The Government [of God] Can!

Hey everybody! Gather ’round! I’m here to give you anything you like!

You want to live like royalty forever?

You want unlimited wealth?

You want power over people who disagree with you?

Whatever you like!

You have come to the right place!

Why?

I’ll tell you why!

Who can take all your money with a twinkle in their eye and give it to another guy? The government [of God] can!

Who can tax you in the form of tithes? Who can tax the trees’ produce? Regulate all activities and collect up all the fees? The Government [of God] can!

And the government can ’cause it mixes it up with lies and makes it all ‘taste’ good!

The Government takes everything we make to pay for all their “solutions” — when Christ returns he’ll solve healthcare, climate change, pollution! He’ll do away with the Constitution!

Who can give a bailout? Tell us to behave? The ministers — the ministers of the Government of God!

The Government takes everything you make, they’re power hungry and malicious, their economics are fictitious — tithe and you’ll have to eat your dishes!

Who can be a failure in so many ways? Instead of getting fired, they give themselves a raise… the ministers… the Government [of God].

You feel so good, ’cause the ministers say you SHOULD!!!!

 

Stoned

Note: One of my pet peeves about the COGs is “selective obedience”. We are familiar with arguments that mandate keeping the Ten Commandments, Holy Days, Dietary Laws, Tithing, etc. But for the Laws the COGs don’t choose to demand, their arguments used to show they are no longer required are not unlike than those used by mainstream churches for not keeping any of them.

Prefacing lists of false prophecies of HWA and other WCG luminaries, one may find a quote from Deuteronomy about ignoring false prophets. Deuteronomy 13 gets a bit more serious simply calling him a false prophet, decreeing prophets who lead followers to other gods or away from the Torah are to be stoned.

We’ve heard the line “don’t think I’ve come to abolish the Law”. A few lines after that statement in Matthew comes a warning about setting aside “the least of these commands”. From my time in the WCG, I’ve always been lead to believe it means the Ten Commandments, and “the least” is explained away somehow as we understood the commandments were all equal. But to a Jew, “these commands” would be all the commands in the Torah, and for some, the Oral Law (“Traditions of the Elders”) as well. Jewish teaching says the “least command” in the Torah is not taking a mother bird with her young (Deut. 22:6)

Dr Hoeh, Prophet Thiel and Apostle Pack have all written articles in which they argue which commands of the Torah they think no longer need to be kept.

Dr Hoeh’s 1957 Good News article (appended to Dr Thiel’s piece) mainly categorizes laws in the Torah as “Civil” and “Spiritual”. According to Dr Hoeh, the “Civil” laws were “done away”, with the exception of the ones that were kept – tithing, Holy Days, unclean meats, etc. Categorizing laws as “Civil”, “Moral”, “Ritual”, “Health”, etc, goes back to Augustine; of course Dr Hoeh wouldn’t want to tell us that.

Dr Thiel’s tome gets into more details, including a critique on the list of 613 commandments. 613 Commandments? Yes, Jewish sages, reading the Torah and summarizing ways to obey it derived 613 Commandments – that’s the Ten Commandments and 603 others. (This is all part of the “written Law”; the Oral Law is another story.) Some of these commands, he reasoned, were still applicable, some were no longer applicable, and some didn’t make sense to him (such as reciting the Shema and Grace after meals.) Wearing tzitzis (tassels) is out (although it was commanded for “all generations”) but not wearing linen/wool together is in; being ceremonially unclean is out, but not eating unclean meat is in.

The RCG article, which didn’t have a by-line, looked like a cleaned-up (read plagiarized) version of Bob’s piece. My apologies to the writer if he is no longer under Mr Pack’s employ.

Dr Hoeh’s article said “Only God can change laws”. Dr Thiel explains (in a convoluted way) that God isn’t to be disobeyed but some of the laws are no longer applicable – so, it appears he’s saying some laws can set aside… On Bob’s to do list is to go through the 613 commands and make a judgment call on each, but for now, he says we can get by on his general guidelines.

Since God never put the changes in writing, I guess it was up to Herman, Bob and Dave to figure it which laws to obey and which laws we can ignore. Good thing for them stoning was put aside as part of the “Civil law”.

And one more thing…

Someone always brings up sacrifices. There are some laws that can’t be kept and don’t need to be argued away. There is no Temple, there is no Levitical priesthood, and so no sacrifices or offerings – and no tithing. To keep tithing, but not sacrifices, twisting part of the book of Hebrews is used transfer tithing from the Levites to Melchizedek (who is in Heaven, so the money goes to their church.)

But didn’t the Apostles remove the requirement for circumcision? They changed it from physical to spiritual? That’s another story. If the Apostles did what many think they did, then it was okay when Apostle Joe Tkatch Sr decreed that since HWA said the dietary laws were Health laws, then there is nothing spiritually wrong with eating unclean meat. (A cartoon in Ambassador Report took this to its logical extreme.)

And, if the Apostles did what many think they did, they would have been stoned too…

Ezekiel 37

Herbert Likes Ezekiel 37
Herbert Likes Ezekiel 37

I was sitting in the foyer of the hotel where the Feast was being kept last year, just before the “Last Great Day” Sermon was to be preached the next day, when the minister for the site came by on his way up to his room.

We exchanged pleasantries and I queried about the sermon he was planning to preach.

“Oh,” he said, “I like Ezekiel 37”.

“I like Revelation 20,” I said, knowing a few things he did not know at the time.

He replied, “I like Ezekiel 37”.

“I like Revelation 20,” I said.

His final word as he headed upstairs: “I like Ezekiel 37”.

The next day he preached on what a big deal The Last Great day is using Ezekiel 37 (I’ve heard it; it’s rubbish).

I reflected on how set people become in their belief system without ever questioning it, but it’s even worse than that: Herbert Armstrong has so fouled up Scripture with his distorted perceptions that he has ruined Biblical eschatology for believers pretty much for the rest of their lives. The problem is that he managed to make a link to totally disparate verses to make the Bible say what it does not say. At the same time, even though those who leave the Armstrongist community never manage to figure out what is screwed up and never seem to come up with cogent reasons why even believers should not retain the heresies taught by Herbert Armstrong.

Now some who left and are not believers may not think it makes any difference to them personally any more, but within the deep dark shadows of the back alleys of the mind, there are cobwebs with inconvenient lies lurking.

Besides, we owe believers an explanation why they should not believe this stuff from a Scriptural point of view, out of respect.

Herbert Armstrong managed to link Ezekiel 37 to Revelation 20 to prove — by reason that the Word is to be established in the mouths of two or three witnesses — that the passage is talking about the Second Resurrection at the end of the Millennium. This linkage is fraught with so many wrong assumptions that it is difficult to untangle them and, not having sufficient incentive nor drive to disprove the madness of the false prophet, they meekly let the irrational belief system stand.

The first thing we need to do, if we believe either passage in Scripture (a broad leap for some), is to separate the two passages completely and accept the possibility that they not just aren’t related to each other in any way, but don’t mean the same thing at all.

Fortunately, we have the help of the K & D commentary:

The calling to life of the thoroughly dried dead bones shown to the prophet in the vision, is a figure or visible representation of that which the Lord announces to him in Ezekiel_37:11-14, namely, that He will bring Israel out of its graves, give it life with His breath, and bring it into its own land; and consequently a figure of the raising of Israel to life from its existing state of death.

Darby comments:

It is the resurrection of the nation, which was really dead and buried. But God opens their graves, and places them again in their land restored to life as a nation.

JFB brings the issue into sharp focus:

out of your graves

— out of your politically dead state, primarily in Babylon, finally hereafter in all lands (compare Ezekiel_6:8; Hosea_13:14). The Jews regarded the lands of their captivity and dispersion as their “graves”; their restoration was to be as “life from the dead” (Romans_11:15). Before, the bones were in the open plain (Ezekiel_37:1-2); now, in the graves, that is, some of the Jews were in the graves of actual captivity, others at large but dispersed. Both alike were nationally dead.

The situation was this: The people of Israel were in captivity and some of them were dispersed among the nations. The people in captivity considered that the land of Israel itself was “dead” full of dried bones. Ezekiel offers them hope that life would be restored to the Land of Israel.

Thus the passage in its context is not talking about a general resurrection of the dead, but a prophesy that the nation in the Land of Israel would be restored — it had nothing to do with people of the earth being resurrected at the end of the millennium. In fact, since most of Israel was in captivity, the restoration of Israel as a nation is what would have made sense to them in context. Ezekiel was attempting to encourage the people that they would return to Palestine and Israel would be “resurrected”. Given their state in Babylon, the proposition that all of humanity was being resurrected to the time of the Second Resurrection would neither be relevant, nor would it make any sense to them in context. Why would they care?

But Herbert Armstrong had an agenda: He had to set up a scenario that would coincide with the Feast Days in order to keep his followers enslaved to a tithing system based on the Old Covenant — while being seriously warped in concept — for his own benefit.

The prophecy in Ezekiel 37, such as it was, was actually fulfilled under the Reign of Darius around 538 B.C. when the Israelites began returning to their homeland.

Herbert Armstrong needed this passage in order to hold together various non fitting parts of his religion. There is no such thing as three tithes — in fact, the words “second tithe” and “third tithe” do not appear in Scripture. He had to justify the keeping of the Feast of Tabernacles and the Last Great Day of the Feast. He put together a scenario to “prove” his position in order to keep people enslaved to his ideas which don’t really have Scriptural support nor are they particularly relevant to the broad spectrum of modern Christians. At best, keeping the Feast may be a blessing, but certainly would not be if it were a vehicle for doomsday sermons based on British Israelism. It depends entirely upon whether a person is seeking “spiritual” content or is focused on the physical and social aspects of a Church Corporate Symposium (Symposium — from the Greek word meaning “drinking party”, which, from all accounts, is truly relevant to the Armstrongist Churches of God). It’s a church convention that precludes the possibility of a true family vacation, since, for the wage earner, there is neither vacation time, nor money, to do both. For retired people on pensions on which tithes (remembering that tithes are payed on produce, not wages) have already been paid, keeping the Feast is doubly problematic. Nevertheless, your current End Time Apostle must be kept in the lifestyle of an Oriental Potentate: It is a moral imperative (one wonders at the personal moral imperatives ignored by such a proposition — namely, one who does not provide for his family is worse than an infidel).

Now it is the case that by analogy, in the spirit of things, Armstrongists would like to see their own private version of Ezekiel 37 come to pass: Herbert Armstrong’s dried bones having sinews and flesh restored to them, having him set on his feet in very ample flesh in the midst of Ambassador College — to stand again and take control as the End Time Apostle and false prophet of the Worldwide Church of God and the A.C. Campus, yelling and shouting obstreperously about the restoration of all his things, shaking his jowels and declaring a restitution of his power, money and ego to their former glory and prominence. They want to see “The Plain Truth” once again, in glorious color in their newsstands and see Armstrong making “The World Tomorrow” yet again. That isn’t going to happen, but it would be glorious: The war between him and his former evangelists still standing would not be so much as terribly entertaining. If you think he had issues with Roderick Meredith before — this would be World War III. Of some, such as Ronald Weinland and Gerald Flurry, he would say, “I never knew you” and their kingdoms would collapse… I think. Even if it were to happen, we’re pretty sure it wouldn’t be from God.

So you have a lot to think about.

The minister liked Ezekiel 37.

I like Revelation 20.

Especially the part about Satan being released to be present during the Second Resurrection to tempt the people of the earth.

That’s the part that’s easy to miss if you try to make Ezekiel 37 mean something it never said.