Not forsaking the gathering together
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Bonds of Freedom from Shavuot to Pentecost #98 .2
The Feasts of Israel were in-gatherings and played an essential roll in maintaining a free nation. Their purpose and value will be the subject of our next broadcasts1 and Talkshoes2.
Without these festivals there was no practical way to bring a nation together and to create bonds in society that were essential for a free state. There was no civilly enforceable contract to compel performance in a pure republic because the status or state of the people was independent because of the nature of a republican form of government.3
Since religion4 was how you cared for others within your community and society these gatherings were essential for the maintenance of a governmental a governmental system based on liberty. Each elder of each family was required, by common sense, to participate.
Making this system work was dependent on everyone working and doing their part. There was no central leader forcing everyone to pay their share. What you contributed and how you participated set the path for success or failure and acceptance or rejection by your nation was founded in either the brotherhood of caring or the covetousness of controlling.
This Kingdom of God like all utopias depended on individual virtue and the nobility of character of every participant. Without the Character of God written on our hearts and minds there would be no salvation in this world nor the next. It also depended upon structure.
While the congregations were based in local communities the logistics of the whole network did not allow each level of the network to live next door.
Imagine a society where the people did not get paychecks every two weeks nor did they have wire transfers, debit cards, bank accounts, etc. There were no telephones and little in the way of daily mail service. Social bonds could only be renewed by actually going and visiting individuals and if you were to meet as groups a time for those meetings had to be set aside. These feasts were the only practical way to stay in touch and keep clear lines of communication open and functioning.
Society was not regulated by the tick of the clock but by the seasons, by sun up and sundown. Crops were ready according to their cycles and what you had to share was dependent upon those rhythms of nature. After winter needs were often at their greatest.
Remember the Levites had fields of their own but were not operating in a commercial realm or private enterprise or trade and business. Their business was to serve the needs of those congregations that they served.
There was local charity but in the case of calamity there could be a need for national charity which could require an emergency response.
Also most of the ministers up this chain of service did not see each other on a regular basis... They did not meet every Sabbath because they lived farther and farther apart as they were overseers in service of groups that covered a wider and wider area... There also could be complaints that needed to be aired to groups that could not meet every day or even monthly because of those greater distances.
This was a government and people in it needed to check in directly with individuals and their groups.
This did not change the individual right to choose at any time....Any time a group of ministers wanted to change their minister they could do it. Of course you could just shift to another minister but you would be leaving behind others who you were bound to by friendship and the bonds of brotherhood.
We often talk about just changing your vote for a different minister in the network anytime you wish but congregations are not a vacuum... Just changing your vote did not solve all the problems... the elders would want to stay together but if they saw problems they would want to address the matter... That often had to be done face to face and with an honest and open attempt to obtain a consensus.
These gatherings were festivals but there were serious issues that could be brought up such as when the tribe of Reuben appeared to be setting up a system independent of the other tribes.
Pentecost and Shavuot
Israel's harvest festival of Shavuot commemorates God giving the Ten Commandments to Moses and the people at Mount Sinai fifty days after the Exodus. The modern Church often plays down the commandments, equating the law that was nailed to the cross with those commandments of God because they believe they are saved by faith.
“And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.” Exodus 20:6 5
If this message of keeping the commandments of God is repeated over and over again in old and new testaments6 we must ask if you have faith in Christ but do not think you need to keep the commandments or at least strive7 to keep them, then what do you have faith in? If it is Christ we should believe in then we should understand that faith in Christ would be believing what he said and doing what he said to do8 in order to inherit eternal life in this life and the next9.
So, Jesus made it clear that we must strive to keep the commandments to inherit eternal life but we do read in John 3:15 “That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.” But John also talks about deeds by which we can gauge the truth of what a man truly believes.
John 3:17 “For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.”
If a man's “deeds were evil” then we should know that they do not really believe nor do they love the light. How do we know if their deeds are evil? Do they keep the commandments?
Most professing Christians today do contrary to what Christ said to do and many ministers seem ignorant of some of the basic instructions given by Christ to those who would be His Church. The modern Church certainly does not do what the early Church did nor do they seem to understand why it is important to follow those directives and precepts of Christ and the early Church.
The modern Church excuses the coveting of their neighbor's goods as long as they do so through consent with their modern governments. They allow application to those governments to obtain benefits from men who call themselves benefactors but exercise authority one over the other. They have approved of the socialist state despite the words of Old and New Testaments.10
Pentecost is sometimes said to be the "Birthday of the Church". The Church was established by Christ by His appointment and under His authority “to receive, preserve, and propagate his doctrines and ordinances.” If the modern Church is to claim Christ as the one who has established them, then they should not be established by any other authority. The ministers of Christ and His Church should be His servants11 alone and no one else.12
The apostles had been appointed a kingdom by Jesus Christ.13 But they were not to be like the other governments who exercised authority in their service to the people.14 They still collected funds from the people and provided benefits to the people but this was all done by faith, hope and charity.
This system required free will offerings and a virtuous population that did not covet their neighbors' goods but actually loved their neighbor as they loved themselves. Such true love is rare today and when we find it amongst the people we must nurture it on a local and national level. This was the purpose of the feasts.
Pentecost was such a feast for the Israelite called Shavuot, literally meaning Weeks.15 Seven weeks after Passover which is about 50 days the people would gather. It was known by many names and may have gathered in many different places and even at different times.
The Day of the First Fruits was the last day of Feast of the Unleaven Bread and first day on which individuals marked the first fruits of their labor to be offered. It would be the day of resurrection.
From that day they counted fifty days to Pentecost [Festival of Weeks]. The Festival of Weeks was the completion of the Day of the First Fruits. This day and Festival served several functions in their national government under God. It was their opportunity to offer to God and His servants (Bikkurim) to the Temple in Jerusalem the substance needed to serve the nation. This giving was worship and one who was a worshiper16 was one who served by giving.
Originally the temple was not in a city called Jerusalem, but was found in a tent that moved around. The living stones of that temple were the true living servants of liberty under God who were called the Levites. They had been the first to come out when the people began to create a central bank to bind the people in the camp of the golden calf.17
These times of giving the Fruits of your labor in a national feast was the gathering of the people under the God of faith and charity. Three times a year18 the people would meet as a people to deal with matters of the government of Israel. Since they did not gather to rule over each other what was the purpose of their gatherings?
One purpose was to fund the government of God with free will offerings.19 This free will offering according to the will of God the Father was worship and those who gave in service to all were the worshipers of God. Three times a year the people gathered to pay their taxes to the government of God but unlike the governments of the world the people taxed themselves.20 The Levites were the government of the people and the people only chose to tithe to Levites who were men of service to their families and their congregations.21
It was also a time to organize the network of public servants that was essential in a free government. The local congregations of ten families confirmed their their minister before the assembly. That minster got together with other ministers like himself and chose someone to be their minister. This pattern continued until you had all the ministers of the government chosen up to the high priest, who could be called the prime minister of their government.
These were not offices of power to rule over the people. Their government was composed of servants who served the tents of the congregations of the nation. Family was the core of the nation but in order to bind the people as a nation and be faithful to God they could only bind them with love and honor. There is no other way if they were to remain a free people. These feasts allowed for that liberty under God and therefore it was called the kingdom of God.
This was a feast for everyone and everyone who came was expected to contribute their free will offering to the minister of his choice.22 They were reminded that the alternative of these free will offerings is that they will end up in the bondage of Egypt again like they were before if they do not cultivate the virtue of sharing and supporting the servants of their nations.23
They did not drop these funds in a central treasury but gave them to the minister of their choice who in turn took a share of what he received to the minister of his choice. Because you are dealing with a whole nation of people networking together through servants of their choice some of the servants of that nation come from locations that are farther and farther apart.
This distance creates a greater need for national gatherings in order to make these choices that will link the whole nation in a network of charity and mutual concern. It was also was a time for people to meet others from other areas of the national network. Other bonds were created through marriage and friendships. Remember, these ministers of national charity were also the appeals courts to insure justice throughout the nations. 24
The people that were in Jerusalem on the Pentecost 50 days after Christ's resurrection were there to pay their taxes or their tithe. They had two choices, stay with the baptism of Herod and the Pharisees or get the baptism of Christ. The Pharisees were forcing the contributions based on their membership in the Corban of the Pharisees which Jesus had already stated that their system made the word of God to none effect.
Jesus was very clear that his government, like that of Moses, was based on free will offerings. What ever you could afford to pay by your own choice was considered paid in full. 25 Thousands chose the government appointed by Christ and were cast out of the government of the Pharisees and Herod.26 Early Christians did not go to any government that forced contributions from the people to obtain any benefit. If you had need you would go to church, not Caesar, nor the Pharisees.
Modern Christians covet27 their neighbors' goods through legal systems of corban they create through their government. They then make applications to these governments and the men who call themselves benefactors.28 Now again they are entangled in the bondage of the world29 through “covet means”.30 Had their ministers been serving Christ and tending to the weightier matters the people would not have returned to the bondage of Egypt.31
Any government that does not rely on free will offerings is not a government of God, Moses, or Jesus Christ/Yeshua the Messiah. If you have no king but Caesar then the method and obligation of taxes are based on the will of Caesar. Those governments of the world created by men who covet their neighbor's goods and say lets have one purse and desire to eat at the table of ruler are allowed by God to punish the wicked who choose to reject God and create those systems. True Christians who believed in and loved Christ would not want to be a part of such system and we turn around and create the alternative which was the Church.32
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