Light from the Crack—Chapter 8: Joshua’s Message, Part 2
Oct 06, 2016
“Do you agree that the new covenant puts no requirement on the people to vow obedience, but that yet they are to be compliant with the Creator’s law?” Joshua asked.
“Yes, of course,” the old man replied. “They must have faith in the Creator and must also be obedient to the laws of the Town Council. That is the provision of the new covenant. If they do these two things, they may be citizens of Newkirk. The Creator delegated authority to the Town Council forever, and even if the Council were to disregard the will of the Creator—which, of course, could never happen—He would not annul their authority, for it was granted to them unconditionally by the new covenant.”
“That brings me to the main reason for this gathering,” Joshua responded. “The Creator has shown me that the first covenant was man’s vow to the Creator. The new covenant is the Creator’s vow and promise to man. The first covenant obligated men to be obedient in order to be citizens of Newkirk. But because men were not able to fulfill their vows, God made a vow of His own that obligated Himself to make all men righteous. This second covenant does not depend upon the will of men, but only upon Himself and His own power.”
“But that violates our free will,” the old man objected. “Surely He would not do such a thing.”
Joshua continued, “The first covenant was made by man’s free will, as you call it, and look where it got them. On the other hand, the new covenant was made by the Creator’s free will. I am here to proclaim that the Creator has free will, and that He can make any promise as He wishes. When He makes such promises, He obligates Himself to fulfill it to the letter. To fail in any way would make Him either a liar or a weak god having good intentions.”
He paused to let this thought settle in their minds. Then he said, “If you read the familiar story of the original rainbow, you will see that the Creator made a promise to the whole earth and not once required anyone on earth to make a promise in return. Any promise that does not hinge upon a response is unconditional.”
Joshua continued, “It is written again that the Creator told the mediator of the first covenant to gather all the people together to hear the Creator’s vow to establish them as His people and to be their God. Further, He told them that this vow was not only for them but for all who were not present as well. This vow was made about 40 years after the first covenant. The main difference was that men’s vows established the first covenant, while the Creator’s vow established the second.”
“Are you telling us,” the old man exploded, “that if men fail to attain perfection that it is God’s fault? Do you dare to shift the responsibility for man’s failures upon the Creator? That sounds like blasphemy to me!”
“Responsibility rests upon those who vow. When men vowed obedience, they obligated themselves to do something. When they failed, they came under the law, for the law held them responsible for breaking their vows. But when the Creator vowed, He took upon Himself the responsibility to perfect mankind, and the same law will hold the Creator accountable until He fulfills His promise. Man’s imperfection is not the issue. The only issue is whether the Creator is capable of perfecting mankind in spite of the fact that this seems to be impossible.”
“But it is impossible,” the old man insisted. “God simply cannot do this, for His holiness forces Him to cast away all of the disobedient ones, even though He loves them.”
“I am here to give you a message from the Creator that He will do this,” Joshua persisted. “Because He made a vow, His holiness demands that He must fulfill His vow. The reason He made this new covenant vow is so that we might know for sure what He intends to do. I am here to ask you to believe what He has promised and to have faith in Him. Have faith in His ability to do what He has said He will do. Do not place your faith in your own ability to keep your vows to Him. Place your faith in Him, not in yourselves.”
“That is not what the Town Council has determined,” the old man said with growing anger. “Citizenship in Newkirk is by one’s own vow of obedience and submission to the traditions of the Council. To say otherwise could get you into a lot of trouble,” he threatened darkly.
“Do you think that the new covenant is man’s new vow to the Creator?” Joshua asked him. “Are the two covenants both based on the vows of men?" Joshua continued, “It seems that Newkirk citizenship is based upon the first covenant disguised as the new covenant. Has Newkirk retained the first covenant, while only changing its label? You seem to believe that the new covenant is merely man’s new vow to the Creator.”
The old man proclaimed loudly for all to hear, “We require that men place their faith in the Creator and submit to His authorized Town Council and its laws established by long tradition. Submission to men proves a man’s faith in the Creator Himself. One cannot worship the Creator without submitting to the Town Council.”
“So in the end,” Joshua stated, “all citizens of Newkirk must swear allegiance to the Town Council and to obey its traditions in order to come under the new covenant. And if they do not comply, they may be punished, and in some cases their citizenship could be revoked. Is that correct?”
“Yes, absolutely,” the old man said firmly.
“This sounds like a renewal of the first covenant,” Joshua said. “It sounds nothing like the passage that you read to me earlier, where God vowed to make all men His people by writing His law within their hearts. By your way of thinking, the Creator ought to have vowed, saying, ‘I promise to try to convince people to have faith in Me and to obey Me,’ or perhaps He should have said, ‘I promise to make it possible for everyone to follow Me, if they so choose.’ But as you have read from your own book, this is not the nature of His promise. He vowed to persist until all have found that path and have placed their faith in Him.”
Joshua continued, “The point I am making is that the Creator Himself has vowed to write the law in the hearts of the people—not just a few of them, but all of the people. And should this not happen, then He must take the blame for promising what He could not deliver.”
“That is absurd,” the old man insisted. “The Creator was not talking about all men, but all who believe. It is clear that not all men believe during their life time. Once they die, that is the deadline. If they miss this deadline, then they are lost forever, for it is written, 'it is appointed unto men once to die, and after this the judgment.' Once they are judged, it is too late to repent."
“The words you quoted,” Joshua replied, “speak of a sequence of events, telling us that the judgment occurs after men die. However, this says nothing about a deadline for repentance. It is written that every knee will bow, and every tongue will swear allegiance to the glory of the Creator. Obviously, most men do not do this during their life time on earth. There is only one point in time where this can happen. They will do so when all the dead are summoned to the court, for that is when all truth finally will be revealed to them. Once they know the truth, which eluded them during their life on earth, they will bow to the Creator willingly.”
“Yes, but after they have bowed and sworn allegiance, then they will be cast aside and lost forever,” the old man insisted.
“Their allegiance to the Creator,” Joshua answered, “is the fulfillment of the new covenant, where He finally begins to achieve His goal. I do not doubt that such people will be judged, but I insist that the judgment, however long it may take in that future age, must be corrective in nature. The purpose of judgment is to compel all of the disobedient ones to repent and to learn the ways of the Creator. No judgment can cause the Creator’s vow to fail. His judgments are designed to bring about His success, not His failure.”
“The book says that His judgments are eternal,” the old man stated with confidence. “If your view were correct, the judgments would bring all of mankind into unity with the Creator. Everyone knows that this cannot be. It is written in many places that judgment is never-ending.”
Joshua paused for a moment. “You are using a faulty translation of the word eternal. In the original language it was from a word pertaining to a hidden or unknown period of time. Even the first covenant was said to be eternal, along with all animal sacrifices, but the Creator determined from the beginning that these would be temporary. How long the first covenant was to remain in effect was unknown to men in ages past, but an unknown time is not the same as never-ending time.”
He continued, “Consider, too, that there was an ancient order of priests, as you are well aware, that was given an eternal priesthood, as the translation goes. But you know also that this priesthood lasted only about 300 years before his lineage was replaced by another on account of corruption. In that case, the eternal priesthood came to an end. So how can you say that the word you translate eternal is indeed never-ending? Was it not rather that the time of this priesthood was indefinite, for no one knew if or when it might end? No one knew if those priests would remain true to the Creator or if they would corrupt themselves. The time was hidden from men until the Creator brought it to an end.”
“I insist that eternal means eternal,” the old man insisted. “Otherwise, they would not have used the word eternal.”
“Then we must agree to disagree once again,” Joshua replied. He was not surprised at the old man’s answer, for he was a spokesman for the Town Council and had no power to deviate from its decisions that had been established long ago. For him to agree with Joshua would be to deny the Council and risk losing all status, reputation, and perhaps even his own life.
“To sum up my reason for being here,” Joshua said, drawing his speech to a conclusion, “the Creator wants all of you to place your faith in Him, that is, in His promise. Believe that He is able to make good on His word. Learn about His plan for Creation and believe that He will accomplish His purpose and goal that He has intended from the beginning. Do not think that He is limited by good intentions that are beyond His ability to perform. Do not think that man’s will is stronger than the Creator’s will, or that the disobedience of men will prevent Him from making all men His people. Place your faith in the new covenant, and do not wait until all things are revealed at the great judgment.”
Joshua stepped from the podium, and the mayor stood up and announced, “Tomorrow we will hear from our next speaker who says that he has a revelation from the Creator to share with us. For now we have enough to ponder. We will hear more tomorrow at the same time.”
With that, the three of us left the building. A murmur rippled through the crowd as the people discussed this new way of thinking.
This is part 12 of a series titled "Light from the Crack." To view all parts, click the link below.
Dr. Stephen Jones