|Live Services||Constant vs. Change and The Fate of Our Children|
|Current Events||This Week in the News|
|Q&A||Should we wear phylacteries today?|
|The Work||Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock|
Constant vs. Change and The Fate of Our Children
On December 28, 2013, Kalon Mitchell and Norbert Link will give split sermons, titled, respestively, “Constant vs. Change” and “The Fate of Our Children.”
by Eric Rank
An asymptote is a curious thing. For those who might have forgotten their math lessons from years ago, I’ll make an attempt to review it in simple terms. An asymptote is a curved line, which converges ever closer towards another line, which is straight, but never crosses. You can draw an asymptote line by graphing the points when dividing the number 1 by a series of other, ever increasing numbers – as those numbers grow, the result gets closer and closer to zero without ever reaching it. Just as an asymptote draws closer to a straight line but never touches it, the same is true for man in his endeavor to achieve perfection as a carnal human being.
No matter how sinless we may work to become on our own, we are destined to fall short of the perfection God declares. As Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes 7:20, “For there is not a just man on earth who does good And does not sin.” If there is something encouraging to extract from this critique of every good person, it is the reminder that we can always do more. It is an important job of a Christian to continue growing to do better and better, even if that ultimate perfection cannot be obtained without becoming a Spirit being. Still, Paul instructs us to continually work to find ways to become more refined and holy in our conduct now. “Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2 Corinthians 7:1). Just as an asymptote line draws continually closer to the straight line right next to it, we must work to continue doing a better job of seeking the perfection achieved by Jesus Christ in our conduct and behavior.
If the pursuit of perfection is an endeavor that we undertake throughout our lives, how can we do it? Repentance is the primary way that we can improve our lives and live a way that is more pleasing to God. The general instruction to repent can be overwhelming though. When faced with a mountain of repentance to do, it helps to have some more practical instruction so we can chip away at the work. I recently read a book about the history of statistics that describes methods designed by W. Edwards Deming for controlling the quality of manufacturing. The advice Mr. Deming proposed to manufacturers was to find places where there is a large variability in production and work to resolve the problems that cause that variability. Then continue again, finding the next largest variability in production, and solve the source of that problem. By continuing the process, the variability and size of problems become smaller and smaller, but it is never assumed that the variability is completely gone.
Realistically, we cannot become perfect until we are changed into Spirit beings. And by extension, it is not realistic to think that we are able to fix everything in our lives and correct every sin. But, we have to start someplace, and what better way to start is there than to take advantage of God’s offer to help us overcome the greatest problem we have? When the largest problem we have to work on is resolved, we look for the next biggest problem, and continue as long as we have the ability to do so. Of course, as we overcome our sins one by one, we must not neglect the “smaller” sins or drift back into sinful habits that we had already thought to have overcome. A key to make this possible is a dedication to pursue perfection, all the while knowing that there is still more that can be improved.
At one time, a rich young ruler approached Jesus Christ expressing a desire to grow and find out what he still lacked. He became discouraged upon hearing what he still had to do. “Jesus said to him, ‘If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me’” (Matthew 19:21). The big thing that this man needed to do was overcome his trust in riches and instead submit his life to follow Jesus Christ completely. But, he was unwilling to do so.
The condition that we need to fulfill in order to achieve perfection requires that we submit our lives to God, while constantly working to overcome sin. If we do follow and grow in Jesus Christ’s example of perfect obedience, we will receive God’s promise of ultimate perfection as spirit beings in His Family.
We begin with further unsettling reports about America’s international and domestic problems; remind you of an important article by the BBC about Pope Francis; and publish and critique an article about a Jewish mother who is trying to compromise with pagan (falsely so-called Christian) concepts in her child-rearing, erroneously thinking or hoping it will not harm the child.
This Week in the News
Israel Upset With USA and Britain over Spying
Israel National News reported on December 22:
“Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu opened his weekly cabinet meeting Sunday with comments about the revelations that the US and Britain have been spying on Israeli officials… The New York Times reported Friday that in monitoring more than 1,000 targets in upwards of 60 countries between 2008 to 2011, US and British intelligence agencies tapped the communications of former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, among other foreign leaders, according to secret documents revealed by intelligence contractor Edward Snowden.
“Other MKs and government officials continue to express outrage at the reports throughout Sunday, as the story makes waves throughout Israeli and foreign press…”
And so, prophecy is being fulfilled… the relationship between Israel, the USA and Britain WILL deteriorate… with Ephraim (UK) against Manasseh (USA), and Manasseh against Ephraim, and both of them against Judah… (Isaiah 9:21). For more information, please read our free booklet, “The Fall and Rise of Britain and America.”
Sudan—the Latest War
Reuters wrote on December 21:
“Three U.S. aircraft came under fire from unidentified forces on Saturday while trying to evacuate Americans from a spiraling conflict in South Sudan. The U.S. military said four of its members were wounded in the attacks. Nearly a week of fighting in South Sudan threatens to drag the world’s newest country into a Dinka-Nuer ethnic civil war just two years after it won independence from Sudan with strong support from successive U.S. administrations…
“The German military said on Saturday it had evacuated 98 people, including Germans and other nationals, from South Sudan by air to neighboring Uganda. The German ambassador to South Sudan was among them, the Foreign Ministry in Berlin said.”
The Washington Post wrote on December 24:
“The U.N. Security Council voted unanimously Tuesday to nearly double the number of peacekeepers in the world’s newest nation to more than 14,000 and urged swift action to end a violent political and ethnic conflict that threatens to become a full-blown civil war. Amid reports of mass graves, extrajudicial killings and rapes, tens of thousands of civilians have sought refuge in U.N. base camps that in some cases were described as under siege from ethnically motivated fighters. Hundreds of people, if not several thousand, have been killed, according to witnesses and U.N. officials…
“Although 380 U.S. citizens have been evacuated, the State Department said it has no fixed count of how many remain — many of them are humanitarian workers — because they may not have registered with the U.S. Embassy here or may have left the country on their own.”
Another war… and the USA is again being dragged into it. A sign of the times… wars and rumors of wars.. the beginnings of sorrow… (Matthew 24:6,8).
The American Economy Doomed to Fail…
Newsmax wrote on December 19:
“… many well-respected economists, billionaires, and noted authors…[and] experts such as Marc Faber, Peter Schiff, Donald Trump, and Robert Wiedemer [telling us that] we are on the verge of another recession, and this one will be far worse than what we experienced during the last financial crisis.
“Marc Faber, the noted Swiss economist and investor, has voiced his concerns for the U.S. economy numerous times during recent media appearances, stating, ‘I think somewhere down the line we will have a massive wealth destruction. I would say that well-to-do people may lose up to 50 percent of their total wealth.’ When he was asked what sort of odds he put on a global recession happening, the economist famous for his ominous predictions quickly answered . . . ‘100 percent.’…
“Faber’s pessimism is matched by well-respected economist and investor Peter Schiff, the CEO of Euro Pacific Capital. Schiff remarks that the stock market collapse we experienced in 2008 ‘wasn’t the real crash. The real crash is coming.’… Most alarming is his belief that daily life will get dramatically worse for U.S. citizens.
“If we keep doing this policy of stimulus and growing government, it’s just going to get worse for the average American. Our standard of living is going to fall . . . People who are expecting Social Security can’t get all that money. People expecting government pensions can’t get all their money . . . We simply can’t afford to pay them.”
“Equally critical of the current government and our nation’s economy is real estate mogul and entrepreneur Donald Trump… It is this massive debt that worries Trump the most… In a recent appearance, Trump went to so far as to say the dollar is ‘going to h…’
“Where Trump, Faber, and Schiff see rising debt, a falling dollar, and a plunging stock market, investment adviser and author Robert Wiedemer sees much more widespread economic destruction. In a recent interview to talk about his New York Times best-seller Aftershock, Wiedemer says, ‘The data is clear, 50 percent unemployment, a 90 percent stock market drop, and 100 percent annual inflation…’”
It will happen… God is not mocked. What we sow, we will reap…
More on the Obamacare Disaster—Is America Ever Going to Wake Up?
Bloomberg reported on December 20, 2013:
“Hundreds of thousands of people whose health plans are being canceled because their coverage doesn’t meet Obamacare rules will be exempt next year from the U.S. mandate that all Americans carry medical insurance. People losing coverage will now be allowed to buy bare-bones ‘catastrophic’ insurance that the law usually limits to those younger than age 30… Others can opt out completely without the threat of the fines being imposed next year on the uninsured as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
“The change will affect fewer than 500,000 people as a Dec. 23 deadline looms to purchase policies for coverage that starts Jan. 1, according to Obama administration figures. Insurers said the exemptions may keep younger, healthier people from buying new coverage through Obamacare, a demographic that is needed to bring balance to the new government-run insurance marketplaces… President Barack Obama has been issuing a flurry of last-minute policy changes to give people more time to sign up for his signature domestic policy initiative following a botched rollout of key programs, delays of others and political backlash over the cost and effects of the law…
“The latest exemption from the law’s individual mandate would last a year and potentially longer for consumers granted hardship exceptions… ‘The sad reality is that when the law takes effect come Jan. 1, more Americans will be without coverage under Obamacare than one year ago,’ Representative Fred Upton, a Michigan Republican who is chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said in an e-mail. ‘Rather than more White House delays, waivers, and exemptions, the administration should provide all Americans relief from its failed law.’ …
“California… has already reported that more than 1 million policy holders have received letters from their current insurers saying their coverage will be canceled after Dec. 31 because their plans don’t comply with Obamacare… People whose plans are canceled must apply to the government for a hardship exemption from the requirement to carry insurance and submit the letter they received from their current insurer. Once the government approves the exemption, they are eligible to purchase catastrophic plans, which usually have the lowest premium of any coverage sold on exchanges. The plans aren’t eligible for federal subsidies, meaning there’s no discount for the premium.”
Further, to call these policies “catastrophic” is, actually, quite applicable. They are indeed a catastrophic way of circumventing meaningful health insurance and may have catastrophic consequences for those enrolled in them. America’s healthcare system has been a total disaster, but Obamacare will be making matters so much worse. Whatever the government and the opposition are doing, seems to be cursed by Almighty God and doomed to fail. We should ask ourselves why this is.
European Army–Is the EU Torturing Britain?
The EUObserver wrote on December 20:
“Why does the EU torture Britain so? Ten pages of EU Council conclusions on defence! Prime Minister David Cameron was forced into a preemptive strike to defuse a potentially mighty tabloid attack… He personally scratched out a reference to ‘Europe’s armed forces’ from the text. He spoke to press about co-operation between nation states. His brother in arms on this matter – Anders Fogh Rasmussen from Nato – gave him some backing. In a little pep talk to leaders, he noted that military assets should be ‘owned by individual nations.’
“However, the Dane – widely thought to be eyeing an EU post next year – craftily managed to straddle both sides of the debate. The EU needs to be militarily strong all the same, he noted.
“So what did others think of the noise made by Cameron? French President Francois Hollande thought his [Cameron’s] fears about an EU army were a ‘false concern.’ And EU Council President Herman Van Rompuy noted that he [Cameron] had achieved little, managing ‘no substantial changes’ to the conclusions.
“But it depends who is doing the telling. ‘Relaunching Europe’s Defence, one of the (rare) promises on external policy of Hollande torpedoed tonight by Cameron’ tweeted French MEP Arnaud Danjean. And the truth falls somewhere between. The lengthy conclusions… will be what member states make of them… On the back of his military intervention in the Central African Republic, the French president called for an EU fund for military operations…”
And EU member states will “make” a European army “of it”… without British approval.
Let the True Pope Francis Stand Up
BBC News wrote on November 26, 2013 about Pope Francis. Even though somewhat belated, this article is still worth reading again:
“… he appeals to both Church conservatives and reformers, being seen as orthodox on sexual matters, for instance, but liberal on social justice – though far from being a ‘liberation theologist’…
“Born in Argentina, Pope Francis is the first Latin American – and the first Jesuit – to lead the Roman Catholic Church… he was ordained as a Jesuit in 1969 and went on to study in Argentina and Germany… The Society of Jesus is a male order of the Catholic Church, with 19,000 members worldwide. It was established in 16th Century Europe as a missionary order, and members swear vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. The order became so powerful that it was suppressed at the end of the 18th Century but later restored…
“For the Church establishment, it is a novelty to have a Jesuit in charge… As a Jesuit, he is a member of perhaps the most powerful and experienced religious order of the Catholic Church, who are known as expert communicators… It appears that few who know him doubt his conservative credentials. This is how Monsignor Osvaldo Musto, who was at seminary with him, described him in a BBC News article back in 2005: ‘He’s as uncompromising as Pope John Paul II, in terms of the principles of the Church – everything it has defended regarding euthanasia, the death penalty, abortion, the right to life, human rights, celibacy of priests.’
“His views have been put to the test in Argentina, the first Latin American country to legalise same-sex marriage with a President, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, who promotes free contraception and artificial insemination. When he argued that gay adoptions discriminated against children, the president said his tone harked back to ‘medieval times and the Inquisition’… Aside from his universal significance, the former cardinal appears to be a strong Argentine patriot, telling Argentine veterans of the Falklands War at a Mass last year: ‘We come to pray for all who have fallen, sons of the Homeland who went out to defend their mother, the Homeland, and to reclaim what is theirs.’…
“Since becoming pope, he has continued to put his concern about economic inequality at the forefront of his message. In Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel), the first major work he has written since he became Pope, he says ‘the worship of the ancient golden calf… has returned in a new and ruthless guise in the idolatry of money and the dictatorship of an impersonal economy’. The document also suggests Pope Francis is planning radical reforms to the Vatican bureaucracy, another theme that has gained prominence in his papacy.”
Note that as a Jesuit, he is “a member of perhaps the most powerful and experienced religious order of the Catholic Church, who are known as expert communicators.” He is a very strong conservative, and his political stance for Argentina and against the UK is also remarkable. Finally, as Time magazine’s “man of the year,” his charisma and increasing popularity is truly telling…
Sky-High Approval Rate of the Pope Among US Catholics
CNN wrote on December 24:
“Americans’ opinions of the pontiff appear to be as high as the dome on St. Peter’s Basilica… 88% of American Catholics approve of how Francis is handling his role as head of the 1.2 billion-member church. The popular pontiff has also made a positive impression among Americans in general: Nearly three in four view Francis favorably. The new survey suggests that the Pope is arguably the most well-regarded religious figure among the American public today… Nine months into his papacy, the Argentine-born Francis has captured attention with crowd-pleasing acts of compassion…
“The Pope has also shown a common touch rare for such a lofty religious leader. Pope Francis was the most talked about person on the Internet this year, and even atheists have professed appreciation for the 77-year-old pontiff… he was named person of the year by both Time magazine and The Advocate, a gay and lesbian publication…
“More than 85% of American Catholics say Francis is neither too liberal nor too conservative, and 86% say he’s in touch with the modern world. By comparison, more than half of American Catholics said Pope John Paul II was out of step with the times in 2003, near the end of his 26-year-long papacy… More than six in 10 American Catholics agree with Francis’ comments about women in the church… The Pope has said that women should have a larger role in church governance but cannot be ordained as priests… It remains to be seen how long the honeymoon will last for Francis, and how long he can continue to build goodwill among American Catholics.”
The Associated Press wrote on December 23:
“Pope Francis has visited his predecessor, Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI, to exchange Christmas greetings. Photos released by the Vatican newspaper show the two men, dressed in identical white robes save for Francis’ cape, chatting in a sitting room inside Benedict’s retirement home during the visit Monday. They also prayed together in the adjoining chapel. Benedict was looking well, using a cane for support while they stood in prayer.
“It is the first time the interior of Benedict’s home has been shown publicly: The sitting room and furniture were all white. An Advent wreath decorated the coffee table. Since Benedict’s retirement in February, the two men have met only once publicly, for an official Vatican ceremony in July. They also have met privately and occasionally have spoken by telephone.”
The Jewish (Christian) Dilemma with “Christian” (Pagan) Holidays and Customs
JTA wrote on December 19:
“Last spring, I found myself averting my eyes when my 4-year-old mentioned something about the Easter bunny in front of my dad. We were at my parents’ home in Michigan for Passover and my son said, ‘When I get back to Brooklyn, the Easter bunny is going to bring me a basket!’… Although my son is being raised as a Jew, he celebrates Christmas and Easter with his non-Jewish father, my ex. I know it bothers my dad to hear his grandson talk about these Christian icons. It bothers me, too.
“During our four-year courtship prior to becoming engaged, my then-boyfriend and I came to an agreement about the religious upbringing of our future children. After taking two classes on Jewish culture and an interfaith couple’s workshop at the JCC, we agreed that our children would be raised according to Jewish tradition but could celebrate Christian holidays — in a secular way — with their non-Jewish grandparents. But after my husband and I separated and eventually divorced, some of the prenuptial agreements we made surrounding our interfaith family were no longer heeded.
“Before our separation, my husband had begrudgingly agreed not to have a Christmas tree in our home. But since our separation, he has had a tree every winter. That means Santa doesn’t just bring gifts to my son’s grandparents’ homes in Seattle, but to his father’s home in Brooklyn, too.
“Our son attends a Jewish preschool and has all kinds of children in his class – some with two Jewish parents, some from interfaith homes and others who are not Jewish at all. He already knows that families have their own ways of observing the holidays, and that you can be Jewish and still celebrate non-Jewish holidays with some of your family and friends. Last December he rambled on and on about what Santa was going to bring him for Christmas. I was tempted to remind him that he is Jewish and explain that Jews don’t believe in Santa. But I went along with it because I didn’t want to burst his Christmas bubble.
“Nevertheless, it’s hard for me to accept that our child won’t be raised according to the terms that my ex-husband and I had agreed upon before we married. And somehow I feel threatened that inserting these Christian traditions into my son’s home life will dilute his Jewish identity, even though I know a Christmas elf can’t come and stomp out thousands of years of Jewish tradition…
“Do I break it to him that a fat bearded man will not actually squeeze himself through a chimney (especially considering there are very few chimneys in Brooklyn apartments)? Or do I let him figure it out when he gets a bit older, like he probably would if he were raised by two Christian parents? And come spring, do I tell him that no giant Harvey-sized rabbit is going to show up with a basket full of treats, but that his grandmother will carefully pick out the treats in Seattle, put them in a priority mailbox and ship them to Brooklyn?
“For the time being, I figure I’ll leave it alone, and age will take care of it. I believe we will provide our son with a strong enough Jewish identity that these Christmas and Easter icons will not threaten his understanding of who he is. But ask me again later this month. I may change my mind.”
This article is a classic example of how NOT to act, and of foolish arrangements before marriage compromising with the truth. The consequences will be catastrophic.
We repeat for you the statements from the article, setting forth concepts which are most unfortunate, misleading, erroneous and damaging:
“During our four-year courtship prior to becoming engaged, my then-boyfriend and I came to an agreement about the religious upbringing of our future children. After taking two classes on Jewish culture and an interfaith couple’s workshop at the JCC, we agreed that our children would be raised according to Jewish tradition but could celebrate Christian holidays — in a secular way — with their non-Jewish grandparents.”
Such an arrangement should have never been made… in fact, such a marriage should have never been entered into.
“He already knows that families have their own ways of observing the holidays, and that you can be Jewish and still celebrate non-Jewish holidays with some of your family and friends.”
The child should never be allowed to celebrate pagan “Christian” days with his friends or family, if the parent is in control and can prevent this. See below for a further explanation of this statement.
“Last December he rambled on and on about what Santa was going to bring him for Christmas. I was tempted to remind him that he is Jewish and explain that Jews don’t believe in Santa. But I went along with it because I didn’t want to burst his Christmas bubble.”
Sadly, a golden opportunity was missed. Not wanting to burst the Christmas bubble is tantamount to going along with wrong customs and ungodly practices.
“I know a Christmas elf can’t come and stomp out thousands of years of Jewish tradition…”
Don’t be too sure. It does not take much encouragement to lead a child on the wrong path.
“…age will take care of it.”
Yes, the time will come when the child may ask the parent: “Mom, why did you lie to me, even though you knew better?”
“I believe we will provide our son with a strong enough Jewish identity that these Christmas and Easter icons will not threaten his understanding of who he is.”
If a strong enough “Jewish identity” has been provided, that would be one thing. From the article, it does not appear that this is indeed the case, but that compromise has been the norm.
As long as a child is under the care of a Jewish or truly Christian parent, it is extremely important that the child be taught the right principles, and that no compromises be made with pagan holidays or customs. In an existing or broken-up mixed marriage, the Jewish or truly Christian parent may have no control over the teaching and conduct of the non-Jewish or non-truly Christian parent who will many times try to counteract the efforts of the other side, but as long as the Jewish or truly Christian parent can guide and lead the child, he or she MUST do so without any compromise—sadly, the above article does not show such important commitment.
Christianity Under Attack in Europe? What “Christianity”?
The Independent wrote on December 24:
“The former Archbishop of Canterbury… said Christianity was under threat in Europe and elsewhere… ‘there is an increasing timidity on the part of churchgoers in the West – about even admitting that they have a faith in the workplace.’… Lord Carey said last month that Christianity was a ‘generation away from extinction’ in the UK.”
Breitbart News wrote on December 24:
“Young people in Britain are confused about the story of Christ’s birth as told in the Bible… one in 10 young people ages 18-24 believe ‘Father Christmas’ was a ‘Biblical figure mentioned in Gospel accounts of Jesus Christ’s birth.’ Seven percent of respondents in the poll believed ‘there was a Christmas tree mentioned in the Bible,’ and a third of the 2,000 respondents believed ‘the Bible specifies Dec. 25 as the day Christ was born.’”
This ignorance is appalling. Of course, a Christmas tree IS mentioned in the Bible, in Jeremiah 10, but it is strongly condemned by God.
Should we wear phylacteries today?
Some orthodox Jews wear leather boxes (“phylacteries”) which contain portions of Old Testament passages. They base this custom on Scriptures in Deuteronomy and Exodus.
One of those passages is Deuteronomy 6:6-8, which states, in connection with the pronouncement of the Ten Commandments:
“And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall BIND them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as FRONTLETS between your eyes.”
In addition, another passage used for the custom of wearing phylacteries, is Deuteronomy 11:18, which states, in connection with the second giving of the Ten Commandments:
“Therefore you shall lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and BIND them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as FRONTLETS between your eyes.”
How are we to follow today these commandments in Deuteronomy? Are we to follow the example of the Jews at the time of Christ, or the example of some Jews today, in wearing phylacteries?
Friedman, Commentary of the Torah, explains, that the command to bind the law on one’s hand and to bind it between the eyes “came to be taken literally, requiring one to wear BOXES [in Hebrew tephillin; in Greek phylacteries] on one’s ARM and HEAD containing passages from the Torah [the five books of Moses]. In the Tanak [the entire Old Testament], however, this expression is meant figuratively, meaning to keep these teachings at hand… and right before one’s eyes.”
Let us note Matthew 23:5, where Jesus makes a reference to “phylacteries”:
“But all their works they do to be seen by men. They make their phylacteries broad and enlarge the borders of their garments.”
Christ did not approve of the custom, but He used it as an example to point out the hypocrisy of the Pharisees and the scribes.
The Ryrie Study Bible says:
“… some Jews still wear phylacteries… BOUND on the forehead and on the left ARM above the elbow… A phylactery was a square leather box which contained four strips of parchment on which were written (portions from Exodus and Deuteronomy). During prayer one was worn on the forehead between the eyebrows and another on the left arm close to the elbow. They were held in place by leather bands, which the Pharisees made broad to attract more attention to themselves… phylacteries had only begun to be used by the ultra-pious in Christ’s day…”
According to some commentaries, the custom of wearing phylacteries began sometime after the Jews had returned from the Babylonian captivity. As an aside, IF the passages in Deuteronomy were to be understood literally as commanding the phylacteries to be worn “on your hand, and… as frontlets between your eyes,” the Jews would not have kept this command anyhow, as they were not wearing them on their HAND, but they did so on their left ARM.
In fact, these phylacteries had been given a superstitious application. Dummelow writes in his “Commentary on the Holy Bible”:
“The rabbis held these phylacteries… in the highest veneration. They were to be kissed when put on or off… they were a preservative against demons, whence their name phylacteries, i.e. amulets (from a Greek word meaning ‘to guard.’). They were sworn by, by touching them.”
Young, Analytical Concordance of the Holy Bible, defines the word “phylactery” as “a guard, a charm,” and Vine, “Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words,” writes:
“any kind of safeguard… especially to denote an amulet… it was supposed to have potency as a charm against evils and demons.”
Apart from this very dangerous and ungodly development, the passages in Deuteronomy 6 and 11 were meant to be applied figuratively, not literally, and most certainly not in connection with phylacteries, as can be seen from the following passages:
We read in Exodus 13:7-10, 15-16:
“Unleavened bread shall be eaten seven days. And no leavened bread shall be seen among you, nor shall leaven be seen among you in all your quarters. And you shall tell your son in that day, saying, ‘This is done because of what the LORD did for me when I came up from Egypt.’ It shall be as a sign to you on your hand and as a memorial between your eyes, the LORD’S law may be in your mouth; for with a strong hand the LORD has brought you out of Egypt. You shall therefore keep this ordinance in its season from year to year…
“‘And it came to pass, when Pharaoh was stubborn about letting us go, that the LORD killed all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both the firstborn of man and the firstborn of beast. Therefore I sacrifice to the LORD all males that open the womb, but all the firstborn of my sons I redeem.’ It shall be as a sign on your HAND and as FRONTLETS between your eyes, for by strength of hand the LORD brought us out of Egypt.”
Here the reference of “binding” certain passages on the forehead and on the hand applied to the historical situation pertaining to the death of the firstborn, the exodus from Egypt and the Days of Unleavened Bread. Jews claim that these passages are also to be contained in the phylactery boxes. But they do not include passages from the following sections:
Proverbs 3:3 says: “Let not mercy and truth forsake you; BIND them around your neck, WRITE them on the tablet of your heart.”
Here mercy and truth are to be bound around one’s neck and to be written on the tablets of our heart—but Jews do not include this passage in their leather boxes.
Proverbs 6:21 states: “BIND them continually upon your heart; TIE them around your neck.” A particular law is to be bound upon one’s heart and to be tied around the neck. The context is the command and admonition against adultery, compare verses 20, 22-24, 27-29.
Proverbs 7:3 adds: “Bind them on the fingers; Write them on the tablet of your heart.”
A particular provision is to be bound on one’s fingers and the tablet of the heart, and the context is again the prohibition of adultery, compare verse 5.
Let us notice again that Deuteronomy 6:6,8; 11:18 and Exodus 13:16 say that God’s law is to be “IN your heart” and that it is to be “AS a sign on your hand,” and “AS frontlets between your eyes.” This is clearly figurative language, which is not to be understood literally. This includes what we do with our hand and what and how we think.
The Sabbath is a good example. On it, we refrain from work with our hands, and we worship God with our mind. But we are warned that people will follow the false prophet (a religious leader) to receive the mark of the beast (a political leader) on their right hand or on their forehead (see Revelation 13:16-17), showing that they will work with their hands on the Sabbath and refuse to worship God on this day, while setting aside Sunday as a day of rest.
If we are true Christians, we do not need physical reminders such as phylacteries to remind us of God’s law. Today, God’s Holy Spirit in us reminds us of God’s law, and the law of God is being written on our hearts and minds (Romans 5:5 says that the love of God, which is defined as keeping the commandments (1 John 5:3), is poured out IN our hearts by the Holy Spirit).
Hebrews 8:10 describes the New Covenant, and true Christians—spiritual Israelites—are living already today under the conditions of the New Covenant:
“For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My laws in their mind and WRITE them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.”
God’s law must be written in our hearts—to wear physical boxes such as phylacteries in superstitious ways to “remind” us of the law is not what God intends us to do.
Lead Writer: Norbert Link
Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock
“Childrearing in a Christian-Jewish Family,” is the title of a new StandingWatch program presented by Evangelist Norbert Link. Here is a summary:
Recently, a Jewish lady wrote about the difficulty of raising her child together with a Christian father, especially around Christmas and Easter time. In this program, we are showing important principles for marriage and childrearing, explain 1 Corinthians 7:39, and clear up rampant misunderstandings. We point out that compromise is never a solution, and reveal that Christmas and Easter are not Christian. We offer our free booklets, “The Keys to Happy Marriages and Families” and “Don’t Keep Christmas.”
To go along with this week’s Question and Answer topic, you might want to view last week’s sermonette presentation by Nobert Link on the subject of phylacteries–titled, “Phylacteries Today?” Here is a summary:
In several Old Testament passages, the command is given to bind the law on one’s hand and between one’s eyes. At the time of Christ, Jews had taken these passages literally and had begun to wear boxes with portions of the law, called tephillin or phylacteries. Some Jews still do this today. But did God ever require this of His followers, and if not, what exactly is the intended meaning?
“Gottes Wirken in der Tierwelt,” is the sermon which will be played this coming Sabbath to the German brethren.This is the second in a series of sermons on the biblical teaching about animals. The title in English is: “God’s Work in the Animal World.”
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This Update is an official publication by the ministry of the Church of the Eternal God in the United States of America; the Church of God, a Christian Fellowship in Canada; and the Global Church of God in the United Kingdom.
Editorial Team: Norbert Link, Dave Harris, Rene Messier, Brian Gale, Margaret Adair, Johanna Link, Eric Rank, Michael Link, Anna Link, Kalon Mitchell, Manuela Mitchell, Dawn Thompson
Technical Team: Eric Rank, Shana Rank
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