September 5, 2004
Commentary — From the Margins
More about the Port Austin Sabbatarin Community
The Port Austin Sabbatarian Community (PASC), a city set upon a hill at the tip of Michigan’s geographical thumb, appears larger in print than in reality. Even the two towers on the property seem small and inconsequential when hurrying past on the highway. The towers are supposed to generate four thousand a year in revenue, but at least one of the trustees doesn’t know who receives the money, or even if the money is being received.
The entirety of the financial structure of the Port Austin venture has been intentionally shrouded in mystery by one trustee. No day-by-day operational budget exists. No inventory of assets exists. No billing entity exists. No trust agreement establishing the purchasing entity exists. Instead, the financial obligations of this project have been primarily met by one 66-year-old, disabled person of color who is beginning to feel put upon. And here is where justice must begin: the light of righteousness must shrine upon the organizational and financial structure of PASC. If Port Austin is to become that beacon of righteousness set upon a high hill that the community portends to be, a beacon all the world will see, then business must be conducted in an open and forthright manner. Even as a free-church, the community has the basic obligation to publicly account for income earned and moneys received. The community needs the fiscal support of other Sabbatarians who believe in what this project to live uprightly before God is about, who believe that an assemblage of devout disciples will become an international city of light. The community cannot sustain itself on the generosity of one disabled man, nor on the handwork of a couple of others. It cannot sustain itself on the one-time sale of another trustee’s home. It must get its financial house in order so that future donations made to PASC do not disappear into the pocket of any one trustee as has happened.
Christ will not be long mocked. During Jesus Christ’s earthly ministry, Judas Iscariot kept the moneybag—Jesus knew beforehand who would betray him; yet He washed Judas’ feet a short while before being betrayed. He also knows now who has been foreknown, predestined, justified and glorified (Rom 8:29–30); He knows because of the timelessness of the supernal realm. We don’t know, and won’t know until we reach that position in this bowl of time when glorification occurs. As fish are confined in the sea, organic life is confined in space-time. Biological life is a product of the created universe, and must, therefore, remain in the universe, for flesh and blood will not inherit the kingdom of God. This is the logic behind a second birth, a birth-from-above. It is the spiritual life of this new creature that matures cross-dimensionally. As disciples of Christ Jesus, we grow as the children of God to spiritual maturity in bodies of flesh that can change, that are corruptible, that produce the appetites of the flesh which war with the law of God in our minds (Rom 7:25). The enemy we must defeat is in ourselves, and will be there until we are liberated from bondage to sin at the beginning of seven years of tribulation. Therefore, winning the war against our flesh now requires flight from spiritual Egypt or Babylon; it requires that we build in the province Beyond the River (Ezra 6:6). And the work done will not be by might, nor by power, but by the Spirit of God (Zech 4:6). It will be a work of God where all must walk uprightly in a foretaste of spiritual liberation from bondage to sin.
Judas Iscariot remained as one of the Twelve from the day he was chosen by the Father as the son of destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled (John 17:12) until Satan entered into him, thereby causing him to betray Jesus. Nehemiah was opposed by Sanballat and Tobiah throughout the rebuilding of Jerusalem’s walls. So it should come as no surprise to find betrayal and opposition within the Port Austin Sabbatarian Community if this community is indeed the work of God. And moving from physical to spiritual, betrayal will come as spoilage does in a bushel of apples.
Physical betrayal is easy to identify: one person (or many) delivers the person[s] betrayed to civil or physical authorities, or to a mob. But spiritual betrayal is not easy to identify: it comes as taint to one’s righteous. It is insidious. A disciple has another disciple take a license plate off a vehicle and put it on an unlicensed vehicle so the second vehicle can be driven on a public highway. Yes, both disciples know what has been done is legally wrong, but no one was harmed. There was no victim so no crime was committed, or so the first disciple argues—this first disciple has spiritually betrayed his brother by causing his brother to do what his brother knew was wrong. He has sold his brother out to sin. He is a murderer. And the only civil crime committed was the minor offense of swapping a license plate, a misdemeanor, which, even if stopped by a police officer, would not be considered serious.
Christ Jesus can bear all of the sins of disciples. He has, as the reality of the Yom Kipporim goat sacrificed on the altar, paid the price of humanity’s physical lawlessness. And as the reality of the Azazel goat, He bears the sins of born again disciples in the supernal realm. Two goats. Both sin offerings. One annually sacrificed. One alive in a far land, with the sins of Israel read over its head. One sacrificed at Calvary. One alive, seated at the right hand of the Father, symbolically roasted and eaten in the disciples’ taking of the annual Passover sacraments.
Spiritual betrayal grieves Father and Son as a disciple blasphemes the Holy Spirit through causing a brother to stumble in the heavenly realm. The Spirit goes where it will (John 3:8). We are unable to directly see into the heavenly realm where life imparted by the Breath of God [Pneuma ’Agion] matures as that new creature born-from-above in a body of flesh. We are unable to see ourselves as God sees us, unless we look into James’ perfect law of liberty, the mirror in which we can see our growth in Christ Jesus. Therefore, when one trustee of the Port Austin Sabbatarian Community drinks deeply of the patriotic nectar distilled by Constitutional anarchists (this nectar spread across the Internet as an ephemeral flystrip to catch these anarchists), the other trustees suffer from his legalistic impediment. This suffering has caused one trustee to spend two and a half times as much on this project as he intended. Justice for him now requires that even a whiff of patriotic perfume be too much stench to be tolerated.
The Port Austin Sabbatarian Community will succeed, but it cannot continue as it has begun. Spiritual betrayal must be resisted. All of us here are affected by this betrayal. And while it is my desire that the cause of this betrayal be permanently removed through a changed mindset, that might not happen. We might well wash our Judas’ feet to see if we will. Jesus did. Can we? Can I?
When Sanballat mocked the work being done by Nehemiah, the chamberlain prayed, ‘"Hear, O our God…Do not cover their guilt, and let not their sins be blotted out from your sight, for they have provoked you to anger in the presence of the builders’" (Neh 4:4–5). This is a harsh prayer, but this is a plea for justice—and it is justice that I seek today.
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"Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved."