Why the Wrath of God?

Why the Wrath of God?

By Kelly McDonald, Jr.

One aspect of the prophetic meaning of the Fall Holy Days that is often overlooked is the Wrath of God. Over the years, many scholars, preachers, and believers have asked the question: “Why the Wrath of God?” They say, “How can a loving God be so wrathful?” These questions are usually made in reference to prophetic books of the Bible, especially the book of Revelation. Admittedly, these are good questions, and in this article, we will help to answer them.

Before we delve into this subject, I think it is important for us to consider how humans have treated each other the last six thousand years. Just in the past one hundred years or so, over 100 million humans have died due to warfare and the consequences from it. We have seen genocide on the greatest level that has probably ever existed. Senseless acts of violence occur daily. The trend appears to be increasing. These callous acts are heartbreaking.

Jesus foretold that these days would come. He compared the end of this age to the days of Noah. “And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man” (Luke 17:26, KJV). In Genesis, we learn that the earth was filled with violence during Noah’s lifetime. “And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth. And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth” (Gen. 6:12-13). At that time, God sent a flood to end the needless bloodshed which filled the earth. We see this same pattern repeating itself in our times.

This subject brings up a good counter question: Is God supposed to allow humanity to continue to hurt, wound, and slay each other forever? Instead of questioning God for the existence of suffering, we should pause and examine ourselves and human nature. Why do we allow ourselves to do these things to each other? Most suffering exists because humans have corrupted their ways – as in the time of Noah. Christians around the world also suffer, so we are not exempt from this plight.

Imagine for a moment a world where everyone worked together, people looked out for their neighbor, and all humans thought about the greater good. Wouldn’t such a world be wonderful? The Bible depicts such a world that is to come (Micah 4:1-4 is a great example).

But why does this world not already exist? Do we have God to blame? Truly, we only have ourselves to blame. We want God to change the world for us, but humanity as a whole does not want to change its ways. As it is written, “There is none righteous, no, not one…” (Rom. 3:10). The utopia we all desire to see is coming. The Lord God is coming to establish perfect peace on the earth.

Various prophecies in the Bible foresaw a time where the violence of mankind towards each other would reach a climax. The earth would get so bad that humans would not survive at all unless God intervened. “And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold…For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened” (Matt. 24:10-12, 21-22).

During a future period called the Great Tribulation, there will be world war, famine, disease, and suffering such as never been seen in the past or ever again. The Book of Revelation explains how Christians alive at that time will be killed because they refused to compromise the Word of God.

“After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands… And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” (Rev. 7:9, 14).

Why will God not intervene to stop the slaying of so many believers? God has given humanity free will – a chance to choose between right and wrong. The believers who are martyred at that time are the testimony or witness of His way on earth. Other people will have the opportunity to see that testimony and walk in it. Everyone else will be so jealous and enraged at God’s way that they hurt believers. There are consequences for one’s choice. If God does not intervene in the death of these believers, then what would we expect His response to be towards those who slayed them?

The Great Tribulation and the Wrath of God which follows it are part of God’s plan to bring final judgment during this age. This explains why they happen at the end of it. In the first period, the whole world must decide if it will worship God or the beast power and its mark (Rev. chapter 13).

Those who follow God are martyred, but they will inherit eternal reward. Those who worship the beast and take its mark will choose the way of life that also expresses hate and violence towards others – as in the days of Noah (Cain’s descendants were also marked). They will be severely punished. The Wrath of God is poured out upon those who are still alive after the Great Tribulation because they did harm to those who obeyed God and refused to repent (Rev. 16:5-6).  

The worldly attitudes of this age are reflected by breaking the commandments of God. In Matthew 24:12 (quoted above) hatred towards people has increased and will increase because of iniquity. The Greek root word translated as iniquity is anomia, and it means lawlessness.

All of humanity is put through a great test at the end of this age. There will be a separation of those who desire to be in the next age of lawfulness and Godly love from those who cling to this age of lawlessness. The Great Tribulation and the Wrath of God will settle it all. God wants humanity to experience the fullness of His plan and blessing for them. There must be a purge from the old ways of this age because they are so deeply engrained.

The Lord God is the creator of all mankind (Num. 27:16). He has laid out for us a way of life that brings joy to us and everyone around us. It is first described in the first five books of the Bible, called the Torah, and summarized in the Ten Commandments. Depth is added throughout the rest of the Bible. These will guide us in the age to come.

There are more reasons that this wrath is necessary. Presently, Satan is the god of this age (2 Cor. 4:4). He has deceived humanity to go the wrong way (Rev. 12:9). He has influenced corruption upon the earth. There are world-wide reminders of his influence such as statutes, idols, images, monuments, books, and inscriptions all over the world. Items such as these create a cord of iniquity between humans and the object (Prov. 5:22). They remind people of sinful lifestyles, other gods, and satan. God asked the Israelites to destroy these items (Ex. 34:10-14, Deut. 7:1-6, 12:1-7).  God will destroy them during His wrath (Is. 27:9, Zeph. 2:11). Unfortunately, humans throughout the generations of this age have come into agreement with satan’s schemes through these items. Satan is punished just after the wrath is complete (Rev. 20:1-3).

The objects connected to satan would drag all of humanity back into the sinful mess of this age if not removed. This explains some of the judgments rendered during that time, such as the first trumpet, which destroys part of the earth (Rev. 8:7).

There are also sins which defile the land (Lev. chapter 18 provides one list). Humans are made from the earth, so this connection is logical. Because these sins have been committed world-wide, the entire earth has been defiled. Thus, the wrath is coming upon the whole world (John 3:36, Rom. 1:18, Eph. 5:5-6). Humanity has also perverted the earth, plants, and animal life from God’s original design. This explains some of the judgments upon nature rendered in the Wrath of God; the kosmos is being purged for a better future (Rev. 11:18).

God does not want humanity to perish (2 Peter 3:9). But if God did not intervene with His Wrath, then we would destroy each other and be lost forever. There is a certain Wrath to come. I pray that everyone would repent of their ways and turn to God. There is a way to escape the Wrath through Jesus Christ (I Thess. 5:9).

God wants the best for humanity, but that requires a time of suffering to receive it. This situation is comparable to parents that discipline their children out of love. There is pain but also love.

God will allow humanity to reach the apex of evil and then intervene to alter the destiny of humanity in a way that is for our good. After the wrath is completed, mankind will have a fresh start. Some will survive it and enjoy the wonderful age to come (Zech. 14:16). All generations born in the age to come will know the way of love and truth. Through the Wrath and the resulting obedience because of it, God is going to show humanity that His ways bring us into perfect harmony with Him and each other.

God bless!

Kelly McDonald, Jr.

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7 Ministry Types that End in Failure

7 Ministry Types that End in Failure

By Kelly McDonald, Jr.

Over my years of serving with ministries and observing ministries, I have come to notice at least seven types of ministry that end in failure. What I say that these ministry types result in failure, what I mean is that the ministry will not fulfill its intended purpose to love God and love people. It does not mean that the church or ministry will fail to exist. It is also possible that leaders in a church or ministry repent and turn back to God from these errors – as we should always hope that they do so.

Below, we have listed these seven ministry types. Keep in mind that these are overall attitudes held by the leader or leaders of a ministry. The structure of the church – including services – is geared around a certain mindset. Some of these attitudes can be combined or simultaneously occur in one ministry.

Personality Driven – It’s all about the pastor / leader’s personality. Everything is designed to promote, support and prop up the personality. This means that people can be tempted to look the other way when sin or false doctrine appears because the personality is what sustains the ministry structure. In this type, people become expendable to the personality.

Performance Driven – It’s all about the show. The service and sermon are geared around putting on church as a show. This requires being fake. Real issues going on underneath the service are hidden so that the show can go on. Glorifying God becomes expendable to the show.

Proving Driven – The leader or leaders are always trying to prove themselves. This means that they are always trying to one-up someone else or another ministry. The tendency to put down churches is necessary so that the leader can better ‘prove’ himself/herself. The will of God becomes secondary to the leaders proving themselves to others or self.

Reactionary Driven – Some church leaders are focused on reacting to what others are doing. If one church promotes missions, they react and become anti-missions. If another church is pro-spiritual warfare, they suddenly become anti-spiritual warfare. The leader or leaders are so focused on reacting to what everyone else is doing that they lose their own vision and lack genuineness. This will produce disciples that look at other people as enemies rather than human beings made in the image of God who need correction and affection. The attendees will also lack understanding of Christianity’s core beliefs because the teaching is so focused on what we should be against.

Fad Driven – What’s new? What’s hip? This type of structure “goes with the flow” of whatever new cultural phenomenon is going on regardless of how Scriptural it may be. The goal is to be the ‘cool’ church that can appeal to anyone rather than stand on the timeless principles of the Word of God. It is hard for this structure to sustain the same vision over time because it will always change with trends.

Numbers Driven – This type of structure focuses on numbers. The type of music played, who preaches, how the service is arranged, the schedule used, and so forth is all geared towards filling the pews with as many people as possible. This of course will cause the individual to be drowned out amid the collective. This is usually paired with other ministry types, but it doesn’t have to be.

Money Driven – Some leaders are focused on money. This can be connected to numbers, but not always. If the money is flowing, then they view God as having approval to everything else they do. There is a temptation to compromise to the will of givers to keep the money coming in. There is also the temptation to think that God approves of everything going on in the ministry because the finances are present. The will of God is assumed based on money and not on if God is actually honored by the ministry in Spirit and Truth.

Each of these structures is sustained by human effort because the goal is of human origin. The goal of getting the gospel out is dropped for the ministry structure – maintain a personality / agenda / program / human expectations / personal goals / cultural fads/ numbers / money. Pleasing God is not the first thing on their minds – it is not the central focus.

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33).

When we serve in ministry, God wants to build character in us as well as the people who attend. We must seek the Kingdom of God first and foremost. The outward things of ministry will take care of themselves.

These ministry types are solely focused on horizontal attitude towards ministry. This is to be juxtaposed with a vertical-focused ministry – where a person receives from God and then ministers outward from that posture/position.

Let’s get back to the fundamentals of loving God and loving others in our ministries. Let’s seek first the Kingdom of God. Then we will be able fulfill the great commission!

God bless!

Kelly McDonald, Jr.

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Making the Case for Rosh Chodesh

Making the Case for Rosh Chodesh

by Kelly McDonald, Jr.

According to the Bible, God established a weekly day of rest and celebration—the seventh-day Sabbath (Friday sunset through Saturday sunset). It is discussed in at least 140 verses across the entire Bible. God also established annual festivals which are outlined in Leviticus chapter 23. They are called moad’im or chag in Hebrew. They are mentioned in many Bible verses. If these weekly and annual cycles are clearly established by God,  then it would be logical for us to ask: does the Bible mention a monthly cycle with a celebration of some kind?

A Biblical month is based upon the cycle of the moon around the earth. This is about every 29.5 days. A year is composed of 12 or 13 lunar months. An extra month is added some years so that the monthly cycle will stay in sync with the proper seasons. God placed the annual festivals on specific months and days during the year. The Bible talks about the importance of the moon as it relates to the months and festival days. We have some verses below.

“Blow the trumpet at the new moon (chodesh), At the full moon, on our feast-day (chagenu)” (Psalm 81:3).

“It shall be established for ever as the moon, And as the faithful witness in the sky. Selah” (Psalm 89:37).

“He appointed the moon for seasons (moad’im): The sun knoweth his going down…” (Psalm 104:19).

The moon is the faithful witness to the monthly cycle. In Hebrew, the first day of the month is called Rosh Chodesh, Echad Chodesh, or Chodesh. Chodesh means month. Rosh means head or chief. Echad means first or oneness. The first clue that this one day of the month is set apart from the others is the fact that it has its own name. More evidence exists to affirm this point.  

In Numbers 28:1-8, we learn that God required certain sacrifices to be offered by the priests every day. One lamb was offered in the morning and another one in the evening. In verses 9-10, we learn that two extra lambs were required to be sacrificed on the Sabbath. This is one witness that days known to be set apart by God had special sacrifices offered on them. In Numbers 28:16 through the end of chapter 29, we learn that the annual festivals, which are commonly called Holy Days, also had special sacrifices offered on them (many more than the weekly Sabbath). This is a second witness that days with set apart meaning had special sacrifices offered on them.

Between the verses on the weekly Sabbath offerings and Annual Sabbath offerings we find the sacrifices for Rosh Chodesh (Num. 28:11-15). On the first day of every month, God required special sacrifices to be made. They were similar to those offered on the annual festivals.

In Numbers 10:1-10, God told the Israelites to make special silver trumpets. They were only to be sounded by the sons of Aaron in special situations. One of them was when sacrifices were offered at “days of rejoicing” (verse 10). The Hebrew word translated as ‘rejoicing’ is simchah; it means gladness or joyful. In this verse, the two times of joy listed are the moad’im (found in Leviticus 23) and Rosh Chodeshim or the New Moons. So the moad’im in Leviticus 23 are considered days of gladness, but so is Rosh Chodesh. However, Rosh Chodesh is listed in a separate category from the moad’im. While the New Moon is set apart from all the other days of the month, it is also in a different category from the annual festivals.

Special events happened on certain New Moons throughout the Bible. We will start with the Torah, which is the first five books of the Bible, and then look at events outside of it.

During the time of Noah’s flood, the tops of the mountains were visible again on the first day of the tenth month (Gen. 8:5). On the first day of the first month, the waters were dried up from off the earth (Gen. 8:13).

The instructions for Passover were most likely given on the first day of the first month (Ex. 12:2). The Tabernacle was assembled in the second year after the Israelites left Egypt, on the first day of the first month (Ex. 40:17). On the first day of the second month in the second year after they left Egypt, the Lord told the Israelites to assemble so that they could be counted (Num. 1:1, 18). The Feast of Trumpets was established on the first day of the seventh month (Lev. 23:23-24).

On the first day of the fifth month in the 40th year after they came out of Egypt, the Lord commanded Aaron to go up on the mountain. There he died (Num 33:38). On the first day of the eleventh month of the same year, Moses spoke to the people everything that the Lord had commanded him (Deut. 1:3). Most or perhaps all the book of Deuteronomy was taught to the people on the New Moon.

This overview of events in just the Torah is very revealing! God gave special instructions to His servants and the people on the New Moon. Other parts of the Bible discuss the importance of this day of the month.

In the Old Testament period, people had special gatherings on the day. In the time of David, we learn that people gathered to celebrate this event (I Samuel 20:1-34). In this same account, we learn that they enjoyed special food.

In the days of the kings, it appears that people expected prophets to receive revelation from God on the New Moons (2 Kings 4:23). The prophet Ezekiel often recorded which day of the Hebrew Calendar He received his prophetic words. Of all the prophetic messages he recorded, four of them came on the first day of the month, four of them on the fifth day, and three on the tenth day (the other days have scattered references).

Another theme connected to the New Moon is the Tabernacle/Temple of God. As aforementioned, the Tabernacle was set up on the Rosh Chodesh (Ex 40:17). In Hezekiah’s time, they began to purify the Temple on the first day of the first month (2 Chron. 29:17). In Ezra’s time, burnt offerings began to be offered again on the first day of the seventh month, which is also the Feast of Trumpets (Ezra 3:1-6). Ezra read the book of the law to the people on the same holy day, although it was probably a different year (Neh. Chapter 8). In Haggai chapter 1, God gave the people a prophetic message to return to rebuilding the Temple on the first day of the sixth month. The future Temple built in the Millennium will be purified on the first day of the first month (Ezekiel 45:18).

There are also prophetic implications with the New Moon. During the Millennial reign of Christ, a new Temple will be built in Israel. The gate to its inner court will only be open on the New Moon and the Sabbath (Ezekiel 46:1-10). The people will come and worship the Lord when this gate opens. In Isaiah 66:22-23, we learn that everyone in the New Heavens and New Earth will worship the Lord on the Sabbath and New Moons.

Revelation 22:1-2 provides more detail about this eternal age. In these verses, we learn that the Trees of Life on each side of the River of Life will produce their fruit every month. This is an indirect reference to the New Moon. In that eternal age, months will be connected to the production of fruit from those two trees! In Colossians 2:16-17, the Apostle Paul wrote that Christ is the body or real meaning for the New Moons just like He is for the weekly and annual Sabbaths.

When we look at these details, it becomes clear that there is something special about the New Moon. It is to be treated differently than the other days in a month. It has a special emphasis placed upon it by God and this importance is reinforced throughout the Bible.

How do we practically apply this understanding?
The New Moon does not have the types of commanded instruction that we find for the Sabbath and annual festivals. Despite that, there remains a set apartness to the day. There are practical ways that we can set this time apart to God.

Gather. The Israelites were not required to go to Jerusalem for the New Moon, but it appears that gatherings did happen on a local or regional level. Meet with other believers and fellowship. Families can also gather on the day.

Food. You can also have special food that you would normally not eat on other days. This will add emphasis to the day.

Scripture Readings. Read the Scriptures as a group or individually. Moses read the book of the Law to the people (Deut. 1:3). Ezra had the book of the law read to the people (Neh. 8).

Worship God. We do not offer sacrifices with animals, but we do make spiritual sacrifices to God (Rom. 12:2, Hebrews 13:15). We can share praise reports from the past month. You could have a time of prayer and music at your gathering. It was a time when God spoke to His people, so we want to position ourselves to hear from Him. All Christians have His Spirit (Acts 2:17-18, Rom. 8:1-14). If the prophets of old heard from God on the New Moon, then why can’t we?

At my home congregation, we gather for worship and fellowship. We sometimes have a presentation out of the Word. We encourage everyone who attends to write down praises from the past month. Everyone takes a turn reading two or three of their praises out loud. I can personally attest that it is encouraging and faith-building to hear the praises of other people. It allows us to connect better with each other. This is part of our spiritual sacrifice to God. “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name” (Hebrews 13:15).

As part of our practice of this day, we also write down our prayer requests to God – including our deepest needs. As we worship God on Rosh Chodesh, we seek His will for our lives. “Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always” (Ps. 105:4).

Remember that rosh means head. Echad means one or becoming one with. We want to make God our head and become one with Him. Every month we have the opportunity to place the Lord God of Israel at the head of our plans and lives and bring our intent and purposes into echad with His will for our lives.

The weekly Sabbath is a day of rest at the end of the week. The focus for that day is rest from labor and gathering with other believers. The New Moon is qualitatively different in multiple ways. First, it is once a month. Second, it is at the beginning of the month (instead of the end of a time period). Third, it is a way for us to count down to the months when the annual festivals occur. It is a chance for us to review the past month and prepare for the upcoming month. It is a great opportunity for us to review our spiritual fruit and how we are treating the spiritual Temple of believers.

So this upcoming month, examine yourself. How can you make the first day of the month a time of gladness? Who is your Rosh? Who are you Echad with? Remember that Christ is the reality of the day.

Ultimately, there is something supernatural happening every New Moon. A special connection is made between heaven and earth. Will you position yourself to receive it?

God bless!

Kelly McDonald, Jr.

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Why I Celebrate The Feast of Trumpets

Why I Celebrate The Feast of Trumpets

By Kelly McDonald, Jr.

“1 The Lord said to Moses, 2 “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘These are my appointed festivals, the appointed festivals of the Lord, which you are to proclaim as sacred assemblies.” (Lev 23:1-2)

“23 The Lord said to Moses, 24 “Say to the Israelites: ‘On the first day of the seventh month you are to have a day of sabbath rest, a sacred assembly commemorated with trumpet blasts. 25 Do no regular work, but present a food offering to the Lord.’” (Lev. 23:23-24).

In Leviticus chapter 23, we learn about annual feast days of the Lord. The Hebrew word translated as feast is moed. It is more properly translated as appointed times. They are times in history in which God had appointments with His people. He still meets with us today.

As I consider why I celebrate these festivals, I first recognize that I have an appointment to meet with God. This reminds me of how God is personally interested in my existence and purpose. God wants to meet with me and the rest of His people.

The Hebrew word translated as ‘assembly’ is miqra. It means a gathering or rehearsal. This reminds me that God wants His people to meet together. We worship Him as one Body.

The appointed time which just passed (Friday Sept 18 at sunset through Saturday Sept 19 at sunset) is commonly called The Feast of Trumpets. It is also called zikron teruah. Zikron means to remember or a remembrance. Teruah can mean blowing (as in a trumpet) or shouting.

In fact, the Hebrew word Teruah throughout the Old Testament is connected to shouting, rejoicing, and praising God. Moreover, the word is used when the silver trumpets in Numbers chapter 10 are used or the ram’s horn (called a shofar).

These uses of the word teruah for shouting, the silver trumpets, and the shofar allow us to connect this appointed time with many verses relating to future judgment on the world for sin and disobedience (see Zephaniah chapter 1; Rev. chapters 8-11, 15-16). It is also tied to the Lord returning to gather the scattered people of God and defeat the armies of this world, which are at enmity with God’s people (see Isaiah 27:12-14).

While God’s judgment is a future event, I also remember that I will stand before God and give account for my life. This is sober and humbling.

To this end, our congregation spends the entire month before Trumpets (some call this Teshuvah) in self-reflection and repentance for our behavior, thoughts, and intent that violate God’s Word.

We take an inventory of our spiritual and natural lives. We look at where we haven’t lived up to God’s standard. We ask forgiveness and grace for where we have fallen short. We also make spiritual and natural goals so that, by God’s grace and the power of His Spirit, we will do better for the upcoming year.

One of the future events we anticipate on this day is the Lord returning with His armies to defeat the armies of this world at Armageddon (Rev. 19:11-21). This battle will result in the end of this age of disobedience and pain, which began with Adam. Satan is then bound from influencing humanity (Rev. 20:1-3). Amidst God’s judgment mercy is granted to the humble (Is. 27:12-14). After His judgment, a better world can then begin (Rev. 20:4-6). There is hope for all humanity to have a brighter future. The Lord Jesus will see to it. This is something to truly celebrate!

God bless!

Kelly

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Understanding Romans 14:5-6

Understanding Romans 14:5-6

by Kelly McDonald, Jr. 

“5 One man esteems one day as more important. Another esteems every day alike. Let each man be fully assured in his own mind. 6 He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it. He who eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks. He who does not eat, to the Lord he does not eat, and gives God thanks” (Romans 14:5-6, KLV).

Common arguments: These verses have been misunderstood as negating the Sabbath or Holy days. Some have said that they are the basis for proclaiming every day is holy or that no day is holy.

Think it through: These arguments have obvious problems. If Paul can make any day holy or common, then any human could do this any time they wanted to. This would mean that there is no objective standard as to what days were holy or common. These viewpoints reduce God’s authority to lower than that of a man, which is dangerous. If Paul can change the rest of the Bible, who else can do that? What other subjects do we allow people to change?

Short Answer: Paul is talking about days that men esteem higher than others, not days that God considers holy. Thus, he is referring to Roman cultural days.

Longer Answer: We will examine the example of Paul, the context of Romans 14, and some history to clarify the meaning of Paul’s words.

One of the ways we interpret history is through what we call primary sources. This can include people who were eye witnesses to events as well as archaeological findings from the time period. The Apostle Peter was a contemporary of Paul and thus a primary source to the subject matter at hand. Here is what Peter said about Paul:

“15 And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also, according to the wisdom given to him, wrote unto you; 16 as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; wherein are some things hard to be understood, which the ignorant and unstedfast wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction. 17 Ye therefore, beloved, knowing these things beforehand, beware lest, being carried away with the error of the wicked, ye fall from your own stedfastness” (2 Peter 3:15-17, ASV).

We learn some important details from Peter’s words. Apparently, Paul wrote some things that are hard to understand, but they do not negate the other Scriptures. The other Scriptures are a reference to the Old Testament. They did not have a New Testament in Paul’s time. Paul was a very educated man, which is why some people struggled with his words.

With this background understanding from Paul’s life, let’s look further at the context of Romans 14:5-6 and the specific language used.

First of all, let’s look at Romans 14:1 “Now accept one who is weak in faith, but not for disputes over opinions.” Paul informed us that this issue was a dispute about opinions. This means it is not clearly defined by Scripture. Secondly, the Greek word Paul uses for day, hemera, refers to any common day. It refers to the other six days of the week. Thus, he is addressing common days, not holy days like the Sabbath.

Third, the Greek word for holy, hagios, is not even found in this chapter (Romans 14). This reinforces that he is addressing common days, not holy days like the Sabbath. If he were referring to the Sabbath, Paul would have used the specific Greek word for Sabbath, sabbaton. Fourth, Paul was not addressing which days God considers to be holy, but what days men esteem higher than others. God is the one who set aside the Sabbath, not man.

Lastly, one must also consider his audience. Paul wrote these words to the Romans. He is applying these verses specifically to days that the Romans considered to be important. Let’s take a look at some primary sources from the time before, during, and after Paul that will illuminate the meaning of these verses.

The Romans were very superstitious. They considered some days of the week to be unlucky, such as Saturday (Tibullus, 1:3,17-18; Propertius 4:1,81-86). They also considered certain days of the month bad for specific activities such as business or travel (Marcus Varro, On the Latin Language: VI:29-31; Plutarch, Roman Questions, 25). There were even days of certain months on which activities were discouraged, such as marriage (Ovid, Fasti, 5:470-492). On some days, common activities were encouraged, such as eating certain foods (Ovid, Fasti, 6:169 ). For instance, beans and spelt were eaten on June 1st to honor Juno).

The Romans conducted their behavior in this manner for one or more reasons. Sometimes these prohibitions were to honor a specific god or goddess (such as their activity on June 1st). At other times, the Romans were just superstitious. For instance, the Romans considered odd numbers as unlucky. Certain odd days of a month were considered bad for business (Plutarch, Roman Questions, 25).  The Emperor Augustus thought his shoes were an omen (Seutonius, Life of Augustus, XCII).

Another issue raised in Romans 14:5-6 is the issue of abstaining from meat. There was a strain of thought in the Roman world which believed very strongly in vegetarianism (Ovid, Metamorphosis,bk15:76-112, 140-142, 458-462; Seneca, Epistulae, 108:17-22; Plutarch: On the Eating of Flesh, 1:41 and On Isis and Osiris, sections 2,4,7; Lucius Apuleis, Metamorphosis, 11:26-29).  From these sources we can see that their vegetarian beliefs were rooted either in the worship of other gods or superstition.

With this historical understanding, we can better ascertain the meaning of these verses. Paul himself was an educated man and even a Roman citizen. While he grew up Jewish, he also grew up in a culture that practiced these Roman superstitions. He was well versed with them.

What do we learn from Romans 14:5-6? If we are going to consider a common day as important to perform a specific activity, then we should do so unto the Lord and not to a pagan deity, or superstition. He is addressing this specific Roman cultural activity for common days and activities, not the Sabbath or any day declared holy by God.

Paul’s example in the Bible shows us that he continued to keep and reverence the Sabbath even after his conversion to Christianity (for a few examples: Acts 13, Acts 17, 18, Acts 20:16, Acts 27:9, and I Cor.16:8). All of the early churches kept the Sabbath on the seventh day of the week.

God is the one who declared the Sabbath Holy, not man (Genesis 2:1-3, Exodus 31:12-18, and Leviticus 23:1-6 to name a few). The seventh-day Sabbath persists even into the New Heavens and the New Earth (Isaiah 66:22-24).

Kelly McDonald, Jr.

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New Booklet: The Chronology of Christ’s Passion

New Booklet: The Chronology of Christ’s Passion

Would you like to understand the chronology of events from Jesus last Passover until the resurrection? How about the timeline of events from the resurrection until the ascension? In this booklet, you will receive in depth explanation of these events as well as the necessary background information to put it all together.

The four gospel accounts do no contradict, they compliment. In this booklet you will find out how!

Click the picture below to download this FREE booklet!

chronology booklet

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A 2nd Century Perspective on the Importance of Passover

A 2nd Century Perspective on the Importance of Passover

By Kelly McDonald, Jr.

The earliest disciples commemorated the death of Jesus, called Passover, on the 14th of Nissan. This remained the majority practice in Christianity for at least 120 or more years after Jesus ascended into Heaven. The earliest Christians knew nothing of a celebration called Easter. In fact, they did not even have a celebration for the resurrection of Jesus. This is not to say that the resurrection of Jesus is not important – but to highlight a historical fact. Why was the remembrance of Jesus’ death more important as a feast than the resurrection and why wasn’t the resurrection celebrated in some form?

Jesus established the practice of Passover for the early Church. “14 When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. 15 And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. 16 For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God’…And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me… (Luke 22:14-16, 19)

There are three things to note about these verses: 1) Jesus said that He eagerly desired to eat Passover with the disciples. This is the only time the Greek words translated as ‘eagerly desired’ are used. 2) He said it would find fulfillment in the Kingdom of God, which has not yet come, and pursuant to this point He commanded them to 3) “do this in remembrance of me”.

The early church continued this practice. Paul worded it this way: “6 Your boasting is not good. Don’t you know that a little yeast leavens the whole batch of dough? 7 Get rid of the old yeast, so that you may be a new unleavened batch—as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. 8 Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old bread leavened with malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth” (I Cor 5:6-8).

Again, the New Testament does not record any sort of celebration for the resurrection of Jesus. They did not neglect this incredible event as they preached about it. To understand why remembering the death of Jesus with an annual observance was so important, one must take a quick trip with me into the second century.

As I have reviewed in other articles, the second century was a tumultuous time for Christianity. There were cultural and religious forces that attempted to change the Christian community. Among the false teachings that exploded in the second century was Gnosticism; it had tremendous influence on the Christian community.

Gnosticism is a belief system which blended Greek and Middle Eastern influences. Some of their common beliefs are as follows: matter is evil and spiritual things are good; an inferior god made the material world and a superior god made the spiritual realm; spirit and matter are opposed; and a strong emphasis on the gaining of knowledge as essential to the salvation of one’s immortal soul.

The Gnostic teachers infiltrated the Christian community heavily in the second century. Because these heretics viewed the material world as evil, they denied that the perfect Jesus Christ could have ever been born in a human body. In their view – how could a being so perfect dwell in an evil, material body? They denied the bodily birth, bodily ministry, physical suffering, and death of Christ. They claimed that an apparition or the mere appearance of the perfect Christ appeared on earth.

For one example, we will consider the false teacher Basilides. The second century Christian Irenaeus testifies of his false doctrine, which insinuates that Christ did not really suffer and die for the world.

“He [Jesus] appeared, then, on earth as a man, to the nations of these powers, and wrought miracles. Wherefore he did not himself suffer death, but Simon, a certain man of Cyrene, being compelled, bore the cross in his stead ; so that this latter [Simon] being transfigured by him, that he might be thought to be Jesus, was crucified, through ignorance and error, while Jesus himself received the form of Simon, and, standing by, laughed at them. For since he was an incorporeal power, and the Nous (mind) of the unborn father, he transfigured himself as he pleased, and thus ascended to him who had sent him, deriding them, inasmuch as he could not be laid hold of, and was invisible to all… it is not incumbent on us to confess him who was crucified, but him who came in the form of a man, and was thought to be crucified, and was called Jesus, and was sent by the father, that by this dispensation he might destroy the works of the makers of the world… 5. Salvation belongs to the soul alone, for the body is by nature subject to corruption” (Irenaeus, Adv. Her., 1.24.3-5; emphasis mine throughout).

The Gnostic heretics did not always deny that Christ experienced some sort of resurrection or transfiguration, that He ascended into Heaven, and that He lives forever. They denied that He lived in a human body and suffered.

During His last Passover on earth, Jesus took bread and the fruit of the vine; he explained that they represented His body and His blood. This is a sober reminder that He actually came in a physical body and physically suffered for our sins.

Of all the feast days in the Bible, Passover is the ultimate refutation of Gnostic belief. No one can deny that He took physical items and used them as representations of His physical body/blood. Truly, no one can deny that He suffered those things for the sins of the whole world.

“Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” (Luke 24:26)

For a Christian in the second century, Passover was a reminder that the Word of God who became flesh triumphs over all heresy. In His suffering He gave us the victory. This is one historical reason why the Passover was instituted by Jesus and the early disciples.

Truly the Lord knows better than we do!

Kelly McDonald, Jr.

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New Covenant Passover Service

If you are new to Passover or would like a format to keep Passover, we have one below:

New Covenant Passover Service

Opening Prayer

Worship

Foot Washing – Before washing feet, read John 13:1-17

Meal (if you have one)

The following verses can be read together either during the meal or after it is finished

Passage #1: Isaiah 52:13-53:12; John 1:29; I Peter 2:20-24

Passage #2: Psalm 22

Passage #3: Psalm 23; Hebrews 4:14-16; Luke 22:19

Unleavened Bread for Communion – Thank you Lord for taking the bruising for our sins; Leader pray and all eat

Passage #4: John 6:32-40; 48-51; 53-58

Passage #5: John 13:18-30

Take the bitter herb (Horseraddish) – Thank you Lord for saving us from bitterness; Leader pray and all eat on unleavened bread

Passage #6: Hebrews 9:11-15; Romans 3:23-26; 5:6-15

Passage #7: Romans 8:1-11; Matthew 26:27-28

The Wine or Grape Juice for Communion – Thank you Lord for pouring out your blood for our sins; Leader Pray and all drink

Passage #8: John 13:31-35; 14:1-7, 14:12-31

Passage #9: John 15:1-26

Passage #10: John 16:12-16, 32-33

Passage #11: John 17:1-26

Passage #12: Matthew 26:36-44; Luke 22:39-44

Christ bore our sickness and infirmity in the Garden. He was in great agony, so much so, that He sweat great drops of blood. Let’s conclude our service with a prayer of gratitude.

Leader Pray

Worship

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Booklet: Passover Preparation

Greetings Everyone!

Check out the latest edition of my booklet “Passover Preparation”

Just click the picture below!
Passover Prep Pic

Kelly

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Understanding I Corinthians 10:25-29

Understanding I Corinthians 10:25-29

by Kelly McDonald, Jr.
In I Corinthians 10:25-29, Paul wrote: “25 Eat anything sold in the meat market without raising questions of conscience, 26 for, ‘The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it.’ 27 If some unbeliever invites you to a meal and you want to go, eat whatever is put before you without raising questions of conscience. 28 But if anyone says to you, ‘This has been offered in sacrifice,’ then do not eat it, both for the sake of the man who told you and for conscience’ sake – 29 the other man’s conscience, I mean, not yours.”

A crucial fact to help us understand I Corinthians 10 is that I Corinthians 8 comes first. In I Corinthians 8, Paul addressed the issue of eating food offered to idols. In ancient times, people went to a market to buy their meat. Sometimes this meat had been sacrificed to an idol before it put on display for people to buy. I Corinthians Chapters 8-10 addressed a situation between two groups of people. The first group was composed of mature believers who did not care if meat had been sacrificed to idols or not. The second group was composed of newer believers who thought that believers should eat meat sacrificed to idols.

In I Corinthians 8, Paul wrote that idols are nothing and that there is only one God. We have an excerpt from this passage below: “Now concerning things sacrificed to idols: We know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. 2 But if anyone thinks that he knows anything, he doesn’t yet know as he ought to know. 3 But if anyone loves God, the same is known by him. 4 Therefore concerning the eating of things sacrificed to idols, we know that no idol is anything in the world, and that there is no other God but one. 5 For though there are things that are called “gods”, whether in the heavens or on earth; as there are many “gods” and many “lords”; 6 yet to us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we for him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and we live through him. 7 However, that knowledge isn’t in all men. But some, with consciousness of the idol until now, eat as of a thing sacrificed to an idol, and their conscience, being weak, is defiled.” (I Cor. 8:1-7)

Paul’s conclusion is two-fold. First, it should not matter if a believer eats meat sacrificed to idols. Secondly, he warns the mature believers not to knowingly eat meat sacrificed to idols in front of newer converts. If mature believers do such things, then it may cause the newer believers to turn back to worshipping other gods.

In I Corinthians 10:25-29, Paul explained that eating food sacrificed to idols should be avoided if possible. If a believer was told the food was sacrificed to an idol, then he or she should not eat it. This is to protect the newer believers so that their consciences will not be harmed. On the other hand, if believers go to a meal and they are not informed that the food was sacrificed to idols, then they should not worry about it. There is only one true God. Idols are nothing.

This passage, like others from Paul and Jesus, is emphasizing how we should eat in a specific situation.  It is not discussing what types of animals we should eat. God defined what meat is acceptable to eat in Leviticus chapter 11 (see also Genesis 7:2). In I Corinthians chapter 8, Paul used the Greek word brosis once (verse 4) and the Greek word broma two times (verses 8, 13). These Greek words refer to food as defined in Leviticus chapter 11. By using these words, he has defined food by the time we arrive at I Corinthians 10.

A second key to understanding this passage is to read the verses following it. Paul concludes this passage in verse 31 by saying “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” We are informed in this verse to do everything to glorify God. That means our thinking, how we treat others, and even how we eat should be used to glorify Him. Paul’s main concern in this passage is not to define or redefine what God made to eat. He is trying to educate believers in how to encounter situations where they might eat food sacrificed to idols.

Kelly McDonald, Jr.

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