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Called to the First Circle

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Called to the First Circle

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Called to the First Circle

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Those who are called now have a very, very special calling, a special job to do. Are you willing to do what it takes to be in the first circle?

Transcript

It is interesting, the life that my wife and I have led–just as all of our lives are very interesting–in that God puts us in different positions to see and to hear and to learn various things. And you learn a lot of things if you really keep your ear to the ground and you’re paying attention. God gives us so many opportunities. I just wonder how many I’ve missed because of how many I’ve seen. Hopefully, I haven’t missed too many; but in traveling around the world for a number of years, things have happened; and from those things you learn a lot–things you could apply spiritually.

For instance, in about 1981 I was driving around Tokyo with Mr. Gotoh. Mr. Osamu Gotoh was a man that helped to do a lot of our setup in Tokyo and in Japan–actually, a lot of the setup and different things in the world. He was the one that introduced Mr. Armstrong to the Emperor and also introduced him to all of his “Japanese sons.” Mr. Armstrong had, originally, about eight or so Japanese sons. It turned into about fifteen or so by the time it was done. They called themselves his Japanese sons. They were young Diet members in the Japanese Parliament. I had met a number of them; I served on the airplane when they had flown, so I knew them. A number of them are still in politics. A few have died; a few have retired. And, of course, I obviously thought about them with the earthquake and the news that we had yesterday because, having been to some of those places–I hadn’t been actually where the earthquake center was, but I had been north of Tokyo as well as south because there were times when the plane wasn’t allowed to stay in Tokyo when I first started flying–but to think of the coast land and the people dying and what’s happening and some of the centers that were from some of those areas is sad to see. As I get older and they get old, even older than that…the things that this world does to its own is sad, and the things that are happening naturally in disasters are sad as well.

But Mr. Gotoh was an unique individual; and he is Japanese, so he couldn’t say his R’s and things very well. Mr. Armstrong really couldn’t understand him. He would listen to him and smile and nod his head; and after he was gone, he would say, “Now Aaron, what did he say?” And I’d always try to explain to him what he was doing and I said, “Mr. Armstrong, you’ve got to quit nodding this way,” and he’d nod this way. And so it works better, costs us less money. But it was interesting. Mr. Armstrong couldn’t go on this one particular thing { event }. He wasn’t feeling well, so he sent me with Mr. Gotoh. And saw him in the back seat of this car and we were going over to Prince Mikasa’s Middle East Cultural Center Museum. Prince Mikasa was the brother of the Emperor, and he speaks fluent Hebrew. Very few people know that because they don’t tell anybody because the Japanese need the oil, and speaking Hebrew when they’re trying to get oil from Arabs isn’t a good thing. But we had arranged to have artifacts from Israel–he { Prince Mikasa } had artifacts from all over Iran, Iraq, Persia, all the Arab countries; but he couldn’t get them himself from Israel, so he asked Mr. Armstrong to help him. We had managed, over a couple-year period, to get a bunch of artifacts for his museum from Israel on loan–permanent loan, basically.

But the interesting thing is, when we were driving along, with Mr. Gotoh sitting beside me, as we drove, he’d say, “Oh, Fukoya, he was born over here.” That’s interesting. That was one of the Japanese congressmen. Then we drove a little further and “Yamaguchi, he was born over here.” That was the Minister of Labor. And a little further, “Mr. Yamashita, he was born here.” That’s the Minister of Transportation. And, I mean, how many of you drive around town and say, “So-and-so was born here,” or there or whatever? I mean, your senators and congressmen and stuff. That’s just not something we do. But here we’re driving through this town, and he was sitting there telling me where all these people were born. And I’m sitting there, you know, well, that’s kind of cute, but I didn’t have any idea of what it was. And so, as we drove along, finally I said, “Sam, why are you telling me where all these people were born?” I mean, if I was here, I would say, “Lincoln was born here,” or “Washington…,” maybe the presidents; but as far as all these living congressmen and stuff, I wouldn’t ask that question. I mean I wouldn’t be telling people that. “Why are you telling me?” He said, “Very, very important.” I said, “OK. What’s so important.” He said, “You see, the Emperor lives right here.” And he said, “These people here live in the first circle, and they serve the Emperor; and these people out here, they live in the second circle and they serve those people, and these people serve…”

What he was giving me was the status and the rank of every Japanese Diet member in the country by where they lived. I had no idea what he was trying to tell me until he said that; and I thought, “That’s incredible, because if you were in the first circle, you served directly to the Emperor. And the interesting thing about it was the fact that, if you were in the first circle, then anybody in a circle outside of that would have to see you if you asked them. And so, the interesting thing about Mr. Gotoh…a lot of people made fun of him and things because he drove a taxi cab after the war. Of course, trying to eat after a war, anybody does whatever they can. We had bankers in this country in the Depression selling apples on the street corners…so a lot of people did that { made fun } to belittle him. But the interesting thing about Mr. Gotoh was that he was born in the first circle. And that’s why, when he took Mr. Armstrong to Japan–and we flew there a number of times–but he wouldn’t introduce him to any Japanese congressman or anyone until he introduced him to the Emperor, because the person you meet first when you go to Japan kind of labels your status for life with the Japanese. And by seeing the Emperor first, Mr. Armstrong was able to see any congressman or prime minister or anyone in the Japanese government. All he had to do was ask, which is fascinating to learn that.

I’ve titled this , Called to the First Circle. Passover is about letting Christ’s sacrifice allow you to be in the first circle. Those who are called now have a very, very special calling, a special job to do. And as we see the world events heating up and the Arab nations falling, one by one, changing, and we see the earth itself…this morning on the news it talked about the earthquakes. There have been these great earthquakes, but I think they said five or six of the last great earthquakes have happened in the last six years. That’s great earthquakes that have happened since they recorded them in a hundred years. Are things getting worse? We talk about better reporting, but I don’t think having five or six of the worst earthquakes in the last six years is better reporting. I think it’s just more things happening.

And then, of course, you’ve got the people, the religious people and wicca and stuff because the planets all line up in 2012 and the magnetic forces are supposed to be pulling the earth apart and things, so there’ll be people coming up with all sorts of things like that which…and there are magnetic forces. There are things, natural forces on earth, that do happen; and so it’s possible some of these things are part of that. But time is running out. We have our job, to be in that first circle.

It’s interesting. You’re called to be of service to our great God, specially called. We have the old slogan for the Army, or for the Marines. It says, “The few, the proud, the Marines.” You know, the church actually could have a slogan as well because you are “the few, the humble, the Christians.” And that’s what God has called you to.

Revelation 20:5 Revelation 20:5But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.
American King James Version×
, when we turn there, we read that it says:

Revelation 20:5 Revelation 20:5But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.
American King James Version×
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But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.

What you’ve been called to is the first resurrection. You’ve been called to be in that first circle with God, and with Jesus Christ, your older brother. And it says in verse 6 :

Verse 6 - Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power… Once you’re there, in that first circle, you’re not going to be thrown out… but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.

Again, blessed is he that’s in that first resurrection. God called you, but He gave you a special blessing because of the trauma and the tests and the trials that you go through now. I’ve asked God so many times, “How many times, God, do I have to go through this?” And the answer is, “Every time.” Every time, because God doesn’t say, “Now I know,” the first time you overcome something. He doesn’t say, “Now I know,” the second time. He doesn’t say, “Now I know,” until you’ve finished to the point that you are ready to slay your son Isaac, like Abraham did. If you look at the life of Abraham, how many years did he live? How many trials did he go through? How many things was he promised? How many mistakes did he make as well? He tried to have his own son his own way, and it created a problem. But he overcame. He repented. And we find out that we have to live our life through all these trials and difficulties as well because blessed is he that’s in the first resurrection, that first circle.

What that means, of course, is that you’re going to look odd right now to many people. You know, it’s funny when I talk to people…and I always talk to people on airplanes and traveling all the time. I never had converted people to talk to most of the time, and I developed things that I’d say and they’d ask you if you are Christian. “Well, yes.” And then they find out that you don’t keep Christmas or Easter, the Christian days. And they find out then you keep what they call the “Jewish” days. “How come you’re a Christian keeping Jewish days? Are you Jewish?” “Well, no, I suppose I could be.” Aaron’s a good Jewish name, I suppose, but I’m not sure. I think I’m Manasseh, but, whatever. God will figure that out when He resurrects us. But it’s interesting because, you know, we teach things and we believe things and we understand things that are different than this world.

You know, people think Israel is Israel. We know that the nation of Israel is Judah and that we are part of Israel, along with some of the other western European countries. Things that the world doesn’t really know, doesn’t really understand, although some people believe that the royal family is in Europe. They understand that; they don’t talk about it much; but they, some of them, believe that. I’ve talked to them and asked them specific questions and they’ve answered them, when they’re in private. Publically, they don’t want to state some of those things. But it’s interesting because we have to be different. We’re called to a different life and especially now at this Passover season as we examine ourselves, we have to decide, do we value the things of God, to be in that first circle? Or do we value the things of men? As you heard in the sermonette, which way are you leaning? Which cup are you taking?

Turn to Acts 17 . It’s interesting. We’re no different than the apostle Paul was in the first century when he had to talk to different people. It had to be fascinating, Paul being on Mars Hill, walking around, not bowing to any of the gods, not doing anything usual. It was funny…one of the men that set up things in Asia, Mr. Sawasdi Yinyuad - he was Buddhist - but he would, every time we would walk by a god, he would turn and bow. It didn’t make any difference if it was an Indian god, or a Thai god, or a Buddhist, Shinto, whatever, he just didn’t want to offend anybody. And a lot of people are superstitious that way. They really are afraid. It can cause you problems, too, because if you believe in reincarnation and you always come back as someone who you are close to…so my son was born after Mr. Armstrong died. He { Mr. Yinyuad } thought my son was Mr. Armstrong, which was kind of awkward, because that meant my son outranked me. But my son never figured that out, thankfully.

But Paul was on Mars Hill. Here he was, a Pharisee preaching about Christ and Jesus, no longer about Moses and Abraham, but about a crucified Christ. The Jewish people always said, “We have Abraham, we have Moses, we have the fathers.” Imagine being in their society like Paul was, talking about something very different. Their gods, of course, Zeus and Athena and whoever, you know, looked down on men. They looked down at some men and they would stir up things and they’d get people killed and they’d help people and hurt people and do all these funny things, according to their mysterious religions that they studied; and Paul was teaching a different God to them.

Acts 17:17 Acts 17:17Therefore disputed he in the synagogue with the Jews, and with the devout persons, and in the market daily with them that met with him.
American King James Version×
, we’ll start reading there. It says, Therefore disputed he in the synagogue with the Jews and with the devout persons, and in the marketplace daily with them that met with him.

He was telling them things different, just as we do. How many people tried to prove this is wrong when they came into the church? How many people said, “The Bible says Sunday,” or, “No, these holy days were nailed to the cross,” or whatever? Most people try to prove it’s wrong because it’s hard to believe everybody else is wrong. I mean, why did God call you when billions of people don’t see this? Even though it is crystal clear to me; I was born in it, basically, and so my whole life it never seemed that difficult, but you talk to people and it’s so clear to you and they don’t even get it. They don’t even see it.

Verse 18 - Then certain philosophers of the Epicureans and the Stoics encountered him. And some said, “What will this babbler say?” Others said, “He seems to be a setter forth of strange gods…” Of course, there’s only one God. Why? … because he preached to them Jesus and the resurrection.

They had never had a god that was resurrected the same way. Of course, you can go back to Nimrod and Semiramis and the evergreen tree and there are some similarities there, but that wasn’t the main thing that they talked about at that time. And especially not dying the way that Christ had died on the cross.
Verse 19 - And they looked to him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, “May we know what this new doctrine you speak of is?”

This guy’s telling something new and he was down in the synagogue before, but now they take him up to the mountain. Some of you, I imagine, have been on top of the Acropolis and seen where Paul actually did that. My wife and I have been there. They take him up there because that’s where all the new beliefs were discussed and so he went up there. And they said, “May we know what this new doctrine that you speak of is?” You know, “Tell us about it. We’re the wise men, we’re the nobles, we know all these things.”

Verse 20 - “For you bring certain strange things to our ears. We would know, therefore, what these things mean. Let’s talk about it.”

A lot of us lived through the same thing because it was strange when we heard the truth, for many of us. And it seems strange to people I talk about the truth to. Oftentimes someone will think, “Well, that’s so wonderful,” but they don’t believe it. And I’ve talked to people who have had loved ones die, that there is no hell. One lady I flew on the airplane with was going to a funeral of her brother who died at age 34 or 35. She was worried about him because he had done some things, { worried } that he was in hell suffering. And I said, “There’s no hell. There’s the grave.” She was really comforted by that. I don’t know where she ended up. She did get a Good News subscription and a few things, but it was comforting to her, but did she believe it? She wanted to. Strange.

Verse 21-23 - (For all the Athenians and the strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing.) There are a lot of people like that. Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars’ hill, and said, “You men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are too superstitious,” Yes, that’s the way people can be. “For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, ‘TO THE UNKNOWN GOD.’ Whom therefore you ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you.” There is a god who was just an altar that he saw there, and the altar had an inscription. Interesting that there was an altar there without a god in front of it or statue of sorts, and he could use their own superstition to teach them.

Verses 24-26 - He continues, “ God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that He is Lord of heaven and earth, dwells not in temples made with hands,” which is what they were used to, all the different temples and the gods that they made for them, “ neither is worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed any thing,” God doesn’t need us; we need Him, “ seeing He gives to all life, and breath, and all things,” a God who actually made all the things that they were playing with to make their gods, “ and has made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation…” Yes, he told them of the God who gave them their lands, who created them, who did everything. And what did He want them to do, verses 27-28 , “That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after Him, and find Him, though He be not far from every one of us.” Jesus Christ was the center of Paul’s circle. He calls you, if you’re willing and you give your life to Him. He is not far from anyone who calls on Him. “For in Him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’” Yes, they had poets that talked about children of the gods. He used that, too, although it was a different setting than they had it, obviously.

Verses 30-32 - “And the times of this ignorance God winked at,” yes, there were times before Christ came, there were people that…obviously, God wanted to work with Israel, basically, “but now commands all men everywhere to repent,” opened to the world. After Christ died, it was opened to the Gentiles, everyone on earth. It wasn’t opened until then. Why? “ …because He has appointed a day, in the which He will judge the world in righteousness by that Man whom He has ordained; whereof He has given assurance unto all men, in that He has raised Him from the dead.” And that’s the hope. Since He raised Christ, He can raise us. Their reaction? And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked… Nah, no one comes back to life! …and others said, “We will hear you again of this matter,” just to discuss it.

I don’t know how many times I was in India - they are very philosophical there–and you’d tell them about this, and they’d think it was so great and wonderful; and as soon as you’re done, they’d say, “Now, let me tell you what we believe.” So it really didn’t go anywhere. It isn’t what they wanted, but it was unique, and they were curious.

Let’s turn a few pages to I Corinthians 1 , because what Paul talked about was the gospel, about Jesus Christ, about the only way to be part of His family, to be in the first circle, or, for them that didn’t hear Him, the second circle, I suppose, because all people do have a chance.

I Corinthians 1:17-18 - For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel… He did baptize some, but mostly he evangelized. He preached the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. It wasn’t a sales job. He wasn’t just trying to convince somebody to buy this and walk away. He was teaching a change of life, that the Kingdom was coming. For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness… Why would you want to follow someone who couldn’t save Himself. He died on a cross! …but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. It’s a comfort, the truth, the fact that the Son of God was raised from the dead, that we also can be. Why?

Verses 19-25 - For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.” People who know things were brought to nothing. Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this world? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God… Our universities don’t know God, by and large, { but } there are very few. There are a few Christian universities that believe in a god, but they talk about the statistics of students who believe in God who go to universities and 80 or 90 percent of them don’t believe in God by the time they’re done. Paul was teaching something to them. It pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. Yes, we’re called fools at times. For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom… The Bible is full of signs. Gideon, the fleece, various things that God did, stopped the earth, turned the clock back. Get a sign and I think we might believe . And the Greeks wisdom, oh, it’s something really wise, we’ll love that. But what did he preach? But we preach Christ crucified, someone who died on a cross, the most ignominious death that the Romans had, unto the Jews a stumblingblock… Why? Because He wasn’t their conquering hero, their Messiah that was going to deliver them and make them important, and unto the Greeks foolishness, because He taught love, He taught turn the other cheek, He taught kindness, He taught truth, but not in the way they wanted to hear it. But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. God does things differently. I always say Satan takes the strong and makes them weak and God takes the weak and makes them strong.

It’s interesting. The people in the circles around the Emperor were there because of their service to him; some because their ancestors had great acts of valor and loyalty and heroism, some of them because they had special wisdom, various things that they could offer the Emperor, for their knowledge or their exceptional skills, perhaps, their artistry. You know, we’re also called for our special skills; but they’re not the skills the world looks at, not what the world would choose to have for skills.

Continuing in verses 26-27 : For you see your calling, brethren, that’s you and that’s me, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. We don’t have a whole lot of kings and princes and nobles and prime ministers. None of Mr. Armstrong’s Japanese “sons” got baptized. None of the kings or queens he went to got baptized. A lot of them loved what he said. They loved, like the supreme patriarch of Buddhism said, “Boy, if everybody just believed what you taught, we’d have peace.” They recognized that peace was there, available, if people did it; but, oh, you can’t teach that. That’s why the projects were so important to me because when you send young twenty- and twenty-one-year-olds over to places and they behave and they have character and honor, people see that and, “Wow! You can teach this! They really can do this.” They made them understand a little bit of what we’re about, what God’s about. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God has chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty…

It’s interesting. People of the world wonder, sometimes things happen with us, some other people may lose their job and you’re the last one to lose it and you wonder why. Did God do something for you? I know in some of the things I had to do…Mr. Rader when he was trying to take over, and I ended up being the one that had to blow the whistle, basically, and say a bunch of things; and I know he went to his grave…because he was very intelligent. He was the number one law student at USC and CPA and all these things, and I know he went to his grave wondering how a 27-year-old kid with a bachelor in theology beat him, because he didn’t really believe in God. And the thing about it is, he saw it as a personal battle; and I didn’t do anything, frankly. I was just praying because you don’t fight your own wars in the church. God does. But in his mind, because the people of the world wonder…Nebuchadnezzar is in fear with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, “Come out of the fire!” That’s kind of strange, you know, “Well my guys got burned up throwing you in, and you go in and walk around and come back and you don’t even smell burned. Hmm. I guess I ought to pay attention here.” It’s what happens when God delivers you. Why? Because we’re weak and He has to do it. But the wisdom of the world, “No, it doesn’t happen.” People don’t even believe it.

Verse 28 - …and base things of the world He calls , and things which are despised, has God chosen, yes, and things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are…

We live in a world that is really, we see this as reality; but the true reality is beyond this. It’s not really here and now. Why? Verses 29-31 , … that no flesh should glory in His presence. You start doing things, what did Nebuchadnezzar say on the wall? “Look what my hands have built. Look what I’ve done.” And God took his mind away from him and he became as an animal for seven years. Flesh can’t glory in what God does. But of Him you are in Christ Jesus… that’s what you’re emanating, is Christ , whom God has made unto us wisdom and righteousness and sanctification and redemption—- That, according as it is written, “He that glories, let him glory in the Lord.”

Anything we do has to be glory to God because that’s who helps us. Am I a fool? Yes. Without God, I would be a fool, just as you would be without Jesus Christ leading you. Without His Holy Spirit, we would be just like the world, probably thinking ourselves higher than we are. Then I’m foolish if I don’t let Jesus Christ lead my life, just as you. I’m foolish when I don’t have the faith to let Him run it or to run His church, when I decide that I’ve got to step in and do it.

The story of Uzzah when the ark was falling. Everybody around saw the ark was falling. The oxen stumbled and he could have yelled out and I’m not sure what he said, but I’m sure he could have said, “Hey guys, it’s falling.” Yes, it’s falling, and he reaches up and touches it and he dies. It wasn’t his job. It’s not our job to do things that God has told us not to do. Yes, there are many things that I had wanted to change in the church when I was younger because when you’re younger, you think you can conquer the world and you think you can change things. I saw a lot of things inside the G2 and the G3 that I would like to have changed, but I learned a long time ago that God does things in His time, in His way; and all you do when you get in the way is hurt yourself and others. When you take matters into your own hands, you lose. The worst thing you could lose by doing that is your position in the first circle. Because if you have God’s Spirit, your choice is not the second circle. You only have one choice, and that is the first circle. You can’t be pushed out to the other. The world wants you to take matters into your own hands. All of our TV programs, all of our game shows, all of our things are, how do you lie, cheat and steal to get ahead? How do you do this thing so you can win? It’s just the opposite. But there are rules and laws that you agreed to; and if you don’t follow those rules and laws, you won’t be in the first circle. Not with the Emperor if you were there and not with God and Christ.

You should count it a joy to be different from the world. You should count it a joy to be qualifying to be in the first circle. Those people in the first circle in Japan consider it to be a great honor. Indeed it is, and everyone recognizes it now. No one recognizes the honor you’re going to have, being in the first circle. At the resurrection, though, everyone will know; and it won’t be because you wanted glory. It’s going to be because you want to serve and you want to help and you want to do similar to what Christ did for us, to help others.

Turn to II Corinthians 5 . The first circle people were emissaries of the Emperor. They were the main ones he would send out to represent him. We also are emissaries of the first circle. The center of our circle has to be God and Jesus Christ, and we’re Their emissaries.

II Corinthians 5:20-21 - Now then we are ambassadors for Christ… An ambassador represents his country. He does what his country asks him to do. We are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be you reconciled to God. Passover is about reconciliation, forgiving our sins, Christ paying them for us so we can have that relationship with our King, our God, our Emperor, our Lord and our Savior. For He has made Him to be sin for us… Yes, Christ took our sins. He took your sin; He took my sin. It doesn’t matter that there are six or eight billion people on earth. You were there and you sinned; He died for you. He died for Adam, for Eve, anyone who lived and sinned; and all men have sinned, except Christ, and He didn’t know any sin …that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.

He can make us righteous. He can teach us how to serve in the first circle. You see the difference is, the first circle there gave information to the Emperor. We get our information from our God and our King. Our lives must be trying to approach righteousness in everything we do. In this season of examination, you can look at yourself and say, “Am I drawn toward the things of the world or am I drawn toward the things of God? Am I giving life or am I taking it the way the world does, in the same way?” Our message, our lives have to represent Him.

We’re only a shadow of things to come. Colossians 2:16 Colossians 2:16 Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holy day, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days:
American King James Version×
talks about shadows, because we are only in a time of shadows. We don’t really see clearly what’s going to happen. We see pieces of it.
Colossians 2:16 Colossians 2:16 Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holy day, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days:
American King James Version×
, people were judging people there, and Paul writes:

Colossians 2:16-17 Colossians 2:16-17 16 Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holy day, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: 17 Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.
American King James Version×
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Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holy day, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.

We don’t need to judge one another. Obviously, we have to keep God’s laws, but people will do things and they wonder why and, even with the Feast we observe, they’re a shadow, a shadow of all the things that are coming.

Hebrews 8, verse 4 , turning there. Christ offered Himself for us–so different from the world’s gods who have us die for them. Christ died for us.

Hebrews 8:4-5 Hebrews 8:4-5 4 For if he were on earth, he should not be a priest, seeing that there are priests that offer gifts according to the law: 5 Who serve to the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, said he, that you make all things according to the pattern showed to you in the mount.
American King James Version×
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For if he were on earth, he should not be a priest, seeing that there are priests that offer gifts according to the law… The priests took an animal and they killed that. They didn’t kill themselves. Christ offered Himself. These priests, who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things… Every time they killed a lamb, it was a shadow of Christ that they were killing. The lamb could never do what Christ did, and as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, “See,” says He, “that you make all things according to the pattern shown to you in the mount.”

God showed him what things looked like, and he made the images for the ark, the things that God wanted in there, and how to make it, what to do with the archangels’ wings spread across it. A shadow of the heavenly things. Something we see. Are we in the image and likeness of God? Physically we’ve been created that way. Are we in the image and likeness spiritually of Christ?

The priests serve as an example. You know, shadows are two dimensional, black on white, basically. It’s hard to visualize the real thing. I brought a little cutting. I had some nice Japanese…I couldn’t find them. They’re in a box somewhere, but I found this here. It’s two dimensional, it’s flat; but if you hold it up, you can kind of see what it is. And since we already know what an umbrella is, we can tell that there’s a lady holding an umbrella over her head, a long dress, probably sometime around the 1890s or so. That, or a formal dance currently. But you can tell a little bit about it, but what color was the dress? Why the umbrella? Is it sunny or is it raining? What’s the purpose? Only a shadow of what the real thing is. We see that. There’s an elegance to it and a grace to it of sorts, but it doesn’t really show what it is. And, of course, then you can have something that’s three dimensional like this doll here. It’s one from the hill tribes in Thailand that my wife got. She got a real good buy on it. All you’ve got to do is take a supreme judge with you to the store and they give you good prices! But it’s pretty and you can see a little more because it’s colorful and it’s three dimensional and you can see she’s carrying a basket and some little things to take to the market with her. And her dress and things there, but it doesn’t move, it doesn’t talk, so you really don’t know exactly what it is. But it gives you an idea. We’re supposed to give an idea as well.

These are just props, but you and I are props, as well. We represent God and Jesus Christ. Everything in our life, if we’re real, is to represent and reflect Jesus Christ, just like this doll can reflect a little bit of what a tribes woman might look like; but she’s not going to misrepresent because she can’t move or do anything, whereas you could. But you’re here to be in the first circle to learn what you’re supposed to do so that you look like your King and your God. So you can look more like a complete image of what you want to become–not physically but in character, in mind, and in heart and soul, in what you’re giving.

Turn to John 14 , because, see, we’re a product of what the Holy Spirit that God placed in us is, if we yield to Him, if we yield to His Spirit, to His mind. In John 14, even Jesus Himself in some ways was a representation of what He really was, being physical instead of spiritual. But He was one that people could see and touch and hear and learn from. But none of them could actually see Him in His glory, and Thomas had the same problem as you and I do when we try to look at things. Verse 5 of John 14:

John 14:5-9 John 14:5-9 5 Thomas said to him, Lord, we know not where you go; and how can we know the way? 6 Jesus said to him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes to the Father, but by me. 7 If you had known me, you should have known my Father also: and from now on you know him, and have seen him. 8 Philip said to him, Lord, show us the Father, and it suffises us. 9 Jesus said to him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet have you not known me, Philip? he that has seen me has seen the Father; and how say you then, Show us the Father?
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Thomas said unto him, “Lord, we know not where You go; and how can we know the way?” He didn’t really understand; the disciples didn’t until later. And even then they, like all of us, we don’t fully understand because we’re not spirit. We can’t see those things as clearly. Jesus saith unto him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes unto the Father, but by Me. I am that way.” Our King, it’s the only way we get to God. “If you had known Me, you should have known My Father also: and from henceforth you know Him, and have seen Him.” Philip’s got a problem now. He says, Wait a minute. Lord, show us the Father, and then we’ll know. Then we’ll really see Him.” Christ just said you’ve seen Him, and they didn’t get it. Jesus said unto him, “Have I been so long time with you, and yet have you not known Me, Philip? He that has seen Me has seen the Father; and how say you then, “Show us the Father?’ If you’ve seen Me, have you not seen the Father? I represent My Father. What I say and do is what He would have Me say and do.” The kindness, the love, and some of the times being strong, throwing the money changers out, even calling His own disciples when they were wrong, like Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan.” All in love, all what God would do to perfect them and to perfect us.

But what we see today is temporary. The virtual reality of the way we live our lives, though–the plan of God through the Feast that we’re getting ready to partake of, starting with Passover, through the Last Great Day–all represent the things that are true reality, things that truly are important.

Our imagination cannot even create what God has in store for us. We try and we have a better chance at it than the people of old did. I mean, there wasn’t as much pollution, they could look at the stars; but they didn’t have the Hubble and the spacecraft and they didn’t have anybody out there that circled the earth and could look back at it. And they didn’t have the infrared cameras and things that they can picture galaxies and black holes and things, everything that we can see that God created, however many billions of years ago. We can see those things, but our imagination, that’s all it can be because we don’t really know.

I Corinthians 2:9 , God tells us that:

I Corinthians 2:9-11 - But as it is written, “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for them that love Him.” He has prepared it for us. That circle is there waiting for you to jump in, to be close to Him. But God has revealed them unto us by His Spirit… those shadows, the Feast, the things that we know are coming, are revealed, for the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. That’s where our wisdom lies, that’s where our knowledge lies, in the revelation from God and Christ. It’s not us. We think often in two or maybe three dimensions. If anybody in here is a quantum physicist, I guess, mathematically you can prove about six dimensions; but I imagine there’s more than that. It’s hard for us to even think beyond three dimensions, but there are realms out there that we can’t even imagine. I wish we could see the angels in the room. I’m sure they’re here. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Yes, we can understand some of the fleshly things. Even so the things of God knows no man but the Spirit of God.

That’s why people that you tell these things to, they might make sense physically, mechanically, “Boy, it would be wonderful if…” But that “if” can only be understood if you have God’s Spirit. God’s Holy Spirit helps you if you apply Jesus Christ’s sacrifice, you examine yourself coming up to the Passover. You put out sin, and you have the Holy Spirit. Then you will rise to meet Christ, whether it’s in this next decade and we’re alive to rise with Him or whether we die and we rise with those who are dead. It’s going to happen. It is a true reality. It’s why we do what we do and why we live the way we do, why we’re willing to put up with the problems that we have at times, why we try to be righteous, try to be a work that people can see, see God in us. As parents we do that for our children, try to set a good example for them so that they understand.

You know, I guess Chris and Athea had their baby last night. Somebody said they had it around midnight. I asked them if it was yesterday or today and they weren’t sure, but somebody said it was a line backer. I guess it was about ten pounds. That’s a good sized baby. I know my wife would have had a real problem if hers were that big. But it’s wonderful. You get a child and they grow up and they imitate you and then you learn all your flaws. A wonderful thing they do for us. It’s actually good to find out your flaws, if you’re willing to learn from your children. A lot of people aren’t. God often tells us things in ways we don’t like to accept them. Like Elijah when he had the earthquake and the wind and everything and then it says a “still small voice” came and told him. God is often in that still small voice, probably in a real small person, maybe. But that’s there to help us.

If I were to drive around Cincinnati, drive by some of the graveyards here and look at where people are buried and where people have been born and you can drive by and say, “Well, so and so was born here, so and so was born here,” and tell people that they gave their life to God and maybe someone would ask, “Why is that important?” in the millennium when you’re driving by and pointing to places where people came from. Why is it important? Because they no longer face death. They’re in the first circle. They don’t have to worry about that. They were shadows, shadows that represented what God is and the life that Christ lived, examples for you, just as I as a parent am an example for my children and you for yours and we to each other are examples, here to help them, help each other attain salvation, spiritual eternal life in God’s Kingdom, in that first circle.

Hebrews 8, verse 8 , mankind can’t attain that without God. It says:

Hebrews 8:8-13 Hebrews 8:8-13 8 For finding fault with them, he said, Behold, the days come, said the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: 9 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, said the Lord. 10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, said the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: 11 And they shall not teach every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. 12 For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more. 13 In that he said, A new covenant, he has made the first old. Now that which decays and waxes old is ready to vanish away.
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For finding fault with them, He says, “Behold, the days come, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah…” It’s going to be a new covenant. “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, says the Lord.” No, they had to learn the hard way most of the time. “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to Me a people…” quoting from the Old Testament prophets. God is the center of the circle, and His people surround Him in the first circle. “ And they shall not teach every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for all shall know Me, from the least to the greatest.” There is a time when everyone will know about God, a time for the others to be part of the God family; but you’ve been called to be in the first circle, and you’ll be helping to teach. Verse 12 , “For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.” They can be taught repentance just as you have been, and He’s going to give a new covenant . …He has made the first old. Now that which decayed and waxed old is ready to vanish away.

We’re expected to walk in His way. It’s interesting because the world doesn’t understand.

Galatians 6:16 Galatians 6:16And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and on the Israel of God.
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says, And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.

You and I are the Israel of God, as His church, you and me, walking by His ways, when we follow, when we put Him first and do what He wants. The world keeps it’s days, it’s Mardi Gras, as we heard in the sermonette, while we keep the feasts of God. One of my hooks that I use in air flights when I talk to people. Other Christians don’t understand the plan of God because they don’t keep the holy days. The Jews don’t understand the plan of God because they don’t understand Christ. They wouldn’t accept Him as their Savior. We accept both, and we have that wisdom of God. We do seem strange to the world, though.

Hebrews 11, verses 13-15 . All of the people of that chapter seemed strange, did things that were unusual, and they all died in faith, not having received the promises , as it says in verse 13, but having seen them afar off, they saw the shadow, maybe in visions they even saw the three dimensional of sorts, but having seen them afar off and were persuaded of them and embraced them, and confessed they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. You and I are strangers and pilgrims on this earth, For they that say such things, you and I and them, declare plainly they seek a country. And, truly, if they had been mindful of that country they came from, they might have had opportunity to have returned, to the circles of this world, where you go to people that have publicity or royalty or money or power, the wrong things to be surrounded by.

Verse 16 - But now, you and I and they, desire a better country, a heavenly country, wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared for them a city.

You and I cannot be ashamed of what we believe, what we do, because we’re in the first circle. We believe, we know, we understand. We’re experiencing the shadow of God’s plan through His feasts, every year, year by year; and as nice as it is, it ends, because the shadow of the holy days, they’ll be fulfilled eventually. There won’t be shadows. The Kingdom of God is not the holy days. Oftentimes we kind of confuse the millennium with the Kingdom of God, and it’s not. It’s the millennium; it’s after the Great White Throne, when everyone has been judged and we’re all part of the family of God. The Kingdom of God is composed of spirit beings that are in His Kingdom. All of us. The spirit beings.

How do you get there? How do you become a king and priest? How do you attain that first circle? Well, with God, the first circle starts with repentance. He calls you, you get convicted, you get the courage, you step forward and you’re converted. You repent, and you’re baptized. And then you renew that baptism covenant every year at Passover, realizing that we make mistakes because we’re human. And then obedience with humility throughout our life. We really want to serve. You do things because it’s the right thing to do, not to be seen of men. It desires the future over the present. You can see beyond the trials of this life.

A world of peace is a great picture to paint. God always wants us to desire the positive outcomes, not fear the negatives, like the world’s religions. That’s why God always says, “Choose life.” Choose life! I started thinking about that. Nowhere in the Bible do I find, “Choose to avoid death.” I mean, He doesn’t want you to choose evil, but He says, “Choose life.” The world’s religions are about choosing to avoid death. How many people don’t want to go to hell? They don’t even know what it means to sit on a cloud with a harp or something. They don’t really want that, I mean, who wants to do that? But they sure don’t want to be in hell because hell gets described real plainly to people. Most of the world’s religions are fear based. God’s not fear based. He says, “Choose life. Choose these wonderful things. Choose to be happy forever.” And if you don’t choose life, you’re simply dust and ashes under the feet of the righteous, which is the most merciful thing God can do to someone who will not be happy for eternity. And we should all be thankful that He created us human so we can be dust and ashes if we don’t qualify. But He gives us every opportunity and every help to qualify to be there.

Our status is not by birth or by the deeds of our family or by some great thing that we did, our location or even time. With God’s help, through His Holy Spirit, you control your status because it’s how you work with what you have. To whom much is given, much is required. You’re here, a lot of people, you see a lot of things, young people, you’re born in this. You grew up with it. I was always scared of that scripture because I had all those years at Imperial and the Bible my whole life and the time with Mr. Armstrong, and you wonder spiritually you should be able to leap tall buildings with a single bound, and I still have to open the door, because I’m not there. But I’m trying to be. Our status is by overcoming, by true sacrifice. Our status is throwing the widow’s mite in when you haven’t got anything. It’s not about throwing in megabucks, especially if you don’t have them.

God’s circle starts in the heart and in the mind, when we put Christ’s mind in us, like Philippians 2:5 Philippians 2:5Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
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says, to have His mind in us. You get outside the circle, you sin, you’re no longer there. But we can be tempted. James 1:14 James 1:14But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.
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shows us what happens to us:

James 1:14-15 James 1:14-15 14 But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. 15 Then when lust has conceived, it brings forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, brings forth death.
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But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust. Physical things in this world seem delicate, they seem dainty, they seem nice, they seem pleasant. The things that God created are pleasant. Satan turns them into evil and wrong uses, often. Then when lust has conceived, it brings forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, brings forth death.

That’s where it ends up if you’re not looking to God and to Christ, if you’re not trying to be part of that first circle. Again, the shadow represents the true reality. It really does. And if you learn to control your mind now, you can be part of that. But God is not politically correct. He doesn’t have a “no kids fail” { policy } because you have to yield to Him. You have to do the work to pass. You have to be a doer of the word.

You and I were not born to wealth, power. My exposure to wealth has not been very good. Very few people I’ve seen that are wealthy are happy. Very few of them have really good lives. They get to enjoy physical things, but it’s hollow. That’s why so many of them turn to drugs and things because they don’t enjoy life. They don’t understand what true life is about. It’s sad to see that. Michelle would always go out, the ladies would always want to take her shopping, and I’d always tell her not to buy anything. They were rich and she wasn’t, but they didn’t know that. And so, she could try on all the things and look good in them, but then she could always make excuses like “I haven’t got any room in my suitcase,” or…she never told them she didn’t have any money. That wouldn’t have sounded good to them. And, besides, she always looked good in everything she bought; and the stores she shopped in, they’d never recognize it anyway because they wouldn’t step foot in those places. But it was interesting. She got to look at and see what their life was like. Most of their lives were about self, what they could do for their self. Our lives are about giving, selflessness. We’re trying to be people of God, sharing. I don’t wish to be like the world’s kings, by and large–a few of them do good things occasionally–because they’re going to suffer the world’s fate. People of this world will have a chance to be in the second circle in God’s family, but you and I won’t have that choice. Like I said, we’re called to be in the first circle. That’s our choice. We’re in the first circle or we’re nothing. People in the first circle in this world are usually for selfish motives, with some few exceptions. But we are to be unselfish. And if you are unselfish, not only are you going to be in the first circle, but God is going to present you, or Christ is going to present you to God.

It’s interesting to be presented to someone. I know the first time I was presented to a king was the King of Thailand. I stayed in the background and did what I needed to do, although I had to help interpret some of the things so Mr. Armstrong could understand. The king spoke pretty softly. But he called me up the first time I went up to the palace, and he just said, “Aaron, come up here.” He says, “Your Majesty, I want to present Aaron Dean.” He said, “He’s a product of what we produce at Ambassador College.” He said, “All his education, all twelve years of grade school and high school and college are from what God started, and this is what we’re about.” Now, you never think of yourself as a product that way, and I felt like I was in one of those little stands that you wind up and you spin around for people to look at you. And I didn’t feel like I was really a product of what we produce, but we are. We are a product. And we should represent what we stand for to all people, whether it’s royalty or whether it’s the clerk in line at the checkout at the store or whoever. You have to be that type of person.

II Corinthians 11:2 - For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ, and be presented clean from sin to Christ .

II Corinthians 4:14 - Knowing that He which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you.

We’re all going to be presented in that first circle. Why? Verse 15 , For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God.

We should represent the glory of God and be presented.

Colossians 1:20-22 Colossians 1:20-22 20 And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things to himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. 21 And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now has he reconciled 22 In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and blameless and unreproveable in his sight:
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- And, having made peace through the blood of His cross, by Him to reconcile all things unto Himself; by Him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now has He reconciled, as we celebrate this Passover coming up, we will be reconciled, in the body of His flesh through death, because He died. Why? …to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in His sight…

You’re going to be presented to your God by Christ and presented faultless, blameless. How amazing is that? Peter and the apostles tried to paint the picture for us when they wrote about Christ and His life; and like they even wrote, if you told everything He did in books, the world couldn’t even contain it. But they gave us as much as they could, and they saw Christ literally in action and tried to pass that knowledge on to you and I as three-dimensionally as they possibly could.

I saw God bless the work so many times, when we honor Him, when we do what He says, when we yield ourselves to Him; and, at times, when we try to do it ourselves, I’ve seen people fail, sadly. But it’s a blessing and an honor to try to be like Christ, to try to be in that first circle. We must do that as clearly as we can.

Are you willing to do what it takes to be in the first circle? To have the humility, the kindness, the meekness, the fruits of the Spirit? It is the better resurrection, to be in the first circle. It’s the way and the choice that God has given to you and He’s given to me. That’s our choice. And you can make it. God says He doesn’t try anyone beyond what he is able. Your choice is to be in the first circle or not at all. But I would ask you to choose life. Be in the first circle.

Comments

  • Jacob Hitsman
    First I would like to say thank you Aaron Dean for this presentation. It was informative and as always I have learned much by listening to you speak. God is first in my life and has been for 39 years now so I understand the information you talked about very well. There are a couple of constructive comments that I will also include in this evaluation. The style of delivery of your sermon was different but just OK with me. My complaint is that when stating verses in the Bible you said it only one time and then if someone misses this it is not said again as I believe it could be said intermittently. Another point is when you say we should join you in reading a verse you go directly there and start to read without us slower ones joining you. More time could elapse between saying a verse and reading it. We need time to get there and some of us take longer than others is my point. For me I just paused the recording and found the verse. It was still a pleasure to hear you speak and there is no doubt you know the Word of God and find it pleasing to share this with others as I also am the same way. May we both pray for His Kingdom to come and quickly. Amen
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