Click for Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.
I’m sad to report that at this point in time, I’m still dealing with some of the fallout from my prior assembly as they just can’t fathom how I could leave and why (still). Although I’ve explained in the best way that I could and in many ways, this consistent phrase barrels through my mind on a continuous loop:
“There are none so blind as to those who will not see.”
They will not. Even though what I’ve said is hard to dispute… and in their defense, it’s more than that-
…it’s fear. I know from experience.
I believe that their desire is and was for me to stay and battle it out with the hopes of getting me to change my mind and right now, this is laced with anger at my resistance to even try. It’s almost as if I was in an all consuming, fiery building and their anger is not why I fled the inferno, but why I didn’t stay to fight it.
Maybe that could have been the case. But, I didn’t have the tools to undertake the battle at the time- I had no other choice but to jump.
Yesterday, as I ran some errands and as always, communed with my Heavenly Father at the same time, an unusual sequence of thoughts came to mind regarding Ray Comfort and the Way of the Master. I always thought there was something “off” about it all even though I couldn’t exactly put my finger on it (this is despite the fact that I was an avid reader and consumer of all their materials).
But now I know.
In my back-and-forths with prior members of my congregation, I always seem to fall back on the covenants and the shifty ground Evangelicalism stands upon regarding them. It is imperative that we understand these ‘agreements’ between Yahweh and man (or, in some cases, no man) for our faith rides upon much of this understanding.
Regarding Ray Comfort and TWOTM, it always bothered me that he used the law in an attempt to manipulate people into ‘repenting’. Now, I hardly doubt he would appreciate the language that I’ve used here and I mean no disrespect as I’m confident he’s a very nice man and his intentions are seemingly good. I'm positive that he doesn’t want anyone to perish (neither do I), however, if we don’t understand the covenants as detailed in the scriptures, we will go about it all wrong.
And when this method of evangelism hits the streets it’s akin to walking up to a person and accusing them of not abiding by the terms of a “contract”. Any normal person’s response would be to say, “What contract?!”
Take a moment and imagine you are walking down a sidewalk enjoying the day, when a man approaches you with a legal document and a pen and asks you why you haven’t been abiding by the requirements of said contract. He then uses the pen to point out all of the ways that you breached this contract and because you breached this contract you will now spend eternity tormented under God’s holy wrath after you die.
Can you imagine it? Because this is very close to the methods used by TWOTM.
The issue is this- Ray Comfort is very skilled in what he does. He has a vast amount of experience approaching people and cornering them into a place where they have to psychologically or biblically fight their way out (and look like a complete scumbag in the process, I mean, who wants to go to hell or be indifferent to it?) or succumb to the fight and give in (and thus be the hero of their own destiny).
But does he then get people to sign the contract and from there they agree to commit themselves to the precepts and boundaries of the agreement he’s holding up to them? No. They just need to ‘repent’ and place their faith in JC. They are instructed to read a bible and attend church- a win for Evangelicals! Yee haw!
When anyone is going about their day and comes across someone like Ray Comfort, they aren’t in the right frame of mind (usually) for a theological debate on the spot. If we’re being honest, most of us wouldn’t be. The nature of theology is deep in itself and a 10-15 persuasive conversation really isn’t going to cut it the majority of the time, but all of these things are used to TWOTM’s advantage, with the hopes of getting the person to think, at the very least, about their eternity.
So, how is that bad?
It’s not- it's not bad for anyone to think about their eternity. The issue that came to mind yesterday during my errands is that most people encountered on the street have not agreed to this “legal contract” and this is fraud in a sense. What do you call getting unsuspecting people to believe something that isn’t true about themselves or something they’ve done that they haven’t? If this person knew better (not through any fault of their own), they would counter Ray’s accusation and tell him that they never agreed to any such thing. A two-party contract is, just that- two parties. One party signs and then the second party signs, and then they both shake hands and mutually agree to abide by the requirements of the contract. Isn’t this simple knowledge? Don’t we all know what a contract involves?
Because that’s what the Mosaic covenant is. A two-party contract.
“If you do this, I’ll do that…” says Yahweh, Elohim of Israel.
I was born in the last century as I’m sure most of you all reading this were too. Do you remember agreeing to a two party contract when you were born? No? Yeah, me neither.
It’s critical to understand the covenants and their respective “signs” starting all the way back to Adam. From there, we have the one-sided (or one party) contract where Yahweh promises to send a Savior in response to humanity’s fall. The sign? I suppose the sign was “Jonah” but we aren’t told that until Messiah’s arrival, but in Genesis, maybe it was the bruising of the heel? (Hey, I’m not an expert by any means and I would love to hear some input on the matter!) Not that I understand it fully at this time, I just know and read what I read in Genesis 3.
The next covenant, Noah- if you build a boat, I’ll shut the doors when the rain falls and the water springs up. Two-party contract.
Abraham? One-party contract. Yahweh declares that He would become the father of many nations regardless of Abraham. The sign- circumcision.
Mosaic? Two-party contract. Yahweh does this, Israel does that. The sign- Sabbath.
New? Two-party? One-party? Jeremiah reports in chapter 31 that Yahweh says, “I will” several times. He will implant His law upon hearts (where the implantation will create a love and desire to obey them) in the houses of Israel and Judah and their sins (law-breaking) will be remembered no more.
In Matt. 26:28, Yahshua declares that His blood ratifies the new covenant where the sins (law-breaking) of Israel will be forgiven. This work is done by Him alone, so I would guess the new covenant is a one-party contract? The sign- Holy Spirit.
Is it possible that spiritual comprehension of what the Son of Yahweh has done to procure deliverance is the catalyst to love? If we love Him, we obey, correct? Is this how the love for His ways is fleshed out in the new covenant once we are grafted in? It “seems” two-party to me (our faith, His promise), but I could be wrong. But what I do know, is that the Mosaic covenant was definitely an agreement made between Elohim and Israel.
Adam condemned humanity, banishing them to the law of sin and death. In response, Yahweh promised a Savior. Abraham comes along and the Savior is declared to come through this line thereby making him the father of many nations. Over time, Yahweh then chooses Moses to lead this foundling newborn nation out of Egypt into the wilderness where He can marry them there and give to them the bounds of the marital contract, the sign that they have agreed to this marriage is the Sabbath. They break said contract, so Yahweh sets up a new one where there will be a people who will be supernaturally implanted with a love and desire to abide by His marital contract (when His Son arrives) because of the Holy Spirit. The sign of His arrival is Jonah and the blood that is spilled ratifies the new contract, enacting the covenant laid out in Jeremiah, thus retroacting the marital contract given at Sinai through love for it, and this blood reinstates our relationship with our Creator thereby releasing us from the law of sin and death from Adam. It all comes full circle, doesn’t it?
Now, I haven’t looked into any future or eschatological covenants with regards to prophecy or anything like that. This is a very brief and child-like approach to where we are right now over two-thousand years from the cross. But the point is, holding up a contract to unsuspecting people (a marriage contract, no less, with no "grafting" in) and demanding to know why they broke it, seems a bit… well… silly, doesn’t it? At the very least, misplaced?
These are the truths I’ve tried to share (if I’m wrong, please- please explain how), but it’s very hard for Evangelicals to come to grips with this because they are dripping in this method of evangelism. And I commend them for their zeal to save people, truly. It’s a zeal we should all share! And there is no “but” right there. It’s the truth, the end.
My contention is they won’t listen to what’s being said because of fear and pride. The cognitive dissonance is very strong. We don’t want to be considered “Sabbath keepers”, or be accused of trampling Messiah underfoot or “putting ourselves” under a curse. Or to be called “foolish” or “bewitched” by those who twist or erroneously understand various parts of the scriptures. When it comes to Galatians, I’ve had so much beef with so many bible teachers teaching it throughout the years and how they bend it to fit their agenda. And, this was wayyyyy before I came to understand what I understand now (and what I know now makes it so much worse).
Paul said in Acts quite a few times that he never violated Torah, even post Cross and he was no liar (Peter said it too). Coupling this with the fact that he was the writer of Galatians is a real mind-bender! But I’m getting sidetracked. This post is about the Sabbath.
To start, I want to be clear that this isn’t going to be a historical treatise on how the Sabbath was abolished (by man, not Yah), this is about how I came to understand the incredible beauty of it and what it truly means for me. With that being said, this is not to say that you shouldn’t seek to know why Evangelicals don’t set it apart; truly, everyone should know this uncontested truth (and by uncontested, just about everyone knows that on March 7th, 321 a MAN declared that the Sabbath was over, not God and nobody gives a rip about this (I didn’t), but that’s all beside the point).
In the past, for reasons that used to be unknown to me, the Sabbath was always viewed in the negative and we certainly know that it isn't the norm to observe amongst those in American churches due to this mysterious 'negative' view surrounding it. For the most part, those who were and are Sabbatarians- they’re not only odd people, they’re people in error. They’re a people who didn't and don’t understand the 'biblical truth' that our rest is in Jesus; therefore, we no longer need to observe times, days, or seasons any longer (Colossians). Worse than all this, they have put themselves back under a curse (gasp!).
Like I keep saying over and over, “back” to what?
They must not know that the sign that the Israelite God gave to His people was over at the cross, the American church says. Even though it is recorded many times that this was a sign between Him and His people forever (a perpetual sign), and that didn’t, and does not, appear to matter at all.
The truth is, it does and did matter. All the way up to that pesky little date in March I mentioned earlier when a man decided that it didn't.
A Different Man
I didn't believe that we needed to observe the Sabbath for thirty years because, A.) I wasn't taught to, B.) I was told all my life that it wasn't necessary, and C.) I was indoctrinated against it with this idea that I would be cursed if I did (talk about a stronghold!).
However, just because of those things, this didn't mean that it didn't hold any significance as we know that everything in the scriptures is for our learning, including Sabbath. Evangelicals are aware of and know that the 7th day is special because Genesis tells us so. But we are taught that it was the cross that changed everything, the ushering in of the New Covenant that changed everything, the coming of Messiah that changed everything.
Besides, the Sabbath was part of the "old" covenant, a part of the Mosaic Law, and Christians don't have any part in those things because of that cross. Right? But as with most things that have come to light over this journey, it starts with a small spark of truth that eventually turns into a burning flame.
And, there was a man who came into my life that ignited that spark… A small spark containing a small word: 'mankind'.
From the very lips of this Man, he said-
“Mankind was not made for the good of the Sabbath. The Sabbath was made for the good of mankind.”
I don't think we can truly grasp how good our Heavenly Father is. His benevolence toward His creation. All His laws, ordinances, precepts and testimonies are for our utmost good and for all of mankind. To be blunt- we are FOOLS to not believe this.
Why is it bad to take one day, the day that He prescribed, to unplug from this world and simply... rest. To take one day to shut everything out, enjoy our families, eat good food, and get refreshed. Why is it bad to do this realistically and not symbolically?
Why are we taught that doing this cancels out the cross, or diminishes the cross, or curses us?!
Why do congregants look sideways, or wide eyes fill with fear, when the subject of Sabbath keeping comes up? Why are we IMMEDIATELY prepared to fight? I believe it's because of three things- 1.) we don't understand it and, 2.) the majority is against it (and who wants to go against the majority?) and, 3) we are lied to about it in the worst way.
Who is the father of lies? Who is the one that seeks our destruction? Who is the one that doesn’t want us to unplug from the world and commune with our Creator even for a second? Who is the one that hates this sign between Yahweh and His people? Who is the one that wants you to do all the things the world does?
The great Adversary who hates mankind and who hates Israel. And although he plays a big part in this rebellion and making it his duty to get us to rebel, that’s all I’m going to say about him.
We used to have a great time in our congregation planning and dreaming about a place where we could come together as a community someday and live. We hesitated to call it a ‘commune’ because we know what that word entails and we also know that communes rarely work out (except for maybe the Bruderhof, but that’s a separate story), but we had fun talking about the possibilities of it nonetheless.
We even made ‘rules’ that we would abide by in the commune and one of those rules was that we had to wear a uniform- soft cushy loose-leg knit pant suits for the women (same print to be worn per family unit) and all denim for the men (you would think we were a bunch of man-haters to do that, but it was all in good fun! haha!). This was so that when we went out evangelizing there would be no mistake what we were all about, kind of like the Catholics, you know? I mean, who can’t recognize a nun in a heartbeat?! And that was our hope, that we could eventually be known by what we wear and that we were there to give the Gospel of JC to anyone and everyone.
Pretty lofty, no?
We had some good laughter with it and over time, when someone would do something really wrong or really right, it would be immediately established right then and there whether or not that action would be ‘part’ of our future commune and then we’d all laugh some more. Now, we’d never pull these antics in public for fear that someone would take us seriously and then lo’ and behold, we’re front and center on the evening news so, this was most definitely an inside joke of the highest order since we didn’t want that.
It was all just harmless fun. But, in the deepest part of my heart, I longed for a uniform. Something to show the world what I was about upon first sight. I didn’t want to hide my light under a basket, I wanted to live and move and have my being in the world as a bearer of the Great Light and to be seen by all. This may sound prideful to some. Maybe an accusation of drawing attention to myself could be rightly placed. But truly, I didn’t want that. I simply and desperately wanted to share and preach the Good News to all and maybe, just maybe what I wore would help facilitate that in some way.
But if you're not Amish/Mennonite or Catholic, there is nothing that is going to make people say, “Ahhh, would you look at that. A follower of Christ walks among us…” Sure, I could wear a necklace sporting a metal cross or drive my ride with a fish emblem or even get tattooed, but that means nothing because everybody does those things. There is NOTHING unique about those “signs”. On top of all that, they are not ordained by Almighty God in all of scripture to do those things!
So, what is the uniform of Yahweh’s people?
Well, the sign of circumcision as a spiritual child of Abraham could be one. Buuuut, that’s in the heart so people can’t see that.
What about the new covenant? If we have the Holy Spirit, I suppose people could decipher that we don’t act like the world (or at least we shouldn’t) and that we go to church, read our Bibles, share the Gospel? But what else? Honestly, believers in the American church don’t really look any different at all. How would anyone outside your family know you go to church? Or read your Bible unless you tell them? It’s not anything they can see which is very similar to a circumcision of the heart mentioned above.
When you place your faith in the work of Yahshua and become endowed with the Holy Spirit which implants a love for Yahweh and you want to enter into covenant with His Son and become His bride making Yahweh your father, this initiation from a new spiritual birth into His Kingdom is where you become a citizen that AGREES to abide by the laws of His kingdom. And you now have access to the Father thereby releasing you from the law of sin and death given through Adam… in this, you take on the uniform of the Sabbath. This is the sign that you are a worshiper of Yahweh.
There is no other “visible” sign to the outside world mandated through scripture that you belong to Him, that you worship Him and are in a covenant with Him. We weren’t physically born into a covenant with Him, we were born into a prison, bound by the law of sin and death that Messiah REDEEMS us from and when we covenant with Him, we get to celebrate that redemption every. single. seventh day. Honestly, we can celebrate that every day, but outwardly, we join with all of Yahweh's people on Shabbat for refreshment, rememberance and rest.
I suppose one could ask, “Are you telling me that I haven't sinned in my life? If I am not bound to any covenant, or haven’t been bound, what is my sin? My response to that would be a question in return: does it matter? Paul tells us plainly in Romans that every man is condemned under Adam.
Condemned. Every man.
We are born owing a debt that requires redemption.
This is one of the reasons it was so crucial for Paul to tell the Jewish believers in the Roman church that being Torah observant didn't and wouldn’t save them. Apart from Yahshua, they were still condemned. This goes back to the truth I spoke about in the previous post that even if you kept Torah perfectly your whole life, it still would not save you. What saves us is our faith in Messiah and His work (promised back in Genesis). This is what supernaturally enables us with the Holy Spirit to enter into abiding by His laws because we can now in spirit with newness.
Why would we want to do this? It's the same answer to the question of why a husband would want to be faithful to his wife- out of love! We obey because we love. We are spiritually enabled to choose to be law-abiding citizens in His kingdom because of love and we know that He loved us FIRST.
And every seventh day, we get to show the world our love for Him. When we physically take this day to bask in that love, the refreshment pours down like rain. Then, we march ahead into the week wearing that uniform, wrapped in that love.
You might be wondering, but how is this a "uniform"? If we study carefully the word usages in Exodus 31:13-14, Yahweh declares that keeping the Sabbath is "holiness" to us (if we're grafted in) - the word here used, "kadesh" versus "kodesh".
Listen to what Tom Bradford states in his lesson on this chapter that I read just today which is so interesting-
"Kodesh does NOT mean holy... this is poor scholarship. In Hebrew "kadash" means holy. So if kodesh, which is the word used here in verse 14, does not mean "holy", what does it mean? It means “holiness”. Most literally this verse reads “Keep the Sabbath because it is holiness for you”.
So what’s the difference? Am I splitting hairs? Not really. The way it is normally translated vs. 14 means to our minds: "I want you to keep the Sabbath, because I made it holy and therefore you are to consider it holy, and are to observe it BECAUSE it is a holy day". Right? Ah. But, that’s not the meaning.
Here’s what it DOES mean: "I want you to keep the Sabbath, because not only did I declare it holy, but the Sabbath clothes you in a state of holiness in my eyes when you obey Me and observe it.”
Do you see the difference?"
Pretty incredible isn't it?! Link to the lesson can be found HERE. Exodus has been an amaaaaazing study through The Seed Of Abraham and it's been very enriching to learn all the ways it's been picturing the coming Messiah. The physical representation all fleshed out for our learning and how it impacts the spiritual for us has been really incredible.
I want to close this article with one more scripture reference in Isaiah. Listen carefully what he tell us-
“Yahweh says: Act justly and do what is righteous, because My salvation is coming soon, and My righteousness will be revealed.
Happy is the one who does this, the person who holds it fast, who keeps the Sabbath, not making it impure, and avoids doing any evil.
Don’t let the foreigner who has joined with Yahweh say, “Yah will exclude me from the people.” And don’t let the eunuch say, “I’m just a dry tree.”
Yahweh says: To the eunuchs who keep My sabbaths, choose what I desire, and remain loyal to My covenant.
In My temple and courts, I will give them a monument and a name better than sons and daughters.
I will give to them an enduring name that won’t be removed.
The foreigners who have joined Me, serving Me and loving My name, becoming My servants, everyone who keeps the Sabbath without making it impure, and those who hold fast to my covenant:
I will bring them to my holy mountain, and bring them joy in My house of prayer. I will accept their entirely burned offerings and sacrifices on My altar.
My house will be known as a house of prayer for all peoples, says Yahweh Elohim, who gathers Israel’s outcasts.
I will gather still others to those I have already gathered. -Ch. 56
--May the peace of Yahweh through His Son be upon you all. Thank you for reading.