminadab, where it remained for twenty years. (1 Samuel 7:2).

With the continuing unrest, the people of Israel demanded that they have a king over them, just like the nations around then did.  The rest of the two books of Samuel detail this extra-colorful part of Israel’s history.

The second king of Israel, David of Bethlehem, became one of the greatest heroes of Israel.  Besides single-handedly slaying the Philistine giant Goliath, with a stone thrown with a sling, David sought to bring the ark of the covenant back to the tabernacle, from the house of Obed-Edom, where it had remained for three months (2 Samuel 6).

After David died, his son Solomon became king of Israel.  It was during his reign that a temple was built in Jerusalem, and a Holy Place was provided for the ark.

Jerusalem’s impending downfall

Solomon led the way for subsequent kings to fall into idolatry, and God’s judgment (1 & 2 Kings, 1 & 2 Chronicles). God’s special prophet during the last kings of Judah was Jeremiah. He prophesied about the impending conquest of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon (Jeremiah 25:1-14).  2 Chronicles 36:17-21 gives a pithy account of that debacle:

Therefore He  [God] brought against them the king of the Chaldeans, who killed their young men with the sword in the house of their sanctuary, and had no compassion on young man or virgin, on the aged and the weak.  He gave them all into his hand.  And all the articles from the house of God, great and small, the treasures of the house of the LORD, and the treasures of the king and of his leaders, all of these he took to Babylon. Then they burned the house of God, broke down the wall of Jerusalem, burned all the palaces with fire, and destroyed all its precious possessions.  And those who escaped from the sword he carried away to Babylon, where they became servants to him and his sons and the rule of the kingdom of Persia., to fulfill the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed her Sabbaths.  As long as she lay desolate she kept Sabbath, to fulfill seventy years.

Was the ark of the covenant among the treasures of the temple that Nebuchadnezzar destroyed or carried away to Babylon?

Strong Jewish tradition has it that, well before the Babylonian invasion, God had instructed Jeremiah to cart away the ark from the temple and hide it in a place He would show, which no man could find, much like God hid the body of Moses (Deuteronomy 34:5-6). As Jeremiah himself quoted God: “Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh.  Is there anything too hard [difficult] for Me?” (Jeremiah 32:26.)

The ark sought after

Since the ark’s disappearance, and believing that it is hidden somewhere in some secret place, some people have sought to retrieve it and possibly use its mysterious, supernatural powers to win battles. The story is told that, during World War II, the German dictator Adolph Hitler sent out men to search for and find the ark, in order to ensure Germany’s rule over all the world. U.S. security officials became apprehensive about this rumor, and engaged the expertise of an archeologist-scholar and adventurer, Indiana Jones, to be on that search too, so as to preempt the ark getting into Hitler’s hands. This story was portrayed in the movie “The Raiders of the Lost Ark.”  The ark was not found among the nobles of Ethiopia who claim to have taken the ark during their Queen of Sheba’s encounter with King Solomon, nor anywhere else.

Enter Ron Wyatt

I believe, as a good number of other people do, that the American anesthetist nurse and amateur archeologist Ron Wyatt has God’s anointing in being able to discover archeological evidence of certain key events in the Bible. Many others, however, have also questioned Wyatt’s credentials as an amateur archeologist and staunchly maintain that Wyatt’s discoveries are his mere uneducated guesses.  Among these is the real route that the children of Israel took in their “exodus” from their bondage in Egypt, through the Egyptian desert into a shore area large enough to rest some two million plus men, women, and children of Israel and their livestock, from where they crossed the Red Sea, whose waters God miraculously parted so they could cross over dry-shod to the other shore, in Midian, in the Arabian Peninsula. Having prayed for God’s guidance and help, God’s Wyatt, with his sons, found incontrovertible proofs of the real and actual route of Israel’s exodus through the Red Sea, and the real location of Mount Sinai or Mount Horeb. [See my article: The Real Red Sea Crossing.] Wyatt has also found remains of what looks like the ark (boat) of Noah and the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.

One of the last discoveries made by Wyatt, before his death, which has probably earned him the greatest flak and number of detractors, is his claim to have found the probable location of where the ark of the covenant has been hidden these past centuries. He gives details of this in this video: “Ron Wyatt’s Explosive 1984 Ark of the Covenant Discovery Interview” [Google Ron Wyatt — ark of the covenant discovery, and scroll down to that interview]. Wyatt claims to have received a number of visions of Christ and angels that inspired him to get on with the arduous task of digging in the site.

Wyatt recounts that he was able to get a sample of the dried blood which trickled from the cross on which Christ died down through the rocks onto the mercy seat of the ark of the covenant where it is hidden, underneath the cross hole on the hill of Golgotha when the earth shook at His death.  That Wyatt did not get slain for looking at the ark is, to me, proof of God’s approval of Wyatt’s efforts. Wyatt reports that six Jewish men tried to get near where the ark is believed to be lodged, and they died inexplicably. He had to drag their corpses out of the tunnels.

Wyatt reconstituted the dried blood sample and  had some Jewish scientific technicians examine it for its chromosome content, etc. The lab technicians were blown away to find that the blood sample did not carry the usual number of male and female chromosomes. The sample revealed the natural number of female chromosomes from the mother, Mary, but only one male chromosome instead of the 20-some from a human father – indicating that Jesus was begotten by a spiritual Father! The Jewish technicians asked Wyatt what to make of the findings.  He tearfully told them, “It is the blood of your Messiah!” Wyatt reported that, because of this, those Jews have become believers of Christ!

What of the “ark of the covenant” in Revelation 11?

I read of a religious writer who discredited Wyatt’s discovery of the lost ark of the covenant in the tunnels under the crucifixion site on the hill of Golgotha as the work of a mere archeological charlatan! This writer pointed to Revelation 11:19, “Then the temple of God was opened in heaven and the ark of His covenant was seen in His temple.  And there were lightnings, noises, thunderings, an earthquake, and great hail.”

Since that ark is described as being in God’s heavenly sanctuary, this said writer asserted that there can be no other ark remaining on the earth, as Wyatt promotes! How do we reconcile this Bible scripture with Wyatt’s claim about the ark being found?

Hebrews 9:4-5 mentions the ark of the covenant in the “earthly sanctuary.” Verse 23 says that this and the other objects or furnishings of the earthly tabernacle/temple were merely “copies of the things in the heavens.”  It therefore stands to reason that the ark shown in Revelation 11:9 is the original – and spiritual — ark, which Ezekiel’s vision of cherubim (Ezekiel 10) portrays as a movable throne where God sits as He chooses to go.

Jesus promised: “For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, nor hidden that will not be known” (Luke 12:2). In His own time God will reveal all things now covered and hidden!  That certainly includes the knowledge which a humble servant like Ron Wyatt has uncovered about events, places and objects mentioned in the Holy Bible as he reports on his website [see: Wyatt Archeological Research <https://wyattmuseum.com>] to prove God’s Word to be true indeed!

Is it possible that, at Christ’s soon return with His hosts of angelic armies God will, in time, remove His ark of the covenant from its hiding place, to be borne by angels as the last great trumpet of God is blown, with a great shout of the archangel (1 Thessalonians 4:10; Revelation 16:17-17:6), and – like the walls of Jericho, around which Joshua and his armies marched with the ark, the noise of trumpets and great shouts of the armies, and the walls came tumbling down – Satan and his kingdom, now actively working through “Babylon the Great,” will fall  with a great and final fall (Revelation 18)?

It would seem that the finally revealed ark of the covenant will rest in the Holy of Holies in the new temple that Christ will rebuild in Jerusalem in the early years of His millennial reign [see: The Temple in Ezekiel 40-44.]

 

Pedro R. Meléndez, Jr.
01052024/18052024

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The “Unnatural” Nature of Man and Beast

 

 

Is the present nature of man and the animals really “natural?”  That is to say, are the ways mankind and animals behave today (as they have for the past almost 6,000 years) really their nature as God originally made or created them?

As for mankind, many people understand that God made our first parents (Adam and Eve) “good-natured.”  Genesis 1:26-31 says that, after God had Made man on the sixth day of that creation week, God declared the man he had made as “very good!” Genesis 2 and 3, however, go on to tell the story about how a “serpent” talked to the woman (Eve) and deceived her into believing that the God who made them was “unfairly” forbidding her and her husband from eating the fruit of the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” That they would not die from eating that fruit, but that they would become like God, knowing good and evil (3:4-5). [See: “Your Eyes Will Be Opened!”]

When confronted by God about what they had done, Adam and Eve did not openly confess their part in the wrongdoing.  Instead, Adam blamed his wife Eve – and indirectly blamed God for giving her to him. Eve blamed not herself or her husband, but that “serpent,” which was the “medium” through which Satan the devil spoke (2 Corinthians 11:3; Revelation 12:9).   As a result, God banished or expelled the couple from the wonderful Garden of Eden, to live a life of misery and suffering. [See: “The Flaming Sword East of Eden.“] God also cursed the serpent Satan, who has since led mankind astray from God’s path.

From that time forward, Adam and Eve produced progeny that brought mostly sorrow and suffering upon themselves.  Our first parents gave birth to history’s first human murderer – Cain, who killed his brother Abel out of jealousy and anger (Genesis 4:1-12).  By the time of their great-great-great-great-grandson Noah, mankind had turned so wicked and evil that the whole earth was “filled with violence” (Genesis 6:13).  This would possibly had obliterated and made extinct both man and beast. God sent a flood throughout the earth that destroyed all of mankind and air-breathing animals, except righteous Noah and his family of eight persons and the animals inside the ark which God told Noah to make. Thus the human “species” was preserved, as were the animal species, to later repopulate the earth.

The next centuries and millennia, however, did not bring about a peaceful and happy civilization to Noah’s succeeding [but failing!]  descendants – including all of us who are alive in this our 21st century. In fact, Jesus described our times today to be “as in the days of Noah” (Matthew 24:37).  Violence would again saturate the earth in such a way that “…unless those days were shortened, no flesh [both human and animal] would be saved [alive]” (Matthew 24:22). [See: “Will our Earth Disintegrate – Ever?” and The Next Chapter of History.”]

The nature of animals

What about the animals?  Genesis 1:20-25 affirms that God created the land and aquatic animals as “good.”  They did not have the wild and ferocious nature that we find many animals to have today.  Adam didn’t have a hard time naming all of the animals (Genesis 2:19), because they were tame and harmless – didn’t bite or claw at him.  Eve was not startled or frightened to see and hear a serpent talking to her!

We can well imagine that, since the curse fell on mankind, the rest of the created order also turned violent, along with mankind.  As human society became “dog-eat-dog” in men’s dealings with one another, so it has become with the animal world or “kingdom.” When watching today’s television programs about wildlife, I can’t help cringing when I see an animal (like a lion) chasing after a hapless antelope, taking it down, tearing it to pieces, and feasting on its flesh and entrails. As a biology student, I had assumed that the “pyramid of life” is God’s design for the natural order.  That “pyramid” has the “lower” forms of animal life in greater numbers as the “prey” or food for the less numerous “higher” forms of life as the “predators.” This was not God’s design! It is the lifestyle of Satan, the great Destroyer.   It is only by God’s permission that this has been happening.  God is in full control!

Human nature changed

We can thank God that He has not left us mankind to our own devices, or else we would become extinct! He has designed or purposed to call a few individuals initially to a different – a Godly – way of life.  He has “elected” or chosen (“hand-picked,” if you will) a few people to become the “first fruits” of His saving work. He started with the nation Israel, but the people of Israel (except for a very few) followed the evil way of all mankind instead.

God then sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to start a new human society – His Church, beginning with the children of Israel and later including “Gentiles” or non-Israelites.  Through His sacrifice at Calvary, Christ offered a way for men to be forgiven of their sins, receive His Holy Spirit and the power to become children of God! To have the same righteous, holy nature as God has.

When Christ returns to earth to claim dominion (Kingship) over all the nations, His Church will become immortal and divine as God is, and will share rule in that kingdom.  Together they will work to bring more children into God’s family through the surviving mortals all through the 1,000 years of Christ’s reign, and beyond. [See: “This Is Not the Only Day of Salvation.”]

Isaiah 11:9 describes the success of that work of re-educating mankind (with Satan then bound and locked up in an abyss),  as the earth being “full of the knowledge of God as the waters cover the sea.”

And animal nature too

Verses 6-9 describes the amazing, miraculous transformation of the nature of animals as it was at the Garden of Eden:

The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, the calf and the young lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them.  The cow and the bear shall graze, their young ones shall lie down together; And the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The nursing child shall play by the cobra’s hole, and the weaned child shall put his hand to the viper’s hole. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain.

 

Isaiah 65:25 echoes the amazing change in the biology (digestive system) and eating habits of presently devouring animals!

Indeed, there will be a great “restitution” (or restoration) of all things (Acts 3:21) as it was “In the beginning…” – in the Garden of Eden. [See: The Next Chapter of History,”  Is Mankind Inherently Evil? World Peace – At Last! and When He Rules the World.  Also see: https://www.herbert-armstrong.org, click ENTER HERE, select “Books & Booklets” and scroll down to the booklets titled “HUMAN NATURE —Did God Create It? and “The Wonderful World Tomorrow – What It Will Be Like.”]

As, in a few days, the Church of God commemorates Christ’s Passover sacrifice and God’s delivering them from their spiritual bondage to sin, their spiritual “Egypt,” may you find added meaning through this article!

 

Pedro R. Meléndez, Jr.
19042024

 

Blessed for Blessing Israel

 

Just recently I viewed with rapt attention a viral series on YouTube, about a heart-warming story of a Dutch man who has lived most of his life in Belgium, and had successive misfortunes while visiting the Philippines.  Bjorn |(his real first name) was featured in a six-part series of interviews/reports by popular TV personality Raffy Tulfo, who is brother to Irwin Tulfo, now elected as a member of the Philippine Senate and appointed as cabinet secretary of the Department of  Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) by current Philippine President, Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr.

Tulfo appears regularly as host for the program “Raffy Tulfo in Action” on TV 5. The series can be accessed through YouTube (YT), by the title “Raffy Tulfo in Action: Bjorn” (Parts 1-6).

An average wage-earner as a welder and operating some business or other on the side, Bjorn became acquainted with some Filipino women on the social media, and agreed to meet up with them one after the other here in the Philippines.

This brought him first to Maasin, a town in Southern Leyte province on the island of Leyte in the Visayas region.  For about a year Bjorn had a relationship with the woman there (Lina), but at the end of that period they broke up when he couldn’t obtain necessary documents for their business/marriage and his money had about run out.  This forced Bjorn to move to nearby Cebu City on the island province of Cebu, a notable commercial and cultural hub in the southern Philippines.  (Cebu has been dubbed “the queen city of the South.”)

After staying 7-8 months with another woman there (Vilma) whom he had known on social media, Bjorn relived the same story of a split-up when his money almost ran out and she dumped him for a moneyed Saudi Arabian guy.  Somehow he was able to scrape up enough money to fly back to Belgium, where he continued to chat up with another female contact in Cebu City.  Having recovered financially in Belgium, Bjorn flew back to Cebu City. This time he lived with this other contact (Shantal) for 5-6 months and,  when the job/business she promised him didn’t pan out, he became practically penniless, and she just disappeared! In a talk with Bjorn, Tulfo described her as a “walker” — a “dame of the night.”

With barely anything to sustain him, Bjorn ended up living on the streets of Cebu City for some five months.  He survived with the help of some street boys (called “Rugby boys” because they got their “high” from inhaling the fumes of a contact cement with the “Rugby” brand), who gave him some food and money. Other people who saw him sleeping on the streets and sides of buildings took pity on him and also handed him food and money whenever they could. Bjorn struck them as a good person [“mabait“]. They saw him give food or money to those who asked him, though he was himself needing help. One landlady mercifully allowed him to sleep at the side of her lodging house, gave him access to her water to shower and wash his clothes, but this arrangement didn’t last long. His job as a stainless steel welder with a small-time shop owner didn’t pay him enough, the owner eventually closed shop, and the landlady “burned the end of her candle.”  She let Bjorn go, and he was back on the streets.

Then, one day a boy and a girl (Kim and Karyle), students at the City Central High School, inadvertently spotted Bjorn sleeping under the shade of a tree, with a folded carton box for a bed, without a blanket and shivering from cold after being soaked by rain. When Bjorn woke up they asked what he – a foreigner and a white man at that – was doing, sleeping on the ground and looking scruffy, and hungry. Moved by his condition, the students scraped up some change and bought him food, which he thankfully received and ate.  With their phone cameras, they took shots of Bjorn in his city haunts and posted them on the internet, in hopes that some people would notice the need, and send help.  One local lady (Lavele) caught sight of the post, contacted the pair and joined them in visiting Bjorn.  A call center agent, Lavele then offered to give Bjorn lodging in an inexpensive pension/guest house, where he could clean up and get decent sleep.  Others who saw the same media post suggested that the pair of students contact Raffy Tulfo on his TV program so Bjorn could get major help.

That’s when things began to really take a turn for the better for Bjorn!

Tulfo’s staff soon flew down to Cebu to meet with  the three benefactors and Bjorn.  To make a long story short, Bjorn was flown to Manila to meet with Raffy Tulfo. He was booked into a nice hotel, brought to a shopping mall to get some new clothes, shoes and a new suitcase. “Idol Tulfo,” as Raffy is also called, paid for all the purchases and the hotel bills.  He also arranged to pay the Bureau of Customs and Immigration  Bjorn’s overstaying penalty (P18,000), bought his plane ticket for his flight back to Belgium, plus pocket money of 1,000 euros. By doing this, Tulfo wanted to show to the world that while there are bad [“balasubas“] Filipinos, there are also a number of kind-hearted [“mababa-it“] Filipinos.  He said, “Because it was some of our own folks that mistreated [nang-walang-hiya kay’] Bjorn, we owe it to him to help him, to make amends [‘bayad, kung baga‘] .” Bjorn has been profuse with his “Thank you; God bless you” remarks to Tulfo and the other folks who have helped him.

When Bjorn first returned to Belgium from Cebu, he became friends with some overseas Filipino workers (OFWs)  there who had watched Tulfo’s earlier on-line series  about his plight. Tulfo’s staff contacted them to request them to to meet Bjorn at the airport on his arrival. Because he had had a bad relationship with his family, who deprived him of his rightful share in the family inheritance and have virtually disowned him, Bjorn has no more place to call home in Belgium. These Filipino folks housed him, strung him along until he could find work and become financially viable again. Bjorn proved that he has the inner strength that kept him from losing his marbles in the face of the severe challenges thrown at him. Bjorn likes the positive attitude of people here and intends to eventually return to the Philippines, find a wife and settle down here for good.

While bidding Raffy Tulfo his final goodbye, Bjorn said: “Thank you very much, ‘Idol,’ for all you’ve done for me! God bless you, and God bless the Philippines!”

That reminded me of a recent article I published on this website, titled One More Voice for Israel. What has this got to do with Bjorn?

Not realized by most, the Dutch people are actually descendants of Zebulun, one of the twelve tribes of  ancient Israel. So are the Belgians, of the tribe of Asher.  You can check this out in my article God’s Kingdom and Israel. See also this link: https://www.herbert-armstrong.org, click ENTER HERE, select “Books & Booklets” and scroll down to the book or booklet titled “The United States and Britain in Prophecy.”

Bjorn’s parting words to Tulfo also reminded me of a song I once heard former Philippine First Lady Imelda Romualdez-Marcos sing on a TV clip (also found in my elementary school music book):

Heaven watch the Philippines, keep her safe from harm!
Guard her sons and her faithful ones in the city and on the farm!
Friendly with America may she always be!
Heaven watch the Philippines and keep her forever free,
And keep her forever free!

While much of the world hates Americans, Britons and Jews, most Filipinos are friendly to them. Many Filipinos may suffer poverty and a low quality of life, but the Philippines gets along well with most other nations, and is way up there when it comes to the “happiness” index.

The greatest blessing of all

To me, the greatest blessing that Filipinos have received for having “blessed Israel” (America) is the gift of true spiritual knowledge  that has come from the work and ministry of the present-day remnant of the true church that Jesus established: the Worldwide Church of God (WCG) with headquarters in Pasadena, Ca., USA, and founded by Herbert W. Armstrong (HWA).  Go back to the Armstrong link mentioned above, and scroll down to the booklets titled “A True History of the True Church” and “The Autobiography of Herbert W. Armstrong.”

I am still in great awe and wonder at the fact that, as a result of my connection with the WCG and HWA, I have come up with this my website (www.pool-of-siloam.com) and have been inspired to write articles that I hope and trust have helped you readers to know and worship our Creator God more! [See: About the Author.]

I can’t feel more blessed, in this life, than being a voice for God in these our end-times!  What blessing may God have in store for the Filipinos who have truly received Christ through the work of the WCG/HWA and mine, and are ready to welcome Him at His soon return to earth to set up God’s everlasting kingdom here?  For a glimpse of this, go back to the above-cited Armstrong link, and select instead “Good News 1934-1986),” then 1960-1969, scroll down to the GN issue of October-November 1966, and turn to the article titled “Why the Philippines?” on pages 7-11, 21-22.  This was written by Arthur W. Docken, then regional director of the WCG regional office in Manila.

God bless us all as we bless Israel!

 

Pedro R. Meléndez, Jr.
23032024

Will Our Earth Disintegrate — Ever?

Somewhere in the back of the mind of many people is the idea that, because of man’s wickedness, God will allow mankind to destroy the earth until it disintegrates into nothingness.  Will this ever happen?  What does God’s word – the Holy Bible teach about this subject?

The best of human minds – scientists, technologists, government leaders, business tycoons, theologians, academicians, etc. – have looked at the state of our planet and our society, and have fearfully concluded that we are on a collision course to total annihilation in the next decade or years.  For one, they point out that several nations have more than enough nuclear weapons in their arsenal to blast this earth into smithereens many times over.  Add to this the mounting global pollution crisis, the agricultural crisis, the health crisis, the racial crisis and other crises you may think of, and the inevitable conclusion is that it is possible that we could lose this earth as a place we call our home! [See: my article “The Next Chapter of History” and https://www.herbert-armstrong.org, click ENTER HERE, select Books & Booklets” and scroll down to the booklets titled “Are We in the Last Days?” “Our Polluted Planet,” “World Crisis in Agriculture,” and “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.”]

Some 2,000 years ago a unique human being – Jesus Christ of Nazareth — had predicted that, in our time, humanity would come to this impasse, unless our Almighty God intervenes in time.  He said: “For then there will be great tribulation, such as has never been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be.  And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened” (Matthew 24:21-22).

Jesus also predicted that, after the symbolic “sixth seal” is opened, great earthquakes will occur in such a way that “every mountain and island was moved out of its place” (Revelation 6:11-12). The apostle Peter was inspired to write: “In the day of the Lord [when Jesus returns to judge the earth] the elements will melt with fervent heat, both the earth and the works in it will be burned up” “ (2 Peter 3:10).  Revelation 21:1 adds, “…the first earth [our present] had passed away.”  If the ”elements” of the earth are burned up by such a horrific fire, will the earth still remain – or will it simply disintegrate – pass away?

Because of this possible scenario, many people believe there’s no other hope but that they will be safely shot up to heaven, and live there forever and ever.  [Go back to the above-cited Armstrong link, and scroll down to the booklet titled “What Is the Reward of the Saved?”]

Just what does the Bible teach about the fate of our beloved planet earth?

Ecclesiastes 1:4 clearly assures us: “But the earth abides forever.” The earth is such a special place to our Creator God that He will make sure it abides forever, despite the horrific fire that will engulf it.  How will He do this?

Isaiah 51:6 says: “The heavens will vanish like smoke, the earth will grow old like a garment.”   Hebrews 1:10-11 also says about the foundation of the earth and the heavens, “They will perish, but You [God] remain; and they will grow old like a garment; like a cloak You will fold them up, and they will be changed.”  It is the “garment – the “cloak” [the outer covering or crust of the earth] – that will be folded up and dissolved by fervent fire, as Peter wrote [see above] and changed into something better!  The inner part or core of the earth, however, will remain, as Ecclesiastes 1:4 assures.

The new “garment with which God will re-clothe the earth is described in Revelation 21:1-3 as a “new earth,” where its surface will have “no more sea.”  Then the “Holy City,” the “New Jerusalem” will come down “out of heaven” to this renewed earth, to become God’s everlasting abode [“tabernacle”] with men [then transformed as ever-living Spirit-children of God].

Before this magnificent event, the earth will have been ruled by Jesus Christ and His glorified saints for a little over 1,000 years.  This will result in not only a wonderful new world of peace, prosperity and joy, but also billions more of divine, glorified children of God. [Go back to the above-cited Armstrong link, and scroll down to the booklet titled “The Wonderful World Tomorrow – What It Will Be Like!” See also: “When He Rules the World.”]

From the New Earth as headquarters, God and His divine family will rule the vastness of the whole universe. Together they will undertake the joyful work of creating “all things new” (Revelation 21:5). What an exciting, magnificent time [eons] that will be!

With such a glorious future, the award-winning writer Pearl Buck fittingly called our planet “The Good Earth.”  Let’s treasure it, too!

 

Pedro R. Meléndez, Jr.
1702202
4

Changing the Times and Law

 

As we start a new year, I believe it would be profitable for readers of this website to know how we, or our particular societies, have come to reckon our times – to use our present calendar.  This is especially significant in light of a prophecy written by an amazing Jewish lad who had survived captivity by the then Babylonian empire of his day, the prophet Daniel. He had been given a vision, by God, of four great “beasts that came up from the Great Sea [the Mediterranean], each different from the other” (Daniel 7:2, NKJV, throughout).  In Verse 7 Daniel describes a “fourth beast” as “dreadful and terrible, exceedingly strong.  It had huge iron teeth, it was devouring, breaking in pieces, and trampling the residue with his feet.”

As students of Bible prophecy understand, the four beasts in Daniel’s vision represented four empirical powers that would come on the whole earth one after the other. The first beast, a lion, represented the Babylonian empire of Nebuchadnezzar.  The second beast, a bear, symbolized the Medo-Persian empire.  The third beast, a goat, represented the Greco-Macedonian empire under Alexander the Great.  The fourth beast, different from the previous ones, looked like a monstrous beast of iron, symbolizing the mighty Roman empire. Verse 20 describes this beast as having “ten horns” [symbolic of kings], and “the other [or another] horn which came up…which spoke pompous words.”

Daniel went on to describe what this fourth beast would do: “He shall speak pompous words against the Most High, shall persecute the saints of the Most High, and shall intend to change times and law, and the saints shall be given into his hand for a time, times and half a time” (Verse 25).  The latter part of this verse speaks about the persecution of the saints – the true people of God, true Christians – who were indeed persecuted and martyred by the Roman power, with the help of an apostate spiritual/religious leader in the space of three and a half years. Another such persecution will take place three and a half years before Christ returns to take control of all the kingdoms of the world, assisted by His glorified saints (Matthew 24:3, 21; compare with Revelation 11:15; 5:10; Daniel 7:27)

How times and law changed

In all of human history there have been two major changes in the reckoning of times [days, months, and years] from what God has revealed in His word, the Holy Bible, as preserved by His chosen people [the Jews] as a part of “the oracles” (Romans 3:2).

The first world leader to set times differently from what God has revealed was the Roman emperor Julius Caesar, who devised what came to be known as the “Julian calendar.” [See: https://en.wikipedia.org>wiki/julian_calendar.]

Later, another world leader, this time a religious one, modified the Julian calendar for its supposed errors.  He was the Roman Catholic Pope Gregory.  He devised what has been called the “Gregorian calendar,” which has been used by most people in the world until today.  [See: https://en.wikipedia,org/wiki/Gregorian_calendar.]

Basic differences

Here are the basic differences between the times of the Gregorian calendar and God’s calendar [see: www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/the-jewish-calendar]:

  1. Day – Most people around the world today reckon their day from 12:00 midnight to midnight of the following day. In contrast, a day as set by the creation narrative of the Bible is reckoned from sunset to sunset of the next day (Genesis 1:5, 8, 13, 19, 23, 31).
  2. Name of days – The Bible simply names the days of the week [of seven days] by number – first, second, etc. (Genesis 1, as above). The Gregorian calendar, however, names the days of the week after some planets and pagan gods and goddesses. [See: https://www.quora.com/What’s-the-history-behind-how-days-of-the-week-and-months-got-their-names.]

Sunday – Domino [“Lord” for the sun-god], thus the Spanish  Domingo.

Monday – Moon goddess Luna, thus the Spanish Lunes.

Tuesday – Tiw, Norse god of war, equivalent to Mars, Roman god of war; thus the Spanish Martes.

Wednesday – Woden, Germanic god, equivalent to the Roman god Mercury; thus the Spanish Miercoles.

Thursday – Thor, Norse god of thunder, equivalent to the Roman god Zeus or Jove;  thus the Spanish Jueves.

Friday – Anglo-Saxon goddess Frigge, equivalent to the Roman Venus or Veneres; thus the Spanish Viernes.

Saturday – Saturn [hidden god, referring to Nimrod]. The Spanish retained the Biblical name of Sabbath, thus Sabado.

3. Months – The Bible calls months by the number, like days of the week – first, second, etc.  The main difference in the way the Bible defines a “month” from the Gregorian calendar, is that the Bible month follows the God-ordained role of the moon  and the sun to mark times, seasons, days – and certainly months (Genesis 1:14).  The Biblical month begins with the new moon, as that faint crescent appears in the sky. The first quarter moon means a full week has passed. A full moon means two weeks have passed, the third quarter moon  means a full three weeks have passed, and the fourth or last quarter moon completes a full month, until the next crescent moon appears for the next month, and so on.  The Gregorian calendar does not follow the Biblical system.  Thus, if you look at some such calendars that list the phases of the moon, they don’t correspond with the lunar cycles. The months of the Bible calendar were changed from the numerical system to names adapted from the Babylonian calendar when the Jews were in captivity in Babylon, but  original  names were based on the agricultural cycles in Israel, notably the month Abib, which means  “ripening barley” [see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aviv] Aviv also came to be known as Nisan (or Nissan) from the Babylonian or Akkadian calendar. Below is a comparison between the Bible months and the Gregorian months:

    • 1st -Abib or Nisan                     March-April
    • 2nd -Iyar                                     April-May
    • 3rd -Sivan                                   May June
    • 4th -Tammuz                             June-July
    • 5th -Av                                        July-August
    • 6th -Elul                                     August-September
    • 7th -Tishri                                  September-October
    • 8th -Heshvan                            October-November
    • 9th -Kislev                                 November-December
    • 10th -Tevet                                December-January
    • 11th -Shivat                               January-February
    • 12th -Adar                                 February-March
    • 13th -Adar II                             March-April

As can be seen above, each Jewish month straddles two months in the Gregorian calendar. Below are the origins of the months in the Gregorian calendar [see:  https://altalang.com/beyond_words/how-did-the-months-get-their-names]:

    • January – Januarius – from Janus, demigod of beginnings and endings
    • February – Februarius – from Febrium, acts of purification by pagan rites
    • March – Martius – from Mars, god of war
    • April – Aprilis –from Aphron,  Aphrodite, goddess of love
    • May – Maius – from Maia, a nymph, goddess of growth
    • June – Junius – from Junos, goddess of war
    • July – Julius – from Julius Caesar
    • August — Augustus — from Augustus Caesar
    • September – Septem – meaning seventh
    • October – Octo, meaning eighth
    • November – Novem, meaning ninth
    • December – Decem, meaning tenth

The last four months were so named, when the first two months were rearranged after December, with March now becoming the first month, and so on.  Interestingly, these last four months coincide with the Jewish months in their order.

Coming — a pure language!

As we can see, there is much confusion and complexity in the naming of days, months, and reckoning of the seasons in our man-made calendars.  Many names are derived from names of pagan gods and goddesses. Time is coming – when Jesus returns to earth to establish God’s everlasting kingdom here – that God will set up a common, pure language (purified of pagan, idolatrous meanings and origins), so that all people can be united in worshiping God  “in Spirit and in truth” (John 4:22).  Zephaniah 3:9 speaks about that wonderful day:  “Then I will restore to the peoples a pure language; that they all may call on the name of the LORD, to serve Him with one accord.

God’s law to be restored

This is to say that God’s law has been taken away!  By whom? The same religious-political world power that Daniel wrote about.  The Roman Catholic Pope has removed the second from God’s Ten Commandments that forbid the worship of and bowing down to graven images, which Catholics do, deny it though they may. To make up for the deficit, the Pope has divided the tenth commandment into two, the ninth now being, “You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife.,” and the tenth now being “You shall not covet your neighbor’s manservant or his female servant, nor his  cattle, nor his ass, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.”

The original fourth commandment (now the Catholics’ third) omits reference to the seventh-day Sabbath and replaces it with “the Lord’s day” — meaning Sunday! The Pope and the Roman emperor have also replaced God’s holy days with pagan festivals.  [See: https://www.herbert-armstrong.org/ click ENTER HERE, select “Books & Booklets,” and scroll down to the booklets titled “The Ten Commandments,” “Which Day Is the Christian Sabbath?” “The Mark of the Beast” and “Pagan Holidays or God’s Holy Days – Which?” and  my article Happy New Year!]

Not only will God’s true calendar be restored by Christ.  He will also restore and enforce all the laws of God in both the Old and New Testaments of the Holy Bible. Isaiah 2:24 declares: “Now it shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain [symbolic of kingdom] of the LORD’s house shall be established on the top of the mountains and shall be exalted above the hills.  And all nations shall flow to it.  Many people shall come and say, ‘Come, let us go to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob, He will teach us His ways, and we shall walk in His paths.’ For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem, and He shall judge between nations, and rebuke many people.”  The result?  “They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks.  Nation shall not lift sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.” [Go back to the above-cited Armstrong link, and scroll down to the booklet titled “The Wonderful World Tomorrow – What it Will Be Like.”]

May God speed that day!

 

Pedro R. Meléndez, Jr.
24012024

Is Sin Inherited?

You shall not make for yourself a carved image – any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generation of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments (Exodus 20:4-6, NKJV, emphasis added).

At first glance, it would seem that sin – the transgression of God’s holy laws “(1 John 3:4), such as that quoted above – is transmitted from one generation to another, apparently by heredity. But this poses a number of questions, not the least of which is finding the genes, if any, that would be responsible for such generational transmission.

A timely and ongoing question is: Is homosexuality [same-sex orientation and behavior] hereditary? Is there a “gay gene?” You can search Google for scientific (or pseudo-scientific?) studies on this subject, and come away with a conclusion ranging from highly tentative to absolutely negative!

Without directly saying so, the Roman Catholic Church has a dogmatic or doctrinal statement of the supposed hereditary nature of sin. This is famously found in the Roman Catholic teaching on the supposed “immaculate conception” of the Jewish virgin Mary, the human mother of Jesus Christ. The RC Church has had to come up with this tenet to try to prove that Jesus was not sinless if He had been borne by a sinful woman – if indeed Mary was not “immaculate” or freed from the stain that all of mankind has inherited from our fallen first parents Adam and Eve, who supposedly committed the “original sin.”[On the matter of “original sin,” see: “Your Eyes Will Be Opened!” and Two Goats Together, especially the section captioned “Satan the father – or author — of sin?” See also:  https://www.herbert-armstrong.org. Click ENTER HERE, select “Books & Booklets,” and scroll down to the booklet titled “HUMAN NATURE– Did God Create It?”]

If indeed Mary was immaculately conceived and therefore sinless, would this make her an exception to the apostle Paul’s famous inspired statement “For ALL have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23) – all, that is, except Jesus Christ (1 Peter 2:21-22; 2 Corinthians 5:21)? Jesus was the “lamb of God” without blemish that was sacrificed for the sin of the whole world (John 1:39) – for our forgiveness or redemption from sin’s penalty, death (Romans 6:23) [see: The Redeemed of the LORD]. As someone pointed out, Jesus’ being without sin was not the product of Mary’s supposed “immaculate conception” but by the fact that He was the very Son of the holy and perfect God the Father. [See: The True Christ.]

How does sin come to human beings?

As explained in the above-cited booklet on human nature, every human sin has someone in the equation who entices and seduces people to sin – Satan the devil, the great tempter (|Matthew 4:3; 1 Timothy 3:5|).  Our first parents sinned because Satan had convinced them [Eve first, then she, Adam] to disobey God’s one prohibition in the Garden of Eden. Paul calls Satan “the prince of the power of the air” who works in “the sons of disobedience, among whom we all conducted ourselves in the lusts of the flesh” (Ephesians 2:2-3).  [See:  Where Did the Devil Come From?]

James 1:12, 14-15 says: “Blessed is the man who endures temptation…. each one is tempted when he is drawn away [from God’s way] by his own desires [KJV, “lusts”] and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.”

Part of the equation of sin is the influence of a sinful society [the “world”] on our sinful flesh — our tendency to sin [see: Is There Ever Any Good in Man?]. Every human baby is like how David said of himself: “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me” (Psalm 51:5).  This is not to say that sin is inherited.  Rather,  it shows that since all parents are sinful |(Romans 3:23), every child, from the womb, absorbs the sounds and impressions of a sinful environment. A human fetus is not totally insensate nor is it unable to perceive! Knowing this, some parents talk to their unborn babies in loving tones and terms. Some even play classical music around the unborn baby so it will later grow up appreciating and desiring this type of music.

While growing up a child learns by imitating the voices and actions of those around him. As a saying goes, “Children are great imitators.” That is why proper parental example, as well as parental teaching,  is vitally important. The environment a child grows up in plays an important role in shaping his attitudes and behavior. [See:   www.saap.za.net/resources/19/51-articles-12-steps-raising-juvenile-delinquent.]

Aside from attitudes and behavior being thus “caught,” they can – and must – be taught. God’s word definitely commands parents: “Teach them [God’s statutes and judgments] to your children and your grand-children. . . that they may learn to fear Me all the days they live on earth” (Deuteronomy 4:8-10). “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6). “And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). [Go back to the above-cited armstrong link,  and scroll down to the booklet titled “The Plain Truth About Child Rearing.”]

Some parents are guilty of saying to their children, “Do as I say, not as I do!” Children are more likely to follow or imitate what their parents do than what parents simply say. If children lack such righteous parental examples, they can look to the righteous examples of others in their community or society. “Remember those who rule over you [pastors and ministers of Christ] who have spoken the word of God to you, whose faith follow, considering the outcome of their conduct (Hebrews 13:7).

Since the advent of the internet and social media providers, parents have faced a challenge to their teaching and instructing children in the right values. Parents must be pro-active in filtering out what moral garbage their children might be viewing or listening to in the social media. [See:  https://everaccountable.com/blog/5-tips-protect-kids-porn/.]

Because all have sinned and have earned sin’s penalty [death in the “lake of fire” (Romans 6:23; Revelation 20:8)], God calls on us all to repent (Luke 13:3, 5; Acts 3:19-21) – to turn from following Satan’s way of sin, to following God’s perfect way of righteousness, as embodied in God’s law and commandments (Psalm 119:172), and to accept with faith Christ’s sacrifice on the cross to pay for the penalty our sins. That is how we are forgiven of our sins and are saved from eternal damnation. Through such mercy of God, He will no longer “visit the iniquity of the fathers upon the third and fourth generation,” who will thus learn to love God and keep His commandments.

Jesus Christ had a number of sinful ancestors [Rahab the harlot or prostitute, King David the adulterer and murderer, David’s descendants, who had their own share of sin (Matthew 1:1-14)]. Their sin, however, did not affect Christ’s moral purity, any more than His mother Mary’s sin did! God’s teaching on this is very clear: “The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself” (Ezekiel 18:20).

This month of December, as the world celebrates what is historically and Biblically the wrong date of Christ’s birth [again revisit the Armstrong link, and scroll down to the booklet titled “The Plain Truth About Christmas”], people should appreciate the stirring message of their favorite carol “Joy to the World.” The rarely-sung third stanza goes: “No more let sins and sorrows grow, nor thorns infest the ground; He comes to make His blessings flow, far as the curse is found, far as the curse is found, far as, far as the curse is found.”

The curse of sin and death is gone because “God so loved the world that He gave us His only begotten Son [Jesus], that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).  Thus God will no longer visit our parents’ iniquity and curse, on the third and fourth generation, but will show mercy to all who love Him and keep His commandments.  All glory be to God!

 

Pedro R. Meléndez, Jr.
16112023/04122023

The So-called “Science” of Gender Identity Affirmation

 

Recently I viewed with keen interest the now viral video (over 4 million views), where American medical doctor James O’Keefe is offering some scientific explanation about “nature’s” design and the necessary role of homosexuality in the proper functioning and survival of the human family and society.  [See: https://singjupost.com/james-okeefe-homosexuality-its-about-survival-not-sex . This is a transcript of O’keefe’s video, included at the end of the transcript, which you can also watch.]

Most comments by viewers were highly positive, and a few had some rather vague reasons for disagreeing with Dr. O’Keefe’s view.  I find myself in the latter category of reactions.  In a word, I would evaluate the famous doctor’s proposition in the same way God, through the apostle Paul, calls certain dubious knowledge as “falsely called science” (1 Timothy 6:20, NKJV) [“science so called,” KJV] .

Why so?  I will try to be as plain as I can be!

In the first place, Dr. O’Keefe is patently a firm believer in the theory of evolution.  Yet, it is a “theory” that has many gaps and inconsistencies it cannot explain!  He views homosexuality as an “evolutionary” occurrence essential to the survival of the human and other species — the “natural order.”

I would strongly recommend that you check out the website of, in my view, a more distinguished and much more credible scientist than Dr. O’Keefe. The website is published by a mechanical and former aerospace engineer and expert in neuro-science and computer science who, for now, goes by the name “Adon.” — https://www.thehighestofthemountains.com. With his scientific expertise he proves beyond any reasonable doubt that evolution cannot be true !  [See also: https://www.herbert-armstrong.org, click ENTER HERE, select “Books & Booklets” and scroll down to the booklets titled “A Theory for the Birds,” “Some Fishy Stories,” and related booklets and other “Reference Materials” on evolution. See also the booklet titled “HUMAN NATURE — Did God Create It?”]

Dr. O’Keefe proposes that everyone – especially family, friends, schoolmates and workmates – should “affirm” or accept a homosexual person who may be outwardly obvious or who “comes out” as such.  That we should rather accentuate the positive benefits to family and society of the “otherness” of that person, and eliminate negative reactions such as shaming, censure, rejection – even violence.  That one’s homosexuality should not be a reason for that person to be – and feel – unloved.

In this case we could use the cliché “Love the sinner, hate the sin.” Unhappily, I don’t get the full sense of this from Dr. O’Keefe’s video. Instead I get the impression that the doctor is recommending that we condone or overlook the sin!  He does not consider the harmful effect it may have on the person and/or on the others he consorts with.

Far too often religion or belief in a God who has laid down absolute moral standards or laws regarding same-sexual orientation and behavior is pinned as the cause of the homosexual person’s feeling of unwellness – clinically termed “gender dysporia,” in some cases leading to suicidal thoughts (“ideation”), suicide attempts, if not actual suicide. Thus, the Biblical injunctions against same-sex conduct and transgenderism, like cross-dressing, are brushed aside as some backward vestiges of long-gone “dark age” mentality! [See: The Rainbow Connection.]

I believe my above-cited article gives a gracious and compassionate but also Bible-affirming view on the issues about the LGBTQ+ community.  I also deal with the matter in The Conversion Therapy Controversy, Should Everyone Be Allowed to Be Who They Are?  Can it Be Wrong When it Feels so Right?  and  Is Mankind Inherently Evil?

May God give you a sound-minded understanding of the serious gender identity crisis of today!

 

Pedro R. Meléndez, Jr.
O2112023

One More Voice for Israel

 

 

As I write [21 October 2023], the hottest world news is the ongoing war between Hamas and Israel or the Jews, now in its second week. In the midst of this great chaos, voices are heard favoring one side or the other. Well, let me add my voice to the chorus of those who are in support of Israel or the Jews in this conflict!

What is my reason, or are my reasons, for doing so?

I would summarize my view in what the apostle Paul wrote about Israel, in Romans 11. He began by asking: “Has God cast away His people [Israel]?” His reply:“Certainly not!” (Verse 1.) In Verse 26 Paul concluded: “And so all Israel will be saved.”

One important reason for God doing so is that, while Israel as a nation has been and on the whole still are “enemies” of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, they are, however, “beloved [by God] for the sake of the fathers” [Abraham, Isaac and Jacob] (Verse 28).

God tested Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in their own times and found them faithful to the end [see: The Children of Abraham].  As a result, God gave them irreversible [unconditional] gifts and calling (Verse 29), and that is, that through their seed or offspring – the people of Israel – the whole of mankind will be blessed (Genesis 12:3; 18:18; 22:18).  God also promised the possession of the land of Canaan — where Israel and Jerusalem are — as their inheritance forever (Genesis 35:11-12; Psalm 105:10-11).

In order to fulfill this purpose, God has saved Israel from their troubles despite their often disobedience whenever they called out to Him. Even in these our “end times” He will do the same for Israel. In a prophecy about our times, Zechariah12:2-3. 9 declares:

Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of drunkenness [KJV, “trembling”] for the surrounding nations when they lay siege against Judah [the Jews, for short] and Jerusalem. It shall happen in that day that I will make Jerusalem a very heavy stone for all peoples, and all who would heave it away will surely be cut it in pieces, though all nations of earth are gathered against it…I will set to destroy the nations that come against Jerusalem.

Zechariah 14:2-3 also says: “For I will gather all the nations to battle against Jerusalem… then the LORD will go forth, and fight against those nations.” And God will surely overcome them!

Christ will come in time to save Jerusalem, because it is His city! It is here where He will establish His throne, from which to rule the whole world with His glorified saints and Israelites, after His return. Isaiah 2 :1-3 prophesies about this, as does Zechariah 8:23. As a result of nations knowing and keeping God’s laws, there will be universal peace and prosperity (Verses 4-5)! [See: When He Rules the World.]

The bottom line

God’s promise to Abraham and to his descendants [certainly including Israel today] is: “I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse those who curse  you” (Genesis12:3). Zechariah 2:7-9 says that “he who touches you [Zion/Jerusalem/Israel] touches the apple of His eye [in reference to Israel (Deuteronomy 32:10)]. For surely I will shake My hand against them, and they shall become spoil for their servants.”

Will you be for or against Israel in today’s Middle East crisis?  Do you want to be blessed and not cursed? Then, add your voice too for Israel!

Psalm 122:6 well sums it all – “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem. May they prosper who love you.” [See: God’s Kingdom and Israel.]

 

Pedro R. Meléndez, Jr.
21102023