The Days of Unleavened Bread commemorate the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt—a type of sin. They couldn’t come out of Egypt until there had been a blood sacrifice—a type of Christ’s sacrifice. The day after Passover, they came out of Egypt with a high hand (Exodus 14:8). They were jubilant because they had been released from captivity—from sin. When it looked like the Israelites were trapped between mountains, a body of water and an army, God again performed a miracle—delivering them through the Red Sea and drowning their pursuers at the bottom of the sea.
But even after those miracles, the Israelites lost their focus. They didn’t continue following God out of sin, so God let them wander in the wilderness for 40 years, until the older generation had died off. It was Joshua who took the younger generation into the Promised Land.
Moses, in one of his final sermons, warned the Israelites: “All the commandments which I command thee this day shall ye observe to do, that ye may live, and multiply, and go in and possess the land which the Lord sware unto your fathers” (Deuteronomy 8:1).
God gives us these commands because they strengthen us. Keeping God’s commands give us strength, energy, life and blessings.
In our day, many of God’s people, like the ancient Israelites, turned to lawlessness and sin. Transgression opened the door for Satan to get control of and devour nearly the entire church (Daniel 8:12). Those who remain faithful must be upholders, defenders of God’s law and government. That is what makes Imperial Academy, Armstrong College and this remnant church strong. When we turn to transgression and sin, it weakens us individually, and it weakens God’s Church.
“And thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no” (Deuteronomy 8:2). God allowed the Israelites to wander around because they weren’t humble. They did not obey God faithfully. Of course, they were missing a spiritual dimension—the indwelling power of God’s Holy Spirit—but we are not! Even for you young people in God’s Church, that power can lead you.
Moses continues, “And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna …” (verse 3). The lesson of Manna was to teach them to live by every word of God. The only times the Israelites displayed any kind of humility and obedience were when they were really suffering. Today, there is already a lot of suffering in our lands, and more is coming by our own hand.
Soon, we will have to be lifted out of this nightmare and be taken to a place of protection. “Therefore thou shalt keep the commandments of the Lord thy God, to walk in his ways, and to fear him. For the Lord thy God bringeth thee into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and depths that spring out of valleys and hills” (verses 6-7). Jerusalem will be a staging ground for God’s Work, which is already expanding its operation there. God is preparing us for the end of this age and the beginning of a new world.
But notice verse 11: “Beware that thou forget not the Lord thy God, in not keeping his commandments, and his judgments, and his statutes, which I command thee this day.” When we turn to lawlessness and sin, we forget all about God. The Laodiceans profess righteousness while they actively do away with the law. They can deceive themselves into thinking they are righteous when, in fact, lawlessness and transgression destroyed the entire church!
We must judge by the fruits. Look at the trail of destruction that those corrupt ministers and their followers left within the Church. The root cause is always sin: forgetting God and His laws—those laws that make us strong and happy, that bring godly purity into our thinking and our character.
“Lest when thou hast eaten and art full, and hast built goodly houses, and dwelt therein; And when thy herds and thy flocks multiply, and thy silver and thy gold is multiplied, and all that thou hast is multiplied; Then thine heart be lifted up, and thou forget the Lord thy God, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage” (verses 12-14).
Never forget your miraculous deliverance. We have been blessed like no people on Earth. Don’t forget the many wonderful blessings, prosperity, and miraculous gifts God gives to us. But also, don’t forget the lessons we’ve learned, the correction we’ve received, the changes we’ve made. We must learn from the example of the Israelites (1 Corinthians 10:6, 11)—including their mistakes—to not return to Egypt. Israelites—physical and spiritual—are forgetful. We forget the profound lessons we learned just a few years ago and slip back into the old ways. It is easy to forget the blessings, the correction, the teaching, the guidance that God gives us—the rules God means to strengthen us.
A Prevalent Sin
One of the most prevalent sins young people in God’s Church fall prey to is trying to start an inappropriate relationship with a member of the opposite sex. God intended for you to have marriage, family, and all the happiness that comes with those things—but you can prevent that happiness by trying to take it before you reach that stage of life.
My father has said: “The greatest obstacle to your success at school is ill-timed romance.” Read that again—“your greatest obstacle”! If you jump the gun, you are getting in the way of great success, happiness and strength because our strength comes from commandment-keeping. You have to bring God into everything.
My father has spoken before about an evangelist in the Worldwide Church of God who, years later, talked openly about how he and his wife were a “done deal”—already committed to marrying each other—their freshman year of college. He ought to have been embarrassed about this. For a number of years, he was a powerful, persuasive speaker within the Church, but when the Laodicean changes swept through, his entire family fully supported those changes. What started out as a seemingly healthy and productive marriage and teamwork didn’t produce good fruits. My father wondered if it wasn’t back at the start that a faulty foundation was laid, which gave rise to problems years later.
You must look at root causes—go back, and go back far. Think of how it all started—What mistakes did I make? Did I learn from them the way that I should have? Don’t revert to those old, sinful ways. You must root it out and keep it out. Repentance is not for six months or a year. Repentance is for life.
It is one thing to have a crush and work hard to subdue it with help from your parents or the ministry if necessary; it is another to let it run wild or to encourage it—in yourself or others. That kind of thinking brings worldliness right into our schools. We have had to deal with it again and again. Be reminded of the lessons you have learned, and the peace and happiness that resulted from dealing with those problems—from uprooting that worldliness. We have a duty to uphold the laws of God and to enforce them.
Don’t put yourself in a position where you are deprived of opportunities because you can’t get a handle on an infatuation, or because you can’t abide by the rules of dating—at college or in high school.
Think of the example you set within God’s Church and His schools. Do you concentrate on your schooling? Do you work to suppress those rushes of emotion, or do you fuel these “ill-timed romances”?
Psalm 78 says, “Give ear, O my people, to my law: incline your ears to the words of my mouth. I will open my mouth in a parable: I will utter dark sayings of old: Which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children, shewing to the generation to come the praises of the Lord, and his strength, and his wonderful works that he hath done.
For he established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children” (verses 1-5).
This is a family operation. Your parents and the ministry want to make these laws known to you because we know they make you strong! This is how you can experience wonderful opportunities. This is how you lay the groundwork for a wonderful marriage and family—many years into the future. But right now, it would be horribly out-of-season to pursue any kind of romance. It would be an obstacle to your success.
“That the generation to come might know them, even the children which should be born; who should arise and declare them to their children: That they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments” (verses 6-7). Don’t forget those commandments and guidelines. We all need guidance, so make sure you brush up on those guidelines from time to time. Know the rules and embrace them, even if humanly you don’t like it at first. Try them and see if they work—if they make you happy. Prove God. But don’t forget the tremendous works and miracles God has performed. Don’t forget those laws and commandments that make us strong, holy and pure.
Every year should improve on the last. Correction that roots out worldliness is always good for you—if it is administered in love. Correction is God reaching out to save you from deceiving yourself into believing that God’s laws are oppressive.
We need rules and guidelines or everything falls apart. Don’t let Satan do to you what he has done to the whole world! People have taken grace and turned it into a license to disobey the rules. The Laodiceans who have embraced that spirit of lawlessness are miserable. They act like children, rebelling against God’s government. Be reminded that it is God’s laws that make us happy and content, that allow us to experience tremendous opportunities, and that build real strength of character in us. That is the groundwork you want to lay for a marriage and family that can really serve the God Family.
“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15). If you love worldliness, God’s love cannot dwell in you. In the lead up to the spring holy days, ask God to reveal your hidden faults. Ask Him to show you your secret sins. Be courageous enough, mature enough, to look at yourself in the spiritual mirror and change.