The Faith of Abraham and Asa

Feast of Tabernacles 2015 
Opening Night Introductory Sermonette

October 27th 2015

John Plunkett

Years ago, in his Feast of Tabernacles messages, Herbert W. Armstrong frequently would ask the question, "Why are we here?"

And tonight, as we begin the Feast of Tabernacles 2015, I would like to ask that same question –  perhaps especially this year as our little group here is keeping the Feast a whole month after most of our brothers and sisters in most Church of God groups.

So why are we here?

It is not the purpose of this Opening Night introduction message to go into all the fine detail of exactly why we are keeping the Feast a month after most of our Church of God brethren.  Many or most of us have spent many hours of study going through that question over the past year or so.  I know that some of you have been going through this a lot longer than most of us have.

What I would like to do this evening, though, is to allay any fears that any of you might be having that what we are doing could be wrong or sinful –  or as some of you may be having –  fears that “our” Holy Day timing could be scripturally unrighteous –  or that the decisions that we have made on this and our actions over this next eight days could be construed as some kind of rebellion against God –  for example, as was the case with King Jeroboam of the House of Israel who did rebelliously institute his own feast one month after the true one that God appointed.  Although I am sure that some of our critics will likely be making that connection, perhaps even be accusing us of doing that, I can categorically assure you that we are not doing that!  Quite the opposite, in fact!

I don’t usually like to get into self-justification; however, to justify what we're doing, in a nutshell, as far as the timing of the Feast of Tabernacles, the Last Great Day, and all of the other 2015 Holy Days are concerned, our omniscient God knows the contents of our hearts and He knows that we all sincerely believe that, in doing what we are doing, we are all striving to be get back to this one part of “the faith once delivered to the saints” (Jude 3) –  the true doctrine, belief and timing that God originally gave to Moses and Aaron –  and perhaps even to Adam!

Without wishing to judge those who, whether in innocent un-enlightenment or not, have opted to continue following the Jews’ post-biblical (and therefore un-biblical) recalculation of the sacred calendar, we, empowered by the free moral agency that God has given us, have opted not to follow the Jews in that way.  We certainly do have that freedom:

Colossians 2:16:
Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the Sabbath days:

We do not have the power or the authority to prevent others who choose to unrighteously judge us in these matters; but we do have the power and the authority to turn a deaf ear, in a proper way, to those criticisms.

Just as we need not let other judge us in these matters, neither are we to judge them.

Over the past year or so in our "Abrahamic Covenant" studies, we have read a lot about Abraham’s great faith.  This evening, I would like to take look at Abraham’s solidly grounded faith, and to apply it to our own situation. 

I would like to repeat, from our "Abrahamic Covenant" series, the fact that Abraham’s faith was not groundless.  It was not blind faith!  Rather, his faith was firmly grounded, and even actually increased in strength, through the experiences and tests that God gave to Sarah and himself.  In effect, Abraham grew in grace, in knowledge and, of course, in faith!

But what was that firm grounding of Abraham’s faith?  What was its foundation? 

It was the solid fact that God was faithful –  in every one of His promises to Abraham.  This was the solid ground that Abraham was able to build his faith on.

Yes, Abraham –  and Sarah too –  built their faith on the solid ground of the faithfulness of God.  And this evening, as we begin this Feast of Tabernacles, we can apply this very same principle to our own situation.

Question:  With regards to our own faith and knowledge, and specifically to the topic of the sacred calendar and the timing of God's Holy Days, what did we have before? 

To answer this question, some of you may have to think back a year or two.  Some of you might have to think back fifteen or sixteen years!  But what did we have before our recent discoveries (or, more accurately and giving the credit and glory to our Great God who, we believe, revealed these things to us), what did we have before God gave us this life-changing knowledge? 

Answer:  We had the same as all of our brethren who are not beginning the Feast tonight.

Not that this makes us any better than them, of course!  And not that we should be in any way vain about this relatively new-found knowledge.  Prior to God's recent revelations of these things to us, most of us probably had never even questioned why we keep the Feasts and Holy Days when we did.  

Oh yes, we knew the dates that were given to Moses and Aaron and that were passed down to us in God's Word.  We knew that the Passover was to be kept on Abib 14 and we knew that the Feast of Trumpets was to be kept on Tishri 1, etc.

But who amongst us had anywhere near an accurate idea of when (in the solar year) Abib, Tishri and all the other months, and the year itself, were decreed by God to begin and end?

Did we not –  all of us –  merely consult the little white cards given to us by our local ministers and, using them, did we not keep the days listed on those cards without question?

Yes, we did!  Trish and I certainly did.

Our former actions then – our keeping of the Holy Days when those church leaders told us to – were not in accordance with God's commands for us to "prove all things" (I Thessalonians 5:21).

Although this may be shocking for us to have to admit, our former Feast-keeping was not based on solid faith.

For most of us – and I’ll hold my hand up and admit that I was one of them – our Feast-keeping was not based on an even fragmentary level of true knowledge.  In this regard we were something like the Old Covenant Israelites:

Romans 10:
1:  Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.
2: For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.

By quoting that scripture I am certainly not implying that all of our brethren who are still keeping what they think to be God’s Holy days, according to the Jews counting are not going to be saved.  I am certainly not saying that.  Of course not!  We have known many sincere and devout spiritual brothers and sisters who have gone to their graves without the knowledge that has been recently revealed to us.  And just like them, up to a year or two ago (more for a few of us here), we were in exactly that same level of relative, innocent blindness on this point. 

Yes, we were!  Did we not blindly and unquestioningly follow our Church of God leaders and peers in their apparently blind, unquestioning adoption of the Jews’ Calculated Rabbinic Calendar (CRC)?  Yes, we did!

But for all of us who are here this evening, plus those who are going to be joining us tomorrow and throughout the coming week, plus others who will be beginning God’s Feast of Tabernacles tonight in other locations, there is no doubt about it, this past year has brought about a huge change!

Despite the trauma that some of us have suffered because of some of our brothers and sisters aggressively rejecting us over this, in the grand picture, this huge change was, and is, a positive one.

Please really think about this, because God has, we believe, turned a bright light on for us.  I believe that, although we are still in the learning stage, God has now given us all a much better idea of why we keep the Holy Days when we do.  To a much increased degree, we now have more true knowledge. 

And I trust that, just like Abraham and Sarah, we all also have an increase in the God-given faith that is based on that increased knowledge.

Is our knowledge regarding the sacred calendar perfect?  No. It isn't.  Let's not be untruthful or vain by claiming that it is.  

We do know, however, that the CRC – and the Feast dates based on it – are post-biblical, un-biblical and therefore, in many years, wrong.

Also, in our desire to come up with a replacement method in place of the CRC, the replacement method that we believe to be the right one, was determined by many, many hours being spent doing our level best to put together the very best available and most accurate scriptural, logical, historical, astronomical and scientific information.

Tonight, as we come before our loving God, we can honestly say that we've done our level best on this; and that we will continue to do our level best.

And – again without being vain about it – what we have done so far is a whole lot better than what we'd done (or, more accurately, not done) before.  

Also, without wishing to vainly compare ourselves among ourselves, the effort we have put into this is a lot better than what our critics and accusers have done.

Their accusations and criticisms of our calendar decisions are based on nothing.  On thin air.  On outdated loyalties to human organizations.

On the other hand, our calendar decisions and actions – and I trust that I can include all of you in this statement – are based on the solid ground of what we believe to have been the guidance and inspiration of God and upon many hours of zealous scriptural and scientific research...

Not just by me!  But also by you! – that is if I’m correct in trusting that you haven't just believed my words on this – or the words of any other human being.  I believe that all of you have been “Berean-like” in proving it for yourselves. 

All of this being the case, we can all have faith – solidly grounded faith – that we are doing the right thing, that we are keeping this year’s Holy Days at the right time, and that we do not need to be in fear of any negative judgment by our Father or from our Elder Brother.

On the contrary, I believe that we can have a solid confidence that they, God the Father and Jesus, will be pleased with our efforts – as well as with our honest, sincere desire to get back to this little part of the faith once delivered (Jude 3).

Before I finish for this evening, in recognition of the fact that, in all I’ve said so far, I haven't quoted many scriptures, let's just take a quick look at II Chronicles 15, which contains at least a couple of good, relevant lessons for us as we begin this Feast of Tabernacles.  I want us to read it to help allay any fears you may be having over the accusations of our critics that what we are doing is divisive, or sinful in any other way:

II Chronicles 15:
1:  And the Spirit of God came upon Azariah the son of Oded:
2:  And he went out to meet Asa
{one of Judah’s relatively good kings}, and said unto him, "Hear you me, Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin; the LORD is with you, while you be with Him; and if you seek Him, He will be found of you; but if you forsake Him, He will forsake you.
3a:  Now for a long season Israel has been without the true God…

You have to remember that, at the time being written about here, the House of Judah and the House of Israel were divided, as two nations. 

3b: ... and without a teaching priest, and without law.
4:  But when they in their trouble did turn unto the LORD God of Israel, and sought Him, He was found of them.
5:  And in those times there was no peace to him that went out, nor to him that came in, but great vexations were upon all the inhabitants of the countries.

Right there when the author mentions "countries" (plural), we can accept that he is referring to both Israel and Judah.

6:  And nation was destroyed of nation, and city of city: for God did vex them with all adversity.
7:  Be you strong therefore, and let not your hands be weak
{let us apply this to ourselves!}: for your work shall be rewarded."
8:  And when Asa heard these words, and the prophecy of Oded the prophet, he took courage, and put away the abominable idols out of all the land of Judah and Benjamin, and out of the cities which he had taken from Mount Ephraim, and renewed the altar of the LORD, that was before the porch of the LORD.

Apparently with the guidance of God’s Holy Spirit and without fear of being accused of divisiveness, Asa made the decisions and corrections that he considered to be righteous, God-approved and necessary.

Did his decisions bring about division in the Kingdom of Judah? 

No!  Very much like what has happened to us in this last year, the very opposite happened! 
Let’s continue and see what did happen:

9 And he {Asa} gathered all Judah and Benjamin, and the strangers with them out of Ephraim and Manasseh, and out of Simeon: for they fell to him out of Israel in abundance, when they saw that the LORD his God was with him.

Righteous Asa was doing his level best.

10:  So they gathered themselves together at Jerusalem in the third month, in the fifteenth year of the reign of Asa.
11:  And they offered unto the LORD the same time, of the spoil which they had brought, seven hundred oxen and seven thousand sheep.
12:  And they entered into a covenant to seek the LORD God of their fathers with all their heart and with all their soul...

I ask you, brethren, that we all do this too, during this Feast.

15:  And all Judah rejoiced at the oath: for they had sworn with all their heart, and sought Him with their whole desire; and He was found of them: and the LORD gave them rest round about...
19:  And there was no more war unto the five and thirtieth year of the reign of Asa.

God richly blessed King Asa for the righteous decisions he made.  And along with him, He blessed the house of Judah – plus the many repentant people who came over to the house of Judah from the three tribes of the house of Israel: Ephraim, Manasseh and Simeon.

So, as we launch forward into this Feast of Tabernacles, let us all adopt the lessons of this chapter:

Let’s adopt the good example of King Asa!

Let’s not fear! 

Let’s not be intimidated by our critics and accusers!

Let’s not allow our hands to be weak!

Let’s have faith and be strong!

Let’s seek the Eternal our God with all of our hearts, all of our souls, and all of our desire.

I believe that, if we do these things during this Feast, just like King Asa, our work shall be rewarded and that our LORD will be found of us and I believe that He will give us rest!