Biblical Answers to the World Mission Society Church of God

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.--1 John 4:1

Are you or a loved one struggling with this group? Do you need Biblical answers about the World Mission Society Church of God (WMSCoG or CoGWMS), their founder Ahnsahnghong (Ahn Sahng/Sang-Hong) or their current leader "Mother Jerusalem" (a.k.a. "Heavenly Mother God," Zang/Zahng Gil-Jah, or Chung Gil Cha)? Thank you for coming here. I hope my blog helps you. Questions and comments are always welcome.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Bride IS the Church

You may have read my previous post, Who Is the Bride, where I looked at Bible verses using metaphors of a bride or wife of God.  If you remember, the WMSCOG leader I spoke to was adamant that the Church was NEVER referred to as the Bride.  But the Scriptures do indeed show that the "Bride" or "Wife" of the Lord is not a female God, but the collective people of God--the Israelites / the Church.

This week I happened to watch a WMSCOG produced video, and I was shocked to see that in its effort to show the Catholic Church as the great prostitute (from Revelation), they unwittingly admit that the Church IS the Bride after all!

You can see this video yourself on YouTube.  There are actually several of the same video available to view.  It's called "The Identity of 666."  The video is 7:32 minutes long, but the revealing part is found at about 0:37.

The subtitles say (and I'm quoting, even the verse reference is there):
"In the Bible, "woman" refers to "church." (Ephesians 5:23)
So, the prostitute means the "Antichrist church" that does not follow her husband, Christ."

Those are the WMSCOG's own words!  So if the "Antichrist church" does not follow her husband, Christ, then we can understand that the true church does follow her husband, who is Christ.

Here's Ephesians 5:23
For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body.

Caught in their own contradiction once again!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Elohim, Part 3

So the question I left with last time was...
If Elohim is a singular God, why did he speak of "us" and "our" in Genesis 1:26, 3:22, 11:7, and in Isaiah 6:8?

I believe in the Trinity, so I would like to think that God is speaking to Himself as in Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  But these verses are not what the concept of the Trinity is based on, and it is not necessary that God is speaking to His own Trinity.

A single person speaking in terms of "us," "we," and "our" when only meaning his own one self?  It happens in everyday life...

Have you heard of Queen Victoria, when she was not happy, saying, "We are not amused."  She didn't say "I am not amused" although that's what she meant.  This "royal we" happens with rulers all the time.  You can even look up "royal we" on Wikipedia--it's a well known phenomenon.
How about phrases like these.  Have you ever used these and really meant "I" or "me"?...
"Oh, yes, we'll be there!"
"Give us a chance!"
This happens with us regular people too.

Here is an example from the Bible:
Daniel 2:36
This is the dream. Now we will tell the interpretation of it before the king.
Daniel talks about himself as "we" instead of "I" when it was really Daniel alone who received the interpretation of the dream and was taken to the king.  (See Daniel 2:19 & 24)

The "royal we" is one thing happening with these verses in Genesis and Isaiah.  But I want to show you something else.  A leader (like a King or Queen) who has a council, a group of their closest advisors, will use "we" when addressing his council.  It doesn't mean the other members of the council are also kings.  It happens today and through history, and you can observe it in the Bible.  Watch how King Ahab used "we" and "I":

2 Chronicles 18:5
Then the king of Israel gathered the prophets together, four hundred men, and said to them, “Shall we go to war against Ramoth Gilead, or shall I refrain?”
So they said, “Go up, for God will deliver it into the king’s hand.”
King Ahab says, "Shall we go to war..., or shall I refrain?"  His council of prophets answers, "Go."  This "go" is not "take your army and all of you (plural) go"--it's a command for "you (singular) go."

Not that God actually needs advisors, but could He have a royal council which He converses with?  Yes!  Check out these verses...

Jeremiah 23:18 & 22
For who has stood in the counsel of the LORD,
      And has perceived and heard His word?...

But if they had stood in My counsel,
      And had caused My people to hear My words,
      Then they would have turned them from their evil way
      And from the evil of their doings.

"They" in these verses are the false prophets.  They did not know what went on in God's council.

1 Kings 22:19-22
Then Micaiah said, “Therefore hear the word of the LORD: I saw the LORD sitting on His throne, and all the host of heaven standing by, on His right hand and on His left.  And the LORD said, ‘Who will persuade Ahab to go up, that he may fall at Ramoth Gilead?’ So one spoke in this manner, and another spoke in that manner.  Then a spirit came forward and stood before the LORD, and said, ‘I will persuade him.’   The LORD said to him, ‘In what way?’ So he said, ‘I will go out and be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.’ And the LORD said, ‘You shall persuade him, and also prevail. Go out and do so.’What a vision of the royal council of God Micaiah had!  Here's God allowing His angels to offer suggestions, and He accepts one of them.

Job 1:6 (NIV)
One day the angels came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came with them.
Job 2:1 (NIV)
On another day the angels came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came with them to present himself before him.
Here it is again--God surrounded by His angels for a meeting.

So there you go--God sometimes refers to Himself with the "royal we" because He is KING and has His heavenly council about Him.  It does NOT mean that He is speaking to another God with Him.

The conclusion is that Elohim uses a plural suffix with singular adjectives/verbs/etc. not to indicate plural Gods, but one God who is superior, majestic, great, and absolute.  And that He is.

Those of us who believe in the Trinity, the three-in-one God, can see hints of the Trinity in this interesting plural form of Elohim, used in a singular sense to describe God.  That, supported by the rest of Bible's insistence that there is only one God, makes it clear that indeed, there is only one true God.

But if God made humans in His image, and there are both male and female, doesn't that have to mean that there is a male God for the male image and a female God for the female image (as the WMSCOG claims)?  No.  But that's a topic for next time...

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Elohim, Part 2

Previously, I looked at the use of the word Elohim.  Although it has a plural suffix, when referring to the God of the Israelites it is surrounded by singular verbs, adjectives, and pronouns.  This type of structure in the Hebrew language indicates that the noun is not plural, but majestic, superior, great, or absolute.  The noun itself is still singular, as shown by its verbs, adjectives and pronouns, but it's meaning is magnified.

Throughout the Bible, God repeatedly tell the Israelites that He is the only God to be worshipped.  And this is the essence of the first commandment:
Exodus 20:3
You shall have no other gods before [besides] me.

And yet, the WMSCOG will show you the word Elohim and its plural suffix and insist that there are two Gods.  They try to prove this using a few verses where God speaks and refers to "us" or "our":

Genesis 1:26
Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness...

The WMSCOG combines this with Gen. 1:27 to try to show that there is both a male and female God.  I'll deal with that another day.  But right now I just want to see whether these verses talk about two gods or one.  God talks about "us" making man in "our" image.  Does that mean there are plural Gods?

Do you see the part just before that which says, "Then God said"?  The "said" in that phrase is singular--He said.  If there were plural Gods, it would have been a plural verb--They said.  And then look a little farther to verse 27.  I'm going to type it out here--notice what I've put in bold:
So God [He] created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

If there were truly two Gods, this passage would have said, "God [they] created man in their own image, in the image of God they created him; male and female they created them."  But it doesn't.  There is only ONE God.

Genesis 3:22 (in the Garden of Eden)
Then the LORD God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil....

Genesis 11:7 (the Tower of Babel)
Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.”

Isaiah 6:8 (Isaiah's Commission)
Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying:
      “ Whom shall I send,
      And who will go for Us?”


In these verses, God talks about "us" again.  Is there more than one God?  No.  Every time we read that Elohim said something, it is ALWAYS a singular verb--He said.  We also read that He (not They) sent Adam from the Garden of Eden, that He (not They) scattered the people from the Tower of Babel, and that He (not They) answered Isaiah.
There is only ONE God.

Why would any singular individual talk about themselves as "we" or "us"?  It happens.  I'll write about that next time...

Click here to go on to Part 3.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Elohim, Part 1

The WMSCOG points the the Hebrew word "Elohim" to prove that there are 2 Gods, a "Mother God" and a "Father God".  They say that since the word "Elohim" has a plural ending, that it must mean there is more than one God, and then they go about to try to prove the existence of "Mother God."  (Incidentally, other groups use this same word to try to prove a God family or other polytheistic doctrine.)

But they don't tell you the whole story about the word Elohim and the language structure around it.

If you have studied any foreign languages (as I have), you know that not all languages have the same type of structure and grammar.  In English, you can usually tell when a noun is singular or plural by looking at the noun itself and at the verb it's paired with.
The fast boy runs.
The fast boys run.
It is less noticeable in the past tense when the verb doesn't change at all.  Both the boy and the boys "ran."

But in Hebrew, the changes are more significant when singular becomes plural.  You can notice the plural form also in the adjectives and the verb (whether it's present "run" or past tense "ran").  All the words that refer to the noun become plural.  (It's similar in German, Spanish, and many other languages.)
So in Hebrew, you would see it more like this:
The fast (plural) boys (plural) (they) ran.

The word Elohim, although it is a noun with a plural ending, is not always used with a plural meaning.  When it refers to God, it is accompanied by singular adjectives, pronouns, and verbs.

The Hebrew language uses what is called a "majestic plural" or "plural intensive" in which a noun with a plural suffix is accompanied by singular adjectives, pronouns, and verbs.  In these cases, it does NOT indicate a plural number, but that the singular noun is superior, majestic, great, mighty, or absolute.

This is not unique to the word Elohim.  Here are a few other nouns (there are more!) that have a plural ending, but are used in a singular sense:
The word used for "life" in Gen. 27:46 and Job 10:12
The word used for "righteousness" in Isa. 33:15
The word used for "master" in Isa. 19:4

It's also interesting to note that "Elohim" is used to refer to Moses in Exodus 7:1.  Is Moses a plural?  No.

Elohim is used to refer to God more than 2000 times in the Bible and is accompanied by singular verbs, adjectives, and pronouns in all but a handful of those instances.  I'll talk about the few exceptions next time.

Through the whole of the Bible, God consistently makes the point that He is the ONLY God to be worshipped--ONE God.  I do believe in the Trinity, but in that there is still only ONE God.

To take the word Elohim, and say that since it has a plural suffix, there must be two or more true Gods...well, that shows a superficial understanding and a lack of scholarship.  It also indicates a poor knowledge of the structure of the Hebrew language. 
Think about it--wouldn't you want the person who is giving you all the "secrets and mysteries" of the Bible (such as "Mother") to understand Hebrew!?

If you'd like more resources about the word Elohim, try these links (I'll also list them in my "study helps" page):
"Elohim, Plural or Singular?"
"You Can Prove What Elohim Means"
"The Hebrew Name for God--Elohim"

Click here to go on to Part 2.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Babies and Angels

I'm working on a post about "Elohim", but something happened last week, and I need to address the "we were once angels" doctrine instead today....

The WMSCOG teaches that all humans were first angels living in heaven with God.  There in heaven, they committed a terrible sin and were cast down to live a human life here on earth as punishment.

If you study with them, one of the points they will bring up about this concerns babies who die very young.  They say, if the wages of sin is death, why do very young babies sometimes die before they have had an opportunity to sin?  It's because they have already sinned in heaven, they say.  The ramifications of this doctrine are truly horrible!  Here's why...

Last week, a family where I work went through that very event.  I don't know them personally, but I know their story.  I won't depress you with all the sad details, but the baby died within an hour of being born.  Besides them, my friend and her husband had a baby who died at about 10 weeks old, and my brother-in-law and his wife had a baby who died the day he was born.  If you pause a moment, you can probably think someone who has dealt with the tragedy of a child dying far too young.

When we read in the Bible that "the wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23), we understand it to mean that not only do we have to deal with the consequences of our own sin, but that the world itself is suffering and groaning under the weight of sin (Romans. 8:22)--hence natural disasters, disease, and the like...including the death of babies.

The Bible declares that even a newborn baby is born with a natural tendency to sin (Psalm 51:5), and it doesn't take too long before it shows up in action.  (If you don't think this is true, then perhaps you've never had a child of your own.)  But we still believe in the "innocence" of babies because we know they lack true understanding.  We know that children are special to God (Mark 10:14), and we trust that if a child dies young, God will be a fair and loving judge.  We have definite hope to see these children in heaven.

But in the WMSCOG, what hope is there for these babies who die, these families who mourn?  If the baby was previously an angel who sinned and was sent to earth to die for its sin, then his/her death was deserved and he/she has no hope for heaven.  I wonder what kind of comfort the WMSCOG can give to those families.  Maybe..."That's too bad.  Your baby must have committed a really terrible sin in heaven to deserve such a quick death."??

How awful is that?!?  Maybe some like this doctrine because it's a nice idea to think that you lived in heaven once, but if you think about it this way, it is not nice at all.

Thankfully, it not a true teaching of the Bible.  The WMSCOG uses misinterpreted and twisted Scriptures to support this doctrine.  Don't fall for it!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

What Happened with the Latest Approach

I'm wondering if anyone tried approaching their loved one about the calendar issue.

Here's the reason this calendar problem is important--They claim that Ahnsahnghong "restored the Passover."  Other groups keep the Passover, but not correctly because their calendar is wrong, they say.  If the World Mission Society Church of God can't even keep their own calendar correctly by their own rules, then this argument falls apart.

This is probably the perfect time to bring it up with your loved one since the problem is happening right now in September and October.  In a loving but questioning--not accusing!--way.  If you wanted to, but didn't know how to go about it, this is a summary of how I apporached the subject....

"I heard on the news recently that it was the Jewish holiday Rosh Hashanah.  I was curious about what that was, so I went and looked it up.  I found out that Rosh Hashanah is another name for the Feast of Trumpets, and then I remembered that you're not celebrating the Feast of Trumpets until next month, and I thought--well isn't that strange, to be a whole month different?  I was so confused about that, that I had to look up the new moons to figure out what might be going on.  Of course you would know that the Feast of Trumpets is supposed to be kept on the 1st day of the 7th month.  But we've already had the 7th new moon of the year since the 1st one for Passover.  What do you think is going wrong here?....."

If you've tried it, would you please share?  Did it spark anything?  Or perhaps you've actually been able to get an answer about it.

I've told you all what happened when I asked my sister about it, and how she called me back somewhat confused that she couldn't make the months work out.  Well, my sister has called again about it, and now I must write about it to help me feel better.  I am a bit discouraged, but I still am trusting that God is working behind the scenes in ways I cannot see.  I'm sorry, this might be a long post....

I can tell that she had asked at church about this issue, because she did not speak about it in her normal way of speaking to me.  I don't know how else to describe it except that even though the conversation did not get heated, she was using the "cult language and tone" that's been absent in our conversations lately when we don't talk about the church.  I can only speculate that she had been criticized for even asking such a question.

In  nutshell, this is how the answer-that's-not-an-answer was delivered:
With accusation--"Why did you ask about this?  Why do you want to know?"
With avoidance--"I know the answer, but let's just keep our relationship as sisters.  I don't want to get into this."  (I'm not going to tell you the answer.)
Changing the subject--"We believe in different things.  You go to church on Sunday.  Sunday worship was established by ..... "

What I tried to explain to her:
I'm interested in the things that are important to you.  I noticed that the Jewish holiday was coming up and I know that you celebrate the Feasts.  I didn't want to bother you when you were going to be busy with your Feast days.  I know the Feasts are important to you, and I noticed this thing that was wrong, and I'm concerned about you.  If this one thing is wrong, what elses might be wrong.  If you knew that my husband was asking me to do something wrong, wouldn't you be concerned about me?

I thought it best at the time to not push her into telling the "answer" (I suspect there is no real answer anyway--there's no way around it--it's already the 7th month).  But I hope that this at least lodges in the back of her mind as a seed of doubt.
If any of you know the answer the WMSCOG gives for this, I'd really like to hear it!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Persecution and Unbelief as Proof?

Have you heard anything like this from the World Mission Society Church of God?...
"2000 years ago Jesus, His disciples, and the early church were persecuted for the truth.  The true church is always persecuted.  History repeats itself.  Our Church of God is being persecuted today because it is the true church.  Prophecy is being fulfilled."
-or-
"It's just like the Pharisees 2000 years ago who didn't recognize Jesus as God because He didn't appear as they expected.  What has happened before is happening again.  People do not believe Ahnsahnghong is God because he does not appear as they expected.  They are just like the Pharisees 2000 years ago with their unbelief.  It is fulfilled prophecy."
-or-
"As soon as you are baptized and start studying the Bible with us, you will encounter persecution.  Your family and friends will say that you have joined a cult and they will try to prevent you from following the truth of God.  Luke 12:52-53 says that the truth will divide the family.  It is prophecy being fulfilled."

Now let's honestly think about that for a moment....

Yes, Jesus and His disciples and the early church were  persecuted.  And yes, not everyone believed in Jesus at the time because they were expecting something a bit different in their Messiah.  And yes, anyone who chooses a different faith than their family is probably going to encounter some resistance.

But history repeating itself is fulfilling prophecy and proving that Ahnsahnghong and his church are the only true church?!  NO.

If "Bob" tells you that he's God in the flesh, and you don't believe him, does that provide proof that what he's saying is true?  Of course not.  What if he shows you a few Scriptures and interprets them so it looks like they might be talking about him (he was born in the flesh after all, and he has a 'new' name...).  If you still don't believe him, is that proof now that he's really God?  NO.  Perhaps you don't believe him because he's really not speaking the truth.

What about all those other people in the world who claim to be the Christ?  (Here are a few)  They've all got plenty of people who don't believe them.  Is that proof that any of them is telling the truth?  No.

And what kind of persecution is the WMSCOG dealing with?  People thinking they're crazy for believing a Korean woman is "Mother God" and that you can go visit her?  People posting dissenting websites about them and calling them a false church?  Families upset that their children are being torn away from them?  People close the door on them while they evangelize in the neighborhood?  People don't believe them?

Do all of those things prove that Satan is sending persecution on them for preaching the truth?  NO.  Perhaps all those things are happening because they really are a false church.

What about all those other churches that are being persecuted.  Have you ever heard of Voice of the Martyrs?  They keep track of Christians (not the WMSCOG) being persecuted around the world.  But the persecutions they deal with are much greater: imprisonment for their faith, houses and churches and Bibles being burned, beatings, murders....
If persecution were proof that they were preaching the truth, then I'd say they satisfied that requirement.  And yet the WMSCOG will say that those people are preaching falsehood.

And what about your family and friends getting concerned that you have joined a cult?  When they argue with you about your new-found faith in "Christ Ahnsahnghong" and they are so scared for you and frustrated with what you are being taught in your new church that they may even start arguing and yelling about it?  Does that prove that your new church is true?  NO.

Would the same thing happen in a Christian family when one of their children decides to become a Muslim or Buddhist or Wiccan?  Yes.  Does that prove Islam or Buddhism or Witchcraft is true?  Of course not.
Perhaps you have actually found a CULT and your loved ones are genuinely concerned for your well-being.

These types of "fulfilled prophecies" are NO PROOF at all.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Big Calendar Mistake!

Leviticus 23:23-25
Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the children of Israel, saying: ‘In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall have a sabbath-rest, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, a holy convocation. You shall do no customary work on it; and you shall offer an offering made by fire to the LORD.’”

This is the Feast of Trumpets, which Rabbinic Jews today celebrate as Rosh Hashanah, and which also marks the New Year for their civil calendar. (Karaite Jews call the same holiday Yom Teruah.)

The Lord declares that it is to be held on the first day of the seventh month. The Feast of Trumpets is the first of three Holy Days/Feasts in the seventh month. The others are the Day of Atonement and the Feast of Tabernacles.

When I asked my sister if she was going to be busy with a Feast this week (knowing that Jews were beginning their Rosh Hashanah celebrations the evening of Sept. 8), she was surprised and said no, and wasn't even sure what Rosh Hashanah was. She said that the next Feast she will celebrate will be the Feast of Trumpets on Oct. 8. Since Rosh Hashanah is actually the day for the Feast of Trumpets, I wondered--why a whole month different?! (Especially since she celebrated Passover on the same day as the Hebrew calendar this year.)

In examining this particular problem with the World Mission Society Church of God, I’m not going to compare the Rabbinic and Karaite calendars (which the WMSCOG sometimes deviates from) to try to prove one “right”. I’m only going to compare the WMSCOG calendar with itself and the Bible.

What follows may seem like an insignificant point to some people, but it really shows how the WMSCOG cannot even keep straight their own rules and doctrine.

We know that the Hebrew calendar is luni-solar, which means that the months follow the lunar cycle, with a leap month added every so often to keep the holy days in their proper seasons. Each month starts with the new moon.
(By the way, because of the time difference around the globe, the new moon may occur up to one day off of GMT if you consider that the WMSCOG may go by new moons in Korea (which it does NOT seem to do consistently anyhow). But these problems are far greater than one day….)

Let’s look at this year 2010—
Passover is in the first month (Lev. 23:5)
The WMSCOG kept Passover on March 29.
So the new moon of March 15 marks the first month.
The new moon of April 14 begins the second month.
The new moon of May 13 begins the third month.
The new moon of June 12 begins the fourth month.
The new moon of July 11 begins the fifth month.
The new moon of August 9 begins the sixth month.
The new moon of September 8 begins the seventh month.
The new moon of October 7 begins the eighth month.

The WMSCOG has their Feast of Trumpets scheduled for Oct. 8, 2010.
They are always sticklers for keeping the Feasts at their correct date and time.
Why are they keeping this year’s Feast of Trumpets/Day of Atonement/Feast of Tabernacles in the eighth month instead of the seventh month?

I think their excuse will be something about that these dates are supposed to be in the autumn season, and Sept. 8 is not officially fall yet. But that doesn’t matter. Fall will have officially started before this series of Feasts is finished. And the Bible says that these dates must be in the seventh month.

A similar thing happened in 2005 and 2008:
For 2005, the WMSCOG held Passover on Mar. 24.
So the new moon of Mar. 10 started their first month.
It was followed by the new moons of Apr. 8 (second month), May 8 (third month), June 6 (fourth month), July 6 (fifth month), Aug. 4 (sixth month), Sept. 3 (seventh month), and Oct. 3 (eighth month).
The WMSCOG held their Feast of Trumpets on Oct. 3. (They called this the seventh month on their news report, but it is actually the eighth month counting from when they kept Passover.)

For 2008, the WMSCOG held Passover on Mar. 21.
So the new moon of Mar. 7 started their first month.
It was followed by the new moons of Apr. 5 (second month), May 5 (third month), June 3 (fourth month), July 2 (fifth month), Aug. 1 (sixth month), Aug. 30 (seventh month), and Sept. 29 (eighth month).
The WMSCOG held their Feast of Trumpets on Sept. 30. (They called this the seventh month too on their news report, but it is actually the eighth month counting from when they kept Passover.)

It's just another thing that makes it SO CLEAR to me that Mother Jerusalem is NOT God! She can’t even arrange her own church’s calendar to follow her own teachings.

If you want to see this for yourself, you can look at the South Korea church news reports on the main church website for previous Feast dates here: http://english.watv.org/news/list.asp?menu=I
And here’s a list of new moon dates: http://eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/phase/phase2001est.html

If you'd like to see this information in a chart form, click here.

Praying for My Sister...and for You

Well, I did it...
For some time now I have been carefully trying to NOT get into debates with my sister or approach subjects that could cause disagreement and strain in our relationship.  But last night I asked her about one thing that is definitely not right.

There are many, many things that are not right about the WMSCOG, but one in particular is very relevant this week.  (I'll post about it next time.)  So I asked her about it.  I did not want to get confrontational or put her on the defense, so I tried my very best to speak calmly and phrase it as something that I don't understand, that confuses me, and I laid out the problem.  I let her say that she'd look into it, and I repeated about how I don't understand why this is going on and that it confuses me (which it does!), and then we moved on to other family news.

But I could hear the feeling in her voice...the sigh of "oh no, are we getting into this again?"...the bit of strain that I had brought up an undesirable topic.

So I am praying in partucular today that she will not take offense at me, and that she will consider the question honestly, and that it will help her to see the truth.

For you, if you and I have already gotten aquainted, please know that I remember you, and I'm praying for you as well.

And if I don't know you yet, I do know that something important has brought you here.  I will pray for you also, and I would be so privileged if you'd share something of your situation and story.  It's ok if you want to remain anonymous.

UPDATE--It's still the same day, but I have to update this.  My sister called me back this afternoon.  She was trying to work out why the WMSCOG Feast of Trumpets is going to be celebrated in the eighth month instead of the seventh month.  She was trying to work out an answer...and it wasn't working.  She's going to keep working on it and get back to me.  I'm feeling encouraged with this slight glimmer of light.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Clouds and Flesh, Part3

Continuing on about whether "clouds" are symbolic of "flesh" and therefore mean that Christ will return by being born in the flesh...

I wanted to see if there are any other Scriptures concerning someone coming in or with clouds, or riding on clouds. Can “clouds” can be interpreted as “flesh” there?…

Now the LORD descended in the cloud and stood with him [Moses] there, and proclaimed the name of the LORD.  And the LORD passed before him…. (Ex 34:5-6)
It seems here that the Lord did appear to Moses in some kind of form, but as for the cloud, God was known to show His presence to the Israelites in the form of a cloud or pillar of cloud. So the word still means that there was an actual cloud on the mountain with Moses, such as in Ex 24:15.  Besides, if this meant that God was being born as a baby, there would not have been time for Him to grow up enough to stand there and talk with him.

Then the LORD came down in the cloud, and spoke to him [Moses], and took of the Spirit that was upon him, and placed the same upon the seventy elders... (Num 11:25)
The seventy elders were there with Moses (v.24), so if God actually stood there as a man in flesh with Moses, I’m sure it would have caused quite a commotion that definitely would have been written about. Here again it is the cloud of the Lord’s presence.


Then the LORD came down in the pillar of cloud and stood in the door of the tabernacle, and called Aaron and Miriam. And they both went forward. (Num 12:5)
Did God stand as a man in flesh and call to Aaron and Miriam? Verse 10 says that “the cloud lifted from above the tent,” (NIV) so we know it was the cloud of the Lord’s presence and not a man in flesh that spoke with Aaron and Miriam and then rose into the sky (that also would have been notable to write down).  Besides, was God born as a baby every time He is said to "come down in a cloud" for the Israelites in the wilderness?  No.

There is no one like the God of Jeshurun,
      
Who rides the heavens to help you,
      And in His excellency on the clouds.
(Deut 33:26)
This passage is about how God comes swiftly and mightily to help us. Can He help us by coming in the flesh? Well, Jesus came in the flesh and helped us, but looking at the context, I don’t think that’s what this Scripture meant.  Moses lived long before Jesus, and he was talking in the present tense about God.

He parted the heavens and came down; dark clouds were under His feet. (Ps 18:9 NIV)
Well, this could be that dark people were under His feet, but the next verse talks about God soaring “on the wings of the wind.” So it more likely means that God was above the dark clouds in the sky.

Sing to God, sing praises to His name;
         Extol Him who rides on the clouds,
         By His name YAH,
         And rejoice before Him. (Ps 68:4)
Are we to praise God who comes in the flesh? Jesus came in the flesh, and we are to praise Him, so this verse could work with the “flesh” interpretation. But somehow, I think the writer (David) was picturing a God great enough to ride the clouds like a chariot, like in Ps 104.

...Who stretch out the heavens like a curtain. 
He lays the beams of His upper chambers in the waters,
         Who makes the clouds His chariot,
         Who walks on the wings of the wind
(Ps 104:2-3)
Here God is pictured as riding on the clouds like a chariot. Could it mean that God has a body of flesh? Maybe, but looking at the surrounding verses which talk about God’s sovereignty over the grandness of nature, it is more likely talking about actual clouds.

...Behold, the LORD rides on a swift cloud,
      And will come into Egypt...
(Isa 19:1)
Is God coming to Egypt in the flesh? Joseph and Mary did take the baby Jesus and flee to Egypt for a time, but looking at this verse in context, that’s not the time that is being talked about (it sounds like some kind of civil war in Egypt). Could it maybe happen with the Second Coming Christ? Did Ahnsahnghong go to Egypt, or maybe Jerusalem Mother? Is this maybe a prophecy they have fulfilled?  Hmmmm.

Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. (1 Thess 4:17)
In this Scripture it is the people who are alive together with the saints who have died who join the Lord in the air.  It is pretty obvious that the people will ascend bodily, in the flesh, and also that they will be in the air where there are actual clouds.  Here, "clouds" could mean "flesh" or "clouds" or both.

And they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, “Come up here.” And they ascended to heaven in a cloud, and their enemies saw them. (Rev 11:12)
These are the two witnesses whom God allows to prophesy for 1260 days. They are killed and their bodies lie in the street for 3 ½ days, after which they are resurrected and ascend to heaven. Since their enemies saw them, they must have gone up to heaven in the flesh, so “cloud” meaning “flesh” could work. But this does resemble Jesus’ ascension, so “cloud” could mean an actual cloud.

Then I looked, and behold, a white cloud, and on the cloud sat One like the Son of Man, having on His head a golden crown, and in His hand a sharp sickle.  And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to Him who sat on the cloud, “Thrust in Your sickle and reap, for the time has come for You to reap, for the harvest of the earth is ripe.”  So He who sat on the cloud thrust in His sickle on the earth, and the earth was reaped. (Rev 14:14-16)
Here Jesus is seated on a cloud like a throne. It could be that He will be a man in the flesh harvesting the earth, but it could also be just a descriptive image of a king so great that He needs a throne as big and high as the clouds.  Or it could be another image of the cloud of the Lord's presence, as in Exodus.

Here's the conclusion of the matter...
Most of the time in the Bible, "clouds" refer to actual clouds or the great cloud of the Lord's presence.  When Jesus returns "on the clouds," that's most likely what is being described--either an actual cloud or the cloud of the Lord's glorious presence.

In other places, it is used to provide a desciptive image as a simile or metaphor to the reader (or hearer, since in those times the Scriptures were often read aloud).
IF "clouds" are sybolic of "flesh", then that symbolism is definitely not used consistently in other references for clouds.
Furthermore, in those few verses where it might be symbolic for "flesh," the interpretation of "being born in the flesh as a baby" does not fit.

Mainstream Christianity does believe that Jesus will return bodily, in the flesh, and not because of any interpretation of "clouds" meaning "flesh."  He still has a body.  He doesn't need a new one to be born into. 

 
But think about this:
Giving it the benefit of the doubt that the prophesies mean Jesus will return to earth as a baby again, to grow into a man of flesh. Who could potentially fulfill that prophecy? Ahnsahnghong, yes...and every man on earth. So it would really be no help at all in pinpointing who was the Second Coming Christ.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Clouds and Flesh, Part 2

Continuing on with verses the World Mission Society Church of God uses to support their interpretation that Jesus' return "on the clouds" means that He will be born again in the flesh...

Revelation 10:1--I saw still another mighty angel coming down from heaven, clothed with a cloud. And a rainbow was on his head, his face was like the sun, and his feet like pillars of fire.

They say that “clothed with a cloud” means “clothed in flesh.” But is it not possible for Jesus to wrap clouds around Himself like a robe? Clouds are used to describe a covering or garment in other verses, and substituting the word “flesh” would not make sense in the other verses. Why interpret it as “flesh” just in this verse?  Here are the others...

and the LORD said to Moses: 'Tell Aaron your brother not to come at just any time into the Holy Place inside the veil, before the mercy seat which is on the ark, lest he die; for I will appear in the cloud above the mercy seat.” (Lev 16:2)
Does this mean that God was appearing as a man in flesh over the atonement cover?

He binds up the water in His thick clouds,
      Yet the clouds are not broken under it.

He covers the face of His throne,
      
And spreads His cloud over it.” (Job 26:8-9)
Does God use His flesh to wrap up the waters or cover the moon?

When I made the clouds its [the earth's] garment,
      And thick darkness its swaddling band
” (Job 38:9)
Is the earth clothed in flesh?

How the Lord has covered the daughter of Zion
      With a cloud in His anger!
...” (Lam 2:1)
Here Israel is covered with a cloud, but not flesh—it’s descriptive of the Lord’s anger.

You [God] have covered Yourself with a cloud,
      That prayer should not pass through.
” (Lam 3:44)  
God may have covered Himself with flesh as Jesus, but that’s not what this verse is talking about. It would be pretty sad for us if Jesus’ flesh was so thick He wouldn’t hear our prayers.

Thick clouds cover Him, so that He cannot see,
      And He walks above the circle of heaven.
” (Job 22:14)  
Similarly, if Jesus’ flesh was so thick that He didn’t see us from heaven, I would be very discouraged.

He made darkness His secret place;
         His canopy around Him
was dark waters
         
And thick clouds of the skies.” (Ps 18:11)
If dark flesh were His canopy or covering, maybe we should be looking for a Savior with dark skin?

Then Solomon spoke:
      'The LORD said He would dwell in the dark cloud.” (2 Chron 6:1)
Is this the Lord having dark skin again? No, it’s describing the cloud of the Lord’s presence.
------------
Daniel 7:13--
"I was watching in the night visions,
      And behold,
One like the Son of Man,
      Coming with the clouds of heaven!
      He came to the Ancient of Days,
      And they brought Him near before Him."

 
When you look at this Scripture alongside Matt 28:18, “And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, 'All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth,” and Luke 22:29, “And I bestow upon you a kingdom, just as My Father bestowed one upon Me,” then it looks as though Dan 7:13 is talking about Jesus’ first coming. The WMSCOG says that since Jesus was born as a baby, “clouds” here means “flesh."

If this vision is about Jesus’ first coming, then it could easily be something happening in the heavenly realm before Jesus is born on the earth.

Or it could be happening when Jesus ascends into heaven. If you look at Acts 1:9, “Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight,” and John 20:17, “... ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.’” Can you imagine Jesus ascending into a cloud and then riding on that cloud straight into the scene in Daniel 7?  Isn’t it possible that Jesus was given authority and a kingdom before He came to earth, and had an official ceremony for it after He returned to heaven?  Or that the giving of authority and the kingdom was repeated, maybe for emphasis or as a “job well done”?

Ahnsahnghong (page 221 of the Water of Life book) and the WMSCOG seem to believe that a actual cloud could not physically support the body of Jesus, and that Jesus would have to be waiting around in the sky (like a satellite maybe?) until it was time to return, that He would not be able to travel between heaven and earth when it was time to descend in the clouds.

Though Jesus was a physical being after His resurrection, His body was not of ordinary flesh like we have. In John 20 verses 19 and 26, we see two different occasions when Jesus appeared in a room when all the doors were closed and locked. And in Mark 16:19, Luke 24:51, and Acts 1:9, He physically goes up into the sky. If His resurrection body can do these things, it should be no problem for a Him to come on an actual cloud.

Since the angels in Acts 1:11 said, “…why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.” What does this mean?
Descending from the sky from the clouds? Probably.
In a physical form of flesh that we can see? Probably.
Being born as a baby again? Probably not since He did not go into heaven as a baby.
Why did the angels question the people about standing around looking at the sky? I think because the people needed to stop looking so intently for Jesus’ return and get to the business of telling the world about Him.

I have a little more about clouds that I'll post next time...

Click here to go on to Part 3.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Clouds and Flesh, Part 1

There are six verses in the Bible that talk about Jesus Christ's returning on/in/with the clouds:
Matt 24:30, 26:64; Mark 13:26, 14:62; Luke 21:27; Rev. 1:7

The World Mission Society Church of God says that clouds are symbolic of flesh, so they say that these verses mean that Jesus will return in the flesh.

I too believe that Jesus will return bodily, as the angels said in Acts 1:11, "...This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven." 
When He went into heaven, Jesus rose bodily into the clouds/sky.  To come back in the same manner would be to return bodily from the clouds/sky.

But, instead of Jesus returning in the same body He left with, the WMSCOG uses their "clouds=flesh" interpretation to say that Christ will return by being born into a new body.  In other words, rather than Christ coming back "in the same way you have seen him go into heaven," they say He will come back in the same way He came the first time, born into flesh as a baby again.

Do "clouds" represent "flesh" this way in the Bible, that Christ will return by being born in the flesh?  Or do “clouds” represent … “clouds", that Christ will return from the sky or in a cloud?

To find out, I did a keyword search for "cloud" and got 152 hits in the NKJV and sorted through them all.
  • In many verses, it is clearly an actual cloud, such as a raincloud or a cloud of smoke, as from a fire (such as Genesis 9:14 and Judges 20:38).
  • In several verses it is used to describe a day of darkness, but it may not necessarily be actual clouds—it may be figurative for the darkness of oppression and despair (such as Ezekiel 30:3 and 34:12).
  • But in many, many verses it is the cloud of the Lord’s presence, such as that led the Israelites or covered the temple or mountain (such as Exodus 40:38 and Leviticus 16:2).
If Jesus' return "on the clouds" is symbolic of something, why not a time of oppression and despair, or the Lord's great presence as manifested for the Israelites in the wilderness?  Why have clouds symbolic of flesh?

Using the official church website, and Ahn Sahng-Hong's Water of Life book (Chapter 15), I've examined each of the Scriptures they've used to interpret "clouds" as "flesh"....
---------------
Hebrews 12:1--Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.

The WMS COG says that in Heb. 12:1 “clouds” represent people, “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses…,” because the witnesses are people. This Greek word is Strong’s # 3509 defined as “a cloud, a large dense multitude, a throng,” and it denotes a “great shapeless collection of vapor” rather than a “definite and particular masses of vapor with some form or shape.” This is like when we say there is a “cloud of flies” over the picnic. We do not mean an actual rain-type of cloud; we mean a whole bunch of flies gathered together, kind of like the water vapor that gathers together to make a cloud. In Hebrews 11, we just had a description of many people of great faith who had died, and the author is now picturing them surrounding us (like a cloud of flies would) encouraging us. This is not quite the same sense of “cloud” as a fluffy cloud in the sky. But we can give it the benefit of the doubt, if the other Scriptures also support “cloud” being “flesh.”
-----------
Jude 1:12--These are spots in your love feasts, while they feast with you without fear, serving only themselves. They are clouds without water, carried about by the winds; late autumn trees without fruit, twice dead, pulled up by the roots
2 Peter 2:17--These are wells without water, clouds carried by a tempest, for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever.
Proverbs 25:14--Whoever falsely boasts of giving
      
Is like clouds and wind without rain.

The WMSCOG says these verses show that "clouds" (or mists/water) represent "people".  Actually, in literature, we call these expressions metaphors and similes. Similes and metaphors are used to suggest a resemblance between things that are not literally the same, like saying, “His heart was a block of ice.”

If we use this same reasoning, then “clouds” can be:

A dead person (not exactly what you’d want in a Savior)—“As the cloud disappears and vanishes away, So he who goes down to the grave does not come up.” (Job 7:9)

Or safety (is Jesus returning “safely”?)—“Terrors overwhelm me; my dignity is driven away as by the wind, my safety vanishes like a cloud.” (Job 30:15 NIV)

Or a king’s favor (will Jesus return with “favor”?)-- “In the light of the king’s face is life, And his favor is like a cloud of the latter rain.” (Prov 16:15)

Or offenses/sins (Is Jesus returning with sin and offense?)-- “I have blotted out, like a thick cloud, your transgressions, And like a cloud, your sins....” (Isa 44:22)

Or ships (Jesus will return in a ship, maybe with big white sails?)-- “Who are these who fly like a cloud, And like doves to their roosts?  Surely the coastlands shall wait for Me; And the ships of  Tarshish will come first...” (Isa 60:8-9)

Or armies (Jesus may come with an army. I can imagine that, and it can be supported by Rev 19:14-16.)—Isa 14:31 and Eze 38:9, 16. “You will come up against My people Israel like a cloud, to cover the land.” (Eze 38:16)

Or anger (Jesus will return angry?)--“How the Lord has covered the daughter of Zion with a cloud in His anger!...” (Lam 2:1)

So linking "clouds" with "flesh" is not as straight forward as it might first appear.  I'll have more about this tomorrow...

Click here to go on to Part 2.