|Live Services||Your Relationship With God|
|Q&A||How are we to treat our fruit trees during the first five years, and during the Sabbath year, at which time the land is to rest?|
|The Work||Preaching the Gospel & Feeding the Flock|
Your Relationship With God
On Saturday, October 16, 2004, Edwin Pope will be giving the sermon.titled: “Your Relationship With God.”
The services can be heard at www.cognetservices.org at 12:30 pm Pacific Time (which is 2:30 pm Central Time). Just click on Connect to Live Stream.
During the Feast of Tabernacles that we just finished observing, there were many “meaty” messages. One of the themes that emerged during this time was that the Kingdom of God should be the most important priority in our life. We have all heard this at one time or another in our lives, but it was particularly poignant at the feast this year and rightly so.
There is NOTHING that is more critical, outstanding, pressing, essential, pre-eminent, foremost, grave, imperative, prominent, meaningful, momentous, substantial, remarkable, paramount, relevant, serious, crucial, significant, urgent and vital. This is and should be our number one motivation.
When we weigh the differences between a physical temporal life and an eternal spiritual life the latter wins hands down. This life that we are living here and now on this earth cannot be compared with what awaits us as
part of the God Family. What would we do that we might attain such a great reward? What wouldn’t we do?
Spending eternity in the God Family is a gift that God has offered to us if we do as He has commanded. Though it cannot be earned there are still many things He asks of us. These are the things that we are to be doing NOW. Let’s take the spiritual rejuvenation and impetus gained at the feast and refocus our efforts on our first love, the Kingdom of God.
To learn more about these subjects we suggest our booklets: God’s Commanded Holy Days, God is a Family and The Gospel of the Kingdom of God.
This Week in the News
“A Real Ecological Catastrophe”
These are the latest charges against U.S. influence in the world–made by French President Jacques Chirac.
As reported in www.expatica.com, “The outspoken French president warned that the world’s different cultures could be ‘choked’ by US values. This, he said, would lead to a ‘general world sub-culture’ based around the English language, which would be ‘a real ecological catastrophe.’ “
This speech was made in Hanoi, Vietnam–a former French colony. Mr. Chirac insisted that France was correct to stand up for “cultural and linguistic diversity.” The article also noted that among businessmen English is a very valuable and practical second language.
The well-publicized animosity that has emerged between France and America over the U.S. fight against terrorist continues unabated.
85 to 1
www.comcast.net reports that “The United States has refused to join 85 other heads of state and government in signing a statement that endorsed a 10-year-old U.N. plan to ensure every woman’s right to education, health care, and choice about having children.” This Associated Press article continues: “President Bush’s administration withheld its signature because the statement included a reference to ‘sexual rights.’ “
Following up on statements from U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Kelly Ryan, the article noted: “Ryan did not elaborate on the Bush administration’s objections to the phrase ‘sexual rights,’ but at past U.N. meetings U.S. representatives have spoken out against abortion, gay rights and what they see as the promotion of promiscuity by giving condoms to young people to prevent AIDS.”
In explaining the purpose of this current statement which is designed to support the original U.N. plan, we note this comment: “While progress has been made, the statement says the world is facing an exponential increase in HIV/AIDS, a growing gap between rich and poor, persistently high death rates related to pregnancy and childbirth, and inadequate access to family planning services.”
Indeed these are real issues in a world going headlong in rebellion against the laws of God. Fixing these problems will never result from greater and greater rebellion by mankind to the will of God. Unfortunately, we are witnessing the closing stages of a world without God and the marvelous blessings that come from obedience.
The cure to all of these ills is found in the statements of God’s Word–this is the document upon which this world needs to “sign-off”. We encourage those who have not yet done so to carefully study our enlightening booklets explaining in detail the promises of God for a future time of peace and abundant blessings–please look for this material at www.eternalgod.org.
Ten Commandments on Trial
“The Supreme Court said Tuesday it will consider whether the Ten Commandments may be displayed on government property, ending a 25-year silence on a church-state issue that has prompted bitter legal fights around the country” (Rocky Mountain News, Associated Press, 10/13/04).
Ten Commandments displays are found throughout the U.S.–even in the courtroom where the justices will hear arguments in this case! In an ever increasing departure from some of the rudimentary aspects of Biblical influence in America, liberal and non-religious factions are pitted in bitter opposition to the core of citizens who openly espouse a role for religion in their lives.
A report on Comcast’s site and from apnews 10/13/2004 states: “Israel said Wednesday it would severely limit the access of Muslim worshippers to Jerusalem’s holiest site during the holy month of Ramadan, claiming it could collapse. Violence flared overnight as a series of Israeli airstrikes left five Palestinians dead in Gaza.”
The Al Aqsa Mosque compound holds about 250,000 people when filled to capacity. It was the riots in 2000
against Ariel Sharon’s visit to this temple site that has now led to such unrestrained bloodshed in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
We note that the land of Israel, and Jerusalem in particular, will continue to plague world stability. What happens there has sweeping international implications. Biblical prophecy shows that dramatic future events will culminate in a worldwide conflict–all focused on Jerusalem! Note the first 9 verses of Zechariah 12 which also reveal that this end-time event will include the intervention of God in human affairs. It is at this period of time that Jesus Christ will return to establish God’s rule over the entire earth.
A New Evangelization
This headline appeared in www.zenit.org (10/04/2004): “European Bishops Eye Ways to Re-evangelize Continent.” Quoting from this article: “Catholic leaders from 34 European countries have met for the first time in England to discuss the role of Christianity in Europe.”
The significance of this meeting is profound–even from the perspective of its historical reference: “The event–a four-day assembly of the Council of the Bishops’ Conferences of Europe (CCEE) at Hinsley Hall, Leeds–has been the largest gathering of senior Catholic bishops in Britain since the Synod of Whitby in 664, more than 1,300 year ago.”
“In a message to the meeting, John Paul II said he would pray that ‘you will guide your respective peoples to rediscover their common spiritual roots and the enduring wisdom of their Christian heritage.’ “
We find that the main theme, as introduced by Archbishop Jean-Pierre Ricard of Bordeaux, was: “the significance and role of Christianity in Europe today.” The Archbishop also “…pointed out that there are moral toxins which Europe has to fight and reject for the sake of its harmonious development: the slide into secularization, with the phenomena of individualization and mass production; the tendency to consider religion as a hindrance; and the rise of fundamentalism and terrorism.”
One particularly insightful paragraph shows how the role of religion in Europe will soon emerge powerfully to dominate the lives of its citizens: “Three practical engagements were formulated: to strengthen the dialogue with contemporary culture; to look for a closer dialogue with the Islamic communities in Europe, especially in universities; and TO CAMPAIGN FOR THE DEFENSE OF SUNDAY AS A DAY DEDICATED TO GOD” (emphasis added).
As Europe grows more unified, indeed, the Catholic Church will play an ever increasing role. That influence will ultimately spill over the boundaries of Europe itself to capture the attention of the whole world. These events are leading to the fulfillment of Biblical prophecies, and they are setting the stage for shocking changes in the world as we now know it!
How are we to treat our fruit trees during the first five years, and during the Sabbath year, at which time the land is to rest?
Leviticus 19:23-25 prescribes what we are to do with newly planted fruit trees. This law, which is still valid today, states:
“When you come into the land, and HAVE PLANTED all kinds of trees for food, then you shall count their fruit as uncircumcised (or: unclean). Three years it shall be as uncircumcised to you. It shall not be eaten. But in the fourth year all its fruit shall be holy, a praise to the LORD. And in the fifth year you may eat its fruit, that it may yield to you its increase: I am the LORD your God.”
These verses prohibit the consumption of fruit from a NEWLY PLANTED fruit tree for the first three years. The Ryrie Study Bible explains: “When they came to Canaan, they were not to eat fruit from the [newly planted] fruit trees [for a certain number of years].” To abstain from eating the fruit from the newly planted fruit trees for the first three years allows the trees to become established, and what little fruit may be produced during the first three years of a new tree, should be allowed to fall to the ground and to serve as manure or fertilizer. The passage refers to the AGE of the tree — not to the number of years it has borne fruit. We are to begin counting, when the tree is planted or rooted, or when it comes up.
In the fourth year, the fruit is to be used to praise God. In ancient times, the fruits were given to the Levites, together with the tithe. Today, the fruit could be given to the minister, or the equivalent of the wholesale value of the fruit — in the fourth year — should be sent to the Church. (In that case, the individual is of course permitted to eat the fruit during the fourth year). In the fifth year, and all following years, the fruit belongs to the individual — but the individual is of course still obligated to tithe on the increase.
This law only refers to newly planted fruit trees that bear fruit. It does not refer to existing fruit trees, which are older than three or four years. This means, if one plants a three-year old fruit tree, one does not start counting that year as year #1. Rather, it is already year #3. Further, this law does not refer to shrubs, bushes, grapefruits, or olive trees. Those “trees” are described in the Bible as field crops, as they have a different production cycle.
The distinction is shown in the law of gleaning (Leviticus 19:9-10; Deuteronomy 24:19-22). It is also shown in the law of the Sabbath rest (Leviticus 25:3-5; Exodus 23:10-11). Notice carefully that the law of gleaning and the Sabbath rest does NOT refer to fruit trees.
Although some have forgotten this important distinction, it is clearly revealed in Scripture, and it has been the long-standing teaching of the Church.
For further information, how to apply the law of the Sabbath rest today, please read our Q&A on Leviticus 25:1-7, in our Update # 72 (dated December 20, 2002).
A related question was recently asked of us — whether it is within the Biblical injunctions to mow down the hay on our land and to let it lie for green manure, during the Sabbath year. The person asking the question was wondering whether this might violate the principle not to prune our trees for the purpose of producing a better harvest.
Leviticus 25:3-4 instructs us not to sow our field, nor to prune our vineyard during the Sabbath year. (Again, this passage does not refer to fruit trees.) We are also told, in verses 7 and 8, that the Sabbath produce of the land shall be food for us and our livestock and other beasts during the Sabbath year.
While we must replace grain when we mow it down, this is not the case with hay, as hay will grow back the next year. Whether hay is mowed or not, it goes back “as manure” into the ground in either case. To mow hay and let it lie on the ground is not the same as pruning our vineyard (note the distinction in Scripture) and does therefore not fall under that same kind of prohibition.
Preaching the Gospel & Feeding the Flock
The newest booklet, “Jesus Christ – A Great Mystery!,” was distributed to those attending the FOT in both England and the U.S. Also, copies to those on our mailing list have now been sent.
How This Work is Financed
This Update is an official publication by the ministry of the Church of the Eternal God in the United States of America; the Church of God, a Christian Fellowship in Canada; and the Global Church of God in the United Kingdom.
Editorial Team: Norbert Link, Dave Harris, Rene Messier, Brian Gale, Margaret Adair, Johanna Link, Eric Rank, Michael Link, Anna Link, Kalon Mitchell, Manuela Mitchell, Dawn Thompson
Technical Team: Eric Rank, Shana Rank
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