feast: Loving God's Law: The Thread of Reality
David F. Maas
Given 30-Sep-15; Sermon #FT15-03A; 34 minutes
The metaphor of a fence providing navigation through the storm could be applied to God's Holy Law - the Torah, referring not only to the Pentateuch or the Ten Commandments, but to the entire instruction and counsel of God, which Psalm 119 alternately refers to as God's precepts, statutes, commandments, judgments, ordinances, testimonies, and words. God the Father considered His Holy and Spiritual Law so important that He sent His Son to pay for the penalties we have accrued against it, giving us also a model as to how to keep the Law, giving us His Holy Spirit, thereby providing us with the power to keep it in the letter (showing us the boundaries and the safe zones) and the Spirit, (leading to spiritual growth and the development of godly character.) As God's Holy Spirit (which the late Herbert W. Armstrong referred to as God's Holy Law in action) displaces our carnality, we receive and develop the DNA of our new, emergent spiritual bodies.
I would like you to turn to a number of familiar related scriptures converging on a single motif or pattern.
Psalm 119:105 (AMP)Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
Psalm 119:165 (AMP) Those who love Your law have great peace; nothing makes them stumble.
Proverbs 3:6 (AMP) In all your ways know and acknowledge and recognize Him, and He will make your paths straight and smooth [removing obstacles that block your way].
Before I give you the SPS, I need to tweak a few metaphors to develop the subject.
Back on September 21, 2013, David Grabbe gave a message titled “Beware the Second Flood” in which he compared the image of water spewing from Satan’s mouth in Revelation 12:15 to a flood of irrelevant and useless information found on the Internet and other social media, attempting to drown out God’s truth. Let me read to you this reference:
Revelation 12:15 (AMP) And the serpent hurled water like a river out of his mouth after the woman, so that he might cause her to be swept away with the flood.
I would like to slightly tweak this image, using another terrifying form of precipitation known by a great number of you living in the Great Plains and the Intermountain West—namely a blizzard of dazzling white snow. Ole Rolvaag, in his novel Giants in the Earth (a work which uses many biblical allusions), concludes his book with the haunting image of the protagonist Per Hansa, a Norwegian immigrant, freezing to death in a ferocious South Dakota blizzard. My late father, about a year before he died, was struggling with a book manuscript called “The Thread of Reality.” Often he would relate to my brothers and me some advice his father gave him back on the farm near Walnut Grove, Minnesota. Grandpa Frank Maas warned my father and Uncle Art, “If you are out in the field and a ferocious blizzard overtakes you, don’t ever try to drive the tractor through the blinding blizzard back to the farmyard, but drive to the fence, get off the tractor, grab ahold of the wire fence, and follow it around the perimeter of the farm until you come to the grove and the lights of the house.”
For the past four years, my brothers and I have speculated as to the meaning of the metaphor of the fence leading through the snowstorm. I am grateful to my physical father and grandfather for this compelling metaphor. But I am more grateful to my heavenly Father for gradually providing an insight as to what this metaphor could mean.
The fence leading through the blizzard—the thread of reality—could refer to God’s holy spiritual law, the Torah, referring not only to the Pentateuch or the Ten Commandments, but the entire instruction and counsel of God, which Psalm 119 alternately refers to as God’s precepts, statutes, commandments, judgments, ordinances, testimonies, and words. God the Father considered His holy and spiritual law so important that He sent His Son to pay for the penalties we have accrued against it, giving us also a model as to how to keep the law, giving us His Holy Spirit providing us with the power to keep it in the letter (showing us the boundaries and the safe zones) and the spirit, leading to spiritual growth and the development of godly character. As God’s Holy Spirit (which the late Herbert W. Armstrong referred to as God’s holy law in action) displaces our carnality, we receive the DNA of our new spiritual bodies at our resurrection.
The metaphor of the blizzard, like the metaphor of the flood of water from Satan’s mouth in Revelation 12:15, like the cyclonic winds of false doctrines described in Ephesians 4:14, are all terrifying storm fronts generated by the prince of the power of the air for the purpose of confusing and disorienting us, blurring distinctions between right and wrong, sacred and profane, and pure and defiled, the deception Jesus warned His disciples to prepare for before the end of the age.
Many of us were called during the tenure of Herbert W. Armstrong whose voice thundered continually over the airwaves, “The law is spiritual,” the “law is holy” (referring to Romans 7:12-14) and “You don’t break God’s law; God’s law will break you,” and “God will not budge an inch when it comes to sin.” Tragically, five of our Supreme Court Justices have not yet discovered those eternal principles, and have brought the offspring of Jacob under a horrendous curse from Almighty God. All of the problems in the world are caused by breaking God’s laws.
Romans 1:19-25 Because that which is known about God is evident within them [in their inner consciousness], for God made it evident to them. For ever since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through His workmanship [all His creation, the wonderful things that He has made], so that they [who fail to believe and trust in Him] are without excuse and without defense. For even though they knew God [as the Creator], they did not honor Him as God or give thanks [for His wondrous creation]. On the contrary, they became worthless in their thinking [godless, with pointless reasoning, and silly speculations], and their foolish heart was darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory and majesty and excellence of the immortal God for an image [worthless idols] in the shape of mortal man and birds and four-footed animals and reptiles. Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their own hearts to [sexual] impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them [abandoning them to the degrading power of sin], because [by choice] they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.
God made all law from the laws of aerodynamics, thermodynamics, the laws of music, regulating tempo, pitch, dynamics, and rhythm, and the laws of nuclear physics (fusion and fission reactions). Though God gave us the spirit in man to serve as a kind of preview of what God’s creative power could do, we human beings did not invent or make law; we only discovered the existing eternal principles which God had already created, principles to which we must conform. We remember the teaching in Proverbs 25:2 that “it is the glory of God to conceal a matter, but the glory of kings is to search out a matter.”
We human beings observe the cycles of nature, the flora and fauna, the ocean and air currents, the weather and climate patterns, continually finding analogues to improve our technology. When we do this, we should remember Betty Hutton’s lyrics in Annie Get your Gun, “Anything you can do I can do better”—changing it to “Anything we can do God can do better.”
From the sphere of thermodynamics, no man made air-conditioning system has improved upon tree shade and a pleasant breeze from air currents. I live in Simi Valley, California. Simi is a Chumash word meaning windy, referring to the continuous breeze that envelops the valley from west to east, gently blowing down the Calleguas Creek Watershed. This entire year, I have, Monday through Friday, walked a two mile circuit on a bicycle path along both sides of Arroyo Simi. When the temperatures reached into the 90’s, I discovered if I would stick to the walkway along the Calleguas wash, walking from pools of shade to pools of shade, I felt more comfortable than I would in a building with the air-conditioner running full tilt.
Mankind, with all its advanced technological advances, are hopeless amateurs when it comes to duplicating what God has already done. Scientific discoveries occur only when humans analyze (breaking apart) eternal principles which Almighty God had established from the foundation of the earth. Consider the sobering implications of Proverbs 16:11.
Proverbs 16:11 (AMP) A just balance and [honest] scales are the Lord’s; all the weights of the bag are His concern [established by His eternal principles].
We further learn in Proverbs 11:1 and Proverbs 20:10 that God detests false weights and measures of any kind, reflecting the command given in Leviticus 19.
Leviticus 19:35-36 You shall do no wrong in judgment, in measurement of weight or quantity.You shall have just and accurate balances, just weights, a just ephah, and a just hin. I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt.
Whether we call a measurement a shekel, dollar, ruble, gallon, liter, kilometer, mile, meter, yard, or cubit, all of those terms were derived from eternal principles and laws established well before the foundations of the earth.
The public revelation of God’s holy laws referred to in Romans 1:19 and Psalm 19 have always been available to individuals not yet called by God. Deists such as Thomas Paine and Benjamin Franklin readily embraced the evidence of perfect immutable laws and order throughout the universe. As a matter of fact, Herbert W. Armstrong in his booklet, “Does God Exist?” borrowed Thomas Paine’s metaphor of the watch found in the field substantiating the existence of a Creator from the existence of an intricate, interdependent mechanism.
We human beings are so proud of our Internet and social media, failing to realize, in the shrewd observation of Rabbi Jusef Mizraki, that with 10 trillion connections in an average human apple-size brain the dumbest moron in the world has a system of intricate connections far more extensive than all the Internet connections on the entire worldwide web. With this apple-sized brain, human beings are able to do things that no other created being can do. I am talking about monkeys, dogs, cats, and sheep and every other living creature on this planet.
I would like to focus on one specific human skill which is God-like and that is the capacity to use language to bind time—giving us the ability to delve into the collective experience of the past and to thoughtfully plan for the future. Language has always been a thorn in the side for evolutionists because instead of evolving from simple to complex, language erodes complex patterns and devolves into far simpler patterns. One of the best examples of this phenomenon happened in 878 AD when the Treaty of Wedmore was signed, separating the Saxons and the invading Danes. For the next several hundred years, as the Saxons and Danes, refusing to stay on their side of the fence, fraternized and intermarried, the troublesome declensions, case endings, and grammatical gender—a major burden in learning every other Indo-European language—were sandpapered away, making the complicated pesky grammatical gender a non-issue in the emerging English language.
Ecclesiastes 3:11 (AMP) He has made everything beautiful and appropriate in its time. He has also planted eternity [a sense of divine purpose] in the human heart [a mysterious longing which nothing under the sun can satisfy, except God]—yet man cannot find out [comprehend, grasp] what God has done (His overall plan) from the beginning to the end.
Linguist Noam Chomsky (a man whose political views and his penchant for social agitation I do not share) has presented to linguistic science some profound insights. Chomsky clashes with the evolutionary hypothesis, claiming that language and grammar are an innate part of the human brain, not something which has been learned or developed. Language is a law-governed capability every human being has.
Chomsky has declared that a human being can already perform an activity that can go on for eternity—something no other earthly creature can do. All of the world’s grammars, according to Chomsky, share the same formula in their deep structure: S = NP + VP (Sentence = Noun Phrase + Verb Phrase). Both the noun phrase and verb phrase can be expanded infinitely by recursive elements such as embedded phrases and clauses. For example, in the sentence: “Otto Von Boom Boom died.” the noun phrase is “Otto von Boom Boom” and the verb phrase is “died.” We could expand the noun phrase:
Otto Von Boom, the Count of Pottsylvania
Otto Von Boom Boom, the Count of Pottsylvania, who lost the war with the Prussians in the bitter winter of 1799, under the bridge of Waterloo, thirteen hundred miles from Vladivostok in the steppes of Central Asia.
The verb phrase can also be expanded infinitely:
By using the recursive tools in our grammatical toolboxes (participles, prepositional phrases, relative clauses, appositives), we can generate a sentence which will go on for eternity—something only someone made in God’s image can do.
Have you noticed that all scientific laws can be boiled down to a simple formula that can be expanded infinitely such as E=MC2? God’s holy Torah has the same compactness and the same expansiveness. When Jesus Christ was asked to identify the greatest commandment in the law (the incident recorded in both Matthew 22:36-40 and Mark 12: 28-31), He replied with the most quoted portion of Deuteronomy, the Shema:
Deuteronomy 6:4-6 [Shema, Yisroel Adonai Eluhenu, Adonai Echad.]“Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one [the only God]! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and mind and with all your soul and with all your strength [your entire being]. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be [written] on your heart and mind.
Jesus explained in Matthew 22,
Matthew 22:38-40 This is the first and greatest commandment.The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself [that is, unselfishly seek the best or higher good for others].’ The whole Law and the [writings of the] Prophets depend on these two commandments.”
God’s laws are compact, as well as infinitely recursive, derived from eternal principles that apply to every conceivable situation in life. Man’s laws, by contrast, are obtuse and complicated, creating a hatred for law. Man’s laws are more numerous than God’s—more petty, more annoying. We have to remember that when the overlying principle is ignored, when the spirit of the law is bypassed, the petty details have to be spelled out for the hopelessly seared of conscience.
The Roman philosopher Tacitus once observed that, “The more corrupt the state, the more numerous the laws.” Consider one of the most recent debacles, the Affordable Health Care Act, passed by the United States Congress. Congressman Louie Gohmert of the Texas 1st Congressional District brought this monstrous, bloated tome, the size of Merriam-Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary, to a town hall meeting in Tyler, Texas. He was one of the few Representatives who actually took time to study it. Nancy Pelosi, on the other hand claimed that Congress had to pass it before we could find out what was in the legislation.
Human laws, including the petty restrictions created by the Pharisees to make God’s holy Torah more relevant to the times, including the disgusting bloated tomes cranked out by a corrupt Congress, including the U.S. Supreme Court’s attempt to make murder (abortion disguised as women’s rights) and sodomy (disguised as a civil right, confounding a disgusting sexual perversion with a skin pigment) the law of the land (the surreptitious executive orders of a President, hell-bent on removing basic liberties), have created in the minds and hearts of much of the citizenry a hatred for all law. As God’s called-out ones, we cannot afford to embrace anarchy or lawlessness—either civil or religious—no matter how grim the alternative may be.
In Acts 5:27-29, we are given marching orders from the apostle Peter that if a criminal man-made law conflicts with God’s law, we are to obey God rather than men. This places some qualifications in our understanding of the apostle Paul’s admonition on Romans 13 to be subject to civic authority.
This message will now take a little bit of a turn. Many will recall Charles Whitaker’s sermon given October 9, 2009, “Been There, Done That,” in which he described the demise of our previous fellowship as a kind of preview of what will occur to the offspring of Jacob for their rejection of God and His law. Both the leaders of America and the WCG have forgotten the exceptionalism of the bodies they lead, and that we were to come out of the world—not immerse ourselves in it. God is different from the world; we should be too.
We need to extract ourselves from the mire rather than compromising, carefully distinguishing the holy from the profane, God's way of life from man’s way of life. The leadership of the WCG has yielded to relativism and humanism, while America’s leaders have embraced multi-culturalism and international collectivism, denying America's exceptionalism. On June 20, 1997, Howard Baker and I had the dubious privilege of teaching the very last classes at Ambassador University. I had mixed feelings about the closure after having served this institution for 23 years. I, of course, was sad to see something we worked so hard for suddenly implode. On the other hand, I cannot say I was surprised.
What destroyed Ambassador College and the Worldwide Church of God was a rejection of God’s standards and replacing it with the relativism of humanistic progressive philosophy. For example, about four months before the college closed, I was a club director for an Ambassador Club. One of the speakers quoted with approval an article from NAMBLA (North American Man/Boy Love Association), a pedophile advocacy group. In my overall evaluation of the speech, I told the speaker that to legitimatize NAMBLA was an abomination in God’s eyes, and it was in poor taste to give it legitimacy. Afterwards, one of the club members came up to me and said, “Dr. Maas, don’t you know that there are several homosexuals in this club and you need to curb your anger and exercise tolerance.”
About the same time, a student wrote an article titled “It’s not your Father’s Ambassador College” as a take-off on the Oldsmobile AD that was current about that time. I have since reflected, “Well, it certainly wasn't God the Father’s Ambassador College, but neither was the parent institution, the WCG.” Last week, I checked the website of the organization that evolved out of our old fellowship. It seems that the leaders of that organization have a greater hatred for the Sabbath than any Roman Catholic, Orthodox, or Protestant publication ever published on that subject. One of the ridiculous arguments offered by their literature is that Sabbath keepers honoring the seventh day Sabbath worship the day. We worship God; God sanctified the day, not us. We cannot make anything holy or sanctified; all we can do is “keep it holy.”
Brother Judah, one of Jacob’s twelve offspring, has appropriated the family name of Israel, and has done so in part because keeping the Sabbath preserved his identity. A popular saying in the Jewish community is, "More than the Jew has kept Shabbat, Shabbat has kept the Jew." The rest of Jacob’s children, except for the Israel of God, have turned their back on God’s Sabbath, including the vast majority of the world’s churches. Consequently, they have lost their identity and life-saving instruction from God.
Please turn over to a familiar scripture which should be in our memory banks:
Exodus 31:13-18 “But as for you, say to the Israelites, ‘You shall most certainly observe My Sabbaths, for it is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, so that you may know [without any doubt] and acknowledge that I am the Lord who sanctifies you and sets you apart [for Myself]. So the Israelites shall observe the Sabbath, to celebrate the Sabbath throughout their generations as a perpetual covenant.’ It is a sign between Me and the Israelites forever; for in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day He ceased and was refreshed.”
This Sabbath covenant is especially binding on the Israel God imbued with the Spirit of God to see it as a blessing. Without God’s Holy Spirit, the carnal, reprobate mind conceives of God’s Sabbath as a severe burden. If everybody on the face of the earth would keep the fourth commandment, we would reap everlasting joy. The late Garner Ted Armstrong used to say on the radio that if humanity would keep just one of God’s commandments—such as the seventh commandment—we would eliminate the need for a government welfare system, and we would eliminate all STDs. As David Hulme once said, AIDS would be the most preventable disease on the earth if God’s laws were kept. There would be no more gang violence or graffiti because families would be intact. Abortions would come to an end because fornication and adultery would cease.
As kings and priests in training, we must learn to embrace God’s holy law, not only embracing but internalizing it, making it an integral part of us. Please turn over to my favorite scriptures in the Bible Hebrews 8:10 and 10:14, both derived from Jeremiah 31:31-34.
Hebrews 8:10 (AMP) “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel After those days, says the Lord: I will imprint My laws upon their minds [even upon their innermost thoughts and understanding], and engrave them upon their hearts [effecting their regeneration]. And I will be their God, and they shall be My people.
Hebrews 10:16 (AMP) “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I will imprint My laws upon their heart, and on their mind I will inscribe them [producing an inward change].”
The first mention of this change in covenant was mentioned in Jeremiah 33.
Jeremiah 31:31-34 “Behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel [the Northern Kingdom] and with the house of Judah [the Southern Kingdom], not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,” says the Lord. “But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” says the Lord, “I will put My law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they will be My people. And each man will no longer teach his neighbor and his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they will all know Me [through personal experience], from the least of them to the greatest,” says the Lord. “For I will forgive their wickedness, and I will no longer remember their sin.”
The thread of reality used to be an external code chiseled on some stone tablets. Now the thread of reality is an inner code which is self-contained and the illumination will come from inside of us—as it currently proceeds from our heavenly Father and our Elder Brother Jesus Christ.
Last month, on a flight on Sun Country Airlines from Minneapolis-St. Paul back to Los Angeles, the flight attendant instructed the passengers that in the event of an emergency, should the external power fail, an internal generator has been programmed to turn on a strip of lights leading us to safety. Similarly, God’s called-out ones have the assurance that in the cyclonic Satanic storms of false doctrine, Internet misinformation, and disinformation, we have only to follow the thread of reality, dwelling internally as God’s Holy Spirit—God’s law in action—and we will be guided to a way of escape or a place of safety.
Just follow our Elder Brother’s lead, holding the fence wire (God’s holy law) around the perimeter of the fields or worldliness until we reach our promised inheritance, the safety of God’s Kingdom.