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Lamentations

John Collins10/07/2013

Video available here: http://youtu.be/IS5yv3-V148

William Branham often made a statement on recorded tape, “I don’t know the book, but I know the Author real well,” referring to the Bible.  And then, would commence teaching that same book to the growing minds of men, women, and children, longing to know more about God’s Word. 

Yet the Bible says that to know God, you know His Word.  He IS the Word.  That same Word was made manifest into flesh and came to die for our sins.

 

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.

John 1:1-3

Jesus rebuked the Pharisees from straying from God’s Word, and yet that same Word was proclaiming Christ all throughout the Old Testament.

Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.

John 5:39

When my family took our stand for the Truth, and left the Branham movement, one of the first harsh realizations that hit us was that we knew very little about our Bibles.  A great deal of what we knew came from this “teacher,” and a great deal of what William Branham taught is not found in scripture.  Worse, a great deal of scripture was not found in the recordings of his ministry from 1947 to 1965 – huge portions were omitted.

While he claimed to be a “Huckleberry Finn” preacher that was not a good study of the Word of God, it turns out that he was a strong study of the writings of other men.  It is very easy to identify Charles Taze Russell’s Jehovah’s Witness theology woven through the sermons, or the teachings of Doctor Dowie, the false prophet from Zion, Illinois.  You’ll find Russell’s version of the Book of Revelation until he starts reading from Clarence Larkin, at which time the “White Horse Rider” changes sides in the battle.

I suddenly realized that we were treading dangerous ground when I compared Branham’s teaching of the scripture with the last chapter of the Bible, specifically the 18th and 19th verse of the 22nd chapter of Revelation:

If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.

Revelation 22:18-19

We could easily identify huge portions of the Bible teaching that had been removed to support the doctrines of Dowie and Russell, as well as many teachings that were added to the Word of God.  Elijah’s “dislike of women,” for instance, and his condemnation of Jezebel’s hair are not found in scripture.  It was quite a shock to find that Elijah’s dislike was strongly pointed towards idolatry and human sacrifice instead of the harmless eye shadow of a queen.

Yet he continued to make statements about knowing the “Author” without knowing the Word:

I’m not very much of a--of a teacher from the Word of God. And I probably don't know too much about His Book, but as I've often said, "I know the Author real well."

56-0108  GOD.HATH.A.PROVIDED.WAY

 

The irony of this is the number of pastors that this movement has produced, many of which are great studies of Branham’s teaching of scripture.  His newly invented passages and his mixture of verses from different contexts are quoted repetitiously from behind pulpits into the younger generation of this movement without the slightest concern that they are teaching the growing minds of children from a teacher who admittedly taught something that he did not know.

After reading and studying this book I’ve held in my hands for the past thirty-five years of my life, I regret not having studied it for myself long before.  I read my Bible, like everyone else warming the pews of the Branham Tabernacle, but I read the chapters as though they were isolated from the rest of the book.  I got really exited when I could find something that seemed to support what William Branham taught – it was like finding that last hidden Easter Egg after all the other children had taken the easy ones.

There are so many good things in the Word of God, all of which point to Jesus Christ.  While trying to point scriptures to Branham’s teaching, we were missing so many things that God was trying to tell us in His Word.  Entire books were left out of Branham’s “message,” books that were fundamental in helping us to understand the failure of works-righteous faith.

Lamentations, for instance, is fundamental in understanding the failure of the Old Covenant of Law and the need for a Redeemer to free us from trying to save ourselves by the rules we keep.  Yet this book is only mentioned one single time in the entire recorded ministry of William Branham – and not even on recorded tape.  It is written in the “Church Age Book,” and ironically is used to speak out against this doctrine of “knowing the Author and not knowing the Book.”  What William Branham says here is absolutely correct:

Now we ask, "What is the will of God?" There is only ONE WAY to know His will and that is by the WORD OF GOD.

Lamentations 3:37, "Who is he that saith, and it cometh to pass when the Lord commandeth it not?"  There it is. If it isn't in the Word you can't have it. So we can't ask unless it's in the Word, and we can't petition or ask unless it is in His Name. There it is again. JESUS (the Name) is the WORD (will). You can't separate God and the Word. They are ONE.

PERGAMEAN.CHURCH.AGE

This statement is correct.  We cannot separate God and the Word.  They are One, just as the Book of John tells us.  The Word IS God.  We cannot know the Author without knowing the Word.

But following the Pentecostal movement and its “great leaders,” William Branham promoted doctrines of law that had no room for the book of Lamentations.  One can only assume why this book was omitted in his teaching, but the book of Lamentations certainly does not speak well for works-righteous faith.

God made Covenants with the righteous men in the Bible, but not because they were living perfect lives – because God loved them and chose them.  God’s covenant with Noah was before the Law was given, and yet it was an unconditional covenant:

And the Lord smelled a sweet savour; and the Lord said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man's sake; for the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done.

Genesis 8:21

Yet in the extra-biblical teaching of William Branham, the ground was already cursed, and man must earn salvation by adhering to the rules.  Failure to obey was to “Grieve the Holy Spirit Away” – even though the Bible says that He will never leave us nor forsake us.

God’s covenant with Abraham was also unconditional.  The children of Abraham would be without number:

 

And he brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”

Genesis 15:5

But God’s Covenant with Moses was conditional.  God promised blessings if the Children obeyed the Law, and promised curses if they did not obey.  This Covenant was a two-part contract between God and man, signed by blood:

Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read it in the hearing of the people. And they said, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient.”  And Moses took the blood and threw it on the people and said, “Behold the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words.”

Exodus 24:7-8

 

But almost immediately, this contract was broken.  It only lasted until the 32nd chapter of Exodus:

And the Lord said to Moses, “Go down, for your people, whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves.  They have turned aside quickly out of the way that I commanded them. They have made for themselves a golden calf and have worshiped it and sacrificed to it and said, ‘These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!’”

Exodus 32:7-8

The Old Testament gives example after example of the sin of man.  Each time a righteous man rose to uphold the Law, that same man fell.  None could keep the rules that God had given them, and none could make themselves worthy by their own actions.  They needed a Savior.

Not just a Savior for sin.  They had made a covenant, and had broken it.  The Children of Israel were now placed under the curses of the Old Covenant, the “Curse of the Law.”  They needed a Savior who would redeem them from the curse of the Law.

Interestingly, the original Ten Commandments were given with no curse, and were before the Law of Moses.  Before the graven image, the commandments given to Moses were instructions with no condemnation.  But after God’s wrath was kindled against Israel, the Mosaic Law was given with both blessing and curse. 

Under God’s Wrath, this part was added:

“But if you will not obey the voice of the Lord your God or be careful to do all his commandments and his statutes that I command you today, then all these curses shall come upon you and overtake you.  Cursed shall you be in the city, and cursed shall you be in the field.  Cursed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl.  Cursed shall be the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your ground, the increase of your herds and the young of your flock.  Cursed shall you be when you come in, and cursed shall you be when you go out.

Deuteronomy 28:15-19

 

The chapter continues on describing the curses in great detail, everything from famine to captivity to pestilence and death.  All of these things described as curses if the Children of Israel could not keep the rules of the Law – and they couldn’t.

Paul says this, in Galatians 3:10-13:

For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, "Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them." Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for "The righteous shall live by faith." But the law is not of faith, rather "The one who does them shall live by them." Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us-for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree"

Galatians 3:10-13

And if we try to save ourselves by upholding any single portion of the Mosaic Law, we have placed ourselves back under the curse:

“I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law.”

Galatians 5:3

 

The Book of Lamentations is describing the fallen state of Israel after suffering from the Curse of the Law.  Chapter one describes the mourning of the entire nation:

Judah has gone into exile because of affliction and hard servitude; she dwells now among the nations, but finds no resting place; her pursuers have all overtaken her in the midst of her distress.

Lamentations 1:3

And the people admitted defeat.  They could not uphold the Law, and they needed a savior:

“The Lord is in the right, for I have rebelled against his word; but hear, all you peoples, and see my suffering; my young women and my young men have gone into captivity.

Lamentations 1:18

But even in distress, God had never left them.  Remember, God said that He will never leave us nor forsake us.

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”  The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him.  It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.

Lamentations 3:22-26

 

Malachi chapter 4 describes God’s prophecy to Israel through Malachi, reassuring the Children of Israel that the hearts would be restored to the fathers rather than destroying the entire land for failure to keep the Law.  God’s second Covenant with Moses was conditional, but God’s Covenant with Noah was unconditional.  God promised Noah that He would NOT smite the entire earth, and nothing mankind can do will break that Covenant.  Remember what God said:

I will not again curse the ground any more for man's sake; for the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done.

Genesis 8:21

Lamentations ends with the pleading words to God.  Israel begged for restoration.  They needed a Savior to redeem them from their fallen state, and deserved the penalty of everlasting separation from God.  But they knew that God was faithful, and knew that He promised them to never again wipe mankind from the face of the earth. 

Restore us to yourself, O Lord, that we may be restored!  Renew our days as of old—unless you have utterly rejected us, and you remain exceedingly angry with us.

Lamentations 5:21-22

Followers of William Branham point this prophecy of redemption away from Jesus Christ, saying that the “restorer” is William Branham.  Christ is denied so that man can be lifted and law is restored so that Grace can be denied.

How long can this last?  How long before those in the Message start writing their own “book of Lamentations,” pleading with God to restore them from their fallen state? 

How long before they accept the One who already came to restore?