Bad News-Good News: Part 2
Feast of Tabernacles
October 7, 2012
In the sermon today I would like to continue into Part 2 of our
study entitled “Bad News-Good News.”
Let us just have a quick recap of what we studied on Friday, in Part 1:
First of all, what did Jesus preach? Secondly, what did the apostles preach? And what should we be preaching? What is the true Gospel? Are we to preach smooth things? Finally, are we living in the last days? These were all the main questions we asked on Friday.
I was thinking about what I said in Part 1, and I would just like to make a few comments on i before we continue with Part 2:
Firstly, I did not – and do not – want to give you the impression that I believe that all the other ministers and churches of God are doing everything wrong; nor that I am the only one who is saying everything right. I don’t believe that and I didn’t want it to come across to you that way.
Also, I didn’t want it to come across that it is just the ministers who are doing God’s work and who have a part in the preaching of the Gospel. Every single member of God’s true Church can have a part in the preaching of the Gospel. Remember, we are all different "body parts" in the Body of Jesus Christ. We are all different "cells" and we all have a different job to do in God’s church. If your job is different than mine, that’s fine.
I wanted to mention those things before we continued.
In my message on Friday, I admitted to you that I tend to be an optimist; and yet, at the same time, I do not bury my head in the sand regarding world conditions. I also finished my message by saying that, whether or not the last days are upon us, we must not take things too far either way. We must beware of two ditches. The first of those two ditches is being overly positive – overly optimistic; and the second ditch is being overly negative – and overly pessimistic.
Let’s continue by examining these two ditches in a little bit more detail. First, Ditch Number One: we are not to be overly, illogically positive. On this overly positive side, some claim that God would never, ever do or initiate harsh or violent things.
Anybody who makes such claims actually paints themselves into a severe corner in their teaching; and then need to seriously twist and wrest many of their teachings in order to make them fall into line with their core teaching – that God would never do or institute anything harsh or violent. With regards to twisting and wresting the scriptures, we can see the warning in God’s Word against doing this:
Every day they wrest my words: all their thoughts are against me for evil.
II Peter 3:16:
As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.
When we think about some of the terrible things that have happened in the past (and again, I don’t want to dwell on their details), we must ask ourselves: “Hasn't God found it necessary in the past to do such things?"
How would a person get away with talking about the flood and all that God did at that time? Can we cast that account away and say it never happened – that God did not do that?
What about His punishment on Korah, Dathan, Abiram and their followers?
You know those stories; I don’t have to recount them. What about the Egyptian
firstborn and what happened at the Red Sea? You all know those stories.
Let’s see what God warns in this regard. I want to keep it as positive as possible; so I am not going to spend too much time on this. Again, we have to beware of ditch number one:
8: Now go, write it before them in a table, and note it in a book, that it may be for the time to come for ever and ever:
9: That this is a rebellious people, lying children, children that will not hear the law of the LORD:
10: Which say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits:
11: Get you out of the way, turn aside out of the path, cause the Holy One of Israel to cease from before us...
Such preachers are not necessarily righteous preachers of peace. Continuing:
12: Wherefore thus saith the Holy One of Israel, Because ye despise this word, and trust in oppression and perverseness, and stay thereon:
13: Therefore this iniquity shall be to you as a breach ready to fall, swelling out in a high wall, whose breaking cometh suddenly at an instant.
14: And he shall break it as the breaking of the potters’ vessel that is broken in pieces; he shall not spare: so that there shall not be found in the bursting of it a sherd to take fire from the hearth, or to take water withal out of the pit.
This is a serious warning! We need to recognize the evil in the
world; there is no doubt about it; and we're not to have an unrealistically and illogically positive view.
We must recognize that the bad things in the world do have a meaning, and
that they are leading up to the end of this age.
It is important for us to remember that, even though we don’t have war right on our doorstep right now, the absence of major war on our doorstep does not constitute real peace.
At this point, I want us to read some of the well-known "No Peace" scriptures; but as we read them, I want you to know that our job – our function in God’s Church now is not to emulate Isaiah, Jeremiah or Ezekiel. God has told us that we are to emulate Jesus Christ and His apostles in their preaching of the Gospel. Also, we are to emulate Paul as he emulated Jesus Christ. We will come back to this later.
There is no peace, saith the LORD, unto the wicked.
There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked.
Jeremiah 6:14 & 8:11:
They have healed also the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace.
10: Because, even because they have seduced my people, saying, Peace; and there was no peace; and one built up a wall, and, lo, others daubed it with untempered morter...
Verse 16: To wit, the prophets of Israel which prophesy concerning Jerusalem, and which see visions of peace for her, and there is no peace, saith the Lord GOD.
I am not going to comment too much on these verses; but again,
let us not fall into the overly positive ditch. Let us keep these warnings
But some have strayed over into Ditch Number Two – the overly negative ditch. They have done that in a few different ways:
One of these ways is by repeatedly "slamming" our human government leaders.
Doing this is in direct violation of God’s Word. Jesus Christ and His apostles give us commands
against doing this. I am not going to get into the details right now, as it
would take at least a sermonette or sermon of its own. But please let me repeat what I said
there: If we are repeatedly slamming our human government leaders, we are in direct violation of God’s
Word. He forbids it.
The other way that this is happening – ministers falling into the overly negative ditch – is the preaching from the pulpit, seemingly without any restraint, before mixed audiences of men, women and little children, the fine details of filthy, horrible crimes that are being committed in this world. Some of these might possibly be figments of twisted imaginations – either of the speakers or of their sources. I say this with all seriousness. We all know very well that much of this world is scary and that it is true that our Israelitish nations are going downhill. We can watch our TV newscasts every night, we can read our newspapers, or we can read the news on the Internet. We really don’t need to hear it in Sabbath services every week. When we go to Sabbath services, we need to leave those things outside the door.
Yes, our nations are going downhill and the standards and the morals of our schools and governments are deteriorating. But God’s people are to deal in the truth! We began Part One of this sermon with that on Friday. We must be dealing in the truth!
As we also read on Friday, Jesus’ example was to bear witness to the wonderful, positive truth about His
Kingdom and the truth about Him being the King. The truth! Not
hearsay! Not bogus news items based on unfounded, insupportable, forwarded e-mail messages, which
at least some of them are. Some of these so-called "news-items" come floating back
into our e-mail in-boxes after ten years or more. We need to be careful of these things.
So again, we are to tell the truth; not hearsay; not bogus news items; not pulp-fiction written by loyalty-hungry authors – some of them claiming to be Christians. All of them claim to be able to enlighten us with bizarre, so-called "proofs" of how God’s prophecies are being fulfilled. There are some ridiculous books circulating out there, trying to give the idea that "this" is how it is going to all happen in the end-time.
Let us tell the truth! Let us preach the truth –
directly from God’s Word; not from the vain scribblings of charlatans who claim to be enlightened or inspired; but are
more deceived than the true, Spirit-filled children of God.
God does not expect us to know everything. We don’t need to be embarrassed about this. God does not expect us to have an answer to every single question that people might ask us about every single prophecy. I certainly don’t claim to have all the answers. I don’t know what every prophesy means at this point in time.
If you have a computer Bible or a really good concordance, look up and see how many times God tells His people “You shall know” – N.B. future tense! Some of them even say: “Then you shall know.” In such scriptures, He is telling us that, until certain things start to come to pass, we will not know exactly how they are going to come to pass.
If we don’t know the answer, let’s tell the truth and admit that we don’t
know; or that we don’t know yet. If the Bible does not give us the clear answer, let’s refrain from making up our own answer.
We have talked a lot, during this Feast, about adding and taking away from the scriptures.
God commands us and seriously warns us against doing this. Again, if the Bible does not give us a clear answer, let’s not make up our own.
This can be construed as adding or taking away from God’s Word. It can also be construed as
false witness, which is lying. And we all know who the father of lies is.
We might have a strong opinion of how it will all come out. And that’s okay. But let’s tell the truth. Let’s admit that it is our own strong opinion, and not the Word of God – not the plain truth of God.
Again, I need to repeat that, despite their obvious faults, open criticism of our government leaders is sin. They are human beings the same as the rest of us are. Open criticism of our leaders is sin, and it is not a small sin that God will wink at.
Perhaps even worse than that sin, is that our little children do not need to hear accounts or even mentions – whether true or false, factual or fictional – about gross, disgusting crimes. Such accounts may be included under the banner of what the Bible calls "evil tidings:
Praise ye the LORD. Blessed is the man that feareth the LORD, that delighteth greatly in his commandments...
Part of the reason that we are to come to the Feast of Tabernacles is to learn to fear God (Deuteronomy 14:3). Not to fear Him in a quaking manner; but to fear Him as a child would fear his parents (or even his elder brother) in a proper, loving way.
Verse 7: He shall not be afraid of evil tidings: his heart is fixed, trusting in the LORD.
Also included under the banner of "evil tidings" is unfounded, insupportable conspiracy theories. Would you believe that God could look down the centuries and see that there were going to be conspiracy theories in our day? There were conspiracy theories happening back then. Is it really possible that God’s Word, written thousands of years ago, could say anything about the bogus conspiracy theories of our day?
Isaiah 8 (NKJV):
9: "Be shattered, O you peoples, and be broken in pieces! Give ear, all you from far countries. Gird yourselves, but be broken in pieces; Gird yourselves, but be broken in pieces.
There is a double repetition that these people are going to be broken in pieces and shattered. This is so like the scattered Church of God today – the New Testament Israel of God. Continuing:
10: Take counsel together, but it will come to nothing; speak the word, but it will not stand, for God is with us."
11: For the LORD spoke thus to me with a strong hand, and instructed me that I should not walk in the way of this people, saying:
12: "Do not say, 'A conspiracy,' concerning all that this people call a conspiracy, nor be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.
13: The LORD of hosts, Him you shall hallow; let Him be your fear, and let Him be your dread.
Again, our loving God does not want us to be quaking or shaking in
fear; but He does want us to have respect for Him. Mind you, if the Eternal God appeared before us
right here and now, we certainly would be quaking and shaking! But
God the Father and Jesus want us to fear them as a loving Parent and a loving Elder
God tells us not to repeat or fear bogus conspiracy theories; but rather to fear and hallow Them.
Can we be listening to a steady diet of negative news items – not just listening to them, but actually preaching them on the Sabbath: disrespectful ridicule and criticism of our government leaders, sick accounts of sick crimes, bogus conspiracy theories – and claim that all of this can be correctly construed as preaching the Gospel – the Good News? Is this why we attend church services each Sabbath? Is this what God’s people desire to hear? Is this what God wants His people to be listening to?
For the answers to these questions, I will ask the same questions as I did in Part One: “What would Jesus do?” “What did Jesus do?” “What did the apostles do?” They preached the Gospel. As we have seen, God’s people should be following that example and continuing the preaching of the Gospel.
"Gospel" is a somewhat unusual word, isn't it? It is not a word that everyday people use in everyday life. Everybody has their own ideas of what the word "Gospel" means. Some people, when they think of "gospel," think of a big gospel choir singing songs, clapping and dancing. But what does it really mean. Let’s look at the etymology of the word "gospel." Where did it come from? Here is the background of the English word:
Gospel comes from the Old English word "Godspel," corresponding to "good spel." In other words "good tidings." It was originally translated from the ecclesiastical Latin term "bona annuntiatio," itself a translation of the ecclesiastical Latin word "evangelium," which was translated from an ancient Greek word "euaggelion." which literally means "good news."
Please note that the modern English word "gospel" comes from the Old English
"good spel" – "good tidings." Good tidings; not bad or evil tidings, which God frowns upon.
Now let us take a quick look at the three relevant Greek words in the New Testament, directly from the Holy Scriptures:
The first one (Strong’s 2098) is "euaggelion" – translated in the King James Version as:
- Gospel of Christ
- Gospel of God
- Gospel of the Kingdom.
The Word Book of the New Testament expands on this:
- Good tidings
- A reward for good tidings
- Glad tidings
- Glad tidings of the Kingdom of God soon to be set up, and also of Jesus the Messiah, and founder, of this Kingdom
- Glad tidings of salvation through Christ
- Proclamation of the grace of God manifested through Christ
- As the Messiahship of Jesus was proved by His words, His deeds, and His death, the narrative of the sayings, deeds and death of Jesus came to be called the Gospel or the glad tidings
That is all very positive. Now here is a related Greek word (Strong’s 2097) "euaggelizo" which is translated in the King James Version as:
- Preach the Gospel
- Bring good tidings
- Show glad tidings
- Declare glad tidings
Again, the Word Book expands on the meaning a little:
- To bring good news
- To announce glad tidings
- Used in the Old Testament of any kind of good news
- The joyful tidings of God’s kindness, in particular of the Messianic blessings
- Used in the New Testament, especially, of glad tidings, of the coming of the Kingdom of God; and salvation, to be obtained in it through Christ.
- Glad tidings being brought to the people.
- To proclaim glad tidings
- To instruct people concerning the things pertaining to Christian salvation
There is a lot of information there. Just one more relevant and related Greek word (Strong’s 2099) ‘euaggelistes,’ which is translated in the King James Version as "evangelist," meaning a bringer of good tidings.
Again, please note the accent in all of these words: good tidings, glad tidings, good news! Not bad news, not evil tidings, not accounts of weird crimes, not conspiracy theories, and certainly not bizarre personal, speculative interpretations of prophecy, homing in on the more violent ones!
But again, we ask the question: “Should we not be sighing and crying over the abominations that are being committed in our Israelite nations?” Yes, of course we should:
3: And the glory of the God of Israel was gone up from the cherub, whereupon he was, to the threshold of the house. and he called to the man clothed with linen, which had the writer’s inkhorn by his side;
4: And the LORD said unto him, Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof.
9: Then said he unto me, The iniquity of the house of Israel and Judah is exceeding great, and the land is full of blood, and the city full of perverseness: for they say, The LORD hath forsaken the earth, and the LORD seeth not.
Without going into more of this, we know that it is correct and good for God’s people to sigh and cry over the abominations that are being committed in our nations.
But does this mean that we should be filling our minds – and our children’s minds – with every bloody crime and perversion, and every tidbit of gospel against our nations leaders? Are we promised a better "mark," as it says in Ezekiel 9 – are we promised a better reward – according to the amount of evil tidings that we can cram into our minds, or that we can preach to our brethren to convince them how bad things are? Should we spend every waking hour scouring the Internet, television and radio programs, searching for the most gory crimes and the most juicy evidences of our leaders' wrongdoings?
It is fine to watch a decent, reliable evening news broadcast, or to read a decent, reliable daily
newspaper or weekly news magazine. I smile when I say this, that when it comes to the news media, the adjectives ‘decent and reliable’ are
very relative. I know that there are "whistle-blowing" sites out there that tell you that
claim to inform us on "all the news that nobody else is covering."
Again, how much time should we be spending on news watching? And how much of
this information do we really need?
If the media occasionally happens to report any good news, let’s rejoice in it. It is true that most of the news we see, hear and read about will be bad news. Should we sigh and cry about it? Yes, of course we should. It is good and right for us to mourn with those who mourn. But let’s not make the pursuit of bad news the centre of our lives, or of our preaching.
Let me just repeat what I said before. Our commission in God’s
church is to emulate Jesus Christ and His apostles; not Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel.
We have not been given the job to emulate them; but we have been given the job of emulating Jesus Christ and
What does God’s Word tell us about the daily world news, and about the state of the planet?
Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these…
You can read them all for yourself. I am not even going to list them right now. Continuing in:
Verse 21: ... of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
Hopefully God’s people are not doing any of those works of the flesh listed there. But how much should we even be dwelling upon the works of the flesh? How much should we be enveloping ourselves in them and the knowledge of them? How much of them should we be allowing into our minds? "Not much," is the answer, as we will see.
What should we be dwelling on? For the answer, let’s continue in:
Verse 22: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
23: Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
24: And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.
25: If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
Let us walk in the Spirit! Let us envelope ourselves in God’s Holy Spirit and the fruits of the Spirit that are listed right here. Is there anything else? Yes:
Verse 26: Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.
Why would Paul write these words in relation to his previous ones? Believe it or not, some preachers seem to revel in a kind of vain glory, seemingly trying to outdo other preachers in the depth of the grossness of the stories that they come up with. Hopefully they are not competing in that way; but it certainly sometimes seems that way.
It was interesting last night in our Family Day Dance when we had the kids doing the Limbo Dance, at one point Chubby Checker asks in the song: “How low can you go?” In my mind, I applied that question to some of these news items that some of the preachers are coming out with: “How low can you go?”
I am sure that such preachers would excuse themselves. I believe they think they are justified in picking up the mantle of Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel. I believe that they feel that they have the authority to do this. But, they do not have that authority in this New Testament era.
I am sure that such preachers would excuse themselves by telling us: “We are only telling it like it is.” We don’t need to know from them how it is. We can read the newspaper, watch the news on television or on the Internet. We don’t need it on the Sabbath Day. We don’t need it at the Feast of Tabernacles. We want the “Good News” and they should be preaching it.
Again, they may feel that they have picked up Ezekiel’s mantle and they might claim that they are helping the brethren to receive the "marks in their foreheads" as those who are sighing and crying over the abominations of our nations. But let’s look at what the apostle Paul has to say in this regard in Ephesians 5. Galatians 5 is not the only "fruit of the Spirit" scripture:
8: For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light:
9: (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;)
10: Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord.
11: And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.
12: For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret.
Yes there are certain things – and I am not just talking about spooky or demonic things – that are a shame for God’s people – including God’s ministers – even to speak of. Again, let us get and keep our minds out of the gutter of this filth. That is what it really is.
Let us ask the question once more: “What should be on our minds, for the most part?”
And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
The peace of God mentioned here is not the same as that false "peace when there is
no peace" which we discussed earlier. This is the peace of God the Father and Jesus Christ.
It is not the same as the false mentions of peace that are prohibited by God, through Jeremiah, Isaiah and Ezekiel.
Still asking the question: “What should be on our minds, for the most part?”
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
So, let’s have a balanced approach.
Here is another thought, a topical one for God's Fall Holy Days. How long is the Day of Atonement?
It is just a couple of minutes less than twenty-four hours – just one short
day, although often it seems longer because of the discomforts of fasting.
But on the other side of the coin from the Day of Atonement, what about the eight joyous days of the Feast of Tabernacles and the Last Great Day. These eight days fly by so quickly each year. The time always seems to go so very slowly when we are experiencing some kind of discomfort, and time always seems to go so quickly when we are having a comfortable and enjoyable time.
I have sometimes compared the discomfort of the single Day of Atonement with the comparative comfort and luxury of the eight days of the Feast of Tabernacles and the Last Great Day. We have twenty-four hours in the Day of Atonement; but one hundred and ninety two hours of the Feast of Tabernacles and the Last Great Day!
I have sometimes applied that comparison to how the fulfillment of these days will come to pass; and perhaps this is how we should look upon the negativity of the comparatively short last days even including the Great Tribulation which is only going to last a mere three and a half years. Please think about this. Three and a half years may sound like a long time; but it is almost nothing compared with the positive joy of the thousand years of the Millennium pictured by the Feast of Tabernacles. And that three and a half years is absolutely nothing compared with the incomparable joy of the eternity of days pictured by the Last Great Day.
So, using God’s Fall Holy days as a kind of template, we might reason that the magnitude and the frequency of the preaching of the glad tidings of the World Tomorrow should be at least seven or eight times more than the magnitude and the frequency of our preaching about the bad news of the world today.
Let me ask you one more time, with regards to all of this, "What would Jesus do" and "What did Jesus do?"
You all know that we have a website called "Building Bridges." Jesus actually built a bridge. Jesus' last hours as a human being were the most negative hours in all of the history of the world so far. The last hours of Jesus Christ were more negative than World War I, World War II, and all of the wars of history put together.
At the approach of Jesus’ arrest, His torture, His crucifixion,
His death, and the worse thing of all – His separation from God the Father, what did Jesus do?
Did He concentrate His mind on the negative – on the bad news? Did He concentrate on the awful things of His approaching
agonies, the details of which He knew exactly what were about to happen?
Here is another "homework assignment." Please read the accounts of the last human days and hours of Jesus. Read for yourselves what was on His mind – what He was thinking about.
The scriptures describe Jesus' building a kind of "mental bridge" in His mind. He knew how best to get Himself through these awful times – the worst times ever. He built a mental bridge from His last human hours with His beloved disciples; then arching high over the negative, painful hours ahead (virtually never even mentioning in any detail what He was about to go through), then coming down again at the time of great joy four days hence. That is what He was looking forward to and that is what He was thinking and speaking about during His final hours as a human.
The far side of the bridge came down at the time of His resurrection, His continued life, His reunification with His human loved ones, and
His reunification with His Father and His restoration to His former glory.
These were the ultra-positive things that He kept in His words and His mind during His final human hours.
He didn’t deny that those awful things were going to happen to Him; but He didn’t dwell on them.
I believe that this is a fantastic example for us.
Again, for those who like sermon titles, I titled this one, "Bad News-Good News." But there was another title I was considering and that was: "Accentuate the Positive."
This phrase, "Accentuate the Positive" comes from a song that was written, and recorded in the 1940’s during the dark days of World War II. It was written by Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer to try to help to lift the spirits of the allies. In World War II in Europe, there were thousands of Americans, Brits, Canadians, Australians, etc. risking their lives. It was a terrible, terrible time. Many of them didn’t come home; but thankfully lots of them did, including my Dad!
At the end of the sermon, we will play a recording of this happy song. It’s not the usual kind of special music that we would normally play at services, but it is so very light, happy and positive. I want to finish with something really positive for you to take home as a memory of this Feast of Tabernacles:
If you want to hear my story
Then settle back and just sit tight
While I start reviewing
The attitude of doing right.
You've got to accentuate the positive,
Eliminate the negative,
And latch on to the affirmative;
Don't mess with Mister In-Between.
You've got to spread joy up to the maximum,
Bring gloom down to the minimum,
Have faith or pandemonium's
Liable to walk upon the scene.
In a couple of days time, we will be going back to our homes and our regular daily lives. As God’s people, let us get into, and stay in "the attitude of doing right." Let us bring our gloom down to the minimum. Let us do all we can to eliminate the negative. Again, not burying our heads in the sand, not denying the world’s evil. But on the other side of the coin, let us latch on to the affirmative; let us accentuate the positive.
Let us be concentrating on the Good News of the World Tomorrow, of the Millennium, and of the eternity beyond.
Let us be doing our part in bearing witness of the truth of God and in preaching the
true Gospel – the Good News of the Kingdom of God!
To listen to recording, please click HERE
To view complete lyrics,
please click HERE