Hope of Israel Ministries (Ecclesia of YEHOVAH):
Is Obedience to YEHOVAH God's LAW Required for Salvation?
ministers have declared that the New Covenant effectively does
away with much of the Law, it is now all right to work on the Sabbath,
and keeping YEHOVAH's Holy Days is voluntary. At the same time, they are not claiming
the law is 'abolished' -- but parts of it are abolished. Now it is all
to work on the Sabbath day if think you should. Now it is all right to eat
"unclean meats" -- including shrimp, oysters, crabs, pork, everything! The sins of the spiritual "Amorites" have come to the full. Apostasy
has now reached its peak. The "apostasy roller coaster" has reached its summit -- it's all "downhill" from here on!
by HOIM Staff
In the December 21, 1994 Pastor General's Report, Joseph Tkach wrote to the ministers of the Worldwide Church of God, asking, "Are we an old covenant Church, or a new covenant Church?" He then quoted Herbert Armstrong who wrote in a 1978 article that "The old covenant is ended." However, he then went on to say, "We have overlooked the implications of this new covenant," and went on to disagree with the fundamental and most essential teachings of Herbert W. Armstrong concerning the Laws of God, the Sabbath day, tithing, and a whole raft of "laws" which Joseph Tkach insisted belong to the "Old Covenant" and not to the "New Covenant." He spoke on this subject in Atlanta, Georgia, Big Sandy, Texas, Pasadena, California, and then, on January 7, 1995, he announced that this also means that the "dietary laws" of the Old Testament are included in the laws which have been abolished and done away by the New Covenant! So now, for the first time, members of the Worldwide Church of God are encouraged to eat "unclean meats" -- such as shrimp, pork, lobsters, clams, oysters, and so forth!
Word has it that the people actually applauded when they heard these relaxations of the former identifying characteristics of the Worldwide Church of God. And no doubt, Church watchers in the Protestant world, such as Watchman Expositor, are delighted, and jumping with glee, at the complete roll-over and about-face of the Worldwide Church of God in its doctrinal teachings and 180 degree changes in direction and observance.
In this article, I want to carefully examine some of the statements and claims that JWT made in his article, and compare his conclusions with Scripture. You be the judge. However, to preface my remarks, let we remind everybody that the apostle Paul warned that in the "last days perilous times shall come" (II Tim. 3:1), and that during these times men shall be "ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth" (verse 7), and that "men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith" would "arise" (v. 8), and that in these last days "evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived" (v. 13).
Also, speaking of the "last days" (II Thess. 2:1-2), Paul warned that there shall "come a falling away (apostasy from the truth) first" (v. 3), and then the "man of sin," the "son of perdition" would be revealed. Paul also warned that the "mystery of iniquity" or lawlessness was already at work, even in his day, and would become very powerful a pull in the last days (v. 7-8). He warned that this would be a period of great instability, and deception, "with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved" (II Thess. 2:10).
The Covenant with Abraham
Concerning the covenant with Abraham, which Tkach discusses first, he says, "The first thing we notice about the covenant with Abraham is that it was unconditional" (p. 2, PGR). To back up this statement, he quotes Genesis 15:6 where we read -- "And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness."
Tkach claims that means the covenant YEHOVAH God made with Abraham was "unconditional." But is that true? Is that what this verse really says? Not at all. YEHOVAH's Word does not contradict itself (John 10:35). All Scripture is truth (John 17:17). The truth is, there were MANY conditions to the covenant YEHOVAH God made with Abraham. Let 's notice the proof!
In Genesis 12:1 YEHOVAH provides the first condition. He said to Abram: "Get thee out of thy country...unto a land that I will shew thee: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee..."(Gen. 12:1-2). We read, "So Abram departed, as the LORD had spoken unto him" (v. 4). Notice! He obeyed YEHOVAH's command! This was most definitely a conditional promise. If Abraham had not left the land of Babylon, he would have disqualified and not received the promise! There can be NO QUESTION but that there were clear cut conditions to YEHOVAH's promise!
But notice. Further conditions are spelled out in Genesis 17. YEHOVAH God says to Abraham, "I am the Almighty God: Walk before me, and be thou perfect. And I will make my covenant with thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly...This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; every man child among you shall be circumcised" (Gen. 17:1-10).
Notice again -- there are plain and clear conditions to this covenant, contrary to Joseph Tkach's bold faced "lie." Number one -- Abraham is to walk before YEHOVAH God, that is, in His presence, conscious of His presence; and number two -- he is to become "perfect." How do we become "perfect" in YEHOVAH's sight? The Hebrew word is tamiym, and means "entire," or "without blemish, complete, full, perfect, sound, without spot, undefiled, upright, whole" (Strong's Concordance, #8549). I ask you sincerely -- does this sound as if there were "no conditions" to YEHOVAH's covenant with Abraham? Such a statement as Joseph Tkach makes is utter nonsense! The Word of YEHOVAH God disproves it totally!
Furthermore, one of the conditions YEHOVAH made to Abraham was that the male children of him and his descendants were to be circumcised. That is another "condition." But there is much more "proof." In Genesis 22, YEHOVAH commanded Abraham to take his son Isaac and sacrifice him for a burnt offering on Mount Moriah (Gen. 22:1-2). We find that Abraham got up early to obey YEHOVAH's command, and traveled to the appointed spot (vs. 3-10), and proceeded to obey YEHOVAH, when YEHOVAH interrupted him and told him it was not necessary, but that this was a "test" of obedience (verses 11-12). He said, "For now I know that you fear God" (v. 12). YEHOVAH God then said, "For because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son: That is blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thee..." (vs. 15-18). Notice -- YEHOVAH God confirmed His promise, originally made in Genesis 12, and even added to it, because of Abraham's actions, his works, which demonstrated his faith!
YEHOVAH later confirmed this promise to Abraham's son Isaac, saying that He would bless and multiply his children, and make them a blessing throughout the world, and that the Messiah would come through his progeny (Gen. 26:1-4) -- why? "Because that Abraham OBEYED MY VOICE, and kept my charge, my COMMANDMENTS, my STATUTES, and MY LAWS" (Gen. 26:5).
Read that again! How clear! YEHOVAH's promises were definitely CONDITIONAL. He blessed Abraham "BECAUSE" -- literally for the reason that -- Abraham obeyed Him, kept his charge, as well as His commandments, and statutes, and laws! Does this sound like Abraham was justified by "faith" alone?
Faith alone was not enough. Abraham's faith was the kind of faith that led him to OBEY YEHOVAH GOD and keep His Word faithfully. It was a "faithful faith." It was a faith evidenced by complete and total and enduring OBEDIENCE to YEHOVAH in every way!
The apostle James points out this principle in the second chapter of his epistle. He wrote, "Even so faith, if it hath not works, is DEAD, being ALONE. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without works, and I will shew thee my faith BY my works. Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the demons also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou not know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by WORKS, and by works was faith made perfect [whole, complete]? And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness" (James 2:17-23). So James concluded, "Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only" (verse 24).
James, then, answers the question what kind of faith Abraham had, that YEHOVAH God counted it for "righteousness" -- it was FAITH ACCOMPANIED BY WORKS OF OBEDIENCE!
Do you see how deceitful and manipulative Joseph Tkach's article is? How seductive and clever and disingenuous and specious his reasoning is? He goes on to say, "God made some dramatic promises to Abraham, and they were unconditional promises" (page 2, near bottom). This is simply the BIG LIE technique. Tell a lie big and bold and brass enough, and people will assume it is true! It is very clever. Such lies have deceived the whole world including the vast, overwhelming majority of Christendom (Rev.12:9). Yeshua the Messiah warned that the end-time deception would be so powerful that "if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect" (Matt. 24:24).
Are you deceived? Are you "taken in" and captured by clever manipulation of words and the "big lie" technique?
The Covenant at Mount Sinai and the New Covenant
In the next section of his article, Tkach discusses the covenant YEHOVAH God made with Israel at Mount Sinai. He writes, "The Ten Commandments form the core of the Sinaitic, or old covenant, but the covenant also included all of Exodus 20-24" (p. 5). Of course, this covenant was reaffirmed and expanded in the book of Deuteronomy, and included the laws concerning the Sanctuary, the Levitical priesthood, and the whole "Torah" or five books of Moses.
Next, Tkach contrasts the Old Covenant, made at Sinai, with the New Covenant we have through Yeshua the Messiah our Lord. He quotes Hebrews 8:5-6. Paul here declares that the priests of the Levites "serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern shewed to thee in the mount. But now hath he [the Messiah] obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a BETTER COVENANT, which was established upon better promises."
There is no problem here. We agree completely. But now let's read the next few verses.
"For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second. For finding fault with them [that is, the PEOPLE, who continually broke the covenant!], he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a NEW COVENANT with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord.
"For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my LAWS into their mind, and write them in their hearts..." (Heb. 8:7-10, KJV).
So far so good. Where then does Tkach begin to deviate from the truth? At this very point! Notice! YEHOVAH God says in the New Covenant He will write His LAWS -- that is, the LAWS and COMMANDMENTS which were in the Old Covenant, the very same laws -- in the minds and hearts of His people! This would be done through the indwelling holy spirit (Acts 5:32; Rom. 8:1-2). The Old Covenant could not work because the people rebelled -- they were carnal minded. And, as Paul wrote, "The carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the LAW of God, neither indeed can be" (Rom. 8:7). Therefore, in order for our minds to be made "subject" or "submissive" to the Laws of YEHOVAH God, so we can and will obey YEHOVAH and keep His laws, YEHOVAH gives those who truly repent of their sins HIS HOLY SPIRIT -- THE VERY POWER OF YEHOVAH GOD -- YEHOVAH has given us the spirit of "power, and of love, and of a sound mind" (II Tim. 1:6-7). The spirit in us enables us to obey YEHOVAH God and keep His commandments (Rom. 8:9-14).
However, Tkach twists this vital fact. The New Covenant involves "better promises," not "better laws"! The holy spirit is one of those "better promises" which Yeshua the Messiah promised (John 14:16-17; 16:7,13; 7:37-39). It is called "the Spirit of promise" (Acts 2:33,39; Gal. 3:2; Eph. 1:13). The promise of eternal life in the kingdom of YEHOVAH God, as opposed to physical and national blessings in this present age, is also one of the "better promises" (John 3:16; Titus 1:2; I Tim. 6:17-19; II Tim. 1:1,10).
But Tkach then begins to alter the truth -- to pervert the understanding of the New Covenant. He writes that the New Covenant revolves around the Messiah, which is certainly true. He then says, "He [the Messiah] is the new covenant" (p. 7). This is a perversion of the truth! The New Covenant is that YEHOVAH God will put His Laws in our hearts and minds (Heb. 8:8). Not just some "new laws" later given by the Messiah, but YEHOVAH GOD'S LAWS -- the very Ten Commandments, statutes, and all the moral, ethical, spiritual, and civil laws which YEHOVAH gave to Israel at Mount Sinai! Although the old covenant is "ready to vanish away," and will be replaced by the New Covenant, the basis of the New Covenant is the same spiritual LAWS which were the foundation of the Old Covenant! Any changes which the Messiah made to those laws in the old covenant are spelled out specifically in the New Testament, particularly in the sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5-7).
Tkach states that the New Covenant IS the Messiah. That is not true. The New Covenant is Messiah-centered, yes; but it involves our receiving the holy spirit so YEHOVAH God can write His LAWS within our very hearts and minds, making His LAWS become an internal, integral PART of the very core of our being! It involves the full personality and character of the Messiah being FORMED WITHIN us (Gal. 4:19; Rom. 12:1-2; 13:14).
Tkach then goes on to suggest that all we have to do is "believe" YEHOVAH's promises, and like Abraham, our mere "belief" will be counted as righteousness. But he does not point out, as James the apostle does, that our "faith" must be the same kind as that of Abraham and be evidenced by and proven and demonstrated by OUR OBEDIENCE to YEHOVAH God's charge, His commandments, His statutes, and His LAWS (Gen. 26:5; James 2:8-12, 14-26).
Doing Away with YEHOVAH God's Law
Tkach then writes:
"The new covenant is not simply a restatement of the old laws. We have already seen in Hebrews 8 that the old covenant is obsolete. Some of its laws have bee discarded. Some of its laws have been changed. Some have been continued, and others have been added. The new covenant...removes some of the laws of the old" (p. 8).
Here is the crux of the problem! Is this statement entirely true? Or is it a part of Satan the devil's "big lie" technique? Is it a clever twisting of the truth?
Yeshua the Messiah declared, in no uncertain terms: "Think NOT that I am come to destroy the law...I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled" (Matt. 5:17-18).
Isn't that plain? He added, "For I say unto you, That unless your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven" (v. 20). Now the scribes and Pharisees were famous for their punctilious observance of the Law -- even technical matters of tithing (Matt. 23:23). But Yeshua said we must be more righteous than they were! He also said, "Be [or become] ye therefore PERFECT [whole, complete, mature, upright, just as YEHOVAH God commanded Abraham to become in Genesis 17;1!], even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect" (Matt. 5:48). Does this sound like mere empty "faith" is enough for us to receive salvation? Nonsense! Does this sound like some of YEHOVAH God's laws have been "discarded"? Nonsense! Nothing has been discarded -- not even a jot or a tittle!
Whom will you believe? Joe Tkach? or Yeshua the Messiah?
The New Covenant "removes" none of the Laws of YEHOVAH God! We find that the weekly Sabbaths will be observed in the Kingdom of YEHOVAH God (Isa. 66:23). We find the holy days of YEHOVAH God -- specifically the Feast of Tabernacles -- will also be a commanded observance during the Kingdom of YEHOVAH God (Zech. 14:14-16)! We find that even the Levitical priesthood has a function to perform on this earth (Heb. 8:4-5), and will be fully operational during the reign of YEHOVAH God and Yeshua the Messiah, in the Kingdom of YEHOVAH God! (see for proof Ezekiel 40, especially verse 46; chapter 41; 42:13-14; all of chapter 43; 44:5-24; chapters 45-48). Zechariah says, "In that day shall there be upon the bells of the horses, HOLINESS UNTO THE LORD; and the pots in the Lord's house shall be like the bowls before the altar" (Zech. 14:20-21).
What law of YEHOVAH God, then, pray tell, has been "removed" or "discarded"? James plainly said that ALL YEHOVAH'S LAW stands or falls together. He wrote, "For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is GUILTY OF ALL. For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a TRANSGRESSOR OF THE LAW. So speak ye, and so DO, as they that shall be JUDGED by the Law of liberty [i.e., YEHOVAH's Law which insures true liberty]" (James 2:10-12).
Joe Tkach says the old covenant was set aside -- and declares,
"This 'setting aside' is not just talking about Levitical and sacrificial laws that were added to the old covenant -- it is talking about the old covenant itself. The WHOLE PACKAGE was SET ASIDE AND REPLACED by Christ" (p. 8).
Did you get that? Tkach therefore says the ENTIRE CONTENTS of the Old Covenant were set aside and replaced! Once again, this is Satan the devil's "big lie" technique at work -- smothering and confusing the minds of millions, part of Satan's great deception!
This "setting aside" therefore would include the Ten Commandments, statues, judgments, holy days, Passover, Sabbath day, clean and unclean meats, civil laws, laws against gossip, false witness, idolatry, and EVERYTHING ELSE which was covered in the Old Covenant
This is the DIAMETRIC OPPOSITE to what Yeshua the Messiah taught!
The Levitical sacrifices and laws were not set aside, but today they are not being offered for the simple reason that there is no Temple in which to offer them! The apostle Paul himself, in about 60 A.D., 29 years after the crucifixion of the Messiah, went up to Jerusalem, and offered sacrifice at the Temple of YEHOVAH God (Acts 22:18-24, 26-27; compare Numbers 6:1-2, 13-21).
If there were a Temple of YEHOVAH God in Jerusalem today, it would not be wrong for a Christian to offer a sacrifice, as Paul himself did. The sacrificial system YEHOVAH gave Israel was patterned after the heavenly altar and Temple (compare Rev. 11:19; Heb. 8:1-5). It constitutes a teaching system, a "school," to teach us about the heavenly truths of YEHOVAH God, the heavenly tabernacle, altar, Temple, and system. The sacrifices by and large picture Yeshua the Messiah, the lamb of YEHOVAH God, our supreme heavenly sacrifice (I Cor. 5:7-8; Heb. 9:1-14). So long as there is no Temple, however, it is obvious that the laws relative to the Temple worship are temporarily "set aside" or suspended.
Purpose of the Law of Moses
It is not surprising that even intellectual ghost-writers for Joseph Tkach (for everybody should know that Joe Tkach cannot write the articles that appear under his by-line) can get mixed up concerning the Law of YEHOVAH God. The whole Western "Christian" world is mixed up on these matters! The author, pseudo-Tkach, goes on quote Galatians 3:17, where we read:
"And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect" (KJV).
Tkach, or pseudo-Tkach, then states based on this verse:
"Christians have a relationship with God based on faith, not on law...His [Paul's] point here is that the law of Moses -- the old covenant -- was temporary. It was added only till Christ came" (p. 10).
But is this what Paul was talking about? This is very misleading, as he states that the whole system of law, given at Sinai, was temporary. But the truth is, much of the Sinai Law was really merely a repetition of YEHOVAH God's Law from the time of Adam and Eve. Remember, Cain and Abel also offered sacrifices, and Abraham kept YEHOVAH's "statutes, commandments and laws." The apostle John tells us that "sin is the transgression of the law" (I John 3:4), and Paul informs us that "sin is not imputed where there is no law" (Rom. 5:13), yet he says, "all have sinned" (Rom. 5:12). Therefore, the LAW of YEHOVAH God was in effect from the very days of Adam and Eve! Death is the penalty of sin (Rom. 6:23), and "death reigned from Adam to Moses" (Rom. 5:14). Therefore, SIN existed from Adam to Moses -- and for SIN to exist, the LAW of YEHOVAH GOD had to exist!
At Mount Sinai, Paul tells us in Galatians, concerning the law, "It was ADDED because of TRANSGRESSIONS [i.e., breaking of the laws of YEHOVAH God], till the seed should come to whom the promise was made [the Messiah]" (Gal. 3:19). This Law which was "added" was NOT the "Old Covenant"! Let's not be confused. The Covenant and the Law are two different things! The Covenant was an AGREEMENT between Israel and YEHOVAH God. The Laws were part of that agreement; they were, in effect, the TERMS of that Covenant. All of those spiritual, moral, ethical, and civil LAWS did not begin with Moses at Mount Sinai, but went back to CREATION! The Sabbath law, for example, goes back to Creation (Gen. 2:1-3). YEHOVAH God reminded Israel of which day was the Sabbath weeks before Israel ever got to Mount Sinai (Exodus 16). YEHOVAH gave them the Passover commandments (Exodus 12:14-16) fifty days before the Sinai covenant!
What, then, was really "new" -- or "added" -- to the system of Laws which YEHOVAH God had already put in force, prior to Mount Sinai? Why, the answer should be obvious. At Mount Sinai the physical tabernacle, Levitical priesthood, prescribed sacrifices and rituals, were added -- what we generally call the RITUALISTIC LAW, or the law related to the Levitical Priesthood! These were the "meats [meal offerings[ and drinks [drink offerings], and divers washings, and carnal ordinances [marginal reference, "rites, or ceremonies"], imposed on them until the time of reformation" (Heb. 9:10). The Greek word for "ordinances" here is dikaioma which means "what has been established and ordained by law, an ordinance," "a judicial sentence," "a righteous act or deed," and in this verse clearly refers to those things related to the Levitical priesthood.
This was a whole body of legislation which was ADDED at Mount Sinai! These rituals pointed to the Messiah, and to heavenly objects, of which they were a type or shadow. These things are not obligatory for Christians today!
Ferrar Fenton, in his translation, translates these passages in Galatians 3:17-19 as follows:
"And I assert this -- the RITUALS, beginning four hundred and thirty years after, could not cancel a Settlement previously established by God, so as to abolish the promise. For if the inheritance comes from a RITUAL, it is no more from a promise; yet God granted it to Abraham through a promise. Why, then, the law [of rituals]? It was established BECAUSE OF SINS, until the Heir should come in Whom were the promises."
We must carefully distinguish what was truly "added" at Sinai and what existed before, in terms of YEHOVAH God's Laws. Clearly, the rituals were added at Mount Sinai. But from the very time of Adam, it was a sin to worship false gods or idols (Gen. 31:19-35), to take YEHOVAH's name in vain (Gen. 4:26), to desecrate the Sabbath (Gen. 2:1-3), to dishonor one's parents (Gen. 9:17-25), to kill (Gen. 4:7-10), to commit adultery (Gen. 39:7-12), to steal (Gen. 30:33), to bear false witness (Gen. 3:1-3, 14), and to lust or covet (Gen. 3:1-7). Thus all ten of the Ten Commandments were in force from the time of Adam!
The only "laws" therefore which were altered, changed, or "set aside" for any length of time, by the coming of the Messiah, were those specific laws which he himself declared to be changed -- and most of those were not weakened or diminished in any way, but made more strong and strict and binding! (Matt. 5-7). For example, Yeshua said it was even a sin to "lust" after a woman with your eyes, to commit adultery in your heart (Matt. 5:28)! He also forbad swearing, saying to let our yes be "yes" and our no, "no" (Matt. 5:33-37). He commanded us to even love our "enemies" (Matt. 5:43-47).
Therefore, when Joseph Tkach implies that ALL YEHOVAH God's "Laws" were "added" at Mount Sinai, and Abraham's relationship with YEHOVAH was only based on "faith," he is a LIAR, and a false witness -- a pervaricator and perverter of the Word of YEHOVAH God! When he says the whole "package of laws became obsolete when the Messiah died" (page 11 of his article), he is confusing the old covenant itself, which is obsolete, with the LAWS which were the core and basis of the old covenant, which are NOT obsolete -- how can they be? They are based on eternal verities -- they are ETERNAL! As David himself wrote: "The LAW of the Lord is PERFECT, converting the soul...The statutes of the Lord are RIGHT, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the Lord is PURE, enlightening the eyes...the judgments of the Lord are TRUE and RIGHTEOUS ALTOGETHER. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them is thy servant WARNED: and in KEEPING OF THEM THERE IS GREAT REWARD" (Psalm 19:7-11).
Now notice how Tkach perverts the clear meaning of another scripture. He quotes Hebrew 10:1 and claims therefore that the Law of YEHOVAH God itself is "only a shadow." Notice it!
"The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming -- not the realities themselves."
Now, my Bible has this verse differently! Let us notice several translations:
"For the law HAVING A SHADOW of good things to come, and not the very image of the things..." (KJV).
"For as the Law HAS a mere shadow of the bliss that is to be, instead of representing the reality of that bliss" (Moffatt).
"For the Torah has in it a shadow of the good things to come, but not the actual manifestation of the originals" (Jewish NT).
The original Greek of the New Testament is that the Law "has" or "possesses" a shadow of things -- not that the Law itself IS a "shadow." Tkach quotes the NIV version here, where it is an interpretation and not a true translation of the original Greek language!
The Sabbath Observance
What about the Sabbath day? Tkach claims it is "an old covenant law," because it was part of the Ten Commandments given at Mount Sinai (page 15 of PGR). He then asks,
"But, is the Sabbath required in the new covenant? Or, as another possibility, is it transformed, to be kept in a different way?...Is it possible that Jesus Christ changed the way we ought to observe the Sabbath?" (p. 15).
Do you see how insidious this is? By asking this type of question, he raises a whole series of questions and creates doubt! Tkach then adds, "The new covenant is based on faith, not on law" (ibid.). So now he colorizes the picture, and tries to get you to forget that Abraham was justified by "faith AND works" of obedience to YEHOVAH God's laws (James 2:21-24; Gen. 26:5). The truth is, the New Covenant is based on FAITH AND LAW TOGETHER! It is faith in YEHOVAH God and His spirit that enables us to keep and observe YEHOVAH's Law! Faith without the "works" of law keeping, and obedience, is DEAD, James plainly said -- twice, in fact (James 2:17 and 2:26). Faith without works is like a flat tire. Useless. Faith without works is like a body without oxygen or air to breathe -- dead, dead, dead!
The truth is, the Sabbath is one of the Ten Commandments, goes back to Creation, and was given to Israel to remind them which day was the Sabbath PRIOR to the Sinai covenant (Gen. 2:1-3; Exodus 16). In fact, in the very Ten Commandments, God said, "REMEMBER the Sabbath day, to keep it holy" (Exo. 20:8). This was not a NEW law, but something He was REMINDING them to observe and keep!
But did Yeshua come to CHANGE the way we should observe the Sabbath? Did he say it is all right, now, to work on the Sabbath at a normal, routine job? Did he say it is all right to seek our own pleasure, play golf, go to Disneyland, on the Sabbath?
Absolutely not! Yeshua came to teach us to observe all YEHOVAH God's commandments as YEHOVAH originally intended us to do! He came to rebuke the legalizing Pharisees who were ADDING "man-made traditions" to the laws of YEHOVAH God, making them a burden instead of a delight! He said to the Pharisees, "Why do ye transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?" (see Matt. 15:1-9). He warned them, "Howbeit in VAIN do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the TRADITION OF MEN..." (Mark 7:7-8).
The Sabbath was an example of how the Pharisees had added their own traditions to YEHOVAH God's commandment, and made it a yoke of bondage. Yeshua permitted his disciples to pluck ears of wheat to eat as they walked through a field on the Sabbath. This outraged the Pharisees, who accused them of "harvesting grain" on the Sabbath (Mark 2:23-24). But Yeshua rebuked them, saying, "The Sabbath was made FOR man, and not man for the Sabbath" (verse 27). In other words, YEHOVAH God never intended men to bog down in self-important ritual and go hungry on the Sabbath, because of human "additions" to the simple laws of YEHOVAH God. YEHOVAH never intended men to avoid picking an apple to eat on the Sabbath, or a few cherries, or strawberries, or an ear of fresh ripe corn, or a few radishes from their garden, while walking outside and enjoying the fresh air of nature. The Pharisees had added many such stringent additions to YEHOVAH's wonderful laws, turning them into an onerous and impossible yoke of heavy bondage.
Yeshua plainly showed, as the Worldwide Church of God has historically taught, that any emergency should be taken care of on the Sabbath, that it is all right to do good on the Sabbath, to visit the sick, to see a doctor if you need to, or to care for the sick and afflicted.
Joe Tkach attempts to diminish the importance of the Sabbath, by saying it was the sign of the old covenant with Israel, but not the sign of the New Covenant. This is utter nonsense! The Sabbath is YEHOVAH God's LAW -- a sign between Him and His people FOR EVER (see Exodus 31:13-17). It is A PERPETUAL COVENANT (verse 16). It is the sign of YEHOVAH God's true people. And so are the annual holy days of YEHOVAH, which also were ordained FOREVER (Exo. 12:14-16; Lev. 23).
"The Lord of the Sabbath has come, and the reality has replaced the shadow (Col. 3:17). The New Testament Sabbath, the Sabbath rest that remains for the people of God (Hebrews 4) is the new life in Christ, the life of faith in Him..." (p. 17).
What folderol and balderdash! The Sabbath is not, was not, and was never intended to be a temporary "shadow" -- it is a weekly 24-hour period of time which YEHOVAH God declares is HOLY TIME! To desecrate it or work on it or "break" it is tantamount to blaspheming YEHOVAH. It is an ABOMINATION to whitewash and water down the Sabbath commandment, and call it a mere "shadow." Rather, the Sabbath of course is a TYPE of the millennial rest, the 1000 year reign of YEHOVAH God and the Messiah which comes at the end of 6,000 years of man's rule on planet earth (Rev. 20:4). Therefore, it is a "shadow" of the 1,000 year millennial "Sabbath." All of YEHOVAH God's Holy Days are shadows in the sense that they "foreshadow" something in the Plan of YEHOVAH. But that fact does not lessen their importance -- it should strengthen their significance and increase their importance, in our eyes!
Joseph Tkach tends to minimize the Sabbath and all the commandments of YEHOVAH God. But Isaiah foretold of the Messiah, "The LORD is well pleased for his righteousness' sake; he will MAGNIFY THE LAW, and make it honorable" (Isaiah 42:21). Joe Tkach is looking at the Law of YEHOVAH through the wrong end of a telescope! He shrinks the importance of the Sabbath -- he is the incredible "shrinking man"! But YEHOVAH God says the Messiah came to MAGNIFY the Law -- as a telescope magnifies the image of stars and planets in outer space! The Hebrew word for "magnify" is gadal and means "to twist," and is translated "to make large, advance, honor, bring up, boast, exceed, increase, lift up, magnify, be much set by, nourish, promote, tower" (Strong's #1431). Says Gesenius Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon, "to twist together, to bind together, to twine a cord," whence "to wrestle, to contend," "to be or become great, to grow," "to be greatly valued," "to be celebrated with praises," "to cause or take care that anything shall grow and become great," "to make much of, to value highly," "to make high, to lift up."
In his article, Joseph Tkach encourages people to violate the Sabbath by working on it if they feel or believe they should to support their family. To him, the Sabbath is no longer the "test commandment" to see whether a person will obey YEHOVAH God or not. Admittedly, emergency work or work that serves YEHOVAH may be done on the Sabbath. Even in Old Testament times, the Levites offered animal sacrifices -- hard work -- on the Sabbath, and every day of the year.
But Joseph Tkach calls the Sabbath "Old Covenant," says it is not a sign of the true Christian, and diminishes its importance in every way. He then says it is all right to work on the Sabbath if you believe you ought to -- it is your own decision to make. Notice his own words:
"If the choice is between working on the Sabbath and providing food for the family, it is not a sin to work on the Sabbath....Some people might call it a lack of faith, but other people might call it appropriate. One person sees it as an ox in the ditch...Another person sees it differently, but I hope that one person doesn't judge the other.
"Therefore we will not disfellowship a person who WORKS to feed his family" (p. 19).
There you have it. Since obviously everybody who works say they work to feed their family (unless they are already rich!), this means that according to Joseph Tkach and the new, revised Worldwide Church of God, it is now all right to work on the Sabbath day -- to trample on, desecrate, and do your own work on YEHOVAH God's Holy day!
Does YEHOVAH's Word agree with this assessment? Isaiah the prophet wrote plainly, by YEHOVAH God's direct inspiration:
"IF THOU TURN AWAY THY FOOT FROM THE SABBATH, from doing thy pleasure on MY HOLY DAY; and call the sabbath a delight, the HOLY of the LORD, honourable; and shalt HONOUR HIM, not doing THINE OWN WAYS, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words: Then shalt thou DELIGHT thyself in the LORD; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it" (Isaiah 48:13-14).
Joseph Tkach adds, "Being Sabbath-keepers does not make us more righteous than other Christians." Presumably, he means Methodists, Baptists, Lutherans, Episcopalians -- he now believes they ALL are "Christian." He goes on,
"If some, even most, Christians don't keep the Sabbath, then that's their loss. It's true that keeping the Sabbath is not commanded as part of the new covenant in the way it was under the old covenant. Not keeping it doesn't make them ANY LESS CHRISTIAN, as I've tried to make plain" (p. 20).
Whereas Yeshua the Messiah came to magnify the Law, and expand its forcefulness and power, and exalt its beauty and glory, Joseph Tkach has come to diminish and shrink the Law, and the Sabbath commandment, to nullify and destroy it, when you look at his teachings in the final analysis. For when you excuse and justify "working" on the Sabbath, the very thing YEHOVAH God forbad, aren't you in effect DESTROYING the LAW? You are certainly not "fulfilling" it, or "filling it full" and up to the brim!
YEHOVAH God says, in the basic Sabbath commandment:
"Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labor, and do ALL thy work. But the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God: IN IT THOU SHALT NOT DO ANY WORK, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates. For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it" (Exo. 20:8-11).
The Sabbath was given to mankind as a BLESSING. YEHOVAH God hallowed it and sanctified it at Creation. It is a wonderful day of rest. To work on it, at our normal, routine occupation, is to desecrate it, to dishonour our heavenly Father, and to despise His commandments, statutes, and judgments. To trample on YEHOVAH's sacred, holy day is an abomination before YEHOVAH God. Those who knowingly violate the Sabbath will have their part in the lake of fire and brimstone -- Gehenna Fire!
Many Protestants and Catholics believe that the Messiah came to do away with the Sabbath command, and all the Laws of YEHOVAH God. What difference is there, really, in Joseph Tkach's new view, which permits working on the Sabbath, and says we must not judge one another in these things, and the viewpoint of the world's churches? Very little. When you make the Sabbath no longer a commandment, you vitiate it -- you "gut" it -- you destroy it, for all practical purposes.
Adulterating the LAW of YEHOVAH God
Rather than stressing OBEDIENCE to YEHOVAH's Law, Joseph Tkach is now WATERING DOWN the Law of YEHOVAH God, and claims to be stressing "Christ." But this is not the Messiah of the Bible, who observed the Sabbath faithfully (Luke 4:16), setting us an example, that we should follow his steps! (I Pet. 2:21; I John 2:6). This is not the same Yeshua who said to the young rich man who asked him how he could have eternal life! Yeshua said to him, "IF thou wilt enter into life, KEEP THE COMMANDMENTS" (Matt. 19:17).
The Messiah is the Law of YEHOVAH God -- the Logos, the Word, the Torah -- in human flesh (John 1;1-3, 14). As such, he observed YEHOVAH God's Law perfectly -- as it was intended to be observed. In his changes, interpretations and additions to the Law, he showed us its true purpose, how to keep it properly, in spirit, and its real meaning. It is nothing less than the perfect character of YEHOVAH God, showing us how YEHOVAH desires each one of us to become!
What about you? Are you going to be led about by modern-day false prophets who are "partial in the law" (Mal. 2:9)? Are you going to go along with those who are "forsaking" YEHOVAH God's Law (Psalm 119:53)? Are you going to follow those false prophets who are busily making "void" the Law (Psalm 119:126)?
David said, "Therefore I love thy commandments above gold; yea, above fine gold" (v. 127). He declared, "Thy law is the truth" (Psa. 119:142). But Yeshua also said HE is the "truth" (John 14:6). He also said, "Thy WORD is truth" (John 17:17) -- and he is the "Word" (John 1:1-3). Therefore the Word of YEHOVAH God, the Truth of YEHOVAH God, and the Law of YEHOVAH God are all equal to the same thing -- they are equal, or equivalent, to each other -- they are all IDENTICAL!
The Messiah IS the "Law" of YEHOVAH God in living form and shape. To say the Law is done away or abolished is to say the MESSIAH is abolished, done away! To diminish or shrink the importance of the Law is to shrink or diminish the importance of the Law-Giver -- the logos of YEHOVAH God, the Messiah himself!
One might say that the Messiah is the "end" of the Law (Rom.10:4), but that does not mean the Law is done away. In James 5:11 we read, "Ye have...seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy." Obviously, this does not mean the Lord is "done away." So the fact that the Messiah is the END of the Law does not mean he abolished it! It means that he is the end-result or fulfillment of the Law. Actually, he is the Beginning, the Middle, AND the End of the Law -- and the SUM TOTAL of the Law! He taught complete obedience to the Law of YEHOVAH God, which is to say perfect obedience to himself, as he is the Perfect Expression of the Law of YEHOVAH God, and we are to become like him -- "for we shall be LIKE HIM, for we shall see him as he is" (I John 3:2).
The true New Covenant is that we are to be writing YEHOVAH God's Laws in our hearts and minds daily, by His holy spirit -- including the Sabbath Law and the Holy Days -- ALL of YEHOVAH God's Perfect Law!
Are you allowing YEHOVAH to write His Law within your heart and mind? May YEHOVAH God help His people to begin to wake up, and shake themselves out of their lethargy, and to REDEEM THE TIME in getting back to the faith once delivered to the saints!
It is possible that Joseph Tkach is sincere, of course. I can't judge his heart or sincerity. But you can be sincere and TOTALLY WRONG! Solomon wrote: "There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of DEATH" (Proverbs 14:12).
Paul also wrote, "Wherefore let him that standeth take heed lest he fall" (I Cor.10:12). Are you taking heed? Paul declared as well, "Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip. For if the word spoken by angels was steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward; How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation?" (Heb. 2:1-3).
As Paul also wrote, "See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, REDEEMING THE TIME, because the days are evil" (Eph. 5:15-16). The apostle Peter also wrote: "Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall" (II Pet. 1:10).
May YEHOVAH God help us to take these serious admonitions to heart. Your salvation is at stake!
Hope of Israel Ministries -- Preparing the Way for the Return of YEHOVAH God and His Messiah!
Hope of Israel Ministries
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