This Sabbath is one full of events that require comment.
I will deal with the matters in two phases. The first one (A) will be regarding the aspects of Quarantine and the historical Passover. The second (B) will regard world events as they affect the church.
I mentioned in my recent letter that in view of the two problems we face, that people were to take this matter of restriction of travel more seriously until things are much clearer.
The war in Iraq is sparking much anti-reaction among world groups. Until that is resolved we must take this aspect seriously. I will deal with this in the other section on the war.
With the new epidemics emerging especially this Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) epidemic, we must express care in observing quarantine regulations. The Bible has a series of regulations covering quarantine and you will find them in the papers on the Law and the Sixth Commandment (No. 259) and associated papers. The responsibility to make alive is part of this commandment and each of us has a responsibility to keep each other healthy by restricting our activity and not exposing others to diseases wherever we can.
The SARS epidemic is being played down at present. It has been identified as a paramyxovirus. The category covers viruses such as distemper in animals, measles and mumps, and parainfluenza viruses, which are respiratory pathogens. There is no known cure for these viruses. Distemper in dogs has a vaccination and perhaps that breakthrough might occur, but it has not done so as yet. Distemper passes into humans from the wild virus in the air and it manifests itself as Padget’s disease, which causes the continual fracturing of bone and rebuilding such that it is very painful and hideously deforming. The SARS virus affects the lungs. Antibiotics will not help.
This coming Passover we will have a number of sites all over the world and people will travel to be with each other and to take the Passover. We have done this and taken the Passover on 14 Nisan for two thousand years as a Church and for fourteen hundred years before that, from the Exodus from Egypt, as the nation of Israel. We, the Church of God, fell into disagreement with the Roman church in the second century. They introduced the heretical Easter system through Anicetus and Victor (154-192 CE). We were called Quartodecimans because we kept the Passover on 14 Abib as opposed to their introduced Easter system (see the paper The Quartodeciman Disputes (No. 277).
Our firm view of history has kept us on track on this key identifying sign
of our people. Now it has come to my attention that there is a paper going around
that seeks to prolong the trial of Christ, commencing from 10 Abib to 14 Abib,
and seeks to use this false argument in ignorance of our history to justify
a varied Lord’s Supper over multiple dates, and hence, at any time in the year.
This argument is false and uninformed. Something like it was used by the Romans
to introduce weekly communion. Those who are taken in by the argument are to
be given a holiday until they see the error of their ways, start doing some
serious historical studies, and abide by the Statement of Beliefs (A1) of the
Church. The error comes from a failure to place the historical activities of
the Church into perspective and deal with our historical position correctly.
This Passover I would like people to study the Timing
of the Crucifixion and the Resurrection (No. 159) and The
Ascension (No. 129). We need to get back to basics so that we can deal with
these silly errors among newcomers to the Church. Study our history in the paper
Role of the Fourth Commandment in the Historical
Sabbath-keeping Churches of God (No. 170). People may be thinking that this
is a form of quarantine, in that these ideas are to be literally dealt with
and expunged from our people. I have given instructions that newcomers who do
not understand the position of the Passover and the function of 14 Abib within
the Law of God and the history of the Church are to be told to study until they
get it right.
The Lord’s Supper is the second most important event in an individual’s religious life. Aside from one’s baptism and whilst not a biblical holy day, it is the most important day of the Church calendar. There are only two sacraments of the Church. These are Baptism and the Lord’s Supper (see the paper The Sacraments of the Church (No. 150). Do not allow the unconverted to disrupt this ceremony. Unbaptised people are certainly not to be present at the ceremony of the Lord’s Supper. However, prevent problems afterwards also. We will not tolerate uninformed debate over this period. Christ withdrew at end 13 Abib for the 14 Abib Preparation Day permitting none but the elect disciples to be with him. This was done in accordance with the Law of God at Deuteronomy 16:1-8. The Samaritans still do it to this day. In like manner, you are to isolate yourselves with the Church and then keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread seven days. The Law allows you to return to your gates on the morning of the 15th of Abib. However, if the place that God chooses to place His name through the Church is further away you will be unable to keep the feast and celebrate with your brethren. That is your priority. If you have problems, discuss them with the ministry and they will help you. If you have to keep it at home, it must be for a legitimate reason.
One legitimate reason for not being at the Passover festivities is quarantine and we will now discuss this issue. I have seen people come to the feast with illnesses thinking they do God a favour. Once I was exposed and took such a virus on with me from the feast. I came down with the virus at my mother-in-law’s house in UK. She was old. She also caught the virus and may have died.
We are not interested in how tough you are or how fervent you appear by coming to services with a virus or disease that is contagious. If you have a problem, stay home and remain there until you are clear. Before coming to services, consult with your medical advisor and the ministry. With this new SARS epidemic it appears as though you have a cold and then you develop pneumonia and then you likely die. If you don’t die you can be permanently affected. Remember this fact: of the hospital workers in Hanoi who treated the SARS cases there, thirty-three of the staff, including the French doctor who treated them, are now dead. This is not a casual virus. This is a world epidemic that will work its way through the weak and the old and the tired, and will kill them. We all have an obligation to protect one another and not pass our germs on to others. If in doubt, stay home. No one will thank you for passing a deadly disease on to their family and killing a loved one. I spoke about my great aunt being killed in the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918. Forty million people died. Of numerous sisters, she alone died and she had five children. The reason was that she was weakest because of the workload on her with the children. My grandmother survived because she was healthier having her second child, my mother, some three and a half years before and being recovered and more isolated.
So if you are run down, rest. If you have a problem, stay at home until you are sure. Our people will understand and respect you for your consideration. Remember we have old and infirm and young babies at the feasts and they are all vulnerable and you owe it to them to protect them. If your children have been exposed or are sick, quarantine them. In this selfish and self-willed age think of others before self.
If this epidemic comes under control more easily, still remember that it is but one of an increasing number of diseases that are becoming resistant to counter measures. Sometimes healthy people go into hospital for routine things and die there through infections. There are resistant strains of many things now caused by overuse of antibiotics. Keep yourselves healthy and look after your family and your extended family, which is the Church.
Remember to love one another as God and Christ loves us.
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