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- Category: Feasts and Holy Days
- Created on 27 April 2017
- Last Updated on 27 April 2017
- Written by Ivan Ezras
What is the significance to the Eternal God of the number 50?
Based on what God revealed in scriptures, we can see that from His point of view, the highest equivalent worth and maximum valuation of a person is 50 shekels of silver.
Leviticus 27:2 “Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them, when a man shall make a singular vow, the persons shall be for the LORD by your estimation.
3 And your estimation shall be of the male from twenty years old even to sixty years old, even your estimation shall be fifty shekels of silver, after the shekel of the sanctuary.
4 And if it be a female, then your estimation shall be thirty shekels.
5 And if it be from five years old even to twenty years old, then your estimation shall be of the male twenty shekels, and for the female ten shekels.”
This implies that 50 is the symbolic number corresponding to the value or service a person can best give which God requires or deem necessary and fair enough to be served; when compared to others.
Tying this up to God’s people, 50 symbolize the highest attainable worth and spiritual growth a person achieves based on God’s judgment. Holds true when compared to the firstfruits harvest of the land. Firstfruits are always the prime, the choicest, the best most essential and eagerly awaited among the harvest of the field.
The same principle is true in regard to the output of the land and the slaves in Israel. These can be clearly seen from God’s law of the Jubilee year (the 50th).
The year of the Jubilee is a time when liberty is proclaimed throughout all the land and to all inhabitants. The 50th year marks the time when all the slaves of the people of Israel go back as free men to their own families and the land is given back to its original owner. It is a time for freedom, redemption and restoration.
It is the time when the land is given release and made to rest because it has served its best purpose and yielded its maximum output.
Leviticus 25:10 "And you shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land to all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a jubilee to you; and you shall return every man to his possession, and you shall return every man to his family.
11 A jubilee shall that fiftieth year be to you: you shall not sow; neither reap that which grows of itself in it, nor gather the grapes in it of your vine undressed.
12 For it is the jubilee; it shall be holy to you: you shall eat the increase thereof out of the field.
13 In the year of this jubilee you shall return every man to his possession."
Leviticus 27:24 "In the year of the jubilee the field shall return to him of whom it was bought, even to him to whom the possession of the land did belong."
Fifty (50) is also the age when a priest is released from the physical service in the temple and begins to serve mainly as overseers. 49 is equivalent to 7 times 7 which indicate doubly complete, with the number seven (7) meaning complete or perfect. It is understood that the priest has completed the physical services required of him and is ready to cope with a new and greater scope of responsibility.
- Category: Journeys
- Created on 19 April 2017
- Last Updated on 20 April 2017
- Written by Administrator
Brethren from Church of God Imus, and Manila (COGSV) held its combined Passover/Feast of Unleavened Bread celebration in a hotel located in Pasay City, Metro Manila on April 11, 2017.
Four elders/speakers were slotted to speak for the whole-day assembly. The morning service started with a prelude music followed by an opening prayer by Atty. Max Noble. Mr. Raul Hipe spoke on the importance of "bringing of offerings" both in its biblical-historical and future fulfillment as exemplified by the Lord Jesus Christ and magnified further in NT epistles. While Mr. Dave Garalde expounded on the importance of "unity in the body" as exhorted by Paul in 1 Corinthians 11.
Mr. Robert Torda and Mr. Cesar Lumbuan spoke in the afternoon, both expounding on the importance of our calling in relation to our "deleavening" and our future destiny, glorification in the kingdom of God. The messages were interspersed with hymns singing by the whole assembly led by Mr. Gilbert Deboma and Rey Coria.
The services were also graced with special music offerings by the children and teens entitled "Highly Exalted", a fitting Passover tribute to the selfless-sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ. In the afternoon, a choir of men and women accentuated the service by singing "The Servant's King". Both music offerings were directed by Ms. Gina Constantino.
Overall, the combined services were attended by 45 brethren and families coming from as far as Nueva Ecijah, Zambales, Indang Cavite, and one came from Melbourne, Australia. Lunch of steamed rice, soup, chicken, and vegetables, with fruit dessert were served promptly on the table, with unlimited supply of hot coffee and milk for the duration of the service. Brethren also shared home-made unleavened bread. Hotel accommodation and advance reservation was made possible through the assistance of Mrs. Brenda Coria and Mrs. Vivian Hipe.
Truly, this is one of those feast days where the psalmist King David described as "good and pleasant"!
"Behold, how good and how pleasant it is
For brethren to dwell together in unity!
It is like the precious oil upon the head,
Running down on the beard,
The beard of aaron,
Running down on the edge of his garments.
It is like the dew of Hermon,
Descending upon the mountains of Zion;
For there the Lord commanded the blessing—
Life forevermore." - Psalm 133
- Category: Scriptures With Songs
- Created on 12 April 2017
- Last Updated on 12 April 2017
- Written by Administrator
Hymn 1: p. 20 – How Lovely Are Thy Dwellings
Hymn 2: p. 27 – The Lord’s My Shepherd
How does one prepare for Passover? Traditionally, spring, which is the start of a new year/month in the Biblical reckoning of time, is also known as new beginnings—a time of fresh start:
“Now the LORD said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, ‘This month shall be the beginning of months for you; it is to be the first month of the year to you. ‘Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying, ‘On the tenth of this month they are each one to take a lamb for themselves, according to their fathers' households, a lamb for each household...’” –Exodus 12:12
It is a time of preparation and a dedication before God. Naturally, we are all drawn to this refreshing concept/idea that became the foundation of most family traditions among God’s people. The idea of “Spring cleaning” is just one of those. This was taken from the Biblical instructions to remove or clean the houses from certain “dirt” or contaminants (Heb. ‘hametz’). As the book of Exodus continues,
“Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, but on the first day you shall remove leaven from your houses; for whoever eats anything leavened from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel.” –Exodus 12:15
What does the Bible mean by this instruction? Why do we need to annually clean our “houses” or even ourselves? What spiritual significance can we learn from this ancient custom?
Passover cleaning draws a metaphor on our spiritual need to be cleansed by impurities (sins) in the presence of the holy God. As you scrub the floors, clean your room, fridge, or empty your drawer from extra/overused things/dress, etc., imagine that you are ridding yourself of stains/filths and excesses, bad habits, malice, anger, jealousy, and the likes! Or, perhaps just imagine you are a ‘slave’ in Egypt (metaphor of sin) and how wonderful it will be when God redeems and frees you! These are some of the spiritual applications we can think of.
As we will see from our Song and Scriptures, Passover cleaning actually has a far deeper meaning than mere dusting and cleaning of our houses and closets. A person’s heart is considered one’s home. Cleaning one’s home means cleaning one’s heart from every form of “dirt” and “stains” namely from bad and sinful thoughts and habits we build around ourselves and about others.
So as our opening Scriptures, let’s read and understand why the need for all of us to appear before God cleansed…
Bible Reader 1 –The Need to Be Cleansed
Bible Reader 2 – The Need to Be Cleansed
Exodus 29:1-9; 29-35
Brethren, let’s all stand and sing the following hymns…
Hymn 3 p.224 – Standing On The Promises
Hymn 4 p.211 – The Breath of Life
B. Identifying “Dirt” and “Waste” in our Life. Just as there are many types of dirt and waste, from biodegradable to non-biodegradable, from toxic to non-toxic, so the need for us to identify and consciously remove these “dirt” in our life. Thus, one of the most daunting and disconcerting tasks is to get rid of impurities that reside in the crevices of our mind and heart.
- Category: Scripture Studies
- Created on 05 April 2017
- Last Updated on 05 April 2017
- Written by Raul Hipe
Have you ever wondered why one of the most important of Christian holidays was named Easter? Such a strange name, isn’t it? What does a feminine sounding name Easter have to do with the passion, death, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ? Surely you wanted to know!
Undoubtedly, Easter is the most solemn of Christian commemoration, and we, Filipinos are particularly very observant of this holy week. But has anyone asked how the name Easter came into play? Added to this are the equally strange mascot of bunnies and colored eggs for hunt? Now that is really weird considering that what we are supposed to be celebrating is the most brutal and murderous death of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We’ve got be earnestly looking into this, if we are to be serious about the basis of our Christian faith!
A quick look at the word Easter in the Bible will show that the name appears only once in the King James Version of the Bible, inActs 12:4, and it was a clear mistranslation. Reputable scholars will point out that the word Easter in this verse comes from the Greek word pascha, meaning Passover. Modern translations correctly translate the word to “Passover”—as even the King James Version does in other verses (seeMatthew 26:2-19;Mark 14:12;1 Corinthians 5:7). But the name stuck in our Christian vocabulary.
Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words also explains on the name Easter:“Pascha… mistranslated ‘Easter’ inActs 12:4,KJV, denotes the Passover … The term ‘Easter’ is not of Christian origin. It is another form of Astarte, one of the titles of the Chaldean goddess, the queen of heaven. The festival of Pasch [Passover] held by Christians in post-apostolic times was a continuation of the Jewish feast … From this Pasch the pagan festival of ‘Easter’ was quite distinct and was introduced into the apostate Western religion, as part of the attempt to adopt pagan festivals to Christianity” (1985, p. 192, “Easter”).
Who was this Astarte or Easter? Let our authoritative Bible scholars and other reference works tell us about the name and its adaptation.
Nelson’s Bible commentary noted of the name “Easter”: “Easter was originally a pagan festival honoring Eostre, a Teutonic goddess of light and spring. At the time of the vernal equinox (the day in the spring when the sun crosses the equator and day and night are of equal length), sacrifices were offered in her honor. As early as the eighth century, the word was used to designate the annual Christian celebration of the resurrection of Christ.” (Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Dictionary,“Easter,” p. 373).
Explained by the editors of Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Dictionary, “The ancient Babylonian and Assyrian goddess Ishtar symbolized Mother Earth in the natural cycles of fertility on earth. Ishtar was the daughter of Sin, the moon god. She is the goddess of love, so the practice of ritual prostitution became widespread in the fertility cult dedicated to her name. Temples to Ishtar had many priestesses, or sacred prostitutes, who symbolically acted out the fertility rites of the cycle of nature. Ishtar has been identified with the Phoenician Astarte, the Semitic Ashtoreth, and the Sumerian Inanna. Strong similarities also exist between Ishtar and the Egyptian Isis, the Greek Aphrodite, and the Roman Venus.
- Category: Scripture Studies
- Created on 30 March 2017
- Last Updated on 30 March 2017
- Written by Raul Hipe
(What is Life Series- 6)
What is eternal life? To many, the thought of eternal life conjures a limitless, never-ending life—ageless, free from pain, sickness and death. While this concept is very appealing to people, yet it remains very illusive.
The prophet Daniel provided us the first glimpse of an everlasting life through a vision,
“And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake,
Some to everlasting life,
Some to shame and everlasting contempt.” (Daniel 12:2)
Since then, many sages have been speculating on how and when can such life be attained or discovered. Science weigh in by trying to formulate a medicine that will stop sickness, thwart the degenerative processes of old age, and even death. While this quest has given rise to some daring but unsuccessful expeditions in the past, still others believe that searching for that elusive “fountain of life” can be attained through utilization of the “inner self”.
While eternal life has varied connotations, what does the Bible really says about it?
While the Old Testament (OT) is scant on this subject, not surprisingly this has been one of the foundational teachings of New Testament (NT). A common Greek word for “everlasting” and “eternal” aiónios, provides its foundational understanding. Aiónios carries with it the idea of quality as well as quantity of time. The Greek word zoe is one of several Greek words that are translated life. According to Vine's Dictionary, zoe means "life as a principle, life in the absolute sense, life as God has it...”
Therefore, when eternal life is referred to in the Scripture, it is not simply associated with “length of years”, as it is independent of, and beyond time. Eternal life can function outside of and beyond the limit of time, as well as within time.
John 3:16 is perhaps the most well-known verse in the Bible, as it reminds us of its ultimate purpose,
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
From the above text, it is clear that this “everlasting life” is anchored on our belief in the “begotten Son”, and that it will be given so that no one will see death. This understanding is further anchored on the knowledge and faith from its true Source,
“This is eternal life, that they may know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent,” (John 17:3).
- Category: Latest
- Created on 24 March 2017
- Last Updated on 24 March 2017
- Written by Administrator
Can we predict the future? Is there hope beyond the doom and the gloomy news headlines today? People naturally want to know where we are in the march of end-time prophecy. Since the ascension of Jesus Christ at Mount of Olives (Acts 1:11), many believers have been anticipating and speculating about His return and of the “end of the world”? When will that be? When will the “second coming” of Christ? Many times these questions have been asked but only to be reminded, “Of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only” (Matthew 24:36).
Yet, we are also told to keep on “watching” and praying by Christ Himself (Luke 21:36). We are to discern times and seasons, “Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near—at the doors!” (Matthew 24:32-33). To the disinterested, naysayers, and the clueless for the events to come, Jesus has this to say, “Hypocrites! You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the signs of the times” (Matthew 16:3).
What do these words of Jesus Christ mean? Just where are we in prophecy? Join us in our “Back to Basics” Bible Study tomorrow:
“Where Are We in Prophecy?”
Date: March 25, 2017 (Saturday); Time: 1:00-4:00pm
Refreshment will be served after the Bible study.
Click here to check/join us.
- Category: Scripture Studies
- Created on 17 March 2017
- Last Updated on 18 March 2017
- Written by Raul Hipe
(What is Life Series- 5)
If someone tells you that your life is doomed to fail, would you be concerned? Would it matter to you knowing that others are “pre-chosen” to be a success in life? What if it’s all about the choices we make that will determine or define who you are or what you will become-will it make a difference?
Most religions teach a very defining and formulaic teaching called “Predestination”.
There are various ways in which this doctrine is taught, but the most common in Christianity is the idea that God, even before the time began has already set or “predetermined” every choice and detail of every person’s life, including whether he/she would be saved or lost.
A 16th century Protestant theologian named John Calvin popularised this idea (though originally it came from the teachings of a Catholic bishop, Augustine of Hippo). This doctrine is now known as “Calvinism” and embraced by most Evangelicals today.
Based on its “five-point” principle using the acronym Tulip, the concept was primarily focused on God’s sovereignty, power and foreknowledge. Accordingly, nothing can ever happen that God did not, before all time and space, design and decide to happen. God knew all along before everyone was born, who would be saved and who would be lost because He has the power to predetermine it. That’s why it is also called “double-predestination.”
That everything is already laid out, no matter what you do or make in life, seems to appeal to modern theologians, but is this teaching really grounded on the Bible?
Among the most quoted passages in Scriptures widely viewed as supporting this doctrine are as follows,
Romans 8:29-30, “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.”(NKJV, all throughout unless noted)
Ephesians 1: 4-5,11,13-14; “just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself...In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will,... In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.”
Based on the above texts, the word “predestined” comes from the Greek προορίζω, or “prooridzo.” It basically carries the meaning of “determine beforehand,” or “ordain”. It carries the sense of establishing a boundary, usually in the sense of predetermining a future condition. The word occurs six times in six verses in the New Testament (see also in Acts 4:28 and 1 Corinthians 2:7).
- Category: Scriptures With Songs
- Created on 12 March 2017
- Last Updated on 12 March 2017
- Written by Administrator
Nehemiah: “The Joy of the Lord Is Your Strength”
Hymn 1: p. 24 – Before the Lord We Bow
Hymn 2: p. 4 – Sing Praises and Rejoice!
The book of Nehemiah is one of the most powerful retelling of history in the Old Testament, not only because it was written by the righteous leadership of its governor Nehemiah and his priest/scribe named Ezra, but because it contains the testament of the Israelite’s sheer determination to recommit themselves, return and follow God in the face of great trials and oppositions.
One inspiring declaration that was etched in its book is one coming from Nehemiah himself, when he rallied the people and told them (upon discovering the book of the Law together with God’s feasts days),
“Go your way, eat fat, drink sweet, and send portions for those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our LORD. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” –Nehemiah 8:10
To appreciate Nehemiah’s words, we must understand where the Israelites were coming from when they are told “the joy of the Lord is your strength.” In Nehemiah 6-7 the walls of Jerusalem had just been completed. But the people are still uneasy and unsecured—something was still lacking. Life was more than just “bricks and mortars”. While they had finished rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem, their lives were in shambles. Coming from seventy years of Babylonian captivity, finishing the walls did not make them secure, their troubles continued. The cause of their condition is revealed by these confessions of guilt,
“But see, we are slaves today, slaves in the land you [God] gave our forefathers so they could eat its fruit and the other good things it produces. Because of our sins, its abundant harvest goes to the kings you have placed over us. They rule over our bodies and our cattle as they please. We are in great distress.” –Nehemiah 9:36 (NIV)
They had been slaves and captives in a foreign land and had forgotten their heritage before God. They had forgotten their own identity, their language, but most of all they had forgotten their God. This is why their lives were in great shambles. Finally, they were able to see the connection between sins and their distressful situation. Their slavery was the result of their own sin and rebellion. They have experienced first-hand sins’ destructive effects to their lives.
It was in these conditions that they began to realize that God has a wonderful message of deliverance for everyone. It is “in the joy of the LORD” that they could find strength to put their lives back together in God.
So in today’s Songs and Scriptures, we will explore on this inspirational theme of “The Joy of the LORD is your strength.”
For our first batch of readers, let us review the story of Nehemiah leading to this great discovery of strength in the “joy in the LORD”...