Friday, April 2, 2021

The Sixth Commandment and the Days of Unleavened Bread

During the days of unleavened bread we avoid leavening to learn the lesson of putting sin out of our lives, and we eat unleavened bread to learn the lesson of putting the righteousness of Christ into our lives.  We focus on examining our lives to find and root out sin.  As part of that self-examination, both for Passover and during the days of unleavened bread, we may review the ten commandments (Exodus 20:1-17 and Deuteronomy 5:6-21), the sermon on the mount (Matthew chapters 5 through 7 and Luke 6:20-49), and other scriptures that teach us about obeying God's law in the letter and the spirit.

One of the ten commandments says, "You shall not murder" (Exodus 20:13).  Spiritual applications of this include the principles that we must not be angry with our brother without a cause (Matthew 5:21-22), we must love our neighbors as ourselves (Matthew 5:43-48, 22:39-40), and we must forgive others who sin against us (Matthew 6:14-15).  These princples are timeless and apply to all of us in the Church of God at all times and in all eras.

But there is a particular application of the sixth commandment that applies especially to the Church of God in our time when we are close to the end of the age.

In order not to be guilty of murder, we must warn our neighbors about the coming tribulation that will come upon them if they don't repent of their sins.

This warning to us to warn our neighbors is the message of the Ezekiel warning given in Ezekiel 3:16-21.  Ezekiel 3:20 says that the blood of the people will be on the heads of the "watchman" if we do not warn them.  "When I say to the wicked, 'You shall surely die,' and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life, that same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand" (Ezekiel 3:18).  Also, "Again, when a righteous man turns from his righteousness and commits iniquity, and I lay a stumbling block before him, he shall die; because you did not give him warning, he shall die in his sin, and his righteousness which he has done shall not be remembered; but his blood I will require at your hand" (Ezekiel 3:20).

What does God mean when He says He will require the blood of the people "at the watchman's hand"?  It means there will be blood guilt on the watchman's head if he doesn't give the warning.  It means God will count the watchman as a murderer if the watchman doesn't warn.

Has God made the Church of God and its members a watchman for our Israelite nations and the world in our time to warn them about their sins and the coming great tribulation to punish them if they do not repent?  Yes.

How has God made us the watchman, and how can we know this?

God has given us knowledge of the need for a warning, plus the opportunity to warn, plus the knowledge that He wants us to warn.  He has done this by revealing to us the identity of the tribes of Israel in the modern nations of this world and by revealing to us the truth that the great tribulation will soon come in our time.  He has done this by commanding us to love our neighbors as ourselves (Matthew 22:39-40) and to do to others as we would want them to do to us (Matthew 7:12).  He has also specifically commanded us to hold back those stumbling to the slaughter.  "Deliver those who are drawn toward death, And hold back those stumbling to the slaughter" (Proverbs 24:11).  The only we can deliver and "hold back" this sinning world is to warn.  

Finally, He has given us the passages in Ezekiel that help to show us our responsibility and the seriousness of our calling to this job.

These things, in combination, make us the Ezekiel watchman.

How do we fulfill our responsibility so that God does not count us as being guilty of murder?

The most obvious way is to support with our tithes and offerings a Church of God fellowship that is getting the warning message out and the true gospel to the people of Israel and the world.

Making sure we are doing this is part of obedience to the sixth commandment and part of putting sin out of our lives.  And that should be part of our focus during the days of unleavened bread.

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