Sunday, January 22, 2017

New President Donald Trump

On Friday, January 20, 2017, Donald Trump became president of the United States. Just as significantly, Barack Obama is no longer president.

It was a narrow election. It was not narrow in the Electoral College, but it was narrow in a few states that decided the election. And Hillary Clinton won the popular vote.

This was Hillary Clinton's loss as much or more than Donald Trump's victory. This election was very much a vote against the liberalism of Barack Obama, which would continue with Hillary Clinton, plus the apparent corruption of Hillary Clinton.

This nation has been losing its freedoms under President Obama, and that trend would no doubt have continued under Hillary Clinton. President Trump will put somewhat of a brake on the loss of freedom. I figure that his election gives us about a four-year breathing space, a kind of window of opportunity, in which freedom of speech, press, and religion will still largely be intact.

It may last longer than four years - it may be eight years.

But the liberals will never give up. They have an anti-God, anti-religion, anti-family, and anti-freedom agenda. In some respects, it seems some of them may even have an anti-United States agenda. They will continue the fight.

Donald Trump's presidency can help bring about the fulfillment of Bible prophecy concerning Europe. The Europeans view Trump negatively. Some of them no doubt feel that he is not fully committed to defending Europe.

And this can motivate Europeans into building a powerful military. If they feel they cannot depend on the United States for their protection, they will feel they need to make whatever sacrifices necessary to build a strong military to protect themselves.

President Trump is a deal-maker. That is his lifelong background. He has confidence in his ability to negotiate deals. And in the business world he has been successful.

He may want to negotiate deals with Russia's Vladimir Putin, and he may feel confident he can advance the United States's interest by negotiating deals with Putin.

But that is a different ballgame than the business environment President Trump is used to.

Putin will make deals, then break them. He is experienced in the world, not of business, but of politics, military force, secret police, covert operations, and some very unsavory actions. He is experienced in Russian power struggles where losers often lose their lives. Putin has risen to power in a much tougher, harder environment than Donald Trump. The Russians can be very tough negotiators.

While President Trump may feel he can use his negotiating experience to make deals with Putin, Putin may feel he can take advantage of Trump's confidence in and reliance on his deal-making ability to America's disadvantage.

We will see.

There is a possibility that there are Islamic terrorist cells in the United States that have restrained themselves, or been restrained by their Islamic controllers, to not make terrorist attacks during President Obama's terms of office. They may soon be released to carry out attacks. If so, they may wait long enough for President Trump to be seen as responsible for security arrangements. They may want to undermine him, not Obama.

So during the next four years, we may continue to have the freedom to preach the gospel and the Ezekiel warning. At the same time, we may see Europe become stronger militarily. And we may once again have massive Islamic terrorist attacks in the United States, more than in the last eight years.

And on top of all that, there is a looming economic crisis. We are set up for some kind of catastrophe because of our massive debt. The situation is complex, and no one knows for certain when there may be a collapse or the details of how it will occur and the exact consequences. This crisis may occur in the next four years.

But if it does, it will be the result of the policies of the Obama administration that has put the nation's economy in such a precarious state.

The year 2017 looks to be interesting in more ways than one.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Relations between Philadelphians and Laodiceans, and the Future of God's Work

Some see the need for the Church of God to preach the gospel to the world and the Ezekiel warning to Israel with greater power than we are doing now. The Church is preaching the gospel to the public, but not as effectively and as extensively as we need to be doing. Our growth is too slow to reach the majority of the people at the rate we are going before the tribulation begins.

What is the solution? How can we do God's end-time work with greater power and effectiveness?

Some may think, "We cannot preach the gospel with power because we are divided into many scattered groups and fellowships. We need to come together and have unity - then we will successfully preach the gospel with greater power."

Unity is fine, provided you don't pay a price of compromise with God's law and way of life to achieve that unity.

But unfortunately, in this Laodicean era, most groups are not Philadelphian. And it is only the Philadelphians who are promised an open door for preaching the gospel (Revelation 3:7-8). See my post titled "Philadelphia's Open Door - Does It Apply to Individual Members?", dated September 17, 2014, for evidence that the open door refers to preaching the gospel. Here is a link:

Philadelphians should never try to increase their power to preach the gospel by combining with Laodiceans IF such combination requires compromising with God's way of life and the teaching of the Bible.

If no compromise is required, fine. We can cooperate. We can share copyrights. We can share TV studio facilities. We can pray for each other. We can share information and advice.

But Philadelphians who follow the Bible teaching of recognizing and submitting to top-down governance by those God has appointed and made known by the fruits should never compromise with God's government by placing any part of their work or the tithes and offerings God has entrusted to them under the authority of someone chosen by the voting of men.

"But we need to unite and come together to preach the gospel with power. We need the added resources that Laodiceans can contribute, and thus we need to combine with them", some might say.

No, we don't. We don't need man's help to preach the gospel, we need God's help.

"So he answered and said to me: 'This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: "Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit," says the Lord of hosts' " (Zechariah 4:6).

Remember the lesson of Gideon's army. God did more with Gideon's 300 men than the original 32,000 could have done by their human power alone (Judges 7:1-8).

And Laodiceans have little more than human power to contribute to preaching the gospel to the world, for God does not promise them an open door.

This is what Christ says to Laodicea: "So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth" (Revelation 3:16).

But to Philadelphia, Christ says: "I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name" (Revelation 3:8).

Philadelphians need to remain separate from Laodiceans, not combine with them.

If Laodiceans come to Philadelphians and submit to the top-down governance that Philadelphians have and are willing to learn from Philadelphians, fine. That may be a first step towards the repentance Christ commands Laodiceans to practice (Revelation 3:19).

And if Laodiceans want to remain separate, yet cooperate with Philadelphians, as I said before, there may be ways to cooperate with them without compromising with God's law. But we should never combine and be unequally yoked with them. We should never be with unrepentant Laodiceans in or under the same corporate, legal structure, while they practice governance by the voting of men - not in any way.

If Laodiceans want to come to Philadelphians, submit to top-down governance, and be taught by Philadelphians, fine. Let them come to us. And that may happen to a degree if God shakes up the Churches of God through trials.

But we should not go to them and compromise with their ways (Jeremiah 15:19).

"Therefore 'Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you' " (2 Corinthians 6:17).

"Thus says the Lord: 'Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart departs from the Lord. For he shall be like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see when good comes, but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land which is not inhabited. Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is the Lord. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river, and will not fear when heat comes; but its leaf will be green, and will not be anxious in the year of drought, nor will cease from yielding fruit' " (Jeremiah 17:5-8).

We should never trust men, even Church of God ministers, to select a top leader by voting, but should trust in God to choose our leaders and make His choice known by the fruits. This is the pattern in the Bible.

Just as true Philadelphians should trust in God to choose our leaders, not trusting in the judgment and voting of man, so we should trust in God, not man, to give us the resources and ability and open doors to preach the gospel to the world.

Here is a link to an additional post in this blog that is related to this subject:

"Does the Church of God Need to Unite to Do a Powerful Work?", dated July 19, 2013, link:

Here are links to related chapters or sections in Preaching the Gospel:


Sunday, December 25, 2016

Is Christmas Difficult?

How difficult is it for you to abstain from observing Christmas? Do you feel strong pressure, pressure that you find difficult to resist, to compromise with God's law by participating in Christmas celebrations at this time of the year?

For some in the Church of God, the answer might be yes, there is strong pressure, and abstaining from all Christmas participation is difficult. This can be true for new members and prospective members who are just coming out of a Christmas tradition. They may feel pressure from family members and friends, even coworkers at work, to participate in the keeping of Christmas in some way.

But probably for the majority of people in the Church of God, it is not that difficult. For those who have given up Christmas many years ago, Christmas is no longer a tradition. They are accustomed to the new traditions of the Church of God: Passover, unleavened bread, the holy days, and the Feast of Tabernacles. Their friends and relatives outside the Church already know they do not keep Christmas. And for many who have grown up in the Church, Christmas was never a part of their traditions.

Yet, for many people in the world, giving up Christmas can be very difficult. And those are the people we preach a message to when we preach the gospel and the Ezekiel warning to the world.

By teaching them the way of God on television, in print, in public Bible lectures, and on the Internet, we are teaching them to give up Christmas and the wrong traditions and ways of this world and to keep God's commandments and learn to live by every word of God, the Bible.

We must not forget the difficulties they face coming out of this world. We should remember them in our prayers, those being called by God to come out of this world.

With Christmas, if they have grown up in a religious family, their family members may feel offended when they are told by someone being called by God through the work of the Church that they will no longer exchange presents or sit down at a Christmas dinner with their family. There are all kinds of pressures and enticements such family members can use to try to persuade prospective members and new members to compromise.

And that is just Christmas. There are other things like Easter, Halloween, New Years, and birthdays. There are clean and unclean meats. There is just the general behavior of a Christian or one in the process of repenting and becoming ready for baptism vs. the behavior patterns of the world. Friends and relatives will think it strange that a new person coming into the truth no longer is willing to participate with them in their Christmas parties and other practices of the world. They will think it strange when a person repenting of such things says that Christmas is pagan and is an abomination to God.

"For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles—when we walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries. In regard to these, they think it strange that you do not run with them in the same flood of dissipation, speaking evil of you" (1 Peter 4:3-4).

All these things can exert pressure and be a temptation for someone coming out of the world in response to our message on TV, in print, and on the Internet.

Just because it is easy for some of us to avoid Christmas because we have been in the Church of God for a long time does not mean it is easy for those coming into the truth for the first time.

But when we preach the gospel to the world, we are asking them to face these difficulties and overcome them.

We are asking them to face a trial and do something difficult that we are not required to do right now.

How should we respond to this?

First, we should remember to pray for those responding to our message, that God will strengthen and help them to come out of the ways of this world.

Second, we should remember their trial when we face difficulties in overcoming and doing God's work.

Though Christmas may not be hard for us, other things can be hard for us. It can be hard for us to continue to grow and to overcome bad habits. It can sometimes be hard for us to forgive, with all our heart, a brother or sister who has offended us (Matthew 18:34-35). It can be hard to make the sacrifices in money, time, and sometimes friendships to support the preaching of the gospel to the world. It can be hard to draw closer to God with prayer, Bible study, meditation, and fasting, and to spend more time seeking God than we spend with entertainment and recreation such as movies, TV, and games.

But we have to do these things. We have to do what is hard. And when we are faced with things that are difficult, it might be helpful to call to mind the difficulties of those who are being called into the truth because of our message. As they must overcome difficulties and do what is hard, so we must do the same. Each of us has his or her own difficulties and trials to face.

"Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it" (Matthew 7:13-14).

There may be a connection between our willingness to face and overcome difficulties in obeying God and our ability to preach the gospel to the world.

When we preach the gospel and the Ezekiel warning, we are asking the general public to do what is hard for them. But God requires us to do what is hard for us. We have to be willing to face our trials and temptations with the same courage and zeal to obey God as we are asking the public to do to face their trials and temptations in coming out of the ways of this world, such as Christmas. If we ask them to do what is hard, we must also do what is hard.

We must not be like the Pharisees, who placed heavy burdens on others they were not willing to carry themselves.

"For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers" (Matthew 23:4).

If we preach the gospel to others, if we support such preaching with our tithes, offerings, prayers, and service, then for our efforts to be effective, we need God's blessing. We need God to bless and prosper the gospel message we support in order for it to be effective.

But God may require that we courageously face our difficult trials and temptations and overcome them, or at least make a strong effort and make progress in overcoming them, before He blesses our efforts to preach to others in the world that they should face and overcome hard trials, temptations, and pressures to come out of the world and into the truth. And Christmas can be one of those trials for a new person who hears our message.

Let's be sure we face our trials and overcome our temptations with the same courage and zeal we expect of those in the world we preach our message to. That way, we are practicing what we preach. That way, when God sees our effort, he can bless the preaching of the gospel as never before.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The Habit of Thanksgiving

Once a year, the people of the United States observe Thanksgiving day. The purpose of this day is to give thanks to God for the blessings He has given us. Some people in the United States observe this day sincerely, giving thanks to God, and some only celebrate it as a secular holiday, eating and drinking but giving little or no thanks to God. Even atheists will sometimes sit down to a Thanksgiving dinner with their families.

In the Church of God, we may observe Thanksgiving day, and if we do, we should make the actual giving of thanks to God an important part of the day.

But to have a close relationship with God, we should build the habit of continuously giving thanks to God all through the year and all through each day.

In other words, as we go through each day, we should give thanks to God in short, silent prayers, as we walk, as we drive, and wherever we are, for the small blessings that come to us in the day.

If we can do this and make it a habit, it will help us to have a right attitude towards God, and that will help us in our relationship with God.

The epistles of Paul show that he regularly gave thanks for many things, and he instructed the brethren to make the giving of thanks a part of their lives.

"Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you" (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).

"And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful" (Colossians 3:15).

"And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another in the fear of God" (Ephesians 5:18-21).

"But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks" (Ephesians 5:3-4).

"Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence" (1 Timothy 2:1-2).

At this particular time, I think it would be very appropriate to give thanks to God for the open door and freedom the Church of God has to preach the gospel and the Ezekiel warning to the world. We do not know how long that door will remain open, but we should appreciate it and go through it with all our might while we can. There are forces in this country, political forces no doubt led by evil forces in the spirit world, that would like to implement policies that would have the effect of shutting down the preaching of the gospel and the Ezekiel warning. Those forces have suffered a setback, and I am grateful for that.

Jesus said, "I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work" (John 9:4).

Let us follow His example and admonition and work while we have the opportunity, and let us give thanks for that opportunity.

Here are links to other posts in this blog on the subject of thanksgiving:

"Thanksgiving", dated November 25, 2011, link:

"The Greatest Gift", dated November 21, 2012, link:

"Give God Thanks", dated November 27, 2013, link:

"Should We Attend Thanksgiving Dinner with our Unconverted Families?", dated November 11, 2014, link:

"Giving Praise and Thanks to God", dated November 25, 2015, link:

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Election of Donald Trump

As I write this, it appears that Donald Trump has won the election for president of the United States. Republicans will have majority control of the House of Representatives and will probably also control the Senate. I think this will be the first time in a long time that Republicans will control the presidency and both houses of Congress.

The current president and the liberal Democrats, including Hillary Clinton, have been in favor of and have been pushing a liberal agenda for years, an agenda that includes diminishing of freedoms of religion, speech, and the press. They are in favor of allowing women to have abortions and they have been pushing to force acceptance of homosexuality. They have been putting judges into the courts who care little or nothing for the Constitution but who advance the liberal agenda regardless of the will of the people or the limits the Constitution places on their authority.

These things can have the effect of making the preaching of the gospel more difficult. Some liberals no doubt would like to criminalize the Bible, and that could be the direction some liberals would take this country if they had the power.

This liberal agenda has been advancing in this country.

But with the election of Donald Trump and the Republicans, that agenda is slowed down.

One effect of this election is to give the Church of God more time with open doors for preaching the gospel than it might otherwise have.

We should be grateful to God for open doors, and we should go through the open doors we have with all the zeal and power we can muster, while there is still time, to preach the gospel to the world and the Ezekiel warning to Israel.

For a time is coming when those doors may be closed.

Both candidates have been unpopular even with many in their own parties, Trump because of his provocative statements and Clinton because of charges of corruption. Both have had the potential to be very unpopular in office.

Donald Trump will be the next president, and though his statements have received a lot of publicity, he is really an unknown in many ways. Yet, he has the potential to be unpopular in the next four years.

If he is unpopular, he may provoke a reaction against himself in congressional elections in two years that will give Democrats control of the Congress, and a reaction in four years that will bring a liberal Democrat into the White House. That seems to be a trend in politics.

So the nation may see a pause in the advance of liberalism in this country, but that advance may be resumed with even greater speed and momentum starting in four years with the 2020 election. After that, things can get very bad in this country very fast.

Donald Trump may surprise a lot of people and be a wise, effective, and even popular president. But if he is not, if he becomes highly unpopular as a president, he may only last one term. And the liberal Democrats can come back in 2020 with a vengeance and advance their liberal agenda where they left off. If that happens, if Christ allows it, some doors for preaching the gospel on TV and the Internet may start to close.

There is another factor to consider.

The conditions for several types of crises have been built up. The economy is precarious because of massive government debt. Terrorists may commit more terrorist acts when Obama is out of office, or even now since the election is over and they do not have to fear that their terrorist acts will bring into office those who will fight strongly against them. The liberal Democrats have weakened the country in many ways over the last eight years, but the results of what they have done may come to fruition while Donald Trump is president, and the news media and Democrats will be quick to blame Donald Trump and the Republicans.

The liberals have set the stage for a collapse, but that collapse may come on Trump's watch, and he may get much of the blame.

The point of all this is that the Church of God needs to go all out with a sense of urgency to preach the gospel and the Ezekiel warning during the next four years, especially on TV and the Internet, because those doors may start to close if Democrats come back into power.

God has given us more time. We have a window of opportunity. That window may be as short as four years for certain doors. We need to go through them while we can.

Another effect of the election of Donald Trump can be in the area of foreign policy. Trump is unpopular in Europe, and his election can help move events in the direction indicated by Bible prophecy. This can result in Europe becoming more independent of the United States, more united, and militarily more strong.

So the election of Donald Trump may help to bring about the fulfillment of Bible prophecy by helping to bring about the rise in power of a united Europe at the same time that it helps keep the door open for preaching the gospel and a warning message about what that rising Europe will do to us if we do not repent of our sins.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

The Last Great Day Glorifies God's Name and Reputation

Immediately after the seven day Feast of Tabernacles is the Last Great Day, the final festival and holy day of God. It pictures the final stage in God's plan for the salvation of mankind.

The Last Great Day pictures the general resurrection of mankind, an event after the millennium when the vast majority of the billions of people who lived and died before the second coming of Jesus Christ are raised from the dead back to physical life.

This festival is both a continuation of the Feast of Tabernacles and a separate festival. It immediately follows the seven day Feast of Tabernacles, and it is called the "eighth day" of the Feast (Leviticus 23:36, 39). It is also called the "last day" and the "great day" of the Feast (John 7:37). We in the Church of God, following the example of Mr. Armstrong, call it the "Last Great Day".

And it is indeed a great day in what it represents.

We in the Church of God, because we observe the annual holy days and festivals of God as well as the weekly Sabbath, understand God's plan for the salvation of mankind.

Satan rules this world through deception (Luke 4:5-7, 2 Corinthians 4:3-4, Revelation 12:9). He deceived Eve, and through Eve he tempted Adam into sin, and he has been leading mankind in his evil way of sin ever since.

God is more powerful than Satan, and Satan can only do what God allows (Job 1:6-19, 2:1-8). Nevertheless, God has allowed Satan to rule and influence this world for nearly six thousand years for a special purpose.

Mr. Armstrong understood that God is teaching mankind a lesson written in human history that Satan's way of life only brings suffering, heartache, violence, destruction, and death. But after six thousand years of Satan's rule, he will be banished, removed from his throne, and Christ and the saints will rule the earth God's way for a thousand years. Mankind will be able to contrast the happiness of the millennium with six thousand years of Satan's rule and see that God's way is best.

Mankind in the millennium will be able to know the truth of God. They will hear the true gospel. Their minds will be opened, and they will be able to hear, understand, believe, repent, be converted, and be saved.

But what about the billions of human beings who have lived and died during the six thousand years of Satan's deception without ever having the chance for salvation? Many have not heard any gospel, and almost none have heard the true gospel, and many of those who heard were never able to understand and believe the gospel because Satan has deceived them and God has not specially called and drawn them to Christ.

The vast majority of mankind has not been able to hear the true gospel, understand it, believe it, repent, and be converted and saved. God is only calling a few to salvation in this age. Only those the Father draws to Christ can come to Him. "No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day" (John 6:44).

Without that special calling and drawing by God, no one in this age can be converted. It is impossible for the majority to be converted in this age.

So what happens to them?

Most of this world's traditional, mainstream Protestant churches have taught that the majority are lost forever. They understand, correctly, that salvation is only through Jesus Christ. But then they conclude, since the majority of the world's population throughout history has not accepted Christ, even nominally, that they are lost forever.

Yet, this is an insult to God. It slanders God by painting Him as weak or uncaring.

But the truth, as represented by the Last Great Day, honors, magnifies, and glorifies God's name and reputation for righteousness. The truth shows God's greatness, wisdom, power, and love. For God has a plan to save all of mankind, except those who knowingly reject God. God will give everyone a chance for salvation.

Yet, traditional, mainstream churches and their members do not understand this because they do not keep the Last Great Day and all of God's holy days and festivals.

The 37th chapter of Ezekiel shows how God will save the billions who have died without a chance for salvation up to their death.

"Therefore prophesy and say to them, 'Thus says the Lord God: "Behold, O My people, I will open your graves and cause you to come up from your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. Then you shall know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves, O My people, and brought you up from your graves. I will put My Spirit in you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I, the Lord, have spoken it and performed it," says the Lord.' " (Ezekiel 37:12-14). See also verses 1 to 11 to get the full context and to see that God is talking about resurrection to physical life, life that requires the breath of air, not immortal spirit life.

This passage speaks about Israel, as an example, but the same event will occur for all mankind, as indicated in Revelation and other places (Revelation 20:11-15, Matthew 12:41-42).

All who have lived and died without a chance for salvation will be raised back to physical life in a general resurrection of the dead, the great white throne judgment (Revelation 20:11-12).

They will come alive again into an environment free of Satan's influence, and they will be offered their first real chance for salvation.

They will all hear the true gospel at that time. Jesus Christ and the saints will be ruling the earth. They will learn of the whole history of the seven thousand years - the six thousand years of Satan's rule, which they lived in, and the one thousand year rule of Jesus Christ and the saints. Moreover, they will be resurrected into that happy environment of Christ's rule, and they will be able to contrast the happiness they can come to know then with the state of this world today which they lived in. They will be able to see and experience that God's way is best.

They will be able to understand, believe, repent, obey, receive God's Holy Spirit and be converted, and be saved. They will be able to live forever in God's kingdom. And that will be a much happier result than the traditional view of this world's churches that they will suffer forever in hellfire because of circumstances of birth over which they had no control.

Here is a link to more information about the Last Great Day. This link is to last year's post in this blog about the Last Great Day, and you can follow the links at the end of that post to more posts on this subject and to a section in my book, Preaching the Gospel, about the Last Great Day and what it represents.

"The Last Great Day, and How Righteousness Will Fill the Earth", dated October 4, 2015, link:

Saturday, October 15, 2016

The Feast of Tabernacles and Teachers in the Millennium

Shortly, we will be keeping the Feast of Tabernacles, a seven-day festival that pictures the coming Kingdom of God ruling the earth during the 1,000 year period known as the millennium. The Feast is also intended to picture, not just the happiness that will exist on the earth for the millennium, but also the joy and happiness we will enjoy for eternity in the Kingdom of God.

So that the Feast can picture the joy we will have in the Kingdom of God and the joy the human race will enjoy in the millennium, God instructs us to save a tenth (second tithe) of our income for a year to spend at the Feast of Tabernacles on the food and things we enjoy. It is a time of spiritual renewal, because we will be listening to sermons every day and we can get away from our daily routine. But it is also a time of celebration and rejoicing.

This festival is commanded by God for Israel and for the Church of God. The basic instructions are in Leviticus 23:33-44. The booths or tabernacles God commanded Israel to make out of leafy trees and branches were temporary dwellings. They were intended to remind Israel of their journey in the wilderness after leaving Egypt (verses 42-43). The journey out of Egypt for Israel can represent our time in this temporary physical life, and the promised land that Israel was to enter can represent for us the Kingdom of God, our promised reward.

For temporary dwellings, we use hotels and motels to stay at a Feast location, and this reminds us that our journey in this physical life is temporary, but we look to an eternal reward in the Kingdom of God.

Each of the annual feasts and holy days of God teaches a spiritual lesson about the plan of God to those who believe and obey God by observing these days as God commanded.

Many people who have come into the Church of God from other religions or no religion have been amazed when they hear God's plan, as illustrated by the holy days, explained to them, perhaps at the Feast itself. Some have said that they were "blown away" when they first heard God's plan because it was so logical and clear and made so much sense, and they never heard that before from other churches.

Passover is an annual feast of God that teaches us about the sacrifice of Christ to pay the penalty of our sins so we can be forgiven.

The Days of Unleavened Bread teach us about our responsibility to strive to put sin out of our lives and the righteousness of Jesus Christ into our lives.

Pentecost teaches us about the gift of God's Holy Spirit to help us understand spiritual knowledge and to help us overcome our sins. It also teaches us about the founding of the Church of God and the responsibility of the Church of God to preach the gospel to the world (Acts 2:1-47).

The Day of Trumpets teaches us about the second coming of Jesus Christ, the resurrection of the saints, and the setting up of the Kingdom of God on earth.

The Day of Atonement reminds us of the sacrifice of Christ so we can be reconciled with God, but it also teaches us about the putting away of Satan after Christ returns.

The Feast of Tabernacles teaches us about the happiness and joy that will exist on the earth for one thousand years under the rule of Jesus Christ and the happiness in the Kingdom of God for eternity.

The Last Great Day, which immediately follows the Feast of Tabernacles, also called the "eighth day" of the Feast, is a separate festival that teaches us about the general resurrection of the billions who lived and died without an opportunity to hear the true gospel and be saved. This general resurrection is called the "white throne judgment", and will be a time when everyone who has lived and died without a chance for salvation will have their first real opportunity to hear the true gospel, believe God, repent, and be saved.

In these holy days and festivals of God is the instruction about God's plan for the salvation of the whole human race, everyone except those who knowingly reject God's salvation.

The world of traditional churches does not understand this plan, and they will not understand this plan as long as they do not keep God's holy days. Some members of these churches think they can understand the meaning of the holy days by studying the holy days in the Bible, but without keeping them. But they do not understand that to understand God's truth we need God's help, and God helps those who are willing to believe and obey Him.

Thus, the holy days are a test to see who will believe God and obey Him and who will not. This is especially true for those who have not grown up in the Church of God and who come from other churches or no religion at all, for they must sacrifice to begin to observe these days.

We know about these days and about the plan of God because Mr. Armstrong believed God. He saw in the Bible that these days are commanded, He believed God and began to observe these days, and when God saw Mr. Armstrong's faith and obedience He helped Mr. Armstrong to understand the meaning of these days, what they represent, and the whole plan of God. Mr. Armstrong then taught this to the Church and on radio, and he said to his radio listeners, "Don't believe me, believe your Bible, believe God", and he taught his listeners and readers how to prove these truths in the Bible for themselves. Thousands who heard him did believe their Bibles, and the Church of God grew.

So it is through faith and obedience that we today understand the plan of God and are able to enjoy the Feast of Tabernacles.

During the Feast of Tabernacles, members of the Church of God will hear sermons that teach from the Bible what the millennium and the Kingdom of God will be like and how the millennium will be different from today's evil world.

One of the differences is that, during the millennium, the resurrected saints, made full Sons of God, will be teaching the world God's law and way of life. Today, ministers in the Church of God teach members the law of God and God's way of life.

But there are two differences. Today, God's true ministers teach only a tiny fraction of the human race, those few who are called into the Church of God. In the millennium, the whole world will be taught, and salvation will be open to all.

But also, today, God's true ministers are fallible human beings. They make mistakes. Not everything they teach is totally free from error. So those members who are wise will prove every important doctrine from the Bible, and when a minister teaches something they have not heard before, if it is important, those members will check up in the Bible so they can prove it for themselves. Their faith is in God, not the ministry. This is not a criticism of the ministry, for we are all human, and we should all be learning from our mistakes. The Bible shows that even faithful servants of God are not perfect.

But in the Kingdom of God, those resurrected in the first resurrection will no longer be subject to the pulls and limitations of the flesh. We will be full children of God, made immortal, glorified like Christ, full members of God's family. And we will have the personal presence of Jesus Christ, and He will directly supervise our teaching and judging of the people.

So our teaching will be right. Not mostly right, not almost right but with a few errors, but totally right. We will no longer know in part, but we will know the truth of God fully.

"For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away. When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known" (1 Corinthians 13:9-12).

There is a lesson, I think, in the example of Old Testament Israel in the wilderness. They were instructed that when they entered the promised land, they would look to God's government for direction.

In the wilderness, in instructing the people in how to live after they entered the promised land, God said, "You shall not at all do as we are doing here today - every man doing whatever is right in his own eyes - for as yet you have not come to the rest and the inheritance which the Lord your God is giving you. But when you cross over the Jordan and dwell in the land which the Lord your God is giving you to inherit, and He gives you rest from all your enemies round about, so that you dwell in safety, then there will be the place where the Lord your God chooses to make His name abide. There you shall bring all that I command you: your burnt offerings, your sacrifices, your tithes, the heave offerings of your hand, and all your choice offerings which you vow to the Lord" (Deuteronomy 12:8-11).

These instructions are particular to keeping the Feast and all the holy days and feast days and to the sacrificial system. But there is a general application. Notice that God says that in the wilderness every man was doing what is right in his own eyes because they had not yet come to the rest and inheritance God was about to give them, but that once they enter that land they would look more to the place where God placed His name.

In this particular passage, it does not seem that God is strongly rebuking them for doing what is right in their eyes there in the wilderness, for this whole passage is not in the context of a rebuke or punishment for one of Israel's many acts of rebellion or unfaithfulness they committed from the time they left Egypt. Rather, it seems to be a simple acknowledgement that they are taking liberties, in a sense, to use their own judgment in a way they should not do when in the promised land. There should be greater control from headquarters in the promised land than existed in the wilderness.

Does this fit with the state of the Church of God today?

We are living in a time that is symbolized by the time Israel journeyed in the wilderness. For us, the promised land we hope to enter is the Kingdom of God.

And in this time, there is a tendency for us to do what is right in our own eyes. Some of that is bad, and we should not do it. We should always be striving to believe and obey God, to do what God says to do in the Bible, to believe what God says is right in His eyes, not to do what seems right in our own eyes. Yet, we are human, and as sincerely as we try to obey God, we make mistakes. And being human with human nature, we still sin. And so, though we try not to do what is right in our own eyes, we still sometimes do.

We have to make judgments. And sometimes we make mistakes. We need to learn from our mistakes and let God correct us from the Bible, but we still make mistakes. That is true for the whole Church of God in any era, but it is especially true during this Laodicean era when the Church of God is scattered.

Just to attend services and pay our tithes, we have to choose among many fellowships and Church of God organizations. Where do we attend? Where do we send our tithes and offerings? There are no names and addresses of today's Church of God organizations in the Bible. We have to make certain judgments based on the teaching of the Bible. And though we strive to make right judgments, we are human and can make mistakes. And we need to be corrected by the Bible and let God correct our errors, and sometimes that means leaving one organization to attend another. Sometimes, a member has to admit to himself, I made a mistake.

And even when we are attending the right fellowship, the fellowship God wants us to attend based on His teachings in the Bible, can anyone say, "Our ministers never make mistakes"? Do we not check important teachings in the Bible? Did not even Mr. Armstrong make mistakes?

We in the Church of God live in an environment, no matter where we attend, where we may know that the fellowship we attend is mostly teaching the truth, but we also know that the ministry can and does make mistakes from time to time, and we have to be alert and on our toes so to speak, and not let any man deceive us.

So in that sense, just like the Israelites in the wilderness, we do what is right in our own eyes, to a degree.

But not so in the Kingdom of God.

Christ will supervise us directly, in person. We will be Spirit-born immortal sons of God. We can follow Christ totally, without reservation or concern that Christ may be making a mistake. We won't have to check in the Bible to see if Christ is telling the truth. And if we have questions about what Christ means when He speaks to us, if we need more details to be clarified, we can always ask Him. He will be there for us, fully present in person, and we can ask Him questions directly and get immediate answers.

Moreover, the people and the nations can follow our teachings fully during the millennium. The Church of God will not be divided as it is now.

Each man will not be doing what is right in his own eyes, but every man can obey the teachings of Christ and the saints with full confidence that those teachings are totally true.

That is one of the many blessings that will exist in the Kingdom of God and the millennium.

In chapter two of my book (see link in the right side panel of this blog) I have information about the meaning of all the holy days and feasts of God.

Here is a link to a post in this blog with more information about the Feast of Tabernacles:

"The Feast of Tabernacles, the Last Great Day, and the Kingdom of God", dated September 25, 2015, link: