[STUDY] MY PARABLES [ also other various types and pictures in scripture]
(1440) CAN GOD FURNISH A TABLE IN THE WILDERNESS? Psalms 78:19 The story is found in Numbers chapter 11, the children of Israel are stuck in the desert with no meat and fish and all the great food they had back in Egypt [they keep reminiscing about the good old days, sounds like Hannity and Reagan!] and God hears their complaints and gets angry. So how does Moses respond? He complains too! ‘God, why did you stick me with these people, did I give birth to them for heaven’s sake? Just take my life, I can’t do this anymore- I’m ready for a special rapture’ now Moses was running himself ragged, and actually God shows some mercy on him- before the lord deals with the complaining he tells Moses to take 70 elders and meet him at the tabernacle and God will take of the spirit/gifts of Moses and spread them to the 70, this will take some pressure off Moses. But then God will deal with the complaining, if you read the chapter it actually is Moses who makes the chief complaint ‘can God furnish a table in the desert’ and Moses gets into this debate with the Lord; God tells him in the morning they will have more meat they can handle, a whole months worth! Moses says ‘how, are all the beasts or all the fish in the sea enough to do this? There are 600 thousand footmen alone!’ The Lord says ‘can’t I do anything? I will do it’ and sure enough that night the lord brought a strong wind and it blew thousands of quail from the water over the desert and they were covered with quail. God did it. A few things to note; the people were being provided for by God with Manna, a type of wafer thing that appeared on the ground every morning- it seems as if this food was highly nutritious, yet probably didn’t taste as good as all the meat and stuff they were used to, they wanted what they wanted, and God gave them what they wanted! The church goes thru stages; one was the whole stage of mastering the techniques of getting what we want. You could attend seminars on it, watch your favorite TV preacher teach it, move to some city that has a mega church that embraces the doctrine- yet in the end God might just be giving us what we want, not because its best, but because we have rejected him. These debates go on forever; I have a prosperity brother who has been writing me for years; showing me ‘from the bible’ how Jesus was the richest man of his day, lived in luxury- on and on. These poor brothers have been taught a system of doctrine that gets them what they want, but not what God wants for them. I know the Lord will eventually bring the people into the promised land, and yes they will have abundance then, but to simply assume that the Christian walk is one where we live to fulfill our desires is very misguided indeed. Moses led the people on a dangerous journey, dangerous for him and them. The other day I posted an entry on Moses striking the rock out of anger and bringing the water out of it; we often don’t see the price Moses had to pay in order to fulfill his prophetic symbolism of the Cross. One of the punishments of Moses act was he would not be allowed to enter the promised land, which was a type of the Cross and work of God that he was to be a picture of; God needed Moses to strike the rock in anger in order for him to fulfill the picture we see from Isaiah 53 ‘it pleased God to bruise his Son’ that is Moses needed to be at a place of real wrath in order to fulfill the picture, yet mans wrath is not like Gods- Mans wrath always has a degree of human anger associated with it, God’s wrath is just and right. So how could God tell Moses ‘Moses, go and get perfectly mad, and strike the rock’ Moses was incapable of ‘perfect wrath’ so instead God used the wrath of man, which he could not really condone, to accomplish his purpose. In essence Moses really got mad, and paid a real price for it. He pictured God’s wrath in a limited way, and he pictured the reality of the punishment of Jesus, that is Moses punishment of not being able to enter the land was a type of Gods judgment on Jesus at the Cross. Get it? God allowed things to happen, even the mistakes, to work for his glory. We often measure ‘success’ by the worlds measuring rod, God does not use that as a standard. Maybe you’re at a place where you’re eating Manna every day, maybe the Lord is leading you thru a stage where he is restricting your intake for an eternal purpose; where you can say like the apostle Paul ‘I have learned to be content in whatever state I am, having enough or being in lack’ don’t get caught up in the vicious cycle of viewing the faith thru a lens of a never ending journey to get more, to feed your desires, to get back ‘what the devil has stolen’ sometimes we are actually getting the wrong stuff.
(1396) THE NATURAL STATE IS MOTION- Jesus said there are 12 hours in the day [Jewish day] and that if we walk during the day we would not stumble. He said that he came to do and finish the work that the father gave him to do, that he had to keep moving to arrive at the final destination, he described this work as his meat- the very thing that sustained him. Ancient physics taught a theory that said the natural state of things on earth was ‘rest’. They observed that if you drop something from the air that it always finds the lowest spot and stops. But they taught that the natural state of motion in the heavens was circular, they observed the stars and moon and planets and saw that things orbit, they go in circles. The ancient view of Aristotle [Ptolemy] was the earth was the center of the universe and that there was this crystalline type sphere surrounding the earth and that the stars and moon and sun revolved around us. Galileo and Copernicus shook the world of science when they discovered that the earth really wasn’t the center of all things [Anthropic principle- man being the center of everything] but that our solar system was heliocentric instead of geocentric [we orbit the sun, not the other way around]. Isaac Newton is often said to have discovered gravity, in the sense that he observed things falling to the ground [the public school story of the apple hitting him on the head] but this observation of things falling was really no secret. What Newton discovered was that the motion of things in heaven [celestial motion] and things on earth [terrestrial] was the same- that is the natural state of things was not rest for the earth, nor circular for the heavens. But that all things would naturally flow in a straight line, unless acted upon by another force [classical view]. This ‘straight line motion’ [inertia- Newton’s first law] would be interrupted by gravity and cause the things in motion to be drawn off course. Thus when the apple falls to the ground, if it weren’t for the ground stopping the fall, it would keep going in motion- gravity is pulling it to the earth and the ground is stopping the motion. The same for the heavens. The earth’s gravity is ‘pulling’ on the natural straight line motion of the moon and causing it to deviate from a straight line path and orbit the earth. The same with stars and planets and our sun. Depending on the size [mass] and distance of one body from another, you get varying degrees of pull and this is how everything functions. During the turn of the 20th century we entered the era of modern physics, and Einstein and others would challenge many of the classical norms. Newton’s theories still hold true, but not everywhere at all times, when things approach the speed of light, everything changes. But for the most part Newton’s laws are still valuable when dealing with modern engineering and the basics of science. So what did we learn? That God created things to be in motion, not stagnant. Jesus said he had to keep moving ‘in the day’ because when the night comes no man can work. Proverbs tells us that the lazy person will not work during the planting season, and therefore will wind up begging in the harvest. The Old Testament says ‘get out of the city and dwell in the fields, even Babylon, and there I will be with you and deliver you from the hand of the enemy’. We all know the story of king David, when it was the time for kings to be leading their men in war, David stayed home and saw Bathsheba. What has God called you to do? Are you doing it? Have you organized your life around the priorities of his purpose for you? The natural state of motion on earth [and in heaven] is forward motion, what’s stopping you?
(1342) WHEN THE SEED SHOULD COME TO WHOM THE PROMISE WAS MADE- As I was teaching thru Galatians this verse ‘spoke to me’ in a personal way [will explain it in a second]. I felt like the Lord was saying that there are long term promises/destinies that he has planted within us, both as individuals and communities, and that often times he is waiting for the ‘seed to come to whom the promise was made’. In the parables of Jesus the seed speaks of a few things. Most of us are familiar with 'the seed as the word’ imagery- ‘the sower sows the word’. But Jesus also speaks of ‘the seed’ as the children of the kingdom that his father has planted in the world. And of course in Galatians Paul is specifically referring to the singular seed, who is Christ. Every few years I go thru our radio messages and will adjust the programs I air. I often find that the messages that I marked as ‘o.k.’ are not o.k. anymore, it’s not that they are bad, it’s just I notice a tone/level of ‘seed’ [spoken word] that is not mature enough, it seems like as the years roll by the later messages just sound better. God has all of us in a maturing process; things that we thought were ‘deep revelation’ at one time, now sound quite silly. As I was marking off the programs that sounded too immature, I felt like the Lord was saying ‘the seed has come to whom the promise was made’ sort of like the lord was saying ‘son, I was waiting for your level of maturity to catch up to the promise’. Also in Romans it says ‘the whole creation groans and travails in pain together until now’ I also felt like the Lord was saying the seed, as it pertains to all the people groups we relate to, were also in a ‘birthing process’ that too had to mature to a point where the promises could be inherited- ‘when the fullness of times was come, God sent forth his son, made of a woman, made under the law’ [Galatians] God has ‘fullness seasons’ times [Kairos] when he says ‘okay, the promises I made to you at the beginning of the journey are now ready to be experienced’ in essence the seed has come to whom the promise was made. Now, this sort of spiritual/symbolic way of hearing God, is it a good way to develop doctrine? No! Never, ever! Pope Benedict critiqued the ‘historical, critical’ method of liberal theology in his book ‘Jesus of Nazareth’ the method developed out of the liberal universities in Germany in the 19th- 20th centuries. Men like Rudolph Bultman would popularize it. It was a way of reading scripture thru an historical/archeological lens. Some of the ideas are good and profitable, but some are not. Many would reject the supernatural aspects of scripture and come to deny the resurrection. Not good. The Pope also warned against this way of ‘dissecting’ Jesus and Christianity to a point where you really don’t see the true Jesus anymore. The real Jesus of Christianity and history, the Jesus that we all have a relationship with by faith. The point being we want to go to scripture with an open heart and expectancy to ‘hear God’. While doing this, we also want to recognize that the scripture had the SAME MEANING to the first century church as to us today, the meaning never changes, the applications do. That’s the main point I want to make, so today the Lord might be speaking to you about certain ‘seeds’ coming to maturity in your own life, things that you have been waiting for and maybe the lord was saying he needed a maturing process to take place, both in you and the people you relate to. The ‘whole creation’ if you will.
(1304) ARE WE REALLY IN THE 2ND GRADE BUT JUST DON’T KNOW IT YET? As I was praying this morning I was thinking about the various ministers and testimonies I have heard over the years, many have spoken on/experienced a process where they went from ‘church/ministry’ as being some type of business enterprise, to transitioning and seeing themselves as humble servants in Gods kingdom. Both hearing and seeing these types of stories would make me wonder if there was an entire ‘body of people’ who have gone thru the ‘childhood stage’ and have learned the next stage of true discipleship. Are these people willingly withdrawing their images from the public forums? Are there whole groups of them who have been chastened over former ‘fame/glory’ seeking and now realize that they were really in the 2nd grade- doing things and acting out of the excitement of being entrepreneurs, versus true kingdom building? Are many of these believers possibly the ones that we have looked at thru out our lives and tagged them as ‘lost traditionalists’? Jesus gave examples of the kingdom often being something that we don’t see at the beginning, we are looking for ‘outward signs’ and it’s coming another way. I remember hearing a very gifted prophetic brother sharing some stuff along these lines, how he felt the Lord telling him that those who would reject fame and the lime light would be the ones God was going to use in a great way. Over the years I tried to Google him, find his web site- anything about his ministry and what he was up to! I found nothing, I then began to wonder if he actually implemented what he felt God was saying, that he left the entire atmosphere of ‘rubbing shoulders’ with the movers and shakers and actually began living his life without the fame and recognition of professional ministry. Every day we drive past schools full of children, great kids- but children. Many of them have dreams about life, all good goals and all. But as we see them we realize that at one time we ‘were them’ and they still have a long way to go and much to learn. We don’t despise their ‘childishness’ but the reality is the grownups all know they are children. I fear there might be a ‘secret group’ of grownups that see all the ‘children’ running around at the playground, trying to outdo their fellow playmates. Needing lots of attention, wanting to impress their peers. And I fear that there is another group, those who have ‘grown up’ and these don’t really despise the younger ones, they have simply learned it was time for them to grow up.
(1301) THEY CRASHED THE PARTY FOR HEAVENS SAKE! Last night on the news the big story was how some couple managed to crash the president’s party at the White House. They showed this reality couple posing with Biden for pictures and all, the good looking woman dressed in a flashy red dress, hugging Biden and all- to be honest Biden looked a little too happy about posing with the woman. As I am watching all the speculation on how they snuck in, and they keep showing all the shots of them with various officials [Rahm Emanuel] I wanted to give this poor team the benefit of the doubt, thinking ‘hey, they know what they are doing’ but then this image in my mind of the Keystone Cops kept creeping up. I don’t totally blame the president for these types of things, but can you imagine the outrage that would have been expressed if Bush and his team allowed such a stunt to happen? SNL just spoofed the president on his Asian tour, they did a skit that had Biden sitting in the Oval office and musing [or gaffing!] about stuff, they spoofed how Obama would sign any stack of papers that simply had the words ‘health care’ written on top. And most observers believe that China ‘managed’ the president in a way that no other foreign leader would have allowed, they managed to get their points across while making the president look weak. All in all it’s been a rough few weeks. Jesus said the kingdom was like a big wedding feast where all these people were invited, but someone snuck in without an invitation [the proper wedding garment] and they were confronted and tossed out! In our pluralistic society we don’t want to allow for the fact that some ‘get tossed out’ or that there is a requirement to gain entry, his name is Jesus. Hey, don’t get caught at the party without the proper credentials, it could get you [and Biden] in trouble.
(1292) I HAVE CREATED THE SMITH [blacksmith] THAT BLOWETH THE COALS IN THE FIRE AND BRINGS FORTH AN INSTRUMENT FOR HIS WORK, AND I HAVE CREATED THE WASTER TO DESTROY- Isaiah 54. God made the man who figured out if you get the steel hot enough you can shape it into a tool that will be effective. If God made the man who figured out this ingenious process, where do you think the man got the idea from? God will turn up the heat, so to speak, so he can re-shape some stuff in us. This last year I have tried to read up on some of the trends that go on in the world of Christianity. Sometimes I wonder if after all the great ideas, new ways of seeing things; lots of talk about the church needing to get back to social justice issues, all types of stuff I agree with, but at the end of the day I wonder how many of us are actually doing the stuff. Have we been duped into a system that enables articulators to have a forum, that produces a class of professional hearers of the articulators; but at the end of the day a great majority of us have not really been moved to act? Sort of like I can tell you how important it is to reach out to the poor and hurting, you might really belive me when I tell you this [in all sorts of ways- books, pulpit, etc.] but if all we have accomplished is to have come up with another subject to talk about, and for people to listen- then have we really accomplished anything? God wants ‘instruments’ for his work; tools that really function! It’s okay for the church to have great articulators and for people to have an attentive ear to hear- but it doesn’t stop there. After so much hearing and so much speaking, we then need some volunteers to get into the action! And this means more than just finding some ‘mission to the poor’ ministry that we can write a check to. I fear that the thing that’s lacking with most of us is the willingness to act, to get involved, to be the tool that actually works. Over the years I have bought tools that looked good, but were not well made. They might have been priced cheap, but they did not function well. Like buying the pens from the dollar store, what good is it if you got 50 pens for a dollar and none of them work? So in the kingdom God will often allow the heat to turn up because he wants to fashion some instruments that work, that do more than just speak or listen, but instruments that really get the job done. I have learned over the years that lots of people mean well, but if you want the job to get done you need people that don’t blame everything on others. People who are not professional victims, who find their whole identity in faulting others for their lot in life. I hired a guy to do a small job, to remove some wood from behind a rental house I owned years ago. It was maybe a 20 minute job, he had a truck. He was one of the guys I knew from working with addicts and ex-cons. I made the mistake of paying him the 25 dollars before the job was done. After a few weeks would pass I’d ask him ‘did you move the wood yet brother’? He would have some excuse why he didn’t do it. Finally I drove by the alley and saw the wood was gone. Great! I then found out that the renter got tired of the wood in the alley and hauled it off himself. We need people in the kingdom that act, that function and do what God tells them to do. We already have enough able articulators; enough people willing to buy the books and read about how the church should do more. We simply need some brothers who will actually move the wood.
(1290) YES, I DID IT AGAIN! I have a confession to make, yes I’m gonna come clean- last night I committed an act that I vow never to do again every time I engage in it- I channel surfed the religious stations. It’s not totally my fault, I woke up at around 12:20 and I am trying not to get up until at least 2-2:30. For a few years [yes years!] I was getting up every night and praying most of the night. After that time passed I stuck with getting up early, usually try to lay down till around 3, then the clocks went back an hour and I’m all messed up. So that’s why I channel surfed, I caught a few good teaching shows but then surfed and saw the ones that are so outrageous that the viewing public usually watches as a joke. One brother was quoting Zechariah [Old Testament book] and using a verse about a plumb line [measuring rod, line- a type of judgment and God bringing his people into alignment. I had a friend who wrote an entire book on these passages from Zechariah] and the brother was teaching how the plumb line represented a 7 fold return on money and church members and all types of stuff- I mean he was teaching stuff that when the true plumb line shows up, these are the things that need to be corrected by the plumb line! Then I surfed a few prosperity guys, and I finally settled on the Catholic station, they were doing a documentary on a catholic nun who started a ministry to the Italian immigrants coming to N.Y. and how she helped them and stuff. It was peaceful enough to leave on. So as I opened the bible to Matthew 13 to share some stuff, I saw the verse in chapter 12 ‘the men of Nineveh shall rise up in the judgment day with this generation [group] and shall condemn them, for they repented when Jonah preached and yet a greater than Jonah is here’ it seemed to fit. Okay this week I read some from Matthew 13, from the message bible, it really spoke to me. A few entries back I shared how I tore out the ignition from my classic 66 Mustang and had to get some parts, well I wound up ordering them on line and it took 2 days to figure out a minor detail, it’s sort of a trick you do to get the ignition cylinder to fit into the ignition switch- a secret locking pin and all, any way I thought ‘geez, I am spending too much time stuck at this place’. But when I wrote the entry I shared a little about going to auto parts stores and all, and then I read one of Jesus’ parables ‘the kingdom is like a general store owner, he knows how to get just the right part at the right time- either a new or old part’ I liked that. Sometimes we [leaders/pastors] go thru stages where we grasp hold of some ‘new part’ and we spend years stuck at that spot, it’s not so much that the part is bad, or wrong, but it’s just ‘a part’. You might go thru a stage where you find out biblical principles of finances, that’s fine- but don’t go and change the whole bible into a money manual! Or the house church movement. Good part, but people still need to grasp justification by faith and the other ‘old parts’. A good auto parts store will get you the right part, it doesn’t matter whether or not it’s the latest technology [any part for a 66 mustang is not new] what matters is for it to be the part that works for you- sometimes we need the old parts!
(1279) THE ROSE OF SHARON- Last Sunday I tried to catch one of the services on TV that I watch every so often, but when I checked the channel guide it wasn’t on. So instead of reading I thought I would see if there was anything else on that would be profitable. They were showing the classic movie ‘The Grapes of Wrath’ and I always try and watch it annually. Back in New Jersey we read Steinbeck’s classic in high school and I have the novel sitting here in my office. I asked the Lord to show me something that would have some spiritual meaning, I focused on a few things- Tom Joad [Henry Fonda] says about ‘preacher Casey’ [John Carradine] ‘He was a lantern/light, he made us see things differently’ and the name of Toms younger sister is ‘Rose a Sharon’. This term comes from the bible [Song of Solomon chapter 2] and most preachers use the language to describe Christ and his bride [the church]. So anyway I like the image of wild flowers and stuff, so it was good. The last day or so one of the Christian TV stations has been broadcasting some prophetic type meeting out of Kansas. I have written on these brothers before and over the years there have been some interesting prophetic type signs that I received from these guys. As I’m watching the meeting they are recalling their ‘prophetic history’ and they share how one of the key images that was given them thru a prophet was the image ‘Rose of Sharon’, I thought that was cool. In Isaiah God says ‘I have engraven you on the palms of my hands, your walls are continually before me’ ‘you will spring up like wildflowers/lilies along the water ways’. God uses lots of ‘flower’ imagery when speaking of his people. Paul uses the language of us being Gods garden. Jesus said he was the vine and we are the branches. The verse in Song of Solomon says that the Rose of Sharon is like the lily of the valley. God’s community of people are a natural outgrowth of the message and life of the kingdom going forth into all nations. We do a disservice at times when we [theologians/teachers] emphasize that the church technically started on the day of Pentecost; I really don’t disagree with this idea, I understand it was the day the Spirit birthed the church in a sense, but the problem is we tend to neglect the actual style that Jesus used when making disciples. That is Jesus is going around preaching the kingdom, healing people, doing all these great kingdom works and he is instilling in the disciples this free flowing mindset of simply sowing the seed and allowing God to ‘make them grow’. Jesus even says in his parables that when farmers plant seed, they sleep and rise day and night and the seed produces on its own. The disciples ask him once ‘these other guys are using your name and we forbid them because they are not part of our group’ and Jesus rebukes them and tells them to leave them be. He was challenging the ‘ownership mentality’ the idea of ‘local church’ and ministry as being things that we own/oversee as some sort of business enterprise. You never see Jesus trying to recruit people’s loyalty in a way that modern church scenarios do in our day. He was sending his men out to preach the kingdom, those who would believe and become followers would be part of his kingdom- no need to create all sorts of ways to tell people ‘if you are committed to this work/this vision- the vision of the man of God who oversees this house’ all well intended language that is often used to try and instill loyalty, but this type of mindset is really not seen in this free flowing ‘wild flower’ ministry of Jesus. He knows his followers will ‘spring up like wild flowers along the waterways’ they will be like ‘lilies in the valleys’ beautiful things that seem to spring up outside of the constraining barriers of man. Sure the potted plants at Wal Mart have some value, but then when you leave the store and see all the natural lilies springing up along these roads and high ways, you think ‘wow, these things look great and they need no maintenance and seem to be unstoppable’. The plants in the garden centers are high maintenance, the ‘Rose’s of Sharon and lilies in the valleys’ seem to have a life of their own.
(1272) THE O’RIELLY FACTOR- The other day as I drove past the auto store O’Reilly’s I had the sense that I would be going there soon. In the old days I used to do all my own work on the junker cars I purchased. I remember many days in Kingsville going to every auto store in town, I used to frequent a little rinky dink place called ‘GAF auto’. They had a real nice older Mexican brother named Red; he always helped find me just the right part in their disorganized store. So any way my daughter’s radiator on the Mustang had a few problems and I managed to take off the overflow reservoir and patch the leak. But then the electric fan motor [I hate them!] would not turn on. I actually replaced the fan motor a few years back and was not sure what the problem was. I told my wife ‘Look, I am not going to start replacing stuff [like the old days] until I hit the jackpot, this time you guys need to take it to the shop’. I am trying to get away from doing stuff like this nowadays. So she looks on line and says ‘it might be the resistor’ [type of fuse]. As I pull out these fuses you really can’t tell if their bad or not so I think one sounds bad as I shake it. I am also trying to check the connections themselves to see if I loosened one when fixing the reservoir. So any way I really can’t tell what’s wrong, I’m running the engine to see if the fan will turn on and messing with everything. I go into the garage to look if I have the repair book for this car [1998 mustang]. I have bought books over the years for the various vehicles we have owned but couldn’t find one for this car [I have one for my 66 mustang but not for a 98]. As I pull the books off of a top shelf a resistor falls down. It says ‘ford’ on it and it looks like the part I’m looking for. As I think back I must have replaced them when I originally changed the fan motor a few years ago and I guess I kept a good one. So I stick it in and sure enough it’s fixed. What are the odds that this loose part just happened to fall down off a shelf? Red would have been proud of me. I bought these original parts at O’Reilly’s auto a few years ago; I guess the lord was telling me I would be fixing a car with an O’Reilly part soon. In Isaiah God says ‘ask me about the future of my sons, concerning the work of my hands command me’ ‘these people I have formed for myself, they will show forth my praise’ ‘before stuff happens I show it to you, before it springs forth I reveal it’. God is telling us ‘look, I am the one who has brought you to the place where you are at today; I have guided your steps. I have the power to manipulate the environment to give you a favorable outcome- you have not chosen me but I have chosen you and ordained you that you should go and bring forth fruit and that it will last’ God is on our side, even little things like allowing a part to fall off of a shelf in the nick of time, God does stuff like this. I want to encourage all of our leaders who read this blog, be sensitive to the little ‘impressions’ God gives you on the journey, they might not seem significant at the time, but God does speak to us in simple ways. Look for the confirmation on stuff, I was really ready to give up on the car but I knew the lord had impressed ‘auto shop’ on my mind just a few days earlier, I had no idea how the details would work out but knew that God had spoken in this seemingly minor way. God is the one who brought us here, he will help with the little [and big] stuff along the way.
(1261) THE ALABASTER MAN- The other day my daughter was telling us a funny story, how she was looking for her pizza pan and asked her fiancé if he knew what happened to it, he admitted that he used it to cover a hole in the yard to keep the dogs from getting out. She was recounting the story to my wife and saying ‘just like dad used to do’. Boy did they get a laugh, I felt like rebuking them for not honoring their elder, but as I contemplated my best defense I realized that right now there sits one of my wife’s baking pans on top of the chimney on the roof, tied with bailing wire to keep the rain out; I figured I would just let it slide. I have been reading Isaiah along with the Kings study we are doing, Isaiah 40 thru the end has been one of the most prophetic portions of scripture for me in my own personal life. ‘I will make you like a new threshing instrument having teeth, you will thresh [cut apart] the mountains and beat them small; the wind shall carry them away’ ‘who raised up the righteous man from the east, called him to his foot and gave the nations before him; he will rule over kings’ ‘the voice of one crying in the wilderness, make straight in the desert a highway for our God’ I like all these verses, they have given me direction over the years. Here at my house I have a few things that I kept from my childhood, one of the mementos is a 1 inch figurine of an oriental wise man that is made out of Alabaster, I simply call it ‘the Alabaster man’. My dad bought it for me when I was around 10 years old; he used to take me over to the city [New York] and when we went to China Town one year he bought it for me. I have it in the yard next to a prayer area where I pray. I also have written various verses all over my yard, on the wooden fence and on my gazebo, it does look a little trashy but my wife learned to live with it. The verses ‘his fan is in his hand’ ‘before it happened I showed it to you’ are from Isaiah, one of the verses is right next to this man, as I was looking at the verse ‘before it happened I showed it to you’ I realized that this statue of the sage [wise man] has a fan in one hand and a staff in the other, these images have been significant to me, I have been praying with a staff in my hand for many years. I just never really noticed the little fan in the hand; I felt like the Lord was simply confirming these many various promises, I bought this statue in New York City when I was a boy, the wise man represents authority and these past few years we have been reaching into the New York City area in a greater way than ever before. In essence the Lord gave me a wise man from New York with a staff and fan in his hand, years before I would ever even contemplate anything along these lines. Isaiah said ‘before it happened I showed it to you, so when it would come to pass you would know that it was my work, not yours’.
(1257) 2ND KINGS 9:7-37 Jehu receives the charge from Elisha and heads to Jezreel, the city where Jezebel resides. Her son Joram is the present king of Israel and Ahazia is king of Judah. By Divine appointment all three of them [Jezebel, and the 2 kings] are at the same location. As Jehu approaches the city, Joram sends a messenger to see what’s up ‘are you for peace’? What peace! Get behind me. A second messenger goes and gets the same response. Joram says ‘okay, let’s get the chariot ready and see what in the heck is going on’. He goes out to meet Jehu and it just so happens that they meet in the area where Jezebel illegally stole the land from Naboth and had him killed. Joram says ‘Jehu, is this a peaceful visit’ ‘peace, how can there be peace when your mother the witch is still throwing her weight around, and your fathers wicked deeds are still not avenged’. Jehu was on a prophetic rampage and would not stop until the house was purged. Joram sees the writing on the wall and turns to run; Jehu pulls the bow full length and drives an arrow thru his chest. Ahazia, king of Judah flees; he gets wounded and will die. Jehu is off to meet the queen, he approaches the city wall and Jezebel ‘painted her face’ and fixed her hair to meet Jehu. Why? Well we really don’t know, but Jezebel was a master manipulator, she did what she needed to do to survive. She was the power behind her husband Ahab’s wicked rule and she was doing the same thru her son. She very well might have been trying to look her best for the new king! Who knows, maybe she thought he would take her. She looks out a window on the wall and warns Jehu ‘remember Zimri, he rebelled against his king and God judged him’ she is trying to bide some time. Jehu is of noble blood, his father was a former king. He is also a trained fighter, a President Dwight Eisenhower type figure; someone who would rule as president but had a former military background. Basically Jehu doesn’t play games, he yells out ‘who in the city is on my side’? A few eunuchs look out over the wall; he says ‘throw her down to me’. He quickly accomplished his mission with virtually no civilian causalities. Jehu took out two kings and the ‘queen mother’ in one day. Jezebel’s body is quickly eaten by the dogs, a fulfillment of the prophecy of Elijah, and all this took place in the area that was well known as a place where injustice took place [the field of Naboth]. Okay, yesterday the country woke up to some surprising news, our president received the Noble Peace Prize, it was a surprise to everybody, even him! He actually made a tactful acceptance speech and acknowledged that he really didn’t deserve it, but would accept it in the spirit of good will and as a symbol of his role in the future, he did the best he could do. The reason? Because the conservatives tore him up over it, the London Times even said he did not deserve it. So he really was put on the spot, some even said ‘are you for peace’- translated, he is a bloody man who is bombing people every day in Afghanistan/Iraq, how come he gets it! First, as believers we should support the president as much as possible, it’s okay to be happy about the world honoring our president [or at least Norway!] Second, the criticisms against him not really deserving it, well he basically said the same thing. It’s really not the man’s fault that he got the prize. I do think that our president is ‘a man of peace’ and he has some real challenges down the road. Jehu was used of God to correct some long standing grievances that were in the nation, Jezebel operated for too long, the people knew her history. Jehu was charged by God to ‘wipe out the house of Ahab’ or to put an end to family lines that were destructive to the people of God. I’m talking spiritually now, not real war. There are times in the history of the church where things creep in and get a foothold; many times these teachings become accepted fair. We become comfortable with them, even though most of the nation/church realizes that it’s a manipulative thing, they learn to live with it. Prophetic voices are often raised up to say ‘enough, the whole house of Ahab will be wiped out’ in essence there are times when Gods people say ‘we understand that these doctrines have been around for a while; we also know the people who introduced these things on a large scale. We now reject the basic foundation upon which these things were built’ there comes a time when the ‘ministry’ of Jehu cleans house. We just need a few eunuchs [those who are separated for the purpose of serving the king. Because they were eunuchs, they could be trusted with the kings Bride, they would/could not take advantage of her for personal procreation/image building] who are willing to rise up and ‘throw her off the wall’.
(1250) 2ND KINGS 6:24-33 The ling of Syria comes up against Israel and shuts her in. No one comes in or goes out [embargo]. Israel as a nation experiences a recession and the price of their goods rise exponentially [inflation]. Once again we see the conflict with Arab nations costing too much! As the king walks thru town a woman cries for help, he says ‘who am I, God? If the Lord does not intervene what can I do? Can I go to the storehouse and fix all these problems’? Many Americans are truly unaware of the economic danger that our country is in. Private business thinks that the govt. can bail out anybody, we can’t. The insurance money that the govt. provides for banks that fail is running out, the stimulus money will not have the desired effect because it simply filled the hole that was created by the recession and tremendous job losses. The king can’t do miracles by continually going to the barn floor! So the woman tells the king ‘I made a deal with another lady that we would cook and eat my son today, and the next day we would cook her son. Now she won’t live up to the deal’ the king can’t believe his ears. In the midst of all their economic and military turmoil, they are killing their children in a vain attempt to extend their own lives. This last year more official attempts have been made to increase spending and have the federal govt. provide funding for the development and killing of unborn children than ever before. Many appeal to the cause of helping others who suffer from incurable diseases ‘look how much good it can do for those who are sick’. The nation of Israel was so lost that she couldn’t see the connection between her economic and military problems, and how that related to the destruction of their own children. Gee, I wonder if the bible is relevant anymore?
(1251) 2ND KINGS 7- Elisha is before the elders and the city is in trouble, the king of Israel is blaming the recession on the Christian conservatives and Elisha is being targeted. Now comes the true test of a prophet; Elisha says ‘by this time tomorrow the price of goods will be next to nothing, inflation will be gone and the recession over’. How can this happen? One of the men says ‘even if God opened the windows of heaven things cannot turn around this fast’. Wrong response, Elisha tells him ‘because you doubt, you will see it with your eyes but not experience it’. Okay, that night there are these 4 outcasts of society living at the city gate, they are lepers. You know, the type of people that nobody wants to be around. O sure the religious institutions have started all types of leper helping ministries, and the local religious folk give to these ministries, but nobody really wants to personally get involved. So these outcasts are at the city gate and they say ‘look at our plight, we are sitting here at the gate and will surely die, if we go into town the famine will kill us. If we go to the Syrians, sure they might kill us too, but maybe they will feed us and spare us, heck if we die we die!’ I like their outlook, even in the midst of great personal turmoil and sickness; they make one last ditch effort to turn things around. We need more brothers like this. So they go to the enemy camp and lo and behold [yes it’s corny] they find all the wealth and goods of the Syrian army, but no one’s there! God supernaturally caused the sound of the heavenly chariots to be heard by the army and they fled out of fear, casting away all their goods on the way out. So these lepers cant believe their eyes, they hit the jackpot. So they start going from tent to tent and take the stuff and go and hide it. After a few hours of hording and building wealth, they realize they are not doing right. They decide to go back to the city and tell their people what happened. They go to town and tell the king, he can’t believe it, he thinks ‘sure, this is a trap set up by my enemies’. Notice how both sides were battling paranoia, the Syrians fled thinking the armies were at the door, and the king of Israel thinks it’s a trap too. So they send some men to check it out and sure enough it’s true, the famine is over and the commodities are selling at a ridiculously cheap price. The brother who said ‘God could not do this even if he opened up heavenly windows’, he gets trampled at the gate by the gold rush and sees it with his eyes but never benefits from it, he dies. Okay, God is able to turn things around on a dime, though the economy was in shambles, the king/president thinks all is lost, no chance of a second term. Yet at the moment of great desperation God comes thru, the prophet [believers] was willing to use his gift to turn things around, and that’s exactly what happened. We as a people need to check our hearts and see if we really want the success ‘of the king’. Are we willing to do what Elisha did and pool our gifts for the success of the nation? Or have we become so cynical that we secretly desire the failure of the nation so we can feel vindicated? The lepers were tempted to horde the wealth and use it for their own benefit; after all they were God fearing capitalists! Why should they have to share their stuff with everybody else? Yet they chose to not ‘store up for themselves treasures on earth’ [Jesus] and did the right thing. Geez, I just wish we could find some contemporary comparisons for this stuff.
(1247) 2ND KINGS 5- A Syrian army commander has leprosy, he hears about Elisha the prophet and goes to get healed. He is carrying a letter from the king of Syria that requests that the king of Israel heal him. The king of Israel is distraught ‘who does he think I am? Am I God?’ Elisha hears about the matter and says ‘send him to me, after I get thru with him he will know that there is a prophet in the land’. As Naaman arrives at the door of Elisha, Elisha sends out a servant to give him a message ‘go, dip yourself 7 times in the Jordan and you will get healed’. Naaman is upset, he says ‘I thought he would at least come out and make a big show and do some great healing! Are not the waters of Syria better than this stinking Jordan!’ He storms off. His men tell him ‘look, if he told you to do some great act, wouldn’t you have done it? So why not give it a shot and go get wet’. He dips in the Jordan and gets healed. He is elated! He goes back to the prophet and wants to give him an offering, Elisha refuses to take it. On his way back home Elisha’s servant stops him and says ‘my master changed his mind, 2 prophets just stopped by and he now will accept the money/gift’. He lied. As the servant arrives back at Elisha’s house, Elisha confronts him ‘hey Gehazi, where did you go’ he tells him nowhere. Elisha tells him ‘did not my heart go with you when the chariot turned’ he knew he was caught. Elisha rebukes him strongly over wanting to make material gain at this time ‘is this a time to build wealth! To gain land and servants and stuff’ he curses him and puts the leprosy of Naaman on him. Okay, let’s do a little stuff; first, the king of Israel felt like the expectations of the other ‘middle eastern’ Arab countries were too high. The king of Syria flat out treated him like he was God! Oh I don’t know, have there been any leaders recently that have been given the title ‘messiah’ [they gave it mockingly, but the expectations were very high]. And we must not overlook the strong rebuke of Gehazi, and Elisha’s unwillingness to take an offering. We often read all of these stories and only see the parts where God provided for someone, or reduced their debt [the woman with the oil]. We read and preach on the ‘wealth verses’ to the degree where we don’t even see the ‘rebuking of wealth’ verses. Then after many years we develop a wealth mentality in the people of God to the point where they never see the warnings. Without going too far down this road, remember Jesus told his men ‘freely you have received, freely give’. In context he was speaking of the divine gifts of the Spirit that they were given. He was sending them out to heal and cast out demons, he was telling them don’t turn this thing into a money making enterprise! And let’s end with some practical stuff- as I continue to read thru Brian McLaren’s ‘everything must change’ I appreciate his emphasis on helping the poor and reaching out to the outcasts of the world. I also understand his view of changing the way we see things, the language used is ‘framing story- narrative’. But I see a problem with overdoing the concept of ‘framing stories’. For instance some Emergent’s believe that the classic expressions of the gospel are no longer valid. That Jesus really didn’t come to call people to repent and believe in the way we think [Brian quotes N.T. Wright and supposes that the term ‘repent and believe’ was more of a popular saying that military commanders used to simply tell people to surrender over to the new empire. He uses an example from Josephus. I get the point, but believe that this association is rather week. Jesus very much did call people to repent and believe in the classic way we understand it]. Anyway to ‘re-frame’ the gospel in a way that says the real message/purpose of Jesus was to simply change the pictures we use in ‘our story’ is too simple. The best example I can think of would be Jesus conversation with Nicodemus in John’s gospel. Jesus is speaking from the ‘narrative’ of Gods kingdom, Nicodemus is hearing from his own religious frame work. No matter how hard Jesus uses the new framework, or how hard Nicodemus tries to see this new story, he can’t. Jesus tells him it’s impossible to change his ‘framing story’ without changing him! ‘Unless a man is born again, HE CAN NOT SEE THIS KINGDOM’ so I think we can go too far in restating the classic gospel. Yes, believers should be challenged to see things from new/fresh perspectives. But these new perspectives can only be truly seen when we experience personal conversion. Jesus very much wants us to see the story from his perspective, but realistically he knows unless we are born again, we will never truly see it.
(1246) 2ND KINGS 4:38-44 Elisha has a ministry to the younger prophets; they see him as a father figure in a way. He prepares a ‘great pot’ of food for them, but one of the inexperienced prophets accidently picked a poisonous plant and put it in the pot. Once they start eating they realize that they have all been feeding off of something that is damaging, they panic! Elisha quickly puts another ingredient in the stew to undo the bad effects. Okay, I see a parable here. Often time’s good young men are feeding from sources that have much good in them. These sources believe Gods word, confess it regularly, they have much good in ‘the pot’. But because of inexperience some bad things get into the pot. These bad things have a way of infecting the entire meal. When you first start eating from the pot, you don’t realize it’s bad. When someone tries to tell you there is some bad stuff in the pot, the normal reaction is ‘how dare you tell me that I have been duped! Who do you think you are, there is much good in this pot’? But eventually after the dust settles down, they recognize the experience of the older prophet and allow him to ‘add his meal’ to the pot. I want to encourage all of the ‘younger prophets/leaders’ don’t be too willing to eat everything in the pot, there are many sources of teaching and preaching that are very abundant in today’s church world, I mean it’s a big pot, but it’s takes discernment to know that sometimes bad weeds get into the pot. Let mature leadership add their part, it often neutralizes the bad stuff. And the last miracle in the chapter has Elisha multiplying the loaves and grain for the prophets. He does a multiplication miracle like Jesus did in the New Testament. The church went thru a stage where she rejected the miraculous stories in the bible, this period took place in the late 19th, early 20th century. It was called liberalism/higher criticism and it arose primarily out of the universities in Germany [Marburg being a main one]. Men like Rudolph Bultman reacted to enlightenment thinking and tried to create a view of scripture that still had value, but was not to be taken literally when it came to the miracles. This was called ‘de-mythologizing’ they used the word ‘myth’ to mean stories that had good moral value, but weren’t meant to be taken literally; sort of like a parable. So these brothers would say that Jesus really didn’t multiply the loaves and fish, but that he appealed to mans better instincts and the people all shared their food with everyone else. Or that the parting of the Red Sea was really the ‘Reed Sea’ and stuff like that. Some still hold to these types of things, but for the most part this way of seeing scripture is no longer a popular view. Elisha had some supernatural stuff going on, there was no reason to reject or disbelieve the things that happened, but this does not mean that there is never a time for correction and reproof. Many who operate in these gifts are very limited in their understanding and grasp of scripture. I don’t want to sound condescending, but the history on this stuff is out there; many have gone off the deep end doctrinally while operating in supernatural gifts. Elisha was prophetic, but he also knew when it was time to add ‘some meal’ to the pot, to put some stuff in that would neutralize the poison. I think we need some meal.
(1243) 2ND KINGS 3- Jehoram, king of Israel, goes after the king of Moab because he stopped paying him the taxes/extortion fees after his father died. Ahab, Jehoram’s father was feared [because of his wife Jezebel] and the king of Moab figured ‘heck, we were scared of the other president, but this new young buck doesn’t instill the same fear’ [sound familiar?]. Never the less the ‘young buck’ forms an alliance with two other kings [France, Germany? Or Britain, you pick] and he goes after Moab. They go on this 7 day journey to attack Moab, and lo and behold they realize that they don’t have the resources to finish the job [Afghanistan?]. They never took into account the actual problems they would run into with the terrain; they found no water sources for their troops or the animals. Now, Moab probably knew about the land situation, he knew it would turn to their benefit [Taliban]. So the 3 kings- Jehoram king of Israel, Jehoshaphat king of Judah, and the king of Edom are facing a dilemma. They have all their troops already in the field [their committed] and yet they don’t have the proper resources to finish [oh let’s say they need 40 thousand more]. So the King of Judah asks Jehoram if there is a prophet in the land who can help. Enter Elisha. They go to the prophet and he rebukes them, but for the sake of the king of Judah he seeks God and gives them a word from the Lord. He tells them to dig holes thru out the area and God will supernaturally fill them. I don’t know how God did it, but the chapter says he brought the water over the land, possibly some regional flood? The point is that what they saw as a major obstacle, lack of resources, turned out to be a key element of their victory. The fact that the king of Moab knew there was no water in the land, this led him to believe that what he saw in the morning was blood from the slain army. He looked out over the land and the reflection of the water looked like blood to him. So he mounts an attack and gets defeated. God often times allows our perceived weaknesses to become the key to our victory. Paul said he gloried in his faults and weaknesses, because it was thru these things that God’s power rested upon him. At the end of the battle the king of Moab realizes that he is in over his head and makes one valiant attempt to at least take the king of Edom down with him. He must be thinking ‘geez, I’m fixin to get wiped out, might as well make one last ditch effort to take out this punk’ he takes 700 men and makes a charge, he can’t break thru. So he offers his son on the wall as a sacrifice to his god. Moab would have been better off if they simply kept paying the taxes. Okay, I really don’t want to draw too much of a comparison with president Obama and the present situation, but there are some common themes. He does seem to have less ‘fear/respect’ in the area of military might than his predecessor. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it could turn out to be bad. Our situation in Afghanistan is not good; we do not presently have the troops in there to do whatever the heck we are trying to do. It looks like we are going to change strategy and downsize. And last but not least, we need to be more careful when making decisions that adversely affect our allies. The decision to drop plans to place a ground based missile defense system on the border of Poland and Russia was probably a good strategic move. But politically it did hurt some allies. The day Obama made the decision not to go ahead with the Bush agenda was the anniversary of a previous invasion of Poland by Russia, not a smart decision to say the least. All in all the king of Israel made some decisions, he got in over his head but thanks to some allies and a word from the Lord, things turned out for the better. I think we can all learn some lessons from this chapter.
(1241) 2nd KINGS 2- Elijah is going to be taken up into heaven and Elisha follows him, Elijah tells him to leave but Elisha requests a double portion of the Spirit that anointed Elijah. He tells Elisha that if he witnesses his translation into heaven he will get it. As Elisha follows Elijah to the various towns [Bethel, Jericho, etc.] he runs into the ‘sons of the prophets’ who independently tell Elisha that Elijah will be taken this day. These sons of the prophets are the same group from the ‘school of the prophets’ under Samuel. They lived a communal lifestyle, were provided for by offerings from the community and were recognized as a legitimate group sent from God. Over the years I have had both ‘prophetic’ type experiences as well as learning and growing in Christian truth. Often time’s believers will live their whole lives only experiencing and learning Christianity from their particular group. While many of these various denominations are fine groups, they are only a limited picture of the church. The problem comes in when one group sees itself as ‘the group’ to the exclusion of the other groups. There are ‘prophetic groups’ who operate in these gifts, these gifts do exist and function in the church today. Many of these groups have cut themselves off from the ‘intellectual’ branch of the church. Some seem to regulate their entire Christian experience around the gift. Often times it is next to impossible to correct them doctrinally, because they believe that the fact that they do experience real prophetic gifts justifies all their beliefs. Often times they are wrong. Many times the young believers who follow these gifted men/movements become infatuated with the gift and never truly grow in the things of God. Having said all this, we also need to be open to the miraculous gifts of the Spirit that the bible speaks about. The majority view of Christianity [Catholic, Orthodox and most Protestants] do believe in the charismatic gifts of the Spirit. There are those who try and make a case for their cessation [cessationists!] but for the most part these gifts do and have functioned since the early days of Christianity. I can personally give you many examples from my own story; let me share a recent one. A few weeks ago I had some of my homeless friends over for a fellowship time. We had communion and shared the word in my yard. This spot is the same spot where I pray over the communities of people that we relate to. I have a habit of ‘anointing’ myself with oil while praying for the brothers. I will actually put anointing oil on my head and pray ‘just like this oil is on me, Lord anoint all those we are reaching out to’. One of the homeless guys is very gifted and he does function in the gift of Prophecy, he will often make off the cuff comments and he does not realize that he is actually prophesying. So any way as we were all sitting in my yard he keeps telling me ‘you know brother, I keep thinking of the verse in the bible where the oil was on Aarons head and it ran down to the rest of his body’. This is a verse in Psalms that coincides with the exact type of prayer thing that I regularly do over the guys in this exact spot. So it’s stuff like this that shows me that prophetic people and gifts are not all fakes. Now Elijah does a few prophetic things before the chariots from heaven come and take him; he strikes the Jordan with his mantle [coat] and it dries up for him to cross. After Elisha witnesses Elijah’s ascension he does receive the ‘double portion’ and on his way back into town he does the same thing. The sons of the prophets recognize that the mantle [gift] passed from Elijah to Elisha. A few things; in this chapter we see that those who witness the ascension of ‘the prophet’ receive a greater anointing. Of course this reminds us of the early church, they were the group that saw Jesus ascend and did receive the Spirit. Some say that Elisha does twice the miracles as Elijah [the double portion]. I underlined all the miracles once and think they might be off one or two miracles, but they do come close [Elijah 7, Elisha 13 or 14]. Jesus said we would do greater miracles than he did [in number we would do greater works as the family of God]. And of course the miracles surrounding the Jordan and Elisha pouring salt in the fountain of water to ‘heal the waters’, all these images speak of the ministry of Jesus and John and the significance of baptism and how Jesus would ‘heal the waters’ i.e.; he would unite with us in the waters of the Jordan and we would meet with him thru the ordinance of baptism, in essence Jesus ‘healed the waters’ by his pure life, his ‘saltiness’ [preservation power]. Jesus said we were the salt of the earth. So there are some good prophetic pictures from a prophetic chapter. All in all we as believers are to be grounded in the word, have a grasp on all the various groups/movements that constitute Christianity, and be open to the miraculous. God has given us his Spirit and we do have the ability as Gods people to function in these gifts. But at the end of the day our assurance is in the Lord, not in our gifts.
(1210) SAVE THY PEOPLE AND BLESS THINE INHERITANCE. FEED THEM ALSO AND LIFT THEM UP FOREVER- Psalms 28:9 I guess I will hit a few scattered Psalms, these last few weeks I have been reading the Psalms and trying to add a verse to memory every day or so. Sort of praying/meditating on them like the famous ‘Jesus prayer’. The Jesus prayer is an ancient simple prayer that says ‘Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me a sinner’ but you actually say it all day long until it becomes part of your psyche. So these single Psalms can be used in this way. Okay, God wants to feed his people and bless them, Jesus told Peter ‘if you love me, feed my sheep’. In the 20th century you had the famous existentialist/atheist philosophers like John Paul Sartre and Albert Camou, these guys sought for purpose and meaning thru philosophy but wound up as nihilists [no hope] because of their rejection of God. Sartre would say ‘man is a useless passion’, Camou would say the only question left for philosophy to answer was the viability of suicide. The famous atheist Antony [Anthony] Flew, who has now become a believer in God [Theist], used to use a parable about a garden to challenge belief in God. He said man and his religious quest is like men who are journeying thru a forest and all of a sudden they come upon a garden; it is manicured and detailed in every way, it ‘appears’ to be a product of a designer. But then flew said as the men look around for the gardener they can’t see him, they then espouse all types of ideas about the master gardener. They come to various conclusions; he must be all knowing, very talented, transcendent- they develop views about this gardener/God that in Flews mind were just as silly as saying you might as well have no gardener at all! Flew thought if believers came to all these ideas about God, what’s the difference whether you believe in a God or not? The obvious answer is ‘then where in the world did the garden come from’. The challenges to Christianity, Theism, Deism try and convince people that there really is no purpose to your existence, you are a ‘useless passion’ you came from nowhere and are heading nowhere. Initially, this philosophy sounded liberating to those who embraced it. Sort of like telling the kids that schools out and you have no more teachers to listen to. But when you embrace this form of meaninglessness, you can not then try and instill purpose and meaning into people. Sartre and Camou rejected the foundational basis for man to have meaning in life, they tried to tell man ‘look, here is the purposeful garden, but it came from nowhere’. After many years of Anthony Flews insistence that there was no gardener, the evidence that caused him to change his mind was the evidence of design. He kept telling himself ‘there is no gardener’ and realized he was trying to convince himself of a lie, he knew he was logically wrong. He has since joined the ranks of those who now seek to know more about the master gardener.
(1201) In Luke 21 Jesus tells his men that there will come a time when they will be persecuted and brought before the authorities as a testimony. He tells them not to pre meditate what to say, but that the Spirit will speak thru them. God will supernaturally give them ‘a mouth [ability to communicate] and wisdom’ [something worth communicating!]. In Isaiah 8 the word says ‘take a great scroll and write in it with the pen of a man’ in Jeremiah 36 the Lord says ‘take another scroll and write in it all the words of the first scroll’. God historically has communicated truth to his people. Our bibles are like ‘2 scrolls’ if you will, all the words that were in the first part [Old Testament] were brought forth and revealed in the 2nd part-scroll [New Testament]. God has communicated much to his church; Isaiah was to write on a ‘great scroll’ lots of good stuff. Now, we [American church] have a tendency to master one part of the verse that says ‘mouth AND wisdom’. We have all the techniques down to get our message out, we know how to teach the verses that talk about ‘sowing into this ministry for a harvest’ and we communicate this type of limited message to the nations. I recently wrote an entry on how the Latin American countries have been inundated with this type of TV message, and many preachers proclaim this limited message over and over again to the masses, we have mastered ‘the mouth’ part. There are many African churches who have read the Gospels and New Testament and have come to reject the American success gospel. They came to this conclusion by their own reading of scripture, yet the American gospel mastered the techniques of broadcasting a limited message into the country. The natural indigenous church has come to rebuke us. We had the ability/finances to communicate, but lacked wisdom. In the 5th century [452 to be exact] Attila the Hun and his hordes marched up the Danube and struck fear into the hearts of the people, he seemed to be this unstoppable force that would make it all the way to Rome and topple the seat of the Western Empire. The emperor sent a party to try and reason with him, Pope Leo would personally speak to the raider and turn him back from sacking the city [though it would fall a few years later under Geaseric]. How could a simple Pope, without military might, stop a man that no human army could stop? God gave him ‘a mouth and wisdom’ he obviously spoke something that touched the mans heart. I think the American church needs to trust the Lord for more wisdom to go along with ‘our mouth’. We simply speak/communicate much too much, we have too much to say and not enough depth in what we say. We have churches in other countries who have been hurt by the tremendous immaturity of the things we are teaching them. These fellow believers have rebuked us and told us to please stop teaching this materialistic gospel to their nations. We desperately need both a mouth and wisdom to go along with it.
(1186) PARABLE FROM A PARABLE- I woke up this morning and was praying for ‘my sons’ [this refers to all the people we are reaching out to] I had a dream and after thinking about it I felt the Lord wanted me to pray this. Then I opened Luke 15 and read ‘a certain man had 2 sons’ and figured I’d better do it. In Luke 15 we have the parable of the prodigal son, a younger son [inexperience] approaches his dad and requests too much money to soon [economic stimulus- 800 billion, possible health care cost- 1 trillion. You get the point] and the son goes into a far country and wastes the money [it could have had a better effect if spent properly, i.e.; I like Nancy Pelosi, but I heard her defend the Democratic plan for the economy as green jobs, energy reform and insurance reform, while these are noble things, they are not things that drive our economy] so after the son wastes his money, he repents and says ‘I will go back to my dad and admit I blew it, I will tell him I am no longer worthy to be called his son [doubting his legitimacy, citizenship!] and will work as a hired servant’. The father receives the son back, makes a huge feast [media adulation] and all is well. Oh wait, the older brother [more experienced conservative type, he knew all along that this younger inexperienced person would blow it, he’s just waiting for others to see it too] the older brother comes close to the house and hears all the ruckus ‘what’s going on’ he asks. They tell him your younger brother is home and your dad thru him this big bash. He gets mad, he says he has been doing right all these years, faithfully serving in a conservative way, he never wasted the people’s money! And now, after all this waste, this younger guy is getting all the credit for things. He’s being treated in a way that I have never been! Being appreciated and all. The older brother refuses to rejoice as well, he really doesn’t want the young brother to succeed. I believe many people who voted for ‘the young son’ thought he would be more main stream than he actually turned out. Some fiscal conservatives thought he would be a pragmatic type, who could talk to both sides and come down in the middle. The truth is he has turned out much more liberal than expected by the moderate group who voted for him. I am not saying this is bad in itself, but this is political reality. Now, there are some major things that can go either way right now, and I fear that some of the more conservative ‘brothers’ really don’t want the younger brother to make it. Just like they did to the last president [the Dem's to Bush]. The point is we do need to root for the success of the younger brother, even if his wasteful spending lead to ‘a famine in the land’ we need to allow room for rejoicing once again, and the possibility of things going well for all parties involved. It’s only natural for the older group to feel animosity towards the younger brother, he was treated with great bias by the media, they truly did a disservice to the country by not fairly presenting both sides. Too much adulation, I heard a recording of two reporters at one of the appearances of Obama during his campaign. On the air they were having a conversation about Obama’s I.Q. it went like this ‘What do you think his I.Q. is? I don’t know, but it must be one of the highest I.Q.’s of any president ever. Do you have any idea what the number is? No, but I have a feeling it’s really high’ now, lets be honest, when the opponents hear this stuff, they develop a natural animosity to the man. The older brother heard the tremendous noise from the party, a party he really didn’t deserve. And this caused him to not want to side with the younger man. The father finally says ‘look, you are all in this together, you could have partaken of the inheritance all along, just like your brother is doing now’ the father turned the conversation from ‘us versus them’ to one of ‘we are all the same family’ I think we need to heed this parable.
(1161) As I sat down this morning, I wasn’t sure what to share. I felt like the Lord wanted me to re-read my friends letter from prison. I always read them again before I send the packets of materials out to them, they usually ask a question or two and I try and make sure I respond to them. Sure enough, as I am reading the letter [a minute ago] he makes note of the drawing he sent me. It’s a great picture of a gang brother with tattoos and all, giving praise to God. Many of the brothers in prison are good artists and they have sent me things like this over the years. I hung it up yesterday, it’s been sitting in the envelope for a month. Well in the letter he reminds me that it is a drawing of a candle/man on fire for the lord, being ‘lit’ for God. So I got up and turned on my desk light and sure enough the picture is a man whose bottom half is a candle, I didn’t see it before. It’s significant because the past month or so I have been quoting ‘no man lights a candle and puts it under a bushel, but on a candlestick’. The image of Jesus words have been in my mind recently, so I felt the ‘candle-man’ to be prophetic. I really re-read the letter because I wanted to share Leonard’s testimony with you. Like I said in the past I have known Leonard for around 30 years, used to preach to him and his dad and brothers at the county jail. Many years of knowing him and his family. In the letter Leonard testifies and thanks me for the times I spoke Gods word to him, he testifies how Gods word has always stayed with him, thru the good times and bad. Days where he was living on the streets trying to grub up money for the next fix, yet the Lord was always with him, the ‘hound of heaven’. By the way he asked me if I could find this famous poem for him and send it, it took me a while to find a free copy on line! Everyone wanted to sell one [shame] I would have bought it if I had to but I needed to print one quickly, finally found one. Leonard testified how the Lord was the ‘hound of heaven’ who would never give up on him. Well I included the poem with my study on Romans in the packet [I already sent him Acts] and will be mailing it off soon, along with the other packet for my buddy in Rahway prison in N.J. Even though these are simple tasks, one on one stuff that might seem to have little effect, yet Jesus modeled this style of ministry for us, he showed us that if we faithfully plant seed, eventually we will get a harvest. Occupy yourself with helping and reaching out to others, don’t spend time trying to build ‘your ministry’ but give yourself away for Gods kingdom, whatever you do for the least of these, Jesus friends, you do for him. It’s hard to have a greater impact than that!
(1157) I have been stuck in Luke 6 for a few days, let’s hit it briefly. Jesus is walking with the disciples thru the grain fields; they pick the grain on the Sabbath and eat some. The religious watchdogs got him now! ‘Why do you and your followers break the commands’ the religious leaders of his day are 3rd-4th generation Pharisees, their office began a few centuries earlier during a time of captivity from foreign powers. Though they know a lot about ‘the bible’ they have developed this entire tradition around their religious lives [the tradition of the elders- rabbinic Judaism] and it was this interpretation of the law that they used to judge people. Jesus responds by reaching back into the history of David and says ‘don’t you remember when David was on the run from Saul and he entered the house of God and ate the special bread and gave some to his men’. Notice, Jesus will also tell them ‘which was unlawful to do’. He doesn’t seem to challenge their accusation by saying ‘no, I am not violating the Sabbath, just your view of it’ instead he says ‘yes, I am greater than the Sabbath’ in so many words. I find it interesting that Jesus saw himself as the David who shared the holy bread with his men, a type of the future communion meal that Jesus will inaugurate. He associates his movement and followers with a time in David’s life where the world was against him. David was on the run, he was attracting disgruntled men around him, a time of difficulty and going up against the authorities of the day. Sure, David will also go thru a stage of life where he will become the legitimate king, but this is not the David that Jesus is identifying with at the time. As you read thru the chapter they will accuse him again of healing the mans hand on the Sabbath, and Jesus will give the famous ‘if the blind are leading the blind they will both fall into the ditch together’. It really took guts for Jesus to say stuff like this, he had more problems with the religious folk than any other group! In today’s ‘church world’ you have well meaning people who believe the main job of the church is to defend orthodoxy, to fight for the truth at all costs. Others see a re-thinking of everything, they will say things like ‘Jesus was not a Christian’! Simply meaning that Christianity developed a culture and system that became more important than the person himself. I see validity to both views at times. When you read Jesus and his following, try and look past the technical examining of Jesus thru a microscope, and see him thru a magnifying glass [the big picture] the psalmist said ‘magnify the Lord with me, let us exalt his name together’ the religious crowd were always looking thru a microscope.
(1148) THE TOWER OF BABEL- Today I finish the Genesis study that I started a few years ago. Sort of a milestone if you will. In chapter 11 we see the famous story of the Tower of Babel. Man united his efforts, learned how to build things contrary to God's initiative [brick and mortar versus stone] and gave his time and efforts willingly in order to make a name for himself [image building]. Over the years I have observed the church of God go thru various seasons, sometimes I cross paths with good men who are at different levels of the journey [like myself]. One of ‘the levels’ is the realization that ministers/pastors have often unconsciously built towers of Babel when they meant to build Gods church. Babel was an affront to what God wanted. Babel was an edifice that drew your attention to man and his ability to get things done, it shouted ‘look how much I have been able to accomplish, cant you see what I’ve done’! Contrary to mans building plan, God used stones that were honed and fashioned at the quarry before they were brought to the temple site. This represented the reality that though man is used in Gods building program, yet he is simply a stone carrier/placer. He doesn’t actually produce the building materials [brick and mortar]. The Lord stopped the tower of Babel by confusing the languages of men and scattering them throughout the land. The contrast to this chapter is Acts 2, where the Lord supernaturally allowed men of many different languages to once again come together and understand each other. Sort of like Gods divine imprimatur on the new building/tower that he was going to build [the church]. He would allow men once again to take part in this unified effort to build something. But it would be like the prophet said ‘not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit saith the Lord’ [stones versus brick]. On the journey most leaders will eventually see the common mistake that many Protestants have made in allowing the things we have built to bring honor and attention to who we are, what we have been able to do. This mindset of building is exactly what God rebuked at Babel, he did not want man to ‘build a tower unto heaven’ and believe in his own intellect and abilities. Jesus often challenged the mindset of the disciples on the nature of leadership, he built into them a new way of seeing leadership, it would not be a means to become the greatest, the most well know one among the group. It is common today for the leader/pastor of a congregation to unconsciously become the center of attention; this is a mistake that Christians have made by not seriously following the commands of Jesus about leadership in his kingdom. Most leaders will face a time where they will have to die to this addiction that is common among good men, men who mean well. When confronted with this challenge it is a conscious choice that leaders will make that is not easy, it truly will be a Cross to bear. But it’s better than God having to come down and personally stop the building program!
(1144) CAIN AND ABEL- After the fall of man, God kicks him out of the garden and he loses intimacy with God. Eventually Eve has kids and Cain kills Abel his brother. In Hebrews 11 and 1st John we read the story. Abel brought an animal offering, Cain brought from the fruit of the ground. Some say this was a comparison between Jesus [typified in Abel's sacrificial animal] and the law [Cain’s work of his hands, the ground]. Maybe so? Hebrews says God accepted Abel’s offering because it was in faith and rejected Cain. Cain got jealous and killed his brother, the first recorded murder in the bible. Cain has a son named Enoch [which means teacher- rabbi] he builds a city and names it after his son [God is building us, the city of God- we are named after his son, the Body of Christ] and Enoch will eventually be caught up bodily into heaven [a type of the ascension]. The skeptics often ask ‘where did Cain get his wife’? The most likely answer would be from his extended family. There was no rule against marrying your kin back then, so this sounds reasonable to me. But wait! The skeptic says because we don’t know for sure where Cain got his wife, therefore atheism is true. They then will tell you where all people really came from. Around 15 billion years ago nothing existed [not even God] and from this point of nothing something exploded into existence [without an exploder!] eventually the earth showed up and it rained on the earth for millions of years. Somehow the rain on the rocks produced this soupy mixture [primordial soup] that all by itself produced the first living cell. After millions of more years man showed up. Yeah brother, that explanation sure puts to shame the Cain and his wife thing! The story of Cain warns us of the danger of jealousy, comparing ourselves with others. Putting pressure on people to make things happen so you look better. I recently read a story about a mega church [not in Corpus] and they went thru a few years of battles. They were building a new expensive building; the pastor put pressure on the people to give. Some of the people felt like they were always being challenged to give more money. Then word got out that the Pastor bought expensive gifts for his friends with church money, 3-4 thousand dollar suits and jewelry. He was flying all over the world at great expense, doing public speaking and stuff. It was a big mess, lawsuits entailed and relationships ruined. From what I read about it in the news paper stories that were on line, it seemed like there were mistakes on both sides, both the church leadership and those who wanted to expose it. The bigger problem is this basic style of church, the high powered world traveling leader, spending lots of money on seemingly okay things. The people being supporters of the gifts and persona of the charismatic personality [whether thru media or personal travel] this whole system is being rightfully challenged at the present time by a new generation of community minded believers who see that this high powered style of an individual leader is not the pattern of church found in the New Testament. Often time’s jealousy can be a factor on both sides of these issues, but we also need to understand that there are legitimate challenges against this whole expression of church. Most of all we want to avoid taking things into our own hands, trying to personally stop what we might perceive as wrong. Cain was jealous; he allowed his rage to lead him to the killing of his own brother. He might have gotten rid of the thing he felt was an obstacle, but he would live with the guilt for the rest of his life.
(1135) Nehemiah 12- Nehemiah restores Davidic worship, he sets praisers on the city wall. They provide financially for full time worshippers of God to continually worship the Lord. They give much thanks and praise! When I just read this chapter a few hours ago, I did my normal prayer/praise time before writing; I made a conscious effort to thank and praise God. This chapter also speaks of the key leaders/books that are still to come in the Old Testament [Ezra, Jeremiah, etc.] Some men are mentioned as ‘chief among the priests/leaders’. God’s city [the church, the New Jerusalem] has various gifted ones. Some are leaders of other leaders [Apostles/Pastors type thing] others are priests [Pastors- note, we are all priests as Christians] Some gifts are meant to play a foundational role in the community, there are good gifted teachers that often share good truth, but there are times of upheaval and reformation/revolution that call for more than simply being faithful to a ministry. These times require Prophetic voices who often run rough shod over the routine experience of church and ministry. These men are no better than any one else, they just play a different role in the city/community of God. We also see the Fish gate, Sheep gate. We have already discussed the Water gate. These gates are obviously prophetic with meaning. Jesus said we are ‘fishers of men’ we are also called sheep, this picture of the city of God surrounded by worshipers on the wall; with gates that let things out and in [Jesus said he was the door, by him the sheep go out and in- access] these pictures are all prophetic types of Gods spiritual community, they pre figure us, the people of God.
(1096) THE FINAL DAY these past few weeks we have looked at the circumstances surrounding Jesus and his friends, their struggles and weaknesses. Thought it fitting to do one from the perspective of Jesus himself. Theologians have questioned how much Jesus himself knew of his own purpose and destiny. When he was 5 years old did he fully comprehend the things that awaited him? Of course not, but at the age of 12 he most certainly was seeing the ‘writing on the wall’. His own mother Mary was told early on ‘this child will effect many, nations and people groups will stand or fall based on his life’ oh, and one more thing Mary ‘a sword will pierce thru your own heart also’. Did she reveal this to her son? Did she embrace the fact that she too would experience terrible loss over her involvement in the life of Jesus? The bible says she ‘pondered these things in her heart’ she basically realized that a little more was going on than meets the eye, this strange experience, prophets and religious experiences that are intruding into her average life. Seeming to see future things about her son, things that he wasn’t fully aware of at the time. Oh well, file it away until another day. As Jesus grows in wisdom and stature he begins to grasp more fully the day that awaits him, he sees the prophetic things that surround him, things that were unexplainable, except for the fact that God was showing him what must happen next. Is he wondering somewhat? He goes out to his cousin John at the age of 30, John says ‘behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world’ he tells Jesus ‘I am not worthy to fulfill this task, I am not worthy to even untie your shoes!’ Now steady John, I know this seems to be going too far, you being the one prophesied by Malachi, the ‘Elijah to come’ but I have to deal with a much heavier matter, you said it right when you just called me ‘Gods Lamb’ I will fulfill my destiny in a way that my closest friends don’t understand yet. Some of them are very close to me, ‘swords’ will pierce thru their hearts. They do not fully see the bigger purpose, their attachment to me was meant for a higher purpose, my father knew that to get their attention they would need to be involved with me in some way, then when my destiny is complete, they will forever have been effected. John baptizes his cousin and from the sky a voice says ‘this is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased’. Jesus knew the course by now, too many signs for all of this to be some type of coincidence. But what about my friends father? My disciples, people who have become emotionally attached in some way? The recent discussions over the DaVinci code and stuff like that have caused many to wonder about Jesus’ ‘love life’. Was Mary [the female follower] possibly more than a friend? [By the way, the answer is NO!] But people have asked. The Catholic Church has changed it’s stance on the traditional belief that Mary Magdalene was the same woman that Jesus cast 7 unclean spirits out of, the prostitute. But whether she was that Mary or not, we don’t know. But surely she must have been affected by this whole scenario. This person who accepted her fully, he truly did love her, but not in the way normal people would define it, but yet in a greater way! It’s hard to explain, he knew her brief attachment to him would end with a sword piercing thru her soul as well. But what could he do? This was part of the destiny he now fully understood, his friends can’t really see it all yet, they are being drawn into this drama by events that seemed to be an accident, Jesus knew better. As the tragic day draws near, though it will end great in the victory of mans redemption, yet tragic in the sense that he could not really live a normal life with his good friends ‘attending the school reunion’ are you kidding! I am about to fulfill a destiny that will impact the world! No time for that sort of stuff. Now we have already covered the emotions of Judas, Peter and others. Is Mary [the disciple] thinking ‘who knows, maybe Jesus will marry me? After all it is a custom for many of the religious leaders of the day’ was she hoping for more than his destiny would allow? He realizes that he has brought these friends along for a ride that they didn’t fully see yet, but when it’s all over it will have turned out all right, but for now they will sacrifice the normal pleasures of life. Jesus has now spent 33 years contemplating the big day, he now fully grasps what it’s all about, no more possibility of persuading him to not go thru with it. Sure, his friends will try ‘God forbid that you even have the thought of going to Jerusalem to die! Why are you even having these thoughts’? Peter felt responsible in some way to help his friend out, to intervene in any way he could. Jesus was determined; there was no stopping him now. Oh well, let the chips fall, we did all we could do. He begins to agonize over the actual event itself, wondering if there might be some other way. Mary [his mother and the disciple] was surely praying for it, they hoped with all of their hearts for another end, they have prayed and asked God ‘please help him, we love him so much, please let him live!’ Jesus is very tired now, it’s been quite a long road to this point, he now fully grasps what’s going to happen, he hoped he could have handled it a little better. He doesn’t want to show weakness right now, but he is fully man and fully God. The man says ‘Father, I know we have come to this predetermined place. My mother heard about it from the prophet at my birth, I realize that I have come for a much greater purpose, but PLEASE, PLEASE listen to me, if it’s possible, let me not go thru with this. If there is another way, please lets do it that way’. He knows deep down inside that he shouldn’t be asking this, he prepared himself mentally for this day for quite some time now, but a big part of ‘this day’ would be his struggle, his inner turmoil. His friends will one day read what went on behind the scenes, they will get a glimpse of the intensity of the struggle; they will see why he seemed so intense at times, things that they didn’t really know about, but the agony was part of the whole story. He will sweat drops of blood; the turmoil seems too much to bear. Sure, those around him would taste part of it, but they would have no idea how much it was effecting him, he was the target. He comes back to his disciples, they are sleeping! ‘Didn’t I ask you to pray? I really need you guys right now, please don’t give up on me now!’ they were dumbfounded ‘why is he so upset?’ they weren’t seeing it from his perspective. ‘It is enough, I am now going to be given to sinful men, they will do to me as they will’. Jesus once said ‘when the salt looses it’s flavor, it is good for nothing but to be cast out and trodden under men's feet’. The three year ministry of Jesus had lots of flavor, many who followed his calling were really blessed, I mean no one could teach like him! Plus he really did do a of lot good, lives were touched for ever, but things are now wrapping up with him, his friends didn’t turn out as good as he had hoped, they are denying him left and right! The flavor is being lost, he is about to be cast out and trodden under men’s feet! His long awaited for day has arrived, the day he looked forward to ‘for this purpose was I born!’ he would say, but yet he was in agony, you could almost taste it! So here we go Jesus, the time has come, any last words ‘You will see me coming in the power and glory of my fathers kingdom, do what you have to do’. Wow, we never had a final statement like that! They scourge him, a brutal act of whipping a person until his flesh falls off of his bones, ‘some king’ quick lets cover his face with this bag ‘Whack’ they beat the hell out of him ‘prophesy now Jesus, who hit you’. Well let’s nail the prophet to the tree. He is suspended between heaven and earth, he looks down. His mother is there, his poor mom. She somehow knew this day was coming, she hoped it could have been avoided, but it’s here. She remembers the prophecy from years ago ‘a sword will go thru your soul Mary’ the sword has penetrated. The other Mary now knows ‘it will never be! I had hoped that maybe this person who loved me more than anyone would be mine alone’ but he was given to the world, Mary will never be the same. Jesus is determined, it’s gone too far now, his friends are tasting death themselves. He mentally knew what the Cross would entail, being forsaken by God for the sins of men. A feeling of ‘forsaken-ness’ that no other person would ever be able to comprehend, though he intellectually knew it, yet he still had never really tasted it. No man ever has. What’s it feel like Jesus, if your who you said you were, come down and we will believe. They put a sponge on a stick with ‘vinegar and gall’ actually an act of mercy from his executioners, they had experience with others who have died this way, right at around this point they all drink the gall, it was a painkiller of sorts, helps you thru the pain- Mick Jaggers ‘mothers little helper’. He refuses ‘no, I'll drink in the pain’ seems a little self destructive? He cries something that is misunderstood, they think he’s calling for Elijah, but his words are garbled, he is unrecognizable for heavens sake, a truly tortured man! He was once again calling to his God. It all seems too much, weigh too much intensity for such a short life. He had his struggles, don’t get me wrong, HE NEVER SINNED, but did go thru stuff. We heard lots of rumors about him, but now this day, this tragic day has arrived. Of course we know it was really a great victory, but tell that to the pitiful figure on the Cross as he screams ‘Oh my God, why have you forsaken me like this’ and dies.
(1086) the last day or so I didn’t write any posts, but if I did, they would be something like ‘to be honest, today was a difficult day. Recently there have been some ‘old demons’ from my past that have haunted me. They visit every now and then, they always eventually leave, but they have a tendency to leave some marks’. Now, that’s as close as you can get to confessing stuff on a public blog! James says ‘confess your faults one to another, and pray for each other that you might be healed’ it’s hard to confess your faults when the modern church is consumed with image ‘how we look, who’s the new up and coming ministry on the horizon’? Geez, I feel like ‘if I can survive this day, that’s fine with me Lord’. Well enough of me. I have been reading the prophets, let me give you some advice; if times are hard, read Psalms. If you need wisdom- Proverbs. And if you’re in the mood to get chewed out, read the prophets! It’s hard to not feel convicted when reading the brothers. I was also thinking about the lives of people who have impacted society to some degree, often times they are tragic figures. Jesus, from the natural standpoint did not look like he had it together; sure, he was healing [helping] people, a couple of resurrections and all, but as the leader of this rag tag team of radicals, things weren’t going to well. The disciples thought they were in on the beginnings of a revolutionary movement that would throw off the oppression of Rome. The war that led up to the eventual overthrow of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 was actually initiated a few years earlier by this type of mindset. In the apocryphal books [the catholic books between Malachi and Matthew in the Old Testament] you have the recording of the Maccabean revolt, when the Jews attempted to throw off the ruling govt. The whole history of Israel was one of learning how to be a free people, coming out from the rule of other human governments [Exodus, Joshua, etc]. So these disciples of Jesus really thought they were in on the right political party, the one that would succeed in turning things around. After all, if you were waiting for some Messianic figure to show up, if your bibles [old testament] said he was going to come and deliver you from the Roman oppressors [read Mary’s magnificat] you would naturally think that Jesus was going to set up a physical throne out of the city and Rome would be cast off. But what happened? This great religious leader, this miracle worker, he is always talking about this new kingdom. He’s dropping little hints that it’s not going to be what they think, he says things that seem to not even make sense ‘the last shall be first’ ‘he that seeks to save his life shall lose it’ ‘this kingdom does not come with observation, it’s within you’. Oh well, the disciples figure ‘what the heck, we cant understand all that he’s saying, but man he’s got the authorities scared. I mean you can feel it in the air brother!’ So they stick it out, but he also drops little hints ‘the son of man is going to go to Jerusalem [Yea, now were talking! This is the part we’ve been waiting for Jesus, no more of this talk about laying your life down, that’s just depressing] and be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified’ What! What are you telling us? We quit our jobs, left our homes; we gave up a lot for this movement, now your telling us your gonna die! This is way too much to handle! By all outward appearances he seems like such a tragic figure. They accuse him of not being able to help himself ‘if this man were the Son of God [legit] surely he would come down from the Cross [a place of weakness, public humiliation] and save himself. He helped others, and he can’t even save himself!’ The accusation was he must be a hypocrite, he talked a big talk, but even his closest friends are no where to be found. One of the most vocal [Peter] is out right now swearing up and down that he doesn’t even know the man. ‘Jesus, I have no idea who your talking about’ the bible says he cursed and swore, lets try and be tactful, this is a Christian site ‘I don't know what the hell your talking about’ how’s that? What a sad ending to such a promising career, he seemed like he had so much going for him. Man, could he teach! You know we heard when he was only 12; he was asking the scholars questions that they couldn’t answer. One time he stood up in the synagogue and opened up this scroll, you know the Isaiah one. He read this strange verse about Gods Spirit being on some future person, how that person would do justice for the poor, speak out against things that he felt were wrong. He would be genuine, then you know what happened? He said “this day is this prophecy being fulfilled in your ears” Man, it gave us all chills. But what in the world happened to the guy? We heard he was unstable and all, the religious leaders have diagnosed him as a nut! But how do you explain all the good he was doing, after all nuts don’t raise the dead? Oh, that’s easy, he was doing it by the power of satan. Well I guess they were right, after all look at him now, such a pathetic figure. Naked on a cross! All that we expected from you, you could at least have the courtesy of deconstructing in private; I mean really, do we all have to watch this tragic end? Well of course we know the rest of the story, it didn’t actually end tragically. But he couldn’t seem to find help/vindication until after he died, can you wait that long?
(1062) 1st KINGS 13- Jeroboam is confronted by a prophet as he is worshiping at the idol/altar in Bethel. The prophet gives a significant word, he mentions by name a future king [Josiah] who God is going to raise up to institute reform in the nation. When someone’s name is prophesied before their birth, that is a special anointing. Both Jesus and John the Baptist had stuff like this surrounding their births. Now Jeroboam stretches out his hand against the prophet, God curses his hand and the prophet prays for him and he gets healed. Jeroboam invites him to stay for a meal and the young prophet says ‘no, God told me not to stay and eat here’. On his way home an older prophet invites him to come back and eat with him, he tells the young prophet ‘I too am a prophet and the Lord told me for you to “eat and sit at my table’” [a type of fellowship]. Now, the old prophet lied, why? It seems as if he did not do this on purpose, he heard the story about the young man, possibly remembered the glory days of old and simply wanted the fellowship. As the young prophet ‘sits at the table of deceit’ the word of the Lord comes to the old prophet and says ‘because you disobeyed and stayed and ate, you will die’. The old prophet gave a true word and the young prophet leaves and is killed by a lion. His ‘movement’ died prematurely because he ‘sat’ at the table of deceit and disobeyed God. A few things; many years ago as I saw certain things going off track with certain movements [prosperity] I saw things that seemed to be fake, brothers sharing dreams and prophetic words that seemed false. Yet I felt these brothers weren’t doing this on purpose, that in some way they fell into a trap of wanting to be involved and accepted by their peers. And when confronted by real reproofs, they simply retreated into their own groups and refused the reproof. There are things like this happening now with certain elements of the modern prophetic movement. In the above story, the older prophet meant no harm, but yet harm was done! The younger prophet wasn’t there [in Bethel] to rebuke the old man, he was simply carrying the torch of prophetic rebukes that were needed at times. The mistake the younger generation made was being too willing to ‘sit and eat’ at the old mans table. I believe that certain elements of the older ‘prophetic’ movements need to be abandoned and left alone to die [false doctrines, not people!]. Those who walk in wisdom and obedience will reuse to ‘sit and eat at the old mans table’ and those who decide to stay at the table will die prematurely [that is their ministries and movements will be cut short] which group are you in?
(1050)1st KINGS 3:1-15 this is a prophetic chapter, Solomon goes to Gibeon to offer on ‘the great altar’. What is the great altar? There is a remote verse [somewhere in the Old Testament- I didn’t look it up] that says Moses tabernacle is located at Gibeon. How it got there we don’t know, but the picture is important. The tabernacle of Moses represents the Old Covenant [law], during David’s rule the Ark of the covenant that was stolen, David retrieves it and places it at Jerusalem [the tent that he puts it under is called the Tabernacle of David- a type of the new covenant people who have free access to God, no more veil!] So Solomon more than likely sacrificed at Gibeon [picturing the Old Covenant] and then has the famous dream where God appears to him and he asks for wisdom. This ‘dream’ can be a type of death. Jesus referred to death as ‘sleeping’ Paul too. So after ‘the dream’ [death] he goes to Jerusalem and is at the place of the Ark [a type of Gods presence, it was not in Moses tabernacle, but under the tent that David set up] and eventually the remnants of Moses tabernacle [at Gibeon] will be joined to the Ark [at Jerusalem] and there will be ‘one new temple’ [Ephesians speaks of the 2 becoming one in Christ, both Jew and Gentile]. So under Solomon’s rule [a type of Christ] we have the joining of the Old Covenant people of God along with the Gentile church. Jesus did not forsake his ‘people that he foreknew’ [Romans] but thru his death he took away the ‘law of commandments contained in ordinances and nailed them to his Cross’ [Colossians, Ephesians] thus removing the enmity and making in himself ‘one new man’. Solomon was definitely prophetic! [see 2nd Samuel study, chapter 7- entry 923]
(1051) 1st KINGS 3: 16-28 Now to the famous story. Two women [harlots] come to Solomon with a problem. They both had children within a few days of each other, and one night one of the babies died. The other woman woke up and had the dead baby with her, but after she looked at it she realized it wasn’t hers. The real mother of the dead child did a swap at night. So as they are pleading their case to the king, they both claim that the living child is theirs. So Solomon calls for a sword, they bring him the sword and he tells his men ‘take the baby and divide it in two, give half to each mom’ sounds fair enough. Of course the real mom says ‘no, don’t divide it. Give the baby to her’ and the fake mom says ‘no, divide it!’ Ahh! Got ya. Solomon says ‘give the child to the one who did not want to divide it, the child belongs to her’. A few things, it just so happened that the last book we studied was Ecclesiastes, I didn’t plan it like that, it just ‘happened’. Ecclesiastes was written by Solomon. One of the verses I didn’t cover says Solomon wrote on all types of subjects and put together three thousand proverbs. Proverbs are short, concise bits/nuggets of wisdom that get the point across in a nutshell. While there are times when you need to read large volumes and stuff, yet wisdom allows you to cover a lot of content in a little space. In this case Solomon used his wisdom to quickly come to a conclusion that could not be refuted; Jesus did stuff like this with his parables. Notice also that after the judgment was made, there really was no ‘if, ands or buts’ about it. He was right and that settled it. I still have old preacher friends who can’t discern the most basic stuff. Now, I don't want to be mean or condescending, but there comes a time where things are right or wrong. Many years ago I taught how leaders were making a serious mistake when they grasped on to the prosperity interpretation of Jesus parable of the sower [read the chapter ‘twisting the parable of the sower’ in the book ‘house of prayer or den of thieves’ on this site]. Basically many preachers, good men, were going around and teaching that Jesus was speaking about getting a huge harvest of cash. In the parable Jesus says one of the things that hinders the full harvest is ‘the deceitfulness of riches’, so I taught how Jesus was not saying ‘the deceitfulness of riches is holding back the cash’. Now, this is really elementary stuff, but some preachers still can’t discern this, after 20years! There comes a time when Solomon [Jesus] sends a judgment forth, and we ultimately become responsible for what we do with it. In this case, one of the ladies was right the other wrong. Solomon plainly told us who was telling the truth. [note- the other day as I was flipping channels, I stopped at a ‘prophetic’ brother who I haven’t watched in a while. In the past he has had some good words that were right on. But I felt that too many ‘prophecies’ were going forth on a yearly basis that were not really accomplishing anything ‘this year is the year of increase, Rebuke the demon of poverty’ stuff that was being repeated over and over hundreds of times, and yet the word of God was not being taught. Well on the program I tuned in on, the brother was saying how all the media complaints about Sarah Palin's expensive wardrobe were ridiculous [I agree] but then he said that it was nothing but a ‘spirit of poverty’ that needed to be rebuked. Are there ‘spirits/demons of poverty’ no. At least we see no cases of Jesus casting out spirits of poverty in scripture. There comes a time when preachers/media outlets need to return to a sober message of the Cross. I believe in prophecy and miracles and have experienced many of these types of things over the years, but we need to stop being silly with some of this stuff.
(1052) 1st KINGS 4- ‘And God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding exceeding much, and largeness [generous] of heart…and his wisdom was greater than all the children of the east and Egypt…and all the people and the kings of the earth [gentiles shall come to thy light and kings to the brightness of thy rising] came to hear the wisdom of Solomon’- In this chapter we read of the tremendous storehouse of goods and resources that God gave to Solomon. His wisdom was in many areas, not just ‘theology’! He was a true Renaissance man. Before the reformation and the ‘enlightenment’ you had the Renaissance period. For many years the wisdom and knowledge that prevailed in early Greco-Roman society was lost/hidden from the public. Through process of time and events [like the crusades] some of these hidden resources of knowledge were re-discovered and the world went thru a renewal period in wisdom and philosophy. It was thanks to the catholic churches preserving of these early works [Monks and monasteries] that would later lead to them being recovered. Now, even though these works were recovered, they weren’t readily available to the general public on a wide scale. You simply did not have the tools [internet/public libraries in abundance] to disseminate the information at large, but you did have men who became educated in these areas and they were the ‘renaissance men’. Sort of like walking libraries of wisdom, ‘Solomon’s’ if you will. Solomon wrote and studied on all sorts of subjects, he did not limit himself to one field only. Often times in the area of ‘full time preaching’ we send kids off to college [okay] and they get an education that only applies to one field [full time ministry]. I think it would be better if all the ‘preachers’ became well rounded in many practical areas of learning, getting skills in various areas [Paul-tent making] that would enable them to transition when reformation happens [like the current challenge on church practices and the full time pastoral office. Many sincere men are too dependant on their jobs as full time ministers to seriously reconsider the scriptural grounds for their office]. So Solomon was the type of brother who could converse with you in all types of fields. Many of the world’s greatest scientists/mathematicians were Christians, a common mistake is to think the scientific revolution was launched by anti religious men, this is simply not true. A careful study of history would show you that the majority of the great scientific minds were products of the church. It was common to major in theology and use that field of study as the foundation for all the other fields of learning. Jesus said of Solomon that kings and queens went out of their way to hear the wisdom of Solomon [the Warren Buffet of his day] but yet a greater than Solomon was here! [speaking of himself]
(1053)1ST KINGS 5-Solomon contracts with Hiram, king of Tyre, to supply Cedar wood and trees for the construction of the temple. He also raises up a mighty labor force who will work in 3 shifts, one month in the forest and two months back home. They helped cut down and deliver the logs on rafts back to Solomon. He has a massive labor force of stone cutters as well, they are cutting stone for the foundation of the temple. Like I said in a previous chapter, the temple is a picture of both the Old Covenant [law] and the new gentile church uniting as ‘one new man’ in Christ. Though the temple is basically a large scale replica of the Mosaic tabernacle, yet the only actual piece of furniture that makes in into the temple is the Ark of the Covenant. The Ark represents Gods presence, in the New Testament we see that Gods Spirit and presence left the Old law system [as typified by the temple- Hebrews] and ‘entered’ into the new temple, made up of both Jew and Gentile believers! [Ephesians]. Solomon was wise enough to realize that he personally did not possess all the skills to accomplish the mission, he knew how to hire other skilled people to help with the completion of the task. In ministry we often try and accomplish too much through the personal attributes/gifts of the leader. One of the plagues on the Body of Christ today is the American system of entrepreneurial church, we seem to exalt the personalities and gifts of the main leader at the expense of the functioning of the people of God. Though many good men are involved with this system, yet we need to transition to a place where we understand that in Christ’s church he uses many gifted people in various ways to build his temple [the people of God].This chapter says God gave Solomon ‘peace on every side, he had no adversaries nor evil occurrence’. Scripture says when a mans ways please the Lord he makes even his adversaries to be at peace with him. God gave Solomon a season of peace and rest, not for the purpose of sitting back and resting on his laurels, but for the purpose of building his kingdom. Solomon walked ‘while he had the light’ [he took advantage of the window of opportunity that God put before him].
(1017)MONKEY BONES AND SPACE SHIPS- I read an interesting piece on the exhibit of Lucy in Seattle. The article showed how the famous bones, discovered in the 1970’s, were not getting the attention they felt it deserved. The display itself was considered less than what it had been advertised, many said they were surprised at the small amount of scattered bones that comprised the main exhibit. It almost seemed to look like a scattered display of monkey bones! [watch out] But alas, as you progressed to the part of the ‘show’ that had the man made models of what Lucy might have looked like with flesh and structure and all, sure enough she looked great! Exactly like a missing link. The article also mentioned how the scientist, who was an expert in bone structure, that when he was first contacted to ‘create’ the model for the exhibit, that he was quite surprised at the bones too. He said he had a very difficult time in structuring a bi-pedal model [walks on two feet] from the scant bone evidence. What made it difficult was the bones all seemed to indicate that the creature was exactly like a regular ape! [He didn’t realize that he was letting the cat out of the bag] But nevertheless he fulfilled his obligation and did his darndest to make a statue like being, contrary to what the bones really showed, and it looked great. Those who doubted the actual evidence at the exhibit were convinced by the good looking model. Now to the space ships. What if I told you we discovered a small scattered section of a U.F.O.? I created a special exhibit and explained to you all my theories on how this craft ‘evolved’ from other craft and eventually became the modern plane. I went thru all sorts of efforts to back up my claim. Then we discover that Joe’s mechanic shop out in the New Mexico dessert actually has a working fleet of these craft! He has been flying them on routine missions for years [thus all the sightings] he uses the fleet for all sorts of projects; delivering the local produce to parts unknown, he holds special stunt shows and all for the regulars. We have hit the jackpot when it comes to finding out the truth about the U.FO. Mystery. We certainly don’t need the old exhibit of scattered parts that was promoted in days gone by. In essence this is what we have when it comes to examining the evidence of whether or not monkeys turned into people. We have the capability thru advanced DNA testing to show us the very unique makeup of living things. This advanced knowledge shows us one conclusive fact; living things stay in their categories! They have such unique genetic coding that it is impossible for one group to jump and become another group. We really don’t need to look at all the scattered ‘bone’ evidence to determine whether or not monkeys turn into people. We have the actual ‘craft’ to examine! The bible says that God created things ‘after their kind’ they would reproduce and multiply within their specific genetic group. For many thousands of years the bible plainly stated that these species do not slowly [or quickly] jump into anther group. Darwin said they did, after 150 years of research, science has advanced to a point where we can clearly examine ‘the working fleet’. We don’t need a bunch of dead bones to figure this thing out. I just wish the evolutionists would get on the bandwagon and come take a look at Joe’s fleet.
THE FINAL DAY- 1ST CORINTHIANS 6: 1-7 Paul rebukes them for taking each other to court. He tells them ‘don’t you have any wise people among you who could handle this? Why go before unbelievers!’ he also tells them ‘plus, why even fight for your rights, if you think you have been wronged in some way by your brother, then simply see it as part of the cost of carrying your cross’. Paul contradicts the prevalent mindset in much of Christianity today. He doesn’t teach ‘get what’s yours, know your rights!’ he teaches the ethos of self denial, of living with the expectation of giving up your rights and dreams. Of taking loss, if it glorifies the Father. Now we get into some ‘stuff’. Paul appeals to them by saying ‘don’t you realize that we shall judge angels some day, we shall judge the world’. A few years back there was a debate going on in theological circles. Some theologians popularized a new way to look at God’s sovereignty. This new system was called ‘Open Theism’. Scholars like Clark Pinnock and others held out the possibility that God doesn’t foreordain all future events, they actually went further and said ‘he doesn’t know all future events’. Well of course this sparked off a firestorm among the Calvinists. Does scripture teach that God is sovereign and does know all that will happen? To be honest about it, yes. But the idea of open theism was saying ‘because God has chosen to give man free will, he, by his own design, has chosen to limit his knowledge in the area of knowing all of mans future choices’. In essence that God purposely ‘does not know’ the future outcomes of decisions that have not been made by humans. If free will is real [of course the Calvinists say no] then God must limit himself to knowledge in these areas. I personally do not believe this, but I think I needed to share it to explain this section of scripture. Paul does tell them they will judge the world and angels. In second Peter 2, the apostle says the fallen angels are being held for a future day of judgment. In Matthew [19-?] Jesus says those who follow him will play a part in a future ruling over human government. These scriptures do indicate that believers will play a role in future judgment scenarios. So if we ‘judge angels and the world’ we should be able to arbitrate between ourselves! Now, in the world of theology you have sincere questions on ‘is it fair for God to judge people who have never heard the gospel’ or ‘if God is truly sovereign in all things, even in predestinating certain people to salvation, then this is unfair’. Many have turned to universalism, or a belief in ‘no hell’ in order to quell these questions. I want to simply float a scenario to you. Jesus says ‘whosoever sins you remit [forgive] they are forgiven. Those you retain [not forgive] will be retained’ while there are differing views on these verses, I want you to see how these scriptures, in keeping with all that I just showed you, might leave us room for another possible way out of all the so called questions on Gods ‘fairness’. Say if at the judgment, we are all gathered [Calvinists, Arminians, Catholics,…] and say if we are all waiting to see who’s right ‘I’ll show that Arminian…I’ll show that Catholic…’ and we are at the day where the future destinies of millions are at stake. What will God do? It’s possible that much of the final decision will rest in the hands of the church. I know it sounds heretical, but keep in mind all the verses I just quoted to you. Say if all of our pompous pontificating [wow!] amongst varying theories of the atonement and universalism and all the other stuff. Say if Jesus turns to us and says ‘You are now going to make the most important judgment of your lives, you shall judge the world and angels’ and all of a sudden all of our scrutiny of God’s fairness turns on us. We see in the crowd of masses, faces of people who we hate. People who have been demonized by history [Darwin, Hitler]. Those we always wondered about [eastern religions] and now much of their final destiny rides on us. Even the possibility of fallen angels being forgiven! [Hey, maybe Origin was right?] The whole point of this scenario is to simply say we might have been asking the wrong questions all along. Now for sure, no one gets in without Jesus and his blood! But there are also a few other verses [Peter] that seem to indicate a second hearing [or first!] of the gospel before the final day. The point being how willing are you to really carry out something like this? Are you really ready for the great responsibility of having someone’s destiny depend on how forgiving you are? I really don’t believe 100 % in this scenario I just floated. But Jesus does put us in positions of responsibility all thru out our lives. He does say ‘whoever’s sins we don’t forgive, these sins will be held against them by your own choice’ we keep people in ‘chains of bondage’ today! Never mind the future. God has committed to us great responsibility as believers, if we are still fighting each other over insignificant things [taking our brothers to court, if you will] then we are truly not ready to ‘Judge the world’.
NUCLEAR WAR SURVIVOR- 1ST CORINTHIANS 5:1-7 Okay, now we get into some tough stuff. Paul tells them that he has heard about a situation where one of the brothers is sleeping with his step-mom [fathers wife, though probably not his mother]. And the rebuke is they are not repenting over it, but instead are kind of proud of the whole thing! Paul says to ‘deliver him to satan for the destruction of the flesh so the spirit may be saved’. Now I already showed you the way I view this verse. I tried to follow the other times where Paul speaks this way in this letter and when using this type of language I see him speaking of physical death [chapter 11- sleep-death as judgment to a believer who sins]. I often ‘day dream’ how bout you? I’m not sure if it’s the lord at times trying to tell me stuff. One of my noble fantasies is I can picture myself as the sole Christian preacher who has survived some nuclear holocaust and I am responsible to train the survivors. In this scenario [I am kinda ad libbing here, I don’t day dream this much!] I have both Catholic and Protestant believers. Although I am tempted to raise this new generation of people as Protestants, I instead teach the Catholics true Catholic doctrine [though I don't fully agree with it all] and I teach the Protestants their stuff. Now, I think this little day dream in some way speaks to what I need to do at times on this blog. I need to honestly tell both sides! In this verse ‘commit to satan for the destruction of the flesh’ some do see it a little differently. You can read ‘flesh’ as meaning ‘fleshly nature’. Paul does use the word this way at times. You can’t really make the distinction by going to the Greek. Instead you have to simply look at the context. So this view would be saying ‘deliver this believer to the enemy, don’t allow him to remain ‘in the camp’ and continue to receive the benefits of the believing community. As you ostracize him he will feel the effect of not being with you, he will come to his senses and leave his sin’ [which in this scenario is ‘his fleshly nature’] so the ‘destruction of the flesh’ in this interpretation would fit in well with Arminians. Now, do I believe it this way? No, but I sure feel noble, sort of like the Protestant preacher in my ‘day dream’. [p.s. if you tell anybody about this day dream, I will deny it!]
(860)WHAT WAS IN THOSE DARN BUCKETS? Imagine yourself sitting on some roadside and you witness way up on a mountain the sight of an old man throwing a bucket of some unknown substance off the cliff. You then assemble a group of detectives and begin researching what was in the bucket. You interview eyewitnesses who say ‘we saw a bucket full of numbers’. Some say the bucket had even and odd numbers, others say only odd numbers. Well, now we have a dilemma. Both sides are adamant about their belief! They will not budge. So you begin an exhaustive 150 year archeological dig to find the numbers. After 150 years you have found ones and threes and sevens and so forth. You have found thousands of these odd numbers. What would your conclusion be? The evolutionist has had 150 years since Darwin to ‘unearth’ all the ‘missing numbers’. We have found fossils of all different kinds of life forms. The problem is there are no ‘even numbers’ [transitional species]. How do we explain the absence of all these so called ‘transitional species’? The intelligent thing to do is admit there were no ‘even numbers’ [transitional species] from the start? But the evolutionist can’t admit ‘the old man had a bucket full of odd numbers’. So he comes up with all types of explanations for the ‘missing numbers’. The problem is there is absolutely no reasonable explanation for why all the odd numbers survived [fossils of complete things, structures] and not a single even number has been found! [Though some clever ‘number hunters’ will try to pass off a broken odd number every so often]. They have even found so called ‘missing even numbers’ and later discovered that they were fakes! I think its time to admit that the old man on the hill had a ‘bucket full of odd numbers’ [there never were any so called ‘missing links’!]
(856)PARABLE FROM A PLANE [or any other mode of transport!] this parable is in response to all the various ‘Calvinistic’ sites I have read from in the last few years. I believe in the doctrine of classic predestination [Calvin, Augustine, Paul] but I feel there are some problems with the way believers approach this issue. Say if you were taking a flight from New York to Texas. You have been on this flight hundreds of times. In fact your father is the pilot! Now, when you were growing up you were reassured that the plane was safe, the pilot is well trained and for all practical purposes you know nothing can go wrong [I realize this analogy isn’t perfect, but just pretend that this flight is guaranteed not to have any problems]. Over the years you have enjoyed the journey. Then one day you meet a fellow passenger [an Arminian- Someone who does not believe in the doctrine of predestination, at least not in the way you do]. You begin having some good discussions, he espouses his belief that it is quite possible for something to go wrong. He agrees that the plane itself is safe and the pilot is qualified. But he states ‘if you want to jump out you can’. This idea never entered into the original passenger. He always believed that the security of the flight was so ‘secure’ that even if he tried to jump, he couldn’t open the exit. Now, the Arminian says ‘I think you could’ the Calvinist says ‘no way’. During their discussion they disagree, but no one attempts to actually ‘jump’. Now a few weeks later the Calvinist is afraid to get on the plane. He has taken the flight many times, but now he wonders ‘What if the Arminian was right? Say if the pilot [his dad] actually has the ability and power to open the hatch and throw me out? The possibility of this actual thing has now frozen me with such fear that I will not get on the plane’. The father [pilot] would seem offended. How many times have children fallen asleep in the car when their father was at the wheel? Even though it’s in the realm of possibility that dad will ‘throw you out’ [I don’t embrace this, but follow me] it would still seem dysfunctional for the child to say ‘I refuse to drive with dad until I have some guarantees that he will never open the door and dump me’. As a matter of fact, I feel so insecure of the possibility that dad can throw me out, that I even hate the other kids [or passengers!] that even brought it up! As I have read from some ‘Reformed sites’ I have seen this type of dynamic more than one time. Some of the brothers see the Arminian camp as heretics. I think we need to step back and take a breath. Even in the Arminian camp, they have faith that ‘dad isn’t going to stop short and open the exit’ [for the most part]. Most simply believe that ‘dad’ leaves this option open for the ‘jumper’. I know this silly parable doesn’t do justice to the whole issue of Gods sovereignty. I just find it disturbing how some of my fellow Calvinists seem to view the other side as ‘the enemy’.
(814)OUR WE A BUFFET OR A PARK? I guess we need to do some more on ‘the house church movement’. First, the New Testament addresses ‘the church’ as the corporate people of God. The great mystery is that Christ is dwelling in our hearts by faith. That all believers are walking around as ‘the mobile dwelling place of God, THE HOUSE OF GOD!’ Now, from this standpoint we live and function as the people of God. As we learn and grow we realize that ‘along the way’ we have grasped on to limited ideas about who we are and what the church is. Many of these concepts are shared by both Catholic and Protestant believers. Some who have been helpful in showing us the limited perspective of ‘church at/as the building’ as being silly, seem to have grasped on to the idea that ‘church at the house’ is the basic organic nature of ‘church’. I disagree. In society today you have all sorts of family units. Kids are being born and leaving home and going out into this ‘brave new world’ and imprinting their name on the world. All over the earth you have parents who are writing and keeping in touch with their offspring as they learn and grow as people. These kids are doing all sorts of things [shopping, eating, going to movies, going to the buffet on Sunday]. Now say if you as a parent changed the way you wrote your letters; ‘Dear Johnnie and family’ turned into ‘dear kids who meet and eat every Sunday at the buffet’. The kids would be wondering ‘what’s up with dad, why does he see us only thru the lens of us eating on Sunday’ [or whatever day you eat]. The basic mistake that dad is making is he is seeing one of the functions of his kids [meeting for the purpose of eating] and mistaking that function for ‘the kids’. That is he is beginning to identify his kids in a limited way by viewing them only thru this lens. Now say if dad does some research and finds out that the first century ‘kids’ were having their meals in the park. It was only as time progressed that they built ‘buffets’ and places to go on Sunday to eat. And as time progressed all the kids from future generations starting viewing themselves thru the lens of ‘we are families, we are people who eat at buffets on Sunday’. Now say if the researcher who has discovered that the early families really never ate at buffets [met in buildings!] begins to teach that ‘true family’ are those who meet at parks. The fundamental mistake, in my mind, would be defining ‘the people’ [church] as the kids who eat/meet at the park. While in reality, these first century ‘kids’ were defined as being ‘real kids, who were living and ‘eating’ and functioning as real people as a result of really being born by real parents’. That is the real definition of ‘being kids’ is neither ‘meeting at the 4th century church building’ [or calling the actual building ‘the kids’!] nor is it ‘meeting at the first century park’ [home meetings]. The researcher, as helpful as he’s has been in showing us the limited model of 4th century ‘buffet eating’ has also been limited in his replacing of ‘the church’ as building based versus home based. Would you address your kids as ‘buffet based’ or ‘park based’? That is would you define them by using the measuring rod of ‘where they met to eat’? Of course not! They are ‘kids’ [children of God] because they have been born into human [spiritual] families. Their fundamental nature as ‘children of humans’ [of God] is what makes them ‘kids’. So today I wanted to re focus our attention on what the ‘church’ actually is. The church are all the people of God [both those in buildings, parks and any where else they happen to be] who are alive because they have been actually born from God the father. Our identity is not based on 4th or 1st century ‘ways of meeting’. Our identity is based on being ‘born from above’.
PARABLE FROM A WATCH- [When I first wrote this, I really thought it was original. I am sure I must have heard this idea over the years. Recently I realized someone else popularized this years ago. Yes, I am guilty of plagiarism!] Recently there has been much public debate on the origins of life. Two famous atheists, Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens have written books on the subject. These books have been debunked fairly well by others in the scientific community as well as believers. Ben Stein, the comedian who used to be on T.V. and other various projects has made a movie called ‘expelled’. I haven’t seen it yet but it shows the very real discrimination that is played out against professors who even think to mention the theory of intelligent design. These professors are often silenced, not on the grounds of science, but because of the stigma that comes with being a contrarian when it comes to evolution. Now the parable; Say if 2 people were walking along the highway and stumbled across a watch. They have never seen one before. The materials of the watch are foreign to them. What is this strange thing? One of them espouses the idea that many billions of years ago nothing existed. You had no matter, no life giving entity. You believe that as billions of years went buy, out of nothing came something [a scientific impossibility!] but for the sake of argument, we agree. Now this ‘material’ that came into existence from nothing still had to be formed and designed into this complex watch that we have found. The materialist espouses another billion or so years go by and you had this explosion. Where did the explosion come from? Well lets stick with the same theory of here the materials came from. It just happened! No explanation at all. No scientific fore thought, everything just went ‘boom, boom’. At this point I begin wondering if my materialistic friend is off his rocker! But from this unexplained explosion we have billions of more years [he seems to think the simple concept of billions of years can itself create matter and cause action and create design. This idea is absolutely contrary to all true science. All true science, observable facts, show us that from points of disorder you do not get design! Say an explosion of some other thing, you do not derive order and complexity from the simple act of an explosion. An explosion can never in a billion years produce a watch. It would be like using the common example of an infinite number of monkeys typing on an infinite number of keyboards for an infinite number of years and producing the complete works of Shakespeare!] Now from this viewpoint the materialist says ‘this is how the watch got here, I am a man of knowledge and science’ now as the innocent bystander, I would say ‘you my friend are a complete and total idiot’ [I like using parables, you can have the characters say things that you personally would never say as a believer!]. The bystander says ‘as far as we can tell from all other observable data that we have around us, there has never once been a time where a complex machine like a watch could have simply appeared from nowhere and nothing. You had to have had some initiator [designer] somewhere along the way to have crafted the thing. This designer, be it aliens or whatever, had to have had the ability to also have created the elements of the watch. By sheer logic, this designer himself had to have been around forever or else you would come up with the same problem of ‘something/someone coming from nothing’. The bystander deducts that although he can not explain scientifically all the ins and outs of this designer, yet he without a doubt is much more ‘scientific’ than the materialists idea that all things came from no thing! So today, we have the ‘average Joe’ who simply believes that the materialistic scientist must have the real answers. The average Joe thinks ‘surely I haven’t been believing in a total absurdity my whole life!’ He takes ‘by faith’ the materialists explanation. Most average Joes have heard the argument ‘well, the schools teach science, not religion. Therefore we must believe this absurdity’. It is a proven fact that complex things, be they watches or humans or solar systems, must have come from a designer. How is it proven? It is proven in the sense that all observable complex things have never been shown to have appeared from nothing. Science has never once witnessed the arrival of a new species from nothing. Science simply shows us the factual data that all things that we can now observe coming into existence [births of animals, humans, etc] come into existence by the actions of other things that already exist. The belief the bystander has espoused! So in reality what the average Joe thinks is true science, that all things came from nothing, is not true science at all. As a matter of fact, that which he thought was ‘silly religion’ actually has been closer to the facts all along!
PARABLE FROM A TREE! Recently I was having a conversation with a brother who sees himself as part of our ministry [even though we don’t have something to ‘be a part of’ in the traditional sense!] I could tell he has heard ‘John is a cult, he doesn’t believe you ‘need a church’ to be a ‘church’. As my friend expressed his belief that ‘I know the people are the church’ he also said ‘but you need a church building too’! This is a common response from well meaning people. A few years ago I read a story about believers [in Africa?] who had no money to ‘build churches’ so they started a movement of believers ‘meeting under trees’. They used the tree as a meeting place and met there and worshipped and shared in Christ’s life. Great stuff! Can you imagine 10 years going by and all the young believers saying ‘I attend this tree’ or ‘I go to that church [tree!]’. I am sure if you asked ‘why are you calling the tree ‘a church’. They would say ‘well, we know it isn’t ‘the church’ but we just refer to it that way’. Fine. Then after 100 years if you heard these same believers children say ‘We know the tree is not a ‘church’ but you really can’t serve God without a tree’! You would say ‘why not’? I think we need to stop saying ‘we need a tree’ [building].
BUT YOU CAN REALY HAVE THE CANDIES! In all of our dealings with the money gospel, I often find the attitude to be one of ‘you don’t understand, God wants you to have all the candy you want. God owns the candy store! Don’t you see how our lives are consumed with the truth of getting candy. Jesus died so we could have it. Him and the disciples had lots of it! Church tradition tells us otherwise and anyone who tries to stop us from getting more candy is deceived’. While I understand fully the joy of becoming a believer and learning that God does own the ‘candy store’. Yet Jesus would say things like ‘Don’t be like the unbelievers, they are thinking about candy all the time! They read about it, listen to it. They are consumed with the obtaining of candy’ Jesus even tells stories about the deceitfulness of it, he says ‘I want you to bear fruit, to be productive believers in the world. Productive in the sense of bearing spiritual fruit and making disciples. Don’t be deceived! The pursuit of candy is deadly’. Then you have preachers who love candy say ‘the deceitfulness of candy is that old tradition that says YOU CANT HAVE CANDY’! Well even the most simple ‘candy eater’ can see that this is twisting Jesus words. When you try to correct this, they say ‘you just don’t know how much God wants you to have candy’? I get tired sometimes with this response. I know God owns the candy store and gives us candy. But when I walk in to the store and see a 50 year old Christian consumed with the candy aisle, I feel like saying ‘brother, you are 50 years old, the candy diet has not been healthy, it’s time to graduate to real meat’!
PARABLE OF A FIRE STARTER This kinda goes with the last entry. Jesus said he came to set fire to the earth, and how he wished it were already burning. We are all fire starters in this Jesus revolution. Some mock the revolution. I know of unbelievers who make fun of it. Hey, if you wanna die and go to hell, that’s your problem [you will not start the fires, but believe me, you will see them a lot!] For the rest of us we have a job to finish. Now in this revolution our primary responsibility is to start fires. Sure, there are some who have started ‘fire ministries’ they will tell you how important it is that you recognize that God has called them to start these fires. They will show you the verses where a great past fire starter [Paul] started them. They will even take you to the verses where he asked for others to send him some money because God called him to start fires in other places. He needed bus fare to go to the next place and start another fire. What you usually don’t hear is that the Apostle wasn’t starting a huge ‘fire starter’ ministry to get others to support. He was simply asking for help to go to the next forest and set that thing on fire! Many current fire starters seem to think the job is to convince many others to join the fire starter ministry, when in reality a true fire starter lights the fire and runs! He knows that inherent in this fire is the self sustaining ability to grow and spread rapidly. He will check in every now and then to see how big the fire got, but for the most part he lets the thing burn on its own. One of the things that can stop it is when the future fire starters believe that they only have the responsibility to start the fires. They can unwittingly restrain the nature of the fire. They don’t mean to do this, it is just an outgrowth of viewing ‘fire starting’ as a profession. The early starters all believed that it was everyone’s job to start them. After all, the original fire starter seemed to say this all the time. The early fire starters remembered the words of the first revolutionary ‘I have come to set fire on the earth, how I wish it were already burning’! NOTE; another thing that has hindered the fire is that many starters think the job is to simply raise the money and believe for the money that the fire starter Paul would speak about. These sincere starters have lost track of the original mission, which was to actually start the fire! [win people to Jesus!]
PARABLE OF AN AUTO MECHANIC I just had this thought. Say if God sent Jesus into the world to solve another problem besides the sin issue. Say if the main problem with men were that their cars kept breaking down. Jesus shows up in 21st century USA and begins gathering a following of disciples. He walks with them for 3 years and sees all these cars broken down. He begins miraculously fixing them. He also shows the disciples how to ‘fix cars’. He gets to the point of his departure and tells his disciples ‘I am going away, but I will gift you with the supernatural ability to not only fix cars, but to train others to do the same. As soon as you fix a car, teach the owner and give him instructions on how to ‘pay it forward’. Then Jesus leaves, he decides one day to come back and see how we did. He thinks ‘for sure there will be a great improvement since I left’. To his dismay he shows up and finds that things really haven’t improved that much. Sure, there’s been some improvement [all the preachers have their cars fixed! Ouch] but the overall scene hasn’t really changed. He asks one of the ‘mechanics’ what happened. Don’t you know how important it was for you to have taken my ‘car fixing ability’ and to have used it to reach the world? The mechanic says ‘we know it’s very important. That’s why we have set up all these ‘mechanic shops’ all over the world. These shops on every corner operate like this. On Sunday all the mechanics go to the shops and read from the ‘mechanic book’. We have a ‘head mechanic’ who knows more about the book than the rest of us, he is really good! We listen to him talk for about an hour or so and he reads all these great stories from the book on how Jesus and the ‘early mechanics’ did great things. We then put in our money at the end of the mechanic talk and go home. So do you see how seriously we take the responsibility of being mechanics?’ What do you think Jesus would say? The simple fact is we have relegated the responsibility of carrying out the great commission to the ‘hired mechanics’. On our way to ‘mechanic shop’ each Sunday we are driving passed a world full of ‘broken cars’. We see the cars being broken, but we think the head mechanic only wants us to send money to other mechanics so they can fix them. We have lost sight of the direct responsibility that we carry as ‘mechanics’. If all Jesus wanted was for us to financially support ‘other mechanics’ or to think it was the job of the ‘mechanic shop’ to carry it out, then we have been duped into inactivity without us knowing it. Then you find a few mechanics along the way that have figured this out. They begin rapidly fixing cars all over the place. They implore their fellow mechanics to do the same. They are shouting at them on the way to mechanic shop and saying ‘stop, help us fix these cars’. The ones going to shop tell the lead mechanic that these new guys are actually fixing cars, without being licensed by the shop! Well, the chief mechanic can’t believe this. He has been taught his whole life that it is his job to talk about mechanics and be a teacher of mechanics, but for someone to break out on their own, and use this wisdom outside of the shop is total rebellion. He starts warning all the others ‘don’t do what these rebel mechanics are doing’. They are told ‘just keep bringing the weekly dues to the shop, because if you don’t you will get in big trouble’. No matter how loud the real fixers of cars shout to the shop attendees, the attendees see the ‘attending’ of shop class on Sunday as the primary responsibility. They believe the doing of this is the main thing that Jesus wanted. When you ask them ‘don’t you remember when Jesus told us to go and fix all the cars in the world and when he comes back he will ask whether or not we actually fixed any cars’ what will your answer be? ‘I guess we will tell him that the dues we paid to the shop on Sunday supported others who were fixing them’? That my friends is not going to cut it!
‘Parable from a laptop’ A Few months back I started having problems with my laptop. It was slow and I couldn’t access my hotmail account. I recently told the Lord ‘Lord, I really need to speed this computer up, and I need to access my email, fix it for me’. Now I have tried to ad memory before and the local computer stores tried 4 or 5 different brands of memory and they told me there is something wrong with the computer itself and it will not take any new memory sticks. So I just prayed about it. You know how the Lord answered my prayer? My whole computer crashed! I took it to a friend who does the work on my computers and we put in a new hard drive and all sorts of stuff. It was down for a few days and I had to re learn some new tricks to get everything working right [I am very bad at computers. Though I have typed the lettering off of my laptop with my much writing, yet I am not good with them. Until recently every time I scrolled down to the end of this site I used to simply do it the long way. One day my youngest daughter shows me something and scrolls all the way down the fast way. I told her I was doing it the other way and she couldn’t believe it!] The Lord answered my prayer by allowing the computer to go thru some drastic ‘down time’ and to come back stronger than before. I feel like the Lord is doing the same with many of us. He knows we have been asking for him to change things in us, it’s just that we never expected to ‘crash’.
Picture if you were playing some board game. The game lasted one hour. The object of the game was to collect as many rewards as possible within the hour. During the game you and others learn certain ‘secrets’ along the way. One of the secrets is, at the end of the game the only rewards you get to keep are the ones you didn’t show off during the game. The temptation to ‘show them off’ was strong, but if you wanted credit after the hour you just had to ‘hide’ yourself until the hour was up. Many others who had collected wonderful treasures assured those who were waiting ‘don’t worry about it, we all show our treasures now, it feels really good, we all do it’. Most of us today don’t realize we are not ‘waiting the hour’. NOTE; just walked outside and heard the verse ‘could you not wait for me for one hour’. Jesus said this to the disciples right before the Cross. Note; scripture says Jesus descended lower than any man, and then ascended higher than any man. It is the actual experience of being in the lowest pit that qualifies you for great revelation. The New Testament says Eve was deceived when she ate of the fruit, not Adam. Some see this to be chauvinistic. I believe it is prophetic. Scripture calls Jesus the last Adam. The first Adam willingly chose to cut himself off from the presence of God so he could be with his wife. Jesus endured the cross for the joy of knowing we would be with him. In essence Jesus walked willingly away from the presence of the Father so he could be with his wife! [All Christians are called ‘the bride of Christ’].
I kinda see it like this. Say if we were all in the 3rd grade [lets stick to our earlier analogy] but we didn’t realize it. We were all doing ‘stage plays’ and assignments and regular school activities. Some of us were smarter than others. But we were all still at the 3rd grade level. The real achievers among us, those who really stood out, were very well known. All the others classmates knew how smart they were. But the truth was they might have been at the 4th grade level, maybe 5th. But in the overall scheme of things everybody is still immature. Then one day the Lord reaches out to little Tommy. He tells him ‘Little Tommy, I am going to reveal to you university level stuff, but first I am going to show you how everyone is really in elementary school though they don’t know it’. God then pulls back the curtain and shows little Tommy the vanity of it all. Tommy realizes that though the Father loves them, they are all little kids acting like adults. The fact that God decided to show Tommy these things doesn’t really change Tommy’s level of maturity. Tommy is just like everybody else [I am a man of unclean lips in the midst of unclean people] the only difference is God chose Tommy for this task. The problem is because they are all still immature, even Tommy, this will lead to the other classmates saying ‘did you see Tommy’s scores the other day? He is really smart; lets make Tommy the most likely to succeed. Lets make him class president’. The only problem is along with the ‘ability’ to see more than his classmates, comes with it the obvious vanity of the whole thing. It’s sort of like Tommy realizes he might very well be the most influential kid in the class. But a time is coming [maybe after Tommy and all his classmates are gone] that all the other students are going to realize that Tommy and all of his contemporaries were only at the 3rd grade level. This causes Tommy to feel like ‘why even waste all this time in the 3rd grade?’ [Paul said he had a desire to depart, which would be much better, instant university level, but to stay with the 3rd graders was needful. Remember with the gift that Tommy had came also the realization that he too was in the 3rd grade] Even though Tommy’s friends ‘idolized’ his ability to see down the road, Tommy realized that this fleeting moment of glory was an absolute waste of time. Tommy even wrote in his letters about the vanity of the whole thing, but the other students would keep exalting Tommy, even though he wrote that we shouldn’t do this. There finally comes a day when Tommy will have to leave. All his friends will go their ways. Eventually Tommy will see them again, at that time everyone will realize that what Tommy was saying and seeing didn’t make him better in any way. They will realize that they were all childish. That even though they now see that Tommy knew a lot of this before them, yet somehow this doesn’t matter anymore. They all see everything at the same level now. Tommy knew all along that this future re union was coming, a day when everyone would all see at the highest level. At that time they will realize that to glory in each other’s knowledge and wisdom was just a childish game that they all played at a former time. This is why Tommy could never ‘get on with the program’ the same ability to see a little further than his classmates also brought with it the futility to glory in men. IT IS SWEET IN YOUR MOUTH, BUT BITTER IN YOUR BELLY. NOTE; One of the worst things that came along with Tommy’s gift was every once in a while some of the students would pretend to have very deep truths. They would tell the others students ‘this is university level stuff’. Out of pride the others students would learn these basic teachings and spread them to the whole school. It was easy for Tommy to recognize that this teaching wasn’t really university level. Tommy could see this because of the gift, not because he was smarter. It was really hard on Tommy because when he would warn the other students of the obvious 3rd grade level of their teaching, they would take it very personal and say ‘who does Tommy think he is, he’s just a carpenters son [a ‘secular’ un ordained laborer] I think maybe we should even kill him’ this made Tommy really tired of the whole thing and would cause him to want to graduate real fast. NOTE; Sometimes Tommy would feel like the whole thing was a big game. He knew it was wrong to feel this way, as being God chose him to see at a higher level. Tommy would feel bad about being cynical at times. He sometimes thought that maybe this was part of the price. Maybe God allowed Tommy to feel this way as part of the gift. Tommy knew there was a man named Paul who used to pray that certain things would go away and God told Paul I am allowing this thing to remain because of the gift. This made Tommy wonder why so many of the 3rd graders wanted to be on stage so badly, Tommy knew that to really be ‘on stage’ was something different than they thought. Tommy knew that the piece of furniture that God uses is called the Cross. That to be ‘lifted higher’ meant something different. The 3rd graders used to sing a song ‘lift Jesus higher, lift Jesus higher’ they took the words from the bible, but being they were only in the 3rd grade they didn’t realize that this spoke of crucifixion, not fame. Tommy felt this to be a prophetic sign that spoke to the level of maturity that they were all at. NOTE; The rock opera ‘Tommy’ by the Who spoke of a blind kid [who is blind like my servant] who kept hitting the pinball just right. I have a cat named ‘Tommy’. We thought she was a boy at first, then she had babies! We had to get her leg amputated when she started coming around. She got hit by a car. Poor thing, she had 3 kittens [more are the children of the afflicted!] and spends a lot of time by her self. Sometimes it’s like she’s waiting to ‘depart’. The cool thing about prophetic things is they are so prophetic! [3 kittens/3 legs] 3 fold cords are not easily broken!
The benefit of blogging like this is it allows you to hear God and just write what you hear. When writing a book you really cant jump like that. For some strange reason I just saw a whole scenario of legitimacy that comes from being a child of God and how that relates to family/community. We often see believers as a ‘part of the church’. God does deal with us as a community, as well as individuals. You will find the strong Orthodox/ Catholic brothers emphasize the community aspect of Christianity. You will also see the more individualistic style of Christianity emphasize the ‘individualistic’ aspect. ‘Me and Jesus’ both of these are true. What I want you to see right now is how we often try to ‘de legitimize’ Christians by saying ‘who’s local church are you under? What family do you belong to, you cant function/operate outside of the family. You derive your authority from the family’. Now look at this for a moment. When you are born, you are born into some type of family. It might not be fully functional, but there at least had to have been a mom and a dad at the beginning. Now as you develop you are part of a family. You are part of this family by virtue of your birth. You actually do not derive your life from the family. God created you. But family is vital to your growth and health. As you grow older you learn to depend less and less on the authority figures that God has placed over you. Some times the parents want the children to stay ‘under their authority’ for insecure reasons. The empty nest syndrome. But if the family is healthy the children will eventually launch out. There may be times where the waters get rough and they return for a season, but ultimately they launch. If you were to tell little Johnny ‘who do you think you are leaving us? Don’t you realize that you really don’t have a life apart from us? You were born here, we raised you, everything God has done thru you up until this moment has been in the family context. You leaving us is rebelling against our parenthood over you. Don’t forget what happens when you rebel against us. O well you’ll find out the hard way’ Johnny’s parents are sincerely seeing his role as it relates to them, they don’t fully see or function in the reality that their roles are meant to change over the course of Johnnies life. They sincerely think his step of independence is rebellion. After all they have been ‘over’ Johnnie his whole life. Who does he think he is anyway? Sure enough Johnnie will launch out [to the dismay of his other siblings who tried to launch before and had failures. They later returned back home and thought their failures were a sign from God that they should have never launched] When Johnnie does eventually succeed there is an initial reaction of ‘who needs families anyway, they were just holding me back’ this is a natural result from the way the family tried to hold him past the ‘launch date’. As Johnnie matures he will loose this harshness that he is experiencing at this time. Ultimately Johnnie and a whole new generation of ‘Johnnies’ will grow and leave and become all that God originally intended. The insecure parents will warn all the older children who are still relating to them in co dependant ways ‘don’t do like all these rebels, you know what can happen’ and this reinforces the mindset of never fully growing up. And yet the parents will at times say ‘when are you ever going to grow up?’ not realizing that they have had a big part in creating this unhealthy long-term environment. I feel today we are seeing this play out on a large scale in the Body of Christ. There are so many ‘Johnnies’ who have been told ‘your identity to our family is Gods purpose [true] therefore you really have no authority on your own’ [false]. The authority for both family and Johnnie launching are both from God. They all receive their right to do what God is telling them because they were all born of God. It is easy to only view legitimacy from the standpoint of ‘family’. Not seeing that God originally told the man ‘When you launch out on your own someday [a God given thing] then you will leave your parents and cleave to your wife’ [the wife can be the Ecclesia/oikos that God wants you to relate to as an ‘elder’ as well. While all believers are not ‘5-fold’ ministers, they all are to grow and mature. Becoming an ‘elder’ more mature one who gives oversight to others, is a natural function of your growth] God always intended the oversight role of parents [Pastors/Elders] to be temporary. This launching will eventually create a whole new family, with a whole new home of Johnnies. And the process repeats. I find a lot of believers at the ‘launching dock’ who are fearful to launch. They have seen some launch, and sad to say they drowned. A natural risk inherent in all journeys. These have made ‘shipwreck of the faith’. Others launched and never returned for reunions because they were so mad at the original parents calling them ‘lost children’ when they first left. Ultimately when enough Johnnies do it right then the whole family will see and realize that they were at an immature stage and are now seeing this ‘launching’ as in Gods original plan. Have you launched yet? NOTE: Often times the ‘parents’ [Pastors/elders] find their identity in ‘being parents’ they feel good functioning in this oversight role. They preach, organize, strategize and do many good things. Sometimes out of insecurity they add to their preaching, themes that warn the children ‘don’t ever leave us, it would be a big mistake’ and if they see someone leave, they will often say ‘well, now that you left, who is your new father [Pastor] and which family did you join in order to pay your dues?’ [Tithe]. The former Pastor is trying to say to Johnnie ‘well, you left this nest, you cannot function outside of it’ unless you yourself become one of us [a Pastor] then you have the right to not be under one of us. ‘This is Gods order’. The whole thing can be a big mess. Truly God does have order in his family, but we need to be careful that we are not superimposing a modern way of church, and then calling that ‘Gods Order’. NOTE: It is common amongst ‘apostolic people’[people who feel they hold the office of Apostle] to struggle with ‘who’s local church will I be under’. They often start a 501c3 ministry, relate to other ‘local churches’ and preach a very strong ‘You must be under a Pastor’ type message. They then will struggle with ‘which Local church will be my covering, as I also ‘cover’ many other Local churches/Pastors’ all of this language and covering and everything associated with it is really not seen in the New Testament function of Apostles. Apostles were not people going around ‘covering’ all ready established groups of Christians. The true fruit of an Apostle is someone who has the gift to ‘birth’ communities of believers thru the preaching of the gospel. You never find Paul, ever, telling the new believers to be ‘under the covering of a Pastor’ you do find admonitions to submit to Godly leadership that God has placed in ‘your church’ meaning ‘your community of believers that are around you’. You actually will find references in the New Testament to the ‘Elders of your Church/ Elders of your city’ [i.e.; ordain Elders in every city as I ordained you] so the submission to Elders was the simple ‘growing up stage’ in your life as a believer, until you are mature enough to ‘launch’.
COPMOUNDING DISCIPLES We had a good outreach day yesterday. Just a brotherhood of believers sharing and living like Jesus and the disciples. Ate some good tacos too! Took my buddies to a Mexican restaurant in Kingsville and had good stuff. Let me challenge you ‘money guys’ [or those of you who are victims of this wrong message!]. Did you know Jesus taught that the power of ‘compounding disciples’ trumps ‘compounding interest’? How many times have we been preached at on ‘the power of money’ ‘you can’t reach the world without money’ ‘if you are not believing God to make you rich, you are sinning’ all wrong stuff that the bible doesn’t teach. You know what the Word teaches? Take your measly little few bucks and give yourself away, the simple work of daily ‘making disciples’ will reverberate and ‘your disciples’ will make more! This is the power of ‘compounding disciples’, it puts the power of ‘compounding interest’ to shame!
OTHER PARABLES AND SYMBOLS IN THE BIBLE
[While this is not one of my own parables, I included it to show you there are more parables in scripture than the parables of Jesus. Many of these contain great spiritual truths]
JUDGES 9- Gideon died in the last chapter and his 70 sons were to rule as a plurality of elders. The same picture we see from Moses and the 70 elders. In Judges we see the dynamic of a plurality of leadership, along with the input of strong Apostolic/Prophetic voices. The same idea we saw in the book of Acts. Now Gideon previously refused the role of singular kingship over the people. It took both courage and humility to say ‘I will not be a king over you’. In the struggle to return back to a more biblical example of Christian leadership functioning in the ‘local church’ you need both humility and courage to resist the impulse in man to want a ‘famous leader’ to ‘rule over them’. Now Abimelech, Gideon’s son, was born from one of Gideon’s mistresses from the town of Shechem. Do you remember when we studied this town in the past? It was the town where the son of the prince raped Dinah, the daughter of Jacob. Jacobs’s boys had the towns men circumcise themselves and they went in and slew the city. Well, the boy who raped Dinah was Shechem. The town is named after him. So the history of this city is one of humiliation. Like Germany after WW1, they felt humiliated as a people. The maniac Hitler used a false ethnic nationalism to mobilize the people under him. This is what Abimelech does. He tells the men of Shechem ‘do you want the 70 sons of Gideon to rule over you [plurality] or one king?’ Here you have the temptation of power and authority seen in Abimelech. He does contrary to his father’s rejection of singular headship and thru deception takes a position that was never originally intended [he falls into the trap of singular authority over the people. A trend that the Christian church will also develop over many centuries] so the men of Shechem agree and Abimelech goes and kills the 70 sons of Gideon. But the youngest one escapes. His name is Jotham. He gives this prophetic speech from a hill [God ordained forum] and tells a parable. The parable has these trees asking the olive tree ‘come and reign over us’ and the tree says ‘should I leave my God ordained place and be promoted over other trees’. The same thing happens with the fig tree and the vine. They recognize the futility of leaving their God ordained position and trying to become a ‘ruler of other trees’. Finally the bramble [weed] rules over them. Jotham sees the rule of Abimelech as a twisted distortion of Gods authority. For three years Abimelech rules Israel and a local guy says ‘why should we have him rule over us? I can do a better job’ notice, just because Abimelech is ruling outside of Gods order, does not mean that any ‘Tom, Dick or Harry’ can come along and mount a successful over throw! This local stirs up the men of Shechem and turns the city against Abimelech. Another local resents this and sends word secretly to Abimelech ‘Hey, some guy is telling everybody he can do a better job than you. Come and put him in his place’. Sure enough a few days go by and Abimelech descends the hill with his troops. The rebel who is trying to displace Abimelech says ‘what’s that? I see men coming down’ the other local says ‘you must be seeing things’. Finally the rebel says ‘no, I see an army’. The secret confidant of Abimelech says ‘It’s Abimelech. Where’s you big mouth now! You talk a tough talk, let’s see some action’. Sure enough he realizes that this guy set him up. So Abimelech, even though he is operating unlawfully [outside of Gods original purpose] mounts a strong attack. He has resources and ‘supporters’ who took pride in his ruthless rule. Much like the mafia guys who would help their neighborhoods and gain the support of others, even though they were ruthless murderers! Abimelech defeats this challenge to his rule, but chases the enemy into a city and this lady from a tower drops a stone on his head from the tower and kills him. God did avenge the ruthless slaughter of Gideon’s 70 sons [Gods relational/plural plan of ruler ship] but the immature challenge to Abimelechs rule from an inexperienced local was not going to cut it. I see a lot of pictures from this story. The parable of Jotham really has some spiritual meaning to it. The idea of the trees rejecting false promotion has elements of Jesus teaching in it ‘the gentiles exercise authority by being promoted over people, this shall not be so with you’. The power struggles between those who resent all authority! Some simply challenge the present authority structures in Christianity out of an immature spirit [like the local guy in Shechem]. Over all we see the rebellion in Abimelechs rule and taking a position that his father had previously rejected. Just because someone might be in a position of promotion that God doesn’t want, this does not mean that all challenges to this authority are God ordained. As the Body of Christ struggles to get back to a more biblical idea of Christian leadership, getting away from the strong ‘I am your Pastor’ mentality and returning to a respect and honoring of spiritual elders in your midst [the term pastor is fine by the way] we need to recognize both sides of the coin. Don’t simply follow anyone who says ‘why should so and so think he can tell us what to do’. Some of these voices speak out of immaturity and rebellion. But in Gods timing the mature ‘trees’ will be wise enough to say ‘why should I go and be promoted over other trees’. Leaders will learn to blossom and produce fruit while not taking positions of promotion contrary to their nature.
JUDGES 14- Samson goes to the Philistine area and sees a woman who he likes. He tells his parents ‘get her for me’! He does seem spoiled. Now his parents have good reason to be a little intimidated by him, after all they know the miraculous events surrounding his birth. They tell him ‘look at all the great women from our own ‘ethnic background’ why do you want this stranger’? The scripture says they did not realize that this thing in Samson was FROM THE LORD. The scripture says the Lord did this so Israel could have an occasion/situation to go to war. Paul says in the New Testament ‘there must be heresies among you’. Some see this as meaning God allowed certain things to go wrong so he could create a situation where ‘war’ would occur. Then out of chaos and violence truth would be more clearly defined. Romans does say ‘all things eventually work out for the good to those who love God’. In Samson’s case his family didn’t understand why he was so adamant about this girl, but God was seeking ‘an occasion’. Now Samson and his family make a visit to the area [Timnath] and he hooks up with the woman. During one of Samson’s trips he comes upon a lion and the Spirit of God comes upon Samson and he tears it to pieces with his bare hands. I’m sure even Samson was a little surprised about this supernatural anointing. On his way back thru the area he finds that a bee hive formed in the dead lion and made a bunch of honey, he takes a scoop of the honey and gives some to his family but never reveals the source. He keeps the story to himself. At the wedding party he tells the guests ‘I have a riddle, if you figure it out I will give you the garments of 30 men. If you don’t guess it in 7 days you pay me’! He tells the riddle ‘out of the eater came forth food, out of the strong came forth sweetness’. The riddle speaks of the honey that Samson found in the dead lion. After a few days the locals can’t figure it out. They beg the wife for her to tell them the secret. She gives in and the men tell Samson the answer. He tells them ‘if you didn’t plow with my heifer, you would have never found out the answer’. This is the beginning of an area of weakness that will dog Samson thru out his life. He will experience defeat in the future on these grounds. Well Samson is furious, he goes and kills 30 men from some nearby town and pays off the bet. I see Jesus ‘the Lion from the tribe of Judah’ in the riddle. Jesus will eventually come and die on a Cross, from his ‘dead Body’ sweet honey and meat will flow to the nations. It was the death of the lion that created an environment for honey and food to come forth. Gods Word is described as honey and meat. Jesus death created ‘an environment’ for life to flow to the nations.
(503) Isaiah 59- ‘Gods hand is not shortened that it cannot save, nor his ear dull that it cannot hear. But our sins have separated us from God acting on our behalf’ one of the themes we will see in this chapter is God wanting us to speak truth and to stand for justice. He will reprove the times we lie and don’t really speak and walk in truth. There are so many issues with the American church at this season. I saw Benny Hinn speaking to a meeting of Pastors. I have sent Benny my books and stuff. I was encouraged to hear him reprove those who teach that Job [in the bible] was making a bad confession and God recorded his words, but didn’t justify Jobs confession. Those of you in the ‘know’ remember how it was [and still is!] taught that Job went thru trials because of a bad confession, and in essence God doesn’t want us reading Job and believing Jobs confession. You just read Job to see what not to do! I have dealt with this error before. But I was glad to see Benny hit on it in such a public way. This is an example of God telling us ‘Church, I love you guys. I have given you time to overcome this. You can’t keep speaking ‘lies’ and think I am going to move in your country [The U.S.]’ So God is dealing with us in mercy, but he is telling all of us ‘I really want to move on your behalf, you must humble yourselves and repent. I want justice, I want truth. You need mercy and love, but they cannot trump my desire for truth and righteous justice’. ‘None calleth for justice, none speak truth. They trust in vanity and speak lies’ There has been a stubbornness on certain parts of the American church that have consistently ‘trusted fake things, and continue to speak fake things’ we are all guilty of this, Gods agenda is for us to seek him and return to a pure biblical gospel. I am so excited about this younger generation. I have been watching the ‘call’ or the ‘cause’. Basically a group of young people on fire for Jesus. The I.H.O.P. meetings with Mike Bickle. The ‘merchant band’ all of these radical kids seeking the face of God. They put me to shame. And in the midst of this there exists an older generation who insist on ‘speaking lies, trusting in vanity’ the older generation needs to listen to these ‘babes’, out of their mouths God is speaking. They sing things like ‘don’t sell out for the stuff of this world’. ‘They hatch eggs, whoever eats their eggs dies. They will not continue to cover themselves with their teachings’ when we steer off course of Christ’s main message, the things we produce [books, blogs, tapes, etc.] only hurt others. We can’t keep ‘feeding rotten eggs’ to Gods kids. These movements who have veered away from the gospel will not continue to ‘cover themselves’ [hide within their groups] because God is calling for repentance and justice. ‘They have made crooked paths, those who go in them will not have peace’ when teachers establish wrong doctrines and teachings in the church, they become ‘crooked paths’ paths that many will go down. It is very hard to undo this. Jesus actually said ‘let them go down these paths. They will all fall into a ditch’ sometimes God allows the wrong paths to exist until both the leaders and followers see the error of their way. I remember reading how Jim Bakker saw how wrong he was. He started reading the gospels while in prison and couldn’t believe that he was a money preacher who taught that Jesus was rich. After reading the gospels he saw how wrong he was. God is going to take those who have made ‘crooked paths’ and he will use them to go straight again.
NOTE: Let me interject a reminder here. All Christians, especially those who feel the Lord has called them to the prophetic ministry, are required to confront [in love] obvious abuses and error in the church. One of the most difficult things about this calling is the majority of people you are called to speak into will reject you at the start. The gift brings with it an ‘inner mechanism’ that causes the messenger to be rejected initially. Why? Be cause to confront and undo mindsets that have existed in certain areas of the people of God is ‘tumultuous’. You go thru a season where you ‘pluck up, root out, tear down’ and then you get to the place where you ‘build and strengthen’ again. I look at these contractors who buy nice homes on prime lots of real estate. They go in and begin to dismantle the house! Even though it is an ‘OK’ structure, it has provided shelter for many years. Lots of kids grew up in that house. Man, what are you doing coming against all my memories! Well the contractor realizes that it served a purpose, but the time has come to realize that the structure is insufficient for the next level of community growth. So I see the temptation for those whom the Lord has called to prophetic things, to go thru this type of rejection. And when these people go thru difficulty it is only natural to say ‘Physician, heal thyself’ those whom the message is directed will have a tendency to say ‘see, that Isaiah fellow, he thought he was such a voice for God, look at him now’ [or Jeremiah or any of the other prophets]. So as we continue thru Isaiah we will eventually get to the ‘building up process’ but first God has to make sure all the debris is truly removed before the next structure can go up. Remember what I said about the prophecy given to the Virgin Mary ‘a sword shall pierce thru your own heart also, that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed’ God allows prophetic people to be ‘pierced’ so he can see the response of those around them. Note; I have found myself at times thinking ‘If I could just overcome this obstacle, if I didn’t have to deal with these difficulties at this time, I would be so much more effective’ I have to remind myself that ‘when I am weak, then God can be glorified thru me’ natural thinking says ‘why the Cross?’ then you learn to say ‘nevertheless not my will, but yours be done’ amen!
‘Therefore we behold obscurity’ I have found one of the worst judgments in my own life is when I ‘behold obscurity’. When I am in sin in some area of my life, Gods mercy is always there, but there is a real sense of the absence of Gods presence. Jesus said ‘the pure in heart see God’ when our hearts are not pure, we ‘see obscurity’. ‘We roar like bears, and mourn like doves’ Have you ever experienced extreme highs and lows. Days where you were ‘roaring like a bear’ and the next day ‘crying like a dove’. When our hearts are not right, these ups and downs are inevitable. Sometimes we even experience this when our hearts are right, but in this context sin is the main reason for it. ‘our transgressions are with us and our iniquities, we know them’ transgressions are the actual breaking of Gods law, the ‘act of sin’ if you will. The ‘iniquity’ is that tendency in us to gravitate towards certain sins. That ‘bent’ that keeps turning us in the wrong direction. You say ‘why brother, I have no idea what you are talking about’. You’re lying! Here God says ‘we know them’. ‘Truth faileth and he that departs from error makes himself a target’ I find it interesting, when people repent from ‘wrong paths’ they then become the target of those who are still on the path! Why? Because if you can do it, make the change, go to the next level. Then there is no more excuse for those who are not changing. This is at the heart of murder and hatred. The bible says ‘for this reason Cain slew Able, because his own works were wicked and his brothers righteous’ Envy and pride are horrible things. They cause us to want the failure of others who are succeeding. We really don’t want ‘that other church to succeed’ in our hearts. If they get 6 thousand people to attend, then all my excuses of why I only have so many attend my church are no longer valid. Those who start going on the better paths than we have been on become a target! ‘And the Redeemer shall come to Zion, those that turn away from transgression in Jacob’ God will come to those who ‘turn away from sin in Jacob’ like Paul says in the New Testament, it is not natural birth that counts. To simply be ‘Jacob’ [Israel] doesn’t cut it. You need to have ‘turned away from sin’ and accepted Gods sacrifice, Jesus! To those [Jew or Gentile] that ‘turn away from transgression’ [this means the actual act of disobedience!] God will reveal himself. ‘This is my promise to you, the word that I have put in your mouth shall not depart out of your mouth, nor out of the mouth of your seed, nor out of the mouth of your seeds seed, from this time forth and forever more’ Yesterday we had a good home meeting in Kingsville. One of the ‘sons’ of the fathers I used to preach to years ago in jail. The son is the ‘seed’ [offspring] of the original person from this family that I preached to. His son [the grandson] lives in Corpus and also is a part of what the Lord is doing. God promises that if you speak his words, they will remain in the mouths of ‘the children’s children’ God is always thinking generationaly /dynastically. Man thinks short term.
(790)JUDGES 17- This is quite an interesting chapter. Micah steals money from his ‘mother’. He tells her ‘I took it’ [managed to gain precious riches from you] and she commends him. He then says he took it from her to give it back to her. Let’s spiritualize a little. The ‘sons of the church’ [the New Jerusalem is the corporate church, the ‘mother of us all’] some times take by violence the hidden riches that were contained ‘in the church’ [which possesses the mind of Christ!] so they can ‘give the riches back to the mother’ [feed my sheep!] and receive commendation from her. Now, all analogies eventually break down. Micah’s mom says she was going to build an idol [institution?] with the money. Micah becomes the overseer of this ‘false system of worship’. He actually ‘hires’ [hireling mentality- seeing ministry as a profession] a legitimate priest from the tribe of Levi to call ‘father- priest’ [ouch!] Micah pays him a salary [double ouch!] and says ‘now I know the Lord [God of the Christians] will bless me seeing I have a priest under my authority’. [Rome and her emperors?] Lots of imagery here. First, Micah felt like he would gain Gods blessing if he ‘hired’ and institutionalized the real priesthood. We must see that what happened during the first 4 centuries of Christianity was a type of ‘hiring’ and legitimizing the ‘priests of God’ for the purpose of favor and unity within the Roman Empire. It is no secret that the emperor Constantine looked for unity in his empire by embracing and professionalizing the ‘priest hood’. They will actually be called ‘fathers, priests’. Also, this priest that Micah hired was a real representative of God! He did come from a true tribe. It is difficult for Protestants to see that although the institutional church ‘married’ Rome, yet she still contained part of the real people of God. This is not to say all that happened in the first millennium [thousand years of Christianity] was of God, but it also means we need to understand that there are some ‘precious riches’ [1100 pieces of silver!] that are hidden within her for the purpose of ‘true sons’ to go and take these riches and re distribute them back to her for her own benefit. You would be surprised by the amount of spiritual truths contained in the writings of the Catholic [Orthodox] fathers. Many of these truths are being ‘re found’ by protestants! And some of these Protestants have given them back to the church and shown her ‘look, even your own church fathers saw such and such’. I see the whole concept of Micah hiring the Priest as a type of ‘hired clergy’ mentality that all the people of God wrongfully took hold of. We need to recognize that just because this Levite went down this road, this does not mean he was not a true Levite [person of God]. It just meant he allowed his gift/office to be used in a wrong way to bring legitimacy to a form of worship that had vestiges of idolatry contained within.
(794)JUDGES 19- We have another strange story. There is this Levite who has a concubine [servant-wife]. She plays ‘the harlot’ on him and goes back home to Judah. The Levite goes to get her. He shows up at her dad’s house and the father welcomes him [Judah- Israel loved the law- Levite]. The Levite informs him that he came to take back his wife and the dad won’t let him go! He keeps holding on and for a few days convinces him to ‘just stay for one more night’ [Israel’s mindset in the first century. They tried to hold on to the law past it’s time]. The Levite leaves and on his way back to Ephraim they need a place to spend the night. They show up at Gibeah, where the Benjamites dwell. As they are on the street all day, no one offers to take them in. This younger generation forgot all the ‘elementary’ teachings of the Law of Moses [Hebrews 5]. An old man who was from Ephraim was living there. He sees the Levite and his wife and servants on the street. He asks what’s up and the old man offers to take the Levite in. He says ‘don’t worry about the cost, I will cover it’ [The Good Samaritan]. At night the men of the city knock on the old mans door and want the Levite to come out ‘and play’ [The sin of Sodom!] the old man offers the men the women instead of the man. They take the wife of the Levite and abuse her all night long. She shows up at the door in the morning and is dead. The Levite takes her dead body home and cuts it into 12 pieces and sends them to Israel as a witness. This drastic symbol shocks the nation. There are lots of spiritual points that could be made. The law [Levite] was welcomed for a time [Galatians 4] but when it’s time t let it go don’t keep holding on. The old man in Gibeah practiced the art of hospitality to strangers/aliens that was contained in the original precepts from Moses. The younger generation forgot the true principles of their law. Paul will argue over and over again from the law to persuade Israel to come to Messiah. They forgot the basic truths of their own law and this made it harder to show them that Jesus was the fulfillment of their law. Of course the old man taking in the Levite is like the story of the Good Samaritan who took care of his neighbor at his own expense. Paul told the Corinthians that he would ‘spend and be spent’ for them. And the drastic act of the Levite cutting up the wife and sending her body parts to Israel shows the utter terror of the law. The law ultimately demands justice, it shows no mercy. Israel might have had an affinity for the law, but if you keep it around too long it can really ruin the party! [The New Covenant is one of joy and peace in the Spirit. We are at Jesus ‘wedding party’ if you will].
(796)I just had a dream [about an hour ago] and I was with an old friend from New Jersey. We were both going to join the high school football team. I remember saying ‘wow, weren’t we doing this 25 years ago? Can you believe after all this time we are partnering again?’ Yesterday I spent a lot of time re reading the parables of Jesus. His mindset in the parables are so much different than ours. He says ‘The good seed that God planted grows up among the weeds that the enemy plants’ and they ask him ‘should we root out the bad tares?’ and he says ‘no, leave them alone. Let them grow together until the harvest [end of the age] and then the reapers [referring to the angels] will come forth and separate them’. Do we think like this? How many times has the ‘good wheat’ [believers] tried to root out the bad? We start movements that seem to tell the lost world ‘we don’t want you influencing our kids, we want your lifestyle as far away from us as possible’ in essence we try to ‘root them out’. Jesus said the field in this parable was the world. He told us to stop trying to pull the weeds out of society! Now, we are here as salt and light. We are supposed to have an effect on society. But the message and spirit that the lost world ‘feel’ from us should be one of reconciliation, not condemnation. We offer hope and forgiveness to the unbeliever. At the end of the day after all the sides are taken and the arguments are over. It’s up to us to be there for the unbeliever when his life and philosophy fail him. I just heard a testimony on how one of the most famous atheists of the last century, Anthony [Antony] Flew rejected his former belief and had to acknowledge the absolute scientific impossibility of all existing things having come from a point in time where no thing existed. Now, most unbelievers do not realize the total absurdity of holding on to a belief like this. Flew was considered one of the top intellectual atheists of the 20th century. He debated the best of them. But the simple reality of his false belief system finally was too much to bear. In his book explaining why he changed positions, he had to admit that the unbelievable intricacy of man. The complexity of human DNA. All of these complex systems that science has shown us over these last 25 years. They are proof of someone having to have a hand in designing the things. To believe that such unbelievable complexity could have arrived from NO THING is absolutely scientifically impossible! You can not get life and the universe and all other things from NO THING. He agreed. Jesus told us there would come a time at the end of the world where God would separate the good wheat from the bad. Until that time comes we need to let both grow together, some times what we thought were weeds turn out to be wheat.
(726)GENESIS 40- Joseph is in prison and Pharaohs chief men get thrown in jail. His butler [the guy who tastes the wine before the king drinks it, to make sure it’s OK] and the baker. One day Joseph notices there sad faces ‘what’s wrong guys’? They tell him they both had dreams the previous night. They were troubled that they did not know what the dreams meant. Does Joseph say ‘O, you had too much pizza last night’ or ‘don’t you know we have the books of Moses completed! There are no more prophetic dreams.’ Instead he says ‘God is the one who can give the interpretation of dreams’. It is understood that some dreams have meaning and come from God. You find this all thru out scripture. I’ll be honest, I have recently had some prophetic dreams but have stopped sharing them on the site. Why? These last few years there have been so many prophecies shared and put on line and I feel the consumers of these words are not getting a steady diet of scripture and New Testament Christianity. I just read a ‘prophetic word’ that spoke of ‘why we are not getting the end time harvest of money yet’ it went into ‘targeting the demonic forces holding back the cash’ and other techniques to use to get the money. I have written and even sent some of our teachings to some of these brothers. Could it be the reason all the wealth hasn’t been released is because we are viewing the ‘end time transfer of wealth’ from an unbiblical standpoint? So I too have grown weary of all the ‘prophecies and dreams’ that seem to miss the mark. But here Joseph jumps write into the fray and interprets the dreams. He tells the butler ‘your dream means in 3 days you will be restored and hold the kings wine glass again’. The baker likes the word and asks ‘what about my dream’? ‘In three days Pharaoh will hang you on the gallows’ OUCH. Never mind Joseph, I don’t believe in prophecy any way. The dreams do have prophetic significance. The wine and bread [baker] speak of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. The 3rd day speaks of the mighty resurrection of the Son of God. Jesus offered his Body [bread] as a sacrifice for all humanity. He ‘hung’ on the Cross for us, just like the baker hung on the gallows. Jesus also was ‘lifted up’ out of the ‘prison’ the 3rd day and once again was restored to his previous position at the right hand of God. He took ‘the cup of his Blood [wine] and presented it once again to his father’. I think these dreams were prophetic.
(925)2ND SAMUEL 9- David inquires if there are any sons of Jonathan still alive, he wants to keep his oath to Jonathan that he would treat his offspring well when he became the king. Sure enough they find out that Mephibosheth, the crippled son, is still alive. David tells Ziba, former servant in Saul’s house, to become the servant of Mephibosheth. Later on we see Ziba speak badly about Mephibosheth; he will tell David that he was unfaithful to his rule. It’s possible that Ziba resented this new position of servitude that David put on him and his house. We read stories in the New Testament how the mercy Jesus shows to certain groups of people [lame and crippled and poor] will create a dissension among the others. David’s treatment of Mephibosheth is much like Jesus treatment of the down and out. David honors this lame boy, he allows him to sit at the kings table [Jesus in the parables calls people to ‘his dinner banquet’] and he outwardly, publicly associated himself with the sick and disabled. Truly David is fulfilling his role as a type of Christ. The jealousy of Ziba [down the road] reminds me of the story of Haman in the book of Esther. Haman was this wicked brother who hated the Jews. He particularly loathed this brother named Mordecai. This Jew refused to bow down as Haman rode by. Haman was close to the king [non Jew]. So Haman devises this plot to kill all the Jews and ultimately Esther saves the day [thus the name of the book]. But at one point the king asks Haman’s advice ‘what should I do for the man I respect and like so much’? Haman thinks the king is talking about him, so of course he says ‘Well, have him exalted to the highest position next to the king, let all the kings servants bow down and respect him…and on and on’. Haman thinks ‘Now I’ll get that rat Mordecai to bow!’ And the king says ‘sounds like a great idea, now go and make all this happen for Mordecai’. This was not Haman's day. Jesus challenges our hidden agendas. How do we respond when other ministries excel? Do we secretly feel good when we hear about the failure of a ministry that never honored us? Do we root for the church we attend and kind of have an attitude of ‘we are doing better than the other guys’. All these attitudes violate the family mindset of the Body of Christ. When David, or Jesus or any other king show special favor to another subject, our ‘eye shouldn’t be evil because the king did what was his right to do with what was his’. David honored his former vow to his best friend Jonathan, he kept his word.
(922)2ND SAMUEL 6- David attempts to retrieve the Ark and bring it to the new capital city of Jerusalem. On the way back one of the brothers tries to steady the ark as it was about to fall. They were carrying it on a ‘new cart’ with oxen pulling it. This was not the way the law prescribed carrying it! This was the formula that the Philistines used earlier. So David’s man touches the Ark and is killed. They leave it at another brother’s house for three months and the brother is blessed, David goes and retrieves it. This chapter doesn’t say what changed, but obviously David went back to the law and used the prescribed manner this time around. As he enters Jerusalem with it there is this joyous picture of everyone leaping and dancing and praising the Lord. Sort of like the triumphal entry of Jesus [Gods ‘fleshly’ ark, who had all the fullness of God dwelling in his physical body!] to Jerusalem when the people shouted ‘Hosanna’. David places the ark in a tent/tabernacle that he personally made for it. I wrote earlier how this was an open tent that had no barriers between the ark and Gods people, a contrast between Moses tabernacle where God and the people were separated [law versus grace type thing]. David’s wife mocks him because he took off his royal robes and wore an ephod [priestly garment] and danced and humbled himself before the Lord. David says ‘I will even be more lowly than this’. His wife is barren for the rest of her life as a judgment for mocking David. What ever happened to the ark? Well let me give you some history. The ‘story’ [tradition] says that when the queen of Ethiopia visits Solomon to see his wealth, that eventually he ‘marries’ her and they have kids. The queen goes back to Ethiopia and supposedly takes the ark from Solomon as a gift. The Ethiopian orthodox church claims to have it in the main ‘church’ in Ethiopia. Because of this history all the Ethiopian churches have replicas of the ark in their buildings as well. The Ethiopian Orthodox Church is one of rich tradition. They are technically not considered ‘Catholic’ [western] or ‘Orthodox’ [eastern]. They are part of the church who are sometimes referred to as Oriental. This referring to the historic churches [not necessarily Oriental in geography] who never accepted the traditional churches belief in certain expressions of the Trinity and the relationship between Jesus and God. They stuck with the Arian view of Jesus deity and are not considered ‘orthodox’ in this area. As the centuries developed and various barbarians who were raiding the empire were converted, they also believed in a Christianity that would be more aligned with this type of belief. Now, I know Christians do not consider this to be correct doctrine, but I am simply sharing the history with you. I am not siding with their belief! We really have no idea where the ark is today, to be honest it doesn’t matter. We ‘see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the purpose of dying, and he was raised again for us’! [Hebrews]. We have the real McCoy!
(923)2ND SAMUEL 7- As David’s house is becoming established, he says to himself ‘I live in this great cedar house, and God is dwelling openly in this tent. I know what I will do; I will build a house/building for God also’. Good intent, bad imagery! David tells the plan to Nathan the prophet and Nathan says ‘go, do all that is in your heart’ and everything seems fine. That very night the Lord appears to Nathan in a vision and rebukes the whole scheme ‘Have I ever asked for someone to build me a house? All the years of journeying with my people, don’t you think if I wanted to dwell in some temple that I would have already done it!’. Basically Nathan and David get reproved big time. Why? Up until now God ‘dwelt’ in 2 separate tabernacle/systems. The Mosaic one was a type of law and separation between God and men. You had the classic veil separating God from the people. The ‘holy of holies’ [back room] was a type of mans separation from God because of mans sin. Now, after David retrieved the ark and brought it to Jerusalem. He set it up under an open tent called ‘the tent/tabernacle of David’. From this vantage point you had a beautiful picture of the future Messianic reign under Christ [of whom David is a symbol] where the people would all have open access to God. In essence ‘no more veil’. So even though David’s intentions are good, he is messing up the image. God still confirms his calling on David and his family/dynasty and we see one of those dual messianic prophecies that speak of Solomon and Jesus at the same time. God says he will raise up a permanent throne thru the loins of David and David will have a never ending rule. For this to happen someone obviously needs to be born from the lineage of David who will ‘have the power of an endless life’ [Hebrews]. Gee, I wonder who that could be? God’s intricate plan of salvation that is contained in these Old Testament books, written many years before Christ, couldn’t have been some made up 1st century story. It would have been impossible to have coordinated all the prophetic portions of scripture that tie together in Christ. Even the original writers and readers of Israel’s history could not have seen the unfolding of prophetic events that were to be fulfilled in Christ. We finish the chapter with David praising God and recognizing in humility that God has spoken about his family and purpose for ages to come. David sees that God is calling him to something greater than just being a human king, having a brief political history. God has plans for David even after David’s death! God spoke of David’s ongoing effect thru his seed [kids] that would continue for many generations to come. God wants all of us to live with a kingdom [not human!] legacy in mind. Paul the apostle built a gentile church that has lasted for 2 thousand years, he was a man of humble means. He left behind no edifice or bulky institution. But his ‘seed’ [spiritual kids] have outlasted him for many generations to come.
(917)2nd SAMUEL 2- David inquires of the Lord if he should go up into the cities of Judah. The Lord tells him to go to Hebron. David becomes the king of Judah and rules from Hebron for 7.5 years. From this point on the southern portion of Israel will be referred to as ‘Judah’ and the northern tribes are called ‘Israel’. Abner, king Saul’s commander, anoints another son of Saul as the king of the other tribes. So you have Joab, David’s commander and Abner, the military leader of the opposing king. Joab and Abner meet up on the field. Abner suggests a sort of competition between the men. A fight ensues and good men die needlessly. Joab pursues Abner and his men and Abner winds up killing a brother of Joab. He did not want things to escalate to this degree! He tried to spare the brother, but in self defense he killed him. Abner tells Joab 'stop chasing us, why should there be more bloodshed between us, we are all brothers’? I see here the ‘innocent’ spirit of competition that got out of hand. When God’s leaders begin comparing the skills of their people against the skills of others, then people become pawns on a ministry chess board. Competition is a deadly thing that exists in the church, the lines between successful corporate ideas and Gods communal church have been blurred for a long time, this causes us to be vulnerable to this type of thing. Joab and Abner retreat and go home. David becomes king of Judah in Hebron. He will eventually consolidate the kingdom under his rule [he will reign for 33 years out of Jerusalem. A type of Jesus, who walked the holy land for 33 years until the Cross] and the kingdom will split again under Solomon’s sons rule. The divided history of the northern [Israel] and southern [Judah] tribes are seen as a judgment from God for various reasons thru out Israel’s history. For the most part the kings of Judah are better than the kings of Israel, but they will both have good and bad kings over time. I see a picture of the historic divisions of Christianity thru this history. Eventually you will have some who feel they have a ‘more pure religion and priesthood’ under the Orthodox and Protestant expressions of Christianity [I too hold to this to some degree] but yet God will eventually rebuke Judah as being worse than her northern ‘sister’! As we teach the Old Testament in the years to come I will try and trace these developments as we get to them.
(905)SAMUEL 21- David is fleeing from Saul and he goes to the priest at Nob. The priest wonders what’s up. David tells him he is on a special assignment from the king and he and his men need food. The priest tells him the only food available is the consecrated bread that is only for God and the priesthood. David convinces the priest to let them eat and David asks ‘do you have any weapons here’. The priest says ‘I have the sword you used to kill the giant’ David says ‘great, that will work just fine’. Jesus used this story to describe himself and the disciples [Mark 2]. One day Jesus and the disciples were going thru the grain fields and the disciples picked the grain and ate it on the Sabbath. The Pharisees said ‘your disciples are breaking Gods law by picking it on the Sabbath’. Now, to be honest they were breaking the over extended ideas that the religious Pharisees came up with thru their legalism. But Jesus still used this example as a defense. He says ‘have you not read what David and his men did? They ate the ceremonial showbread that was not lawful, only the priests could eat it’. David and his men are a symbol of Jesus and his men. While it is true that the bread was only lawful for the priests, David is a king/priest who gets away with doing ‘priestly things’ because of his picture of Christ. Scripture says he put on an ephod [priestly garment] which only priests could do. David functioned before the open Ark in Jerusalem. He did things that other kings were punished for [Saul, Uzziah]. Jesus in essence was saying to the Pharisees ‘I am the new priest/king from which all future law and worship will be measured by. Me and my followers are not under the law, the law serves us’! In Christ we are free from the guilt of the law, we live above legalism and follow the master. David and his men were acting like priests and kings contrary to the economy of their day. David was a type of Jesus whose future priestly ministry would ‘out trump’ the law.
(904)SAMUEL 20- David is on the run, he tells Jonathan ‘why is your dad trying to kill me? I have done nothing wrong!’ Jonathan tells David that he knows nothing about it, it must be a rumor. David says ‘no, your dad knows you like me, he isn’t telling you because he thinks you will reveal it to me’. Jonathan says ‘my dad does nothing unless he reveals it to me’. A type of Jesus in John’s gospel. David says ‘I’ll prove it. Tomorrow is a feast day, I am supposed to sit at the kings table. Instead I will hide in the field for 3 days [a type of Jesus in the grave] and when you are eating with Saul, if he says ‘where’s David’ and gets irate, then the cat is out of the bag’. So the plan is launched and Saul holds the dinner. On day two he asks Jonathan ‘where’s old David today, I noticed he has been missing’. Jonathan says ‘Oh, I let him go to his home town for a special family thing’. Saul says ‘thou son of that rebellious women’! You think he went for the bait? Sure enough Jonathan confirms to David that he was right and they make a covenant to always respect and protect each other and their future kids. This will come back to David down the road when he spares a relative of Jonathan. Saul confronted Jonathan and said ‘why are you protecting David? As long as he lives you will never be established’. Saul knew that Jonathan’s success was dependent on David’s downfall. Jonathan was very noble, he didn’t see the success of another Israelite as something to compete with. Leaders often fall into this trap of comparing their ‘ministries’ with so and so. I feel the wrong idea’s of local church breed this attitude. When we see ‘local church’ as the various independent Christian businesses that are all trying to accomplish tasks, then this breeds this competitive spirit. When we see ‘local church’ as the entire family of believers in our city [Jonathans family mindset] then we will overcome the spirit of competition.
(902)SAMUEL 19- Saul puts out the word to his men ‘if you see David kill him’! Jonathan tells David ‘go hide in the field and I will go out where you are and speak on your behalf to my father. Then I will come and tell you all the words he has spoken’. Jonathan speaks well to Saul on David’s behalf and David is restored back into the presence of the king. I see Jesus intercession ministry here. Jesus goes to the father on our behalf, we ‘rest in a hiding place’ [in Christ] while he speaks well of us to the father. He ‘gives us the words that the father has given him ‘[Johns gospel] and we are restored back into the ‘presence of the king’. But in David’s case the restoration doesn’t last long. David will flee to Samuel in Ramah, Saul sends his men to get David. Each time they show up they are confronted with this prophetic weapon of intercession in the hand of the lead prophet, Samuel. Samuel is prophesying over a company of prophets and Saul’s men ‘fall under the Spirit of prophecy’ and prophesy too! This happens with 3 different groups of men until Saul himself comes. The same thing happens with him. The ministry of prophecy testifies of Christ. The gift itself is a Divine mechanism in the community of God that protects/defends Gods anointed king [David/Jesus]. Samuels’s gift was meant for more than just personal fulfillment, a ‘my ministry’ mentality. He was overseeing a company of prophets and instilling this dynamic into the broader community of Israel. In the church today prophets should function along the lines of building into the broader community for the overall benefit of the church. There have been good men who have operated in the prophetic gift for many years. They have raised up younger prophetic ministries under them and have lived very effective prophetic lives for many years. It is sad that many in the Body of Christ have no idea of this entire section of the church. Because of abuses and flagrant bad doctrine, many simply live their entire lives without ever experiencing the prophetic aspect of Christ’s church. In this story we see the prophetic ministry, under Samuel, playing a key role in the life of Gods people. NOTE- One example of a modern day prophetic ministry that has been stable and has launched many young prophets would be Bishop Bill Hammon out of Florida. He has been around for years and has had a very influential ministry over the lives of many good young men.
(897)SAMUEL 14- Saul and the people are hiding in fear, Jonathan tells his armor bearer ‘Lets go up to the enemy and show ourselves. If they tell us ‘come here’ we will take it as a sign from the Lord and fight. God can save by many or by few’. They go up and defeat around 20 men in half an acre of land. The scripture says the enemy trembled and the earth as well! It seems like the Lord shook things up, literally! [Another reminder of the book of Acts]. Saul and his people see the enemy fleeing and can’t figure out what’s happened. He takes a quick roll call and realizes Jonathan is gone. They figure out what has happened and enter the fray. The people pursue the enemy and have great victory. Saul says ‘let no man eat today until the sun goes down’. He begins making community wide decisions that are harmful to the people. Jonathan doesn’t hear this rash decision and eats some honey. The people are shocked. They know the curse of Saul. They finally win the battle and they seek the Lord for further instructions. God is silent. Saul figures it’s because there is sin in the camp and they find out that Jonathan was the one who ate the honey. Jonathan says ‘yea, I did eat it, and now I must die’? Sort of like ‘what a stupid and rash thing for you to have said! The people were all tired and drained because of following your singular ideas that were pronounced to the whole community. They would have gained strength if they simply did what was natural and ate when they were hungry’. Saul honors his stupid agenda over his own son and says ‘that’s right, you must die’. He was more willing to kill his son then to admit he was wrong. The people stand up with one voice and say ‘no way Saul, Jonathan has won a great victory. You will not get away with this’! What happened here? Was Saul so inherently evil that he couldn’t help himself? I think what we see here is the result of the mistake for Israel to have wanted a king like the other nations. When the church historically began to be centered around singular authority figures [monarchial episcopacy] you began to loose the freedom and health of the people of God to ‘feed themselves when hungry’. They began to become dependant upon the institutional church to tell them about God and his truth. Eventually you would have the modern expression of highly entrepreneurial ministries that would find well meaning Pastors trying to make corporate wide decisions in ways that were absent from the local churches in scripture. When the people of God lean too heavily on the gifts and leadings of one man, there is a tendency for the leader to come up with goals and decrees that are contrary to the full purpose of God. It is inherent in man to set goals and make broad decisions. That’s not wrong in itself. But the people of God in scripture are formed along the lines of a community of people, not a 501c3 corporation. So the well meaning Pastors have a natural tendency to say ‘what decisions should I make for the church this year? What goals and dreams should we put before the people’ and this inevitably leads to entire communities of believers being too focused on the singular directions of well meaning men. I think Saul simply came up with things to say because he felt he needed to exert leadership. God’s people really didn’t need Saul from the start! As far as I can see from reading the New Testament, the only corporate ‘goal’ or project that Paul would put before the people was his collecting of money for the poor. Now of course there were many spiritual goals of growth and becoming mature believers who praise and glorify God. But I don’t see any other ‘project’ that Paul was regularly laying before the people to join. No structure in the churches of scripture where Paul would say ‘Now Corinth, when I come back next year lets see 50 house churches, reaching 48 % of this region. And oh yes, lets raise this much money for this project’. Much of the modern church is too centered around these types of pleas. The many well meaning men who are operating out of good intentions for the most part are ‘just doing what kings [leaders- C.E.O.'s] are supposed to do’. The fundamental flaw is God never originally intended for his people to be structured along these lines. Many up and coming believers are seeing this and coming out of these limited structures. They are telling Saul with one corporate voice ‘you wont get away with this anymore’. [‘Saul’ in this scenario is not your individual Pastor, who for the most part is probably a good man who loves God. But ‘Saul’ is speaking to the whole concept of modern pastoral ministry that is absent from the churches in scripture].
(928)2ND SAMUEL 12- Nathan confronts David over his sin. He gives a parable about 2 men in a town, one owned lots of flocks and sheep, the other owned one precious lamb. The man with all the sheep had a visitor come to him in need. So instead of sacrificing his own sheep, he went and took the precious ‘only lamb’ from his neighbor. David is incensed over this injustice, he declares ‘This man will pay back what he did and also die for this sin’! Nathan says ‘you are the man’. David realizes he did this very thing with Bathsheba and Uriah. Notice how we have a tendency to be enraged over the sin and faults of others, but we make room for ourselves when we are guilty of the same things. Jesus confronted the religious hypocrisy of his day when he showed the Pharisees that they were guilty of lust and anger and jealousy, the same root causes of murder and adultery. They wanted strict judgment on others who were guilty of the same sins that they were guilty of. Also the fact that the man with one little lamb lost his favorite, this speaks of the great sacrifice of giving up the ‘only begotten Son of God’. Jesus sacrifice was great because the father gave his only Son. Now David receives the reproof from the prophet and Gods judgment is pronounced ‘the sword will never leave your house. From within your own family treachery shall arise. Your wives will be taken from you and publicly disgraced. The son from Bathsheba will die’. Very strict judgment indeed, yet the Lord says ‘nevertheless, I will spare your life’. This was something David did not leave room for in his earlier judgment on the sheep stealer! David mourns and fasts for the child’s life, but the child dies. David has another son with Bathsheba and his name is Solomon. One of the greatest/wisest kings Israel will ever have. A few things; in David’s earlier scenario he said the ‘sheep stealer’ should pay restitution. He wanted the man to right the wrong. In David’s case he killed the very man whom restitution should have been made to! In essence his sin was so severe that it actually cut off part of his future reconciliation. Unforgiveness towards others falls into this same category. God requires us to forgive those who have wronged us. We often do every thing else under the sun to get back on track, but we ‘eliminate’ the very person that stands in the way of total reconciliation! That person is often times the offender. Also at the end of the chapter David is told by Joab that he is on the verge of taking a city and David should come and finish the job so Joab won’t get the credit. David musters his forces and finishes the job. One of the hardest things to do in ministry/service is to regroup and move forward again. David had some very serious issues he had to deal with. The situation with Bathsheba was not going away. He couldn’t completely resolve this issue. But he still needed to function and carry out his responsibilities. Faithfulness means sticking it out even thru your own personal failures. Completing the task to the best of your ability. At one point they asked David ‘why were you grieving and fasting while the boy was still alive, and after he died you ate and functioned again’? David said ‘who knows, when the boy was alive there was a possibility that God would change his mind and let the boy live. After he died there was nothing else I could do’. Most of us would have been angry at God. David didn’t have all the answers, he knew Nathan was an accurate prophet. The things Nathan said were from the Lord. But David also was ‘from the Lord’. He too had a relationship with God. He depended on this relationship to guide him thru stuff. Maybe God would do something? David did not have all the answers. And when God didn’t do what he wanted, he didn’t take it personal. He moved forward the best he could. God showed tremendous mercy in allowing this sinful situation to produce a future king. Solomon was born from this turmoil and he was a great man of God. Look to the lord to bring forth wisdom from the failures in your life. The ‘first son’ might not have survived, but the second son just might be a prodigy.
(892)SAMUEL 9- This is a prophetic chapter that parallels the book of Acts to a degree. Remember when we did Acts I showed you how it seemed that Paul [Saul] from Benjamin might have seen some prophetic significance to the fact that he too shared the same name and heritage [Benjamite] as Israel’s first king? Here we see Samuel play a roll similar to Ananias [Acts 9] in hearing the lord give instructions concerning Saul. Both Paul and Saul were told to go into a city and receive instructions. The lord confirms his word to Samuel that ‘this is the man I told you about’. Both Ananias and Samuel have prophetic signs that confirm the sovereign choice of God. Saul in this chapter is seeking for his fathers lost donkeys. They are about to give up and Saul’s servant says ‘there is a man in the city who hears from God’. Samuel had a reputation of being a prophet [seer]. Seers [another word for prophet. There is some distinction between a ‘prophet seer’ and ‘prophet’. But they are basically the same thing in my mind] were able ‘to see’ into the future about things. Samuel is said to be able to ‘tell Saul the secrets of his heart’. His words ‘come to pass’. He has God communicating to him in a direct way. Samuel is like Agabus in the book of Acts. A prophet who experienced God in supernatural ways. Samuel confirms Gods call on Saul’s life and tells him ‘I have some instructions to give you’ [next chapter!] What role did Samuel play in Israel? He obviously functioned in a prophetic gift that not only predicted what would come to pass, but also gave direction and spiritual oversight to Gods people. The New Testament teaching on prophets clearly teaches that they are part of the functioning ministry of the church. There have been many heresies and mistakes and even cultic ‘prophets’. But the basic teaching in scripture is they are a God ordained ministry that never passed away. We should approach prophets as we do pastors or teachers or any other gift. Are they stable in the faith? Do they have a good grasp of scripture? Good character? All the same principles that apply for Elders. The idea that after the canon of scripture was complete there were no more apostles or prophets has no scriptural support [read my section on apostolic, covering, shepherding]. Both church history and scripture support the ongoing role of prophets in the church. Now, I really doubt that all the fine brothers who declare themselves as prophets are. Some are learning about the gift. Some are functioning at various prophetic levels. But the office carries a lot of weight with it. I see Martin Luther King as a prophetic voice to our nation. He actually spoke of his death in a prophetic way the night before he was assassinated. There are also prophetic voices in history who spoke to their nation and people at crucial times. Alexander Solzenitzen [Russia] would speak out against repressive regimes. But we need to understand that the basic revelatory element of the prophetic [to be able to see and know things supernaturally] was included in the biblical gift of the prophet.
(888)SAMUEL 5- The Philistines take the Ark back to their cities and every city the Ark is taken to experiences judgment. They get ‘tumors’ [hemorrhoids!] and rats. At one point they put the Ark in the ‘house of Dagon’ [a false idol. A fish head type thing with a human body] and the next morning their idol is found lying at the feet of the Ark. They set him up again and low and behold, the next morning the fish god is found at the foot of the Ark with his head and hands chopped off! Hey, if your god started as a fish and turned into a stump, then it’s time for a new god! Eventually they decide to send the Ark back to Israel. Let’s do a little history at this point. The Ark of God is the box that contained the 10 commandments. God had Moses make a box to put the tablets in [the 2 tablets that the commandments were written on]. The reason destruction will happen to those who ‘peak in the Ark’ is because the cover of the Ark was called ‘the Mercy seat’. This was the place where the high priest would make a yearly atonement [the Day of Atonement] for the sins of the people. The sacrificial blood was placed on the cover to be for a covering of sin. The Ten Commandments represented Gods Holy character, and the only way he could dwell with the people was on the basis of this atoning blood [a type of Christ]. When you remove the cover [the mercy seat] in essence you are causing the absolute righteousness of God to come into contact with the absolute sinfulness of man. That’s why those who peak in it are destroyed. Now the Ark was originally carried around with the tabernacle system in the wilderness. A sort of movable tent that was set up and taken down as God willed. A mobile piece of furniture. When the children of Israel came into the Promised Land it was placed in Shiloh. After it’s capture and return [which we will read about in the coming chapters] it will eventually be placed in the city of Jerusalem under King David’s rule. This tent that David puts it in is referred to as ‘David’s tabernacle/tent’. It will be a type of the new covenant ministry of Jesus. The tent of David will have no tabernacle structure like Moses tabernacle in Shiloh. There will be no veil or holy of holies or any other impediment to God’s presence. All you have is the Ark and the mercy seat. This showing us that in Jesus priesthood [typified by David’s kingly/priestly ministry] all you need is Jesus atonement and Gods glory. All have equal access to God, not just the priestly class [or another way to put it is all are priests!]. So as we progress thru these books keep your eyes open to the prophetic pictures that are being painted by the Spirit. All scripture testifies of Christ. He is the underlying figure that the Spirit is continually pointing to.
(889)SAMUEL 6- The Philistines are reeling under the judgment of God. They call a meeting of their priests and diviners, and they ask what they should do. Their ‘religious’ leaders advise them to send the Ark back to Israel and make an offering. They were to make gold images of their judgments, rats and tumors, and place them in a box with the Ark and send it on a cart being pulled by two cows. They would take the cows calves and bring them home, but place the cows and cart on a road to Beth Shemesh. If the cows go down the road, they took it as a sign from God. Sure enough the cows take the Ark to Beth Shemesh and dump the cart in a field belonging to Joshua. Israel rejoices that the Ark is back and sacrifices the cattle with the wood from the cart. Their joy is short lived. They peek in the Ark and are destroyed. They removed the ‘Mercy seat’ [see last chapter-#888]. Over fifty thousand men from Beth Shemesh are killed. They decide to send it to the men of Kirjath Jearim. Over the years I have seen this story used in various ways to justify different ‘ways of doing church’. Some taught how God judged Israel because they didn’t follow the prescribed methods of Ark handling. We will see this happen with David and his men later on. Then the teacher would relate how important it is for us to follow Gods prescribed method, but then teach ‘Gods method’ is their various slant on how ‘we should do church’. I see some good stuff from this story, but I don’t see it in that light. The Philistines were advised by their own pagan priests ‘don’t harden your hearts like Pharaoh’. The story of Gods miraculous intervention in Egypt became lore of the day. All the surrounding nations knew that you don’t mess with the God of Israel. God didn’t destroy the men of Beth Shemesh because they didn’t fully follow prescribed law [though later on this will be part of the problem with David’s men] but they died because they took themselves out from under the covering of Gods mercy as represented in the Mercy seat [the lid on the Ark]. A few years back a famous believer, Reggie White [former football pro.] was known for his Christian faith. He was later influenced by Muslim teaching and made the statement ‘I am going directly to God, without a ‘go between’ [meaning Christ]’. He obviously was influenced by Muslim teaching and was coming out from the ‘covering of Christ’ [mercy seat]. Sadly, Reggie tragically died not too long after this from a sickness. He died in the prime of his life. I do not want to judge Reggie. I simply want to show you the danger of sinful men [all of us!] trying to approach a Holy God without the ‘mercy seat’ [Cross]. The men of Beth Shemesh removed the covering, and they suffered for it.
(890)SAMUEL 7- The Ark arrives at Abinadab's house in Kirjath Jearim, it will remain there until David retrieves it [it was there for around 100 years in total-1100 BC- 1004 BC]. Samuel calls the people to repentance and makes intercession for them at the same time. This leads to great victory over the enemy. Jesus ‘lives forever to make continual intercession for us’. We need to combine repentance and dependence upon Christ’s mediation in order to gain victory. This chapter also has the famous name ‘Ebenezer’ that makes it into the history of the church. Both songs and churches will use it in their names. Martin Luther King preached at Ebenezer Baptist church. This stone was simply a rock of remembrance for the victory of God. It spoke of Gods help for man. Jesus is the ultimate ‘stone/rock of defense’ for man. Scripture says ‘there is no rock like the Lord’ ‘Jesus is the precious stone, all who believe will be delivered’. The imagery of Jesus/God as a rock of defense is all throughout scripture. We see Samuel as the key leader of Israel and scripture says he judged them at this time. He lived in Ramah and ‘rode a circuit’ between the various cities on a rotating basis. He was the first ‘circuit rider’! The circuit riders were the famous American evangelists during the 19th century. As the Puritan east coast churches were becoming well established in the original colonies, there was a need to reach out to the West [and south] with the gospel. The circuit riders were the evangelists who traveled to various areas preaching the gospel and establishing churches [The great Methodist Frances Asbury became famous for his circuit riding and church planting]. During this time you had the famous ‘camp meetings’ where many believers from all over would gather at these outdoor ‘brush arbors’ and hear the gospel preached and commit their lives to the Lord. Over time the more staid Reformed churches of the east coast would view the ‘camp meeting’ brothers as a little ‘un hinged’. You would also have some of the ‘Spirit led’ groups condemn the old time reformed brothers as ‘unconverted’. There was a tendency to lean towards one side or the other. The various Quaker [shaker] type groups would emphasize the Spirit being premiere in all Christian understanding. While this is of course true, this in no way means believers do not learn thru the normal means of study and reading. Some of the more ‘Spirit minded’ believers would come to view the more ‘head knowledge’ brothers as ‘unconverted’. One of the worst cases was the Ann Hutchison controversy. She was a believer who began teaching under the ‘Spirits guidance’ and would give the impression that the more refined ministers were not of God. She would ultimately pay with her life for her beliefs. NOTE- The terminology of ‘New lights’ versus ‘Old lights’ was often used to describe the different emphasis between these 2 camps. There was a brother by the name of Davenport who would travel around and accuse all of the old time preachers as being unconverted. While it is possible for a minister to have never truly made a strong commitment to Christ, to paint them all with this broad brush was very unbalanced.
(880)RUTH 3- Naomi advises Ruth to go to Boaz at night and lay down beside him. Boaz is at the threshing floor, a place where you went to thresh the wheat/barley. Threshing was simply the process of sticking a pitch fork type instrument into a bushel full of wheat and throwing it into the air. The wind would blow away the chaff [bad stuff] and the good stuff would fall onto the floor. Sort of like sifting for gold. In the New Testament Jesus is said to be coming with the pitchfork in his hand and he is going to thresh his wheat. This was a symbol to natural Israel that the time of judgment and cleansing had arrived. Jesus would spiritually shake things up and allow the wind of the Holy Spirit to cleanse away that which was useless. Ruth lays next to Boaz and Boaz wakes up startled. He realizes that Ruth is basically showing that she wants Boaz to redeem her. For him to function as the kinsman redeemer and marry her. Boaz informs Ruth that he will do it, but first he has to make sure the closer relative to Ruth doesn’t want to perform the task. Boaz was second in line as the redeemer. He asks Ruth for her veil and he fills it up with barley [like a sack] and she returns to Naomi. Let’s spiritualize a little bit. Often times the lord will take the ‘veil’ [darkness/depression] and turn it into a full harvest. The very thing that seemed to be a dark period in your life becomes the actual capacity for a full reward. Scripture commands us to come out from a place of mourning and darkness and to put on a new veil of rejoicing. Ruth’s experience was one of difficulty. She originally married into what seemed to be a stable family. After the death of her Father in law and husband [and brother in law!] things were not looking too good. Ruth persevered and transitioned into a new culture and environment. A very difficult thing to do during a time of upheaval and disappointment. The scripture says ‘if your strength fails in the day of adversity, it is small’. Don’t feel condemned, but if the truth be told it really isn’t our knowledge and natural ability that brings us into success, it is the maturity that God builds into you thru out your life. The ability to face difficult situations and to press ahead. Ruth prevailed thru some tuff stuff, she got a ‘veil full of barley’ in return.
(879)RUTH 2- Ruth goes out during the Barley harvest and gleans in the field. Gleaning was engrained in the law of Israel. It allowed for the poor of the land to gather up the leftovers from the initial harvest. The land owners had to leave the corners of the field ‘un reaped’ as well. Ruth ‘happens’ [by chance] to glean in the field of Boaz, a next of kin. He is called the ‘kinsman redeemer’ this speaks of being a close relative [from the Hebrew word ‘go’el’] who had the right to redeem the goods of a relative who had died. Their stuff would go up for public auction and the redeemer had first shot at it. He also had the right to buy back a fellow relative from slavery, or even avenge the blood of a relative who was murdered. Ruth just happened to come into his portion of the field. He was a relative of her father in law Elimelech who had died in Moab. Boaz asks who she is, the men tell her she is the Moabite who came back with Naomi. Boaz tells his men ‘take it easy on her, let her get a good portion of barley. Even let some extra fall for her’. He favors Ruth. She even asks why he is treating her so well and he tells her it is because he heard how she did such a noble thing in staying with Naomi after no one was left. It kinda reminds me of the good works of Cornelius in Acts chapter 10. Scripture says his alms and prayers came up before God as a memorial. Boaz didn’t simply treat Ruth well for no good cause, she reaped what she sowed! Ruth goes home and tells Naomi about the situation and she says ‘great, he is a next of kin. Keep working with him’. Naomi realizes that if things work out that Boaz just might claim Ruth for himself. The Kinsman redeemer is a type of Christ. He needed to have the substance to ‘buy back’ the possessions. He needed to be related [by blood] and he needed to be willing. Unlike the mandate for a brother to marry a sister in law and raise up children to his dead brother, the Kinsman redeemer had free choice. He could pass up on the offer if he wanted. Jesus chose to go to the Cross for all humanity. He had the ‘substance’ [he had the perfect life to lay down] and the willingness to purchase us. In this chapter we see the sovereign hand of God at work. Though the scripture says ‘she happened’ by chance upon the field, yet we realize that in Gods plan nothing ‘just happens’. God was directing the course of Ruth to meet up with Boaz, God knew that he would use their eventual marriage as a tool to bring forth the messiah.
(930)2nd SAMUEL 14- David is broken over the estrangement of his son. Joab realizes that the kingdom can’t function to its full potential under this strain. But he knows he can’t confront David himself. Why? Maybe it’s because of the nature of leaders. It’s a very rare thing for one leader to confront another leader over an issue. The natural response is to look for ways to justify ourselves. So instead Joab finds a ‘wise woman’ and gets her to put on this act for the king. She tells him this sob story about one of her sons killing the other one. She is a widow and is left with only one son, but all the other relatives want justice! They can’t forgive the only heir. Well David falls for this scenario again! He did this with Nathan and Bathsheba. So he tells the woman ‘God forbid that someone takes vengeance on the only son. Over my dead body…. on and on’. Now the woman says ‘can I say one last thing’? Knowing David’s history of getting trumped at the end of these things, I would have said ‘no maam, you’ve said enough already’. But David says ‘go ahead’. She tells him ‘you’re the man!’ [Ouch! I wonder if this woman was the wife of Nathan?:-)] So David realizes he’s been duped again. The woman says ‘O, you are so wise and smart and….’ Gee, for someone who is so swift, he sure falls for these stories a lot. David sends Joab to get Absalom and Absalom returns to Jerusalem but the king avoids him for 2 years. Finally he sees his son. All is not well, Absalom resents the fact that his father called him home but never really made things right. Joab is glad that David gave it a shot. And the nameless wise woman gives us a quote worth remembering ‘For we must needs die, and are as water spilled on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again; neither doth God respect any person: yet doth he devise means [the Cross], that his banished [humanity] be not expelled from him [reconciliation]’. Couldn’t have said it better myself.
(931)2ND SAMUEL 15- Absalom sits daily at the city gate and when the people come to the king, Absalom ‘steels their hearts’. He says ‘o, if I were the king I could do such a good job. I am better than the one God appointed’. Avoid trying to gain peoples acceptance by comparing yourself with others. God might use you to be an example in some way, but this is a matter of grace. Paul said he excelled more than the other apostles who were ‘in Christ’ before him, but nevertheless it was Gods grace that caused this to happen. Absalom slowly wins the hearts of the people and stages a takeover. Some men go willingly, others followed ‘out of simplicity’. They were led astray like sheep. Remember, when dealing with followers of groups who have ‘rebelled’ [classic cults] some have been raised innocently with their beliefs. Try and honestly talk to them and treat them courteously. God can give you an open door with them if you see them as people who have value and worth. We see David as a type of Christ in this chapter. He is forsaken by the city of Jerusalem and loses his following. He even ascends the Mount of Olives while weeping! He says ‘If God chooses to forsake me, so be it. But if he brings me back again [resurrection!] and allows me to see the Ark in Jerusalem, then let his will be done’. Jesus said ‘not my will, but thine be done’. The Father, who forsook his Son, did delight in him and ‘brought him back again’ to see ‘the Ark in the city of Jerusalem’. Jesus saw the tabernacle of God [Gods people, the dwelling of God] in ‘the city of God’ [the church is called the city of God that comes down from God out of heaven] and he was restored to his former place of exaltation at the fathers right-hand. David is reaping some stuff here. He makes some plans for a future return to leadership, but recognizes when it’s time to retreat. Now, I realize that God wants us to move forward and ‘take the kingdom by force’. But Jesus also gave us a principle; he said ‘when one king is facing another king. He sends out messengers to check out the opponent. If word comes back that you are really out of your league in this battle, then try and come to terms of peace if possible’. In essence there are times where taking a step back and re-evaluating is a wise thing. David plants a few spies in Jerusalem who will report back to him every now and then. David also finds out who his true friends are. Some follow him instead of Absalom, even though Absalom is the ‘hot ticket item’ at the time. These brothers who stick with you till the end are true friends, but they aren’t always the most encouraging. Thomas [one of Jesus disciples] says at one point ‘Lets go, we might as well follow him all the way to our deaths’. Thanks for the willingness to follow Thomas, but you think you could change the attitude a little! So David is doing the best with what he has, Gods people are surviving, but they are being used as pawns on Absalom’s chess board. Absalom looked good at the start, but he will not finish well.
(798)JUDGES 21- We end the book of Judges with the nation of Israel mourning over the fact that they had to deal with one of their own tribes who left the true path of God. They vowed ‘not to give their daughters any more to them’. They made a determination ‘no matter how much we personally like them, the many good memories of days gone by. The good old stories of our past heritage together. The actual good things that we all shared over the years’. Yet they decided this was the generation that would make the break. By not giving their daughters unto them they were in essence saying ‘we will no longer allow your tribe to effect the whole nation’. Tough stuff, Paul does this with the Corinthians; he says ‘remove the wicked from among you’. Now, Israel does not want the total destruction of the erring tribe! [nor Paul, read 2nd Corinthians]. They work out a deal where the ‘virgins’ of the tribe that did not show up for the initial battle [Jabesh Gilead] would become the wives of the surviving Benjamites. They allowed the tribe to survive, post judgment day! I see lots of spiritual meaning to this stuff. Often times we as believers do not want to deal with ‘errant tribes’. We prefer to think ‘well, we all believe in Jesus. Lets just love each other’. Hey, I am all for love. I have come to realize many well meaning Christians really don’t like dealing with stuff because it gets rough. Jesus said ‘do you think I have come to bring peace? No, I tell you I have come to bring division. Homes will be divided. Brother against brother and family member against family member’. Now, we know Jesus is the prince of Peace. The angels would say ‘peace on earth and good will towards men’. But Jesus was speaking of the reality of having to take sides at certain times. The inevitable conflict that comes with saying ‘this is true, this is false’. Israel dealt severely with a brother tribe, it would not have been ‘love’ for them to have ignored the problem! Let’s end Judges with a brief overview. Why did we see all the problems in this book? Time after time God would deliver them and time after time they would fall back into sin. God knew all along that this would happen. The intent of the law was to reveal to man his inability to ‘self reform’. The season of judges was simply a foreshadowing of a future day [now] where there would be a ‘judge’ [Jesus] who would be able to continually save the people because he would have a rule that would not end. Israel did fine as long as the judge was alive, after his death they would fall. So today we have Jesus, the Great High Priest who is able ‘to save to the uttermost, those who come to God by him. For he ever liveth to make intercession for them’ [Hebrews].
(794)JUDGES 19- We have another strange story. There is this Levite who has a concubine [servant-wife]. She plays ‘the harlot’ on him and goes back home to Judah. The Levite goes to get her. He shows up at her dad’s house and the father welcomes him [Judah- Israel loved the law- Levite]. The Levite informs him that he came to take back his wife and the dad won’t let him go! He keeps holding on and for a few days convinces him to ‘just stay for one more night’ [Israel’s mindset in the first century. They tried to hold on to the law past it’s time]. The Levite leaves and on his way back to Ephraim they need a place to spend the night. They show up at Gibeah, where the Benjamites dwell. As they are on the street all day, no one offers to take them in. This younger generation forgot all the ‘elementary’ teachings of the Law of Moses [Hebrews 5]. An old man who was from Ephraim was living there. He sees the Levite and his wife and servants on the street. He asks what’s up and the old man offers to take the Levite in. He says ‘don’t worry about the cost, I will cover it’ [The Good Samaritan]. At night the men of the city knock on the old mans door and want the Levite to come out ‘and play’ [The sin of Sodom!] the old man offers the men the women instead of the man. They take the wife of the Levite and abuse her all night long. She shows up at the door in the morning and is dead. The Levite takes her dead body home and cuts it into 12 pieces and sends them to Israel as a witness. This drastic symbol shocks the nation. There are lots of spiritual points that could be made. The law [Levite] was welcomed for a time [Galatians 4] but when it’s time t let it go don’t keep holding on. The old man in Gibeah practiced the art of hospitality to strangers/aliens that was contained in the original precepts from Moses. The younger generation forgot the true principles of their law. Paul will argue over and over again from the law to persuade Israel to come to Messiah. They forgot the basic truths of their own law and this made it harder to show them that Jesus was the fulfillment of their law. Of course the old man taking in the Levite is like the story of the Good Samaritan who took care of his neighbor at his own expense. Paul told the Corinthians that he would ‘spend and be spent’ for them. And the drastic act of the Levite cutting up the wife and sending her body parts to Israel shows the utter terror of the law. The law ultimately demands justice, it shows no mercy. Israel might have had an affinity for the law, but if you keep it around too long it can really ruin the party! [The New Covenant is one of joy and peace in the Spirit. We are at Jesus ‘wedding party’ if you will].
(795)JUDGES 20- The nation of Israel gather together as ‘one man’ to figure out what is going on. They all received the body pieces of the concubine as a sign of judgment. Remember, the law [Levite] can not give life to that which is ‘dead in trespasses and sin’ [the dead wife!] but the law can only reveal sin and call for justice. So the tribes are gathered to meet out judgment! They decide to get an army together, 400,000 men. They go to the town of Gibeah, where Benjamin [the tribe] lives. They tell the people ‘you have done wickedly, give to us the men who have infected this whole tribe [denomination/whole groups of believers who have been affected in a wrong way by certain teachers who have ‘crept in unawares’]. Benjamin says no! There is a strange dynamic that takes place in the Body of Christ. Whenever the Lord moves in a big way to correct or reform wrong doctrine, very rarely do the victims of the wrong doctrine want to admit that they were wrongly influenced. The sin of pride says ‘are you telling me that I was duped’? Benjamin actually goes into this protection mode and defends the wicked doers in their midst! So Israel encamps against Benjamin and they fight. Sure enough Benjamin wins! Wow, they must have thought ‘see, we were correct in refusing to deal with the wrong stuff in our community’ [whole groups of believers who harbor false things]. Israel is distraught, were they wrong in going against Benjamin? You honestly have to ask yourself this question at times. God might really have raised you up to deal with some stuff. You might actually lose a battle or two! The Lord tells them ‘No, you weren’t wrong in dealing with the false stuff in the tribe of Benjamin, go back and give it another shot’. The next day Israel attacks again, and again they lose! They ask the Lord about it and he says keep trying. On day three they adjust their procedure; they set an ambush and eventually overthrow Benjamin. Now, this is no great victory, God actually called the rest of the people of God to deal with an aberrant tribe. The church goes thru reformation seasons where she needs to deal with wrong stuff on a global scale. The history of Christianity shows us the great ecumenical councils of the church. Times where the whole Body of Christ had to agree that certain things were right or wrong. It is only natural for those being rebuked to fight back and not admit their fault. This process is very difficult. Paul wrote the Galatians and told them if a brother is in a fault, that the more mature [spiritual] ones should correct it in love. Over the years I have been involved with trying to explain to sincere believers, some of them who hold positions of leadership, how we can’t keep teaching things that have been shown to be blatantly wrong. Often times the ‘tribes’ [groups] will fight back, and win a war or two! Understand, Benjamin was running their tribe as an efficient unit to a degree. Even though they had ‘bad seed’ in their group, yet the fact that they did exist as a functioning unit allowed them to successfully resist a few previous challenges to their tribe [belief system]. But ultimately there came a challenge that was too hard to resist, the rest of the nation joined as ‘one man’ to say ‘enough is enough, we love you as a brother tribe, but this stuff has gone on way too long’. It was the radical act of the Levite that brought the attention to the rest of the tribes of what was going on. It was the responsibility of the nation as a whole to deal with the ‘lost tribe’.
JUDGES 17- This is quite an interesting chapter. Micah steals money from his ‘mother’. He tells her ‘I took it’ [managed to gain precious riches from you] and she commends him. He then says he took it from her to give it back to her. Let’s spiritualize a little. The ‘sons of the church’ [the New Jerusalem is the corporate church, the ‘mother of us all’] some times take by violence the hidden riches that were contained ‘in the church’ [which possesses the mind of Christ!] so they can ‘give the riches back to the mother’ [feed my sheep!] and receive commendation from her. Now, all analogies eventually break down. Micah’s mom says she was going to build an idol [institution?] with the money. Micah becomes the overseer of this ‘false system of worship’. He actually ‘hires’ [hireling mentality- seeing ministry as a profession] a legitimate priest from the tribe of Levi to call ‘father- priest’ [ouch!] Micah pays him a salary [double ouch!] and says ‘now I know the Lord [God of the Christians] will bless me seeing I have a priest under my authority’. [Rome and her emperors?] Lots of imagery here. First, Micah felt like he would gain Gods blessing if he ‘hired’ and institutionalized the real priesthood. We must see that what happened during the first 4 centuries of Christianity was a type of ‘hiring’ and legitimizing the ‘priests of God’ for the purpose of favor and unity within the Roman Empire. It is no secret that the emperor Constantine looked for unity in his empire by embracing and professionalizing the ‘priest hood’. They will actually be called ‘fathers, priests’. Also, this priest that Micah hired was a real representative of God! He did come from a true tribe. It is difficult for Protestants to see that although the institutional church ‘married’ Rome, yet she still contained part of the real people of God. This is not to say all that happened in the first millennium [thousand years of Christianity] was of God, but it also means we need to understand that there are some ‘precious riches’ [1100 pieces of silver!] that are hidden within her for the purpose of ‘true sons’ to go and take these riches and re distribute them back to her for her own benefit. You would be surprised by the amount of spiritual truths contained in the writings of the Catholic [Orthodox] fathers. Many of these truths are being ‘re found’ by protestants! And some of these Protestants have given them back to the church and shown her ‘look, even your own church fathers saw such and such’. I see the whole concept of Micah hiring the Priest as a type of ‘hired clergy’ mentality that all the people of God wrongfully took hold of. We need to recognize that just because this Levite went down this road, this does not mean he was not a true Levite [person of God]. It just meant he allowed his gift/office to be used in a wrong way to bring legitimacy to a form of worship that had vestiges of idolatry contained within.
(786)JUDGES 15- Samson cools down and goes back to see his wife. As he tries to make things right her father reveals to him that she is now married to his best friend! What? Yup, the dad said they thought he was so mad that he gave up on her. Well Samson goes and ties the fox’s tails together and sets these torches on fire between their tails. He lets them run thru the fields of the Philistines and burn up the crops. The Philistines say ‘who did this’? They find out Samson did it because of the wife thing. So they blame it on the wife and her father and go ‘burn them’ [ouch!]. Samson doesn’t stop! He gets into it with a few more guys and whips them good. He escapes to this stronghold in Judah’s territory and the Philistines are looking for him. Judah finds Samson and says ‘why are you hiding among us? Don’t you realize the Philistines rule over us?’ Samson says ‘I’ll let you tie me up if you promise not to kill me yourselves’ so they promise. When the Philistines get him, the Spirit comes on Samson and he breaks the cords and ‘beats the hell out of them’. He finds this jawbone from a donkey and kills a thousand of them with the jawbone. He then gets thirsty and says ‘I need something to drink, why would you let me have such a great victory and feel like I am going to die of thirst’? God breaks a hole in the jawbone and Samson finds water from the instrument he used to defeat the enemy. Now, notice the unbelievable amount of war, division and devastation that is coming from one man! He is actually negotiating like he is an army! God knew what he was doing when he raised Samson up ‘because he wanted an occasion to deal with the Philistines’. John the Baptist was like this. A single prophetic voice who had the gall to tell Herod ‘you can’t have your brother’s wife!’ How do these guys do stuff like this? In Samson’s case he got away with it because he had the goods to back it up! He was like the other judges who knew how to strap it on. But this guy seems to be a one man steamroller. Notice that the Lord refreshed him from the same tool he used to war with. Paul tells Timothy ‘preach the word, in doing this you will save yourself and those who hear thee’. Paul says ‘woe to me if I preach not the gospel’. Over the years I will listen to our radio messages one time before I broadcast them. I am so far ahead of schedule that I will preview the message about a year or more after I make them. Yet I actually will get ‘a prophetic word’ that I never even knew I spoke! God will allow you to be refreshed from the refreshing you give others. Don’t be too self absorbed, but recognize that ‘he who waters will himself be watered’ [somewhere in the bible].
(733)GENESIS 45- Joseph could not restrain himself any longer and reveals himself to his brothers. His brothers are absolutely shocked. They are hearing him in his own voice [my sheep hear my voice- Jesus] for the first time, they are beginning to see the actual image of their lost brother in the face of this sovereign person who they have been coming to and bowing to and submitting to. They came late to the table, the entire gentile nation [Egypt and the surrounding nations] have already been submitting to him for a while [Christ and the church made up of gentile nations] but Israel has been slow to respond. And since they have been responding they had no idea of the actual identity of this great ruler. Sure, these gentile nations knew his name was Joseph and they heard all the great stories about his rise to power. But the brothers of Joseph were simply submitting to this governor out of necessity. They actually were learning the ropes of how to come to this sovereign and to bow before him with requests [The Jews sure know how to pray to Jehovah, they have the Wailing Wall!] but to hear this ruler say ‘I am your brother Joseph, who you betrayed’ is almost unbelievable to accept! Now Joseph sees the look on their faces. He tells them ‘come here, I am Joseph your brother’ he has to explain the enormity of this revelation. They can’t connect the ruler with their former knowledge of their own flesh! Israel [the nation] has stumbled over the reality of their home town boy actually being their Messiah. Scripture says Jesus is the actual image of the invisible God, we see God and who he is thru Christ. For the brothers to be looking at the actual lord of the land, someone who they have been ‘submitting to’ already [Jehovah] and then to hear ‘I am Joseph’ [Jesus] out of the actual lips of the ruling authority himself, is very hard to grasp. The nation of Israel has been waiting and believing for the Messiah for 2 thousand years. They pray to Jehovah. The stumbling block is in their inability to actually see the face of Jesus in their God! He truly is the image of the invisible God. Now Joseph reassures them that everything that happened to him was truly a sovereign act of God to preserve life. He holds no grudges! [Father forgive them, for they know not what they do]. Pharaoh hears about this great reunion and tells him to go get the rest of his family and bring them back [to Goshen]. Jacob hears the news of his son’s authority and is shocked. He learns that his son is alive, and Lord of the land, all in one day [Scripture says a nation will be born in a day. Referring to Israel’s national repentance and acceptance of Messiah at the second coming- Romans]. So they make preparations to come to Egypt and for all the family to settle down together. I want to stress the importance of seeing the reaction of Egypt [gentile nations] when they hear that Josephs blood relatives are coming to benefit from the lordship of Joseph. The gentile nations are happy and glad to see the reunion! Much like the reaction that Paul writes about in Romans ‘if their falling away [The Jews rejection of Messiah] was for the benefit of all the gentiles [just like Josephs rejection by his brothers was for the benefit of saving Egypt and the surrounding countries] so how much greater will it be when they are reunited with Christ’. Scripture teaches us that it was for the gentile’s salvation that the nation of Israel rejected Christ’s Lordship. So when Israel returns home to their true Messiah, the gentile church will rejoice! I also want to make a note here, you will notice that Jacob had to relocate from the promised land and move over into the region [church- made up of gentile nations] in order to benefit from Josephs rule. Make no mistake about it, at the time of Israel’s conversion she will see that her clinging on to the old culture of law and sacrifice will have to be left behind in order to benefit from the bread that Jesus [Joseph] will provide. Jacob and the boys will carry some degree of national identity with them, after all they are still ‘Israel’, but the relocation from their land speaks of the willingness to uproot and journey towards the messiah.
(936)2ND SAMUEL 19- David sends word to the elders of Judah ‘why are you guys so late in receiving me back to Jerusalem as your king? I am your own kin for heavens sake!’ After the death of the rogue king Absalom, Israel came to her senses and began saying ‘you know, when David was our king things weren’t all that bad, now that Absalom is dead, what are we waiting for, lets call David back’. So David sends word back that he is reuniting with the people again. He also makes some strategic moves; he tells Amasa ‘when I get back, you get Joab’s job’ Ouch! David finally dealt with the talented, yet self willed commander of his men. On the way back one of the first guys that greets him is the same brother that cursed him and threw stones at him earlier. David lived to see the day of Gods vindication. The brother repents and David forgives him. Also the son of Jonathan, Mephibosheth, greets David with great joy. The first thing David says is ‘why didn’t you leave with me at the beginning?’ The earlier slander of Ziba stuck in David’s mind. Mephibosheth swares that Ziba tricked him. David forgives him and says ‘enough! You split the inheritance with Ziba’. Mephibosheth replies ‘Let him keep it, I don’t need the material wealth. I am just glad to be with you again’. The church does not see the reality of this test contained in scripture. There are times where ‘David’ does offer opportunities of self advancement that are simply a test to see what our motives are. In this case David rightfully gave material stuff to Mephibosheth, it was the maturity and character of Mephibosheth to say ‘thanks, but no thanks’. The scripture contains many examples of Christ followers forsaking things for his cause. Just because the bible ‘offers opportunities for wealth’ does not mean Gods best is for you to ‘go for the wealth’. Now that David’s back in Jerusalem, the divided tribes [Israel-10 tribes, and Judah] have a squabble. Israel says ‘Judah, who do you think you are in being the first ones to escort the king back, he is our king too’! And Judah replies ‘yeah, but he is our blood kin, David is from our tribe. We hold a ‘special’ relationship with him because of natural heritage’. It’s funny, these guys were on Absalom’s side a few days ago, now they are fighting over him! I kinda see Jesus and natural Israel in this story. The nation of Israel became offended over the fact that they were ‘blood heirs’ of the Jewish Messiah. They held to this ethnic pride that would be destroyed thru the Cross. It offended the natural mind to see this ethnic figure [in the historic mind of Judaism] to be accepted by ‘all the tribes’. They wanted him solely for their own purposes. So here we see Judah and Israel fighting over David, he will unite them both under his rule [Ephesians ‘the 2 are made one, Jew and Gentile, and God hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us] and Jerusalem will once again be called ‘the city of the great king’ [we are the ‘city that comes down from God out of heaven’ the bride, the Lambs wife!]
(940)2ND SAMUEL 23- David recounts his life and the mighty men who were with him thru the ups and downs. He says ‘God raised me up on high, the anointed of God. He spake his words thru me’ Jesus was raised up ‘on high’ he was/is Gods anointed one [Messiah] and he spoke only the words that the Father gave him. Now David has some valiant men to mention. Some fought the enemy against all odds. One was in a lentil field and the rest of the people fled. This brother stood his ground and won! This characteristic is important for leaders; there are times where you must stand, even if the rest of your people are afraid! If you start running, then forget it, there isn’t a ‘snowball’s chance in Hades’ that the job will get finished. Also David was in the cave Adullam, and he longed for the water at Bethlehem. His 3 mighty men heard him and they secretly snuck out and broke thru the Philistines front line and got the water for David! A valiant deed. Then they bring it to David and he pours it on the ground! He says ‘God forbid that I should drink the water that you risked your lives for’. I don’t know about you guys, but if I were one of the mighty men, my next valiant act would be ‘watch me make the king drink water off the ground’. One of the brothers killed a lion in the snow. I grew up in New Jersey, when it’s freezing out its hard to carry out tasks. You really don’t want to fight battles and ‘slay lions’ in difficult environments. The mighty men were able to function well, even in harsh conditions. The rest of the chapter is simply the naming of all the others. A few things; God raises up leaders and ‘kings’ at various times in history [Luther, Calvin, Graham, etc.] these men make their mark on history with the help of many other valiant men. In David’s case one of the men saved him from sure death in an earlier fight with the giant’s sons. The point is we are not in this thing to make a name for ourselves or to think ‘I could do a better job than David’ [Absalom] and go and start our own ‘kingdom’. God places key people in key places at certain points in time. It is vital for all the ‘actors’ [those who act/function!] to be courageous, take risks as God ordains, and fulfill the mission to the best of your ability. There are times where leaders WILL HAVE TO LEAD! That means you sought God, you heard what he said, and you followed thru on it. Many sincere men try all sorts of ‘new ideas’ in an attempt to get something off the ground. A year goes by and they have a new idea their working on. What happened? Ultimately you have to lead. You have to follow thru on the directives that God gave you. The problem isn’t with the plan [most of the times] but it’s with the faithfulness to follow thru with the mission. David’s men had the character to stick things out when others fled. Sure, those who flee will be back to check things out every now and then. Don’t despise them, but you know who can be trusted with the next mission. These are the noble warriors who acted valiantly in the face of great odds. These are the ‘go to men’ if you will.
(941)2ND SAMUEL 24- David numbers the people. Joab and his men tell David not to do it. Why? Well to be honest we really don’t know for sure, but let me give you my spin on it. The nation of Israel were very religious and sticklers for specific things. You see this development years later with the religious Pharisees, a tendency to focus in on specific instructions and these ideas becoming obsessive in their minds. All Israel knew the original promise that God made to Abraham. God told him that his ‘seed would be like the stars for multitude and the sand by the shore’ [Genesis 15] included in this famous promise were the words ‘go, see if you can count them’? It was understood that God was saying to Abraham ‘go, if you want to test me, try and count them’ [the stars]. It’s possible that the counting of the people was considered a taboo for this reason. Now David does count them and his ‘seer/prophet’ Gad tells him ‘you messed up, you have 3 choices of judgment that will come on you’. David picks the 3 day judgment under Gods hand and 70,000 Israelites die. The census David took showed that Israel had 800 thousand people, Judah 500 thousand [1.3 million total] without counting the women and children! So you can multiply this number by at least 3 to figure the actual size of the nation. God stops the judgment short and David builds an altar at the place where he saw the destroying angel. David also pleads with the Lord ‘why kill the people, let the judgment be on me and my family instead’. David shows the heart of Moses here. Also David had a ‘seer/prophet’ that was part of his ‘ministry team’. In the prophetic churches it is common to have real prophetic people [not flakes!] who are stable in the word, and also give good advice to the leadership. There are real life prophets/seers who function in the church and can play a key role in the future of the church. We end Samuel with David overseeing a large kingdom. The people were the prophetic fulfillment of Gods purpose in the earth at that time. The letter of Peter says we are Gods holy nation today. The Father promised the Son that he would give him ‘the heathen for his inheritance and the ends of the earth for his possession’. Just like David, the anointed king/priest of Israel, Jesus sits at the right hand of the Father and sees the great multitude of people on the earth [and in heaven] that are the fulfillment of the promise of God to him. We are living proof of the faithfulness of God to his Son.
(972)1ST CORINTHIANS 10:1-4 it’s actually Christmas morning, 2008, as I write. Paul says ‘all of our forefathers were under the cloud, they were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and sea’. Note- 2 baptisms ‘Cloud’ [Spirit] ‘Sea’ [water]. Let’s do a little thinking here. How can Paul refer to the Jewish fathers as the Corinthians forefathers? Is he expecting a large Jewish group to read this letter? [Like Romans- both Jews and Gentiles were in mind]. Is he addressing them like the author of Hebrews, who is speaking directly to a nation in transition? While it’s possible for a few Jewish believers to have read/heard the reading of this letter. Yet I think Paul is simply being consistent with his letters to the Galatians and Romans, where he taught that all who would believe were the ‘children of Abraham by faith’ Abraham is ‘the father of many nations’. Now, I like the way Paul ‘spiritualizes’ here. Moses was the prophet who typified Jesus. The people were baptized [joined] to him both thru the good times and the bad. There was quite a rough history between Moses and the rebels! Times where they wanted to change leadership. Times where God even said ‘I have had it with this bunch, let’s just wipe them out and start over’. They had history. Also Paul says ‘they all ate of the same spiritual meat and drank from the same spiritual rock. Christ’. Again, Paul seems to teach the symbolic, as opposed to literal, view of ‘eating/drinking Christ’. Israel did have some physical ordinances in the wilderness. The Passover and the bread from heaven [Manna] already happened. But Jesus himself [John 6] would say ‘Moses didn’t give you the real bread, I am the real bread!’. So Paul’s use of the ‘Rock’ is purely symbolic. The story relates to the time where God gave the children of Israel water from an actual rock in the wilderness. Moses spoke to/struck the rock and water came out. Paul sees this as a symbolic picture. He is saying ‘this foreshadowed Christ, the true rock who would be the ‘Rock of ages’ who would be struck on the Cross and water would flow from his side’. Once again, this leaves us some context to interpret the Lords supper in a symbolic way. Was Paul teaching the Corinthians to go out in the fields and actually drink real water from a rock? No. He was simply saying these physical symbols would be fulfilled at a future time, and that time was now! All who believe in Christ are partaking [spiritually] of the water of life, the Holy Spirit. Tomorrow we will get into the examples that were left to us from these stories. I just want to mention that the Apostle Paul freely uses the Old Testament [his only bible at the time!] and applies these stories to both Gentile believers and 1st century Israel. The writer of Hebrews [who I think was Paul] says ‘just like the forefathers missed out on the promise by unbelief- entering the promised land- so too there is a danger that you, 1st century Israel, might miss out on eternal life by not receiving the Messiah by faith’. In this context, Israel of the Old Testament represents Israel in the first century. But when addressing a gentile church [Corinth] it is also okay for Paul to say ‘just like Israel faced physical death by being disobedient, so you too have had premature physical deaths in your community by rebelling against God’. In this comparison Israel [Old Testament] is simply being used as an example of God judging his covenant people for their disobedience. I feel these distinctions are important, they help us to keep the New Testament in context.