A Christmas Message ...
The Love of the Truth
--In love, there is truth. In greed and lust, there is deceit.
We want our government leaders to champion our traditional democratic values and culture, the liberty and way of life that strikes a resounding cord within us. Yet if we were told what we, the people, needed to do to attain this state of wellness, we'd balk at doing so. Why? ... because we've become indifferent. No longer feeling empowered to shape our lives in any meaningful way, we resign ourselves, tolerating lies and fables in place of the truth, most notably at airports, during election years and each year regarding the ever expanding Christmas tradition, which has become so deeply rooted in our society on so many levels.
We even have an official national Christmas tree. Being politically correct, it is surrounded by 56 little Christmas trees, representing 50 states, five territories and one for the District of Columbia. This annual three week long tradition, begun in 1923, is the Pageant of Peace, despite the ongoing undeclared wars in which the US is engaged. Are we Christians even aware Christ said, "Do not think that I came to bring peace on Earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword." [Mat. 10:34]. Perhaps this event should be renamed the Pageant of the Sword. At least this would be in keeping with what Christ actually said and what we do. [See the Feature article, Merry Christmas?].
Our society today is a direct result of what we've allowed it to become and continue to willingly embrace. It's blowback, the negative consequence of cause and effect. Evangelicals, at the Third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization in October 2010, were frantic, warning that people are abandoning the traditional churches and atheism is becoming the new religion. No wonder.
Our Christian actions, in terms of time and money, confirm we already prefer the mythical god Santa Claus, still embraced and celebrated with their children by these very same evangelicals, over Christ, in large part due to the irrelevancy of what is passed off by mainstream Christianity as the "gospel." [See the Feature article, What Exactly Is The Gospel?]. If these same evangelicals genuinely claim to speak and live the truth, it would seem logical that they would denounce Santa Claus and the entire Christmas myth. Yet, they wonder why people are turning away from the hypocrisy and futility they see daily in corporate religion. This is not to say individuals are not sincere. But sincerely believing a fable does not make it the truth.
However, we would do well to be introspective rather than look to politicians who spin deceit into the appearance of truth to get elected, or to "Christian" leaders who have become ignorant. As Jeremiah put it, "For the shepherds have become brutish [stupid], and Jehovah they have not sought. Therefore, they have not acted wisely, and all their flock is scattered.” [Jer. 10:21, YNG; see the Feature article, The Tie That Binds].
A straightforward case in point, a multitude of churches still display a nativity scene showing wise men at the manger. Yet it is so clear in the second chapter of the New Testament, Matthew two, that they didn't show up until upwards of two years later when Christ was a young child living in a house! While this may seem like a trivial point of fact, it is huge in principle. We either love the truth or we don't. [Gal. 5:9]. For those who are judicious regarding these matters, this season consider giving yourself, your children, and if you have them, your grandchildren the gift of the love of the truth. [See the Feature article, Three Temple Ages Make A Plan].
There is a square one in all this if we choose to extricate ourselves from the escalating and pervasive holiday morass and make a clean start. Our daily lives can have relevancy, provided we have the resolve to make a change, no longer settling for the status quo. And it begins with simply knowing the truth of who we Christians are in the Biblical record. It is contained in Christ's very direct and simple statement. "I am not sent except to the lost sheep of the House of Israel." [Mat. 15:24]. In fact, Christ specifically instructed the twelve apostles, when he sent them out, not to go to the Gentiles, but "go rather to the lost sheep of the House of Israel." [Mat. 10:5, 6].
At first blush, this is completely foreign to our historical perspective of Christianity, which just goes to show how far off the path we've wandered from our first century roots. Our children know more about the imaginary Santa Claus and his reindeer than they truthfully know about Christ and his apostles. Yet, are we to believe Christ was ignorant of what he was saying or worse, lying when he made this statement about the House of Israel?
Secondly, according to the New Testament, it is the God of the living, our Father, who is the Savior of all men or mankind [Greek, anthropos, 1 Tim. 4:10], and not his Son Christ. [See Mat. 16:16; see the Feature article, What About Everyone Else?]. And does not Christ himself instruct us that when we pray, it is to our Father? And whose "kingdom come ..." whose "will be done on earth as it is in heaven?" Was Christ wrong here too? Contrary to the specious nature of what we've come to believe, our Father sent Christ for a very specific purpose to a specific group of people, you and me ... the House of Israel.
It's probable that few today have even heard of the House of Israel, not to be confused with the nation-state of Israel, or the Jews, who Biblically, are the House of Judah. They are two entirely different Biblical entities. Theologically, it's as if the House of Israel was made of the element gallium and somewhere between the last page of the Old Testament and the first page of the New Testament, it was dipped into a cup of warm water, vanishing before our very eyes. [See the book, The Disappearing Spoon, p. 54, Sam Kean, 2010].
Knowing our true Biblical identity puts us back on the right path of insight and relevancy in life. It makes new the entire Biblical record, providing us with the understanding of the two thousand year old original message lost along the way since it was delivered to our ancestors of the House of Israel in the first century. [See the Feature articles, The Good News Colour Revolution and Moving Forward].
Yet, instead of Christians taking Christ at his word [now there's a concept for you], many take the ubiquitous John 3:16 out of context and run with it assuming it means something it does not. It's highly probable that it is the most misused verse in the New Testament. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." [See the Feature article, Mirror, Mirror On The Wall]. Not knowing our true Biblical identity has erroneously taken us down a far and wide path to Santa's snowy doorstep. [Mat. 7:13, 14].
So, lo and behold, here we are at the end of 2010 in a very large, complicated mess, with the past decade costing trillions in war related expenditures, not to mention the deleterious wars, both foreign and domestic, that affect society in general and families and friends in particular. With US state governments either bankrupt or headed that way, very high unemployment rates, coupled with trillions of dollars in lost housing values the past few years, plus the millions of people in the US who've lost their homes, with all those chimneys for Santa to slide down [Lost Homes Now Wall Street Rentals], and others who are close to it, so that as the Christmas season grows longer year by year, our situation seems to grow corresponding worse. Collectively, we've managed to garner a sock full of coal. I wonder why. [For an enlightened secular analysis, see Taking Down America and A Brave New Dystopia].
By the way, the correct context of John 3:16 is contained within the entirety of the Biblical record, which is rooted in the promises made back in the book of Genesis and addressed in the New Testament. Before we address John 3:16, answer this question, "Is Christ or the Antichrist a liar?" Now answer this too, "Do Christians believe Christ was sent only to the lost sheep of the House of Israel as he made bluntly clear to a gentile woman?" If we believe the Antichrist to be the liar, and we don't believe Christ was being completely truthful when he said he was sent only to the lost sheep of the House of Israel, who, exactly, is it we believe? By default, it looks likes Santa Claus again.
The "yes, buts" with their disingenuous understanding will hurriedly run down the path to John 3:16, to show that Christ came to save the whole world. Of course, if you've read many of the articles here and in the Elephant books [now complimentary PDFs on the Home page], you will realize the Greek word world here is not anthropos, meaning mankind, nor oikoumene, the inhabited Earth, but it is the word kosmos which refers, correctly in context of the Biblical record, to a harmonious arrangement, order or covenant rather than a world full of people. In its greatest manifestation, the kosmos is the totality of God's plan.
As we read in John 3:19, "And this is the condemnation that light [the truth through Christ, which leads to life] is come into the world [kosmos], and men [anthropos] loved darkness [lies and deceit, John 8:44, that lead to death] rather than light because their deeds were evil." This is not only applicable with theological issues, but it is rather apparent in secular issues as recent events have shown.
In the context of John 3, we see that kosmos, translated as world, and men, or mankind, anthropos, are not one in the same. God's plan, in context, was corrupted by evilness which is authored by Satan and is why the House of Israel was divorced to begin with. Adam and Eve had the same problem. God's plan for us is corrupted by lies and deceit when we stray from his truth. Satan is the destroyer. His plan, or world, is the corruption of that which God has put in place. Christ brought victory, ultimately bringing God's plan to fruition in the establishment of the kingdom of God on Earth. "And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent called the Devil and Satan, which deceives the whole world ...." [Rev. 12:9; also 1 Cor 15:57; Isa. 25:6-9]. The word world here is oikoumene meaning the inhabited earth.
As part of God's plan, his harmonious arrangement, the kosmos, the House of Israel has a unique relationship with Christ based on the promises of our ancestral covenant. And of course, if we understood this in the context of the Biblical record, and followed its history, rather than Santa on his annual trek across the winter solstice skies [Tts. 1:13, 14], we would realize this. And we would realize that Christ gave us the law covenant and the Abrahamic covenant. And we would realize that the Abrahamic covenant was made, as we can read in the book of Genesis, with Abraham and his Seed, Christ, as the apostle Paul so clearly pointed out. [See Gal. 3:16-19]. Properly understood, it is this part of the kosmos or harmonious arrangement with Abraham, the Abrahamic covenant, which is referenced in John 3:16. It returns us, the formerly divorced House of Israel, to our deliberate place in God's plan. This is the good news or gospel.
When we realize, for purposes of the covenant made with Abraham and his heirs, [See the Feature article, We're Abraham's Seed And Heirs] that Abraham's grandson was Israel, and not the entire gentile population of Earth, a little bit of logic goes a long way in helping us understand that Christ was being truthful when he said our Father sent him only to the lost sheep of the House of Israel, nations with national identities today according to the Biblical record. [See Gen. 49]. This bit of relevant information in today's world, lost in large part due to our misreading John 3:16, has disappeared from the collective consciousness of Christian churches as well. [See the Feature article, Ten Horns, Ten Nations].
However, we should not be lulled into the false comfort that Christianity, to borrow a recent phrase, is too big to fail. Not only is Christianity today on track to fail, but is on track to fail spectacularly. Bluntly, what we know as Christianity today is on a collision course with its own destruction. This event is commonly referred to as the Apocalypse. And who is it that will visit upon Christianity the horrible events of the Apocalypse? It's none other than Christ himself. [Isa. 63:10]. Poignantly, the Third Lausanne Congress chairman Doug Birdsall said, "We are not here to relive the glory days of previous years but to say 'God do something fresh in our times.'" Perhaps we should be careful what we ask for. [See the Feature article, And Now, A Word From Our Sponsor].
"I Myself [Christ] will fight against you with an outstretched hand and with a strong arm, even in anger and fury and great wrath." [Jer. 21:5] "All your lovers have forgotten you; They do not seek you; For I have wounded you with the wound of an enemy, with the chastisement of a cruel one, for the multitude of your iniquities, your sins have increased." "Alas! For that day is great, So that none is like it; And it is the time of Jacob's [all Israel's] trouble ...." [Jer. 30:14, 7]. Seems like the Pageant of the Sword is not only doable, but a given.
Notice this is not referred to as the time of the Gentile's trouble for the simple reason that the harmonious arrangement or covenant referenced by John was made with Abraham and Christ. [See Mat. 1:1]. And the reason why the Book of Apocalypse or Revelation is so difficult for Christians to understand is that we don't understand our place in Biblical history. If we did, then we would understand our place in Biblical prophecy. Discerning our place in Biblical prophecy, we would hasten with all haste to ditch Santa and all the Christmas folderol. Alas, all this falls on deaf ears because we Christians refuse to take Christ at his word. Instead, our deeds show we prefer the familiar and comfortable mendacity of Santa and our decorated pine trees. [Read the Feature article, Christ Agaisnt Christians? and the Sneakers article, We Don't Believe You].
To put this into perspective as to why it is so important that we follow the truth as set out in the Biblical record, rather than our personal opinions, it goes to the heart and core of why Christ became our, the House of Israel's, Savior as opposed to all the people in the world. Rather than put forth our own reasons why we think he did or didn't do this, let see what the Biblical record, which is one book written for the same people, says.
As we find written in the prophecy of Isaiah, "... the great goodness toward the House of Israel, which he [Christ] has bestowed on them according to his mercies, and according to the multitude of his lovingkindnesses. For he said, Surely they [the House of Israel] are my people, children that will not lie: so He was their Savior." [Isa. 63:7, 8].
First, we see in the Biblical record that our Lord, Christ, has bestowed great goodness and mercies according to the multitude of, not just kindness towards the House of Israel, but his lovingkindnesses. And it was Christ who pointed out that "Greater love [Greek, agape] has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends [Greek, philos]." [John 15:13].
Christ also made the indisputable point in the Old Testament that the House of Israel are my people, which together with the plain statement by Christ in the New Testament, "I am not sent except to the lost sheep of the House of Israel," should give us a big clue as to whom Christ was truly sent.
Why are we of the House of Israel Christ's people? Because Christ said, they are children that will not lie, or deal falsely as the Hebrew verb shaqar means. And because the children of the House of Israel will not lie or deal falsely, Christ did what? He was our, the House of Israel's, Savior, which takes us back to square one.
Theologically, then, the House of Israel has moved from being children who will not lie to our situation today in which we don't even know we are the House of Israel much less what is the truth. Instead, we lie to our children about Santa Claus and the gifts he allegedly brings them. The true gifts of Santa are our ignorance, lack of prudence and love of the lie. Therefore, we shouldn't be too surprised that many young adults are taking the atheist route. If our elders lied to us about Santa Claus and the gifts he supposedly brought us as young children, how can we be sure they aren't lying to us now about Christ and the gift of the Holy Spirit? Unwittingly, we have trained our children well. [Pro. 22:6].
The core question we need answered is why, specifically, did the House of Israel need Christ to be our savior and not the whole world? It's because the House of Israel, and the House of Israel only, was divorced from God, excluded from the covenant promises, which are part of God's plan. Excepting the House of Judah, no other people on Earth were included in the law covenant, or are the beneficiaries of the covenant promises made with Abraham. And, it was because of Solomon's less than exemplary reign as king of all Israel, that all Israel was split into two houses, the House of Judah, the Jews, and the House of Israel, who are all the other sons of Israel excepting the Levites who were priests for both houses. [See the flow chart at the bottom of the Feature article, The Tale Of Two Covenants].
A couple centuries or so after this split, we read in Jeremiah, "Then I saw that for all the causes for which backsliding [House of] Israel had committed adultery, I had put her away and given her a certificate of divorce; yet her treacherous sister [House of] Judah did not fear, but went and played the harlot also." [Jer. 3:8].
The House of Israel was divorced. Our ancestors, being divorced, were the only people outside the covenant agreement made with Abraham and all Israel. The only way to restore the harmonious arrangement or agreement and covenant promises for us beginning with our ancestors in the first century, the House of Israel, was to get us from under the penalty of death of the law covenant. And the only way to get us from under this covenant to the Abrahamic covenant [the kosmos, John 3:16] was to fulfill the terms of the law covenant on our behalf. And there is only one way the new covenant could come into effect for us.
"And for this reason He [Christ] is the Mediator of the new [Abrahamic] covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance." The apostle Paul makes it very clear here. Christ gave his life to redeem those who transgressed the first covenant. Who was under the first or law covenant, all the gentiles of the world or all twelve nations of Israel? [See the Feature article, Galilee Of The Gentiles].
The apostle Paul continues, "For where there is a testament, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is in force after men are dead, since it has no power at all while the testator lives. Therefore not even the first [law] covenant was dedicated without blood. For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water, scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, saying, 'This is the blood of the covenant which God has commanded you.'" [Heb. 9:15-20].
And this was the covenant, according to the Biblical record, under which the House of Israel, and the House of Israel only, was put away or divorced from God. No other nations or peoples in "the world" qualify here. [See the Feature article, Damascus A Heap Of Ruins].
"For Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us; not that He should offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood of another- ... so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. [Sin being the transgression of the law covenant made only with Israel, 1 John 3:4; many, Greek, polus, meaning many, and not all as in all the world]. To those who eagerly wait for Him, He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation." [Heb. 9:24, 25, 28].
Thus Christ, who was sent only to the lost sheep of the House of Israel, many people to be sure, but not all people, was telling the truth. There was a testament or covenant, which in this case was the law covenant, under which only the House of Israel was divorced. Christ broke that law covenant as we can read in the Old Testament prophecy of Zechariah.
"And I took my staff, Beauty, and cut it in two, that I might break the [law] covenant which I had made with the people [Hebrew, 'am, kinsmen of Israel, Exd. 24:3-8]. And the LORD said to me, "Throw it to the potter"-that princely price they set on me. So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them into the house of the LORD for the potter. Then I cut in two my other staff, Bonds, that I might break the brotherhood between Judah and Israel." [Zec. 11:12-14].
"And [Judas] said [to the chief priests], 'What will you give me, and I will deliver him [Christ] unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver.'" [Mat. 26:15]. It is interesting that Christ was betrayed by Judas/Judah, as it reads in Greek, as the bonds of brotherhood that were broken were between the House of Judah and the House of Israel exactly as Christ said. But it was not the descendants of Judah who put Christ to death. [Read chapter six, The Blind Man's Elephant, for details very relevant for us today].
While Israel was divorced, the children of Judah, the Jews, did not suffer this lot but were taken captive about a century and a half later by the Babylonians. "Solomon's" temple was destroyed and the Ark of the Covenant never returned to an earthly temple.
Thus, the House of Israel was divorced from God, cast outside the promises of the Abrahamic covenant, the harmonious arrangement, the kosmos that God so loves. In a word, they were lost. They sat in darkness, children without light until Christ ransomed them with his life fulfilling the law covenant on behalf of the House of Israel, and first granting to our ancestors the Holy Spirit according to the terms of the Abrahamic covenant, which is of faith and not of the works of the law.
And on the very first day of Christianity, we read in the New Testament, which by now should not be surprising, "Therefore let all the House of Israel know assuredly that God [who sent Christ to begin with] has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ [Savior] ... Then Peter said to them [House of Israel], Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." [Acts 2:36,38]. This was the first time in history that the gift of the Holy Spirit was made available, and it was available to the House of Israel, exactly to whom Christ said he was sent.
It's appropriate then that we should consider here that the House of Israel is even warned about staying away from Christmas trees. "Hear the word which the LORD speaks to you, House of Israel. Do not learn the way of the heathens; Do not be dismayed at the signs of heaven [winter solstice, December 25, the date chosen by the Roman emperor Constantine in the 4th century], For the heathens are dismayed at them. For the customs of the heathen are futile; For one cuts a tree from the forest, The work of the hands of the workman, with the ax. They decorate it with silver and gold; They fasten it with nails and hammers so that it will not topple." [Jer. 10:1-3]. This is why those supermarket parking lot trees don't fall over. In case you were wondering, the US national Christmas tree, a Colorado Blue Spruce, was transplanted from Pennsylvania. However, it was destroyed in a storm after the writing of this article Saturday, 19 February 2011. [See the Feature article, Our Corrupted Compass].
Where are we today, then, in light of this? First, the House of Israel is told by our Lord not to learn the way of the heathen, cutting trees out of the forest, decorating them with ornaments at the winter solstice. Then Christ emphatically said he didn't come to bring peace on Earth, but a sword. So what does Christianity do? We learn the way of the heathen, we decorate our trees with gold and silver colored ornaments, and then during the winter solstice period, our national leaders institute a three week long event, with a national tree surrounded by 56 other little ones, supposedly honoring Christ, and then we name it the Pageant of Peace!
Irrationally, we don't believe Christ was sent only to the lost sheep of the House of Israel as he said. Instead, we not only have learned the ways of the heathen, but we have far exceeded anything they would have imagined, again contrary to what we are told by our Lord and Savior. We've become anti-Christ Christians. Hence, we find ourselves in our current predicament. And why is this? Isaiah the prophet has our answer. "But they [House of Israel] rebelled, and vexed his Holy Spirit, therefore he [Christ] was turned to be their enemy, and he fought against them." [Isa. 63:10].
Not only has current day Christianity rebelled by dealing falsely with our heritage, we have lost sight of it and the truth. We don't believe Christ. We don't take him at his word. No wonder our children are becoming atheists. And if we don't follow Christ, who is it we follow? Again, it looks like the mythical Santa Claus. And because we don't take Christ at his word, we have come to embrace the deceits and lies. Thus, we are a people who once would not lie, to become people who don't recognize the truth when it hits us right between the eyes. While we embrace Santa Claus, we have turned our backs to Christ despite the superficial lip service we give. And for the most part, we really don't care. [Rev. 3:15-19]. Because of this, our Savior has told us he has become our enemy. And as long as we continue on this path, we are destined to pay an increasingly heavy price for our willful ignorance.
The reason for our date with the apocalypse is simple. "... because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness." [2 Ths. 2:10-12].
I would be remiss if I didn't bring this to you especially at this time of the year. After all, the apostle Paul admonished us, "Lie not to one another, seeing that you have put off the old man with his deeds; and have put on the new [baptism and receiving of the Holy Spirit as Peter told the House of Israel on that first day of Christianity], which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him." [Col. 3:9,10].
What will we, the redeemed House of Israel, do this Christmas season? Receive the love of the truth or, continue placing our faith in fables and lies, "vexing His Holy Spirit" with its very real consequences?
Merry Christmas? Don't count on it.
-- Michael J. Miller, 2010
Postscript: Biblical ID in 3-D
I am continually amazed that professed Christians don't believe Christ when he makes plain statements. Rather than trust Christ explicitly, we boorishly assume we are right, and proceed to use other verses, out of context, to show that Christ didn't know what he was talking about or was just plain wrong. Else how do we explain our disbelief of Matthew 15:24?
Therefore, we need to ask ourselves, why is it so important for Christians to believe Christ when he said I am sent [by God the Father] only to the lost sheep of the House of Israel?
Imagine attempting to watch a 3-D movie with just our own eyes. Everything on the screen would be a jumbled blur. It would be so frustrating to continue, that we'd probably get up and leave. But what happens when we pop on a pair of those special 3-D glasses? Suddenly, everything on the screen becomes acutely clear. The action jumps out as us putting us right in the middle of these events. The movie has much more relevance for us as active participants rather than merely being confused observers.
Understanding that Christians are the descendants of the House of Israel, and that Christ was telling us the truth about being sent only to the House of Israel is like putting on a pair of Biblical 3-D glasses.
Suddenly, the Biblical record comes into focus with alarming clarity; the big picture jumps out at us, helping us see that we are vital participants in the events written about and for us. We can read our own history in astonishment, for the first time making sense of historical events as well as those warnings for us in Biblical prophecy.
We need to be well-read in the truth, not in the lies. Our erudite shepherds would be astounded to know how deep our ignorance runs and how much understanding and insight we are missing. [Heb. 5:12-14]. The events of the past 2000 years have a new meaning and relevance when seen in the light of the love of the truth. How stupid we are to cling to the lies and deceits of the Santa Claus season. It's perfectly reasonable why Christ has turned against us in great anger and fury. No longer children who will not lie, we pleasure in the desecration of his sacrifice for us.
Refusing this knowledge, we've become disinterested observers of Christianity, left only to dimly guess at our own prophetic future until, too late, these events come crashing down on our bewildered heads. However, with this insight, the path we've been traveling is made manifest, which is exactly the one Christ warned us of from the beginning in the first century.
Yes, Virginia, there is a square one. It's time we go back.
Be sure to read or re-read all the Christmas Message articles in The Feature Articles Holidays section as they remain relevant today.
Italics and [ ] are the author's.
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"Let not mercy and truth forsake you: bind them about your neck; write them upon the table of your heart."