Thursday, April 16, 2009

Zechariah 14, FOT and Second Tithe

Awhile ago I ran into this Ambassador Watch post. There it was written that 'Yes it's Sukkoth (sue-coat), a.k.a. the Feast of Tabernacles or Booths. Not that anyone in the post-WCG tradition constructs booths from branches, or even sets up a bunk bed in the garden shed, but that's another issue.' These words got my mind on a track of thought which I will now detail.

Here is what I thought:

Zechariah 14: 16-19 is often used to say that the Feast of Tabernacles is to be observed by Christians today.

According to Armstrongite interpretation this shows that those living in the Millennial rule of Christ must observe the Feast of Tabernacles.

But there are actually severe problems with this interpretation for Armstrongites.

Let's be really generous and assume the Armstrongites have got most of it right in this matter of the interpretation of Zechariah 14: 16-19. Let us, for the sake of argument, assume that this scripture actually does refer to events after Christ's return and that those verses are an accurate depiction of what shall happen in the Millenium as it is interptreted by Armstrongism.

Even if we assume all those points to be true, Zechariah 14: 16-19 still cannot be legitimately used to prove that we should embrace Armstrongism or that Armstrongism is the one true religion.


Because the Armstrongite Feast of Tabernacles is all wrong.

Observe how it was observed in Nehemiah 8: 14-17:
14 And they found written in the law which the LORD had commanded by Moses, that the children of Israel should dwell in booths in the feast of the seventh month: 15 And that they should publish and proclaim in all their cities, and in Jerusalem, saying, Go forth unto the mount, and fetch olive branches, and pine branches, and myrtle branches, and palm branches, and branches of thick trees, to make booths, as it is written. 16 So the people went forth, and brought them, and made themselves booths, every one upon the roof of his house, and in their courts, and in the courts of the house of God, and in the street of the water gate, and in the street of the gate of Ephraim. 17 And all the congregation of them that were come again out of the captivity made booths, and sat under the booths: for since the days of Joshua the son of Nun unto that day had not the children of Israel done so. And there was very great gladness.
This scripture shows that the booths which the children of Israel were required to dwell in were tents which were small enough to be placed on a flat roof. These booths were placed on each individual person's roof.

When I read the recruitment writings LCG made and I learned about the Feast of Tabernacles I read about it in the Bible. I perceived then that it should be observed by being in a tent in the appointed time.

But the COGs do not observe it in that manner. Instead they observe by coming together into large gatherings all over the world. They do not set up tents on their property. (Of course because we do no use flat roofs we would have to place the booth in our property.) This is not what is described 'in your own Bible' in Nehemiah 8: 14-17.

Also note how the Jews celebrate Sukkoth. Look at the Wikipedia articles on Sukkot and Sukkah. Look at the pictures. The Jews certainly do not observe this festival by gathering themselves together in some massive gathering far away to meet with like-minded people but, rather, observe it in their own homes.

Since Armstrongism observes this feast in an inaccurate manner therefore they cannot legitimately claim this as a proof that they are right. Therefore their Feasts of Tabernacles are inaccurate.

Since the Armstrongite FOT is illegitimate than Second Tithe, which is mainly used (if I understand it correctly) to allow the believer to observe this incorrectly observed festival, is thus being used for improper purposes.

As far as I understand it HWA first ordered his followers to pay Second Tithe in a October 3, 1945 co-worker letter, specifically to pay for the members' participation in the FOT.

Since Second Tithe is being used to celebrate the FOT in an inaccurate manner therefore the COGs have no right to use Second Tithe to pay for the incorrect observance of FOT. The Armstrongite practice contradict the Biblical practice as recorded in Nehemiah 8: 14-17.

So if the Armstrongite FOT is inaccurately observed then there is no legitimate reason to use Zechariah 14: 16-19 as a proof text for their observance of FOT because their practice of it is inaccurate.

However if the 'Apostle' HWA chose to observe the FOT in a more scripturally based manner, with his followers building a sukkah at home, he would have found it impossible to solidify his followers and bind them even more under his control. How do you build up an identity, a shared consciousness among fellow believers, by having everyone celebrating in tents in their own homes for eight days?

So he chose an observance style more effective for his purposes of further solidifying his control over his followers. He did this by commanding them to come together, meet many other fellow believers, make them feel part of something greater than themselves. Also HWA and his minions could make the members to listen only to what HWA and the leadership desired. Create milieu control,which is one of Lifton's Eight Criteria of Thought Reform.

And so the inaccurately observed FOT is used as convenient mind control method and used to justify the acquisition of Second Tithe.

And so one can see that there are many problems with using Zechariah 14: 16-19 as a proof that Armstrongism is the true religion because the Bible shows that they do not observe it properly. And furthermore once the Armstrongite understanding of the observance of the FOT is rejected this also removes the purpose for Second Tithe. So it is seen that error builds upon error.

Also relevant to this discussion is this testimony that argues that the FOT is a mind control trick and this article under the heading 'All Will Keep the Feast (Zechariah 14)' which argues that during the future Millenium it will be required to observe the FOT but that under the New Covenant observance of the FOT is not required.

And so that was the train of thought my Biblically-derived, non-Armstronite expectations of the FOT and that comment on Ambassador Watch led me to think concerning Zechariah 14 and the Feast of Tabernacles.


  1. Interesting, but not terribly logical.

    You say re Zechariah 14: 16-19.

    “But there are actually severe problems with this interpretation for Armstrongites.”

    ‘Armstrongites’ or not, is beside the point. It is pretty clear that this is talking of the time after Christ has returned.

    The problems are only there if you are of the opinion that the Holy Days’ are ‘done away’. In that case, I can see, it would give a problem, because you would then need to consider why Christ is introducing them again.

    The question of if WCG kept the feast correctly or not really has no relevance to this scripture in Zechariah.

    The situation is different in today’s society. In Israel, in theory, everyone would be building their booths – all the neighbours would be participating, it would be a community thing.

    You seem to suggest that today each Christian who wanted to keep this feast should sit in isolation in their booth, in their own property, having no contact with others of ‘likemind’. This might cause some amusement for their immediate neighbours, but doesn’t seem to be very useful otherwise.

  2. "Useful" or not, read the law. "Likemind" doesn't even factor.

    (EXO. 23: 14) Three times you shall keep a feast to Me in the year
    (EXO. 23: 17) Three times in the year all your males shall appear before the Lord GOD
    (EXO. 34: 24) Three times in the year all your men shall appear before the Lord, the LORD God of Israel
    EXO. 34: 25) ...appear before the LORD your God three times in the year

    These are just some examples, read all of DEU. 16. Rooftop or no, it's three times, not one.
    And to where should one go these three times? Over and again it says:

    (DEU. 12: 5) But you shall seek the place where the LORD your God chooses, out of all your tribes, to put His name for His dwelling place; and there you shall go.

    One place. Only one. Not many, not several sites, not where you choose, not where the best attractions are, not any place their Festival pamphlet offers, not on any hill or under any green tree as is done today.

    And where do we know that one place to be? Wisconsin Dells? No. Jerusalem. That is the where the Old Testament places it (since we are discussing Old Testament law). No excuses about how impossible it is in this day or how times have changed. That is the law -- a law HWA did not keep.

    Hasn't anyone read what Moses, Paul, and James have said?
    (JAS. 2: 10) For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all.
    (GAL. 3: 10) For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.”
    (DEU. 27: 26) ‘Cursed is the one who does not confirm all the words of this law by observing them.’ “And all the people shall say, ‘Amen!’”

    Straining out the gnat of rooftop to swallow the camel of utterly trampling the law is what I find illogical.

  3. Hi RedFox,

    Good post!
    I don't mean to be a pest, but I was hoping this link would be of some help to your readers. I had three articles that touched near to this subject you are discussing.

    Tabernacles Articles

  4. xHWA said... “No excuses about how impossible it is in this day or how times have changed.” I see……..

    Maybe I have got it wrong, but I have always taken it that God is realistic – that he doesn’t set a task that is impossible to achieve.

    So you feel that the ONLY way the feast came be kept is to travel to one place – Jerusalem. So everyone that believes they should keep the Feast must travel to Jerusalem? (and apparently also build a temporally dwelling in their own property at the same time!!!).

    Following on –in the Millennium every single individual in the entire world must travel to Jerusalem for the feast? Billions of them?

    And you say ‘Straining out the gnat of rooftop to swallow the camel of utterly trampling the law is what I find illogical.”

    Sometimes I just have to sit down and scratch my head.

  5. First of all I would just like to say, thank you, QuesterUK, for speaking your mind. Your comment deserves a response but I will say you probably will not like it.

    "The problems are only there if you are of the opinion that the Holy Days’ are ‘done away’."

    To burrow Kelly Marshall's argument, (which everyone involved in COGs or thinking of getting involved should read) if these Holy Days were required for Christians today why is it that when Paul was discussing which days to observe, he did not insist that they observe FOT and such, but rather said "One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it." (Romans 14: 5-6).

    HWA said that FOT was not an option and Paul, a real and undisputed Apostle, said no such thing. Just because they are required then in the Millennium do not mean that we are required to observe such things now. Otherwise the New Testament would have made it clear that we are required to observe such things rather than saying stuff as the previously quoted scripture.

    Are we supposed to believe that God is only working through Christians that observe FOT today? The only ones I know who are even trying are the COGs and they observe in a manner totally contrary to scripture and thus their observance is no less scriptural than the "pagan" Christmas or Easter or anything else they condemn.

    It is, I am sorry to say, impossible for God to be working exclusively through the COGs because so much of their doctrines are stolen (by HWA) from others and are severely flawed.

    "You seem to suggest that today each Christian who wanted to keep this feast should sit in isolation in their booth, in their own property, having no contact with others of ‘likemind’."

    I recognize that that is not an ideal situation, but for many COG people this is the situation they would face if they were trying to observe it in a more Biblical manner. The manner they do observe it in has no scriptural support and thus cannot be used to establish the COGs as the true religion.

    This was not a problem for the Israelites when they first observed it as all observed it together. This also is not a problem for the Jews today as they are following a well established tradition they learned from their forefathers.

    Such is not the case with COG people. They are often hopelessly isolated from one another. In many cases they have to learn for themselves how to observe FOT in such a manner.

    These severe problems cannot in any way justify or excuse the totally unscriptural manner which the COGs have chosen to observe these days which they will have to simply give up in the Millenium.

    "The question of if WCG kept the feast correctly or not really has no relevance to this scripture in Zechariah."

    Maybe with the Scripture, but this question, I feel, has huge implications for the COGs. If their observance is improper then they cannot use their observance to claim to be 'pioneeres of the future'

    My former cultmeister Merdith wrote in his Holy Day booklet the following: "Why not become a spiritual "pioneer" and help blaze the trail for the BILLIONS of others who will come to this understanding soon after Christ’s return?" Because the COGs observe FOT incorrectly this assertion cannot be legitimately made.

    First of all, as shown before in Kelly Marshall's work, the New Testament gives no requirement for Christians today to observe such things so this is terribly flawed logic which does not reflect the mind of God as revealed in Scripture.

    Now we can be sure the people of the Millenium would observe FOT properly. But observing FOT the incorrect Armstrongite way is not being a pioneer of the Millennial life but rather simply following a way of error that they will have to give up once the Millennium starts. The same way COG people think "the world", which is looked down at with such scorn by COG people, will have to give up Christmas, Easter and Birthdays at that time. Those observing FOT incorrectly are in the same boat with the rest of the world in indulging in practices that will have to be given up in the Millennium.

    So there is no need to observe FOT HWA's way.

    And to xHWA, thank you for providing those links. They will give people more information to understand the facts concerning FOT.

  6. And also, as my post pointed out, since FOT is observed wrongly, this has grave implications for Second Tithe since, if I understand correctly, it is mainly used so believers may attend the unscriptural observance of FOT.

  7. Quest,

    Perhaps my comment to you sounded a bit... impatient. And for that I apologize. I tried hard to word it so it didn't sound like that. Please overlook my bluntness.

    You ask if I feel the only place for the three festivals to be kept is in Jerusalem. What I feel is something I can only describe as a New Covenant understanding. That's the reason I stressed the phrase "Old Testament" earlier. But good question.
    Now, indeed the only place where you will find instruction on how to keep the three pilgrimage festivals is in the OT. So, since you, RedFox, and I were all talking about the OT, I described to you exactly what the OT says. And if we are to say "the law", we can't say "the law! just not THAT law." Those instructions from the OT are either valid, or they are not. There is no middle ground in the law; as we all know the law has no mercy written into it.
    (God may care about what's realistic, but the law does not. That's why He sent His Son. But this tangent is for another discussion entirely.)

    I thought the wording to this point was necessary to answer your question. But to really answer, I ask you humbly as a favor to please read what I wrote on my blog, since I cannot possibly do it justice in one comment. Just follow the link in my comment above and read "Three Times in the Year" parts 1 and 2.

    Basically, in extreme summary, I do not believe Jerusalem was ever the focus, but rather the temple -- which so happened to be in Jerusalem at that time. But it is no longer there.

    As one last point, it is my firm belief that if you wish to keep the FOT, then be fully convinced -- just like RedFox said in his last comment. But never judge or condemn another for not keeping it, or set yourself up because you do keep it. I don't say that you do this, I just mention it because I know so many who do. You may be one, you may not. If not, great! I can't praise you enough for that. If so, please consider that when you do look down on another for the law, or set yourself up for the law, you show that you have set out to keep the law as a strict and binding law (rather than a guideline or some such thing). But with that comes all the curses described by Moses, Paul, and James when you fail. And that, I feel, is why Paul said "you make Christ of no effect", and "you have fallen from grace". I would hate that for anyone. Especially one like yourself who I see as deeply concerned about his relationship with God.

  8. Hi xHWA,

    Thanks for that, but there was no apology needed. I know if I post something and it has the ring of HWA about it, then I am going to get some flack.

    However what am I to do? I am not going to reject something because it happens to be similar to something HWA once said. I’ll reject it because to goes against my reading of the scriptures.

    My reading of scripture tells me I should keep the Feasts. So I feel I am obligated to keep them, or else I would be a hypocrite. If your reading of scriptures tells you that don’t need to keep the Feasts, then I can understand you not keeping them.

    I am not going to judge or condemn you for that, but likewise I hope you are not going to judge or condemn me for my practise of keeping the Feasts.

    I don’t believe that you do intend to do that, however you are quick to point out all the curses that will come on me if I try to keep things such as the Feasts, and fail. But yet Jesus Christ came just for this very reason, not to condemn, but to be able cover the areas where I myself, and every other human being, fail.

  9. "Following on –in the Millennium every single individual in the entire world must travel to Jerusalem for the feast? Billions of them?"

    Behold, that day shall come!
    When all nations shall obey!
    Those of all the nations that are left
    To Jerusalem shall go;
    They shall even go there from year to year, and shall keep the feast of booths;

    Can't deny your own theology, Q.