What Difference Does it Make?
Throughout Biblical history we are given many examples of what would seem to be little mistakes that brought about tragic results. Little mistakes that made big differences in people's lives. Eating fruit from one particular tree didn't seem like such a big thing. Yet Adam and Eve learned it was a very big thing, and were driven out of the garden of Eden. David taking a census, or numbering Israel, didn't seem like a big deal. Yet, to the families of the 70,000 men that died because of it, it was a big deal. It didn't seem like a big mistake to Saul when he offered the burnt offering instead of waiting for Samuel to do it, but it cost him his kingdom.
The foundation that God has given to us, and I must say, through Herbert W. Armstrong, is very important. The basic foundation of the Sabbath, the Holy Days and their meaning, repentance, faith, baptisms, laying on of hands, the resurrections, and eternal judgment, should not be changed. Just a small change will necessitate other changes.
One such change is the belief that the wedding will take place on Pentecost. I have not found anywhere in Mr. Armstrong's writings, that he wrote from the 50's on, the teaching of the wedding, or marriage on Pentecost. I have read the Pagan Holidays-or God's Holydays-Which? (1957), and the "Why MARRIAGE!...Soon obsolete? (1968), both written by Mr. Armstrong and nowhere in his explanation of Pentecost does he mention anything about a marriage, or a wedding.
The reason why I am writing this paper is because someone wrote a letter in response to my Bible study about the Marriage. In their letter they said "I have to say, frankly, that I find this particular detail rather unimportant. That's my personal point of view. Being at the wedding? Yes--that's vital; tell me what I have to do to be there. When it takes place? I'm not overly concerned." To a casual observer this sounds very good. We all want to be there, who cares what day it takes place on. God cares!
First of all I would like to say that the idea that the wedding takes place on Atonement is not my idea. I didn't come up with this idea on my own; it's not my "pet idea," it is not "new." This is what I feel I was taught since I came into the fellowship of God's church back in 1965. That is why I considered the teaching of a Pentecost wedding a departure from the foundation.
Satan would like us not to see what this little change in the foundation is doing to God's people. Several different church groups have adopted this belief of a Pentecost marriage, and look at the other changes that have gone along with this teaching.
1) If the marriage is on Pentecost, the resurrection of the saints has to be on Pentecost.
2) If the saints are resurrected on Pentecost, then Jesus has to come on Pentecost.
3) If Jesus comes on Pentecost to gather the saints, where does He keep all these resurrected spirit beings until Trumpets? Why not heaven? And the marriage can take place there, on the sea of glass, before God: "it fits" they say. Sounds like a secret rapture to me.
Look closely at the teachings of the different groups that have accepted this "New Truth" of the marriage being on Pentecost. They are getting farther and farther away from the meaning of the Holy days as we have been taught.
It does make a big difference whether the marriage takes place on Pentecost or not. If we accept this teaching we will eventually be accepting the changes that have to come along with it.
Mr. Armstrong taught us that the resurrection of the saints was at the last trump. The last trump was blown on The Feast of Trumpets. When the last trumpet was blown, that signaled both the return of Jesus Christ and the resurrection of the saints. The resurrected saints were to rise to meet Christ in the air, and at that point we were to accompany Him to the Mount of Olives where a great battle was to take place. During this great battle all the nations of the earth were to be subdued.
That is a thumbnail sketch of Trumpets. According to Mr. Armstrong, and the Bible, the next thing to happen is the Feast of Atonement. It is this day that pictures the binding of Satan and the resurrected saints becoming At-One-with Christ; the Lord; the Son of God.
The belief that the wedding is on Atonement is not some "New Truth". We have all been taught that a marriage is not a marriage until it is consummated. The Bible clearly says that a man and woman are married when they become one flesh, when they are joined together. We are to be joined together and become one spirit with Christ.
When can this take place? Lets read what Mr. Armstrong says in his booklet "Why MARRIAGE! ...soon obsolete?" page 39.
"When will Christ present the Church to Himself? Jesus has already been BORN the divine Son of God by the resurrection. He is very God, upholding, sustaining, the entire universe by the word of his Power (Heb. 1:4). He has been GLORIFIED! He is the firstborn of many brethren (Rom. 8:29). We who are begotten of God, now heirs of God, are to be GLORIFIED with Him (Rom. 8:17)--made like His GLORIFIED body (Phil. 3:21).
"He will present the Church to Himself a GLORIOUS Church -- when it has been Glorified -- changed from matter to spirit -- from human to divine.
"And when shall that be? At His Coming as the King of kings and Lord of lords, to re-establish the GOVERNMENT of God over all nations (Rev. 19:11-16). The God-FAMILY--the God KINGDOM--will RULE and GOVERN all nations!
"That will occur at the time described in the prophecy of the Revelation as "the last trump." "And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven saying, 'The kingdoms of this world are become the Kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ; and He shall reign for ever and ever'" (Rev. 11:15).
" Again, "And I heard as it were the voice ... saying 'Alleluja: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth. Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to Him: for the MARRIAGE OF THE LAMB IS COME, and HIS WIFE hath made herself ready."
Pentecost isn't even mentioned at all. There are some vague references in the old correspondence course, which Mr. Armstrong didn't write, about marriage.
Let's look at the foundation God gave us through Mr. Armstrong in the booklet Pagan Holidays-or God's Holydays-Which? (1957). Beginning on page 22, in the first column, 5th paragraph,
"The Devil is the real AUTHOR of all sin. Can we, then, be finally made AT ONE with God, as long as this instigator of sin is with us? Can we not see he must first be DRIVEN AWAY?"
Mr. Armstrong shows we cannot be made one or become AT ONE with God until Satan is cast out.
Page 22, second column, second paragraph,
"Satan is the ACCUSER of the brethren. His power over men is founded on SIN. When all these sins, of which he is the author, are laid back on him, after being removed from US by CHRIST, then Satan shall have lost his claim on us. And NO LONGER can he accuse us!"
"Thus, finally, as the acceptance of the blood of the first goat (Christ) symbolized complete propitiation, and PARDON of Israel's sins, so the sending of Azazel bearing AWAY those expiated sins symbolizes the complete REMOVAL OF ALL SINS--deliverance by THE ATONEMENT from the power of the adversary."
"The sacrifice of the first innocent victim was the MEANS of reconciliation with God, but not yet complete justice."
"The driving away of the second live goat shows the FINAL ATONEMENT, by placing the sins on their author where they belong, and the complete REMOVAL of the sins and their author from the presence of God and His people--and thus the COMPLETE DELIVERANCE of the people from the POWER OF SATAN."
"Webster says to ATONE means to SET AT ONE. TO JOIN in ONE--to FORM by UNITING. We shall not be completely joined IN ONE, and UNITED with God, until this is done."
We need to remember that God's whole plan of salvation is pictured in the Holy Days. The plan begins with Passover, and ends with the Last Great Day. It was often expressed that we are between Pentecost and drawing close to Trumpets and the return of Jesus Christ. Pentecost pictured the beginning of the first fruits harvest, the giving of the Holy Spirit. That harvest of the first fruits has been going on since 31 AD. God the Father is about to send Jesus to gather His first fruits for a wedding that will not take place until Satan is cast out.
Again, I would like to say, the belief that the wedding is on Atonement is not "New Truth" to me. I always understood that becoming at one with God meant the consummation of the marriage.
It does make a big difference which day we believe the marriage takes place on. If you believe the marriage takes place on Pentecost then you are going to have to accept other changes that will move you off of the foundation. Please, don't be deceived by people who start by telling you they teach what Mr. Armstrong taught and then slowly begin to tell you "well Mr. Armstrong didn't understand this".
Be careful of anyone who tells you that they are not overly concerned with what day, and that they find it unimportant whether it occurs on Atonement or Pentecost. Look at Biblical history as to what happens to those who feel this way. Little mistakes can have tragic consequences. Prove all things. Study the foundation.
Bill and Cheryl Nichols