We had a great time this morning at the truck stop. We had four drivers, our regular guest Matt, and I brought a friend from Lees Summit.
My plans today were to do a study of the Sabbath beginning in Genesis, but instead we had a study on a few of the Holy Days beginning in Genesis. We started with the sin of Adam and Eve, and Matt mentioned that when God told them that they would die if they ate from the tree, they probably didn’t know what He meant because they had never seen death before this. This led to a discussion about God clothing them with skins, which would have meant the death of an innocent animal (and the shedding of blood), which would have been a precursor of the sacrifice of the innocent Lamb of God.
This lead to Exodus 12 and the Passover, and the parallels between that and the accounts of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ in the Gospels.
We then talked about the differences between the Old and New Covenants, and I was pleased that they could see that the problem with the Old Covenant was not the covenant but the people, who were unable to live by it. This led to a discussion of Pentecost and the likelihood that the Old Covenant was made with Israel at about that time, and how the New Covenant was ratified by the giving of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost. It is that Holy Spirit which writes the law in our hearts, as indicated in Hebrews 8.
So we had our basis for discussion, and I was pleased to see the depth of Bible understanding that they had.
One item that struck me earlier this week was a broadcast of Hank Hannegraff where a Muslim had called him and challenged him to show from the words of Jesus and Jesus alone that Jesus was in fact God. He didn’t want to hear what Paul had to say or John, or anybody else, but from the words of Jesus Himself. Did Jesus Himself ever claim to be God? I commented on my disappointment of Hanks lame answers, and asked the men how they would answer a Muslim on this matter. Without missing a beat, one of the drivers said that Jesus claimed to be the I AM. Indeed! I was struck how the truck driver could get to the heart of the issue and the Bible Answer Man could not.
I posited a different approach. I suggested asking the Muslim this question: If I were to show you where Jesus claimed to be God, would you then believe Him and follow Him? I would bet the Muslim would not take up the challenge. They dont accept the Bibles authority on such matters anyway. This led to a long discussion on how Jesus dealt with questions from the Pharisees.
The idea of the Trinity was an interesting sidelight. I asked these drivers how they would answer a Muslim who might accuse them of not being monotheistic because they believe in three Gods, and I got as answers a lot of stumbling, confused comments, which is what I expected. For whatever reason, I was unable to follow up with a challenge to the traditional beliefs of the Trinity, but instead we discussed the meaning of the word one (echad in Hebrew) and the prayer of Jesus in John 17 that talks in terms of the people of God becoming one as we are one. I need to find a way to approach this subject with them and stimulate thought. In any case, I suggested that they might want to think through how they would answer a Muslim if they were to be asked this question. One of the reasons that Islam is the worlds fastest growing religion is its rigid monotheism as opposed to the self-contradictory explanation Christians give for the Trinity, which in my mind is why Hank fell all over himself this week.
Today was an inspiration and a highlight, as these studies usually are.
[Using John 9:8, most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM, is not a good proof that Christ is God. While the NKJV and a couple other translations capitalize I AM, most do not and there is nothing in the Greek manuscripts to indicate that they should. It is no different than dozens of other uses of I am in the New Testament, one of which is: Therefore the neighbors and those who previously had seen that he was blind said, Is not this he who sat and begged? Some said, This is he. Others said, He is like him. He [the blind man] said, I am he (John 9: 8).
The last word he, above, is not in the Greekthe blind man is saying I am in the same way Jesus did. Also, I am is not a good translation of what God said to Moses in Exodus 3:14. The Hebrew there is in the future tense. Hebrew translations often have something like I shall be or I-will-be-there as the Fox translation has it. Neverthess, John 9:8 is a great proof that Christ existed before Abraham. Also John 14:9 says: He who has seen Me has seen the Father. That is claiming to be God to me. NSE]
We had four visitors today, and then a fifth later near the end of the study. One of the gentlemen has visited us many times, and he has been around enough that I am beginning to wonder if he considers this to be his church. So be it if it is!
I began with Genesis 2 and discussed briefly the rest that God established. Why did God feel a need to rest by establishing the Sabbath day? Obviously God was not tired, so why did He rest? I think it is interesting that the first thing God did after making the first man and woman was to take a break and spend time with them. He stopped working and took time to build a relationship.
We went down through a few chapters of Genesis, including
the taking of the forbidden fruit. The assertion of the serpent that you
shall be as gods and that they would know good and evil is very much
akin to the modern concepts of moral relativism. People think they can figure
out good and evil for themselves without God, and in fact are taking on the
prerogative of God.
One of the men mentioned his conclusion that a new seeker might be better served by being given just a New Testament. This was not to say that the Old Testament is worthless, but that new seekers often begin in Genesis, then get bogged down in all the begats and give up. If they begin with the gospels, they are more likely to stay with it and come to know Jesus Christ. The Old Testament can be picked up later.
Near the end of the study, a fifth guest arrived, and he and I stayed around afterward for the better part of an hour and talked.
It turns out he is a Seventh Day Baptist, and we had a great discussion about the history of that denomination. He grew up in that church, but he tells me his grandfather had a library of old books containing their history that he presumes was donated to the denomination at his death. He would hope one day to get his hands on them. To him without question the seventh day is the Sabbath, but unlike his grandfather he has not studied the subject inside out and wonders how Christians came to worship on Sunday.
He mentioned that the SDB congregation he grew up in had split in two some time around World War II, and he believes it was split because of contention between the English members and the German members over the war, although no one talked about it and discouraged him from asking. However, in spite of their split, they still came together for socials and what-not. He could never understand why they didn’t just merge.
Too bad he wasnt at the Bible study in the beginning where I planted some Sabbath seeds. But God has His own ways.
[It is easy for us, an outside group, to say, Yes, why don’t they merge if nobody even wants to talk about why they split? Now lets talk about a young person or a new believer in one of the corporate Church of God groups. Will he or she be any less puzzled as to why these groups do not meet together and work together today? What will he or she think if they are still divided 10, 20 or 30 years from now? NSE]
Most weeks the studies are interesting but nothing out of the ordinary. We cover a few topics, give the drivers a place to study and pray, and know we have done some good. Today was a different sort of day.
Along with the three drivers and me, I was joined by Darwin Keesee. Before getting started we were talking about various Bible translations. Darwin had his Companion Bible with him, and we talked about its study notes and the appendices, one of which gives a very good explanation of three days and three nights, which we threw out to seed a question. One of the drivers, however, was way ahead of us and knew that the Friday/Sunday tradition doesnt work. His congregation somewhere in Georgia has been involved in some rather interesting studies lately including this topic, and he has learned that the Sabbath was changed around the time of Constantine. Moreover, they have been studying the Holy Days and their meaning. He had purchased a book written by John Hagee on the subject of the Holy Days, and shortly thereafter his church began to study them.
Well, the door was opened, so we turned to Leviticus 23, began with the first verse, and just went down through the chapter, referring back and forth between the Old and New Testaments, explaining those days in terms of their relationship to Jesus Christ and the Gospel. The men loved it, although the gentleman from Georgia knew much of this already. There were some insights that were new to him, and he was eagerly gobbling up everything we were saying. It was wonderful seeing these men realize how God has woven the two Testaments together into a unified whole.
Time allowed us to get up to Trumpets. As it turns out, CEM had just sent me a box of tapes for distribution, all of which are from the Holy Day series, and I was pleased to give them some.
Afterwards Darwin and I were talking, and the question arose: Whats going on here? Here is a man who learned about the Holy Days first of all from a mainstream Protestant evangelist, and then had it reinforced by his own congregation, who are not only studying the Holy Days, but issues such as the Sabbath and the sign of Jonah. Could it be that God is raising up stones to the sons of Abraham because the Churches of God have been so pathetically weak? Are we so close to the end times, and is the Church of God so weak that God is exercising His sovereignty without us?
In any case, it was intimated to the gentleman from Georgia that he has some important knowledge. Now what is he going to do with it?
[God has always exercised His Sovereignty with or without us—the Church of God groups have covered only a small part of the world for only a short part of its history. Searching the Internet for Sabbath, Holy Days, Feast of Tabernacles produces thousands of hits, many of which have nothing to do with Church of God groups. I beleive Church of God groups are so busy trying to get their doctrine perfect and woo other CoG members to their group that they are not spending enough time teaching others. We often quote John 6:44, No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him, but forget that we have no gaurantee that He has to call them through our group. Thanks for making the point, Lenny, and thanks, through these studies, for showing that neither money not a large number of people are needed to teach others what we know.]
Lenny Cacchio; 705 NE
Bryant Drive, Lees Summit, Missouri 64068