Temple Institute and HWA: Choose life

Temple Institute entrance
(Photo by Bob Thiel)


The Temple Institute had the following in its latest newsletter as a pre-Feast of Trumpets (which they call Rosh HaShana) message related to choosing life:

“Choose life!”

(Deuteronomy 30:19)

Elul 22, 5780/September 11, 2020

Moshe’s words seem to reflect and draw upon the fateful events that occurred on the very first day of the life of Adam harishon (the first Man), whose birthday we celebrate one week from tonight, on Rosh HaShana, the day of the creation of Man. Moshe directs his words to the children of Israel, who are assembled before him, to prepare them for life after his impending death, but Moshe’s words are every bit as relevant and laden with meaning for us today, as we prepare to say farewell to the Hebrew year of 5780 and ready ourselves for the incoming year of 5781. Moshe, himself, is clearly aware that his words are intended for the ages, as he states, “But not only with you am I making this covenant and this oath, but with those standing here with us today before HaShem, our G-d, and also with those who are not here with us, this day,” (Deuteronomy 29:13-14) “not here with us, this day” being a nod and a wink to future generations.

“Behold, I have set before you today life and good, and death and evil, inasmuch as I command you this day to love HaShem, your G-d, to walk in His ways, and to observe His commandments, His statutes, and His ordinances, so that you will live and increase, and HaShem, your G-d, will bless you in the land to which you are coming to take possession of it. But if your heart deviates and you do not listen, and you will be drawn astray, and you will prostrate yourself to other deities and serve them, I declare to you this day, that you will surely perish, and that you will not live long days on the land, to which you are crossing the Jordan, to come and take possession thereof.” (ibid 30:15-18) Are these words of Moshe not a direct parallel to the words first spoken by G-d to Adam on the day of his creation? “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat. But of the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat of it, for on the day that you eat thereof, you shall surely die.” (Genesis 2:16-17) In essence, G-d was setting before Adam a choice between “life and good, and death and evil.” The choice is yours, Adam, for I, G-d, have endowed you with free will. You may adhere to the one commandment I have set before you, and thereby choose life and good, or you may defy My will and go your own way, the way of death and evil. Choose the first path and Eden is yours forever. Choose the latter and make your way, on your own, in a harsh and hostile world. …

Adam chose the path of the ego – the “I, me, mine” which is an all powerful urge that can carry us to many places in life, but ultimately leaves us alone, naked and hiding from G-d in the bushes. …

 G-d adds, via the words of Moshe, a tip, (a commandment, perhaps?), but most certainly, a heartfelt bit of insider’s advice, to Israel: “I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Choose life!” (ibid 30:19) Today, one week before the start of the year 5781, G-d is talking to us: Choose life!

In a radio broadcast, the late Pastor General of the old Worldwide Church of God, Hebert W. Armstrong, said the following about choosing life:

Now, there are laws, you’re going to have to choose every one of you. Now, if you neglect so great salvation, as God has offered you, you are choosing, you are choosing the wrong way and you are sentencing yourself to death!… the penalty of sin. YOU HAVE TO CHOOSE LIFE… and do it of your own will, voluntarily. Your own volition, your own FREE WILL, or you can never have salvation. No one can talk you into it, no salesman, no preacher… I don’t care how much he loves you, or how much he desires to see you saved, he can’t do it. You know long ago I learned that, and I’ve quit trying to talk people into it, I just preached the truth. I want to tell you, my friends, your whole relationship with God is a private personal relationship between you and God!! Now, I do not say for a minute that we are not influenced by circumstances, I fully understand that God can bring about circumstances that will bring us to a place where we look on things differently and where perhaps we’re going to choose the right way and be willing to do it, but still God doesn’t force you. No, He’s going to force you one way and that’s all and that is to make your own decision?.

Now,… God says in verse nineteen?… well, let’s go back to verse seventeen just a moment first, but if thine heart turn away so that thou wilt not hear — you see God allows us to turn away, He allows us to rebel, when He says, “IF”, — if He was forcing us to be saved, if He was forcing us to obey Him — He couldn’t say, ” if ” you do the other, so that wilt not hear but shalt be drawn away, and worship other gods, and serve them; I denounce unto you this day, that ye shall surely PERISH!

THERE IT IS. You are going to decide what is the outcome of YOUR life and your destiny. Are you going to inherit eternal life as God’s gift? Or are you going to perish? Are you going to die: the wages of sin is death, it isn’t eternal life, the wages of sin is death!
Now God says again in verse nineteen: I CALL HEAVEN AND EARTH TO RECORD THIS DAY AGAINST YOU, THAT I, GOD ALMIGHTY, THE RULER, HAVE SET BEFORE YOU LIFE AND DEATH, BLESSING AND CURSING, THEREFORE CHOOSE… God says, we have to choose and that’s an order. And God’s going to make you choose, and even if you try not to choose and neglect, you are choosing automatically. You’re choosing DEATH, you’re choosing to PERISH. You’re choosing the penalty. But you can choose life, it’s up to you.

Set Before You Life And Death

Now, God is the great ruler; He said here, I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing, therefore CHOOSE life. What does He want us to choose.. life. He even commands you to choose life, but He allows you to disobey. Now, He forces you to choose, He allows you to disobey. I think we better get these words between what God forces and what He allows straighten out — I really had to get it straighten out in my own mind here a little bit, and I want to make it plain to all of you listening in.

Now He wants you to choose life that thou and thy seed may live: that thou mayest love the Lord thy God, and that thou mayest OBEY his voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto him: for he is thy life. Ohhh, I tell you that’s wonderful when you come to see it. You know I’m glad that God has made us, free moral agents, and that God has decreed, with his SOVEREIGN rulership, that we have to make the decision. God will not make it for you, you must make it for yourself.

Now the Kingdom of God is a family, if you choose life my friends, you’ll first be begotten of God and later your going to be born of God.

Yes, God wants all to choose life and to live eternally and abundantly. More on God’s plan can be found in the free online book: The MYSTERY of GOD’s PLAN: Why Did God Create Anything? Why Did God Make You? Which is something Pope Francis’ statements last week show he does not understand (watch the short video: Does Pope Francis misunderstand the purpose for creation? Do you?).

As far as the Jews go, although they call the Feast of Trumpets Rosh HaShana, they admit that was not the biblical name:

“Rosh Hashana, which literally means head of the year” {it was} “not called Rosh Hashanah until Talmudic times” (Kramer, Amy J. Rosh Hashana Origins. Copyright © 1998-1999 Everything Jewish, Inc. http://www.everythingjewish.com/RoshH/RH_origins.htm 9/16/04).

According to current Jewish tradition:

After Rosh Hashanah services, as the congregants leave the synagogue they say to each other … “May you be inscribed in the Book of Life“” (The Jewish Holiday of Rosh Hashanah. High Holy Days on the Net. http://www.holidays.net/highholydays/rosh.htm accessed 9/21/16).

The prevalent practice among Ashkenazi Jews is “L’Shana Tova Ti’kateivu v’Tekhateimu,” “You should be written and sealed for a good year.” This is often shortened to simply “Shana Tova,” “a good year.” This greeting expresses a basic hope we all have on Rosh Hashanah — that we be inscribed in the Book of Life for another good year. Other greeting customs also use the metaphor of the Book of Life to convey the essence of the holiday, but use it in a different way.

Similar to the Ashkenazi custom, Kurdish Jews greet each other with a variation on this theme, saying: “T’kateiv b’sefer chaim tovim,” “You should be written in the book of good life.” Instead of focusing on a “good year,” the Kurdish greeting emphasizes a “good life.”

Rabbi Abraham Danzig, writing in 18th century Vilna, records his Rosh Hashanah greeting as “T’kateiv v’Tekhatem l’alter l’chaim tovim,” “You should be written and sealed immediately for a good life.” Rabbi Danzig references a midrash that tzaddikim, righteous people, are immediately written in the Book of Life. (Peltz M, Rabbi. What is in a Rosh Hashanah greeting? Haaretz, September 17, 2012. http://www.haaretz.com/jewish-world/rabbis-round-table/what-is-in-a-rosh-hashanah-greeting-1.465357 viewed 09/10/14)

Note: The term ‘midrash’ refers to Jewish interpretation of a commentary or scripture.

The Talmud itself essentially concludes that the fact of the three different trumpet blasts in Numbers 10:1-10, represents three books, one of them being the Book of Life. However, it appears that more than three trumpet blasts are mentioned, so somehow they must be consolidating them.

As far as a Jewish interpretation, notice also the following:

Book of Life

I heard the idea that during the High Holidays, God writes one’s name in a book. Where does this concept come from, and how can this concept bring meaning to the holidays for me?

The Aish Rabbi Replies:

The Talmud . . . says that on Rosh Hashana, God inscribes everyone’s name into one of three books. The righteous go into the Book of Life, the evil go into the Book of Death, and those in-between have judgment suspended until Yom Kippur.

In actuality, the vast majority of us are neither totally good nor bad. We’re more like 50/50, so we have a few more days until Yom Kippur to tip the scales. That’s why the Code of Jewish Law recommends going out of our way to do extra mitzvot during this time. …

So to ensure getting into the Book of Life, we need something really dramatic. For example, someone who sincerely chooses to take on Jewish observance has a 1,000-ton weight going for him. The act of coming full circle to Torah is a rare type of decision that can transform you into a different person.

Of course, wherever you’re holding, it’s important to do as much as you can. Don’t gossip, show respect to your parents, eat kosher food. Whatever you can do, add to it. But what we’re really looking for is the mega-ton weights. Look for breakthroughs – the one major decision that can truly change you. (Book of Life. Ask the Rabbi. http://www.aish.com/atr/Book_of_Life.html viewed 09/10/14)

So, basically Jews believe they need to be stricter about laws and traditions (the 613 mitzvots) so they can make it. But that is not what the Bible teaches.

The first biblical allusion to the Book of Life appears to be Exodus 32:32-34:

“Yet now, if You will forgive their sin–but if not, I pray, blot me out of Your book which You have written.”

And the LORD said to Moses, “Whoever has sinned against Me, I will blot him out of My book. Now therefore, go, lead the people to the place of which I have spoken to you. Behold, My Angel shall go before you. Nevertheless, in the day when I visit for punishment, I will visit punishment upon them for their sin.”

Moses knew that he was mentioned in this book. It also appears from the above passage that God is speaking both about a book and a day of punishment.

The apparently same book is mentioned in Psalm 69:27-28 where both concepts are also discussed:

Charge them with crime upon crime; do not let them share in your salvation. May they be blotted out of the book of life and not be listed with the righteous (NIV).

In Malachi 3:16 it states:

16 Then those who feared the LORD spoke to one another, And the LORD listened and heard them; So a book of remembrance was written before Him For those who fear the LORD And who meditate on His name.

These verses show that those that fear the LORD are mentioned in a book, but those that are not righteous are not in it.

Christians who are inscribed in the Book of Life, will be born-again, at the resurrection which occurs with the seventh-trumpet mentioned in the Book of Revelation (watch also Trumpets and Being Born Again).

In Isaiah 27:13 it is written:

So it shall be in that day: The great trumpet will be blown; They will come, who are about to perish in the land of Assyria, And they who are outcasts in the land of Egypt, And shall worship the LORD in the holy mount at Jerusalem.

These passages appear to be referring to the last trumpet-the one signalling the return of Christ and the establishing of the Kingdom of God.

Irrespective of Jewish interpretations, the Feast of Trumpets has major Christian significance.

Now, the Feast of Trumpets runs from sunset September 18th through sunset September 19th in 2020. It is coming soon.

Have you chosen the way of life so that you will observe it?

Some items of possibly related interest may include:

Did Early Christians Observe the Fall Holy Days? The ‘Fall’ Holy Days come every year in September and/or October on the Roman calendar. Some call them Jewish holidays, but they were kept by Jesus, the apostles, and their early faithful followers. Should you keep them? What does the Bible teach? What do records of church history teach? What does the Bible teach about the Feasts of Trumpets, Atonement, Tabernacles, and the Last Great Day? Here is a link to a related sermon: Fall Holy Days for Christians.
The Book of Life and the Feast of Trumpets? Are they related? Is so how? If not, where not? What does the Feast of Trumpets, which the Jews call Rosh Hashanah, help teach? Related sermon videos include: The Last Trumpet and the Book of Life and The Trumpet Release. The article has links to hear shofar blasts.
Feast of Trumpets: Why Should You Keep It? What does the Bible say? What does this festival picture? A related sermon is available: Seven Trumpets: Jesus Returns.
Trumpets: Christian and Jewish Views of that Feast Jews call it Rosh Hashanah and have various ideas about it. What are Christian views and scriptures about the meaning and purpose of this festival?
Born Again: A Question of Semantics? Many Protestants use the term born-again. Do they know where the concept came from or does it matter? Are you born or begotten upon proper baptism? Here is a link to a sermon video: Trumpets and Being Born Again.
Should You Keep God’s Holy Days or Demonic Holidays? This is a free pdf booklet explaining what the Bible and history shows about God’s Holy Days and popular holidays. Two related sermon would be Which Spring Days should Christians observe? and Fall Holy Days for Christians.
The Gospel of the Kingdom of God This free online pdf booklet has answers many questions people have about the Gospel of the Kingdom of God and explains why it is the solution to the issues the world is facing. Here are links to three related sermons: The World’s False Gospel, The Gospel of the Kingdom: From the New and Old Testaments, and The Kingdom of God is the Solution.
The MYSTERY of GOD’s PLAN: Why Did God Create Anything? Why Did God Make You? This free online book helps answers some of the biggest questions that human have, including the biblical meaning of life. Here is a link to three related sermons: Mysteries of God’s Plan, Mysteries of Truth, Sin, Rest, Suffering, and God’s Plan, and The Mystery of YOU.
What is Your Destiny? Deification? Did the Early Church Teach That Christians Would Become God? What is your ultimate destiny? What does the Bible teach? Is deification only a weird or cultic idea? Are you to rule the universe? Here is a link to the video sermon What is Your Destiny?
Feast of Tabernacles’ Sites for 2020 This is information on the Feast of Tabernacles’ sites for the Continuing Church of God in 2020. The Feast in 2020 Services began the evening of October 2nd and runs (including the Last Great Day) until sunset October 10th.

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