Category Archives: Bible Study

Stones of Remembrance 6: Abraham’s 5th Altar

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Stones of Remembrance 6: Abraham’s 5th Altar

Read Genesis 22 thru 25

What did God do to Abraham in Genesis 22:1? 

Was Isaac Abraham’s “only” son?  The Hebrew word for “only son” is yachid (yah-cheed); Strong’s #3173.  Using a Strong’s concordance/dictionary, what are some of the definitions of the word yachid in the Hebrew?  Jesus is God’s “only son,” but angels are also called “sons of God” in Genesis and Job. What do you think is meant by the term “only son?”

Zechariah 12:10 says the house of David and the people of Jerusalem will mourn for the one they pierced “as one mourns for his ________  ______.”  How does Hebrews 11:18 shed light on this?

The parallels between Isaac and Jesus are so profound, we know God wanted us to see in Isaac a type and foreshadow of the promised Seed that would one day crush the head of the serpent. This website lists a whole bunch of these parallels, but here are the ones I found that I thought were pretty neat…

The mountain

Look on a map to find where Mount Moriah is located. Draw it on your personal map. In the coming chapters of this Bible Study we will make visits back to this mountain, and I don’t want to spoil the fun, especially when we get to David’s altar to God, but this mountain is just a treasure trove. These are some websites I found with lots to share about it (The Rich History of Moriah,… Mount Moriah,…and What is the Significance of Mount Moriah in the Bible).  “And Abraham called the place, “YHWH-Will-Provide, as it is said to this day (Genesis 22:13b), ‘In the Mount of the Lord it shall be provided'” Genesis 22:14.

The donkey ride

What type of animal did Abraham saddle up for the journey to the mountain top?  Read Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-11; Luke 19:28-44; John12:12-19; what type of animal was Jesus placed upon? Why a donkey? Have a peek here.

The journey

Abraham’s journey with Isaac to the place of the altar was 3 days, at which point the mountain was still afar off (Genesis 22:3-5), so more than 3 days, possibly another day, for a total of 4.

Jesus’ journey to the cross followed the timeline of the Passover (Exodus 12:3-6). The Passover lambs are chosen on Nissan 10, which is when Jesus made His triumphal entry (Matthew 21:1-17; Mark 11:1-11; Luke 19:29-40; John 12:12-19). The lambs are inspected (as Jesus was, and He was found to be blameless – Matt.26:59-60; 27:19,24; Luke 23:4,14-15,22); And on Nissan 14 the spotless, defectless Passover lambs are slain, which is when Jesus breathed his last (Matthew 27:2, 50; Mark 15:42; Luke 23:54; John 19:31,42) – Preparation Day is Thursday, the day before Sabbath; Sabbath begins at dusk on Friday. In this instance Passover landed on Preparation day. Total of 4 days.

A promise made

In Genesis 22:5 Abraham said to his young men, “the lad and I will go yonder and worship, and we will come back to you.”  Why did Abraham say “we” would come back when he was taking Isaac to sacrifice him (Hebrews 11:19)?  Likewise Jesus said “If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, you may be also” John 14:3.

The wood

The wood for the sacrifice was laid on Isaac (Genesis 22:6;) to carry.  The wooden cross was laid on Jesus to carry – John 19:17. Isaac was bound and laid upon the wood (22:9). Jesus was laid upon the wooden cross and bound to it with nails (Mark 15:24; John 20:25). This happened as prophesied in Isaiah 53:5

The knife

Abraham raised a knife to slay his son (Genesis 22:10). One of the soldiers raised a speer to pierce Jesus and make sure He was dead (John 19:34). He was pierced for our transgressions – Isaiah 53:5; John 19:32-37; 1 John 5:6-8; Dt.19:15; John 8:17-18; 1 Tim. 5:19.

The altar

Isaac was laid upon an altar made of rocks with the wood put in order upon it (Genesis 22:7-9). Jesus was laid upon a wooden cross atop a barren hilltop that is said to have resembled a skull cap, which was likely a very large rock (John 19:17-18), perhaps the place where King David took the skull of Goliath (1 Sam. 17:54), therefore aptly named the-place-of-the-skull (Gol-goth-a). The names Gol-iath and Gath are even sort-of hidden in the name Golgotha. Click on those links to discover the meanings of those names. Golgotha, like Gethsemene, was where Christ’s blood was pressed out like a drink offering, which, in addition to a grain offering, was to accompany all offerings of blood. Christ’s crucifixion served as the blood sacrifice and the firstfruits grain offering, and the drink offering all in one. Goliath’s name means exposer or one that uncovers, and isn’t it interesting that in researching all of this, such a wonderful mystery would be uncovered?

The ram’s horns, caught in the thicket

Just before Abraham plunged the knife into his son, he was told to STOP! “Then Abraham lifted his eyes and looked, and there behind him was a ram caught in a thicket by its horns” (Genesis 22:13a).

“And they clothed Jesus with purple and they twisted a crown of thorns and put it on His head (Mark 15:17); Jesus’ head wrapped in thorns – (John 19:2)

The anxiousness

Isaac was trusting and willing, but he spoke to his father, look the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb (Genesis 22:7)? Jesus, being obedient to death — even death on a cross (Philippeans 2:8), began to be troubled, sorrowful, and deeply distressed He fell on the ground to His face and prayed 3 seperate times for this cup to be removed. His sweat was as great drops of blood. (Luke 22:39-46)

The faith

Abraham said, “My son, God will provide for Himself the lamb…” Genesis 22:8. By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac…concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead (Hebrews 11:17-19). Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness (Genesis 15:6; Galatians 3:6; Romans 4:3,18,22; James 2:23).

Jesus, speaking of His body said, “Destroy this temple,and in three days I will raise it up.” (John 2:19.) Jesus said He had the power to lay down His life and the power to take it up again (John 10:18).

The Angel

Who do you think was the Angel who called to Abraham from heaven and stopped him from slaying Isaac?  Does your Bible cross reference other places in scripture where this Angel is also mentioned?  Could the Angel be Jesus?

Hebrews 9:15
For this reason He is the mediator of a new covenant, so that, since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.

Hebrews 12:24
and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks better than the blood of Abel.

1 Timothy 2:5
For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,

Hebrews 8:6
But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, by as much as He is also the mediator of a better covenant, which has been enacted on better promises.

Ephesians 2:13-18
But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace

Galatians 3:19
Why the Law then? It was added because of transgressions, having been ordained through angels by the agency of a mediator, until the seed would come to whom the promise had been made.

(Source: https://bible.knowing-jesus.com/topics/Christ,-The-Mediator)

Job, in his time of suffering on earth, lamented that there was no mediator for him in God’s court of law (9:32-33). But a mediator was promised (Galatians 3:19) who would take away the sin of the world and make sin-sick men holy, as God is holy. Christ is the only true mediator between God and man, because He is the ONLY one to ever live who was both fully God and fully a man, knowing the divine nature of God and His pure holiness, but being able to sypmpathize with our weaknesses (Hebrews 4:15).

❤ ❤ ❤

When the Holy Spirit puts it into our hearts to chase down a rabbit hole in the scriptures, you can be assured Jesus is waiting there. Jesus says that we will seek Him and find Him when we search for Him with all of our hearts. The veil to the Holy of Holies is ripped in two from heaven to earth so that we may enter into His presence and have fellowship with Him. Isn’t the Bible fascinating? I love the mysteries and the deep and hidden things of God, the crumbs that fall from the Master’s table, that are waiting to be found, don’t you?

If the Bible has always been just a dusty old book with crazy old stories for you, I hope that something I’ve found here will change your mind. Please know that it is a totally different book when the Holy Spirit comes to live inside of us. If we are born again, believers in Jesus, filled with the Holy Spirit, the Bible will come to life for us as we read it in a way we could have never imagined. That is one of the amazing things about it. Through it we have relationship with our Creator and Savior and He has fellowship with us.

Has your faith ever been tested? It is a refining process (Job 23:10).

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When Jesus comes for His bride will He find you faithful? Do you know Him? Do you want to know Him? There is no magical prayer, or complicated formula. All you have to do is ask, believing, and you will recieve Him.

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Let’s continue reading…

Where did Abraham return to after the Mount Moriah experience (Gen. 22:19)?  Where did Sarah die (23:2)?  In that verse it says Abraham came to mourn for her. Did this mean he was not with her when she died? This was the place of Abraham’s 3rd altar (Gen.13:18).  Who are the sons of Heth (Gen. 10:15)?  How much silver merchant’s money did Abraham pay to purchase a burial place for Sarah (Gen. 23:16-18)?  Were there witnesses to the transaction?  Write out Genesis 23:19-20. Check out this article about the burial place that Abraham purchased. Who else is buried in this grave – Genesis 25:8-10; 35:27-29; 47:29-31; 50:12-13?

Perhaps you have lost a spouse?  Did you have the means to pay for the funeral and burial at a cemetery? Would you expect that a hundred, two hundred, three hundred years later that burial plot would still be there? This one of Abraham’s is almost 4000 years?

Where did Abraham send the oldest servant of his house to fetch a bride for Isaac?  What did he make him do in Genesis 24:2-3?  Can you draw Abraham’s family tree from the info you find in Genesis 11:26-29; 22:20-24; and 24:15?  Use a blank sheet of paper to sketch out Abraham’s lineage.  Add it to the pages of your book and remember to keep adding to it as we go along.  Make notes of the scripture locations for your information.

How did the servant know he had chosen the right bride?  What did the servant do in 24:21?  Whose daughter was Rebekah?  Isaac and Bethuel were cousins. (How important is it to you that you or your children marry within the family-of-God?) What did the servant give to her in verses 22 and 47?  What did the servant do in 24:48 & 52?   What did the servant give as a bride gift and as a dowry in verse 53?  What was the blessing her family spoke to her when they sent her off (vs. 60)?  How is this blessing similar to what God spoke over Adam and Eve in Gen. 1:28, Sarah in Gen. 17:16, and God’s blessing on Abraham through Isaac in Gen. 22:17?  How is this similar to Jesus’ blessing on Peter in Matthew 16:18?  Isaiah 45:18; Matthew 28:19.  Has anyone ever spoken a blessing over you?  Have you ever spoken a blessing over your children, grandchildren, or family members?  Where did Sarah die (23:2)? Where was she buried (23:19)?  Mark these places on your map.

Where was Isaac living at the time (Gen.24:62)?  What did Isaac do in the evening (Gen. 24:63)? Isaac and Rebekah became husband and wife in whose tent (Gen. 24:67)?  Who did Abraham then take as a wife in Gen. 25:1 (but was she a “wife?” See 1 Chron.1:32)?  How many children did he have with her?  Where did he send those sons to live (Gen.25:6)? And where did Ishmael live (21:21; 25:18)? Who inherited all of Abraham’s wealth (25:5)?  Mark all of these places on the map.

What is the exact wording of 25:8?

What do you think it means that he was “gathered to his people?”  Is this a physical thing – being buried together in a family grave, or a spiritual thing?  Who does the act of gathering (2 Kings 22:20; 2 Chr.34:28)? The same was said of Ishmael in 25:17; and Isaac in 35:29; and Jacob in 49:29 & 33; Aaron in Numbers 20:24; Moses in Deut. 32:50; and Joshua’s generation in Judges 2:10.  Were all these people buried with their family in a mass family grave? 

What is Abraham’s bosom (Luke 16:19-31)?  Is Abraham’s bosom the same place as “Paradise” (Luke 23:43; John 20:17; Acts 1:9; 2 Cor. 12:2,4; Luke 14:14; 1 Thes. 4:16)?  Is it the good side of Hades (or Sheol) as believed in ancient Greece and Rome? I challenge you to do some research on that.

Where did the Garden of Eden, the Paradise on earth, go? Did it just die, or was it taken up in the spiritual realm?  Are there other places in the Bible where people are said to be gathered?

“Do not foresake the GATHERING of yourselves together.” Hebrews 10:25. What do you believe this verse to mean? Have a peek HERE for some interesting perspective.

What are some other gathering places? The table (Hebrews 13:2), a wedding (John 2)? Not sure where I am going with that, but I like the thoughts it provokes.

Where was Abraham laid to rest (Gen. 25:9-10)?  Who buried him (25:9)?  Where did Isaac choose to live (25:11)?  We know that Ishmael lived in the Sinai Peninsula (which was considered Egypt from the earliest of Bible times).  Mark all of these places on the map.  It seems that Isaac and Ishmael had an amicable relationship, doesn’t it?  They remained close neighbors all their lives, buried their father together, and never had any known conflicts. Isaac’s son Esau would later marry one of Ishmael’s daughters (Gen.28:9), in what appears to be a show of maturity, and an attempt to please his father and mother. 1 Chronicles 1 and 2 go into detail of the lineage Abraham’s children. 1:27-31 is his son Ishmael. 1:34-37 is his son Isaac. 1:38-54 is his son Esau (who does Gen. 36:1,8-9 say Edom is?). And 2:1-17 is the family of Jacob/Israel. Compare the genealogies of Genesis 36 and 1 Chronicles 1&2 with all that we know so far.

Personal application

How does all of this apply to us?  Has the Holy Spirit spoken to your heart about anything as we’ve studied His word? Can you think of an experience you’ve had with God similar to any of the characters in this story? Abraham certainly had quite a full life, with much scripture devoted to him.  He was a go-getter right to the end.  He lived in relative peace in the land God brought him to.  There was never an issue with his servants, and even his children did not quarrel with one another.  He fared well and was prosperous.  He was blessed and was a blessing. 

Has God ever asked you to give up something precious to you, as Isaac was to Abraham?  Was it hard for you to give it up or did you trust that God is ultimately good and would work all things together for good?  Ever had a child (or other family member) that you loved dearly almost be taken from you by tragedy?  Have you ever thought about where our spirits go when our bodies die (1 Cor. 5:3; 2 Cor. 5:6-7)?  Have you ever wanted to step in and help your kids choose a mate wisely? Perhaps you’ve prayed God would bring them a good spouse, of good moral character, to love, honor, and cherish, and who would love, honor, and cherish them back?   If you have small children or grandchildren, you could begin praying NOW for their future spouses.  God, knowing the future, can help to lead them to the spouse that will be a good, godly fit, a good provider, a good helpmate, a good friend, a good mother/father, evenly yoked for the work of God’s kingdom, etc.  Start the conversations young, how important it is to choose a spouse wisely.  Do you have regrets over the spouse you chose? Do you feel blessed that God gave you a good spouse? Maybe share with your kids some of the concerns you have that may help them choose a spouse wisely in this day and age (std’s, unplanned pregnancy, ungodliness, temper issues, having a kind heart, how they treat others, etc.), and some mistakes you made and the consequences you suffered that you would hope they would avoid. There is a wonderful movie (for teenagers) which can help with this conversation.  It’s called *Because of Gracia.  It’s a beautiful movie every parent of teenagers should see.

Project (an altar that I can build): 

Make a shield bookmark for your Bible.  Color the front of it, and on the back of it write several scriptures that speak of God being a shield for us, starting with Genesis 15:1; Deut.33:29; Psalm 115:9-11; Ephesians 6:16; 1 John 5:4.  When done we can laminate it.  How nice to make up several bookmarks and give them to friends and family.

OR, if we are very ambitious we can make a banner (flag) in the shape of a shield and embroider the scriptures along its edges, and then hang it on our wall.  We could also worship God with it at church, if we belong to a church that uses flags and banners in worship.  OR, we could fly on a flag pole at our house; OR hang it on a pole and march with it in a city parade. 

I sketched this design for such a banner when I was a member of my church’s worship team.  I had always intended to sew one together, but other projects vied for my time and I never got around to it!

 “Blessed are those who keep His testimonies, who seek Him with the whole heart!” Psalm 119:2 

[*] Five Stones Films | BecauseOfGracia.com | ©2018 GRACIA FILMS, LTD

Stones of Remembrance 4 – Abraham’s 3rd Altar

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Stones of Remembrance 4 – Abraham’s 3rd Altar
Read Genesis 12 thru 21, and whatever else comes up   

Let’s talk about it…

Here are some things we might want to research: 

What is the last known address for Abram (13:18)? Who came to celebrate victory with Abram there (14:18)? Who did God say He is in 15:1?  What promise did God make in this place in 15:5?  Fill in the blanks of this sentence from 15:6: “Abram ________ in _____ ________ and ________ accounted it to him for ___________” (See Romans 4:4).  This is also the place of the split animal covenant/promise between God and Abram.  Draw little symbols on the map of all that we learn.

Where was Hagar from?  How and when might Sarai have acquired her (12:10)?  Where did she run away to (16:7)? Who appeared to her there?  Draw Hagar’s location on the map, also draw the well and label it with its name (16:14).  Draw an angel there also. What did God/Angel tell her to do in 16:9?

Where was Abraham when the three men visited (18:1)?  What did Abraham do for them (18:6-8)?  What message did they deliver to Abraham (vs 10)?  Who were the three men (18:17,20-22 & 19:1)?  Draw them eating under the trees at Hebron on the map.  What did the angels come to do? Where was Sodom (Gen. 13:10-11; 14:3,10)? This website gives an estimated population of around 40,000 to 65,000 for the townships of Sodom and Gomorrah at that time. In this video (beginning around the 3:33 minute mark) the Bible teacher says archeaology has discovered between 1.5 and 5 million bodies in graves in the Sodom and Gomorrah area. Taking such numbers into account, do you remember how many righteous men needed to be in the city for God to spare the city (Gen. 18:23-32)? That’s a LOT (no pun intended) of depravity.

Three men visited Abraham in 18:2, and then in verse 16 the men rose to go to Sodom, but it seems that one of the three was the LORD and He stayed behind to have a special conversation with Abraham. How many arrived in Sodom, and where did they find Lot (19:1)?  What did Lot compel them to do (19:2-3)?  Remember who the inhabitants of Sodom were (Gen. 10:6-20)?  What did the people of Sodom want to do to the men (19:5)? Might this be related to what happened with the sons of God and the daughters of men in Noah’s day? And, what Ham did to his father (Gen. 9:22,24) after the ark landed. (Sexual perversion).

The two men escorted Lot, his wife and two of his daughters out of the city (19:16) and then who brought down the fire and brimstone (verse 24)? Why do you think Lot’s wife looked back (see Gen.19:14)? Where did God tell Lot to flee to? Why, would you imagine Lot was afraid to go to the mountains – that some evil would overtake him and he would die there? Could it be that he knew about the pagan worship practices that took place in the high places?

***We’ll actually study, in a later posting to these stone-pile-studies, about the Moabites (who were the descendants of Lot through his firstborn daughter). They hired Balaam to seek an oracle in the high places (Numbers 22 & 25); also the Ammonites (which were the descendants of Lot by his younger daughter) who were the people who sacrificed their children to Molech (Leviticus 18:3,21-25). Sadly, Bible history tells us that Solomon took wives of both the Moabites and Ammonites and followed in their wicked ways (1 Kings 11:5,7), and he burned incense in the high places to their gods. Canaan, of course was the land of, and the people of Ham, Noah’s perverted son. The Canaanites were giants in the eyes of the spies when they and Joshua and Caleb peeked into the Promised Land for the first time.

So since Lot was afraid to go to the mountains, what city did the LORD allow Lot to flee to (19:22-23)? What happened to the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah (19:24)?

Did Lot remain in Zoar (vs 30)?  Why not? Make a little note on the map where Moab and the place of the Ammonites was, and note from whom those two people groups descended from.

Where did Abraham move to (20:1)?  What happened there?  Abraham told the TRUTH and Abimelech FORGAVE and welcomed them to stay.  He also paid Sarah’s fine for bringing a curse on them (20:11-16).  This is where Isaac was conceived and born.  What did Abraham do when Isaac was eight days old? What did Abraham do when Isaac was weaned?  What did Sarah see Ishmael do (21:9)?  Where did Hagar run to (vs 14)?  Is this the same place she ran to before (Gen. 16:13-14)?  What name did she give to GOD? Is this the well that’s in dispute in 21:25,31 the same well God showed to Hagar when she ran away twice?

Where did Ishmael dwell and what did he become (vs 20-21; 25:18)? What prophesy was spoken over his life (16:11-12; 17:20; 21:18-21; 25:12-18)? Where have we heard of the Pishon River before (Gen.2:11)? Mark the Wilderness of Beersheba and the Wilderness of Paran on the map. Draw a well in the wilderness of Beersheba with Hagar and Ishmael beside it, and then of Ishmael shooting an arrow in the Wilderness of Paran. What did Abraham plant in Beersheba? And beside what landmark did Abraham and Abimelech sware an oath?

Personal application

Have you ever been led by fear, as Lot was, running from one bad decision to another? Has your choice of where to live ever seemed like paradise at first, but then turned out to be the worst place imaginable to raise a family, a real nightmare on Elm Street? And what about Abraham, the newcomer to the Promised Land, and obviously surrounded by some scary folks. He also was led by fear at times and it caused him to feel like he had no choice but to tell a lie. Have you ever been surrounded by scary people who made you feel scared to tell the truth about who you really were? Ever been caught in a lie, but forgiven of it by someone you least suspected would ever forgive you?  Has anyone ever paid a fine or a debt that you owed? Is there someone you need to forgive. Or someone you might need to confess the truth to and ask forgiveness?  How has forgiveness changed your life? Do you know a single mother raising a son/child? Maybe you are that single mother – do you have a testimony of how God has been the God-who-sees your circumstances and been a comfort and help to you? Write your testimony down so that you can reflect on it later and not forget what God has done for you, and share it with the people around you. You could be an encouragement to others you didn’t even know were going through the same things you are. You are also welcome to share it in the comments section below.

Project  (an altar that I can build)

Forgiveness jar:  Make a jar where, before I go to bed at night, I can place little notes upon which I’ve written and expressed forgiveness for every little offense that came up that day.  Rather than be tempted to gossip about the offender, or harbor anger or bitterness toward the offender, let me choose to be intentional to speak blessings to the situation, apply God’s promises to it, and place those offenses in the forgiveness jar.  When the jar is full, empty it out in the fire pit and start all over with an empty jar.

My grandmother always had home-baked cookies in her freezer so she could set out a spread of coffee, tea, and at least something sweet for drop-by visits.  It was a marvel to me though, how she could throw together a meal at a moment’s notice, with several sides, when anyone stopped by.  Her house was always neat and tidy, and herself presentable by, at the latest, midmorning.  Food was love in her house and her table welcoming.  She wasn’t lazy about preparing meals, or stingy about sharing.  I want so much to make my table an altar of showbread for God and the people I love; a place where people are gathered around and the Lord is present with us.


 “So a book of remembrance was written before Him.” Malachi 3:16b 

Stones of Remembrance – 3: Abraham’s 2nd Altar

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Stones of Remembrance – 3: Abraham’s 2nd Altar

Read Genesis 12


One of the most exciting things about the times we live in is that archeology is uncovering so much about the Bible. Jews returning to their homeland are sharing more and more about their knowledge of faith and history. It is truly opening a world up to all of us that has laid dormant for centuries. You might want to look into collecting a few books or DVD’s about Bible Archaeology. I recommend the books written by Adam Zertal , also Aaron Lipkin‘s videos, and Randall Price‘s books, (and more Randall Price), and also the Written in Stone – documentary series by Gordon Robertson on DVD (there are 4 titles in this series at this writting, and two in production: House of David, Secrets of the Temple, Jesus of Nazareth, Kings and Prophets, and coming soon…Oracles of God – Part One – Old Testament, and Part 2 – New Testament). They can be ordered by calling 1-800-700-7000. There are lots more I could recommend, but I’ll leave it there for now. Also, get your hands on some Messianic Jewish publications, such as the series of books written by Rabbi Jason Sobel (The Rock, The Road, and The Rabbi, Mysteries of the Messiah, and Alligning with God’s Appointed Times).

Click this link to watch a clip of Written In Stone, Kings and Prophets: https://www.cbn.com/giving/special/kingsandprophetsdvd.aspx

Our wonderful, amazing Bibles are coming to life with so many beautiful layers. Where one may pick up the scriptures and read for its historical content, another sees the copies and shadows in all the words and stories of the Old and the New, with Jesus waiting to be discovered between every line and paragraph. Yet another sees the veiled prophecies being whispered in the Old and utterly shouted in the New for anyone to hear if they will simply tune their ears to hear and their eyes to see through the power of the Holy Spirit dwelling in them. The word of God is truly living and active, powerful, and the same yesterday, today, and forever. A masterpiece of love from our Creator.

Using a map from your Bible, locate the locations of Bethel and Ai. And if you’d like you can download and print this map that I have provided, and then mark where Bethel an Ai are on it, draw a mountain in between them, and then draw a dotted line from Shechem down to the mountain. You can even draw a small tent on top of the mountain. In the white space to the right of Israel draw a rock pile and then draw an arrow over to the mountain where Abram’s camp is, which is where that rock pile altar was. Do your own research on these places. What do their names mean? What has been discovered about them? What events have taken place in these areas? What pieces of archeology have been discovered from these areas, and perhaps are being held in the British Museum, or somewhere else? Did Charles Warren write anything about them in his explorations?

What did Abram do after he built this altar (Genesis 12:8)? So, this altar was his place of prayer. Try to draw praying hands on top of your little illustration of the altar.

What does the name Bethel mean (see Genesis 28:19). Does the center margin of your study Bible say what the Hebrew word for Bethel means?

What caused Abram to go to Egypt? Why did he feel he needed to lie to them about Sarai? How did the Egyptians treat Abram (12:16), and what caused them to discover Abram’s lie (12:17)? What part of Israel did Abram return to (13:3-4)? Draw a dotted line to show Abram’s travels to Egypt and back. What was the reason for Abram and Lot to have to part company? What area did Lot choose? The “plain of the Jordan” is thought to have been the south end of the Dead Sea. It was once lush and green. What cities were there where Lot pitched his tent (13:12)? Where did Abram move to (13:18)? Mark this on the map. Draw the altar and some trees in the white space to the right of Israel and draw an arrow over to Hebron.
Lot got caught up in a battle between which kings (14:1-17). Do you recall from our Noah chapter who the Rephaim are? See Ezekiel 32:27; Numbers 13:33; Deut. 2:11,20,21; 3:11; 2 Sam. 21:19; Josh. 11:22. They are related to the Nephilim of Genesis 6:1-5. And the Zuzim in Ham – the son of Noah who saw his father’s nakedness.

Was Abram victorious in getting Lot back? Who met with Abram right after his victory (14:18) and what did the two of them exchange? Who came to Abram in chapter 15:1? (See John 1:1) …And what event took place between the Word and Abram (Gen.15)? Look on a map and see how much land God was giving to Abram (vs 18). Could the “river of Egypt” be the Pishon (Gen. 2:11)? The Pishon skirted the whole land of Havilah (Gen.2:11), which was the Sinai Peninsula, which was Egypt – and the land Ishmael would later inhabit (Gen.25:18). What body of water skirts the land of Havilah today? This is all part of a puzzle we are putting together.


Personal application: How does this apply to me? Do I have a place of prayer where I go to meet with God? Has God’s Spirit met me there and moved me with love / vision /courage? Have I ever felt like I had to lie about something as a matter of life and death? Did my lie find me out? Ever had to split up with a family member, or felt the need to offer them something that rightfully belonged to you? And after getting them out of a tight spot, once, did you have to bail them out again not long after? Did you seek God for His grace to handle it all with mercy? Is the relationship with that person damaged beyond repair now or has God granted you reconciliation? Ever won a battle over an enemy? Ever given or received a blessing from a priest of God? (Lots to think about!)


Project (an altar that I can build)

Promise Box: Type out the scripture verse, Jeremiah 29:11-13, on pretty paper in a pretty script to fit on the lid or around the base of a small round hatbox. Glue the verse onto the box, along with additional favorite fabrics, ribbon, or scrapbooking images, etc. and then decoupage the box with Mod Podge.

Blessing Box: Type out the scripture verse, Genesis 14:19, replacing Abraham’s name with mine.
Once the box is decorated, write current life issues on pages of pretty stationery and on the flip-side write a Bible promise (from a Bible Promise Book) that’s applicable to the issue. Add them to the Promise Box.
OR write out ways God has blessed me each day and add to Blessing Box before going to bed at night.

OR fill the box with random acts of kindness cards that can be done each day to bless others. Find a set of printable random acts of kindness cards at mrshlovesjesus.com.

“And you shall remember the Lord your God,”
Deuteronomy 8:18 (NKJV)

God’s Keys

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God’s Keys

Forgive me for taking forever to post anything new on the current study, and instead jumping into the middle of it with something about keys.  Well, it may not be part of the stones study, but trust me, it’s interesting.  Come and see.

About a month ago I read a passage of scripture that has sent me on another fascinating rabbit trail through God’s word.  I honestly never pass up these rabbit holes if I can help it, because Jesus is always hanging out in them, and there is always a treasure to be had in excavating the layers of the scriptures.

We’re all familiar (or maybe not) with Peter’s magnificent confession in Matthew 16:16.  The name Peter (Cephas in Greek) means “rock” and on this rock Jesus said He would build His church.  Peter explained what Jesus meant in his first letter, 1 Peter 2:4-10. After that little exchange, Jesus promised Peter a set of keys, and that’s where I want to take us today. 

“He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’  Simon Peter answered and said, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’  Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.  And I also say to you that you are Peter [a little rock], and on this rock [a big rock] I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.’”  Matthew 16: 15-19

Before I get started I’ve gotta say, I’ve never heard anyone preach on these keys, at least not from the perspective that I am seeing them, so it makes me a little nervous to share.  I know that the word of God is not of any private interpretation, and I’m absolutely no Bible scholar, so I am praying that I have the fellowship of the Holy Spirit to help me rightly divide the word … and I share this perspective strictly as an “interesting theory” until God proves it through other Bible teachers, or reveals it to others in His own time.  God is revealing so much in these latter times that I have no doubt He will disclose the mystery of these keys, if indeed there is one.

The first thing I felt compelled to do was to take a good hard look at the place where Jesus brought His disciples to ask them the very important question: Who do people say that I am?  The Bible says their conversation took place at Caesarea Philippi. Caesarea Philippi was an area near Dan, at the extreme northern border of Israel. I discovered, through much looking that this place has had quite a sordid history. This area was at the time of Christ a sanctuary for the worship of the Greek god Pan. The place was called Panias (or Banais). Pan was a man from the waist up and a goat from the hips down.  He carried and played a panpipe and had a voracious appetite for sex, any kind of sex. This god is where the term “pansexual” comes from, Pan in Greek means “all.” According to the belief of his followers, He slept the winters in the underworld, accessed by the grotto that is at Panias.  Worshippers believed that cave to be a portal or gateway to Hades.  It appeared to them to be bottomless, a bottomless pit filled with water. Interesting that Jesus brought His disciples here to reveal to them who He was and what was going to happen to Him.

Pan’s worshippers came to awaken him in the spring with orgy parties and bestiality with goats. Greeks would throw their sacrifices into the grotto and if the sacrifice disappeared in the waters it was said to have been accepted.  Waters from the depths of this cave fed out to a nearby stream (one of the headwaters of the Jordan River) and if blood appeared in the waters of the stream, the sacrifice was said to have been rejected.  There were little niches hewn in the rocky cliff face to the right of the huge cavern, and carved idols of Pan, Echo, and Hermes were once placed on display there.  During the time of Jesus, there was a temple that stood in front of the cave. 

(Visit: Generation Word to see photographs and read the history of the area).

This “little rock” of Panias was at the foot of the “big rock” – Mount Hermon, which was considered to be the “mountain of the gods.”  What gods, you may ask?  Well, according to a stone stele found at the summit of Mount Hermon in 1869 by explorer Sir Charles Warren, it was the place where the fallen angels made their pact with each other to sin with human women (Genesis 6; Jude vs.6) and create a corrupted super-race of giants, which is what prompted God to flood the earth in order to rescue humanity from the brink of extinction. The Book of Enoch also confirms this.

Reading further in Matthew, chapter 17 we find Jesus leading his three inner-circle disciples (Peter, James, and John) up on “a high mountain” by themselves.  This mountain was almost surely Mount Hermon – the mountain of the gods, which was right there in front of them, and may even possibly have been the “exceedingly high mountain” Satan took Jesus to in the temptation (Matthew 4:8; Luke 4:5).  Jesus was transfigured there (His glorified body revealed) in front of His closest friends, and also (I believe) in front of all the principalities, and powers, the rulers of the darkness, and the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places (Ephesians 6:12). 

It is interesting that Moses and Elijah are who appeared with Jesus in His glorified body, as Elijah was one of only two people in the Bible who never died, Enoch being the other one. Elijah was taken up in a whirlwind (Enoch walked with God and simply was no more).  Moses was with God and only God when he died (if indeed he did die as we think of it, or simply ceased to live on this earth – Deuteronomy 34:5,7), and only the LORD knows where the body of Moses is buried (if indeed it was buried or just put in a safe place – Deuteronomy 34:6; Jude 9).  Moses’ body was not buried in a traditional family grave, like all the other patriarchs before him, nor even in Israel, but the historian recorded it was in a valley in the land of Moab, though his 120 year old body was in stellar health (Dt. 34:7).  So, it is interesting that Moses would appear with Christ, when we consider that the archangel Michael contended with Satan over the body of Moses, and now here is Moses victoriously transfigured on the mountain of the gods, with Jesus His Christ!

In both instances, the question at the grotto of Pan, and this transfiguration at the mountain of the gods, Jesus told His disciples to tell no one until after He had been risen from the dead.  I have often wondered why that was, and the theory I’ve come up with is two-fold.  First of all, it has been in Satan’s heart to kill Jesus ever since the curse in the garden (Genesis 3:15 and 4:8; 1 John 3:12; Revelation 12:4), and then storm heaven to rise above the throne of God (Isaiah 14:12-14). Satan has to have God’s permission before he can do anything (Job 1:6-12 & 2:1-7) to lay a hand on the Lord’s anointed (to strike His heal) Matthew 4:6/Psalm 91:12. I believe Jesus personally gave Satan the permission he sought for that day.

And second, the Jews (and the disciples) believed the Messiah would come as their Conquering King (2 Samuel 7:13-14; Isaiah 11:1-4; Hosea 3:4-5; 4 Ezra 12:32; Micah 5:3; Ezekiel 37:24-25), to restore political power to the Jews (Luke 19:11; Acts 1:6), and to defeat all their enemies.  If they had known their Messiah was coming as a suffering servant, they might not have killed Him (Luke 23:34).  Jesus wanted His disciples to know who He really was, and who the real enemy was (we battle not against flesh and blood), and that He would defy all expectations and instead be the Suffering Servant of Isaiah 53, which no one was looking for, and which they would not understand until after He had risen.  Jesus spent the 40 days between His resurrection and ascension explaining things to them (Luke 24:45, 49; John 14:26,16; 15:26; 16:7, 13; 20:22), as well as restoring Peter.  And after Jesus ascended, the Holy Spirit (the breath of life) revealed more and more to them.

Peter’s name (Petros # 4074) means small rock – like the rocks David picked up and put in a shepherd’s bag when he went to fight Goliath, who was a giant, and a seed of Satan.  David picked up 5 smooth stones, but he only used one.  In the same way, Peter would be a stone in the hands of the Lord, to raze giants and lead the people to Jesus.  Peter tells us that our Lord has lots of stones, which are all being built up into a spiritual house (1 Peter 2:5) for Him to dwell in, each with unique gifts and talents, which are likened to the parts of our human bodies (1 Corinthians 12:).  Jesus Himself is the chief cornerstone of the pile of rocks (1 Peter 2:7).  Jesus said in Luke 17:21 “…the kingdom of God is within you.”  We are God’s house collectively, and not built by human hands. 

Peter was singled out as a stone with a special purpose.

And on this (the massive thing they were facing, the thing they were standing at the foot of) rock (Petra, #4073, mass of rock), Jesus said, “I will build my church, and the gates of Hades (the grotto of Pan, the stronghold of paganism that was right there in front of them) shall not prevail against it.”

Do you remember where Jesus took His disciples to give them the Great Commission after His death and resurrection, and before He ascended to the throne?

“Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had appointed for them.” Matthew 28:16

Pretty sure this mountain was Mount Hermon, and Jesus making good on the promise He made to Peter and the other disciples in Matthew 16:18. It’s all right there, hiding in plain sight in the scriptures, for all who care to do a little excavation.

Going back to the stones of God’s house, when Jesus told the Pharisees that if they destroyed the temple Jesus would raise it up in three days (Matthew 27:39-40; John 2:19-22), they had in their minds the temple on the temple mount (Herod’s Temple), but Jesus was talking about His spiritual house on this earth, which we are all a part of, all of us who accept Him as our Savior.  The Pharisees had turned God’s earthy temple into a den of thieves, and when they killed Jesus, the Shepherd, they hoped to scatter the sheep, but three days later Christ arose, the Chief Cornerstone of His house, and His house (believers) were instantly erected as a new house for Him to dwell in. God does not dwell in temples made by human hands (Acts 17:24).  He is making us into a temple for Himself to dwell in.  It’s made up of each of us, whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.  And what’s really awesome is…that the gates of Hades shall not prevail.  No matter how big and scary and dark everything seems to be headed towards, Jesus is bigger!!!!!

Never lose hope, my friends!  Keep your eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith!

The next thing I felt led to do in my studies was to grab my concordance and see if there were any other “keys” in scripture.  This is how I usually do Bible study, because I believe scripture will always explain scripture if we dig to find the connections.  And so, the next key that I found was in Isaiah 22:22: 

“The key of the house of David I will lay on his shoulder; so he shall open, and no one shall shut; and he shall shut, and no one shall open.”

The “he” (in bold letters, emphasis mine) in this verse is Eliakim, who was indeed a real person in the lineage of David, who sat on David’s throne, but this is also a prophecy of Christ, because what is said of Eliakim here is said of Christ by the apostle John in Revelation 3:7:

“And to the angel/messenger of the church in Philadelphia write, ‘These things says He who is holy, He who is true, He who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens.’”

The word key in this verse is maf-tay-ach in Hebrew and means an opener, Strong’s #4668. The name Eliakim (EL-YAW-KEEM), Strong’s#471, means “whom God raises up or sets up”. (Daniel 2:21 tells us, “He [God] raises up kings and also brings them down.”) The word shoulder is she-kem, Strong’s #7926, meaning the area between the neck and shoulders, where a burden (yoke) would be placed.

So now we have the paraphrase: “EL will lay the yoke (or burden = key of David) on the neck/shoulders of the one He raises up. The One who has the key has the ability to open and no one can shut, and shut and no one can open.  The power of binding and loosing belongs to Him, and to only those whom He chooses to give it to (2 Timothy 2:8; Revelation 1:6; 3:21; 5:10; 1 Peter 2:5; Revelation 20:6).

God had raised up Eliakim to be seated on David’s throne, but ultimately God raised Jesus up (on a cross – which was laid on Him as a yoke, as His burden to carry) to redeem the people from their sins (Philippians 2:5-8) … 

“Carrying His own cross, He went out to the place of the Skull (Golgotha, in Aramaic – which I believe is the place where Goliath’s skull was taken, Goliath the giant – a seed of the fallen ones, and hence the name – 1 Sam. 17:54).  There they crucified Him, and with Him two others – one on each side and Jesus in the middle.  Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross.  It read: Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” John 19:17-19

“And I [Jesus, the Good Shepherd who gives His life for the sheep] gives them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand…and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand.” John 10:28-29

Ezekiel tells us about this “Good Shepherd” in Ezekiel 34 beginning in verse 11, but lets look at verses 23-24:

“I will establish one Shepherd over them, and He shall feed them–My servant David. He shall feed them and be their Shepherd. And I, the Lord, will be their God, and My servant David a prince among them: I the Lord have spoken.”

And herein lies the mystery, because King David was dead and in the grave when Ezekiel was alive, and when he prophesied this.

In Luke 19:28-40; Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-11; and John 12:12-19 is the story of the “Triumphal Entry,” as it is called. The people took palm branches and went out to meet Him, and in John’s gospel they cried, “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! The King of Israel!” Luke’s gospel adds: “Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” Mark’s gospel adds: “Blessed is the kingdom of our father David that comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.” And Matthew’s gospel also says, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” It all harkens back to the vision of David’s son Solomon being ushered in as the next king of Israel to occupy the throne of David:

“So Zadok the priest, Nathan the prophet, Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, the Cherethites, and the Pelethites went down and had Solomon ride on King David’s mule, and took him to Gihon” (which was at the temple). “Then Zadok the priest took a horn of oil from the tabernacle and anointed Solomon. And they blew the horn and all the people said, Long live King Solomon!”

Zechariah the prophet prophesied of the coming King, “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation. Lowly and riding on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey.” John and Matthew reflect this prophecy in their accounts.

Jesus came the first time as the suffering servant, lowly, as prophesied by the prophet Isaiah (53); He came in peace, riding into town, lowly (-the Greek word is “praus,” and it means in humility, considerate, unassuming, gentle, meek, mild – meekness is not weakness, it is power under perfect control, in humble wisdom and penetrating love) on a colt, and only a few saw Him, but the apostle John prophesied in in Revelation 19:11-16 that King Jesus will come again, and this time as our conquering King, riding truly “triumphantly” on a white horse, warlike, with all authority displayed, and every eye will see Him! And Satan and evil will be defeated.

King Jesus is now, and forever shall be seated on David’s throne as the King of Israel (Isaiah 9:6-7; Jeremiah 23:5-6; Luke 1:32), and indeed of the whole world, King of Kings, and Lord of LORDS, seated on the heavenly throne, which David had occupied as a copy and shadow only temporarily on earth (Hebrews 12:2).

“God raised Christ from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly realm, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age, but also in the one to come, and He put all things under His feet in subjection, and gave Him headship over all things to the church which is His body, the fulness of Him who fills all in all” Ephesians 1:19-23.

We are not to be conformed to this word, but transformed, having renewed minds, which are set on things above, not things of earth. Therefore, rejecting the LORD as their King, and in turn asking for an earthly king, like everybody else on earth had (1 Samuel 8:5-20; 10:19; 12:12-13 and 17-25) was Israel’s sin.  It was a sin Israel repeated when they took Jesus before Pilate (John 19:11, 14-15), and in choosing Barabbas – a son-of-Abba over THE SON OF ABBA (John 18:39-40).  Even we today sin when we look to political leaders to lead us and guide us and protect us from our enemies, rather than have faith in the LORD to be our very present help in times of trouble. Men can be called to leadership but we are not to put our faith and our hope in them over Jesus.

The things of God, which are upon this earth, are a copy and shadow of things in heaven (Exodus 25:9,40; 26:30; 27:8; Hebrews 8:5; 9:9,23,24; 10:1; Colossians 2:17; Matthew 6:10). The throne is part of God’s true tabernacle (Hebrews 8:1-2,5), but it was not part of the earthly Tabernacle which God showed to Moses for the people to build (Exodus 25 – 31), although the Ark of the Covenant was God’s representation (compare 2 Samuel 22:11; Ezekiel 1:4-28; Exodus 13:18; Numbers 2 & 10; Revelation 4 – this is a Bible Study unto itself and part of the Stones of Remembrance Bible Studies which I will post at a later date). God dwelled among His people via the Ark of the Covenant in the Holy of Holies of the tabernacle, but it was not until Israel asked for a king that the copy of the heavenly throne, with one seated upon it, came to be on earth (1 Chronicles 22:10; 2 Samuel 7:16; Psalm 89:34-37; Jeremiah 33”17).  God gave the people the desires of their heart only because it would serve His ultimate purpose.

David was the first king of the Tribe of Judah (in the order of Melchizedek – who was the original king of Salem, and also priest of God Most High, and was a king/priest without lineage – without beginning of days or end — Genesis 14:18; Hebrews 7:1-3).  David was God’s chosen (1 Samuel 16:1,12-13) and Israel’s most beloved king.  David knew He was sitting on a heavenly throne which would one day be returned to its rightful place (Psalm 110).  David’s kingdom reunited Israel with Judah for a time, and restored the Levitical priesthood.  David desired to make a house for God in His beloved city (Jerusalem), and had the Ark of the Covenant brought to it’s someday house.  This is why I believe it is said that David was a man after God’s own heart. He turned the hearts of the children to their Father and the heart of the Father to His children. David, like Jesus, was a shepherd of the sheep of his father (John 10), born in Bethlehem, of the lineage of Judah.  King David was a foreshadow of King Jesus.

“I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things in the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star.” Revelation 22:16

Jacob, aka Israel, foresaw this in his blessing to his son Judah: “the scepter (a symbol of kingship) shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver (another name for a priest) from between his [Judah’s] feet, until Shiloh comes; and to Him shall be the obedience of the people,” Genesis 49:10.  This scripture shows that God already knew His people would ask for a king.  Their king would come from the tribe of Judah, as a copy and shadow of their heavenly King, who would also come from the tribe of Judah (and whom I believe is personified in the mysterious Melchizedek, whom Abraham visited, who appears to me to be Jesus — Genesis 14:18; Matthew 26:26-28; Revelation 1:5-6; Psalm 110:4; Hebrews 6:20 thru 10:23).  The name Melchizedek means My King is Righteous (Hebrews 7:2):

“Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, that I will raise to David a Branch of righteousness; a King shall reign wisely, and execute judgments and righteousness in the earth. In His days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell safely; Now this is His name by which He will be called: THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.”  (Jeremiah 23:5-6).

Jesus is the rightful, anointed, supreme KING of Israel, who will take back the kingdom by also being a PRIEST who sprinkles His own sacrificial blood on the altar of God behind the veil, which He ripped in half, restoring the obedience of the people – by taking away our sin.

Most scholars agree that Shiloh, in Genesis 49:10, is referring to the Messiah. 

Let’s go back to Samuel, the one who anointed David king, and see it from that perspective. 

Samuel was the answered prayer of his mother Hannah.  She had prayed for a son and promised to give her son to God if God would give her a son.  Samuel’s name means “asked for from the LORD” (1 Samuel 1:20).  After Samuel was weaned, she gave him to Eli, the Levitical priest who was serving at the House of God (Tabernacle) in Shiloh (1 Samuel 1:24; Joshua 18:1) where she and her family went to worship once a year. 

Samuel (an Ephraimite) grew up under Eli to become a judge over all of Israel, from Dan to Beersheba (1 Sam.3:19), that is from the farthest northern boundary to the farthest southern boundary, and also God’s prophet. Only Levites (of the tribe of Levi) could be priests.  Samuel was the only godly influence that we know of after Eli died.  He went on a circuit between Bethel (name means House of God – from the Jacob’s Ladder dream), Mizpah (means Witness – where Jacob made a pact with Laban), and Gilgal (which means rolling – as in rolling off a heavy burden from one’s shoulders – where the first altar to the Lord was built from the stones of the Jordan River) (1 Samuel 7:15-16).  God’s temple was located in Shiloh, but the Levitical priesthood had all but dissolved (1 Samuel 3:13-14). 

“The word of the LORD was rare in those days; there was no widespread revelation” And because the priests were so corrupted (1 Samuel 3:1; 8:3), “Men abhorred the offering of the LORD” (1 Samuel 2:17).  I’m sure they all loved Samuel, but Samuel’s sons were just as corrupt as Eli’s.  So, when Samuel was getting pretty old and the people feared he would be dying soon, they asked Samuel for a king.  So, it was when the Tabernacle of God was at Shiloh that the people asked for a king.  God assured Samuel that the people weren’t rejecting him, they were rejecting HIM.  They didn’t want God to rule over them (1 Samuel 8:7).  They wanted to be cool kids, like all the other nations who had earthly kings.  

The “house of the LORD” at Shiloh was, for all intents and purposes, Jesus living among the people (that’s who Jesus is – Immanuel, God with us).  According to the Abarim website the name Shiloh means He Whose It is – and also His deep and abiding Shalom. 

Remember the house that Jesus is building?  Jesus is building us up a spiritual house for He Himself to dwell in on this earth, for which He is the chief Cornerstone.  The Father in Jesus, and Jesus in us. “For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.”  Luke 17:21. The stones that He is using to build His house are you and I.  Before Jesus left to go and prepare a place for us in heaven He said, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you.  I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14:27

In God’s seeming absence it is easy to become fearful.  It was that same fearfulness that made the ancient Israelite people ask for a king.  They were afraid that without Samuel they would be swallowed up by the nations around them.  Fear is the opposite of faith.  The people forgot that their God went before them, and fought their battles (1 Samuel 8:20). Their eyes were on man, as our eyes often are.  They forgot that their King was the Word (John 1:1-14) by which everything had been created; that He was the Breath that parted the Red Sea; and the Angel who escorted their ancestors through the wilderness.  He was the Shekinah Glory of the Mercy Seat, and the glory Cloud that covered by day.  He was the glowing Pillar of fire by night, the Manna that appeared every morning, and the Rock from whence the water flowed (1 Corinthians 10:4); He was the Commander of the Lord’s army on the other side of Jericho, who brought down the walls when the priests blew their trumpets and the men shouted.  He was the One who held the sun in place in the sky for a whole day, and defeated Israel’s enemies with hailstones. He was the Angel who visited Gideon and gave victory to his 300.  He was the Angel who visited Manoah, and He was the strength of Samson in the Nazarite vow.  He was all of that and so much more, but the Israelite people had laid down their shield of faith.

I wonder if David’s (earthly) throne was finally taken back up from the earth as part of Jeconiah’s (aka: Coniah’s/Jehoiachin’s) curse (Jeremiah 22:24; 22:30).  I also wonder if the Garden of Eden was also likewise taken up when Adam and Eve sinned (Genesis 3:22-24) since that’s where the Tree of Life is, and angels guard the way.  God allows Satan to mess with some of His things, when it serves a purpose, but not all things.  He won’t let His precious things go to extinction.  That’s why He saved Noah.  Noah was the only non-corrupted, righteous man on earth (Genesis 6:9, 12). And He saved Lot.  Lot was the only non-corrupted, righteous man in Sodom & Gomorrah (Genesis 18:16-33).  The garden and the throne (I believe) were taken to heaven for safe-keeping (Garden: Luke 16:22, 23, 26; Revelation 22:2)-(Throne: Revelation 4 & 5; 21:10, 24; 22:1-3), to be revealed again later, perhaps during the millennial reign of Christ on earth (Revelation 20:4-6).

And when this world becomes almost totally corrupted and evil (2 Thessalonians 2:3), I believe with all of my heart that God will put us, those who are His true church, written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, in a safe place until evil is destroyed (1 Thessalonians 4:13-17) forever.

The last king of Judah was Zedekiah.  The curse of Jeconiah was fulfilled.  The last prophet to speak was Malachi.  And then there were 400 years of silence … until Shiloh came, and HE retrieved the Key of David.  He took the yoke, the burden of leadership upon His shoulders as a sacrificial lamb, and reestablished His Kingdom through servant leadership!!!!!!!

When Jesus gave up His spirit on the cross, Matthew says “the ground quaked and the rocks were split, and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many” (Matthew 27:52-53).

This tells me that while Jesus’ body was in the tomb, His spirit went exactly where He had promised the thief on the cross they would go … PARADISE (aka: Abraham’s Bosom, the good side of Hades)

  • A).  To loose the chains of death that held the Old Testament saints in slumber.  Adam, Seth, Noah, Abraham, David, Elisha, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Job, etc., who all their lives had believed, and looked forward to the day of their Messiah (Hebrews 11:13-16), whose spirits waited in Paradise for their Savior to come and release them (Matthew 27:52-53), because their sins had finally been redeemed. (Isaiah 42:7; Isaiah 9:2; Isaiah 53:12; Isaiah 49:9; Isaiah 61:1; Matthew 4:16; Matthew 11:5; Luke 2:29-32; Luke 4:18)
  • B). To take back the key of David (Authority/Kingship) – the throne of Melchizedek (Genesis 14:18-20; Hebrews 8:1; Hebrews 5; 6:20; 7:1-), and dissolve forever anyone being king of the Jews, King of Salem (JeruSalem), save Jesus Himself.
  • C). To preach to the spirits in torments, on the other side of the great chasm, where possibly the angels who sinned and are bound in hell (Tartarus) – or the bottomless pit — or under the Euphrates (Revelation 9:14) are being held.  Perhaps Satan himself, and all his fallen host – the third which he swept out of heaven with his tail (Revelation 12:4) were the LORD’s audience that day? 

Whoever it was that continued living there “in torments,” we know they could see into Paradise, because of the Parable of the Rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:20-25). Perhaps Jesus held up the Key of David for them to see, as they gazed across the great chasm, as a symbol of His victory over their multiple attempts at corrupting not only the seed of the Messiah, but the kingdom authority of the lineage of David. Perhaps the message He preached was that of Isaiah 14:12-21:

“But you said in your heart, I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God, and I will sit on the mount of assembly in the recesses of the north…Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol, to the lowest depths of the Pit.” 

The Restrainer [Jesus] was then risen from the dead and made alive again.  Death and the grave were forever defeated. He had the keys of death and Hades, and also the Key of David.  Praise Yeshua!!!!!  Glory to God in the highest!!!!

I believe Jesus escorted the saints of Old out of their graves (Matthew 27:52-53), where angels took them on to heaven (Matt. 28:2)?  Because when Jesus appeared to Mary Magdelene He asked her not to hold onto Him for He had not yet ascended to the Father (John 20:17).  For 40 days Jesus stayed and appeared to people on earth in His glorified body (Luke 24:13-53; John 20 & 21; Acts 1:1-11).  This accounts for the gap between Revelation 1 where Jesus has the keys of Hades and Death, and Revelation 5 where no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll, and then the Lamb appeared.  Jesus ascended into heaven, and a cloud received Him, and once He was seated at God’s right hand (Mark 16:19) as our King (the scepter of Shiloh in it’s rightful place) then a scroll with seals was handed to Him.  Jesus first sprinkled His own blood on the Mercy Seat in heaven (Hebrews 10:4, see Hebrews 9 & 10) as our High Priest (the lawgiver from Judah in His rightful place), and then He sat down as our King.

If you have never read the book of Hebrews or the book of Revelation, this would be a great time to do that, and make a note of all the thrones that come up, and who is sitting on them.  And if you want to chase down a rabbit hole of your own, look up the “throne of David” and see how many addresses you can find.

So, the next key that I found while following this breadcrumb trail was in Luke 11:52: 

“Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge.  You did not enter in yourselves, and those who were entering in you hindered.”

Notice the woe in this verse?  There are six of them all total in Luke 11:37-54, all aimed at the lawgivers, the Pharisees, and Scribes. Jesus spoke eight woes to the same group in Matthew 23. Here are some of the names given for the Scribes, the Sadducees, and the Pharisees: Blind Guides, Fools, Whitewashed Tombs, Brood of Vipers, Hypocrites, etc.  Pretty harsh words!!! So what had they done?  They had taken away the key of knowledge, the Bible, preventing themselves from entering (into true fellowship with God) and hindering those who were entering (into that true fellowship).  They had set aside the word of God and shrouded it behind dogma, tenents, and religious doctrines of men, making faith a very heavy burden that few could measure up to.

In those days the word of God was meticulously hand copied letter by letter by letter on scrolls by the scribes, and studied extensively and taught by the Pharisees.  The scrolls were kept in the synagogue.  The only word of God that existed in the homes in those days was oral, or perhaps a small book of prayer.  The word was taught in the home through traditions and stories handed down from generation to generation.  Men went to Synagogue on the Sabbath to listen to the Pharisees present a word from the Torah scrolls, and some would spend time lingering there to discuss it, in much the same way as the Greek philosophers philosophized (Luke 2:46-47; 4:16-30 & 31-37, 44; 6:6-7; 13:10).

And, in much the same way as the Greek Philosophers were honored and respected for their great knowledge and wisdom, the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Scribes esteemed themselves as the spiritual superiors of society, better than everyone else, and they wanted to keep it that way.  It made them important. They made lots of rules for people to follow, which were impossible for most people to keep. Though righteousness is to be pursued, the Bible is our standard, not the doctrines of man. And without the Holy Spirit creating that clean heart in us, it is impossible to please God, for all our righteousness, apart from Him, is as filthy rags.

“For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12

“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,” 2 Timothy 3:16

Paul knew full well, as he himself was a Pharisaical apprentice until his radical encounter with Christ (Acts 22:3-21; 26:4-5; Philippians 3:5; 2 Corinthians 11:22).  He understood the grievousness of withholding the key of knowledge and articulated such in his letter to the Corinthians.  He said that he and his companions had to “…endure all things lest we hinder the gospel of Christ.” And said, “woe is me if I do not preach the gospel!” 1 Corinthians 9:12,16.

Jesus said the Pharisees were of their father the Devil, who was a liar and the Father of lies.  The book of Jude shows us what the spirit of the Pharisees has been from the beginning.  Jude [Judah] speaks a woe to “them” (those who hinder the gospel of Christ): (vs 6-19) and these are those who are responsible: fallen angels, Sodom & Gomorrah, dreamers, followers of the way of Cain, the error of Balaam, the rebellion of Korah. Such ones are like clouds without water, late autumn trees without fruit, twice dead, raging waves of the sea reserved for darkness, wandering stars, grumblers, complainers, flatterers, mockers, sexually crazed, and those who cause division.  (My gosh, Jude could be talking about the world today; would you agree?)

I wonder, if Jesus hadn’t come when He did, if there would have been faith on the earth for very much longer.  The people were without hope, and like sheep without a shepherd.  The Jews hated the Samaritans and left them with no place to worship.  And the religious leaders had turned faith into a cult with political power, having only head knowledge of the Torah and an abundance of rules. They possessed a self-righteous form of godliness, but denied the power thereof. The Sadducees had taken the Torah and snipped out all the parts they didn’t like.

Before Jesus left this earth He opened the scriptures to His disciples (Luke 24:45) and told them to wait for the Holy Spirit to come (Luke 24:49), which the Spirit did in Acts 2:1-4.  And He took His disciples to the mountain which He had appointed for them (Matthew 26:32; Mark 14:28; Matthew 28:7,10; Mark 16:7; Matthew 28:16-17, and 10-20 the Great Commission – Mark 16:15,19; John 21:1,14 Breakfast by the sea – Tiberias/Galilee – and the reinstating of Peter). (I believe Mount Hermon is a good candidate – Matthew 16:18) and commissioned his disciples to go and make disciples of all people. 

Jesus came to seek and to save that which was lost, and to set people free from the law of sin and death.  He made a way for the Holy Spirit to live inside of us, so that we would not be dependent upon pastors, teachers, priests, rabbis, etc., ever again (who tend to be prone to corruption), to teach us (John 14:16-17), or to be dependent upon anyone on this earth in order to have fellowship with God.

God wants us to have fellowship with each other as well as with Himself, as disciples and as mentors to one another, to encourage one another, to love and serve and be a friend to one another. God made the church and He made each of us to have Spiritual Gifts as the body of the church and members individually. But there will be seasons in our life when we don’t have a church, when we don’t have friends, like when Abraham left his home and family to go to a land that God would show him, like when Noah landed on the slopes of Mount Ararat, like Adam who had a garden and animals and God, but was alone, and in those times Jesus is that friend that sticks closer than a brother. He is the one who laid down His life for us. In those times God’s word is vital to our spiritual, physical, and emotional health.

The Torah scriptures- the first 5 books of the Old Testament, referred to as “the Law,” plus the historical books, the Psalms, and the Prophets which all together comprise our Old Testament, remained on scrolls until the Gutenberg printing press was invented, and then they, together with the New Testament letters, which were collected into bound books just a few hundred years after Jesus walked this earth (the Marcion Bible of 144 AD, which was comprised of the writings of Paul, and said to have been presented to the Apostle John).  The Council of Nicaea in 325AD collected all the writings of “the Christians” and assembled the Old and New Testaments that we know today. The monastaries kept all these writings in protected storage through the Dark Ages and then during the Renaissance these writings were made into book form for mass distribution. The oldest surviving OT texts were the Septuagint and the Masoretic, until the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls which were found between 1946 and 1956 at the Qumran Caves, and outdate all the others in existence. The Bible is probably the first book ever to be printed, was (and still is being) translated into multitudes of languages, and has been dispersed all over the world.  It is today the number one bestselling book of all time. It is being preached over the airwaves to every corner of the earth. The Bible warns that nothing shall be added to or taken away from it, and that not one jot or tittle shall pass away from it until all are fulfilled. Therefore, I believe the LORD has protected His word up to this generation, and that what we hold in our hands today is the inspired word of God (although the multitude of modern translations is suspect and may be another indicator that the last days are upon us). Even so, we have fellowship with the Father and the Son through the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit opens the scriptures to us to remind us of the things which are written in it (John 14:26). And if we ever come to a place in the scriptures that seems to contradict other passages, or be in error, it is the fault of translation and not the Word of God. The original Hebrew/Aramaic/Greek is inerrant and must be studied in order to understand what the translators possibly failed to fully convey.

Some, yea many, will come to faith through the “foolishness of preaching” (1 Corinthians 1:21), but once the Holy Spirit takes residence in us, “we have no need that anyone teach us” (1 John 2:27; Jeremiah 31:34; John 6:45).  The Holy Spirit can be trusted with our spiritual wellbeing where the hirelings cannot (John 10:12). We are told to test what we hear and search the scriptures to make sure that what our preachers and teachers say (including me and this blog) is true to the word of God. Satan and his spawn (false teachers) will and have worked overtime to twist God’s words from the very beginning – the serpent in the garden. Therefore we must be vigilant to seek the Lord in the power of the Holy Spirit.

We in turn have the responsibility to shine the light of Jesus to this dark world of lost people and preach the gospel to them. That’s what it means to “make disciples,” through the careful handling and sharing of the word, to be as watchmen on the wall, watching the signs of the times and sounding a warning that others might be saved, and to help each other pursue righteousness and flee from worldiness and the lusts of the flesh.  Jesus has laid the key of knowledge on our shoulders.  It is our responsibility to take His gospel to the world. 

Baby Christians need spiritual milk (the foundational knowledge of salvation, holiness, overcoming evil) until they reach the age of weaning, when they are able to study and rightly divide the word for themselves on a deeper level, through the Holy Spirit who is in them.  Every time we search the word of God with a hunger and thirst for spiritual nourishment, the Holy Spirit living inside of us opens more of it to us. The living word is filled with mystery and depth, but the Holy Spirit only reveals these pearls to His followers who deeply desire to have that honest fellowship with Him. He will not cast them before swine. That is the beauty of the word of God, and the essence of making disciples of all men.  Like Paul, we need to be faithful to our responsibility to help people rightly divide the word and to use it to make them holy as He is holy, and not be like the Pharisees, who had enormous head knowledge but didn’t rend their hearts – only their garments, seeing themselves as better than everyone else, more spiritual, and who turned the gospel into an unattainable, secret hierarchy, man’s club. 

With Christ there is no Jew or Greek, Barbarian, slave or free.  We are all one in Christ.  We are to all be servants, to wash one-another’s feet, to carry one-another’s burdens, to pray for one-another, to lay hands on one-another, to learn, to love, to study, to know. Not to try to outdo one another, trample one another, compete, or make ourselves as gods. We are all fellow sojourners.

I feel like it is my spiritual job to share the things God shows me.  It is terrifying, because I know that teachers will receive a harsher judgment than others, which is sobering (Ezekiel 33:1-11). I don’t know that I have much of an audience to warn, but if there is even one person out there who heeds the message and is compelled to seek after Christ because of what they’ve read here, praise the LORD. God’s word is sent from heaven as rain to water our hearts and will not return to Him void.  Unless the Holy Spirit draws us, none of us would be saved.  So if God has led you here, that is confirmation to me that His Spirit lives in me and has shown me these things to share with you. One person plants, another waters, but God gives the increase. It’s not my job to make notches or keep records.  It’s just my job to speak when God says speak, and to give an answer for the hope that is within me. And given my foolhardy younger days, running headlong after the world and all its pleasures, I am living proof that God can save and use ANYONE!!!!

If you’ve stumbled upon this blog today and Jesus has wooed you to want to know Him, I want to encourage you, don’t delay in accepting His invitation. The devil is possessive and will try hard to keep you bound and lost. Hurry, while Jesus has His hand outstretched to you. 

I gave my life to Jesus after meeting a woman who asked me if I were to die today, did I know where I was going. I had cold feet and put her off for a few weeks, but the Holy Spirit would not let her words fall to the ground. I wrestled over the thought of becoming a “Jesus Freak,” and wasn’t sure I was done sowing my wild oats yet, convinced that becoming a Christian was the end of fun and laughter. Satan had totally brainwashed me into thinking fun and laughter was equivelent to JOY, but the fact is all that is only a counterfiet of true joy, and ultimately a trap. Everything the devil presents as “fun” always ends up as a snare and a portal into a dark world. It all ends up as a miserable prison without exit doors. Jesus is the one who made us and the only one who has the true compassion to give us LIFE. He laid down HIS life in order to set us free from the law of sin and death. He holds all the keys that will set us free. And I’m telling you, when the Son sets you free, you are free indeed. I feel like the luckiest person on earth that God would forgive such a wretch as me, a vile sinner who has broken every one of His Ten Commandments. This is true joy, and I want so much for you to experience it.

I encourage you to please have that talk with Jesus. Tell Him all about your sins, and ask Him to forgive you, to come live inside of you and be LORD of your life. Get a Bible and begin reading it.  There are free Bible apps for your phone (Bible Gateway, and YouVersion). Talk to God.  Talk to Him a lot.  When He convicts you of sin, confess it and ask forgiveness.  Turn from all your wicked ways and renew your mind daily with the word of God, as often as you possibly can.  If you are sick, go to the elders of the church; find someone who has been healed by God from sickness and ask them to lay hands on you and pray for you.  Find someone who loves the Lord and who is wise with His word and ask them to mentor you, for accountability. Ask God for wisdom and guidance in everything you do.  Know also that the devil is like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.  You need to know how to defend yourself (Ephesians 6) because he will do everything in his power to trip you up. The Lord is our refuge!!!!

Look for a good, godly group of Bible-believing Christians who read and study the word of God together, and join with them in seeking after the things of Christ.  If you are timid at first to look in your town, look online.  But be VERY careful to stay away from the cults that are out there.  Ask God to give you discernment and to guide you to the right people to disciple you.  If they are asking for money constantly, they are probably a cult. If they are bashing all other churches, they are probably a cult. If they have leaders who are given to the lusts of the flesh and aren’t concerned with fostering holiness through Jesus and studying the word, they are certainly a cult. If they have lots of rules and secret levels, they are most definitely a cult. RUN!!!! As far as TV preachers, I would suggest maybe starting with someone like Les Feldick (lesfeldick .org/), who may seem kind of square and old fashioned, but who actually reads and teaches the word, and isn’t just a preacher with clever sounding sermons and a fancy pulpit, as so many are.  Find old broadcasts of J. Vernon McGee (ThruTheBible), who is again, a bit old school, but teaches the Bible.  Verse-by-Verse ministries (download the app to your phone for access to all his teachings on the books of the Bible), and Chuck Missler (many of his teachings are available on You Tube), are teachers whom I trust. Listen with your Bible open and with highlighters and colored pencils in hand.  Pray about everything you hear. Make notes. Kay Arthur (PreceptMinistries) is another good one whom I recommend.  Look for her podcasts.  If you have questions go to GotQuestions.org. Let yourself be discipled with the spiritual milk of the word until you are able to discern the Holy Spirit’s leading into the meatier morsels, like prophecy, and the deeper mysteries hidden in the layers of the word, for which you might want to seek out a Messianic Rabbi, like Jason Sobel, Rabbi Schneider, or Jonathan Cahn. 

When you are ready to look for a local church, start by going to the Sunday night and the Wednesday night services. Some churches have Saturday night worship services. See if they have a women’s or men’s Bible Study class and give that a whirl. Some larger churches have home groups that are maybe more or less intimidating, depending on your personality. Volunteer to do the things that God puts on your heart, until you find what your Spiritual Gifts are, and then fan them into flame by using them.  You’ll know your gifts when it brings you joy to do it. Don’t let people exploit your eagerness. Many will try to put their ministries on you. If what you find yourself involved with does not bring you joy, only obligation, get rid of it. That’s not your gift. We don’t earn our salvation by doing good works (and being a martyr about it), don’t let anyone convince you otherwise, but if we are truly saved we will want to do things that will help others find Jesus and the freedom and joy that we have found.  Listen to the Holy Spirit and follow where He leads. God bless you, my friend.

I touched on this key earlier, but now will do so in depth.  The next key that emerged from my studies was in Revelation 1:18,

“I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, Amen.  And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.”

I don’t know if the keys were being held by someone (Lucifer?) in Hades and Jesus retrieved them, or if He left them in heaven as a reward for Himself, but one thing is for sure…JESUS HAS THE KEYS! The One who has the keys is the One who is able to open doors that no one else can open, and shut doors that no one else can shut. He is the ONE who binds up and the one who sets captives (prisoners) free!!!!!!

The following is interesting to note. 

The words Hades and Death are capitalized in my Bible, which means they are names for places or persons.  Hades (Strongs #86 Hades, which means Unseen) is used 4 times in the Gospels and always by the Lord (Matthew 11:23; 16:18; Luke 10:15; and 16:23), and it is used in Acts 2:27, 31 with reference to the soul of Christ.  The actual Greek name for Hades is used, but the Greek word that has been translated Death is Strongs # 2288: Thanatos.  This is also the one riding on the Pale Horse in Revelation 6:8, and Hades followed with him, and power was given them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword, with hunger (Limos #3042), with death, and by the beasts of the earth in that passage.

Hades and Thanatos were gods in Greek Mythology.  Thanatos was the personification of death. His brother is Hypnos, from where we get the word hypnosis. Hades was the god of the underworld, the place where human souls go to after death. His name became synonymous with his realm. His name means “unseen one.” In Greek mythology he is the eldest son of Cronus and Rhea, who were Titans. Hades and his brothers Zeus and Poseidon defeated their father’s generation (the Titans) and claimed rulership over the cosmos (the Olympians). Hades received the underworld, Zeus the sky, and Poseidon the sea. Each one holds an object in their hands. Poseidon has a trident, Zeus has a scepter, and Hades (aka Pluto) has keys. So…is this where Jesus took posession of the keys? Did Hades (Pluto) get the keys from Adam? Did Jesus go and get them back?

Hades was portrayed as a soft ruler, but did not want anyone to ever leave his realm, and became quite enraged if anyone ever tried, or cheated death, or if anyone ever tried to steal souls from his realm. Imagine then, if the myths are true. If these gods are really the fallen angels. Imagine Hades’ dismay at Jesus’s arrival and Him having the power and authority to release the souls being held there. Is it Hades’ rage that sweeps a third of the angels from heaven to fight Michael and his angels (Revelation 12:1-10)? Is it also Hades’ rage that is precipitating the Armageddon showdown on earth between Jesus and Satan in Revelation 19:19?

According to mythology, Hades’ reluctant queen was Persephone. He has a 3-headed dog named Cerberus. Why would Hades need a three-headed dog? Perhaps because there are 3 levels to the otherworld: Abraham’s Bossom/Paradise….. Hades (realm)/Sheol….. Gehenna/Tartarus?

Since finding Sharon and Derek Gilbert on SkywatchTV (their programs: Unraveling Revelation, Sci-Friday, and The Bible’s Greatest Mysteries, which are available at GilbertHouse.org), I don’t believe the Greek gods were myths after all, although the fantastical tales written about them are very likely fake news

Remember how Jesus said, “Upon this rock (which was Mount Hermon – the mountain of the gods) I will build my church and the gates of Hades will not prevail”?  The gates appear to have a defensive quality, as if they’ve been put up to keep Jesus out.  But, alas, King Jesus holds the key, so there is no keeping Him out.  What he opens no one can shut, and what He shuts no one can open, that includes things in heaven and on earth and under the earth.

And, if we have given our lives to Jesus, no one can snatch us out of His hand. 

If we refuse to make Jesus Lord of our life, and He banishes us to Hell, there is no one who can break us out.  For the occupants of hell, be it man or angel or demon, the only release from there will be resurrection to the Great White Throne of Judgment (Revelation 20:7-15), and then to eternity in the Lake of Fire and Brimstone.

The next key in scripture is in Revelation 9:1,

“The fifth angel sounded. And I saw a star fallen from heaven to the earth.  To him was given the key to the bottomless pit (literally shaft of the abyss).”

“And he opened the bottomless pit, and smoke arose out of the pit like the smoke of a great furnace.  So, the sun and the air were darkened because of the smoke of the pit” Revelation 9:2.

Remember the woes mentioned in the Key of Knowledge, to those who withheld the gospel? Well, I think it is interesting that the verse immediately proceding this Revelation 9 passage states, “Woe, woe, woe, to the inhabitants of the earth, because of the remaining blasts of the trumpet of the three angels who are about to sound.” The first woe is pronounced upon “only those men who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads (9:4). So, the sheep and the goats have been separated, it appears, and marked, and it is interesting to me the punishment that is handed out. Locusts that had the shape of horses prepared for battle and their torment was like that of a scorpion, with stings in their tails, when it strikes a man. Men will seek death, but will not find it. In 1 Kings 12:11 and 14 it says, “And now, whereas my father put a heavy yoke on you, I will add to your yoke; my father chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions.” The word “scorpions” in that passage has been translated “scourages,” exactly the thing Jesus was chastised with for us (Matthew 27:26, 30-31; Isaiah 53:3-5). The weapon which made those being punished want to die shall be visited back upon the ungodly. If mankind refuses to let Jesus be the substitutionary punishment for their sin, they shall suffer their own consequences.

Now, going back to verse one, there’s an “angel” and a “star” in that verse, which means there is a distinction being made between the two.  The star is a male and he is given a key to the bottomless pit.  The word STAR in this verse is the exact same word used for the STARS in Jesus’s right hand in Revelation chapter 1, which is explained in verse 20 as the angels of the seven churches.  Scholars say that the word star can be translated as messenger (some translations say divine messenger instead of angel), and some believe the stars are the leaders or pastors of those churches. 

Now, let’s look at the word “fallen.”  Strongs #4098 the word is Pipto, and it means to alight, descend, come down and land, shine brightly.  As soon as the star lands he opens the bottomless pit with a key. 

I wonder.  Could this “star” be Peter?  I mean… could it?  This is honestly the carrot that led me to the rabbit hole of these keys that you are reading right now.

We know that Peter is certainly an eternal being, who passed on to heaven before John was taken to Patmos. When Peter died, he was absent from his body but present with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:6-8).  He is alive today and living in heaven with Jesus, and waiting for his body to be resurrected – which is why he might appear as a shining star instead of a man???

Daniel 12:3 says, “Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament, and those who turn many to righteousness like the stars forever and ever.

A Glorious Body – 1 Corinthians 15:35-55

35 But someone will say, “How are the dead raised up? And with what body do they come?” 36 Foolish one, what you sow is not made alive unless it dies. 37 And what you sow, you do not sow that body that shall be, but mere grain—perhaps wheat or some other grain. 38 But God gives it a body as He pleases, and to each seed its own body.

39 All flesh is not the same flesh, but there is one kind [a]of flesh of men, another flesh of animals, another of fish, and another of birds.

40 There are also [b]celestial bodies and [c]terrestrial bodies; but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. 41 There is one glory of the sun, another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for one star differs from another star in glory.

42 So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. 43 It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. 44 It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. 45 And so it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.

46 However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual. 47 The first man was of the earth, made[d] of dust; the second Man is [e]the Lord from heaven. 48 As was the [f]man of dust, so also are those who are made of dust; and as is the heavenly Man, so also are those who are heavenly. 49 And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we[g] shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man.

50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. 51 Behold, I tell you a [h]mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed— 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”

55 O[i] Death, where is your sting?
O Hades, where is your victory?”

Jesus, after all, promised Peter, AND ONLY PETER, the keys to the kingdom, as they stood facing one of the many gates of Hades that existed on this earth at that time.  Jesus said that Peter would bind on earth what had been bound in heaven, and would loose on earth what had been loosed in heaven, meaning the spirits that dwelled in the bottomless pit had already been given permission (Revelation 9:5) in heaven to do their deeds, and the “star” was simply unlocking the door and letting them out to go do it.

Who did the “star” release? An army who had as king over them, Abaddon/Apollyon. According to Derek Gilbert, in his book, The Second Coming of Saturn, this Abaddon is also known as Saturn, and this release from the pit is Saturn’s reign on the earth. Saturn is also known by another name, Lucifer – the Lucifer of Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28. Are Lucifer and Satan the same person? The name Abaddon/Apollyon means destruction/destroyer. Isaiah 54:16 says “I [God] have created the waster to destroy.” He was created by God in order to give man, whom He created later, free will, but this adversary and Satan, himself, became enamored with the power he was given and it caused him to rebel, as God knew he would. But God already had a plan to redeem men when they sinned – Jesus, the Lamb who was chosen to be slain before Creation (1 Peter 1:18-20).

As David chose one stone from his shepherd’s pouch to take out Goliath, Jesus chose Peter as a stone with a special purpose, a key holder whose ministry it is to let out, and to lock up.

The key that Jesus gave to Peter wasn’t just authority to preach the gospel, for He gave that authority to all of the disciples, and to you and I.  Peter was promised a whole set of keys, not just one key.

Remember the woes Jesus spoke in Luke 11 to three groups of people – the lawyers, Pharisees, and Scribes who took away the key of knowledge? Well here, with the key to the bottomless pit is the first of three woes fulfilled.  The king of the bottomless pit is released to torment the ungodly of the earth for 5 months, the exact same amount of time that God released the flood waters to destroy the ungodly of the earth (Genesis 7:24).  The second woe involves the two witnesses who finish their testimony and are killed by the beast that ascends out of the bottomless pit, then the witnesses are brought back to life by the breath of God and taken to heaven in a cloud (just like Jesus was).  The third woe involves all the inhabitants of the earth – those who destroy the earth; Satan has come down to them having great wrath.

Know this, my friend.  When you see evil prevailing on the earth, it is the last dying breaths of our adversary/adversaries, with his angel cohorts and his corrupted seed, but he does not win.  Our King is seated on the throne in God’s heaven, and our enemy will be defeated.  He may take some of us out in the process, but always remember that “if we live, we live to the LORD; and if we die, we die to the LORD.  Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the LORD’s” Romans 14:8.  We are bought by the blood of Jesus and no one can snatch us out of His hand.  Make sure you keep your Spiritual Armor on you, having an especially tight grip on that shield of faith, and make sure your Robe of Righteousness stays clean and white.  Keep your lamp (or body) full of the Holy Spirit.

Our adversary wants our birthright, but he cannot have it.  He has a puffed-up heart, but he will be brought down to Sheol…

The final key in scripture is in Revelation 20,

“Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; and he cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal on him, so that he should deceive the nations no more till the thousand years were finished.  But after these things he must be released for a little while. And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them … and they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.” 

Could this angel be Michael? Or could it be Peter here also?

Perhaps as David killed Goliath with one smooth stone, Jesus used Peter to lock Satan away for 1000 years.  I have no doubt that Peter could put chains on Satan, as Jesus’ little rock. Peter was the bold one, the gutsy one who made that confession in front of the grotto of Pan, and who wacked off the ear of the soldier who had come to take Jesus away in the Garden of Gethsemane.  And who stood up and preached at Pentecost.

What would be the point of us knowing this is Peter? 

I’ve been praying for wisdom and asking God this question, and this is the thought that occurred to me, that our lives don’t end when we die. Peter’s life didn’t end when he died.  He has an eternal life, and maybe that is what God is showing us by this little revelation? (If indeed this is a revelation.)

In heaven there are creatures that praise God, day and night (Revelation 4:8).  There is scripture that says there is a great cloud of witnesses that surround the living on earth (Hebrews 12:1).  Perhaps one of the things Jesus has given to Peter to do is to lock and unlock doors and gates. Why is it always a joke that Peter is standing by the Pearly Gates admitting or turning people away? Where did Peter being the gatekeeper come from? Where did the “pearly” gates idea come from?

On that note though, I wonder what job Jesus has for me in heaven?  And for you?  I know I have always loved food and serving.  Perhaps I’ll get to be a Sous Chef in His kitchen?  Perhaps I’ll get to serve at the great wedding feast?  I’ve also always appreciated the beauty of nature.  Perhaps I’ll get to be a tour guide to show others all of God’s magnificent creation; of course, He’ll have to show it all to me first!  LOL. 

BTW: There is one other key in the Bible, and it was literally used to lock a dead king in his chambers (Judges 3:12-30).  Perhaps even that one has a prophetic connection.  Perhaps it is the key that locks the fat rebellious dragon in his firey bed chamber forever?

“Seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God.  Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.  For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.  When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.” 

Colossians 3:1-2

Stones of Remembrance-2, Abraham’s First Altar

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Stones of Remembrance-2, Abraham’s First Altar

Read Genesis 8 to Genesis 12

Interesting thing about this name Ra’ah. It is listed here as Strong’s Hebrew word #7200. It means to see intellectually, to look upon, inspect, regard, perceive. God revealed Himself, He appeared to Abram, and Abram perceived Him, Abram saw God with spiritual eyes, dimly, as in a mirror, veiled. We know that it was a perception because of John 1:18 and Exodus 33:20. You might be interested in what the folks over at GotQuestions.org have to say about people in the Old Testament “seeing” God. Later in Genesis we will read about the God-who-Sees-Me (Genesis 16:13), El Roi in Hebrew, which is the Strongs Hebrew word #7210. It comes from the word/name Raah, but means a sight, an appearance, a spectacle, a gazing-stock, a vision. And then there is Ra’ah (Strong’s # 7462) which is mentioned in Psalm 23:1, the Lord-my-Shepherd (the one who watches over His sheep). You can read about this name HERE.

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Here are some things we might want to research: 

What does the name Abram and then Abraham mean?  What does the name Sarai and then Sarah mean?  What also happened at the time God changed Abram’s name?  Why might God change a name? What happened in 17:17 and 18:12?  Research what the name Isaac means (21:1-7) – if you own a study Bible it should tell you in the margin what the Hebrew word for Isaac is in verse 3. Do you know what your name means? Does it reflect your character or a trait about you?

Consult the map in your Bible to find the places Abraham traveled to, and draw with colored markers on your own map a dotted line of his travels, coming down from (Haran), then to Shechem, then Bethel, and then a dotted line going south and west toward Egypt.  Draw hills to show the hill country.  Put dots where the cities were.  Also, draw little illustrations of the altar that Abraham built at Shechem.  If you have the journal book for this study there is a map on page 197 that you can use. Make a sticky-note of all the details of the altar and stick it next to your illustration. 

Put God’s name, “Jehovah Raah” next to this altar in your Bible and on your map.

What type of structure did the Nimrodians build in Gen. 11:4? Did you know that there are step pyramid structures all over the world? Here, DuckDuck it and see for yourself (CLICK).

https://www.ancient-code.com

What did the people build the Nimrodian structure out of (Gen. 11:3)?   What was their goal for building it (Gen. 11:4)?  What was their fear in vs.4?  What happened in verse 8? 

How many continents are there on the earth? Do you know? In the midst of all the building and babbeling there’s a man’s name that is mentioned in Genesis 10:25. The verse even tells us what his name means. Peleg. “The earth was divided (#6385) in his days.” Genesis 11:9 says the builders of that tower were scattered abroad, over the face of all the earth. Could God have broken the continents apart as a way to scatter them, as it appears by the land shapes on a globe? Could this be why there are strange stone structures of amazing similarity all over the world? Isn’t it strange that giant’s bones have been found all over the globe, but not a single tool has surfaced which lends a hint to how these structures were built?

How many nationalities of people can you list from all the continents of the earth today? How many languages are spoken on planet earth? How are they related to each other?

This is fascinating stuff to me. It proves that the Bible is true and accurate. Perhaps that is why all evidence of Nephilim, when it is discovered, is immediately rushed away to some secret holding place and we never hear of it again. You would think that the findings of giant skelletons would be headline news, but they’re not. It’s all hidden away. I can almost feel my dad being interested in all this stuff. It would have fascinated him too, I think!!!! Anyway, I’m putting the link to LA’s first video about the moundbuilders, and the serpent mounds here>> https://youtu.be/x5tLy2_KKeY and once you click to watch it you will see his other videos. If not, these are the links to other of his videos and You Tube channel… https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCySeXTLuH6wSJveZrA-sz9A and https://www.youtube.com/user/TheLamarzulli/videos. He has traveled all over the world, at his own expense, and investigated all sorts of strange structures, earth mounds, stone structures, brick structures, etc. If you click the subscribe button on his You Tube channel you will be notified when he uploads new ones. You can watch them all and stay in the loop with his work.

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“Abram/Abraham believed in the LORD and it was accounted to him as righteousness.”

Genesis 15:6; Genesis 3:6; Romans 4:3, 18 and 22; James 2:23

How is God’s plan for Abram in Gen. 12:1-3 different from the Nimrodians plan in Gen. 11:4? What was the command God gave to Abram in Genesis 12:1? Why would God send him to the land of the Canaanites (the giants)? Have you ever wondered where the Garden of Eden was? Look up the geographic hints in Genesis 2:8-15. Do some digging to see if you can come up with an approximate location. I’ll give you a hint. I believe it is the most hotly contested plot of land on the earth even still to this day. We’ll venture more down that rabbit trail in a coming chapter. Suffice to say, Abraham was a brave man.

Did Abram go alone as God asked – Gen. 11:31 & 12:4?  Why did he “dwell” in Haran (Acts 7:4)?  If Abram had obeyed God and not taken any family he might not have dwelled in Haran so long.  He’d have had time to dig wells and plant gardens in Shechem, Bethel, or Hebron before the drought hit, which could have prevented him from having to flee to Egypt, where Sarah acquired Hagar. And if he hadn’t brought Lot, he wouldn’t have had to split the land or deal with that whole mess.  But I think we can all sympthize with Abraham. How many of us would have gone alone into a proverbial “Sherwood Forest?” It’s sometimes scary to go into a dark room of our own houses. I wonder if Abram chanted the scriptures that I chant when I am scared, “God has not given me a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” 2 Timothy 1:7. “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear” 1 John 4:18.

Who were Abraham’s other children (Gen. 23:1-6)?

What are the days of Lot (Luke 17:28-33) compared to?  What does “they ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built” mean, do you suppose?

Highlight the words CURSE and BLESS in Genesis 12:2-3.  Use a highlighter to highlight in your Bible every instance when you see the words BLESSED, CURSED, ALTAR, MOUNTAIN, and GOD’s NAME. Research other places in scripture where Abraham’s story is told (Acts 7:2-8; Romans 4:9-25; Hebrews 11:8-12); what can we glean from these passages?

Personal application

As you read the story can you imagine yourself in Abram/Abraham’s, or Sarah’s, or Lot’s, or any of the other character’s shoes? 

Mark all the places you read about on the map and draw little pictures to show mountains, trees, water wells, the locations of towns, a dotted line to mark Abram’s travels, altars, people, etc. 

Does anything in this passage of scripture remind you of a time when God appeared to you, promised you something either by a word that jumped off the pages of scripture at you while you were reading, or deposited into your heart as you were praying, or was spoken to you by a prophet, or preached from the pulpit and you knew it was a word from God for you, or by some other means, or has God ever shown you something that He wanted to give to you, or moved you to a new land?  Has there ever been a time in your life when you knew what God wanted you to do, but you didn’t quite obey Him and suffered consequences because of it? 

If you are in Christ, there is therefore now no condemnation.  I hope you know that no sin has overtaken except what is common to man.  Our flesh is constantly at war with our Spirit.  The Spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.  When we quench the Holy Spirit, kick against the goads so to speak, when He is trying to lead us in the way we should go, and we let the flesh have its way, it just gives the flesh more power in our lives.  When we confess our shortcomings to God, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness, giving more power to the Spirit. 

Do you have a testimony of some struggle you’ve overcome by the power of God?  Maybe it was a hard fought battle, but praise God, He brought you to a place of victory.  Perhaps you struggled with fear?  A health issue?  Sexual sin?  Worry?  Maybe it was something else.  Please share your testimony! Share the details and praise God for the victory! 

Project (an altar that I can build)

I planted two trees, one on either side of the front door of my home.  At the base of each tree I set a large stone.  On one stone I wrote the word BLESSING, and on the other stone I wrote CURSING.  I wanted those trees (and stones) to serve as reminders to me every time I entered or left my home to be a blessing in this world rather than a curse.  I wanted them to remind me to show love, to be patient & kind, to give and bless and serve others with the love of God, both coming and going, remembering that I will receive a blessing from God for allowing His Spirit to move and work in me.

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“Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will declare what He has done for my soul.”

Psalm 66:16

Stones of Remembrance – Rock/Stone/Pillar/Mountain/Altar

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Stones of Remembrance – Rock/Stone/Pillar/Mountain/Altar

Okay, here is your second assignment, should you choose to accept… 

Find the definitions for each of the Hebrew and Greek words listed below, and then make a note of all the Bible addresses where each is found.  What is the most common word used for “stone” in Hebrew (and Greek). Can you find every place in the Bible where a stone/rock/pillar/altar is mentioned?

I did not include it in my spreadsheet, but also look up the word MOUNTAIN and make a note of all of the mountains as well. What is the Hebrew word for mountain? Is there more than one? What is the Greek word for mountain, and is there more than one? What is the definition of each, and where are all found in the Bible? When a mountain has a name, list the names and what each one means. Go deeper…find if there is any history or mythology related to any of them. This website might be useful to you: (https://www.abarim-publications.com/NaLi/Mountains_Bible.html)

I love a good game of hide-and-go-seek. I love an Easter Egg hunt. I love a good mystery. How about you? Funnzies! Let’s dig.

BTW: You are free to print out these pages so you can write your research on them and tuck them into your book. To print: highlight all of the text, then right click on your mouse, and choose print.

Here is a great website to help you in your research of Old Testament Hebrew: 

Old Testament Hebrew Lexical Dictionary: (https://www.studylight.org/lexicons/eng/hebrew.html)

Hebrew words for

Stone(s)

Strong’s #Hebrew wordDefinition
68eben 
6697tsuwr 
5619caqal (saqal) 
7275ragam 
6872tsrowr 
1496gaziyth 
8068shamiyr 
810eshek 
6344pachad 
2789cheres 
5553cela 
2106zaviyth 
2687chatsats 

Rock(s)

5553cela 
4581mauwz (maowz) 
2496challamiysh 
3710keph 

Greek words for

Stone(s)

Strong’s #Greek wordDefinition
3034lithazo 
3035lithinos 
3036lithoboleo 
3037lithos 
2642katalithazo 
2991laxeutos 
4074Petros 
6344pachad 

Rock(s)

4073petra 

Here is a terrific website to help you in your research of New Testament Greek: 

New Testament Greek Lexical Dictionary: (https://www.studylight.org/lexicons/eng/greek.html)

Hebrew words for Altar

Strong’s #Hebrew wordDefinition
4196mizbeach 
4056madbach 
741arieyl 

Greek words for Altar

Strong’s #Greek wordDefinition
2379thusiasterion 
1041bomos 

Hebrew words for Pillar(s)

Strong’s #Hebrew wordDefinition
4676matstsebah 
4678matstsebeth 
4690matsuwq 
4552micad (misad) 
547omenah 
5982Ummah 
5324natsab 
5333netsiyb 
8490tiymarah (timarah) 

Greek word for Pillar(s)

Strong’s #Greek wordDefinition
4769stulos 

“It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, but the glory of kings is to search out a matter.” Proverbs 25:2

Stones of Remembrance-1: Noah’s Altar

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Stones of Remembrance-1: Noah’s Altar

 Read Genesis, chapters 1 through 8

So, I guess God likes BBQ as much as the rest of us. Lol! It is a pleasant aroma, isn’t it? Thank you for joining me on this great adventure!!!!!!! Studying the Bible is going to be work, but with a great reward. I hope you are up to the task. I pray I am as well. If you would like to be informed when a new post for this study is posted, please click on the blue follow button under my profile (on the right side of this screen). There should also be a button that pops up at the bottom of the screen when you scroll up.

I’ve thought a lot about why Noah’s altar is the first one to start us out. It certainly couldn’t be more relevant for our day. The Bible tells us that the “last days” shall be as the days of Noah (Matthew 24:37). Therefore I feel like God really wants us to pay close attention to all the details and compare similarities. This might be a great time to research all the places in the Bible where Noah appears (https://bible.knowing-jesus.com/topics/Noah). I feel like the study of Noah’s altar is like the sounding of a trumpet in our day, to help us to be ready. And just as Noah was “taken up” in the ark, so shall believers in Christ be taken up at some point (pre, mid, or post) the Great Tribulation of the last days. (Have you studied the three viewpoints of the rapture? You may be interested in Perry Stone’s perspective, or Joel Richardson’s, and you might find these websites interesting: https://www.midtribulationrapture.com/index.html and https://www.gotquestions.org/midtribulationism.html). I’m personally praying that I may escape all that is about to happen (Luke 21:34-36; Romans 2:3; 1 Corinthians 10:13), that I may be ready, watching, and worthy to stand before the LORD if He should come today! How do I make myself ready? I first have asked Jesus to come and live in me, forgive my sins and wash me clean of them, and I fill my lamp with oil daily by being in the word and prayer, and living for Jesus instead of chasing after worldly desires. I pray that I will know His voice when He calls. I pray for a spirit that yields to the desires of the Father and not my flesh. I pray to be a blessing in this world, which means I pray that I will be a friend to you and that my words will encourage you, and make you to seek the Lord in your life.

I want to begin our studies in Genesis, chapter One. I believe that reading the Bible through with this theme in mind is a great way to read the Bible through.

Write Genesis 1:1-5 in a notebook:

Thinking about verse 1… Have you ever heard of the “Chaotic Earth” or “Gap” theory?  Research it.

http://www.doctrinalstudies.com/pdf/D051009.pdf

http://www.doctrinalstudies.com/pdf/D160315.pdf

Let us test the things we’ve heard (1 John 4:1; 1 Thes 5:21), and study to show ourselves approved, workers who need not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth (2 Tim 2:15). 

This gray area (gap, perhaps, in verse one), some believe, is the golden age, from where all myths and legends originate.  The first thing I want for us to do is investigate the original Hebrew for these first verses to see where there might be room for such theory in the word of God.

This is a terrific resource for study: https://biblehub.com/text/genesis/1-1.htm. When you view that page, click the arrow to continue to verse two, etc. Did you notice the little Hebrew word that isn’t translated into anything in English (on this website)?  Here is a neat explanation of that little Hebrew word here: https://www.oneforisrael.org/bible-based-teaching-from-israel/a-little-word-with-a-big-meaning/

Please notice the word “was” in verse 2.  The Hebrew word which has been translated into “was” here, also appears elsewhere in scripture (111 times), and is usually translated into these words: become, has become, became, have, has been, etc. (https://biblehub.com/hebrew/hayetah_1961.htm).  So what happens to the nuance of that sentence when we use the word “became” instead of “was?”

And now notice the word “darkness.” The Hebrew word used is CHOSHEK. The Word Study Old Testament dictionary defines this word literally as darkness or obscurity, but also figuratively as falsehood, ignorance, blindness, hiddenness, judgment, misery, destruction, death, sorrow, and wickedness.  It has a negative spiritual connotation.  Exodus 10:21-22 and Isaiah 45:7.  Choshek accompanied God’s appearance on Mount Sinai (Exodus 14:20; Deut. 4:11; 5:23).  It can refer to the darkness of the grave (1 Sam. 2:9; Job 10:21; 18:18; 34:22; Ps. 88:12; Eccl. 6:4).   (http://www.doctrinalstudies.com/pdf/D051009.pdf)

Matthew 4:16             2 Corinthians 4:6                     Acts 26:18

Isaiah 9:2                     1 Peter 2:9                              Matthew 10:27

John 1:5                       Ephesians 5:8                          Mark 4:22/Luke 8:17

Luke 1:79                     John 8:12                                 Luke 12:3

The Apostle John expounds on the Light of Genesis 1 verse 3.  And he does it again in Revelation 21:23-24.  If the “light” is a person (John 1:1-14), then it stands to reason that the “darkness” could be also.  In this particular passage there is a conjunction added to the beginning of the word so that it isn’t just darkness, but and darkness.  The deep is also the same reference as Sheol, Tartarus, Gehenna, the Bottomless Pit, the Abyss, the Lake of Fire, and Outer Darkness – chambers of the underworld. Look up Strongs 8415 and the word it comes from 1949. Was Satan here on the earth trying to interfere with what God wanted to do? (2 Peter 2:4)  See this article: https://reasonsforhopejesus.com/sheol-hell-torment-abyss-tartarus-gehenna-fire-darkness/. This is also another resource you may want to visit: https://www.abarim-publications.com/NaLi/2darkness.html.

For some reason I keep thinking of Job in my spirit as I review this.  Where was Satan in Job 1:7 & 2:2?  Gen. 1:2

God confronted Satan, knowing his thoughts that he had set his wicked heart on the servant Job, who was unlike anyone else on the earth.  What were Job’s character traits in verse 8?  In the same way Satan set his wicked heart on the creation and Adam and Eve, who were like nothing else God had ever created.  They were made in God’s own likeness.

God made a garden for Adam (Gen.2:8), God made a hedge around Job (vs 10).

Satan accused God, saying Job only loved Him because God had blessed him and made his life easy.  In the garden Satan accused Eve of being naïve, and God of having secrets.  Satan is the ultimate busy-body who sows discord among the brethren.  God gave man the freewill to choose, good or evil.  And it’s important for us to realize that our lives, our birthright has been challenged from the very beginning.  It is important for us to understand that there is a battle going on here.

If there is a prophecy in Genesis 3:15 about the “seed” of the serpent and the “seed” of the woman, that the serpent’s seed will bruise the heel of the woman’s seed, but that her seed will crush the serpent’s head, and that this is speaking of the Christ as the woman’s seed (Jesus’ geneology traces back to Adam and Eve (Luke 3:23-37) through their son Seth, and Satan as the serpent, then it leaves the door open for the theory that Satan spawned a race of beings. This is 100% conjecture on my part, but I’m also just throwing out a thought, that Cain’s story could also be a sort of parable and a prophecy of the same. Two begotten, one with a good heart and one with a dark heart. One approved by God and one warned of the evil in his heart. The one, with evil crouching at his door, is consumed with hate for the goodness of his brother and he kills him (as Christ was killed). In fact, the Bible says that Satan entered into Judas, and then Jesus commanded him to go and do quickly what was in his heart to do (Luke 22:3; John 13:27). There is a mark associated with Cain (Genesis 4:15), as there is also a mark associated with the Beast of Revelation 13:16-18. God made Cain a vagabond and a fugitive on the earth (the word Nod means wandering), and where does Satan say he comes from when he presents himself before the throne of God – Job 1:6-7 and 2:1-2 – as a wandering nomad with no home. Why did Jesus use parables in His ministry? I believe for the same reason that the whole Old Testament is a book of parables – true stories with hidden meanings – so that only those with righteous souls, who search for the Lord with all of their hearts will find what they are really saying.

Notice Cain’s descendents (Genesis 4:16-25): Enoch built a city (a kingdom of his own) and called the name of the city Enoch (could his city be in the area of Memphis or Cairo and the great pyramids of Giza?) Below is a fascinating interview with Ken Klein (he made several documentaries) which investigates the origin of the great pyramids. It begins with some alien stuff that I’m not sure about and honestly makes me uncomfortable, but if you fast forward to about a quarter way into it, it gets interesting. I am not convinced that his theory that Enoch-of-Seth built it though (no documents, no writings on the wall, nothing has been found inside to support his thesis), and I’m also questioning that it could be the altar and pillar of Isaiah 19:19-20 for a few reasons, and I’ll get into all of that in a later chapter of this study, so you’ll want follow so you don’t miss anything, but his explorations of the pyramids themselves, and the details that he brings to light about them are what is incredibly fascinating.

This last video came from https://www.youtube.com/user/kenkleinproductions. The following is the link to his productions collection: https://www.kenkleinproductions.net/Films.cfm, however the links at this website take you to Vimeo, where the films are no longer available.

Using the DuckDuck search engine, type in “Enoch and the Great Pyramid” to find many interesting websites on the subject.

Four (or is it 5) generations from Enoch-(of-Cain) were these descendants who had amazing knowledge of things: Jabal, knew about geography and survival skills, as a dweller in tents and expert in husbandry; Jubal, was a gifted musician and perhaps the inventor of the listed musical instruments (which in those days was a way of passing along history, myths, and legends); and Tubal-Cain, who was an instructor of every craftsman in bronze and iron – which were needed for building and hunting and warfare. These, I suspect, were the people who would want to preserve knowledge, and make sure it was flood-proof and fire-proof. Why would God’s people be afraid of vital information perishing in a flood or a fire? Why would they think God would not teach them all that they needed to know again after a catastrophic event? Man, and evil beings have always been attracted to knowledge, for instance, the tree of knowledge in the garden. The fallen ones are the ones who would want to preserve knowledge and be afraid of God destroying things. Fallen ones would also be interested in marking a “portal” to the heavens (in my humble opinion).

There are interestingly three ages of man, history tells us: the Stone Age, the Bronze Age, and the Iron Age. The Bronze age was approximately in 3300 to 1200 BC (BCE). Interestingly this age ended abruptly with a simultaneous collapse of several prominent civilizations (The History Channel – http://www.history.com). The Iron Age was approximately 1200 to 600 years Before Christ, a long time after Enoch’s descendants walked the earth.

So, did Cain’s descendants die off completely in the flood, or could some of them have survived the flood? Did the Nephilim, the giants, all die off in the flood, or did some survive the flood? Genesis 6:4 seems to concur that there were survivors after the flood. Why, might we wonder, did God allow survivors? I go back to the garden and the two trees. Choice. Free will.

What if the gods of Greek, Roman, Norse, Egyptian, Babylonian, etc. “mythology” aren’t myths after all?  What if they are really the sons of Cain, who received their amazing gifts of knowlege from fallen angels, or were they the Nephilim, and everything we’ve ever read about them (being myths) is actually myth itself? The stories of them have no doubt been greatly convoluted and extravagantly exaggerated, but could there be a hint of truth to the fables?

Check out this website which lists all the “other gods” mentioned in the Bible: (https://www.abarim-publications.com/NaLi/Other_gods_Bible.html). They also have a list of all the giants too (https://www.abarim-publications.com/NaLi/Giants_Bible.html).

  • At this point in my personal studies is where I happened to find Skywatch TV on one of the religious networks on my TV. Derek and Sharon Gilbert teach quite a lot about the little g gods, the titans of old, and have also written several books on the topic. I encourage you to go look them up and consider prayerfully what they have to say. It is extremely interesting and scholarly information. Here is the link to another one of their videos: Giants of the Underworld.

Derek and Sharon Gilbert do an excellent, in-depth Bible Study called, Unraveling Revelation.  You can view an episode of that series (( HERE )) <–this link will open in a new window and take you to their channel on Rumble. All of their programming is also available for free on their TV and phone apps, available for Roku, Android, and iPhone. 

Also, Timothy Alberino has authored a book titled, Birthright, which I recommend.  If you are not a reader you can find Rumble interviews (( HERE )).  He has been a guest on SkywatchTV, Prophecy Watchers, and others.

What do the Hebrew words for “sorry” and “grieved” mean in Gen. 6:7

When the Bible says that God was sorry that He had made man, and that He was sorry that He had made man on the earth, what are your thoughts?  Was God disappointed in man?  Angry with man?  Or was He sorry to see how completely corrupted man’s DNA had become through the cunning of the evil one?  Noah was the only human that “was perfect in his generations.”  Noah was the only uncorrupted human DNA left on the earth.  When God saved Noah, He saved His seed from the brink of extinction. Is our DNA being manipulated today? Is there anyone alive today who’s DNA has not been corrupted? Our food is genetically modified. The animals we eat may also be altered with horomones, etc. Have immunizations altered our DNA? Hmmmm, food for thought.

Who are the daughters of men? Could they be the daughters of Cain – the son who became jealous and angry with Abel and God (Gen. 4:5-8; Ephesians 4:26-27; Romans 12:18-19; James 3:14-16)? Was it eventually all women, including Noah’s wife?  We know that somehow the giants survived the flood as Gen. 6:4 tells us they were here afterward, and were living in Canaan (Numbers 13).

Who are the “sons of God?” Were they fallen angels (Job 1:6 & 2:1; Luke 10:18; John 12:31-32; Isaiah 14:12; Revelation 9:1; Hebrews 12:22; Revelation 12:3-9), who brought into existence the race of “giants” (Nephilim)? …The “mighty men who were of old, men of renown?” …the corrupt beings (6:2,4,13)?

Are these Nephilim the serpent’s “seed” (Gen. 3:15)? Were angels created with the ability to “be fruitful” or to “become one flesh” (Matthew 22:30)? Did they have knowledge of another way to make children? Perhaps Satan counterfeited what he saw (at the time of the curse upon him) would be God’s technology for placing a baby into the womb of Mary? The thing is, when God creates, His creation is perfectly “good,” but when Satan counterfeits, it all becomes chaos, violent, and ugly. Wheat vs tares. Could the Nephilim, when they died, be demons today?

(The Book of Enoch could shed some light on this. The Book of Enoch is not considered “inspired” to be included in the Bible, but is valued for its historical content, and passages of the Bible do refer to its writings, such as Jude 1:6-7 and 2 Peter 2:4. What is interesting is that there is evidence of “giant’s” all over the world. There are curious stone structures all over the world that one has to wonder how they could have been built, if not for giants, and what were they built for? L.A. Marzulli has been on the trail of the Nephilim for many years, and has documented many, many, many of the strange stone structures on many continents. You can find the DVD’s and books of his research at ProphecyWatchers.com). And Derek and Sharon Gilbert have written books, such as Giants, Gods, and Dragons, and Veneration, which delve into this topic. Perhaps one explanation for the similar structures being all over the world is found in the 10th and 11th chapters of Genesis, the tower of Babel (11:9), and Peleg (10:25). I wonder if God broke the continents apart at that time. The families of the Canaanites were dispersed (Noah’s son Ham being the father of the Canaanites, and Nimrod being his grandson). All the inhabitents of the earth would have had the shared knowledge of the building of the tower of Babel. They would have wanted to preserve their collected knowlege of the celestial maps and the seasons. Meh, it’s a good theory anyway.

Are these large humans mentioned anywhere else in scripture (Ezekiel 32:27; Numbers 13:33; “Rephaim” Deut. 2:11,20,21; 3:11; 2 Sam. 21:19; Josh. 11:22)?

Were angels intended to marry (Matthew 22:30)?

Isn’t it curious that our months, days, planets, and many of the constellations are named after mythological entities? Is it possible that they aren’t “myths” after all?

What might be the rulers, powers, principalities, and spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places (Ephesians 6:12)?

As the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, and ____________________________________________________________________________ (Matthew 24:38) (Luke 17:26-27).

What was the earth filled with (Gen. 6:11,13)?

What does Noah’s name mean?

What does it mean to be perfect in one’s generations as Noah was (Gen. 6:9)?

What were the names of Noah’s sons (Gen. 9:18)?

What did his son Ham see and do to his father in Gen. 9:22, 24? Please research this, because the wording in the Hebrew suggests an act of incest. Keep an eye out going forward in this study for perverted sexual activities and who it is connected with. Is Ham the reason that there were giants in the land “and also afterwards?” Genesis 6:4

Who was Ham the father of (Gen. 9:22)?

Where did the Canaanites go to live (Gen. 10:18-19)?

What do the Hebrew words for “sorry” and “grieved” mean in Gen. 6:7?

Was man almost at the point of extinction? Was Noah the last man alive with pure DNA? Did God save humanity from the brink of extinction in order to preserve the “seed of the woman?”

Highlight CURSED in verse 9:25 and BLESSED in verse 9:26. Why was Ham cursed?

Who did Noah bless?

Look on the map and find Mount Ararat in eastern Turkey. Turkey is the area shown in white with light gray bodies of water just above and below it. Going south from the center of Turkey you can see the darker gray areas and Israel, which is cut off on the bottom of the map. If you follow the eastern border of Turkey, and continue on the squiggly line, it leads to the Persian Gulf. That squiggly line divides Iran from Iraq.

Did you know that the highest point of Mount Ararat is 16,854’ above sea level? That’s a no kidding mountain. Mount McKinley in Alaska, renamed Denali, is North America’s tallest mountain at 20,310 ft. above sea level. Mount Whitney in the Sierra Nevadas in California stands at 14,500 ft. Mount Rainier in Washington State is 14,417 ft. Pike’s Peak sits at 14,115 foot, and the Grand Teton, sits at 13,775 feet. That makes Ararat taller than any mountains in the lower 48 – just to give some perspective. The tallest mountain in the world is of course Mount Everest in the Himalayas. It towers into the heavens at 29,029 ft. After the Himalayas are the Andes Mountains, and then the Alaskan.

What time of year was it when Noah and the ark began to float, and when it was able to be exited (https://biblicalcalendarproof.net/articles/noahs-flood-and-gods-calendar)? I’m sure no matter what time of year it was, that it was cold up there where the ark landed. I’ll bet Noah didn’t stay up in that mountain for long.

Do you remember what Noah planted after he left the ark, perhaps at the foot of Mount Ararat?

Piece of trivia: Turkey and Iran have an ideal climate for grape cultivation, and both are the most massive producers of grapes in the world today (according to WorldAtlas.com), so if we have the chance to nibble a grape from Turkey, how cool to think they might be a descendant of the very grapes Noah planted.

As you are reading your Bible for this Bible study, be on the lookout for every time a mountain is mentioned in scripture. Highlight every time you see one and draw a little diagram of a mountain in the margin of your Bible. 🗻

Draw a rock in the margin of your Bible every time a rock, or stone, or pillar, or rock pile is mentioned. 🪨

Watch also for names given to God. You can circle them if you’d like. The first title for “God” in the Bible is the Hebrew word Elohim. It appears in Genesis 1:1. It is Strong’s #430. In this first usage it is a masculine noun in plural form. In Genesis 2, LORD is added to God to become “LORD God” in English. LORD is Strong’s #3068 and is the Hebrew word Yahweh. It is the covenant name of God connecting Him with His people Israel. The Jewish people never pronounced this name, and only used the consonant letters when writing the name. They often substituted Adonai (Strong’s #136) in its place out of reverence. By Genesis chapter four, “the LORD” is starting to be used. Noah built his altar to “the LORD” Yahweh.

What does the Bible say the flood is an antitype (foreshadowing) of in 1 Peter 3: 18-22; Romans 6:4-5; John 3:5?

Personal application: How does all of this apply to me?

Have you ever felt alone in a crowd? Ever been in a situation like Noah, where you might have felt like a square peg in a round hole? Perhaps persecuted and battered verbally for being so goody-goody? Perhaps you sometimes feel utterly alone, a total misfit in society, with no one to really hang out with, except perhaps maybe your family; where you feel surrounded by evil, violent people whom you definitely can’t trust?  Noah had no friends.  His descendant Abraham had no friends.  His ancestor Adam had no friends.  He only had his family. But, these men all had one friend in common – Proverbs 18:24; Luke 7:34; Hebrews 13:5; and John 15:14, the same friend we also have in common with them  (https://www.gotquestions.org/friend-stick-closer-brother.html).

Have you ever felt God calling you to do something and as you submitted to His will endured great criticism from just about everyone around you? Did you let it dissuade you, or make you more determined?

Have you ever been on the side of evil, violent people who persecuted faithful believers (Saul/Paul, Acts 22)? Would you consider yourself perfect in your generations, or a sin sick person from a long line of sin sick persons? Has God delivered you from the familial curses passed down to you from sin sick ancestors? Has God ever knocked you off your high horse and showed Himself to you in such a way that it led to your spiritual salvation? Have you been born again? Water baptized? Received the baptism of the Holy Spirit? Do you know if you were to die today where you would go…heaven or hell? Why?

The word of God tells us that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and that no man comes to the Father but by Him (John 14:6)! There is no one good. No one righteous. No one deserving of God’s mercy. There is no other name under heaven by which we can be saved (Acts 4:12). We must confess Him in order to have eternal life (Romans 10:9-10). His sacrifice saves us, if we will accept it, reach out and take His free gift. Have you reached out and taken His free gift?

A very bold woman once asked me if I were to die today would I know where I was going? The Holy Spirit would not let her words fall to the ground until I made a decision. I’m so eternally grateful that God put her in my path, that she had the courage to be obedient to the feeling in her heart, and I want to be that person for you. Not only has God given me peace in my Spirit that I belong to Him, but Jesus has, over time, made me a better person. He has washed my sins away and turned my heart of stone into a heart of flesh. I make mistakes from time to time, but my Savior always gently disciplines me and sets my feet back on the right path.

Would you like someone to pray with you to receive Jesus as your Savior? You are welcome to leave a comment and I will pray for you, but there are also people you can call who will pray with you. Please call 1-888-NEED-HIM, there is someone waiting and available who will pray with you at any time of the day or night.


Project (an altar that I can build):

I had the idea to make a little altar of my own that would help me to remember Noah’s altar in the scriptures, and also give me a way to start a little converstation with others if they should happen to see my altar and ask what that rock, or pile of rocks means. For this chapter, Noah’s Altar, I thought to make a time capsule from a waterproof container (perhaps a mason jar with a tight fitting lid, or an ammo box, or a large geocache container). Fill it with a hand-written copy of my testimony of salvation, along with a small Bible (with the Roman’s Road verses marked in it (or printed out and tucked in at the first address – which is Romans 3:16-19). I thought to also make a copy of the old hymn, Amazing Grace, and tuck that in there too. Once I had everything assembled I could go bury the container somewhere in my yard, perhaps under a tree, or by my fence at the corner, or maybe in one of the flower beds, Once buried I could place a stone on top of it with the name “Elohe Yeshua” (God of my salvation) painted on the stone with a good weather-resistant, outdoor acrylic paint.

Wouldn’t it be neat if perhaps someday, when I’m dead and gone, someone, perhaps new owners of the house, found my little time capsule? I will pray my little altar is a blessing to the finder, and life-changing for them. Will you make one with me?

“He only is my Rock and my salvation; He is my defense; I shall not be greatly moved. He only is my Rock and my salvation; He is my defense; I will not be shaken.” Psalm 62:2, 6

“The LORD is my Rock and my fortress and my deliverer; my God, my strength (rock), in whom I will trust; my shield and the horn (strength) of my salvation, and my high tower (stronghold).  For who is God except the LORD?  And who is a Rock, except our God?”  Psalm 18:2, 31

“‘You are my Father, my God, the Rock of my salvation.” Psalm 89:26

“I will remember the works of the Lord: surely I will remember thy wonders of old. I will meditate also of all thy work, and talk of thy doings.”
Psalm 77:11-12 (KJV)

Holy Bible

Stones of Remembrance, An Introduction

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Hello and welcome to my new adventure series.  This virtual tour bus will be heading out soon.  Watch for new posts to follow this one.  This little rabbit trail will take us down some rather crude roads and narrow mountain trails where the ride might get bumpy, but hold on!  The views are breathtaking.  We will be traveling the paths of the ancients and making stops at each of the rock pile altars they sat up.  Be prepared to do some camping at each one, and to collect a few stones of your own. 

I wonder if you realize that we are about to embark on an incredible journey together, if you care to join me.  We will be taking a jaunt through the entire Old Testament together, in fact, the whole Bible, but we are going to do it Indiana Jones style (I hope you packed your pith and hiking boots).  You’ll need a journal and something to write with.  If you don’t have a journal and would like one, you may send a request to mrshlovesjesus@gmail.com

We might have to crawl through some spider webs, wade through waters infested with snakes or rats, and take a leap of faith now and then.  It will be time consuming, and perhaps even tedious at times, as most excavation work is, but I promise you, the little shards of pottery that we uncover will start to take shape soon and when glued together will become the most interesting pot you can imagine. 

I want to confess, right out of the gate, that I am not a qualified, certified, pedigreed (or anything remotely close to any of that) Bible teacher.  I’m a Bible explorer.  A curiosity seeker.  A student.  A forward observer, a greyhound chasing after a rabbit on a stick.  A person who just wants to know all of the very fascinating, multi-layered, and mysterious words of the Bible, which the LORD left behind for us as His primary means for communication.  The glory of the Word is that it is filled with mystery, and secrets, and ciphers, and in fact there is a verse that tells us if we will seek the Lord we will find Him when we search for Him with all of our hearts.  So that’s who I am – a searcher, on a hide-and-go-seek mission. It’s not about having heads filled with knowledge – but having our hearts satisfied with spiritual milk and being guests of a bona fide feast of the choicest morsels of scriptural meat at the Lord’s table. 

At this moment I’m feeling a little bit like a young girl inviting her date home to meet the parents for the first time.  I’m a little nervous.  I feel vulnerable. But God’s love compels me to take action.  I want you to see the personality of my God, and love Him with me, and I already know He loves you.  I’m excited to hear what you think of Him, and His word, and this wonderful rabbit trail He has put us onto.  That’s why I’ve chosen to blog and not just make a book.  This way we can have koinonia (that’s a Greek word for fellowship).

One of the things I want us to be mindful of while we are reading the scriptures is the names of God.  God’s names won’t always jump right off the page at us, because many of His names are veiled behind His attributes.  Names meant things in Bible times.  They identified the person’s nature (personality, temperament, spirit, disposition, etc.).  When the Bible was translated into English many of the Hebrew names for God were rendered by their meaning and so it will often require us to use a Word Study Bible to find them. For instance, when we read “the Lord of Hosts” we will have to look up the original word for Lord and the original word for Hosts to come up with the Hebrew name, Yahweh (or Jehovah, or Adonai, or Elohim, etc.) Sabaoth/Tsabaoth). 

The Hebrews didn’t dare to utter God’s name, or even write it.  They had such a reverence for the sacredness of God’s names, which I wonder might be the reason the translators translated it the way they did. In fact Jew’s today even render the writing of God as G-d and Yahweh as YHWH (the four Hebrew letters yodh-he-waw-he, known as the tetragrammaton). They substituted a special title in place of God’s name when spoken.  My oh my, how unlike our culture in the western world today, where there is soooooo little reverence for the name of God, using it mostly as an exclamatory phrase, or worse yet, profanity.  

Just like God’s names mean something, so do each of the characters in the Bible, and I want us to look those up as well.  Adam, for instance, was created from the dust of the earth – dust of the earth in Hebrew is Adamah, therefore God called him Adam. Eve was the one God had created to bring forth life, all life on earth; her name means life.  I love the Abarim Publications website for researching Biblical names.

Do you know what your name means? 

Make a note of every mountain, every body of water, every town, and in fact, I would love us to make our own pictorial map of the Holy Land and mark all the places as we go along.  If you are feeling particularly creative and ambitious, and have room on a wall of your house, you can get a large piece of bulletin board paper, pin it to your wall, and make a giant map.  You can use a projector to get the proportions of the Middle East land masses correct.  You can draw all the little altars, and wells, and towns, and rivers, etc.  You can make a timeline as well, a pedigree chart, a calendar or list of holidays.  I encourage you to be as in-depth as you want to be.

Here’s something else… 

If we get to a passage that just seems weird, be prepared!  We are most certainly going to camp out there for a while and dig.  If it’s weird, it’s important!!! We’ll first use scripture to explain scripture, and after that we’ll look to trusted, historical, outside sources – one of my favorite online resources is GotQuestions.org.  We’ll also see what others have found in such resources as the Dead Sea Scrolls, Josephus, Philo, the Book of Enoch, and so on.  Yes, they are extra biblical, but they are history books and valuable for their historical content.  BUT, we will measure all such resources against the scriptures and keep only the things that line up.

So, right out of the gate this study gets pretty interesting pretty fast!  You may or may not have ever heard, or thought about the things we’re about to dive into, or even heard them explained, or preached about from the pulpit, or even in a Bible study class.  Get used to this.  It’s going to happen a lot in this study. 

What I find so fascinating is that in Luke 19:40, Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for wanting His disciples to be quiet as He entered Jerusalem.  Jesus replied to their request that if the people were to be silenced even the rocks would cry out. Well, I’m here to tell you, THE ROCKS ARE CRYING OUT!!!!!   Much history has been lost to the sands of time. Wars have buried cities, burned treasures, and smothered the story-tellers.  Bad men have suppressed the truth and buried it under rubble or carried it away.  But, when God’s chosen people returned to their Promised Land, doors began opening to excavation, and archeology has unearthed some pretty fantastic evidence.  Jewish Rabbis have come to faith in Messiah Jesus and are sharing their great wealth of knowledge and rich heritage of scripture in ways that show the deep layers and hidden mysteries of the scriptures, which have been stolen away for centuries, in fact two millennia.   This is the great adventure we’re going to be embarking on.  So buckle up Buttercup and prepare to have your mind blown.

God is raising up people, moved by the Holy Spirit, to use their talents, their money, their resources, and their connections to pull back the curtains on this dusty old book.  They are making movies, and documentaries, and making You Tube videos of the tours they conduct. I believe the fullness of time has come and that God is revealing the truth and accuracy of the Bible to this generation for a reason.  It is an exciting time to be alive.

The Lamb of God

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The Lamb of God

About this time last year the Holy Spirit put it in my heart to study the altars in the Old Testament — you know — the large stone (or pillar) or rock-pile altars that the patriarchs erected and dedicated as a testimony to God and of God’s magnificent working in their lives. I honestly didn’t realize how many of them there were until I began studying them. I studied them in great depth, line-upon-line and precept-upon-precept, and to my utter amazement the Lord began showing me wonderful and awesome things, mysteries, hidden away in each of them. Things that one only finds when they slow down enough to spend the time looking, digging, hunting, searching, praying, asking. I have been blessed to have had the time this year to do just that. It has been a magnificent journey and I want to share everything I’ve found with you, but it won’t all fit in this post. So I will share just one of these very special things, one that relates to this holiday we are celebrating.

I was reading about Jacob in Genesis, and his return to the Promised Land from his uncle Laban’s house. Jacob purchased land from Hamor, the father of Shechem, and set up an altar in probably the same vicinity as his grandfather Abraham’s first altar. Unfortunately circumstances kept him from settling down there, and he continued journeying southward with his wives (Rachel, who was pregnant), all of his children, and his plenteous flocks of sheep, towards the part of Israel where his father Isaac had lived out his last days. On the way, Rachel went into labor, near a place called Ephrathah, also known as Bethlehem. Her labor was very hard. Her baby survived, but Rachel herself died. In childbirth Rachel named the boy baby Ben-Oni, which meant son of my sorrow, but Jacob named him Benjamin, which meant son of the right hand.

Now Jacob buried his beloved wife where she died and set up a headstone for her grave, a grave that is there to this day. Jacob then traveled a little further and pitched his tent “beyond the tower of Eder.” Now, I made that bold for you because it’s the thing the Holy Spirit stopped me at, and the thing I want to talk about. I’ll bet if you were reading the scriptures (Gen. 35:21) you might have glossed right over that detail and not thought a thing about it – as I also have a hundred times. But this time the Holy Spirit made it bold for me and spoke to my heart that there was a mystery there, a prophecy right there in that tower, and in this story, that He wanted me to find.

watchtower-shepherds-fields-bethlehem-circa-1934

So I looked up “tower of Eder” in my Bible dictionary and found that in Hebrew it was called Migdal Eder, which means Tower of the Flock, and it is indeed famous. Oh precious Jesus, my heart is beating so fast. Please help me to write this so that You might be glorified in spite of my fumbling words.

Migdal Eder would one day be the special place where the most special lambs would be born, the ones without spot or blemish that would be used as the sacrifices for Passover, later, when the temple was built in Jerusalem (according to the Mishnah). According to my research of various Jewish websites, these special lambs were watched over by Levitical shepherds. When the ewes of the flocks started into labor they were taken inside the ceremonially clean ground level part of the tower to birth their baby lambs. It was kinda like a cave in there. The lambs were then wrapped tightly in strips of cloth and laid in a manger to keep them safe until they could be carefully inspected by the priestly shepherds whose lot had fallen to do that. Are you starting to feel something stir in your spirit?

Here is a prophecy of the birth of Messiah in Micah 5:2

“But you Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be Ruler in Israel, whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting.” And the prophecy is remembered at the birth of Jesus in Matthew 2:6 “But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are not the least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you shall come a Ruler who will shepherd My people Israel.”

Luke 2:4-7 then also tells us: “Joseph also went up from Galilee out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in the manger, because there was no other lodging place for them in Bethlehem”

Many Messianic websites suggest that Jesus was born in the watchtower of Eder, not a lowly and dirty stable, as has been portrayed for years, but the very clean, bug free, and very special place where ALL the lambs were born who would become a PASSOVER SACRIFICE in Jerusalem.

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“And there were shepherds abiding in the fields…” These descendants of Jacob were keeping watch in the fields by night for wolves or other predators that might try to harm their sheep when the angels of God burst on the scene. According to my research the sheep were only in the Bethlehem hills during the green springtime of the year, during lambing season. Later in the summer they would be moved to the harvested fields where they would eat the stubble and deposit fertilizer for the next crops. And then they would winter in the wilderness, as the law required. These particular shepherds were no doublt familiar with the scriptures of Genesis, Micah, and Isaiah, which said:

“The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh comes; and to Him shall be the obedience of the people… (from there is the Shepherd, the Stone of Israel), by the God of your father who will help you” Genesis 49:10, 24-25.

And they knew just where to go look because of the other prophecy in Micah…

“And you, O tower of the flock, the stronghold of the daughter of Zion, to you shall it come, even the former dominion shall come. The kingdom of the daughter of Jerusalem.” Micah 4:8

Jesus was born in the land of Judah, the land of King David, the land of Boaz – the kinsman redeemer, and was The Lamb of God without spot or blemish. He is the Good Shepherd (John 10:14; Ezekiel 34:11-31; Psalm 23;) Ezekiel prophecied of whose ministry was to the lost (Matthew 18:10-14; Luke 15:1-7; Luke 19:10) and scattered sheep of Israel, and He died as the Passover Lamb (Mark 14:12; John 1:29; John 10:14-16; 1 Corinthians 5:7; 1 Peter 1:19; Hebrews 4:15; Revelation 5:6) who takes away the sin of the world.

“Who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, and as a root out of dry ground… Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows ; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted, but He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. We all like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and He was afflicted…He was led as a lamb to the slaughter…For He was cut off from the land of the living; For the transgressions of My people He was stricken. He has put Him to grief. When You make His soul an offering for sin…by His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many, for He shall bear their iniquities…Because He poured out His soul unto death…And He bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.” Isaiah 53

Do you remember what Rachel named her son? And what Jacob renamed him? They perhaps didn’t even know it, but it was a prophecy of the baby boy who would one day be born there, right there, who would be the Son of His Father’s right hand (Mark 16:19), but the sorrow of His mother (Matthew 2:18 & Jeremiah 31:15; Luke 2:33-35 & John 19:25).

And if that isn’t incredible enough, Rachel’s name even means “Ewe.”

Jesus said in Matthew 5:17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them, but to fulfill them.” … Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29)!!! Jesus is our Kinsman Redeemer (our Boaz from Bethlehem)! “Has not the Scripture said that the Christ Messiah comes from the seed of David (the king) and from the town of Bethlehem, where David (the shepherd boy) was from?” John 7:42. (John 10; Psalm 23).

The SHEEP GATE

Sha’ar – “gate” hasso’n – “flock” One of the gates of Jerusalem rebuilt by Nehemiah (Neh 3:1,32; 12:39). It was located between the Tower of the hundred (Migdal Meah) and the upper room of the corner (3:1,32) or gate of the guard (12:39). It is most likely the sheep gate mentioned in John 5:2; 10:1-10.

In a book, written by A. W. Pink, a minister of the gospel, p28 of Studies in the Scriptures, published 1926 – 1927, Rev. Pink writes:

“And led Him away to Annas first. The Saviour was neither ‘driven’ nor ‘dragged,’ but led: thereby the Holy Spirit informs us, once more, of His willing submission. He offered no resistance. With infinitely greater ease than Samson of old, could He have burst His bonds ‘as a thread when it toucheth the fire; but as prophecy had announced, ‘He was led as a lamb to the slaughter’ –gentle and tractable. Here also He fulfilled not only prophecy but type: each animal that was to be offered in sacrifice was first led to the priest (Lev. 17:5), so Christ was first brought to Annas. The road followed from the Garden to the house of the high priest was also significant. Gethsemane was at the foot of Olivet, on the east side of Jerusalem, beyond the brook Cedron. In journeying from there to the City, the gate through which they would pass was “the sheep gate:” (Neh. 3:1, 32; 12:39; John 5:2 and see our notes on the last). The “sheep gate” was nigh unto the Temple, and through it the sacrificial animals passed (first having been fed in the meadows adjoining the Cedron [today called the Kidron – the Kidron Valley]; so also went the true Lamb on this occasion! Note a striking contrast here: Adam was driven out of the Garden (Gen. 3:24), Christ was led!”

Isaiah the prophet wrote the words, “he was led as a lamb to the slaughter” (Isaiah 53:7,8), and in the New Testament it was the apostle Philip who explained the passage to an Ethiopian eunuch, whom he met on the road to Gaza, who was reading it, apparently out loud. Philip asked if the man understood what he was reading, and beginning with that scripture, he preached Jesus to him (Acts 8:26-39).

This was Jesus’s own testimony about himself:
“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is the Shepherd of the sheep. To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice … I am the door of the sheep…I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy. I have come that they may have life, and have it more abundantly! “ John 10:1-10 NKJV

Jesus entered the sheepfold by the same door that all of humanity entered – the womb of a woman. He entered His ministry after being baptised and confirmed by the Holy Spirit (as a pattern for us to follow) as a symbol of rebirth (John 3:1-17; Mark 16:16; Matthew 28:19-20; Acts 2:24; Romans 6:4-14; Colossians 2:12-13; 1 Peter 3:21). And He became the perfect Passover Lamb in the same way as all the other Passover lambs that ever were since the institution of the Passover observance. He is the door. He is the Way. The scriptures told us ahead of time, so that when such things began to pass we would know it was of God.

If I may be so bold as to ask, have you made Jesus your Ebeneezer – your Stone of help (1 Sam.7:12)? If you have please write down and share your testimony with others. I would LOVE to hear how you came to know Jesus also. You are welcome to leave your testimony in the comments section below. The Lord only knows how many hearts will be touched by our experiences with Jesus. We shall also overcome our enemy by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of our testimonies (Revelation 12:11)!

So, as the patriarchs did with stones, let us also memorialize Yeshua Jesus in our lives (Dt.6:6-9) as living stones being built up a spiritual house. Let us be for Him altars of testimony so that when our kids, or our friends, or our neighbors ask, “What is this faith that you have; what is this pile of rocks all about?” we can tell them of all the mighty things the LORD has done for us, knowing that if we should be made silent, even the stones themselves would cry out (Luke 19:40)!!!!! Just as the stones of Rachel’s grave and those of the Migdal Eder are surely crying out to us now in Doxology to God! Amen! Bless you so much!

“Knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.”

1 Peter 1:19

“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it, but narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.” Matthew 7:13-14

I have updated my post in December 2022 to share with you several others with credentials who have found this passage of scripture and researched it and taught on it, so that you may know by the witness of two or three others that this trustworthy.

Continue your research here

Continue your research here
Continue your research here
Continue your research here

A Lamb’s Tale and a Mysterious Tower, by Mini Manna Moments

The Christmas Prophecy of Bethlehem, by Gary Stearman (Prophecy Watchers)

The Secret of the Shepherds, by Christine Darg

Continue your research here

The “Hofols” Celebrate Easter/Passover

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The “Hofols” Celebrate Easter/Passover

This past Easter we celebrated the holiday a little differently.  In actuality, EVERY Easter is just a little bit different from the one before it – a side effect of my vexatious A.D.D. I suspect!!!  This year my “passion” blossomed out of a “cavernous” fancy to “resurrect” (puns all very much intended) the Jewish roots of our Christian holiday and blend them altogether.  I wanted to celebrate Jesus, our Passover Lamb, especially since this year Passover fell on Good Friday (2019). Perhaps you’re looking for ideas how to celebrate and you’ll find something here that trips your trigger?

The “Steady Eddy’s” of our holiday usually include new dresses/outfits for church + shoes to go with them + the same basic food & drink (except this year I added LAMB to the menu) + an Egg Hunt. And there is always some sort of fun activities to follow. So, let’s get started with the menu, and then we’ll work our way on down to the ever-evolvingfun stuff at the end…

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— THE MENU —

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HAM

A nice 10-lb spiral cut honey smoked ham. 

Make a Chamoy glaze of apricots (2 cans plus the syrup), honey (1 cup), and spicy chili peppers (2 or 3 fresh green Cayenne peppers finely chopped/ground – or ½ tsp Cayenne powder).  Place glaze ingredients in a pan on the stove. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.  Let simmer until reduced and thickened.

Heat ham in the oven, wrapped tightly in foil for about 1 hr and 40 minutes at 350 degrees.  Place ham on serving platter and pour glaze over ham just before serving.

LAMB CHOPS

6 Lamb Chops

Preheat outdoor grill with charcoals, preparing to add mesquite or applewood chips just before grilling.  While the charcoals are getting ready prepare the sauce and the lamb.

Sauce:  ½ cup Olive Oil, ½ cup chopped onion, 3 cloves peeled and sliced garlic. Sauté in a sauce pan until onions are translucent, and then remove from heat.  Place onions, oil, and garlic in a blender (I use my Bullet) also adding 2 Tablespoons low sodium Soy Sauce, 2 Tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar, 1 Tablespoon fresh Rosemary needles, 2 Tablespoons course ground mustard, 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce, and about ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper.  Blend until thoroughly emulsified.  Set aside.

Rub lamb chops with salt and pepper.

Separate charcoals and sprinkle with wood chips.  As soon as they begin to smoke, place chops on grill about 6 inches above heat and close the lid.  Let them grill undisturbed for about 4 or 5 minutes.  Lift the lid and flip the chops over to the other side.  Close the lid and let grill for another 4 or 5 minutes.  Lift the lid and check the internal temp of each chop.  Continue flipping and cooking until each chop reaches an internal temp of 135 degrees (medium rare).  Don’t eyeball it – use a thermometer for perfect results.  The moment they reach temp, remove them from the grill, placing them on a dish.  Let them rest for a minute or two, then drizzle each with sauce and serve with a sprig of Rosemary for garnish. 

NOTE: I wish I could remember where I found this recipe so I could give them credit and kudos!!!!  If you know, please let me know in the comments. And I’ll tell you, I am not a fan of lamb…  (I just don’t care for the gamey flavor.  I don’t like goat or goat cheese for the same reason) …BUT THIS LAMB was a wonderful surprise.  My family LOVED it and have begged if I will make this every year from now on.  So, if you don’t really care for lamb either, you might want to give this recipe a try.  I promise it will change your mind.

TATER TOT HOT DISH

32 oz. bag of Tater Tots

1 cup onion, chopped

1 16-oz container French Onion Dip

1 jalapeno, minced

2 cups shredded Colby cheese

1 10-oz can Cream of Chicken Soup

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp salt (or more to taste)

1 can French Fried Onions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter a large casserole dish.  Mix together the Onion Dip, jalapeno, cheese, soup, garlic powder, and salt.  Toss in chopped onion and frozen tots.  Use hands to mix tots and sauce all together.  Arrange tot mixture in casserole dish.  Top with French Fried Onions.  Bake in oven about 60 minutes.

SWEET PEA SALAD

2-lb package frozen sweet peas, thawed

½ Red onion, diced

1 ½ cup Cheddar Cheese, cut into pea size cubes

8 slices bacon, fried crispy and crumbled

3 Tablespoons parsley, chopped (optional)

½ cup Sour Cream

¼ cup Mayo

1 Tablespoon Apple Cider Vinegar

1 Tablespoon Sugar

Salt and Pepper to taste

Mix together the sauce ingredients and carefully stir them into the thawed peas.  Add the red onion and cheese and carefully incorporate.  Taste to make sure there is enough salt and pepper.  Place in serving dish and top with bacon for garnish. 

DEVILED EGGS

1 dozen eggs, hard boiled (place cold eggs or fresh eggs in cool tap water in a pan big enough to fully cover the eggs with water, bring to a rolling boil on high heat on the stove and boil for 7 minutes. Remove from heat, let sit 5 minutes and then pour off water.  Let eggs cool.  Eggs can then be peeled and placed in a zip bag in the refrigerator overnight.)

Cut eggs in half, remove yolks to a small bowl.  Mash yolks with a fork.  Add about ¼ to ½ cup of Mayo or Miracle Whip to them until a thick creamy texture is achieved.  Also add 1 to 2 teaspoons coarse ground mustard, and 2 Tablespoons each finely diced onion and sweet pickle relish.  Stir until well combined.  Drop dollops of yolk mixture into the split egg-white halves.  Sprinkle with sweet paprika.  Garnish each egg with finely chopped green onion or chives.  If you have sweet pickles, slice into “pennies” and press a penny into the center of each egg.  Cover and refrigerate or serve immediately.

HOT CROSS BUNS

I usually use a hot roll mix and follow package directions, except to add a 1/3 cup of dried currants and 2 Tablespoons of orange zest to the mixed dough.  Bake as directed.  Let cool completely.  Mix an icing of 1 cup powdered sugar and about a Tablespoon of milk (thin with additional milk a tiny drop at a time until desired thickness).  Place icing in a zip bag and cut the corner off.  Pipe a cross on top of each roll.  Garnish with a few more currants and some orange zest.

This year I cheated and purchased frozen cinnamon rolls, and added the currants and some orange zest as a garnish after icing.

RHUBARB CRUNCH

Filling:

2 packages frozen rhubarb (or 5 cups fresh)

2 granny smith apples peeled, cored, and chopped

½ tsp. salt

Splash of lemon juice

½ cup of sugar

Stir together and place in a buttered casserole dish.

Topping:

2 cups sugar

1 cup flour

1 cup oats

1 tsp. Cinnamon

1 ½ sticks of butter, softened to room temperature

1 tsp Vanilla

¼ tsp salt

I sometimes mix this all together in a gallon size zip bag the night before and let sit on the counter until baking time.  It saves me time later and gives the butter time to soak up the flour and oats and lends a nice crispiness to the finished product.

Serve warm from the oven with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top.

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Beverages:


Sweet Tea, Lemonade, Lemon water, or wine

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Sunday Dinner is usually served immediately after the egg hunt.  The children give the blessing and then we all start stuffing our faces. 

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— THE EGG HUNT —

“You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all of your heart.”  Jeremiah 19:13

This year’s egg hunt mostly consisted of plastic eggs strewn all over in the yard, all the way around the house. A few were perched in the limbs of the trees and some other slightly more difficult hidey spots. As per grand-daughter’s request I hid special GOLDEN eggs (1 per kid) in the more difficult places. They got to redeem those for one special prize each – their Easter Baskets!  I put a little note inside each golden egg which told the kids where to look for their “special surprises.”  The special Easter Baskets were filled with a few candies, some little toys, jewelry, Knick knacky things, and a pretty journal and fancy pen for each girl, which they’ll get to use as journals all summer.

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— THE FUN STUFF —

Food – done….. Egg Hunt – done….. Let the games begin! As I said earlier we did a PASSOVER theme. Our Passover activities commenced down on the banks of the little brook that weaves a path by our backyard. It was the perfect setting for our first activity, saving baby Moses!

Saving Baby Moses

I made each girl a little bamboo raft (we have so much of it growing along our river front, it was a ready material that cost me nothing).  Walmart had perfect little 6” baby dolls for about $2 each – I bought one for each girl. 

Our youngest granddaughter wasn’t feeling well, so she went down for a nap while we did all the activities with her sister.  But later, when she awoke, we did the whole thing all over again for her, exactly as we had done for her sister. 

The girls wrapped their baby Moses in a blue blanket, laid him in his raft, and then walked down into the river and placed him on the water and let him float away as we all looked on.  As baby Moses floated away we all prayed that God would save baby Moses’ life, just like in the Bible! 

It really worked out that the one granddaughter was napping when the other granddaughter did this, so it seemed to each child as if there had only been one baby Moses.  If they had both been involved for the shared experience, we would have only floated one baby Moses.

Little baby Moses slowly floated away and when he was finally out of sight I told the story of how Moses was rescued by Pharaoh’s daughter, how he then grew up to be a young man, and then found out that he was a Hebrew. He accidentally caused an Egyptian to die and then in fear ran away and lived with a Midianite priest and his daughters in the desert. That’s where he met God on a mountaintop in a burning bush, and God told him to go back to Egypt and tell Pharaoh to let the Hebrew slaves go free.

The Plagues and Pharaoh Games

(I had prepared each of the plagues days before and had them ready in a box for this exercise).

I told the children how Moses went to Pharaoh to ask him to let the people go, but Pharaoh said, “NO!!!!!”  I instructed the kids to yell, “NO!!!!!” whenever I asked them if Pharaoh let the people go.

The first plague was to turn the Nile River into blood:  I poured water into a glass for each kid and added red drink powder to it.  Then we tossed in some Swedish Fish to represent the fish that died.  Then I asked, “Pharaoh, Pharaoh, will you let my people go!”  – and I pointed to the kids to say, “NO, NO, NO!!!” 

So God sent a second plague – Frogs:  I had purchased some sticky frogs from Walmart and put them in a big jar.  I handed the children the jar of frogs and let them take the frogs out and stick them to us and squish them and play with them for a bit.  Then I said – “Pharaoh, Pharaoh, will you let my people go!” but Pharaoh said (and I pointed to the children who said), “NO, NO, NO!!!” 

So God sent a third plague – Lice:  I used confetti eggs, called Cascarones here in south Texas, and divided two dozen of them between each of us and we all got to break them on each other’s heads.  This always causes lots of laughing.  Then I said – “Pharaoh, Pharaoh, will you let my people go!” but Pharaoh said (and I pointed to the children who said), “NO, NO, NO!!!” 

So God sent a fourth plague – Flies:  I used black pipe cleaners, cut into about 4” pieces and twisted them into wings and a body shape and I filled a glass jar full of them.  I took the lid off this jar and dumped the flies in the kids’ hands and let them put them on us grown-ups, in our hair, down our shirts, etc.  They then had fun picking them up off the ground and tossing them around some more.  Then I said – “Pharaoh, Pharaoh, will you let my people go!” but Pharaoh said (and the kids yelled), “NO, NO, NO!!!” 

So God sent a fifth plague – the dead animals:  I found a cheap container of farm animals at Walmart. I pulled it out, opened the lid and dumped the animals out, instructing the children to put all the animals on their backs with their feet up in the air, which they happily did.  Some would fall over as they were setting others upside down so it took a while to get them all to “die.”  I talked about how stinky that must have been.  Pee-Yoooo!  Then I said – “Pharaoh, Pharaoh, will you let my people go!” but Pharaoh said (and the kids yelled), “NO, NO, NO!!!” 

So God sent a sixth plague – Boils: Now, I know you are probably going to think I’ve lost my marbles on this one, but I cut up about 6 panty-liners into 3 pieces each and wrote “BOILS” on each piece with a Sharpie marker.  I put them in a jar.  I opened this jar and let the kids take the BOILS out one by one and peel the paper off the back, and stick them to all of us on our bare arms and legs and faces, and we stuck a bunch of them on the kids as well.  The sticky is sort of irritating to the skin after a while so it produced a decent effect, but it didn’t hurt to pull them off later. Then I said – “Pharaoh, Pharaoh, will you let my people go!” but Pharaoh said (and the kids yelled), “NO, NO, NO!!!” 

So God sent a seventh plague – Hail: I had purchased several boxes of ping pong balls (6 balls for $1 at Walmart).  I gave each person a handful of balls and on the count of three we all simultaneously tossed the balls in the air and let them fall on our heads.  We then picked them up and tossed them at each other for a little while until I said, “Pharaoh, Pharaoh, will you let my people go!” but Pharaoh said…“NO, NO, NO!!!” 

So God sent an eighth plague – Locusts:  For this plague I produced a zip bag with a leaf of romaine lettuce per each person of us.  Since locusts are veggie eaters, on my mark we would have a lettuce eating contest.  1-2-3-crunch, crunch, crunch!!!  Hey this is one way to get kids to eat their veggies.  Ha!  And then I said – “Pharaoh, Pharaoh, will you let my people go!” but Pharaoh said … “NO, NO, NO!!!” (-muffled through their mouthfuls of lettuce).

So God sent a ninth plague – darkness: For this one I had purchased a game of Blindfolded Twister.  It wasn’t a good thing to play outside, where we were at the time, so I improvised and had the kids cover their eyes and try to find mommy, then daddy, then grandpa, then grandma, then sister.  (We did play the Twister game later, in the house and it was perfect).  Then I said – “Pharaoh, Pharaoh, will you let my people go!” but Pharaoh said … “NO, NO, NO!!!” 

So Moses informed Pharaoh that if he didn’t let the slaves go that God would send a plague of death of the firstborns among the Egyptians.  Moses told all the Hebrew slaves to kill a baby lamb and use the blood to paint on their doorposts, then cook and eat the baby lamb with unleavened bread.  And that night when the spirit of death came to Egypt it PASSed-OVER the houses with the lamb’s blood, but the Egyptian firstborns all died, including Pharaoh’s son, which made Pharaoh sad and mad enough to say “GO, GO, GO!!!”

Here’s how we did this next part…

I told the girls that Jesus came to set us free from our slavery to sin.  The Bible says that “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).  The Bible says, “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life” (Romans 6:23). In the history of mankind there has been no one who was without sin – only Jesus.  And that is why He was the perfect Lamb of God – to take away our sins.

John the Baptist called Jesus “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”

I gave each girl a little lamb, a nail, a Popsicle stick cross, and a hammer, and we nailed their lambs to their crosses.  I explained that if that lamb was a real lamb the nail would make the lamb bleed. 

I then gave each girl two hearts cut from foam board that I had punched holes in all around the edge.  I gave them each a needle and thread so they could stitch the two pieces together to make a pocket.  As they stitched I explained that we all have to prepare our hearts to receive Jesus (which means we have to turn from our sinful nature and open our hearts up to Him).  Once their hearts were sewn together I gave the girls red paint, representing the blood of the lamb, and we used a clump of weeds to paint the “blood” on their hearts.  And then we asked Jesus to come into our hearts – which was represented by placing the lamb-crosses inside the pockets of the hearts they made and painted.

I explained that we all have a body and we all have a spirit.  Because of the sin of Adam and Eve in the garden our bodies will someday die, but our spirits will either go on to live with Jesus in heaven or with the devil in hell.  If we prepare our hearts and let Jesus come in to us, even though our bodies die, the second death – the death of our spirit – will PASS-OVER and we’ll get to live with Jesus in heaven forever.

Communion

At the Last Supper, Jesus said His body was broken for us, and He took bread and broke it and asked His disciples to eat of that bread in remembrance of Him.   

I took a saltine cracker and broke it and divided the pieces with everyone.  Then we partook of the Lord’s body which was broken for us.

Jesus, at the Last Supper, then took the cup of wine and said it represented His blood that was shed for us for the remission of our sins.  He asked His disciples to drink of it in remembrance of Him until the day that He comes back for all of us.

I then poured us each a little cup of wine, and we partook of the Lord’s blood that was shed for us. 

The little one wasn’t a huge fan of “real” wine! Ha! So she chased it with a swig of bloody Nile water.

Family Movie Time

After our riverside adventures, we all got a heaping helping of dessert and snuggled up on the couch in the mancave to watch The Ten Commandments (w/Charleton Heston) together as a family.  This was always a tradition in my son-in-law’s growing up life to watch that movie at Easter, and what a lovely tradition to continue. 

A Craft Nightcap

We girls left the mancave for one final thing – crafting the Red Sea.  After asking Jesus into our hearts, the Red Sea event is kind of like a water baptism.  First we are saved by Jesus, then we are baptized.  After that, our souls make the long journey to our heavenly “promised land.”

And that was our Easter/Passover of 2019! I hope if you have the chance to do this with your family for your next Easter that you are as blessed as we were by the experience. All glory to God!

He is not here for He [Jesus] is risen!

Risen indeed!

“I go to prepare a place for you, and if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and recieve you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.” John 14:2-3

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The Parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins

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The Parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins

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wise and foolish

“Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish.”

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There’s a little bit of dialog out there on who the Virgins might be. Are they the church? Are they the Jewish people who finally believe in Jesus as their Messiah during the great tribulation? I’ll leave that to Jesus to reveal when the time comes. What is important is that we make sure we are not foolish Virgins!

Colleen picUsing scripture to understand scripture let’s see if 2 Timothy 3 might shed a little light on who some foolish virgins could be.

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“But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: 2 For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, 4 traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! 6 For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts, 7 always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. 8 Now as Jannes and Jambres resisted Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, disapproved concerning the faith; 9 but they will progress no further, for their folly will be manifest to all, as theirs also was.” — 2 Timothy 3:1-9

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Jannes and Jambres are interestingly named in this passage by Paul, but their names do not appear in the scriptures referenced (Exodus 7:11&22). Their names come from “an unwritten teaching of the Jews,” according to Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown’s Concordance on the Whole Bible. The concordance in my Bible says they were the magicians who duplicated Aaron and Moses’s miracles before Pharoah, to undermine their credibility. They were able to turn a rod into a serpent, and water into blood, just like Aaron and Moses had done. According to quotes from Numebius (whoever that was), Jannes and Jambres were “sacred scribes, of a lower order of priests in Egypt, who were skilled in magic.” Hiller (not sure who this guy is either) interprets the name Jannes from the Abyssinian language to mean a trickster, and Jambres to mean a juggler. What’s most important is that they resisted or withstood by exibiting lying wonders to manipulate Pharoah, just as will be done in the last days by false prophets to manipulate mankind (Matthew 24:24; 2 Thes. 2:9; Revelation 13:14-15).

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Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.”

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Colleen picOil is a symbol of the Holy Spirit; the kings and priests in the old Testament were anointed with oil for the work of their office, in the new Testament WE, Christians are kings and priests (Rev.1:6; 5:9,10), and are anointed with the Holy Spirit (1 John 2:20,27) for the work of our office.

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Visit these websites to learn more:
http://www.bibletools.org/index.cfm/fuseaction/Topical.show/RTD/cgg/ID/1107/Oil-as-Symbol.htm
http://www.jackhayford.org/teaching/articles/symbols-of-the-holy-spirit/
https://www.blueletterbible.org/faq/don_stewart/don_stewart_433.cfm
http://www.loyolapress.com/symbols-of-the-holy-spirit.htm

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Colleen picI know you know the song, “This Little Light of Mine, I’m Gonna Let it Shine…” again using scripture to understand scripture let’s go to Acts 19 and Acts 1 to see how the Holy Spirit becomes that light in our lamps.

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And it happened, while Apollos was at Corinth, that Paul, having passed through the upper regions, came to Ephesus. And finding some disciples 2 he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” So they said to him, “We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.” 3 And he said to them, “Into what then were you baptized?” So they said, “Into John’s baptism.” 4 Then Paul said, “John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.” 5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied. Acts 19:1-6

But you shall receive power (boldness) when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me[a] in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Acts 1:8

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But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept.”

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Colleen picHave you ever gotten tired of waiting for something? A wife or husband to get ready to leave the house for an activity? The weatherman’s report during the evening news? Getting to where you are going, on a long trip? What do you do to pass the time? Play on your phone? Play some music? Take a little cat-nap? The Virgins “slumbered” and “slept.” I thought the two word choices were interesting, so I decided to look up those two words in my Word Study New Testament reference books. Here’s what I found:

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The word Slumbered (verb) in this verse is the English translation of the Greek word nustazo, (Strongs #3573), and means to nod off, just like one does sitting in a chair with a full belly on a sunny afternoon after church, and when their head falls they wake back up again. Its grammatical notation is “aorist indicative active” which means it is not a continuous action as actual sleeping would be, also it is voluntary on the part of the person or people, in other words they weren’t drugged or boxed in the head, they just drifted off and closed their heavy eyelids for a moment of their own accord.

The word Slept (verb) in this verse is the English translation of the Greek word katheudo, (Strongs #2518), and means exactly “sleep” – lose consiousness. Its grammatical notation is “imperfect tense” (actually: imperfect 3-person plural to be specific), which, not being a Bible scholar by any stretch, appears to me to mean “to sleep in every sense of the word.” Soooo, what is “every sense of the word?” Thayer’s Greek Lexicon lists (crazily enough) “three” senses of the word and here they are:

a. properly (sleep): as used in Matthew 8:24; Matthew 9:24 (on this and its parallels, cf. B. D. American edition, p. 1198{a}); ; Mark 4:27, 38; Mark 5:39; Mark 13:36; Mark 14:37, 40; Luke 8:52; Luke 22:46; 1 Thessalonians 5:7.

b. euphemistically (to be dead): as used in 1 Thessalonians 5:10; (Psalm 87:6 (); Daniel 12:2).

c. metaphorically (to yield to sloth and sin, and be indifferent to one’s salvation): as used in Ephesians 5:14; 1 Thessalonians 5:6.

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Colleen picWhat? Whoa! So since slumbered comes first I’m guessing it applies to the wise virgins, who are always listed first, and the foolish, who are always listed second, must be the ones who flat out slept — in not only the proper sense of the word, but the euphemistic, and metaphorical senses as well, which totally confirms what 2 Timothy 3 said all the way up there at the start of this Bible Study, and very much triple defines their “foolishness.”

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13 But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.[b] 15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-15

But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. 5 You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. 6 Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober. 7 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night. 8 But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation. 9 For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him. 11 Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:4-11

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“And at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!’”

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Have you ever studied the Jewish wedding customs? If you are interested, you’ll find a little bit about them in my blog posts about the Feast of Trumpets, the Feast of Atonement, and the Feast of Tabernacles. The wedding customs are so perfectly intertwined with the last three Jewish feasts, and this parable. And just like the bridegrooms of Jesus’ day returned for their brides…

For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words. 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18

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Colleen picOh praise Jesus, I am comforted. Aren’t you? That if we die, or if we nod off He’ll wake us up?

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Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.’”

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Colleen picThe foolish virgins should have known that the Holy Spirit cannot be purchased, it is a gift given without merit by Jesus – not of works lest any man should boast; but in not knowing they showed that they were not really His. They were of the same spirit as Simon:

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And when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money, 19 saying, “Give me this power also, that anyone on whom I lay hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” 20 But Peter said to him, “Your money perish with you, because you thought that the gift of God could be purchased with money! 21 You have neither part nor portion in this matter, for your heart is not right in the sight of God.22 Repent therefore of this your wickedness, and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you. 23 For I see that you are poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity.” Acts 8:18-23

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The Virgins were all part of the same wedding party, but only half were wise, only half had oil and the others did not. In the same way, not everyone who attends church, or even serves in the church, is truly part of it. There are tares among us who are members, and even leaders in our churches. They have a form of godliness, but deny the power thereof. The power thereof is the Holy Spirit, so in essence they are denying (refusing) the Holy Spirit access to them, or denying the Holy Spirit’s existence. Either way, they are imposters – perhaps even wolves in sheep’s clothing.

Like Simon, they could also be poisoned by bitterness – the KJV says, “in the gall of bitterness.” Vinegar mixed with gall was offered to Jesus as He was about to be crucified and after tasting it He refused to drink it. Jesus refused to be poisoned with bitterness about His circumstances. In Exodus 15:22-26 we are told of bitter waters made sweet by a tree. Peter referred to the cross of Jesus as a tree (1Peter 2:24). If I were asked to define the word bitterness, I would say it is disappointment or unforgiveness from somewhere in our past left to fester into an infection of the heart. Some of the first things Jesus impressed upon me to do as a new Christian was to go to the people in my life whom I had unforgiveness for, and speak forgiveness to them. In so doing the Lord healed my bitter heart. Do you have an infection of the heart? Jesus is the only way to freedom. Let Jesus pry your cold, stiff hands off those hurts and resentments so that His Holy Spirit can come in and take their place, and turn your heart of stone into a heart of flesh.

Simon was also bound by iniquity, or as the KJV puts it, “in the bond of iniquity” which paints a clearer picture in my mind of a person with Satan’s hands clutched around his/her ankles and being drug with them everywhere they go, or Satan having them in a head-lock perhaps. Rather than give up whatever hurts he had or try to untangle his feet from shackles of sin, Simon just wanted to deny that they existed and pretend to be saved. Perhaps his sins were embarrassing? Or maybe he didn’t think his sins were all that big a deal? If Jesus could just give us a glimpse of the invisible stuff we carry around with us, I think it would shock us. And I think if we saw how ugly all of it really is we’d beg to have it off of us immediately.

Christ came to set the captives FREE. It is for freedom that Christ sets us free, and if He sets us free we are free indeed. If old hurts have had a hold on you; if a sinful past has held you back from trusting Jesus and Christians, don’t!!!! You might be able to hide it from people, but it is not hidden from God. God can’t let you into heaven with all of that junk hanging on you, that’s why He sent His SON to cleanse you of it and set you free from it. Do you want to be free? Confess your sins to Him and let Him wash them away in His redeeming blood. Find a pastor or Christian that you can trust and ask them to pray with you. Satan wants you to be shackled to your stuff forever, and he’ll think of every clever arguement that he can to keep you bound to him, but Jesus gives you a choice. Let it go! Be ready when Jesus comes, and not off on a fool’s errand when it’s time to go?

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And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut. “Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’ But he answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.’”

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“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ Matthew 7:21-23

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Colleen picDoes Jesus know me? Do I know Him? Do I practice lawlessness, or do I do the will of My Father?

(The scriptures are so completely intertwined.  To continue studying along this vein click on Happy Firey Tongues Day , 365 Random Acts of Kindness , and No Man Knows the Day/Hour)

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“Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.”

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“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven,[e] but My Father only. But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left. Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour[f] your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. Matthew 24:36-44

But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. 2 For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. 3 For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. 4 But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. 1 Thessalonians 5:1-4

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Colleen picLet me just say that Noah didn’t know the exact day or hour that God would flood the earth, but he knew the ark would save him. He trusted God, and did the will of God to build it, and we do the will of God to be watching and ready…

“My sheep hear My voice” John 10:27. “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.” John 16:13

The Bible tells us that the gospel shall be preached in all the world, and then the end will come! Matthew 24:14 & Revelation 14:6,7.

Has the gospel been preached in all the earth? I don’t know. But it has certainly been preached in YOUR hearing today. Are you ready for His return?

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“…choose you this day whom ye will serve; … Joshua 24:15 (KJV)

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Unless I Wash You

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Unless I Wash You

“”What I am doing you do not understand now,

but you will know after this.”

John 13:7

Have you ever been to a foot-washing ceremony? If yes, how did it make you feel? Were you uncomfortable taking your shoes off and exposing your stinky feet to someone you looked up to, like maybe a leader in the church, or the leader at a ministry where you volunteered? Sounds like I might have some personal experience, doesn’t it? Well, yes, as a matter of fact, you’d be right.

I worked as a counselor of sorts in the lending closet of a crisis pregnancy center for a time, and at one of our monthly meetings (where we would communicate information between the board, the directors, and the staff, and also have devotions and prayer), both of our directors rose up from their seats and began filling little tubs for each of the staff members. Our directors had just returned from a director’s retreat and explained to us how they had felt the Lord leading them to wash our feet. Oh no, I thought to myself, no, no, no! Que the panic attack of the century! Of all the hot summer days to be wearing my cheapo, made-in-China, dime store tennis shoes, and without socks. My feet are going to wreak! There’s no way I’m taking these shoes off my feet in this crowded room, much less let someone else take them off for me with their sniffer right down there at toe level. Oh heck no. Nope. Not happening.

Now, please don’t misunderstand me. I didn’t mean any disrespect, and surely didn’t want to put a damper on the spiritual experience at all, but I was squirming and sweating profusely, and was not in my right mind. I was scared to death that my racing thoughts would soon start spilling out all over my face. Thank God I was seated at the end of the chairs (a benefit of always sitting in the back of the room); this gave me a decent amount of time to try and figure out a game plan, an excuse, maybe, for running out early.

I didn’t run, however, and I’m not sure why not, except I was hoping someone else in the room would raise an objection, a genius excuse, and then I could chime in with my support, and the two of us would get out of it together. But no such luck. Each person seemed completely uninhibited, (of stinking course, gawd, why am I the only basket case in the room, ever), and each appeared to appreciate the experience. Lord have mercy.

When it got around to me, the last person, I tried everything in the book to get out of it, discretely, but the director wasn’t having any of it. She absolutely, positively would not take “No thank you” for an answer. So I begged her if I could then just please take my shoes off my own self and hurry and plunge my feet into the sudsy water while she was still a good distance away? Maybe she could hold her breath and we could spritz some air freshener in the room? And maybe I could wrap my shoes up in a grocery sack and toss them out the back door while everyone was distracted, please! OMG, I was so humiliated and embarrassed.

Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God, rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself. After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded. Then He came to Simon Peter. And Peter said to Him, “Lord, are You washing my feet?”

Jesus answered and said to him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but you will know after this.”

Peter said to Him, “You shall never wash my feet!”

Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.”

Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head!”

Jesus said to him, “He who is bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you.” John 13:3-10

You know what? My feet did not come out of the tub the same way as they went in. When they came out they were clean. They were stink free. The sweat and the dirt had been washed away. My heart-failure was over. I could finally relax and be humbled by the kind ministry taking place. Our director washed my feet, and also prayed for me while doing so, and spoke words of prophesy over me. I felt strength enter my body. I felt blessed.

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The Practice of Hospitality

Foot washing was first introduced in Genesis 18:4 by Abraham and 19:2 by Lot, and then in Genesis 24:32 by Laban, and Genesis 43:24 by Joseph. It is seen again in the strange story of the Levite and his concubine and the old man in Gibeah – Judges 19:21. Levitical priests were required to wash their hands and feet before entering the tabernacle (God’s house) Ex. 30:18-21.

It was once a common custom and courtesy in the ancient Near East to wash the feet of guests (as noted in my Spirit Filled Life Bible, Thomas Nelson Publishers, NKJV, footnote for Judges 19:21). Most people of Bible days wore sandals, and all that walking around that they did in those days must have made their feet very dirty. Not only would it have been a welcome refreshment to get the sweat and dirt off their feet before sitting down to a meal, but it surely also helped keep the houses from being tracked into, and the bedding from getting soiled.

A note in my NKJV study Bible for Mark 6:11 says that Jews, returning home from a journey also used to knock the heathen dust off their sandals the moment they reentered Jewish territory.

This is probably the custom Jesus drew upon to instruct His disciples to knock the dust off their sandals as a testimony against any town or home who would not receive them or hear them when they preached the good news to them (Matthew 10:14; Mark 6:11; Luke 9:5). Paul and Barnabas actually did this in Acts 13:51.

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The Hebrew word for ground or earth is adamah (Strongs #127). The Bible says “the Lord God formed the man (Adam) of dust (adamah) from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature” (Genesis 2:7), but after the sinful fall of mankind God said, “By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken for you are dust, and to dust you shall return” (Gen 3:19). But, in case we should think it was only Adam whom God considers dust, “For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust” (Psalm 103:14).

In the New Testament there is the story of a sinful woman with an alabaster flask who “stood at [Jesus’] feet behind Him weeping; and washed His feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head; and she kissed His feet and anointed them with the fragrant oil” Luke 7:36-47.

Jesus compared her actions to a foot washing, and He forgave her sins. And He forgave her sins!  (wait a minute….EPIPHANY!!!!)

What if a foot washing is something like a baptism – a mini cleansing of the sole from earthly heathen soil, which we are bound to get on us simply by being in the world?

Of course we are cleansed of our sins (past, present, and future) by our Savior’s blood when we are born again and baptized, so we are essentially cleansed and do not need any other “baptism.” But…we ARE imperfect humans, and in this world we will have troubles (John 16:33); we’ll slip up from time to time – lose our temper, tell a white lie, borrow something and forget to return it, show partiality to someone, disobey God, etc. We may think these are insignificant, or secret sins, but God sees them. He smells our stinky feet, and whether we realize it or not, we are tracking heathen dust into our homes, into our friends’ homes, and into HIS house! But I have good news. When we’ve gotten some inevitable earthly dust on us James 5:16 tells us to confess our sins to one another, and pray Jesus to … well … wash our feet of them (1 John 1:7-9 & John 13:10).

Jesus, after explaining to His disciples who He was in relation to God the Father said, “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example that you should do as I have done to you” John 13:14-15.

I have often wondered, since foot washing has really gone by the wayside in many modern churches, as far as a frequent practice, did Jesus mean His actions to be figurative? Did He simply mean for us His followers to humble ourselves and be willing to serve others in the lowliest of ways? Or did He really intend that we literally wash each other’s feet – to symbolize God’s forgiveness and the washing away of our little daily sins? To be honest, something tugs at me in my heart that Jesus intended the basin & towel to be more than a lost and forgotten ritual, but the saved person’s sort of confessional?  Plus, instead of falling into the bad habit of tearing down our brothers and sisters, pointing out all their little sins and flaws, we could have mercy to forgive them, love them, and get down to toe level with the Lord’s basin and towel.

The practice did continue in the New Testament church. It is on the list of the virtues of a godly woman in 1 Timothy 5:9-10: “She [is] the wife of one man, well reported for good works, brings up children, lodges strangers, washes the saints’ feet, relieves the afflicted, and diligently follows every good work.”

Could it be that the lowly chore was delegated to the women? According to Rabbinical Literature, Jewish wives were once expected to wash their husband’s feet, as well as prepare their drink and bed (Yer.Ket. v.30a, jewishencyclopedia.com); otherwise servants were expected to wash the feet of guests.

What’s kind of ironic about women being relegated to this chore is that we girls LOVE to have our feet washed, don’t we? In today’s modern world we don’t make foot washing a part of our hospitality practices any more, but we do still observe the ritual in a way – we just go to a special (non spiritual) place to have it done and we pay for it. We call it a pedicure, and it is definitely a treat! Wouldn’t it be neat if there were Christian pedicure places, where we could go and it would be safe, and we could confess our sins, and we could leave with a whole new lease on life? Maybe the next time I get a pedicure I will put my headphones on, close my eyes, and spend the time in quiet meditation, discretely giving my sins to God.

“Confess your sins one to another” it says in James 5:16 (see also 1 John 1:8-9).

Say… what am I thinking? You and I can do this right now. What have you been struggling with this week? This month? This year? Have you been tracking sins into your house, into God’s house?

May I wash your feet?

8 Unless I Wash

How about if you think of all the little shortcomings, and sins that have entangled you this week. What is it that is weighing heavy on your heart? What is it that is making you feel guilty way down in your gut, and holding you back from running the race our Lord has marked out for you? Go ahead, take a moment and write your thoughts down?

When you have finished calling to mind each and every ugly little thing that is nagging in your spirit, will you please then come sit in this seat, slip your shoes off, and slide your feet into this tub of hot, soapy water I have prepared for you. I’m going to dunk a soft cloth into the water and run it over the tops and bottoms of your feet, and then squeeze the water over them. As I do, I want you to imagine the Lord’s forgiveness washing over your shortcomings as you give each one of them to Him. You name them, I’ll wash that dust off with this holy water, and we’ll just go for as long as we need to until we’ve covered everything on your list. You are precious dear one. The Lord loves you. And He forgives you!

Now lift your feet out of the water and let me dry them with a soft, fluffy towel. Don’t you feel wonderful getting that off your chest?

Let’s now pour this dirty water out on a flower bed, or under a big oak tree in your yard. All this water is sure going make the flowers and trees grow and blossom, and as you watch them getting bigger and stronger I want you to know that YOU are becoming a tree of righteousness, the planting of the Lord. God’s beauty for ashes!

“How beautiful…are the feet of them that bring good news” Romans 10:15 (Isaiah 52:7).

Pray these verses with me: “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good tidings to the POOR; He has sent me to heal the BROKEN-HEARTED, to proclaim liberty to the CAPTIVES, and the opening of prison to those who are BOUND; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who MOURN, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.” Isa 61:1-3

Go, be free, my friend, and sin no more. But if you find your feet dusty again, my door is always open. You come right back here and sit, and we’ll chat, and we’ll give those cares to God and let Him wash them all away again. Where two or more are gathered in His name, there He is among us.

“I have given you an example that you should do as I have done to you” John 13:15.

Barabbas

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Barabbas

Have you ever thought about the man Pilate brought out before the people?  The criminal case that was … dismissed!

A man who was guilty in the courtroom of heaven, but dismissed by man, and a man who was innocent in the courtroom of heaven, condemned by man.

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Matthew 27:16-26 NKJV

16 And at that time they had a notorious prisoner called Barabbas.

17Therefore, when they had gathered together, Pilate said to them, “Whom do you want me to release to you? Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?”

18For he knew that they had handed Him over because of envy.

19 While he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent to him, saying, “Have nothing to do with that just Man, for I have suffered many things today in a dream because of Him.”

20 But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitudes that they should ask for Barabbas and destroy Jesus.

21 The governor answered and said to them, “Which of the two do you want me to release to you?” They said, “Barabbas!”

22 Pilate said to them, “What then shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?” They all said to him, “Let Him be crucified!”

23 Then the governor said, “Why, what evil has He done?” But they cried out all the more, saying, “Let Him be crucified!”

24 When Pilate saw that he could not prevail at all, but rather that a tumult was rising, he took water and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, “I am innocent of the blood of this just Person. You see to it.”

25 And all the people answered and said, “His blood be on us and on our children.”

26 Then he released Barabbas to them; and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered Him to be crucified.

Pilate didn’t give the people just any choice of prisoners, he gave them only one choice, Barabbas.  Matthew says that Barabbas was a “notorious prisoner” (which if this was the only account of the story could lead us to imagine he was possibly a repeat offender, or maybe an insurrectionist who caused a lot of trouble with the other prisoners).  Then Mark comes along with his testimony…

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Mark 15:7-15

7 And there was one named Barabbas, who was chained with his fellow rebels; they had committed murder in the rebellion.

8 Then the multitude, crying aloud, began to ask him to do just as he had always done for them.

9But Pilate answered them, saying, “Do you want me to release to you the King of the Jews?”

10 For he knew that the chief priests had handed Him over because of envy.

11 But the chief priests stirred up the crowd, so that he should rather release Barabbas to them.

12 Pilate answered and said to them again, “What then do you want me to do with Him whom you call the King of the Jews?”

13 So they cried out again, “Crucify Him!”

14 Then Pilate said to them, “Why, what evil has He done?” But they cried out all the more, “Crucify Him!”

15 So Pilate, wanting to gratify the crowd, released Barabbas to them; and he delivered Jesus, after he had scourged Him, to be crucified.

Notice in verses 9 and 12 the title Pilate uses for Jesus.  John uses this same title in his testimony a little further down as well.  Mark also says Barabbas was a “rebel” who had “committed murder,” along with his gang of rebels, in a rebellion.  Peter testifies to the same in Acts 3:14.  Luke then comes along with a 3rd testimony…

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Luke 23:13, 14, 18-25

13 Then Pilate, when he had called together the chief priests, the rulers, and the people,

14 said to them, “You have brought this Man to me, as one who misleads the people. And indeed, having examined Him in your presence, I have found no fault in this Man concerning those things of which you accuse Him

Did Pilate choose Barabbas because he more aptly fit the accusation of “one who misleads the people” when placed side by side of their choice of Jesus?

18 And they all cried out at once, saying, “Away with this Man, and release to us Barabbas”–

19 who had been thrown into prison for a certain rebellion made in the city, and for murder

20 Pilate, therefore, wishing to release Jesus, again called out to them.

21 But they shouted, saying, “Crucify Him, crucify Him!

22 Then he said to them the third time, “Why, what evil has He done? I have found no reason for death in Him. I will therefore chastise Him and let Him go.”

23 But they were insistent, demanding with loud voices that He be crucified. And the voices of these men and of the chief priests prevailed.

24 So Pilate gave sentence that it should be as they requested.

25 And he released to them the one they requested, who for rebellion and murder had been thrown into prison; but he delivered Jesus to their will.

So, the question about where the rebellion took place is answered by Luke.  It was in the city, not in the prison, and Luke backs up Mark that there was murder involved (accidental or intentional, we’ll probably  never know).

Lastly is the testimony of the fourth witness…

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John 18:39-40

39 “But you have a custom that I should release someone to you at the Passover. Do you therefore want me to release to you the King of the Jews?”

40 Then they all cried again, saying, “Not this Man, but Barabbas!” Now Barabbas was a robber.

John adds that Barabbas was a “robber.” It is the first time robbery is attached to Barabbas. Now to give Barabbas the benefit of the doubt here, I imagine he could be a completely unsavory scoundrel, or he could also be a hero – of the order of Robin Hood, prince of thieves.  Did he steal from the people for his own benefit, or from the government for the benefit of the poor?  Did someone end up dead as collateral damage?  I guess we’ll never know.  But here is an interesting note on some commentary I found for Mark 15:7…

[Barabbas.] Let us mention also with him a very famous rogue in the *Talmudists, Ben Dinai, whose name also was Eleazar. Of whom they have this passage worthy of chronological observation; “From the time that murderers were multiplied, the beheading the red cow ceased; namely, from the time that Eleazar Ben Dinai came; who was also called Techinnah Ben Perishah: but again they called him, The son of a murderer.” Of him mention is made elsewhere, where it is written Ben Donai. See also Ben Nezer, the king of the robbers.

(*THE TALMUD was the body of Jewish civil and ceremonial law and legend which comprised the Mishnah and the Gemara. There are two versions of the Talmud: the Babylonian Talmud – which dates from the 5th century AD but includes earlier material, and the earlier Palestinian or Jerusalem Talmud).

So, Luke (vs.19) and Mark (vs.7) could be identifying Barabbas with this group.  Perhaps Barabbas was Ben Dinai, or a disciple, or a member of his band?  If so, what a crazy time for Jesus to come upon the scene, in the middle of a revolution.

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So, over here, on this side of the stage, in this corner of the ring, is a man who has caused a rebellious uprising, is a notorious prisoner, is a murderer, and misled the people: Barabbas, of “THE ROBBERS!”

And over there in the other corner is a man who sought out the poor, the maimed, the blind, and the lame, healed their sickness and disease, and brought the dead back to life, Jesus, the “KING OF THE JEWS.”

Because of the jealousy of the religious leaders and the chivalry of the Roman government, the people were forced to choose, and it struck me like a bolt of lightning when it first dawned on me that Barabbas’ name means, “father’s son” (Bar = son + abba = father – Strongs #912 in the Greek dictionary, or #1347 in Chaldean with #5 in Aramaic – the mixed dialog of Palestine).  An earthly man of an earthly father, who had only done terrible things to the people.

And Jesus, who was in the beginning with God, and became a Son of the heavenly Father.  Abba being the name Jesus used for His Father in the garden prayer (Mark 14:36) before He went to the cross.  A Son of the heavenly Father, who had only done good things for the people.

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Who did they choose?  Better yet, who do YOU choose?

I wonder if you’ve ever thought about how deeply curious this Barabbas person is?  The Father put Jesus (The Son of Abba-Father) on a stage before the people with a notorious criminal whose name means son of a father.  And this is the man, the very man Pilate chose to bring out before the people.  That’s just one of a few incredible coincidences.

Consider also that the other members of Barabbas’ gang were quite possibly the two criminals that were crucified with Jesus that day.  Barabbas + the two thieves, make an unholy trio – like the beast, the false prophet, and the dragon.  And along that line, let’s do a comparison:

Barabbas  (a father’s son)

  1.  A “rebel” who “along with his gang of rebels, led a rebellion
  2.  “One who misleads the people” (a liar, basically)
  3.  One who “committed murder”
  4. “A robber”

And his parallel character…

Satan  (son of perdition)

  1.  A rebel:  “And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer. So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him” (Revelation 12:7-9).  “His tail drew a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth” (Revelation 12:4).  
  2. A liar:  “Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?”…  Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die.” (Genesis 3:1,4) 

  3. A murderer:  “…the devil… was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.”  John 8:44
  4. A robber:  “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”  John 10:10

I believe both persons come together as an analogy (or a sort-of parable) of the very choice that has been thrust upon humanity from the beginning of time.

Satan is a wolf in sheep’s clothing – an imposter (anti-christ).  A son of iniquity.  Always on the prowl, seeking whom he may devour.  An accuser of the brethren who accuses us before the Father day and night, who first gets us to sin (lie, cheat, steal, drink, do drugs, beat people up, kill, sleep around, gossip, gamble, etc.) and then runs to rat us out to God as soon as we eat the forbidden fruit he tempted us with. He most defiantly misleads the people.

Satan appeared to Eve in the garden on that fateful day in Genesis, and cleverly convinced her to trust him over God.  The next day was a dark day indeed for Adam and Eve, and all humanity with them.  I imagine the fear and uncertainty and remorse they must have felt in their hearts as they looked back to a garden, guarded by angels, that they could never go back to.  The punishment was swift… but a Messiah was coming.

In much the same way, how dark was the day after Jesus died, when that scoundrel Barabbas was loose and free to terrorize the people again, and they realized they’d been lied to and misled?  Fear and dread must have hung thick in their souls.  The sun was darkened.  The earth quaked.  But Sunday was coming!!!!!

Up from the grave He arose!

The good news is Barabbas eventually died, and Jesus lives!!!!  The Light of the world (John 8:12) dawned out of a dark tomb and over the people for 40 days, and even though the scoundrel Satan, who has never done anything good for humanity, is loosed for a time, because humans keep choosing him, the good news is Jesus is coming again in even greater glory!!!! And Satan dies!!!!!

What a contrast in characters.  One is a taker of life.  The other, a SON who laid down His life.  One tempts us to sin, and the other a SON who takes away our sins and the sins of the world.  An insurrectionist  against an intercessionist.

Jesus changed the course of history when He came, and the thing is, He knew what He was walking into, and that very few would choose Him, and that a very vocal majority would not choose Him, then or now.  He forgave them (us) anyway, and asked God to forgive them (us)  for they (we) knew not what they were doing.

Those jealous leaders of Jesus’ day, with their inflated egos, didn’t know at the time, but they didn’t take Jesus’ life, He laid His life down freely of His own accord.  The truth was hidden from all of them at the time, almost like a parable (1 Corinthians 2:6-16).  Let it not be hidden from you.  Had the crowd NOT chosen Barabbas that day, Jesus would not have been the “Scapegoat,” the “Passover Lamb” that He came here to be. That we all needed Him to be.

It was Barabbas who deserved to be punished that day, but Jesus took his place. We are all sons and daughters of a Holy God/Creator, whose sins deserve punishment, but our Omnipotent Father provided a way of escape – a pardon.

On His last night, the Son, Jesus went into the Garden of Gethsemane, and fell on the ground, and prayed, Abba, Father (Father of fathers), all things are possible for You.  Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will.” Mark 14:36

~ Free Will or God’s Will? ~

This is the choice we have to make every moment of every day of our lives.  In the beginning God gave us all free will, even when He knew His creation wouldn’t choose Him.  And Satan has had a field day with the free will thing. (Click here for an informative article about God’s will, with a free printable of scripture cards). God the Father sent His Son Jesus onto that tragical scene 2000 years ago to give us the tools to defeat Satan – that criminal that stands on the stage of our lives opposite Jesus.

a son or The Son?

Satan came to party hardy and trash our house (mind/body/soul).  Jesus came to sweep our houses clean and put them in order…

“When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest, and finds none. Then he says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when he comes, he finds it empty, swept, and put in order. Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first. So shall it also be with this wicked generation.”  Matthew 12:43-45; Luke 11:24-26

“It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness than to have known it and turned away from the holy commandment passed on to them.  But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.”  2 Peter 2:21, 22

Apart from God we can do nothing!  

“Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”  (Matthew 26:41)

“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” (2 Corinthians 3:17)

“Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send Him unto you.”  John 16:7

“And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost:” John 20:22

(He swept their houses clean and put them in order.)

“And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which,” He said, “you have heard from Me; for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” (Acts 1:4,5) “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”  (Acts 1:8)  “When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.  And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.  Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them.  And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” (Acts 2:1-4)

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence, And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.  Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, And uphold me by Your generous Spirit.”  Psalm 51:10-12

“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.  For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace;  above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints—”  Ephesians 6:10-18

Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Ephesians 5:15-20

“For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.  For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, Abba, Father (Father of fathers).  The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs – heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.”  Romans 8:14-17

“But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.  And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, Abba, Father (Father of fathers)!  Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.”  Galatians 4: 4-7

“And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven.”  Matthew 23:9

In other words: Do not exalt any human being on earth to the place of God in your heart. Warning! They will let you down. They are imperfect.

“Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?”  Hebrews 12:9

We live in a crazy mixed up time when so many fathers are absent from the home and the lives of their children. Either they are work-a-holics trying to put food on the table, or they are deadbeats who don’t want any responsibility.  God intended earthly fathers to be a picture of our heavenly father; that we as children would feel their sacrificial love,  experience their protection, and in return have great honor and respect for them. That’s why God hates divorce, sex outside of marriage, and alternative lifestyles.  The design on earth is supposed to be a copy and shadow of heaven.  Can you guess who messed it all up?  Someone less than a true father, I assure you!  John the Baptist prepared the way for Jesus, in the spirit of Elijah- Luke 1:17, by turning the hearts of the fathers to their children.  My prayer is that the same spirit of Elijah will come and do it again!  And may our hearts be turned to our heavenly Father again!!!!  In Jesus’ name.

“Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.” 1 John 3:1

Because of Jesus, we can receive a spirit of adoption by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” (Romans 8:15).  Because THE SON made us sons, God sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” (Galatians 4:6).

easter-cross

For the free printable coloring page click  >>>  Easter-cross

I hope that if you are feeling lonely, abandoned, heavy, guilty, burdened with sins, the weight of which keeps you from choosing Jesus, that you will know that you’ve not dug a hole for yourself too deep and too wide that God cannot or will not reach down into and pull you up out of.  God the father sent His Son to that cross for YOU!  To set you free.  He paid the penalty for your sin.  By His blood your criminal case with God can be hereby … DISMISSED!  Just like the thief on the cross, the friend of Barabbas.  The world may judge you guilty, but Jesus died for you, and paradise is waiting.

Jesus is a friend who sticks closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24).  Jesus said, “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.” (John 12:32)

Jesus was lifted up on a cross, just like the symbol of healing God gave to Moses for the Hebrews in the wilderness (Numbers 21:8-9 & John 3:14-15).  By His stripes we are healed (Isaiah 53:5).

Jesus, the King of the Jews, was lifted up from the earth, and ascended into the heavens (Acts 1:9-11), as our High Priest, to sprinkle His atoning sacrifice on the mercy seat in the Holy of Holies (Hebrews 9:1-10:17), and as our King and Priest, to be seated upon His throne, having conquered sin and death.  Jesus, the King of kings!

If Jesus is lifted up in our hearts and in our lives and in our words and in our ways, He will draw not only us, but all of those around us unto Himself, by His Spirit.  I am a living testimony to the power of Jesus’ blood.  I grew up in an alcoholic home, filled with anger, and harsh discipline.  When I left home as a teenager my heart was very bitter.  So bitter in fact that I became twice the S.O.B. that my dad ever was.  I was hell bent on destroying myself through wild living, but Jesus was not willing that I should perish.  PTL

He sent a lady to boldly, relentlessly lead me to Jesus.  The Lord drew me to Himself.  Satan had me by the heels, but Jesus had me by the heart and His strong grip dragged me up out of the pit I’d dug for myself, and set my feet on solid ground.  Life is not without struggles.  Satan doesn’t just disappear when we ask Jesus into our hearts, but Jesus/the Holy Spirit, is stronger than Satan.   He has been with me through all the storms of life.  His Holy Spirit renews my  mind.  He gives me passion for the Word of God, which proves to be the lifeline I need to overcome my stuggles.  The church, and the Christian friends that God has placed in my life, are the three-fold chord that is not easily broken.  They pray for me, encouraged me, love me, and help me transition from a hell-bent lifestyle to one that leads to eternal life.  God took my heart of stone and gave me a heart of flesh.  Apparently this is something my whole family noticed, and caused them to also want to know Jesus, seeing the drastic effect He had on me.  And I am here to tell you that if God could do that for me He can do that for anyone.  He can do it for you.

May I pray for you?

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Lord I am a sinner.  I’ve dug a deep pit for myself.  I am a fool to be pittied.  I’ve made just about every bad choice a person can make.  I’ve been deceived.  But Lord, today I choose YOU!!!!!  Lord, set me free.  Come and sweep my house and put it in order, and then fill me with Your Holy Spirit.  Kick the devil out of my life and seal up every crack and crevasse where he might seek to re-enter.  Set my feet upon solid rock and protect me from the storms my enemy brings against me.  When Satan comes in like a flood, may You raise up a standard against him.  May the plans of the enemy be exposed and may the fate he plans for me personally be his own demise, just like Haman in the Bible.  Set Your hedge around me O Lord.  Encompass me with safe boundaries.  Expand my territory so that the gates of hell may not prevail.  Renew my mind.  Give me strength.  And when my accuser comes to you asking to sift me as wheat, because I fell in a moment of weekness, Lord may the answer be NO!  Let me not make excuses for the trespasses I’ve committed, but be forgiven of my sins, and cleansed from all unrighteousness.  May the curses be broken.  Help me not to pay forward the sins of my past, but let your kindness be in me.  Bless me and my family that we may bless others.  Give me eyes to see and hearts to feel compassion, and hands overflowing with generosity for those in need.  Suit me up in the Spiritual Armor.  Comfort me with the peace that passes understanding.  Fill me with wisdom and knowledge from Your word to light my path and be a beacon of hope for others.  All glory and honor to You.  In Jesus’ Name. Amen 

“And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”  Joshua 24:15

Taste and see that the Lord is good!

.In Christ the solid rock I stand.  All other ground is sinking sand!  

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LOST & FOUND, the Parables of “Lost” Things

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LOST & FOUND, the Parables of “Lost” Things

I remember when I worked at the school district, the last week of school, that our bin of lost and found items would get drug out and the items hung up on racks, or laid out on tables in the front foyer, where parents and students would be coming and going, and hopefully they’d see an item that belonged to them and take it home.  I was always amazed at how much stuff would accumulate over the year.  Coats, hats, gloves, shirts, sweatpants, lunch boxes, shoes… just a myriad of things.  My goodness, didn’t anyone miss this stuff?

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I have lost things though, so who am I to judge?

I lost my cell phone once.  I had it and then I didn’t have it.  I always kept it in my purse. Then one day I went to lunch with friends and afterwards ran a few errands, and when I got back home and went to make a phone call it wasn’t there.  I stirred the contents of my purse around with my hand, and then emptied it out completely, dumping the contents all over the floor.  Nope, no cellphone.

I looked in my car, all over the car, under the seats, between the seats, in the console, and even in the backseats.  I looked on the garage floor (maybe I accidentally kicked it out with my foot), and under the shelves along the wall.  It wasn’t there.  It wasn’t anywhere.

Like most people now-a-days I don’t have a landline, or even another cell phone as backup.  And even if I had walked to the neighbors that day it would have been useless to borrow their phone.  I did’t know anyone’s number.  No one calls a NUMBER any more, we all call a NAME or a FACE.  Oh dear.  This was bad. This was my only communication with the outside world and it was gone, gone, gone, forever!

I went back in the house and looked on every surface where I might have laid the phone: the kitchen counters, the bedroom dressers, the bathroom, the laundry room.  I retraced every step I’d made before leaving the house that day.  And then I got back in my car and drove back to every business in town where I’d been, and asked if anyone had found a cell phone.  Not a one.

I came back home and sat in a panic in the middle of my living room floor thinking intently about what to do next.  And in the middle of my racing thoughts I heard it…I heard my cell phone ringing.  “My phone!  Oh my gosh, where is it coming from?  I jumped to my feet and dashed around my house like a raving maniac, trying to get to the sound before it stopped ringing…….and where did I find it?  My… PURSE!

It had slipped through a tear in the lining and was caught between the lining and the shell of my hard leather purse.  I felt like an idiot, and at the same time was soooooooo relieved to have found it.  So happy in fact that I wanted to drive back to every place I’d been, call all my friends, and tell them all, “I FOUND IT!!!!”

So, I completely relate to the thrill of the woman finding her lost coin in the story below.

Lost Things

Click below for the FREE PRINTABLE coloring page

FREE PRINTABLE coloring page, click >>>>>> Lost & Found

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The Parable of the Lost Sheep

 Matthew 18:10-14 (NKJV)  Courtesy of Bible Gateway

10 “Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven. 11 For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost.[a]

12 “What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying? 13 And if he should find it, assuredly, I say to you, he rejoices more over that sheep than over the ninety-nine that did not go astray. 14 Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.

Luke 15:1-7 (NKJV)  Courtesy of Bible Gateway

Then all the tax collectors and the sinners drew near to Him to hear Him. And the Pharisees and scribes complained, saying, “This Man receives sinners and eats with them.” So He spoke this parable to them, saying:

“What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’ I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance.

The Parable of the Lost Coin

Luke 15:8-10 (NKJV)   Courtesy of Bible Gateway

 “Or what woman, having ten silver coins,[a] if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? And when she has found it, she calls her friends and neighbors together, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the piece which I lost!’ 10 Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

The Parable of the Lost Son

Luke 15:11-32 (NKJV)   Courtesy of Bible Gateway

Then He said: “A certain man had two sons. 12 And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the portion of goods that falls to me.’ So he divided to them his livelihood. 13 And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together, journeyed to a far country, and there wasted his possessions with prodigal living. 14 But when he had spent all, there arose a severe famine in that land, and he began to be in want. 15 Then he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. 16 And he would gladly have filled his stomach with the pods that the swine ate, and no one gave him anything.

17 “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! 18 I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, 19 and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants.”’

20 “And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. 21 And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring[a] out the best robe and putit on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. 23 And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; 24 for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ And they began to be merry.

25 “Now his older son was in the field. And as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 So he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. 27 And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and because he has received him safe and sound, your father has killed the fatted calf.’

28 “But he was angry and would not go in. Therefore his father came out and pleaded with him. 29 So he answered and said to his father, ‘Lo, these many years I have been serving you; I never transgressed your commandment at any time; and yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might make merry with my friends. 30 But as soon as this son of yours came, who has devoured your livelihood with harlots, you killed the fatted calf for him.’

31 “And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours. 32 It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found.’”

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Here’s my story:

I had been born an innocent child of God and raised going to church, but somewhere early in life I saw the things that the world had to offer and I was lured away by deception.  It’s a great cavernous thing that the world offers.  There’s never money enough, or time enough, or energy enough to attain that carrot that Satan dangles before our faces, but the game is so enticing (everybody’s doing it) that we continue to seek to try until we have nothing left to give.  That’s when we realize we are now slaves to things we hate (relationships, drugs, alcohol, situations), and it was all just a trap.  God in His mercy didn’t let it get so far with me that I was stealing pig slop out of hunger, but a diet of rice and oatmeal are close enough.  My father was about as far from rich as one can be, but he met me at the train station with as much relief and love and thankfulness as the father in Jesus’s story.  He had his own demons that he was fighting, and it was still a while before I came to my senses, but thankfully I settled down eventually, got married, was blessed with a child, and landed a decent job back home where I belonged.

And then I was working for a small town newspaper and calling on a customer for an ad. This customer had a wrapping and shipping business located inside a liquor store on the east side of town. As I made my acquaintance on my first visit, the woman of this husband/wife team set me on my heels with a pretty direct question. One I wasn’t prepared for, or was even expecting that day. She asked me if I knew Jesus, and if I were to die today if I knew where I would be going. Wow…I couldn’t get out of there fast enough. She made me very uncomfortable. But her words haunted me for weeks after that.

I knew what she was talking about. I had been raised in Sunday school. I had Christian grandparents. My dad had always said he hoped his daughters would get baptized at some time in our lives. I always intended to get baptized, but being fresh into my young life I wasn’t sure I was done sowing my wild oats yet. Somehow I had it in my head that making a commitment to God meant the end of “fun.”

I avoided her in every way after that, but a month down the road when I stopped in to pick up their ad for our paper, being careful to go in the afternoon when I knew she wouldn’t be there, she WAS there and smiling at me as I walked through the door. DANG-IT! But as much as I make this out to be a bad thing, truly our conversation had been all I could think about. I had wrestled with God over what she said for weeks. So when she asked if I had thought about what we talked about, I humbly confessed I’d thought of nothing else.

She asked me if I was ready to make the commitment and I said yes, afraid I may not get a second chance. She whisked me off to the bathroom grabbed my hands and told me to pray with her, “Repeat after me” she said, and I did.

I honestly couldn’t tell you the words I prayed with her that day. All of them escape my memory. But something incredible happened in that bathroom when I said, “Amen.” My blood felt strangely carbonated in my veins, like life was flooding into me in some magical, spiritual way (very much the way life flooded into the Beast when Bell, the Beauty, kissed him and told him she loved him).  That very similar magical effervesence bubbled up inside of me and all around me. I was saved from spiritual death that day.  My legs were wobbly and weak. My mind was swirling. I absolutely was not the same person walking out of that bathroom as the person who walked into it moments earlier. I followed her out to her desk and stared in a daze out the huge picture window. All of a sudden I became aware of the sky and the most gorgeous sunset I’ve ever seen. It was magnificent with reds and purples. I wondered in my heart and asked God, “Have sunsets always been this beautiful and I never noticed, or did You make this one especially for me?”

Just as I thought this I saw a figment of angels in the clouds…thousands of them. They were all singing and rejoicing. It was so emotionally moving to me that I dissolved to tears instantly.  It was some months later that I came across the scripture that says, there is “more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents, than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance.” Luke 15:7, and how we have so great a cloud of witnesses watching from above (Hebrews 12:1).

The angels were rejoicing over me that day, a great cloud of witnesses, and God gave me a brief and beautiful glimpse.  But I’m not the only one; they are gathered to rejoice over you too!

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If you are reading this and have never asked Jesus into your heart, but feel His Spirit speaking to you, take heed my friend.  He is seeking you.  You didn’t end up here by accident.  God brought you to these words today for a reason.  He wants you.  He’s reaching out to you right here and right now.  Please trust Him!  Give Him your heart today.  You don’t need any fancy words.  You just need to talk to Him.  If you would feel better talking to a real person right now about this decision, that’s good too, and CBN has prayer partners ready to pray at any time of day, just give them a call (1-800-823-6053), or seek out a local pastor.  Pray right now, whereever you are, and ask Jesus to come into your heart while He is knocking on your heart’s door, and let Him be Lord of your life.  Don’t quench His Spirit!  Don’t let the devil lure you away.  Let God’s Spirit lead you.  Trust me, it’s the best decision you will ever make, and the greatest love story!

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(This is a video of Glen Campbell, sometime soon after he got saved.  I’m a big Glen Campbell fan, and this is one of my favorite songs.  I am pretty sure it tells his personal story, and that’s really what I love about it.  At the time of this video it wasn’t recorded on a CD yet, but it is now.  He actually recorded several Christian albums! Glen has gone on to be with Jesus, but his beautiful, personal songs and music live on for us to listen to, and you can get them at Amazon.com.)

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You are the Lord’s Pearl of Great Price!

You are His Hidden Treasure!

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The Parable of the Hidden Treasure

Matthew 13:44-46  (NKJV)

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.

The Parable of the Pearl of Great Price

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, 46 who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it.

Solid Rock

FREE PRINTABLE coloring page, click >>>>>> Solid Rock Printable

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I dearly hope you have trusted Him as Savior today.

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God bless you my friend!!!!

The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard

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The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard

Matthew 20:1-16 (NKJV)

20 “For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard.

My Bible footnote says it would have been 6:00AM.

Now when he had agreed with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard. 

My Bible footnote says a denarius (a word of Latin origin) was the standard wage for a full day’s work.  The KJV uses the word “penny” or pence in place of denarius which in Roman currency of the time would have been ten asses (asses were bronze or copper coins used during the Roman Empire).  Denarius is the origin of the common noun for money in Italian denaro, in Portuguese dinheiro and in Spanish dinero.

Here are some example salaries and product costs as of the times of Diocletian in the third century AD:

Farm laborer monthly pay, with meals = 400 asses

Teacher’s monthly pay, per boy = 800 asses

Barber’s service price, per client = 32 asses

1 kg of pork = 380 asses (1 lb = 170 asses)

1 kg of grapes = 32 asses (1 lb = 15 asses)

* Source: Wikipedia

And he went out about the third hour and saw others standing idle in the marketplace, 

The third hour would be 9:00AM; and there were more people standing inactive, unemployed; (by implication) lazy, useless: – barren, idle, slow“(Strongs #692 argos) in the “agora” (Strongs #58), which is probably the town square, market, or thoroughfare/street.

and said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and whatever is right I will give you.’ So they went. 

Their wage: whatever is right (just drawing attention to that).  The Greek word used is dikaios (1342) and it means “equitable” (in character or act); (by implication) innocent; holy, just, meet, right(-eous).

Again he went out about the sixth and the ninth hour, and did likewise. 

The sixth hour is noon and the ninth hour is 3:00PM.

And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing idle,[a]and said to them, ‘Why have you been standing here idle all day?’ 

The 11th hour is 5:00PM (an hour before quitting time), and is it just me or does the land owner seem kind of annoyed that there are folks just standing around idle all day?

They said to him, ‘Because no one hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and whatever is right you will receive.’[b]

Again he promises “what is right.”

“So when evening had come, the owner of the vineyard said to his steward, ‘Call the laborers and give them their wages, beginning with the last to the first.’ 

To pay them, the landowner worked his way backwards from the new hires to those with seniority (which btw, is an exact representation of the grapes in the basket.  The first grapes gathered are at the bottom and will be last to come out. The first grapes to come out of the basket are the last ones that went in).

And when those came who were hired about the eleventh hour, they each received a denarius. 

Quite a generous wage for an hour’s worth of work.

10 But when the first came, they supposed that they would receive more; and they likewise received each a denarius. 

The landowner was certainly a man of his word wasn’t he, although “fair” is in the eye of the beholder isn’t it?   Ever been hired for a job and completely happy about your wage until you found out what others were being paid?  My husband calls it O.P.M. (other people’s money), and it is the root of all discontentment.  Yep; been there and done that.

11 And when they had received it, they complained against the landowner, 

12 saying, ‘These last men have worked only one hour, and you made them equal to us who have borne the burden and the heat of the day.’ 

13 But he answered one of them and said, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius?

14 Take what is yours and go your way. I wish to give to this last man the same as to you.

I believe the “wage” in the parable is probably A TICKET TO HEAVEN, and when I look at it like that I kind of get a different perspective. I can’t help but draw a parallel with the thief on the cross.  Jesus told him as they hung on their crosses together, with the sun fading on the day, that today he would be in paradise with Him.  The thief had run out of time to do very many good works.  He was at the 11th hour of his life.  All he had time for was to witness to one last man, yet he got the same reward as our righteous King, as well as all the prophets and saints and godly Hebrews of the Old Testiment who had preached, and prophesied, and judged, and led, been faithful, and died before him.

The thing I have to remember is that Salvation is not earned.  It is a gift rewarded for saying yes to an invitation.

15 Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with my own things? Or is your eye evil because I am good?’ 

My Bible footnote says that this parable blossomed out of the attitude that the disciples had shown toward service and rewards.

I find this a tricky thing about church. It is so easy when you belong to ANY group of people to look around at others and compare.  So easy to get hurt feelings about things.  So easy to get wrapped up in unholy competitions.

Am I the only one that is secretly longing for pats on the back for my good deeds? Sometimes tempted to brag about charitible things I’ve done just to make myself feel more spiritual or worthy to my peers?  Am I the only one that feels a twinge of jealousy when someone else in the congregation is liked more, fawned over more, appreciated more?  Am I the only one that is hurt when my fruit salad is passed over for Linda’s Fritata?  Or when Beth is chosen to lead next month’s Ladies Group instead of me?  Or when Emily puts a picture on Facebook and it gets 47 likes immediately and I don’t even have 47 friends?  Or when a certain, once unknown blog writer, celebrates her Food Network show and new line of kitchen wares filling up all the isles in all the Wal-mart stores across America and I count it a huge success if just one person clicks the “like” star on one of my posts.

Although rewards are part of God’s plan (Romans 2:6; Matthew 16:27; Revelation 22:12; 2 Corinthians 5:10), Jesus rebukes the spirit of serving for the rewards rather than out of love (1 Corinthians 13).

16 So the last will be first, and the first last. For many are called, but few chosen.”[c]  

Matt20.16

Click this link for the FREE downloadable coloring page: Grapevine  to use for your small group, or Sunday School class, or just to color as you spend time in prayer.

The last will be first and the first will be last…just like the grapes being gathered into the baskets, the last ones in will be the first ones to enter the winepress, but they will altogether be a lovely batch of vino.

Chosen vs. Called. 

The Greek word for Called is “Kletos.” Strongs #2822.  It means invited, appointed.  It is used eleven times in the New Testament (Bible Study Tools), and most of those times it is in reference to a calling to ministry or a special appointment, such as apostle or saint.

A calling is kind of a general thing, but it is usually geared to a specific group of folks.  For instance, I think of a ranch cook calling the hands for supper.  She yells or rings the bell and anyone on HER ranch who is hungry will come running.  A church bell calls ITS congregation to church.  A school bell calls ITS students to class.  The disciples, and we as Christians, received a calling from Christ to take the love of Christ to our neighbors.  Many are called.

The Greek word for Chosen is “Ekletos.”  Strongs #1588.  It means select, favorite, elect.

Choosing is much more personal.  We choose a mate.  We choose our clothes.  We choose what we want to eat from a menu.  Choosing is intimate.  This word is used 23 times in scripture (Bible Study Tools). Most of those times the word is translated “elect” as in “the elect,” the favorites of the called, the cream of the crop, the most exalted ones of the called.  Jesus called many disciples, but chose a smaller group of twelve apostles.  Of the apostles, Jesus chose an inner circle, Peter, James, and John as His elect.  Often He asked these three to come be with Him for something special, like healing miracles, the transfiguration, or the prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Although the two words, Kletos and Ekletos are spelled the same, they are not pronounced the same and have different meanings.  They are homographs, but I have an uneducated hunch that there is an intended play-on-words in the Greek that is sort of lost in English, don’t you?

The same phrase is repeated in Matthew 22:14.

We all have an inner circle of friends, a small group that we trust just a little bit more, cherish just a little bit more.  I want to live my life in such a way as that the Lord would trust me just a little bit more, and cherish me just a little bit more.  Not to lord it over anyone, but just to have Him smile at me with affection.  I want to have a comfort zone thing with Him.  I want to have the trust/integrity thing with HIM!!!!  I have been forgiven much, I also want to love much (Luke 7:47)!

Personal Application

In penning this post I got to thinking about the shopping trip I made with my granddaughter this past weekend.  It wasn’t going to take us long to pick out some uniform pieces for school: a couple skirts, a couple pants, and a couple pair of shorts, but our little dash in to Old Navy hit a roadblock when we encountered the unbelievable, Disneyland-like lines for the dressing rooms, and then to pay at the end.  It was just crazy how many people were in that store.  I guess that’s what we got for not arriving there until afternoon on the half-price day of the tax-free weekend.

While we were in the monsterous line to pay we passed a bouncy-ball vending machine, and to help pass the time I dug some quarters out of my purse to let my little schnookums try for a pink ball.  One…two…three tries and one…two…three green/blue/yellow balls came out.  Well, shucks.  I asked her what she was gonna do with three balls?  She decided she would give one ball to her sister and keep the other two for herself, but I suggested she give the third ball to another kid in the store.  “Why?” she inquired.  “To be nice,” I riposted, and then I asked her to look around for a kid her age who would be a good candidate.  She looked around, but was overcome with fear and shyness.  She wanted me to do it.  I kept pointing people out to her, and encouraging her, promising that it would make her feel good to do it, but she just couldn’t get up the gumption to talk to someone she didn’t know.  I asked her to choose which ball she wanted to give away, and on our way out of the store I asked a little girl if she’d like to have it.  Although my little jelly-bean was too scared to step out and talk to another person, at least she was willing to give, and I was proud of her for that.

I feel the Holy Spirit challenging me in several ways today through the reading and studying of this parable.  Like my darling granddaughter, I too hold back sometimes, because of timidity.  My anxiousness causes me to stand around idle all day in my comfort zone waiting for a job to come looking for me.  Sometimes I find myself looking around to see if anyone else is stepping out before I do, so I don’t look foolish taking a leap-of-faith all by myself.  Consequently, I don’t make it into the vineyard until the 6th or 9th hour (if at all).  But then there are other times when I feel like I am the one who has been there all day, putting in the biggest effort, and here come others that have done barely anything and are getting lavish praise.  Sometimes I get jealous over favoritism shown to others in the small groups that I belong to.

In all honesty, I don’t accept praise well, but admit it is a nice reward to have someone notice my efforts (so that I can humbly dismiss them – ha, right?).  But to get very little praise or appreciation when others around me seem to be getting tons of praise for what seems like a fraction of the work, that is pretty hard to take.  Stumbling blocks.  Oh Lord, I hate the stumbling blocks in this Pilgrims Progress of life.  They are so hard to get past, but here’s what I’m feeling the Lord leading me to use as tools to help me climb over them, dig under them, and squeeze around them:

ladderTry to remember that Jesus made a fair deal with me when He invited me to work in His vineyard.

pick-axeRemember that He is a man of His word and will reward me with what is right. “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.”  Galatians 6:9

shovelStop looking around at the deal everyone else is getting, or get jealous over favoritism.  It’s Satan’s oldest trick to get us to LOOK at things we’re not supposed to have and then looooong for them.  There are far more harder working Christians out there than me who are going to be given the same gift as me in the end, and who have done a mountain more work.  Who cares if I am His favorite or not.  As long as I make it to heaven, who cares if all I have to live in is a pup-tent, and scraps from the Master’s table to eat.  Tis better to be in God’s kingdom than to be anywhere else.

RopeBe motivated by love, and not distracted by greed, or jealousy or even obligation, nor tempted into expecting a reward for every little thing.  To keep my eyes on the vineyard and not on the prize box.  To take the hard shell off my heart and let it swell for that person in front of me who needs a friend, or a sandwich, or a hug, or a kleenex, or a good laugh.

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Dear Lord Jesus, help me not to fall into the trap of comparison.  Help me to keep my eyes on You and consider only the prize that You have promised me.  Help me to be content with such things as I have.  Help me not to be idle, or crippled by fear or timidity, or green with envy and miss a great blessing.  In Your precious name I pray.  Amen.

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“No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.”

1 Corinthians 10:13 (NKJV)