Letters To My Pastor

Progress:

Contents

Dear Pastor,

I wanted to reach out to you a few years back but got wrapped up in living life and frankly forgot. You may have noticed that we haven’t attended a church service since right before the Covid-19 lockdown and I want to apologize for it taking me this long to explain why.  On behalf of my family, we want you to know how much we all love and appreciate all that you have done over the years to help us understand God – your amazing anecdotal stories and the exhilarating worship and praise services were literally a weekly destination for us, and we thank you for making it all happen.  

In case you might not remember (you have so many people to worry about) both Jan and I’s parents separately dragged all of us kids to the church every week back in the day when your Dad was pastor.  In fact, it was at church where Jan and I fell in love!  After your Dad married us, we decided to make the church the religious home for our family as long as we lived in the community and since moving into Mom and Dad’s house, we have stayed true to this goal.  Until Covid.  Needless to say it was difficult to have lost the fellowship our family has greatly enjoyed for what is coming up on nearly two decades – so thank you.

For the first month after the Covid-19 lockdown we really missed the weekly attendance and felt a hole in our hearts every time Sunday morning rolled around.  Perhaps what we missed most of all (or should I say, what our kids missed most of all – ha ha) was their friends, the youth program, friendly leaders and everyone who was involved in keeping the vibe of our church community alive.  We were just talking over breakfast this morning how valuable these programs and opportunities can be in this modern world and how much we have missed them in our family.  

Anyway, and like I said, it’s been a minute since we’ve attended and even though we have received your emails to encourage us to keep donating, I thought I would reach out and update you on our current situation – for whatever its worth.  Please take the information in the Spirit of love from which it is given.

Ironically, or maybe sadly, Covid 19 caused the production down at the plant to stop and within weeks of the US outbreak I lost my job. Needless to say, I’ve had a lot of time on my hands and as a means to sort of replace our weekly devotions over at the church, I actually started reading through the Bible verse by verse for the first time in my life!  Embarrassing, right?  I not only read it, but I also downloaded Greek/Hebrew lexicons, numerous commentaries, and a few reputable translations that really dig deeply into each and every verse.  What a journey this has been for me, brother!  I know I’m singing to the choir here, Pastor, and that your M-div puts you on a different plain than I’ll ever be, but man I never realized how many deep insights can be found by just choosing to read the Bible on my own! 

Anyhow, my wife thought I had lost my mind! (ha, ha, – maybe I had!)  But I really enjoyed the process because in the end, and this is what I am writing to you about, I now have a very different overall view of the Bible and its purpose and contents start to finish.  What frightens me, however, is that in all my years of being a Christian and not only listening to you but to thousands of other preachers on the radio and reading dozens of books orbiting around the faith, I have never heard anyone ever describe the contents of the Bible in the way I now see it.  At first this caused me grave concern.  I don’t want to wander into the deep end of the heretical pool and lose my first love or standing before God, but after spending the last three or so years in daily study I frankly cannot “see” the Bible in any other way than how I see it now.   Because of this I wanted to come to you and lay the things out that I have come to believe and see if you have any response that would or could correct my views?  I want to be in harmony with God’s truth and if you can show me where I am wrong, I would appreciate the feedback.

Please know that I entered into my study without any preconceived notions other than to add to my existing understanding of the faith.  As of a few months back this sort of changed as I am finding that I cannot live with error and desperately seek the truth about Him and the scripture. So, if you would, please consider what I am about to say carefully and if you have the time and inclination, respond accordingly.  

I started in Genesis and took notes on things that surprised me all the way through the Tanakh.  Then I moved into the apostolic record (or what most people errantly refer to as the New Testament).  My last count of full legal pads was seventy-two, all of which are overflowing with notes and questions I made along the way.  Don’t worry, I’m not going to hit you with all the minutia (there’s far too much) but instead want to focus on the overall picture the scripture seems to lay out for us beginning to end. 

So, I want to begin with citing a set of passages from the Book of Jeremiah which says the following (BTW, I have included some footnotes to the verses that I will use to help you understand the way I have interpreted the passages in question.)

So, Jeremiah 31:31-34 says,

Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that 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 that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD: But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.  And they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.

After reading these verses, I realized a few things – first, that the Jews of that day were told by God that a new covenant that was coming to them, which would occur, He says, “after those days.” I had to ask, “after what days?” and I came to see that this was speaking of the time, “after those days of the Old Testament that operated under the Law of Moses. I also learned that the writer of Hebrews references these very same passages from Jeremiah twice in his words to the Jewish converts to Christ of that day (Hebrews 8:8-12; 10:16-17).  So, this is the first thing to notice – God said He was going to establish a New Testament with true Israel after those days of the Law and the prophets and that his New Testament would be when He (God) would write upon the hearts and inward parts of individuals (which appears to speak to a work of His Spirit).

Armed with the biblical fact that “a day” was coming when God would, in His New Testament, begin to write on the inward parts and hearts of those who are His by faith, I realized that this event could only be described as a “spiritual, inward, subjective witness” and that it would not be in anyway associated with objectified religion written on stone or with ink!    Words written on papyrus or stone was of the former covenant, and Paul echoes what God said He would do when he wrote

2nd Corinthians 3:3 Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart.

So, again, and in other words, the faith seems to be entirely subjective and in the hands of the spirit in God’s New Testament.  But what is even more wild is that the Bible itself makes it plain that God’s New Testament is not a collection of books!  This is a very, very different picture than what all the Christian traditions seem to describe and in the face of this observation I had to keep looking for clues as to when this inner work on individuals would begin.  

I got an insight when I read the second chapter of Acts which takes place after Jesus had ascended into the clouds with an angel promising His disciples that He would return in the same way He left.  Then I read   

Acts 2:1 And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

This sounded very much to me like what God said He would do someday in Jeremiah!  It was at least the launch of it into the world.  Then as I continued reading about this highly unique event, I came to verse 15 where Peter says to those Jews gathered there and thought that the apostles were drunkFor these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day. But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy . . .

As I read these words of Peter to people of that day then, I notices how Peter told the Jewish crowd gathered that that  the events happening before them were “that” which was spoken of by Joel, and how Joel was describing the “last days” where God would “pour His Spirit out on all flesh,” and that they would, “see visions,” and “dream dreams,” and “prophesy.” 

Because Joel called this as in “the last days,” it seemed to suggest that the former economy of religion described in the Old Testament was beginning to end here, and that a new economy, or what God described as His New Testament (where He would write on the inward heart of people and “no man would say, know the Lord, know the Lord, for all would know Him,”) had begun.  Of course, the Jewish temple, and priesthood, and genealogies were all still extant at this time, so the end of that former age hadn’t really ended, but God’s New Testament was obviously beginning.  Then I read

Hebrews 9:8 The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing:

and I realized that there was a “fading away” of the former covenant (Judaism and all that it represented to the world) and an “entering in” of God’s New Covenant here in Acts. These observances were the start of what opened me up to seeing the faith and how it exists today as something very different than what every religious, brick and mortar expression was suggesting.  I wasn’t sure how it worked at this point, but something was amiss and I became determined to find out what it was.  I continued reading Peter’s words in Acts 2 where he continues to cite Joel who says that in those last days that God would,

“ . . . shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke: The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come: And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Here Peter plainly ties the events at Pentecost to the beginning of the New Testament God describes in Jeremiah where He says what would happen, “after those days” (of God working through the Old Testament) but then he continues to cite Joel who ties those events then to “the last days” where not only signs and wonders wrought about by the Holy Spirit would present themselves but he uses words that describe what most people see as happening at the end of the world!  Bottom line, I was extremely confused and felt like I had stumbled on to some biblical narrative that went unnoticed by most Christian expressions.  I’m telling you, Pastor, I felt like I was seeing a side of scripture that was clearly written to those people then, and that what it was saying had nothing to do with the faith today – at least not materially.

At this point I wondered why Christians today refer to the collection of books written by the Apostles as the New Testament when God clearly describes His New Testament as a time where He would write His laws on the hearts and minds of individuals and not with ink in books?    This was particularly strange to me when I realized that the collection of books errantly called, The New Testament, weren’t even collected, agreed upon, readable (due to literacy rates at the time) or available (to the masses) until nearly 1500 years after the death and resurrection of Christ! Oh, I’m aware of the standard narrative Christians today tell when they say things like, “all of the books were available very early on, were copied and shared with believers everywhere,” but in the face of historical facts, this is a fiction.  

I think it was at this point that I realized that there are some serious mistakes in thinking from what most traditional Christian expressions teach about the apostolic records and what the Bible clearly describes.  It was at this point I started to really get serious in my pursuit of this thread of insights.

I discovered that the title, the New Testament, was assigned to the collection of Apostolic writings first by two early Christian leaders, Irenaeus and Tertullian, but it seems Tertullian was the one who actually labeled the collection by that name.  Interestingly, both men were considered heretical by the established religious powers of their day.  Why is this information significant? First, and most importantly, God Himself identified His New Testament as something entirely spiritual and subjective, which as when He would write on the hearts and minds of people and not a written collection of books.  To me, that is the most important factor and nothing else matters.  But the naming of the collection as, “the New Testament” is historically untenable when we consider other factors like:

The nascent Christian church (meaning when Jesus was alive) only had an Old Testament – there was no written collection of apostolic writings at all to go from and He (Jesus) was the living Word in their midst. After Jesus death and resurrection, the apostles preached and taught by the Spirit and performed miracles as the means to help bring sheep into the fold as writing letters and gospels came about “later.” In terms of the apostolic epistles and Revelation – they were all literally written to local gatherings of believers situated all over the Roman Empire (not one of them are specifically addressed to anyone in the future). The legitimate letters were then mixed up with pseudepigraphal accounts that confused the authenticity and reliability of the legitimate letters for hundreds (and in some cases) a thousand-plus years; authenticated writings of the apostles were not in an agreed-upon collection for several hundred years after Jesus ascended (minimally) and even then several books were considered “suspect.” These letters were not easily reproduceable until the advent of the printing press (which was around 1430).  Before that copying was tedious and so therefore the copies took time to create and then distribute. An entire body of copies were available in limited numbers for hundreds of years; what we deem as the final canon today was still debated up until the Protestant Reformation and even today there are different books (included and not) depending on the translations embraced. Literacy rates greatly limited personal understanding of the texts available.

In the face of these factors (and frankly many more) I had to wonder, what governed the body of believers in that day if the collection of books from the apostles wasn’t readily available or even readable by the masses of believers for nearly 1400 years?  Also, I wondered what if all believers had accepted God’s definition of the New Testament instead of Man’s from the start?  What would Christianity have looked like historically if the earliest leaders (after the apostles) had taught that the faith is in the hands of the Spirit writing on hearts rather than represented as a collection of books written in ink?

At this point, I started feeling really guilty, Pastor.  I felt shame for even questioning all that I had been taught by you and your Dad over the course of most of my life.  But nothing that I was reading supported the notion that what was written by the apostles was literally, materially addressed to me but that God’s new testament (described in Jeremiah) is what should be in the world today and the apostles words written to believers in that day are here to learn from and reference for spiritual principles and a history of what God did to reconcile the world to Himself and should never have ever been used as authoritative commands for us today.

For a time, I humbled myself, and sought to re-embrace the model that I had been taught but I could not refrain from continuing to read the entirety of the Bible.  Admittedly, when I finished reading what I now call the Apostolic Record, there were a number of things I had to readily admit (if I was going to be honest) and they included the fact that

Jesus did, in-fact, create or establish a body of believers and He did refer to them as His church.   Then after His death, resurrection and ascension He did leave that body or Bride in the hands of His chosen Apostles whom He specifically trained and taught. Those apostles then were sent forth to teach, govern and guide those believers in that day (and they did it in-person and through letters and by appointing other people to help serve and lead in the local church gatherings); and These apostles were very specific about how to manage and approach things like gatherings, collecting funds for the poor in Jerusalem, church discipline, the treatment and vetting of widows, the qualifications of elders and deacons in the church, marrieage and how to deal with the appearance of women.

But all of these directives were pointed at them/then, had application to believers then, and were all couched in terms of there being an approached end of the former age of Judaism which would inaugurate the age of God’s New Testament.

For instance, in Genesis, God Himself ordains marriage, right?  And even today, that view of God’s remains viable. But the apostle Paul contradicts this general command (in that day) saying distinctly to the believers in Corinth IN THAT DAY:

1st Corinthians 7:25-31 Now concerning the unmarried I have no commandment of the Lord: yet I give my judgment, as one that hath obtained mercy of the Lord to be faithful. I suppose therefore that this is good for the present distress, I say, that it is good for a man so to be. Art thou bound unto a wife? seek not to be loosed. Art thou loosed from a wife? seek not a wife. But and if thou marry, thou hast not sinned; and if a virgin marry, she hath not sinned. Nevertheless such shall have trouble in the flesh: but I spare you. But this I say, brethren, the time is short: it remaineth, that both they that have wives be as though they had none; And they that weep, as though they wept not; and they that rejoice, as though they rejoiced not; and they that buy, as though they possessed not; And they that use this world, as not abusing it: for the fashion of this world passeth away.”

From the context of Paul’s words here in the written record, he clearly tells the believers at Corinth that his advice to them is based on the fact that “the time is short,” and that “the fashion of that world passes away.”  Reading his advice today from a manual of written musts and thinking it speaks to our day and age is a mistake!  Paul wrote in “that letter then” to “those people there” that the time was short!  What was he talking about?  Contextually we discover that they were living in a day when all the things of that former age was going to end; and when it did, God would fully implement what He described as His New Testament.  What do we know about this “day” that was coming?

By turning to the last book of the Old Testament, Malachi, we read the following in what is the last chapter

For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the LORD of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch. But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall. And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, saith the LORD of hosts. Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments. Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD

Four hundred years pass (called the inter-testamentary period) and we have the gospel accounts open up and describe John the Baptist saying to the religious Jewish leaders before him:

O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance:  And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.

Did you notice that in Malachi’s writing to describe this “great and dreadful day” that was coming that he used the words “burn” and “root and branch” and then four hundred years later John the Baptist opens his ministry up by asking the religious leaders of that day who had warned them of the “wrath to come,” and that the axe was laid at the “root” of the trees and that all the trees that were not producing good fruit would be hewn down and “cast into the fire?”  

I then turned to Matthew chapters 22-24 and read about how Jesus is really throwing down on these same religious leaders, and He explicitly describes their horrific end from which there appears to be no escaping.  And after this he and His disciples leave and someone points out the gloriousness of their temple and Jesus frankly tells them that “not one stone of it would be left upon another.”  And then they go to the Mount of Olives.  And while Jesus is there, Peter, James, John and Andrew come to Him and ask Him three direct and interrelated questions relative to all that they had just seen and heard (described in Matthew 22-24:1-3) and this is what they ask Him in that day and in the face of all that they had just seen and heard

“Tell us, (1) when shall these things be? and (2) what shall be the sign of thy coming, and (3) of the end of the age?” (the King James writes, “world” here instead of age, which is really misleading and incorrect).

“When will what things be?”  When will the Pharisees and Sadducees meet their doom as He described, and when will not one stone be left of the temple upon another.”

And what shall be the sign of your coming” meaning, when will you return as promised or when will be (what people today call, the second coming) and

(What will be the sign) of the end of the age?”

Three distinct interrelated questions, Pastor, and from all of this I was able to see the following:

  • That there would be a time when God would establish His New Testament.
  • That His New Testament would not be anything like what was in or of the Old Testament,
  • That it would not be anything like what Men have labeled the New Testament,
  • That the time could not truly occur while the tabernacle remained standing,
  • That the tabernacle would therefore have to come down in association with the return of Jesus, and the end of that world or age, and
  • That the apostles were calling all in that day to receive Christ before these all of these things happened.

I recalled that Jesus even said to His apostles when He was alive in Matthew 20:23:

“When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next; for truly, I say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel, before the Son of man comes.”

When we go back to the Mount of Olives where the four apostles ask Jesus those specific three interrelated questions, He spends the rest of the Chapter describing for them what to look for in terms of His return and the end of that age.  For thirty-three verses he gives them all sorts of insights directly tied to them and that age, and then He says at verse 34:

“Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.”

I did the research on the word generation here Pastor, and in the end, it truly spoke to a span of time of about forty years.    Jesus seems to have said this around 30 AD and 40 years later would take us out to 70AD – the single most significant year in Christian history as that was the year that the Roman armies literally destroyed everything related to the former age of the Old Testament – the temple, the genealogies, the priesthood, taking the lives of over 1.2 million Jews and sending the rest into a slavery.  It was this consummate, prophesied, “great and dreadful day” that Malachi, John the Baptist, Jesus and all of the apostles who wrote went out and warned the people about.  This was when all the things that Jesus described in Matthew 24 were fulfilled, which were all signs of His coming, and which would culminate in the end of that world (or material religion) or age.  I learned, Pastor, that a number of secular historians like Tacitus, Seutonius, Cassius Dio, and of course Josephus literally describe all of the signs given in scripture as having happened in that horrific day.  And it was in the face of all of this that the words of the Old Testament prophet Haggai make sense, as quoted in Hebrews 12, where the writer prophetically quotes God as saying,

“Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heaven. This phrase, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of what is shaken, as of what has been made, in order that what cannot be shaken may remain.”

Pastor, have we had it wrong all along all along?  Have we attempted to replicate the “church” Jesus established that the living apostles oversaw when the facts seem to be that this was never the intention of the Living God?  Why did the Apostle Peter write to the people in his day,

“But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.” 1st Peter 4:7

Should readers of the Bible take these words literally?  That the “end of all things” in Peters day was really at hand?  If so, why are we still here?  And if not, was Peter wrong?  See, the Greek words used in this passage give little leeway to see his words in any other way that as having occurred then?  And Peter was right!  In the context of scripture we can interpret his words in the following way:

The end of all things (relative to the former age of material religion) is at hand! (Meaning it is close! That means,)  “The temple is going to fall, Jesus is going to return and the end of THAT age would occur and God would then, once everything had been shaken so much that the only thing that would remain would be unshakeable, forever relate to individuals directly by writing His laws on their inward parts.”

So, and again, clearly, from the written record of the apostle, there was a material church established.  Clearly it was under the tutelage and care of living, trained, “first-hand witnesses” of the resurrected Lord’s apostles.  And clearly there was an order and way that these apostles set forth on how to do church in that day.  

Obviously, a reader today of these epistles, gospels, histories and revelations would naturally assume that all of such things continue to have direct material application to our day and age.   But I started to notice certain bits of information that made me question the validity of this traditional view.  For instance, in Ephesians 5, Paul say the following about the church that would be Christ’s, and says

“That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.” (Ephesians 5:27)

I started wondering about this really emphatic description to the believers in that day.  I wondered about all the churches that have come forward over the ages since the destruction of material religion in 70 AD, you know, starting with Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxies, all Protestant expressions from low to high church, and any other material expression that claims to follow the faith rightly (Mormonism, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Seventh-day Adventists) and all the rest.  And I had to ask myself,

Do any of those brick and mortar religious expressions, historically, live up to Paul’s description of the body of believers or the church that Christ would present to himself?  

(Beat)

In other words, can the Catholics, or the Mormons, or any of the Protestant expressions claim, from the start, to be “glorious, not having spot, or wrinkle or any such thing?  Can any lay claim to being “holy and without blemish?”

I got online and did a historical inventory of the major churches listed above – of course, church history stinks when examined in the rear-view mirror, and this lead me to believe that perhaps, just perhaps, God knew what He was doing when He established His real New Testament, and that it would be subjective, in the hands of the Spirit, and not objectively demanded according to the written instructions of letter written to a specific audience in a specific age.  But a gnawing fact remained – both Jesus did establish a church and the Lord did leave it in the hands of His trained apostles (including Paul) so what gives?

I then remembered some other specifics from my studies – one came from the Book of Revelation where Jesus actually and personally addresses the seven literal churches in existence in Asia minor through John the Revelator and He speaks directly to those believers and their angel (Pastors, I believe) and compliments them on the good they were doing and offers insightful advice to all of them, in the case of five of these literal actual churches of that day with real flesh and blood believers, He warns them that they had better change course or they would not be seen as His!  Add it that Revelation also identifies 144,000 men who were virgins and had not defiled themselves with woman that would also be part of that church/bride/body and the light came on.

There was a bride, “pure and holy, unblemished and without spot that Jesus would present to Himself.  It existed under living apostolic leadership, in those “last days” where the spirit was poured out upon all flesh.  These were days that would include,  “wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke,” days when, “the sun would be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come: And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

And I stopped.  And I stared at one line written by the prophet Joel and cited by Peter on the day of Pentecost – “before that great and notable day of the Lord come” – and I knew that there was something else I was missing in my understanding of the faith called Christianity, something much different that what all the established churches around me had taught.

I remembered reading in the last chapter of the last book of the Old Testament – Malachi.  Of course with all of your training you know that after this book was penned there was a 400 year or so period of silence that followed and that this period is known as the intertestamental period which historically occurred between the end of the Old Testament and the beginning of the new?  Anyway, in that last chapter of the last book of the Old, the prophet Malachi wrote:

For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the LORD of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch. But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall. And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, saith the LORD of hosts. Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments. Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD: 

Then I remembered, in the face of these last few verses of the Old Testament that the Gospels of Matthew (and Luke) both record the following account relative to John the Baptist and say:

After reading this I grabbed a blank sheet of paper and made a graph for comparisons between the key terms or words of Jeremiah, Malachi, John the Baptist, and Peter (citing Joel at Pentecost).  This is what it looked like: 

JeremiahMalachiMatthew (citing John the Baptist) Peter (citing Joel) and assigning his words to that day
Behold, the days comeFor, behold, the day cometh,Who has warned you to flee from the wrath to come?And it shall come to pass in the last days,

shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them upand cast into the fire.and fire, and vapor of smoke:

shall leave them neither root nor branchAnd now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees:

Before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD.
“and vapor of smoke: The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come: And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

In summary of the above, it seems that the Old Testament ends with Malachi warning the Nation of Israel of the signs that would occur before the coming of the “a great and dreadful day of the Lord.”  He describes the fire of this day as leaving neither root nor branch and then the Gospel of Matthew opens up (some 400 or so years later) with John the Baptist reiterating to the leaders of His day that the “axe is laid at the root of the tree,” and he asks them who “warned them of the wrath to come?”  And then on the day of Pentecost Peter cites Joel as saying “this is that which was spoken of by the prophet Joel, that (in those last days there would be) “fire and vapor of smoke: (and) the sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come: And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

And Pastor, it seems to me that everything we read about in the Old Testament and then the Apostolic Record, was speaking to them in that day, and addressed things that were headed their way, and that there was a pure, holy, without wrinkle Church-Bride that He promised to return and take.  And that He did, in fact, return and take it, to the New Jerusalem above.

I will write again with what I think happened after that day and age and explain why I think you should probably be out of a job!  Ha! Ha!   I hope you’ll read it.

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