Dear Associates, Students and Friends:
There is brand new teaching regarding New Testament doctrine in this monthís "Temple Update." I want you to read it carefully. It represents some significant New Testament teaching that becomes clearer and understandable because of the proper recognition of a major prophecy in the Old Testament. That prophecy refers to a time when God will make His presence known at the City of Damascus in Syria, just like He has done at the Temple at Jerusalem when the divine Sanctuary was officially located in that area.
A particular historical setting inspired Jewish authorities in Jerusalem to interpret this prophetic revelation as a command (or, as an indication) that it was time to abandon Jerusalem and the proper site of the Temple over the Gihon Spring (when the waters became bitter and undrinkable not long before 1077 C.E.). They moved the headquarters of the Jewish religion in Palestine to Damascus, and for a good reason. But there is more. You will also discover in this historical account an accurate fulfillment of a New Testament incident that is of much importance to us who know the mature and final teachings of the apostle Paul. I urge you to read this article called: "The Expansion and Portability of Zion." It has much Gospel teaching in it. Indeed, it shows how the messages of the Old Testament are able to merge their doctrinal themes in a remarkable manner to form a basis for the final revelation of the New Testament.
It is only by understanding the whole of the biblical teaching that the Gospel makes sense (especially that given to Paul). It shows why we Christians do not require a new Temple to be built in Jerusalem. It also provides us with a proper knowledge of how the apostle Paul obtained his message of "the Mystery" that differs from the commission of the apostles who preached only "the Gospel of the Kingdom of God." Though the teaching about the Kingdom of God (that is soon to appear on earth) is relevant and very important for those who do not understand "the Mystery," this national and physical type of doctrine pales into significance compared to the role that each of us is to assume when we are resurrected from the dead at Christís Second Advent. While those who wish to inherit the "Kingdom Phase" of the Gospel are blessed in an intermediate way, but we who are a part of "the Mystery," as taught by Paul (and also by John after the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 C.E.), are profoundly blessed to the extent that each of us can sit on the right side of the very throne of God in heaven as being a divine Son and/or Daughter of no less than God the Father Himself (Ephesians 2:6). That is much better (and a more exalted status) than being even a king or a prince on earth under Christ and under the resurrected King David (and the other resurrected royal saints of God) during the millennium. The Kingdom of God phase lasts for 1000 years, while "the Mystery" phase is for the rest of eternity. Knowing the difference between these two rewards is a most important recognition.
Our reward (for those of us who understand "the Mystery") is an exalted position that staggers the mind when one recognizes the potential that we now have in Christ Jesus. This is why the Gospel of the teaching that Paul called "the Mystery" is different (and with far greater rewards) than the Gospel of the Kingdom of God that the early apostles from Jerusalem at first taught. My book "The Essentials of New Testament Doctrine" explains these matters in clearer detail. You should also read the August "Temple Update." It will demonstrate just how important the beginning of Paulís ministry was concerning the final revelation of God called "the Mystery." We should also realize how the other apostles in Jerusalem understood their special roles in teaching the Gospel of the Kingdom to the world. Do not confuse the two rewards. The Gospel of the Kingdom is one reward associated only with this earth for a thousand years, the Gospel of the Mystery is a different reward that involves the rulership of the entire universe from Godís heavenly throne, and with each of you sitting on the right side of the Father in Christ. One reward is confined to the earth, the other reaches out to embrace the entirety of the heavens (the full extent of the universe). It is important for you to know this essential difference. Please read my book "The Essentials of New Testament Doctrine" for all details.
Next month I will be focusing in a new "Temple Update" a particular teaching of the Old Testament that will be surprising to you when you see the evidence for its existence in the Holy Scriptures. Do you realize that God actually commanded the Israelites at the time of Moses to practice a certain amount of outright idolatry ó and that it was commanded in the Law delivered to Israel by those angels who gave the Law to Moses? Thatís right. This fact is well known by Jewish theologians, but Christian scholars have not mentioned it because they have not recognized its significance. Indeed, one of the reasons that the Jewish authorities in the eleventh and twelfth centuries of our era (near and during the period of the Crusades) decided they did not need to concentrate any longer on a physical Temple in Jerusalem (until the Messiah would come and rebuild it in a proper way) was because to reconstruct the Temple would be tantamount to reintroducing IDOLATRY back into the theology of Judaism. There is good reason for me to capitalize the word IDOLATRY in this article because I want to emphasize this matter in a decided manner.
Let me be plain. The building of a new Temple will reintroduce idolatry. You may be shocked to learn that even the great Jewish theologian named Maimonides in the twelfth century taught that it was then no time to build a physical Temple in the manner Moses and Solomon built because of the IDOLATRY that it would necessarily contain. And sure enough, in the plain words of a major prophet of God, he stated that the Temple contained IDOLATROUS factors that God Himself held in disdain. He records in the clearest of language that God finally had to give the Israelites some commandments in the time of Moses that perpetuated IDOLATRY. This was done with instructions dealing with the construction of the Tabernacle and later the Temple. And though God reluctantly approved of the measure, He also expressed displeasure at this retention of IDOLATRY even though it was He who commanded the Israelites to continue it (based upon their penchant for pagan experiences that they loved to perpetuate). God felt He had no alternative but to include IDOLATROUS teachings within the very Law of God that he gave Moses. I imagine that most of you will be shocked to read this teaching found within the Old Testament in chapter 20 of the prophet Ezekiel. As a matter of fact, Ezekielís main censure involved the depiction of the cherubim in the Holy of Holies, and the prophet describes this feature as IDOLATROUS. In this regard, Ezekiel even names the two Cherubs (he gives their proper names) whose images appeared within the Holy of Holies over the Mercy Seat (the Seat of Covering). I believe you will be amazed (and even shocked) by what you read in Ezekiel when you finally realize what the prophet Ezekiel meant.
To find out the plain teaching concerning these IDOLATROUS activities within the Tabernacle (and even within the Temple of Solomon), you need to read my next "Temple Update" for September. The title of this new research article is: "Lingering Idolatry in the Temple of God." Yes, the Tabernacle and the Temple of Solomon contained a margin of outright IDOLATRY that was later condemned by God and the prophets. Indeed, it was Ezekiel who showed his utter disdain for it, and it was Jeremiah who got rid of the official IDOLATRY in the Temple. By the time of Jesus, ALL IDOLATRY in the Temple had finally been removed. However, the apostle John in the Book of Revelation states that at the end of the age an image (idol) will again be reintroduced in a new Temple built somewhere in Jerusalem. It will be the reintroduction of the two (or maybe, one) Cherubim that Moses placed in the interior of the Tabernacle. I will show in my article next month that it is no longer permissible from Godís point of view to place an image (an idol) of even the Cherubim in the Temple. It is outright IDOLATRY to make any image (or idol) that violates the second command of the Ten Commandments, whether inside or outside the Temple precincts. This prohibition includes even the Cherubim that were once idolized (in image form) and positioned over the Ark of the Covenant in the Holy of Holies of the Tabernacle that were ordained in Mosesí time. If you want more information on this matter, you can read this new and important research in next monthís article from A.S.K.
I thank each of you who responded to my August request to express your willingness to read and print directly off the A.S.K. Web Site. It is especially heartwarming that so many of you showed your willingness to go the extra mile by taking a bit of your time and energy to access the information (that we place on the Internet) by getting online at your home or at your local library or your Senior Citizen Center. Such active participation is a keynote action by you in answering the question that so many of you express to me of what more can you do personally to help in sharing Godís truths throughout the world.
And to those of you who have expressed concern about being left adrift if you agree to go off the "Snail Mail" List, I guarantee that you will still be given very personal attention. Some have asked what is "Snail Mail"? This is mail we send through the regular Post Office and Internet people call it "Snail Mail" because compared to the quickness one receives material over the Internet, the Post Office mail is so slow that it reminds one of being delivered by a "snail." Let me assure you that Ramona is every bit as faithful in sending requests and replies to letters and E-Mails received from those who use our Web Site as she is with all of you who receive our regular "Snail Mail." In fact, she is usually faster in answering E-Mails because the E-Mail "Reply" key is so convenient on her computer. As you can see, I am advocating the use of the Internet to receive our research papers. This is because I can give so much more teaching, and it gets to you so much faster that it seems like the horse and buggy days to depend only on Post Office mail. I truly believe that God has opened up the door of the Internet to get His Gospel of Christ Jesus to all in the world in a quick and timely manner. True, it costs a great deal of effort and funds to provide this FREE service to people in the world (and we appreciate your free-will contributions to keep it functioning), but we feel that it is essential to go this route so that the teaching of the Gospel can be broadcast to a greater number of people twenty-four hours a day. We are literally being read "around the world" and more people are logging on.
You should realize that when you send your monthly contributions in order for ASK to perform its tasks, you are NOT just sending funds to Dr. Martin so that he can do research into re-discovering the ancient truths of the Holy Scriptures. True, your offerings help me perform that research (that many others are not doing in this End-Time period), but the main reason you send in contributions is to make it possible for ASK to spread the Gospel to all who click into our Web Site on the Internet or read our publications and listen to the cassette taped lectures. You are actually doing your part in helping to spread the mature teachings of the Holy Scriptures to those in the world whom God may call. It is like taking the classroom (where I teach the essentials of biblical education) to all in the world who want this educational material. This is why we need to have your contributions (besides the fact that you buy our books to keep them in circulation and available for all to read and to learn of Godís truths).
I want to thank you from my heart for your extra offerings that you give over and above what you pay for our books. Indeed, if you feel you benefit spiritually and in an educational way from the research that we provide (and I work hard to provide it to you), you should consider the biblical teaching that the workman is worthy of his hire (Luke 10:7) and also there is the important verse that "God loveth a cheerful giver" (II Corinthians 9:7). Brethren, be sure to read the new research in the August "Temple Update" that is now posted on the Web Site. Thank you again for everything. May Godís blessings be with you all.
Ernest L. Martin
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