Martin Collins, reminding us that we are commanded to rejoice at the Feast of Tabernacles, observes that the world is clueless as to what constitutes both joy and happiness. Millennials, having turned inward, texting rather than talking, have abandoned a major factor in happiness, the joy of family and community. Hearing the cadence of the human voice, and hearing the Gospel, transcends looking at the freeze frames of the person speaking or preaching. Happiness is not an end it itself, but a by-product of our response to God's calling coupled with our determination to connect with the voices of our Heavenly Father, our Elder Brother, and our brothers and sisters in Christ. Paradoxically, we must lose ourselves in service to others to find happiness. Joy, on the other hand, is constant, a function of God's Holy Spirit, the Mind of Christ living within us; to God's-called out ones, joy is a birthright. The most exhilarating happiness comes from embracing the Way of life to which God has called us, having His Law written on our hearts. All other forms of happiness, including fame, fortune, and fun are short-lived and ultimately disappointing. With God's Holy Spirit within us, and our sins forgiven, the trials and tribulations of life will be whittled down to size as God fulfills the promises and blessings of the Beatitudes.
Joe Baity, analyzing the futility of misplaced hope (defined as abandoning hope in desperation or placing hope in the wrong things) warns us not to place our trust in princes or human institutions, mightily influenced as they are by Satan, the father of lies. Satan's influence has hopelessly corrupted all human institutions—government, religion, education, health care, jurisprudence, industry, finance and the media. For example, governments no longer serve us but seek to control us and churches emasculate morality by teaching only political correctness, while in some cases concealing pedophiles and promoting the rights of sexual perverts. Health care has become so corrupted that hospitals are places people go to get sick. Sadly, forces of greed and corruption have even high-jacked institutions of charity, their executives sometimes receiving high levels of compensation while their recipients receive left-over crumbs. Broadly, the many institutions of hope have done little if anything to resolve the reasons for their existence. In some cases, they are more a part of the problem than its solution. God's called-out ones will find it more profitable to trust in the Lord than in princes or any institutions of hope created by mankind.
Richard Ritenbaugh, acknowledging that Americans have a reputation for kindness warns that we are likely more and more to see a dark underside of America, where hardness of heart supplants kindness. In this milieu, chesed (covenant loyalty and mercy, or showing loving kindness to the most aggravating sinner) cannot exist. David demonstrated chesed by displaying kindness to Jonathan's son Mephibosheth, in spite of the potential dangers doing so could bring to himself. The greater David, our Savior Jesus Christ, also exhibits chesed, loving us while we were still hostile to Him. Both Ruth and Naomi demonstrated covenant loyalty, remaining loyal to the marriage covenant long after the death of their spouses. Ruth faithfully continued to serve her mother-in-law, at what appeared to be great sacrifice to her own interests. Through her choice to become betrothed to Boaz, declining the attentions of more youthful suitors, she demonstrated a special covenant loyalty for which God blessed her by including her in the genealogy of the Messiah. Like Ruth and like Our Savior Jesus Christ, we must assume the role of a servant, obeying the marching orders of Micah 6:8: Walking humbly, justly, and demonstrating chesed.
John Ritenbaugh states that every nation has its privileged—whether they are royalty, wealthy oligarchs, politicians, athletes, or entertainers. Surprisingly though, the masses have privileges which they do not recognize as such, namely the privileges of sight, hearing, walking and speech. God has provided in His Holiness Code proscriptions against taking advantage of those who are handicapped. Additionally, those God has blessed with material wealth have obligations to help the poor, as is seen in the command to avoid gleaning the corners of the fields. Our welfare programs have scriptural principles as their general inspiration, but unfortunately, politicians have abused these programs, encouraging on the part of recipients a toxic dependency which God never intended. Living in a land occupied by the children of the Patriarchs, to whom God revealed His Covenant, is a great privilege. Sadly, the majority of physical Israelites have rejected God's Covenant. God has healed the spiritual blindness and deafness of the members of the true Church, the Israel of God, at the same time calling them to become members of the God Family. As we contemplate our offerings, we should factor this insight into our sense of gratitude and responsibility.
Richard Ritenbaugh points out that the theme of redemption occurs throughout the Book of Ruth. Just as justification and salvation are not one-time events but are continuous processes, redemption is also an ongoing process. Jesus redeemed us with His shed blood from the penalty of our sins, but He also works incessantly as our High Priest, continually redeeming us until we are ultimately resurrected as members of His family. Even though Christ has redeemed us, we foolishly slide back into this world's entanglements. The two loaves of the Pentecost offering, which represent the First Fruits, are made from finely beaten flour and baked at high heat, representing the many refining tests and trials we go through to achieve spiritual maturity during our grueling sanctification period. The burnt, sin, and peace offerings associated with the Pentecost offerings symbolize the high standard required to qualify as one of the 144,000. The death of Naomi's husband (Elimelech, meaning "God is King") foreshadows how coming out of the world and entry into God's Kingdom takes place through the death of God. Boaz, a type of Christ, redeems a foreigner, Ruth, who has totally committed to following God's purpose for her, forsaking suitors her own age, and accepting betrothal from someone old enough to be her father. Like Ruth, we also are foreigners to the God Family. Christ, because of His love for us, has protected us and showered us with affection, just as Boaz did for Ruth. Christ wants us to emulate the Proverbs 31 woman, whom Solomon undoubtedly recognized as his great grandmother Ruth.
Kim Myers suggests that the government assumes an unseemly role as being entitled to do whatever it wants, dominating over the lives of its constituents, instead of functioning as a servant. Having in the last several decades ignored the Constitution, and the laws and precepts of the Bible, all branches of government are clueless as to fair weights and measures, proper ways to treat the poor and homeless. They have compulsively baited the entitlement trap, consisting of food-stamps, Medicare, Medicaid, subsidies, and welfare, turning its citizenry into abject economic slaves rather than uplift them out of poverty. When a person, under Old Testament Law, fell into economic peril, either by his own carelessness, or accident, God prescribed a way back to economic freedom and dignity through the Jubilee year. Furthermore, while he worked as a bondservant to his countryman, he was never demeaned as chattel or property, but was respected and maintained his dignity as he worked for food, shelter, and clothing. The apostle Paul demonstrated the work ethic, working with his hands, refusing to accept offerings from the congregation, even though he could have. Our Elder Brother Jesus Christ also demonstrated the work ethic, working diligently as the Father works diligently. Back in the 1950's young people seemed to have more responsibility, more often than not having summer and after-school jobs, earning their own spending money. Today, our young people, with the coaxing of the Federal government, have racked up insurmountable debt, shamelessly expecting the rest of the 'serf' society to pay for their schooling and bankroll them into careers. Sadly, the entitlement attitude has surreptitiously crept into God's church, with people seemingly feeling they should be served instead of eagerly serving others, completely at odds with Jesus Christ's admonition that leadership consists of serving with a foot-washing attitude. As we serve with Christ in the Millennium, it will not be with a "ruling over them" entitlement at
John Ritenbaugh, acknowledging that unscrupulous politicians have transferred trillions of dollars of earnings to 'taking care of the poor,' evidently with the ulterior motive of creating millions of dependents (and potential voters), points out that these programs have succeeded in destroying the family structure of one major ethnic group, rendering the role of husband and father irrelevant. Former Presidential candidate Mitt Romney warned that as of 2012 48% of our populace was receiving part or all of their income from the Federal government. Dr. Walter Williams in a Whistleblower Magazine article, through a series of instructive analogies, demonstrated that socialism is a cancerous evil, robbing from the productive and giving to the unproductive, destroying all incentives for growth or real productivity. Confiscatory taxes allow politicians to legally steal from their hapless constituents, enabling them to pretend that they are benefactors when they are actually thieves. Socialism, Fascism, Communism, and any other form of Collectivism or Statism, does not bring about equality at all, but a cruel form of slavery, presided over by a smug, morally bankrupt elite. The welfare state leads to slavery of the masses.
John Ritenbaugh quotes from a shocking letter from 91-year-old former President Jimmy Carter, who asserts that we no long have a true democratic republic in the United states, but instead we are being ruled by an unelected oligarchy (rule by a few elite). Today, we have a government glued together with special interests, leveraging bribes and blackmail to advance failed social programs. No longer do we have a true representative democracy, but a small group of wealthy elite are pulling the strings, transforming our government into a leftist, socialist tyranny, allowing a handful of evil, avaricious men to tap into the public treasury, deluding the gullible public into thinking they are taking care of the people by redistributing the wealth, stealing from the productive and giving it to the unproductive, totally at odds with God’s principles of stewardship. The obstreperous demagogues promising economic goodies from the womb to the tomb have not yet matured to the realization that there is no such thing as a free lunch. We no longer have a trustworthy government. Our ethics and morality, our freedom, our wealth, our dignity, and self-respect, are rapidly eroding away under the willing guidance by a criminal oligarchy, inspired by the prince and power of the air, the current ruler of the world. The judgments of God against this corrupt system have already begun.
Richard Ritenbaugh points out that Barack Obama has steadfastly endorsed the Marxist policy of redistribution of wealth, insisting that the government take from the successful and give to the indigent through confiscatory taxation. Since 47% of the populace has been rendered government dependents, the current administration is on its way to impose these Robin Hood or Marxist policies. Redistribution programs, wherever attempted by communist or socialist regimes, have been total failures, permanently destroying the incentive and productivity of the people. When government demands that the wealthy give to the poor, the wealthy stop being productive and take their productivity to a more humane location. Government redistribution hurts everybody, creating shared misery. The leftist progressives claim that socialism is advocated by Jesus Christ who said we should give the poor. The Bible does not teach equality; economic disparity is presented as a given. Scriptures teach that we should voluntarily help the poor, but never criminally coerced by a tyrannical government. Paul's example of maintaining his tentmaking skills, not demanding his benefits from the Corinthian church, demonstrates that we also should not assume an entitlement attitude. Jesus Christ warns against self-exalted or hypocritical charity, but counsels that it should come from the core of our character. Marxist socialists, with their warped concept of a zero sum game, mistakenly assume that disparity of wealth is caused by the rich stealing from the downtrodden. Socialists desire to take from the wealthy and give to the poor, creating equality. The Bible does not teach equality, but equity. Whereas quality is sameness or uniformity, equity is impartiality, justice, and legal fairness without any trace of favoritism or bribery. Socialist equality mandates sameness of outcomes, with everyone wearing the same gray Maoist jumpsuit a grim evenness with everyone suffering equally. God does not treat everyone equally. Life is full of reversals teaching
On the surface, socialist policies promise to feed the hungry, heal the sick, and provide for the poor, but these good things are not what socialism ultimately delivers. Richard Ritenbaugh cites the examples of twentieth-century socialist nations to expose the corrupt, controlling heart of socialism.
Richard T. Ritenbaugh: All the news that is fit to print these days seems to revolve around our hobbled economy. ...
Richard Ritenbaugh asserts that Christianity has both an inward aspect (building godly character or becoming sanctified) and an outward aspect (doing practical philanthropic good works.) Both aspects are vitally necessary, with righteous character serving as the well - spring or fountainhead for the second (outward) aspect. Godly good works, of necessity, should reflect a great deal of thought and concern, with considerable attention to the long-term consequences of the extended help. Soft-heartedness must not be accompanied by soft-headedness, but must take into account long-term solutions (the ultimate well-being of the recipient of the charity) involving thoughtfulness and common sense, carefully considering God's will in the matter. Good works are the fruit of righteousness, not an end in itself. We need to give according to our abilities, freely, generously, with a view of honoring God.
God ensures that all His children have what they need to survive and thrive. The third tithe is God's way of supporting the needy and the poor.
John Ritenbaugh warns that it is possible to have an enjoyable feast, but not keep the feast properly, failing to derive any spiritual profit. God expects the Feast of Tabernacles to be the spiritual high of the year. Paradoxically, if we go to the Feast with the goal of physically enjoying, we may lose out on both the spiritual and physical benefits. The attitude and purpose for keeping the Feast should focus upon the spiritual: serving, growing, overcoming, transforming, and producing spiritual fruit. The lesson of Amos 5 indicates that going through the motions, perhaps superstitiously acknowledging the historical ambience of the event, but in a smug, carnal, self-indulgent mode - without including the spiritual component - makes the entire event an abomination.
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