Now is the time for us to be getting ready. And as we're here on the seventh day of the Feast, looking forward to the Holy Day tomorrow that pictures the time beyond the Millennium, we need to be getting ready. We need to have our focus. If we've enjoyed the Feast, if we understand what God has given us, what He's promised us, what He's offered us, we need to be getting ready.
[Rick Shabi] I want to say, too, how very nice it has been. We're here on the seventh day of the Feast. It's hard to believe that the Feast of Tabernacles ends today. Of course, tomorrow is a separate festival, the Last Great Day or the Eighth Day. We'll all be together here tomorrow for two services as we celebrate that Feast and its meeting. But the Feast of Tabernacles sadly comes to an end today.
But I wanted to say how much my wife and family and I have enjoyed being here with all of you. It's been a wonderful Feast from our standpoint. It's been so good to meet so many of you, and I hope you have enjoyed the Feast and have felt God's Spirit and have felt the love and warmth that comes at a time of the Feast that we can't experience really for 8, well, actually 9 or 10 days this year, if we were here for the Sabbath last week as well. To have this time to be with each other is just priceless, as they say.
You know, as I think back on the Feast of Tabernacles, and we've all left our homes and come here to worship God and left our places behind, our jobs behind, and we've been here for 8 days by tomorrow of the Feast, but 9 and 10 days if we've attended every Feast and including Sabbath before the Feast. We've done the pilgrimage, and I think back sometimes to the way it was in Jesus Christ's time when they all left their homes and journeyed to Jerusalem to keep the Feast. And, you know, like us they had a wonderful time. They enjoyed being with each other. They trusted in God as they left their belongings behind. They trusted that God would feed them, that God would inspire them. They were happy doing His will. We've done the same thing.
You know, Jesus Christ kept all of those Feast days. He journeyed to Jerusalem as well every Feast of Tabernacles, and we know He was there. I recall one time, you know, in the Bible, where He so much enjoyed the time. This was a spring Feast when they were in Jerusalem. As a young boy, 12 years old, He stayed behind. He just wanted to keep talking to the people there about God's way and God's plan. And I think many of us feel that same way. We just wish it could go on and on and on. But there is a time that we go back into the world, and we continue to do God's will, even as we live in the world, but continue to live His ways and do His ways, as Mr. Hewitt said.
You know, back on the seventh or perhaps the Last Great Day, if you turn with me to John 7:37 John 7:37In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come to me, and drink.
American King James Version×, there was a time when that Feast of Tabernacles that Jesus Christ made this comment ended. And as He looked over the seventh, or whether it was the seventh day of the Feast of the Tabernacles or the Last Great Day or the Eighth Day as we call it, He looked over those seven days, and He was inspired, He was happy to see all the people there obeying God. And, of course, they had a water pouring ceremony, you've heard… who you've heard of, that they went through. And as He watched everything, He made this comment on that last day, that Last Great Day of the Feast.
In John 7:37 John 7:37In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come to me, and drink.
American King James Version×says, "On that last day, the great day of the Feast, Jesus stood and cried out, 'If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink."' Oh, He was summing up the Feast. Have you enjoyed what you've been doing here? Have you enjoyed each other's companies? Have you enjoyed the messages that you've heard? Have you enjoyed being immersed in God's way of life? Have you enjoyed being out of the world and with people of like mind that look forward to the coming of Jesus Christ who are not hold up by the ways of this world and who have left that behind? And that was an inspirational thing He said.
And as we are here this morning, and I would ask, "Do we thirst?" Are we thirsting for God's way? Are we thirsting for Him to return? Are we thirsting for the fulfillment of what this Feast of Tabernacles means, that He will return to Earth, that His Millennium will be set up, and that all the people who live at that time will be able to experience what you and I have experienced the last seven, eight, and nine days, what it's like to live God's Way of life because it is a wonderful way of life, unlike anything the world has to offer, unlike anything that we have heard before.
Jesus Christ said, "If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’" And last year, I talked more about believes when He says, "If anyone thirsts, come, and believes in me." The Greek word for "believes" there is pisteuo. It's not believe like the way we might throw around the word "believe." You know, like we might believe the Cubs will win the World Series. Like we may believe the weather is going to be nice tomorrow. But that belief was something that when you believe in God, when you believe in Jesus Christ, and what He preached, it was a life-changing belief. It cut you to the core. You didn't go back to the way you lived before. It changed the way that you acted. It changed the way that you reacted. It changes the way that you think. It changes the way you live, and you are never more the person that you were before.
Christ said, "If anyone thirsts, come to Me. And He who believes in Me, I will give rivers of living water." You know, He said something else back in Matthew 24. To those of us who live at the time of the end, if we look at the world around us, and we see the things being fulfilled in prophecy around us, He said something else to us back in Matthew 24, in the Olivet prophecy. And after He recounted the things that would be leading up to the time of His return, He had a poignant question for the people. It was really upon the people, upon whom the aeons of the ages would come.
Let's look at Matthew 24 and begin in verse… Matthew 24:40 Matthew 24:40Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.
American King James Version×. Let's pick it up in verse 42. In the verse preceding this, He talks about how it would be as it was in the days of Noah, so it would be in the days of His when He would return again. But in verse 42, He says, "Watch therefore, for you don't know what hour your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. Therefore you also be ready for the Son of Man is coming in an hour you don't expect."
"Be ready," He said. You don't know exactly when it will be. Things should look very much that way that we might think it would happen, but it could not happen exactly when we think. "Be ready," He said. So a question again I have for you this morning, are you ready? I asked myself, "Am I ready?" Are we getting ready, truly getting ready for the return of Jesus Christ because it will… it may come at a time we don't expect, and it may be too late if we think it's time well into the future.
As someone said earlier in the Feast, God is not going to wait if we say, "Wait, give me a minute." Remember that comment? "Give me a minute. I need to get ready." Now is the time for us to be getting ready. And as we're here on the seventh day of the Feast, looking forward to the Holy Day tomorrow, the pictures, the time beyond the Millennium, we need to be getting ready. We need to have our focus. If we've enjoyed the Feast, if we understand what God has given us, what He's promised us, what He's offered us, we need to be getting ready.
Let's turnover to 1 John, 1 John 3. We've heard so many wonderful messages during this Feast, things that have… messages that have inspired us, messages that have instructed us, directions, and pointed us in the direction of God's way of life. I hope that they've motivated us. And I hope that as we leave this place tomorrow after the Last Great Day, that we are committed to God, that we're going to go back and implement those things in our lives and that we will be getting ready and examining ourselves more to make sure we're getting ready.
I hope we have that hope clearly in our mind. In 1 John 3:1 1 John 3:1Behold, what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knows us not, because it knew him not.
American King James Version×, and the apostle John under inspiration of God, says, "Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!” Nothing we should ever take for granted. Nothing that we have earned ourselves. God didn't need us. We needed Him, and He's called us and given us something that we can't even imagine how great it is. “…we should be called children of God! Therefore the world doesn't know us, because it didn't know Him.” They don't understand what motivates us. They don't understand what makes us tick because it's not what makes them tick. They don't know yet.
"Beloved, now we are children of God; and it hasn't yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him for we shall see Him as He is," more and more, looking like Him, more and more acting like Him, more and more thinking like Him, more and more reacting to situations in our life like Jesus Christ would have act, as His Spirit permeates us, and we let it delve into every cell of our body, and motivate us, teach us, instruct us, correct us, guide us and teach us.
And everyone, everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. Everyone who has this hope makes the choices in life, follows God, believes in Him, is washed by the water of His word, is cleansed by His Holy Spirit, allows His Holy Spirit to flow through their veins and clean up the mind, clean up our attitudes, clean up our beliefs, and our practices.
Jesus Christ said, "If anyone thirsts..." Jesus Christ said, "Be ready." Be ready, be doing the things that He has called us to do, purifying ourselves, making the choices to follow Him, making the choices to yield to Him, letting Him mold us into who He wants us to be, and becoming more like Him everyday of our lives, as the Holy Spirit lets us know where we don't measure up to the standard of Jesus Christ, that we make the choices, and we resist self. We deny self. Now we choose to follow Him and put self behind.
This morning I want to give you three points as we move out of the Feast of Tabernacles and into the Eighth Day tomorrow, and then as we go home beyond that and go back into our jobs, go back into school, go back into our neighborhoods, go back into our way of life there that I hope will help us to be ready. Now, of course, you know, in the sermonette Mr. Hewitt talked about, and we all know that we need to be living God's way of life. We need to be implementing His ways into everything that we do. That goes without saying, and it's been said. And don't… I'm not going to dwell on that aspect of it because we know that. We have to follow Him. We have to be led by His Spirit. We have to be putting His laws in our life. We have to be following Him implicitly.
But I want to give you three points that we've heard about during the Feast and during this Holy Day season that we can build on, that I can build on as I go back as well. First, let's go back to Jeremiah 51. Mr. Suckling, in his sermon, was talking about the consistency of God. Sometimes I refer to it as the unity of the Bible because what we read in the Old Testament is perfectly demonstrated in the New Testament, and you can't read through the Bible and not see the consistency of God, the unity of God, and what He's put in the Old Testament that He's also repeated in the New Testament.
Back in Jeremiah 51, God has inspired Jeremiah because Jeremiah spent 40 years prophesying to Judah about the coming Babylon… Babylonian captivity. In Jeremiah 51, we'll see he's talking about something, a Babylon that's beyond, that's beyond the time of the Babylon that conquered Judah to back in 586 B.C. Verse 6 of Jeremiah 51 says, “Flee… flee from the midst of Babylon, and every one save his life!” "Get out of there!” God says, "Don't be cut off in her iniquity, for this the time of the Eternal's vengeance; He will recompense her." "Get out of there!” He says, "Babylon was a golden cup in the Eternal's hand, that made all the earth drunk. The nations drank her wine; therefore the nations are deranged."
They weren't drinking from the cup that leads to life. They weren't drinking from the cup that leads to peace. They weren't drinking from the cup that leads to joy. They were drinking from the opposite. They were drinking from the cup of Babylon that leads to anything but the things that people say they want, and the things that we experience, and the things that will mark Jesus's Kingdom.
In the same chapter, in verse 45, He repeats the same admonition, "My people, go out of the midst of her! And let everyone deliver himself from the fierce anger of the Lord.” “Don't be a part of her. Get out of Babylon!” He says and as you read through that chapter you see it's talking of the future Babylon. Mr. Hewitt referenced Revelation 18. Let's turnover to Revelation 18, and follow through on a point that he very well made in his sermonette.
Revelation 18, speaking of the end time, the time of tumult that will come on the world, a time that we probably rehearsed during the Feast of Trumpets. As the trumpets are blowing, and as the time of Jesus Christ returns near, the society, civilization known as Babylon then God calls to judgment, Revelation 18:1 Revelation 18:1And after these things I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory.
American King James Version×, "After these things," John writes, "I saw another angel coming down from heaven, having great authority, and the earth was illuminated with his glory. And he cried mightily with a loud voice, saying, 'Babylon the Great is fallen, is fallen, and has become a dwelling place of demons, a prison for every foul spirit, and a cage for every unclean and hated bird!’"
An ugly place. Demons live there. The attitudes of everything evil in the world lived there. That's at the end of the age is the civilization that Jesus Christ will come and illuminate from the earth, and that will be no longer it, but it's a place where no good attitudes dwell, where no future really is. It's a hopeless place, a place that none of us would want to be, that no one in the world would want to be if they really understood what time is going to be like.
And as we live in a time that is growing closer and closer to the time of that Babylon, we see those same attitudes developing all around us. We see it happening. We see things moving further and further away from God, things that just aren't even in the same moral code that people who didn't even know the truth of God used to live by, in every area of our lives, in every area of the world's life out there. "All the nations," He says, we harken back to Jeremiah 51, "All the nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, the merchants of the earth have become rich through the abundance of her luxury." They are drinking from the wrong cup. They're not drinking from the cup. When they say they can bring peace, and they could bring prosperity, and they could bring joy. They can't. You can't do it unless you drink from the cup that Jesus Christ… unless you drink of those living waters, and let those waters flow through you.
Verse 4, "And I heard another voice from heaven saying, 'Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive her for plagues." So my first point is come out of her, my people. I could give a whole sermon on "Come out of her, my people." I want to focus on one aspect of "Come out of her, my people" because I know, and I sure hope we are all practicing God's laws, and we are monitoring our actions and our attitudes as compared to those of the Bible, those of Jesus Christ, and that we're letting God make those changes.
But there's another aspect that I want us to think of in line with this verse. First, let me make the point. I think we all know here what it says in 1 John 5:19 1 John 5:19And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lies in wickedness.
American King James Version×, "The whole world," okay, the whole world, the United States, Britain, the whole world, China, Russia, Africa, the whole world is under the sway of Satan. The whole world is drinking from that cup. And Revelation 12:9 Revelation 12:9And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceives the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
American King James Version×makes it very clear.
Satan has deceived the whole world. He is a very cunning and a very crafty being. He deceived Eve who was walking and who knew God, who saw the creation she lived in, and he was able to convince her. If we are not ready, he'll be able to deceive us, too. We have to be very ready between… or getting ourselves ready between now and the time of the return of Jesus Christ.
Over in 2 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians 10:3 2 Corinthians 10:3For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh:
American King James Version×, we find a very tall order for Christians, true Christians. 2 Corinthians 10:3 2 Corinthians 10:3For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh:
American King James Version×, "Though we walk in the flesh, we don't war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds," those things in our mind that are very well-established there, have been established maybe since our youth, the times before we were in the church, before we knew God's truth. Those things that we might hold onto that we might not even recognize just how strong those attitudes are. Those strongholds that evil could come about as we listen to the attitudes of the world around us.
If we listen to the media, and we listen to their logic, we might begin to think along those same lines and think, "Well, this and that isn't so bad." If I was talking to you 40 or 50 years ago, no one here, including the young people would roll their eyes or have a second thought if I said, "Premarital sex is wrong. There is no place for premarital sex in God's way of life.” But today we've been so saturated by the media, by entertainment that even maybe some of us look at it and say, "Well, is it that bad?" That can be a stronghold for some of our young people who are still in school. You know, I would hope every single one of us here understand what God says about same-sex marriage, same-sex attraction, that it's wrong. But I know the schools, having two grandchildren, do a pretty good job of indoctrinating people, and maybe, just maybe, there's some who are thinking, "Is God really that upset about I?" Yes, He is. Yes, He is.
We don't use the weapons of this world or the attitudes of this world. We use God's Word as the standard for what we believe and what our attitudes are. The weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds using the rivers of living water, the Holy Spirit that He gives us to correct our thinking, order our thinking, to react to the ways of this world exactly as He would have us react, for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, because there's an awful lot in the world today that exalts itself against the knowledge of God.
Science exalts itself against the knowledge of God, right? Science doesn't want to believe that God created the earth. Science wants to have its own explanation. They know more. The moral leaders of today, the philosophers, the professors in universities, they know more they want to tell you than the Bible. "You don't need to pay attention to Bible," you often hear young people if you're in college. Yes, you do. That's the cup that you drink from that leads to joy, peace, life, and everything that you want. The other cup leads to misery, strife, conflict, destruction, as we'll see in a moment.
"Casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ." Now, there's a tall order, isn't it? "Bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ," every thought. I know I'm not there yet. I know not every thought. Sometimes I can be sitting and a thought comes into my mind, and I think, "Where did that thought come from?" You probably experience the same thing. We have our ways to go to be ready. As Christ said, "Be ready, to bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ." And so I want to look at our thoughts. And as we look at "Come out of her, my people," yes, we obey God's laws. Yes, we practice what He has taught us to do. Yes, we incorporate those into our lives. We also know that Satan is working hard on our minds. He would like nothing more than to jilt your thinking or to have you think something apart from the Bible, and we're inundated with it.
Ephesians, Ephesians 2. I remember sitting at the Feast of Tabernacles when I was younger in other sermons reading these verses and they always caught my attention of how powerful and how influential Satan is and how pervasive in society he is, and how much more pervasive he's becoming as each, it seems, like month goes by. Ephesians 2:1 Ephesians 2:1And you has he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;
American King James Version×, it says, “You" you and me, “He made alive who were once dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world," because in a way even if we grow up in the church, we do walk in a way, in a course of this world. We have to come to our realizations, whether we come into the church as adult or if we've grown into it, we have to make the choice to follow God. That is our choice that we commit to follow Him. "In which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit which now works in the sons of disobedience." The power of the air.
You know, back in the '60s and '70s, the power of the air was radio. The power of the air was T.V. And I don't understand still how we can transmit things across the waves of the air, but it happens all around us, right? You can flip on a dial in the radio, and you can receive any kind of music, any kind of talk show. You can flip on a T.V. and have hundreds of channels, that you can receive any programming that you want and if you're willing to pay things that are just even ridiculous that are made available to the public. I know for those of you who understand the workings of the internet, it's not totally by the air, but you know what, I still marvel by the fact that I can sit and send you an email, push a button, and somehow magically it gets into your mailbox, and you read that. That fascinates me. I don't understand it. We live in a wonderful age.
And the power of the air is something that God… He built those things in. Man hasn't outsmarted God. He built those in. And man has been able to figure out and learn how to use that power. And in many cases, it's been used for good. Back in the '30s, '40s, and '50s, Mr. Armstrong, as God led him and inspired him, used radio to preach the gospel to the world, and many, many people, probably even here in this room, first heard of the truth of God by listening to a radio program as they were flipping channels and came across him.
Later on, it was T.V. Today we still use T.V. Today we use the Internet, and the power of the air can be used for good. And God has used the power of the air for good. But we know that the power of the air is also used by Satan. He has used the media and corrupted it. And there's much more, much more corruption, much more evil, much more, if I can use the term, demon-inspired things in the power of the air than we may even realize or think about, and it influences us.
Now, some of the things that come up over the air are just pure evil. And I would hope every single one of us in this room would know those are things we would absolutely never touch. I mean, the power of the air today. ISIS, ISIS uses the power of the internet to recruit people, right? We have people here in America who will go on to those websites. They're disgruntled with the way things are going, and ISIS uses it. We would never go into that. We know that is pure evil. Pornography, pornography is pure evil, and yet it's the greatest moneymaker on the internet today. But Satan is clever. Some of the things over the power of the air are a mixture of good and evil. And they have messages in them that can be dangerous to us if we listen to them, people who are to be bringing every thought into the obedience of Christ.
Let's go back to 2 Timothy, 2 Timothy 3. Timothy talks about the times that we live in. He talks about attitudes that are going to be prevalent at the time before the return of Jesus Christ. And as we read through these, I know you've read through them several times in your life before. I want you to think about these attitudes that are listed here in the first five verses of 2 Timothy, and how everyday we see those attitudes around us.
He says, "Know this, in the last days perilous times will come: men will be lovers of themselves," and they'll even champion it. Conceited, I've done this, I've done that, and parading it around the world. I've got the answers. "Men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers,” taking the truth of God and trampling on it or perverting it, “disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God." They'll spend hours and hours and hours in front of a T.V. or in front of a movie screen. Do they spend hours and hours in the Word of God? Do they spend hours and hours doing God's will?
"Having a form of godliness but denying its power.” Saying that they believe in Jesus Christ but not doing any of the things that He says, taking the name of Christianity but not doing any of the things that the Bible says true Christians would do. And what the word admonishes, “From such people, turn away!” So when we hear those attitudes spilled out over the power of the air, on radio, in T.V. shows, in the music that we listen to, in the lyrics of the music we listen to, in the movies that we pay money to go and sit down. And we see those attitudes being promoted, that we're allowing to be in our minds, and we're sitting there perhaps enjoying them.
Do we turn away? Do we really turn away as God says? Or do we think, you know, "That's got a nice tune. That's got a nice beat, and I find myself humming that song," or even singing the lyrics what are sure the antithesis of what the Bible would say to do, and thinking, "That's okay. That's good. It's just a nice tune, nothing wrong with that." God says from those attitudes, turn away.
Back in Romans, back in Romans 1, a similar list is given to us of people who don't want to retain God in their knowledge. And only if you're not honest with yourself will you not agree that the world we live in doesn't want to retain God in their knowledge. They don't want any part of Him. They want to write their own laws, write their own scripts, do their own things. They don't want what God has to say.
Romans 1:28 Romans 1:28And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;
American King James Version×says, "Even as they didn't like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness,” we're told thirst after righteousness, "being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness." All those things, you know, any of you could tell me movies that you watch that espouse all those things, any T.V. show that espouses all those things, any song that might espouse those things, “…they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful."
That's what is a lot of what's in the power of the air, when we turn on our T.V.’s, when we turn on our radios, when we listen to our music, and when we listen to any of the various venues that are out there on the internet where we can hear all of those things and listen to all of those things. And most of it, I'm not going to say all of it, but most of it has some element of what God is saying, the hallmarks of people who don't want to retain God in their knowledge. By contrast, we do want to retain God in our knowledge. We do want to thirst the way Christ said to thirst. We do want to thirst after righteousness. We do want our minds to be purified. If we have our hope, that hope in us, everyone purifies themselves, including what's in their minds, in their thoughts, as well as their actions.
Verse 32 says, "who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death." 1 Corinthians 6 is very clear, none of the people who practice these things are going to be in the Kingdom of God. Those attitudes aren't going to be there. That's not the attitudes of life. That's not the attitudes of peace. That's not the attitude of joy. That's the attitudes of strife and conflict and death that this world displays.
“Those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also” it says in the New King James, "approve of those who practice them." I think the New King James waters it down a little bit. Let me read to you verse 32 from Young's Literal Translation of the Bible, and I think the Old King James does a better job of inferring what this verse means. Young's Literal Translation says, "who the righteous judgment of God having known — that those practicing such things are worthy of death — not only do them, but also have delight with those practicing them."
They enjoy watching those things in T.V. shows. They enjoy watching those things in movies. They enjoy hearing those things in songs, especially the songs that have catchy tunes and a good beat, right? God says we are to be discerning people working toward purity. That's our goal, “bringing every thought into captivity of Christ.” The tall order, the tall order, but as I ask myself, "Am I ready?" and we ask ourselves, "Are we ready?" I think we probably have a ways to go. I know I've got a ways to go, to get ready and to be ready when Jesus Christ returns.
Turnover to 2 Corinthians 6. Mr. Hewitt touched on this verse as well, and I just wanted to read one phrase of this in connection with "Coming out of her, my people," and the attitudes and the power of the air, the entertainment, the media, the things that we may take delight in, that we may want to go back and think about as we go back home, because we haven't had that here in the 7 days of the Feast of Tabernacles, and then the Sabbath, and the 9 days we've been together here if you were here last Sabbath, and the 10th day we'll be together as we're here at the Last Great Day tomorrow.
In 2 Corinthians 6, following the line of thought that I've been talking about here this morning. Let's go for 17, "Therefore come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord.” Don't be like them. “Don't even touch what is unclean, and I will receive you." When we think about media, when we think about the power of the air, when we think about the choices we make, "Don't even touch," God said, "what is unclean." Let me give you one story as I wrap up this point that I heard. I don't even know where I heard it, in a sermon or if I heard it on T.V. or read it on the internet. I don't know the author, and I don't think an author was given at the time. But it kind of painted for me a good picture of what God says when He says, "Come out of her, my people, and be separate."
You know, we have oceans on both sides of our nation. Those oceans are full of saltwater, and in that saltwater are many kinds of fish swimming around, in those salt waters, and their entire life they're in that salt water. Now, we enjoy those fish, the red snapper, the flounder, the grouper, the tuna, those type of fish that live in the salt waters. But you know when you go in and you eat that fish, you don't taste any salt. We have to add the salt to those fish. They spend their entire lives in salty water, but the salt never permeates them. They have a pure and a wonderful taste.
We have to develop the same type of skin, that we live in a world that Jesus Christ said, "I'm not going to take you out of the world. You're going to live in the world, but you need to develop and be separate from them, that you may swim in the waters of this life. Don't let it touch you." Get that saltiness and that corruption of those evil thoughts and those things that are apart from God out and become pure as He wants us to become pure. We've heard through this… during this Feast, Mr. Hewitt talked this morning about that God is making us and developing us and getting us ready to be kings and priests in His Kingdom. Revelation 1:6 Revelation 1:6And has made us kings and priests to God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
American King James Version×, Revelation 5:10 Revelation 5:10And have made us to our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.
American King James Version×clearly says that.
You know, back in the Old Testament, as we look at the unity of the Bible, again, God gave instructions to kings, and He gave instructions to priests as Mr. Hewitt told you. Let's go back to Deuteronomy 17 and look at some of the instructions that God gave to those who would be future kings of His people, Israel. Deuteronomy 17, there wasn't a king in Israel at that time, but He knew, He knew that they would go out. They would look at the nations around them, and one day they would say, "We want a king over us just like these other nations."
And God said in verse 17 of Deuteronomy… verse 16 of Deuteronomy 17. He gave instructions to the kings. He says, "He shall not multiply horses for himself,” He's not to use that office as an avenue for him to enrich himself or to arm his army and forget who really is the strength and who is our defender and our rock. "He shall not multiply horses for himself nor cause the people to return to Egypt to multiply horses,” don't go back into the world. He's called us out of it, "for the Eternal has said to, 'You shall not return that way again.’ Neither shall he multiply wives for himself, lest his heart turn away."
Solomon, we heard yesterday, Solomon allowed that to take him away from God as he tried to please them and forgot that he should be putting God first in all that he does. "Neither shall he multiply wives for himself, lest his heart turn away; nor shall he multiply greatly silver and gold for himself. And it shall be, when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, he shall write for himself a copy of this law in a book, from the one before the priests, the Levites. And it shall be with him, and he will read it all the days of his life, so that he may learn to fear the Eternal his God and be careful to observe all the words of this law and these statutes, that his heart may not be lifted above his brethren, that he may not turn aside from the commandments to the right or to the left, and that he may prolong his days in his kingdom, he and his children in the midst of Israel.”
The same thing that God would tell us today. Those instructions to kings are for you and me. We live in a time where horses may not be the thing. Our trust has to be in God. We have to learn and understand we're here to serve, not to enrich ourselves, not to seek any position, but to serve God and to serve His people and to put Him first in all we do, to remember that first commandment and not have any priorities above what God would have us do. Back in 1 Timothy 3, it gives qualifications for elders. We'll just briefly read through those. You'll see that they are similar to what God gave the instructions to the kings back there in Deuteronomy 17.
In 1 Timothy 3:1 1 Timothy 3:1This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desires a good work.
American King James Version×, it says, "This is a faithful saying: If a man desires the position of a bishop, he desires a good work. A bishop must be blameless,” He must be living his life in accordance with God's law. None of us are perfect but continually allowing God to perfect us. “A bishop must be blameless, the husband of one wife,” not many wives, “the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach; not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but gentle, not quarrelsome, not covetous; one who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence (for if a man doesn't know how to rule his own house, how can he rule the house of God?)” or take care of the Church of God? “not a novice, lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil."
And moreover, the people on the outside of the church will see someone who's different than the people that they work with everyday. They will see his behavior. They will see the way he acts. They will see his character, and “he'll have a good testimony among those who are outside, lest he fall into reproach in the snare of the devil." It's qualifications of kings and priests. There's another qualification of kings and priests that God gives us back in 1 Samuel 7, all those things we should be paying attention to because God is preparing all of us to do those things, but we're back in 1 Samuel 7 as we ask ourselves, "Am I ready? Am I getting ready, as Jesus Christ commanded us be ready when He returns."
Back at 1 Samuel 7, as Israel was facing a challenge from the Philistines and as they were puzzled by what was going on with the ark as they moved it from one place to another, Samuel speaks up, and as they are seeking God and wondering, "What do we do? How do we stand against this army? Why is God having these things happen with this ark and the things that transpire as we try to move it from place to place?" Verse 3, “Samuel spoke to all the house of Israel, saying, ‘If you return to the Eternal with all your hearts,’” if you want to find God, if you return to Him, if you turn from the way you've been living and turn to God, “…then put away the foreign gods and the Ashtoreths from among you."
Start making decisions. Start putting those things out of your life that are contrary to what God has called us to. Start looking in your mind and seeing where are those strongholds, where are those beliefs, where are those attitudes that need to be put away, because Israel over and over, as you read through the Kings, cleared, the good kings, cleared the landscape. “I will tell you, if you clear the landscape of your mind, you let My Holy Spirit wash you, cleanse, you, teach you, guide you, direct you, put in the correct thinking, put away the foreign gods and the Ashtoreths that are among you, and prepare your hearts for the Eternal. You get ready."
You know, when God puts His Holy Spirit in us, and every time I counsel someone for baptism, I remind them it's a process. God will put His Holy Spirit in you, and He will forgive all of your sins when you make the decision to be baptized, but you're not going to become perfect when you're baptized. He'll put His Spirit in you, and it will give you the power to overcome. It will give you the power and the desire to become more and more like Him, but it's a process that takes the rest of your life to do it. You have to make the right decisions, you have to deny self, you have to take away the thoughts that come in there and not let them turn into temptation and sin. You have to say, "No, not this way. That's the way I've always been. This is the way. Walk in it.”
Prepare your heart, understand, and ask God and understand that we are committed to Him for eternity, not just like so many in the world today. When they prepare and they get married, they think, "Oh, you know, if this marriage lasts 5 years, 10 years, that's fine." You know, when I worked out among, I would hear that among people. "You know, I love this wife. We knew that wouldn't last forever." And I think, "Really, you actually would marry someone, and you wouldn't plan to be with them the rest of your life?" That's not everyone, but it's a prevalent attitude out here.
When we commit to God, we prepare our hearts. Jesus Christ said, "You count the cost. You follow Him the rest of your life." You don't let anything turn you back. You bring every thought into captivity of Jesus Christ. You let Him get you ready as you make decisions. He says, "Prepare your hearts for the Lord and serve Him only, and He'll deliver you from the hand of the Philistines." He would say to us, "Prepare your hearts," and He will deliver us from this world. He will deliver us from the hands of Satan. He will bring us into His Kingdom if we prepare, if we get ready, if we let our minds, if we let our God lead our minds and our thoughts, and if we become the way God wants us to become.
I'm not going to take the time to read to you. I'm going to give you a few verses, and you can read it later if you want. But there's a very good example of this back in 2 Chronicles 12-14. And as you read 2 Chronicles 14, you'll read about King Asa, and look and see how he prepared his heart to seek God in the early days of his kingship. And he did, and God answered those prayers. And then contrast it back with Rehoboam who was the king before him in 2 Chronicles 12. And Rehoboam learned something about God. When things weren't going his way, he humbled himself before God, and God would answer that prayer and deliver them from whatever was befalling them. But when God answered that prayer, Rehoboam went back to his old way of life. He didn't continue in that fashion and God, specifically in 2 Chronicles 12, “he never prepared his heart to seek God.” We all need to be preparing our heart to seek God and His will everyday of our lives.
Psalm 78, Psalm 78. Speaking of ancient Israel, they never learned that lesson. They follow God simply because He made them follow Him. But every time they had an opportunity to follow the ways of the nations around them, they fell prey to that. They followed their leaders when their leaders led them astray. They never prepared their heart to follow God first and to follow Him.
Verse 8… No, let's begin in verse 7. Talking about Israel, telling to talk to our children, "That they may set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep His commandments; and not be like their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation that didn't set its heart aright." It didn't make itself do that. It didn't learn the process of God. It didn't prepare its heart to seek God, and so they were just like a ping-pong ball, back and forth whatever fit the moment and whose spirit was not faithful to God.
The same concept is in the New Testament. We read about it, and we see how important it is. Let's look at one example here of someone who learned a lesson the hard way. We must prepare our heart. And as we live in a time and many things will befall the Church of God and us individually between now and the time of Jesus Christ's return, we better be preparing our hearts. We better be getting ready for the times that lie ahead of us.
Matthew 26, as you turn to Matthew 26 I'll also reference Luke 21 where Jesus Christ tells us, you know, we're going to be brought between…before kings and judges. And He says, “Settle in your heart… Settle in your heart beforehand. God will give you the words to speak.” Don't wait until that minute but be preparing your heart now for what is coming. The apostle Peter, we know the apostle Peter loved God, loved Jesus Christ. He gave his life preaching the gospel. He learned a lesson early on as he was walking with Jesus Christ day in and day out, back in Matthew 26:31 Matthew 26:31Then said Jesus to them, All you shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad.
American King James Version×.
After that Passover evening, when Jesus Christ went out into Gethsemane, He told them what would happen. He said in verse 31, "All of you will be made to stumble because of me this night, for it is written, ‘I will strike the Shepherd and the sheep of the flock will be scattered."' He let them know, just like He lets us know what's going to befall us between now and the time of the return of Christ. He goes, “‘But after I've been raised, I'll go before you to Galilee.’ Peter…” and we understand Peter's attitude, “Peter answered and said to Him, ‘Even if all are made to stumble because of You, I will never be made to stumble.’" That would be a response that we would have, isn't it? "Christ, I would never leave you."
Everyone who's been baptized has probably said… told the minister who they were counseling with, "I will never leave the Church of God. I will never forsake the teachings. I will always put God first. I understand the truth." And yet how many over the course of time have left, have left it behind, who haven't prepared their heart for the trials, the tribulations, just the cares of life that may come that have led them astray? So Peter said, "I'll never leave you, Christ. I would never stumble no matter what comes my way."
And Christ told him, "Assuredly, I say to you this night, before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times." And that happened, and that happened. You know, Peter had the words. He could say, "I will never leave you. I will never depart. I will never go back to the world." But at this point in life, Peter hadn't prepared his heart for that. They were words, correct words. And when we say those words, are we getting ready so that those words that we say, we won't fall prey to the time of the mark of the beast, when our very lives, our very livelihood, the welfare of our children and family members would be at stake.
Because if we don't prepare our hearts, if we're not letting God work in our minds, if we're not asking Him to prepare us for that time, and if we wait until that minute to think about it, I dare say like Peter, we might take the mark of the beast. We might not be ready, and Christ says, "Be ready. Be ready." So the question is are we ready? Are we getting ready? Are we thinking about these things, and are we asking God to strengthen us and to deepen our commitment to Him? So the second point is prepare your heart.
Third point has to do with the temple of God. We've heard about the temple of God. Mr. Dowd gave a sermon on the temple of God. We know that God is building His temple in us today individually and collectively. And as you recall the sermon, Mr. Dowd talked about the instruments that were being prepared for that temple, for the service of God where He dwelled. And likewise today He's preparing each of us for what He wants us to do in His Kingdom. I mean, it's not the same path for every single one of us. But He knows exactly what He has in mind for us. He sees our potential, He sees what He wants us to do, He knows what our role is, and He's preparing us. He is preparing us for that time when He returns that we'll be ready to assume what He wants us to do.
Let's go back to Exodus 25, and I want to look at one aspect of the temple that God committed back then, the tabernacle here in Exodus 25, later the temple and Solomon built it. In Exodus 25:31 Exodus 25:31And you shall make a candlestick of pure gold: of beaten work shall the candlestick be made: his shaft, and his branches, his bowls, his knops, and his flowers, shall be of the same.
American King James Version×, God talks about all the instruments, all of the things, how they should be developed. He says, "You shall also make a lampstand of pure gold; the lampstand shall be a hammered work. Its shafts, its branches, its bowls, its ornamental knobs, and flowers shall be a one piece." So He kind of spells out what He wants His lampstand to look like.
Let's go down to verse 37. He says, "You shall make seven lamps for it, and they'll arrange its lamp so that they give light in front of it. And its wick-trimmers and their rays shall be of pure gold. It'll be made of a talent of pure gold… pure gold with these… all these utensils. And see to it that you make them according to the pattern which we've shown you on the mountain.” Make these seven lampstands, make them exactly the way that God designed them to be.
Over in chapter 27, in verse 20, "God gives Israel and the priests the command. He says, 'You shall command the children of Israel that they bring you pure oil with pressed olives for the light, to cause the lamp to burn continually. In the tabernacle of meeting, outside the veil which is before the Testimony, Aaron and his sons will tend it from evening until morning before the Eternal. It'll be a statute forever to their generations in behalf of the children of Israel.” Keep that lamp burning continually. Tell the children of Israel bring the oil, that that lamp can be continually burning, an everlasting light to the world.
Now, Jesus Christ will tell us, "You keep your light shining. You keep your lamp burning. You don't let it go out." In the parable of the ten virgins, 5 of those virgins let the oil diminish to a point where their lamp was no longer burning, but the 5 wise virgins continually replenished the oil. Their light was continually burning. They were doing what God commanded, and I hope all of us are continually mindful of the eternal light that God wants and expects us to keep burning continually. He'll provide, but we have to make the effort to keep that lamp burning.
You know, for seven days of the Feast, the opening night before the Feast, and the Sabbath before for nine days and 10 when we count tomorrow, I hope you've seen God's light burning brightly here at this Feast in Steamboat Springs. You know, even if you've done nothing in your room privately in Bible study, you've done the things, and we have seen the things that have helped this Feast become an inspiration to all of us. Everyday, I hope you've been at services. Everyday you've had the Bible open in your laps and you've heard messages from it and you've been reading from it. That's helped your attitude. That's helped your joy. That's what we need to do when we go home after tomorrow and we go back into the world.
Don't let days go by. Don't let the light go out. Don't let the oil diminish. Keep reading. Keep studying. Keep looking into the Bible. That's what feeds us. That's what motivates us. That's God's Word coming into our minds. Fill your minds with it. I hope we've all been praying every single service. There's been an opening and closing prayer. We've been in God's presence. We ask Him to guide us and direct us. For 10 days after tomorrow, in a row, you will have heard that. Keep doing it. Keep doing it. Don't let a day go by without praying to God. Keep that oil burning. Keep it fair. Keep your contact with God and grow that relationship with Him.
There's another thing we've been doing for the last nine days, if I may say that now and 10 days after tomorrow, we've been in God's presence every single one of those days. We've been with each other every single one of those days, and it's been great, hasn't it? It's been wonderful seeing everyone. It's been wonderful getting to know each other. It's been wonderful just being in the room with each other. You've all been an inspiration to me. I tell my congregations, "You're an inspiration to me. I love the Sabbath. I love the Sabbath because we can be all together." And I go home sometimes very, very, very tired on Sabbath, but it's the best day of the week because the people are together. I enjoy the fellowship. They enjoy the fellowship.
Being with God's people provides that oil. It should provide that inspiration, that motivation. There's a reason that God said in Hebrews 10:24-25 Hebrews 10:24-25  And let us consider one another to provoke to love and to good works:
 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as you see the day approaching.
American King James Version×, "Don't forsake the assembling of yourselves together as is the manner of some." Don't go back and forsake the assembling of yourselves together. It's part of the elements of keeping that fire burning. Keep it burning bright. Make yourself, make the choices to be at Sabbath services when you can. I'm not talking about when you're sick, and I know there's other factors sometimes. Be there, be there and let God light that fire in you. Do the study. Do the prayer. Do the fasting. Be with each other. The fellowship is very, very important.
1 John 1, 1 John 1, 1 John 1:7 1 John 1:7But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleans us from all sin.
American King James Version×, apostle John, who walked with Christ for three and a half years, who kept his charge right to the end until he died long after the other apostles did, the apostle John, who charged the people in 2 and 3 John hold to what you were taught from the beginning. Don't let others take you astray. Hold on to the truth. He said in verse 7, "If we walk in the light, as Christ is in the light,” as we follow His example, as we thirst after Him, as we thirst after righteousness, as we thirst after His kingdom, “if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another,” God's not calling lone wolves.
He's calling family. He's calling people who learn to love one another, who learn to practice the same agape love that He showed so perfectly when He was on earth. “If we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.” Don't forsake that, keep the light burning.
In Revelation 1:12 Revelation 1:12And I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks;
American King James Version×, in the temple, there were those 7 lampstands. The people were commanded to bring the oil and keep that light burning continually. Five of the virgins didn't have enough oil. Don't let anyone, anyone in this room, or I pray none of the people that God has called would ever let that happen to them, that they wouldn't go back home and let the world and Satan take them away from what God has showed us. Here in Revelation 1:12 Revelation 1:12And I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks;
American King James Version×we see 7 lampstands again.
"I saw when I turned," John writes, "to see the voice who spoke with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man," excuse me, "One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band. His head and hair were like white wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire; His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters; He had in His right hand seven stars, out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was like the sun shining in His strength." He was walking among the seven churches of God. Those lampstands as you read in Revelation 2:3 Revelation 2:3And have borne, and have patience, and for my name's sake have labored, and have not fainted.
American King James Version×.
Jesus Christ is here. Jesus Christ has wanted His people and His desire like God the Father is that we all repent and be in the Kingdom. He wants to give eternal life, but we have to be ready. We have to be making the choices along our lives to do everything that God tells us to do in the Bible, that includes cleansing our minds, making the choices to follow Him and not allowing the influence of this world to permeate us, that includes preparing our hearts and getting ourselves ready, and that includes fellowship with one another and fellowship with God to keep that ember burning bright. Let's all make the choice from here on out to be ready, be ready as Christ commanded us to be ready.