Category Archives: Devotional

Stones of Remembrance 6: Abraham’s 5th Altar

Standard
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).

* * *

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.

<>< * <>< * <>< * <>< * <>< * <>< * <>< * <><

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

Standard
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 

God’s Keys

Standard
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

The Lamb of God

Standard
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.

.

“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

365 Random Acts of Kindness

Standard
365 Random Acts of Kindness

“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.”  Matthew 7:21

Sobering thought, isn’t it?

So, what is God’s will?  Well, honestly that would make a terrific Bible study.  There are lots of hints in scripture, “thou shalt not kill,” “thou shalt not steal,” “honor your father and your mother,” “ to “do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with our God?”  To not just bless people and tell them we will pray for them, but to give them what they need, when it is within our power to do so.  The following set of cards would make a terrific Bible Study.

 

RACards

 

Random Acts cardsA

It has been on my heart for some time to create this little set of cards, as a way to get in the habit of “hearing God’s word, and doing it  every day!  I had pictured in my mind a nice laminated set of cards, placed in a nice, sturdy, decorated recipe box or basket in the center of my kitchen table.

Each card would feature a daily scripture and a suggested daily random act of kindness. Card 24

Each morning, as I sipped my coffee, I could draw out one of these cards, read the scripture, then flip it over for a suggestion on how to be a doer of God’s word that day.

At the end of the day I could thank God for giving me seeds to sow, and also pray for the people touched by His love.

In the process I would become a pretty good expert on God’s will, and also hopefully have some fruit to show for this wonderful redeemed life He has blessed me with.

Creating this set of cards was such a huge project, it seems a waste to keep it all to myself.  Me thinks there is possibly someone else out there in cyberland who would LOVE to have a set of them, someone who might want to do this little project with me, or with family, or youth group, or a women’s group.  Or maybe print a set to give away to someone as a gift – like a teenager, who is going off to college?

Be doers of the Word

At the bottom of this post I have provided you with the links to download my pdf files of the cards I created.

There is one file for the front design of the cards, and another file for the back side of the cards.  First you’ll want to print one side and then the other on 8.5 X 11″ sheets of light card stock, then cut them apart.  If you have a laminator you can laminate them to make them more durable and waterproof.

Or, if you’d like a nicer quality set you can save the files and take them to your local print shop and have them print the cards for you on a nice card stock.  There are 91 pages in the file (file size is 185.5 KB), and so whatever your print shop charges for full color copies (Staples charges about .47 for color 8.5X11), multiply that times two for 2 sided color copies.

If color printing is too expensive, you can print them in black and white and they will turn out just fine.  Or maybe your employer would let you print them at work if you bring your own paper or card stock???

If you want to skip making the cards, here are some ideas for random acts that you can print out and keep in your Bible:

.

RANDOM ACTS AT WORK:

Be generous with praise. Thank others often. Pitch in and help when a coworker is overwhelmed (sometimes because of the death of a loved one, or recovery from an illness or accident, etc., or just learning the job).  Leave a small gift (book, music CD, pretty pen, Starbucks gift card, etc.) in their mailbox, just because. Surprise someone with flowers, or balloons, whom you notice never receives such things.

“Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” Philippians 2:4

RANDOM ACTS AT CHURCH:

Offer to clean an elderly member’s home. Take an elderly member to a doctor appointment. Take a casserole dinner to a new mom and help her fold clothes. Offer babysitting to a young couple for a date night. Rake leaves or shovel snow for a shut-in, or someone recovering from surgery.  Buy groceries for the pastor/wife. Pick up a friend and take them to church with you. Take a new member to breakfast or lunch.

“So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.” Galatians 6:10 ESV

RANDOM ACTS IN THE COMMUNITY:

Here is an awesome and really fun sounding idea to do with our small groups (church cell groups) that a friend posted on Facebook:

“Oh my goodness! What fun and what a blessing. My church has a number of small groups that meet once a week for more intimate fellowship, Bible study and  service to our community. We are doing a weekly service in our town called “Acts of Random Kindness.” We arrive with a list of acts of kindness we will do, in an hour, as we break up in smaller teams and compete with each other to accomplish the acts and make it back to our host house ahead of other teams. We ran off and paid for people’s groceries, went to gas stations and paid for gas for people and cleaned their windshields, gave flowers to unsuspecting random recipients, gave tips to waitresses without receiving their service, filled washers and dryers with quarters for people at public laundry mats, sang to fast food counter servers and retail sales persons, dropped gift baskets at random houses, read an encouraging poem to a person we came across, and many other acts that let people know they are special and that we care. The way people responded to us was so touching. I didn’t want the giving to stop. I told our leader that it reminded me of when I was a teen and we would do Chinese fire drills. Our adrenaline ran wild. As teams, we ran to each service, all participated, and then we ran back to the car laughing and feeling great about the lives we touched. I could do this every day! I received more than I gave. I think that was the lesson to each of us participating. It is such a joy to give. And…to give randomly, to whoever we see in front of us at the time. I encourage everyone to open your eyes to people you can show kindness to whether you think they deserve it or not.”

“He who shuts his ear to the cry of the poor Will also cry himself and not be answered.” Proverbs 21:13

RANDOM ACTS AT HOME:

Leave a little note of encouragement in children’s lunchboxes or backpacks.  Leave a sweet note on the mirror for spouse. Send a love text or prayer of encouragement to spouse during the day. Warm up and scrape the ice off of spouse’s vehicle – or turn on the  A/C so the car is cool before they go to work.  Surprise spouse with a little gift in their car, or on their side of the bed, or sitting next to their favorite chair in the living room (a new book, a new pair of pajamas, new socks, new gloves, movie tickets, new tool, lotion, candybar, flowers, etc.), just because.

“But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” 1 Timothy 5:8

RANDOM ACTS FOR FRIENDS:

Send a card. Invite to lunch. Leave a small gift (potted plant, bottle of wine, bag of groceries, magazine/newspaper/book, a pretty wreath for their door, etc.) on the doorstep. Invite them to a pedicure. Make a mammogram appointment together and go pick her up. Invite to go shopping (clothes, antiques, farmer’s market, etc.). Invite to a play or movie.

“But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?” 1 John 3:17-18

RANDOM ACTS FOR NEIGHBORS:

Shovel their sidewalks while they are at work. Pull their weeds.  Leave a potted plant on their doorstep. Invite them for supper. Visit with them over the fence.  Help them wash their car, work on their car, repair a fence, etc. if you see them out doing that. Mow their yard while they are at work. Make a pretty wreath for their door.

“Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” James 1:27

 

Random Acts3

FREE PRINTABLE>>>>>Click Here for the RA365 cards front design

(This is one page of the front side design.  91 copies of this one page will be needed for one set of cards, or 92 copies if printing the extra page of blank cards).

.

.

RAC blank cards

FREE PRINTABLE>>>>Click Here for Random Acts one page of blank cards

(This is one page of blank cards, for writing down your own suggestions, or replacing cards in my set that don’t seem relevant to you).

.

.

RACards

FREE PRINTABLE >>>>Click Here for Random Acts 365 Cards FULL SET – 91 pages

(This is the whole set of cards.  It is 91 pages in length, 4 cards per page)

.

Bless you my friend.  And let us not grow weary in doing good, for we shall reap a harvest if we do not give up!

.

.

“Then the righteous will answer Him, Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You something to drink?  And when did we see You a stranger, and took You in? Or naked, and clothed You?  And when did we see You ailing or in prison, and came to You?’  “And the King will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’”

Matthew 25:37-40

 

 

 

 

 

Mrs H’s Tacos

Standard
Mrs H’s Tacos

Get ready for TACO TUESDAY!!!!!!  This might be one of the more coveted recipes in my collection.  I am often asked how I make my tacos.  It is also a frequent request for Family Supper night by daughter, son-in-law, and the grandkids.  It’s one of my husband’s favorite dinners, and really one of my favorites too!!!!  Quick and easy!!!!

Let’s start with the meat

Taco meat

I use 2 lb. of quality ground beef (to feed 4 adults and 2 kids) – a good organic, grass fed, angus beef.  I break it apart in a frying pan and toss while cooking over medium high heat until browned.  Drain off and discard the fat .  I then sprinkle 2 packets of Lawry’s Taco Seasoning Mix over the meat, and then I fill the empty packets with water and pour the water over the seasoning and stir it well into the meat, with the heat turned down to medium low.  To this I add about a half cup of salsa (fresh or canned) and stir that altogether.  I then let the meat simmer on low heat until the tacos are ready to assemble.

DSCN9570

The meat will become drier the longer it simmers.  I personally like it dry so that it doesn’t make the bottom of my tacos soggy.  I don’t like when they fall apart and all the stuffing falls out.

DSCN9573

Pico de gallo

I use about 1 1/2 cup of chopped sweet cherry tomatoes, 1/2 cup chopped fresh jalapenos, and 1 cup chopped green onions (or a small sweet white onion if I don’t have green onions on hand), then add about 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro, 2 cloves of garlic minced, the juice of two limes, and a sprinkle of salt to taste.  If the jalapenos are really mild, I sometimes add a pinch of cayenne for some kick.

Lettuce.JPG

Toppings

I chop one whole bunch of Romaine lettuce into small shreds.

Shred Cheese.JPG

I like to shred my own cheese (pepper jack) when I’m feeling ambitious, but often use a Mexican cheese blend that is pre-shredded already.

Taco Shells

Taco Shells

I buy the small Old El Paso brand taco shells (2 pkgs to feed my family of 4 adults and 2 kids because the men will easily eat 6 tacos apiece or more).

Taco Shells in oven

I preheat my oven to 360*F, and set the shells in a baking pan.  When the oven is ready I pop the pan of shells in for about 6 minutes, or whatever time is recommended on the package.  This is an important step because it makes the shells nice and crispy!!!

 

 

Taco Sauce

I actually use a variety of sauces.  I like to try new ones.  The green tomatillo Herdez or La Costena hot sauces (medium) are both really good standbys.  I like the Taco Bell hot sauce (Diablo), and the DelPrimo sauces are all good.  But my favorite of recent is El Gallo flame roasted Jalapeno.  It comes in a bag with a little screw top spout (medium).

Taco Assembly2

To assemble the tacos I remove the shells from the oven and quickly fill them with meat, dispersing it evenly among the shells.  I sprinkle cheese over the meat in each shell, and then add the lettuce.  They each then get a spoonful of my fresh Pico and a generous pour of tomatillo taco sauce.  That’s it!  Mmmmmm…. let’s eat!!!!!!

DSCN9587

Now some people might like to add chopped black olives, maybe some sour cream, possibly some sliced avacado, and that’s all good, but personally, I can’t bear to mess with perfection.

If you’d like to add a couple of sides, I love charros or refries and Mexican Rice.  And you can never go wrong with Sopapilla Cheesecake for dessert!!!!!  Hubby washes his meal down with a good Modelo cerveza!  I just like iced tea.  Gracee will take a Margarita, if I make her one, and the kids like horchata.

Hey, while we are enjoying our Family Supper, may I share with you from the book One Year of Dinner Table Devotions & Discussion starters by Nancy Guthrie (published by Tyndale)?

 

Devotion

The Parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins

Standard
The Parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins

DSCN9885

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.”

Pretty flourish

.

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.

.

“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

DSCN9902

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).

.

Pretty flourish2

.

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

.

Pretty flourish

.

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.

,

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

.

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.

.

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

DSCN9893

.

Pretty flourish2

.

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

.

Pretty flourish

.

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:

.

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.

.

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.”

.

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

DSCN9889

.

Pretty flourish2

.

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

.

Pretty flourish

.

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

.

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

.

Pretty flourish2

.

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.’”

.

Pretty flourish

.

ca96613db326750c100b322679b49d40

.

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:

.

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

DSCN9903

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?

virgins9

.

Pretty flourish2

.

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.’”

.

Pretty flourish

.

“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

.

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)

.

Pretty flourish2

.

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

.

Pretty flourish

.

.

“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

.

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?

.

Pretty flourish2

.

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

DSCN9904

Unless I Wash You

Standard
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.

20170520_235626-1

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.

what-did-shaking-the-dust-off-your-feet-mean-in-the-bible

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

Standard
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.

matthew-27-16-26

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…

mark-15-7-15

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…

luke-23-13-25

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…

john-18-39-40

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.

boxing_2_lg

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.

4

.

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?

.

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!  

.

The Feast of Atonement & The Lamb’s Book of Life

Standard
The Feast of Atonement & The Lamb’s Book of Life

“Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.”    

2 Corinthians 5:20 NKJV

In case you are just now joining me on this eye-opening journey through the feasts of Israel, I want you to know that this is one in a series of studies on the Jewish holidays. The other feasts that proceed this one are: (Passover & Unleavened Bread, Firstfruits, Pentecost and Trumpets).  And then following this feast is the feast of Tabernacles.

Studying the feasts is a great way for us to gain greater insight into God’s master plan for His creation,  and has opened a window of fresh air for me to God’s kingdom in heaven.  These feasts are not just for Jewish observance, but are an opportunity for each of us to get to know God and His plan for all of us.

Feasts Collage2

The “Days of Awe”

I think it is appropriate that we begin the study of the Atonement with the Days of Awe.

This ten-day tradition is observed in the fall of the year, after the last summer harvests (grapes).  The Jewish days of awe commence immediately following the Feast of Trumpets (the celebration of the Jewish agricultural New Year), and are an annual time of repentance, reverence, and fear of God. They conclude at Yom Kippur (the Atonement) where another trumpet blasts.

According to several websites that I visited, devout Jews will spend the days of awe rising while it is still dark in the morning and going to synagogue to pray, in sincere penitence (prayer, fasting, worship, and asking God’s forgiveness for every single sin in their lives committed through the year). They will also go and make things right with their fellow-man, settle legal matters, and right anything they know someone has against them, making restitution.

lambs_book_1

The Lamb’s Book of Life

At the end of the Days of Awe, at sunset on the beginning of Yom Kippur, the custom of the Jews is to present themselves to the priest. The books are opened to see what disputes and legal matters are there, and what accusations have been brought (by two or three witnesses) against them during the past year. All secret sins are also to be confessed. Only the sins confessed are atoned for.

Then, having righted all the wrongs with one’s neighbors, brothers, sisters, family, friends, and God himself, having cleared their conscience of everything against themselves to the best of their ability, the priest then makes an atonement sacrifice for the people’s sins, blots out all their sins from the books, and writes their names in the Book of Life.

All the sins confessed and atoned for from the previous year are forgiven, never to be remembered again, as if they had never happened.  When every single Jewish family has presented themselves before the priest, as the sun is setting on Yom Kippur, A HORN IS BLOWN, signaling that the ceremonies are completed. The slate (record of wrongs) is wiped clean…..until next year in Jerusalem!

Unfortunately, anyone who fails to appear before a priest out of laziness or rebellion, when that trumpet sounds, their sins remain. Anyone who refused to participate in the observance, their names are written in the book of death.

If the reader is a student of the Bible it is easy to see the parable or likeness this observance is for God’s kingdom in heaven.  As with all the other feasts, Jesus is the fulfillment, and each will come full circle as a copy and shadow of things to come.

The Bible says, God has set before us, life and death, with the free will to choose for ourselves.  Think how amazing that is.  He even warns of of the consequences of our poor choices.  Just like in the garden of Eden where there were fruitful trees for life, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, which if Adam and Eve ate of would cause them to die.  Why, oh why, when we have LIFE all around us are we so tempted by death?  There is freedom in life and only slavery in death.  How is it that the devil can make death soooo appealing … soooooo  tempting?  Snake oil salesman!!!!

ark-of-covenant-god-face-to-face

Amazingly, even when we’ve chosen death, God still makes a way for us to be reconciled to Him.  Jesus is the Lamb who was slain from the creation of the world (Revelation 13:8 and 21:27). John the Baptist proclaimed, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.”  Our Passover Lamb has made the atonement sacrifice Himself for each and every one of our sins. The blood He shed on the cross is sprinkled on the mercy seat in God’s Holy of Holies by Jesus, our High Priest, to atone for our sins and make these bodies, these frail and cracked vessels of clay, inhabitable by His Holy Spirit.

“and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. Revelation 1:5

Only the sins we’ve personally confessed to Him, and only the relationships we have reconciled, are under the blood (what we bind on earth is bound in heaven and what we loose on earth is loosed in heaven). Why not give them ALL to Him, hold nothing back?  When we turn from our sins and trust in Jesus, our names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.  All the other books (containing offenses) are wiped clean.

“For by one offering he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified.” Hebrews 10:14

When that trumpet sounds at the fulfillment of Yom Kippur, the door to heaven shall be closed forever, just as the doors to the ark of the covenant are closed until the next observance of the feast.

“If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” Revelation 20:15

The Great White Throne of Judgment is a judgment for unbelievers. No one at that judgment has his name in the Book of Life; their punishment is sure.

(Read more at: GotQuestions.org)

This coming Yom Kippur could very well be the last to be celebrated on earth. Possibly the last chance for people to make things right with God before that door of grace closes forever.  Will you be a wise virgin who makes it inside for the banquet, or a foolish virgin who is shut out forever?  (Read about the Wise and Foolish Virgins)

Behold I stand at the door and knock… Choose you this day whom you will serve!

I don’t think it is a coincidence that there are TEN DAYS of AWE and TEN COMMANDMENTS!  I also don’t think we have to be hemmed in by a particular season to be repentant of our sins.  Any time is a good time to get right with God.

Do you have any unconfessed sin? Do you know someone who has something against you that you need to make right? The Lord could be coming at any time. Are you ready?  No man knows the day or the hour. Therefore, now is the time to take care of those things that would disqualify you for the prize. Be reconciled to God!

I invite you to spend the next ten days with me taking a sober look at our lives and getting serious to make things right with God?  Let us choose life and not death!

Day One

Commandment 1

Help me Lord to spend today opening my eyes to all the gods I have besides You.  What do I spend my money on?  What do I spend my time doing?  Forgive me Father for having other gods before You!  I choose life!

Day Two

Commandment 2

Help me Lord to spend today opening my eyes to the “graven images” I have made for myself –  lucky rabbit’s feet, lucky horse shoes, lucky charms, horoscopes, seeking mediums, believing in fables and old wives tales, superstitions, and the false doctrines of the Nicolaitans, self-worship, or putting my faith in anything other than You, God?  Forgive me Father for trusting in empty, inanimate objects and chance, or reducing You to the same.  I choose life!

Day Three

Commandment 3

Help me Lord to spend today opening my eyes to the many times I misuse Your name in a day?  Forgive me Father for using Your name inappropriately, as a curse word, as a sware, as a lucky charm, and not in actual conversation with You.  I choose life!

Day Four

Commandment 4

Help me Lord to spend today opening my eyes to the holiness of the Sabbath day as a day of rest, not only for myself, but for all of those around me, and reverence to God.  Do I keep Sunday holy?  Teach me how to keep it holy.  Forgive me Father for being flippant and selfish and irreverent with Your Sabbath.  I choose life!

Day Five

Commandment 5

Help me Lord to spend today opening my eyes to all the ways I dishonor my parents.  Do I talk badly about them?  Have I dishonored them by thinking of them only as a burden, or the inheritance they might leave to me?  Do I love them?  Do I do things for them and care for their needs?  Do I spend time with them?  Father forgive me for not giving my parents the honor due them.  I choose life!

Day Six

Commandment 6

Help me Lord to spend today opening my eyes to the ways I have taken life away from another.  What about abortion?  Oh Father God in heaven, forgive me!  I choose life!

Day Seven

Commandment 7

Help me Lord to spend today opening my eyes to the death this sin has brought to me, my family, my nation.  Premarital sex, extramarital sex, promiscuity, cheating, porn, and even looking upon another with lust in my heart.  Forgive me Father that I have been a seeker of pleasure rather than of a seeker of You, and help me to overcome by the power of Christ and the Holy Spirit.  I choose life!

Day Eight

Commandment 8

Help me Lord to spend today opening my eyes to the things I have inadvertently or on purpose taken and not returned.  Whether it was an object, or someone’s character, or even someone’s identity.  Father God, reveal to me my sins, and help me to put each one under the blood.  I choose life!

Day Nine

Commandment 9

Help me Lord to spend today opening my eyes to the false witnesses I have committed.  If I lose my integrity how do I ever get it back?  It is so easy to lie when I am backed into a corner and trying to avoid trouble.  Sometimes a story seems more interesting when it is embellished with a little exaggeration.  Sometimes I want to fit in with others and find myself sucked into gossip.  Father God, help me to be a person of integrity.  Help me to always tell the truth.  I choose life!

Day Ten

Commandment 10

Help me Lord to spend today opening my eyes to the things I want.  Am I greedy for another person’s looks, or money, or fame?  Do I want what someone else has, a nicer house, or job, a sexy spouse, new clothes, or a new car?  Father God, make me sensitive today to all my little jealousies, and forgive me of them.  Wash my sins away in the precious blood of Jesus.  I choose life!

*  *  *

.

“Is this not the fast that I have chosen: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out; when you see the naked, that you cover him, and not hide yourself from your own flesh? Then your light shall break forth like the morning, your healing shall spring forth speedily, and your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; and you shall cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.’” Isaiah 58:6-9

How big of a debt has God forgiven me of over these last ten days, and over my lifetime, really?  I pray that God would sober my heart for how great His mercy has been towards me, and in turn give me mercy for others that I have had a hard time forgiving.

The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant

21 Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?”

22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven. 23 Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24 And when he had begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. 25 But as he was not able to pay, his master commanded that he be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and that payment be made. 26 The servant therefore fell down before him, saying, ‘Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ 27 Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt.

28 “But that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, ‘Pay me what you owe!’ 29 So his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you all. 30 And he would not, but went and threw him into prison till he should pay the debt. 31 So when his fellow servants saw what had been done, they were very grieved, and came and told their master all that had been done. 32 Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. 33 Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?’ 34 And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him.

35 “So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.”     

Matthew 18:21-35 (NKJV)

.

410958

God’s Timing

No man knows the day or the hour of Christ’s return. The Lord may come tomorrow, next week, later this month or a thousand years from now.

Are we looking for a sign?  Let us remember what Jesus said to the Jewish leaders of His day in Matthew 12:39, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.”

I find it terribly interesting that the Book of Jonah (Old Testament) is traditionally read at the haftarah on Yom Kippur (the Feast of Atonement), the holiest day on the Jewish calendar, when they contemplate God’s judgment and repent.

Jonah couldn’t believe that God would send him to preach repentance to the gentiles/heathens of that day, and was bothered even further when they accepted the gospel that he reluctantly preached.  I believe God intended the experience to provoke His Jewish children to jealousy, so they would to turn their hearts back to Him as His favored ones, which is exactly why we who are not Jews have been welcomed into God’s kingdom (Romans 11:11) for a time.

I believe Jesus perfected the ministry of Jonah.  As Jonah was three days and nights in the belly of the whale (death), Jesus was in the grave.  Through a miracle Jesus lived again, arose, and ascended to His throne where the Holy Spirit was released to inhabit every person who believes on the Son, because of the blood sprinkled on the mercy seat in heaven by our High Priest – Jesus, and the Christian church was born – Nineveh believed!!!!

Read Jonah 2 in your Bible!

If we are looking for a sign, there are plenty to consider: Earthquakes, floods, famines, hurricanes forrest fires, volcanoes, signs in the sun (solar eclipses), the moon (blood moons), and the stars (star of Bethlehem).  There are wars and rumors of wars. Our earth appears to be in the throes of birth pains continuously and exponentially. In the last days the Jewish people were to be gathered back to their homeland.  Not only have they been given their homeland back in this generation’s lifetime, but their capital city of Jerusalem has recently also been restored and recognized.

Amazingly God has protected His word (the Bible) throughout all of time, so that it should not perish for all these centuries, even though many hostile generations have tried, until every tiny jot and tittle is accomplished. That in itself is a miracle.

God’s people, the Jews still exist, through all these millennia, despite every attempt of every other race on the planet to try to cleanse the planet of their existence. Another miracle.

God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.  Could it be YOU that He has been waiting for, for all this time?  Could it be us, and this generation, that He has waited for?

I know that I am probably coming on pretty strong – like a mother who is sending her children out into the dangerous world and just wants them to know the dangers and come back home safe.  But I want to soften my tone for just a minute and ask, what are you afraid of?  Are you afraid to love Jesus?  Has something or someone (in the church or this world) hurt you and you are afraid to love?

The Fighter

I know he hurt you
Made you scared of love, too scared to love
He didn’t deserve you
‘Cause you’re precious heart is a precious heart
He didn’t know what he had and I thank God, oh, oh, oh
And it’s gonna take just a little time
But you’re gonna see that I was born to love you
What if I fall (I won’t let you fall)
What if I cry (I’ll never make you cry)
And if I get scared (I’ll hold you tighter)
When they’re try’na get to you baby I’ll be the fighter
What if I fall (I won’t let you fall)
What if I cry (I promise I’ll never make you cry)
And if I get scared (I’ll hold you tighter)
When they’re try’na get to you baby I’ll be the fighter
Look in the mirror
You’re beautiful, so beautiful
I’m here to remind you
You’re my only one, let me be the one to heal

I love this song.  Can we sing it again with the one who hurt us being Satan, and the Fighter being Jesus?!!!!!! I love it even more when I think of it this way!!!!!!!!!  Give Jesus a chance.  Let Him heal you.  Let Him love you the way you were meant to be loved.  Let Him search your heart and cleanse it of all the wicked ways that you’ve been drug through.  He won’t let you fall!!!!!  He’ll wipe all the tears from your eyes!!!!!  And when you get scared He’ll hold you tighter than anyone ever has in your whole life.

.

Making Prayer a daily part of our lives

  • Seek Him in the morning (pray and read the scriptures)

“My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O LORD; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up” – Psalms 5:3

Visit this website for 12 Helpful Morning Prayers and verses

  • Seek Him during the day (pray and read the scriptures)

“We know that all creation groans and is in agony even until now. Not only that, but we ourselves, although we have the Spirit as first fruits, groan inwardly while we await the redemption of our bodies.”Romans 8:22-23

Visit this website for some beautiful daytime prayers and scripture readings iBreviary

  • Seek Him at meal times (pray and read the scriptures)

“Bless us, O Lord, and these thy gifts…”

Visit this website for some terrific mealtime scripture prayers Intoxicated on Life

  • Seek Him in the evening (pray and read the scriptures)

“At evening withhold not your hand.”Ecclesiastes 11:6

Visit this website for a great set of evening reflections Morning&Evening.org

  • Seek Him upon your bed (pray and read the scriptures)

“At night my soul longs for You, Indeed, my spirit within me seeks You diligently; For when the earth experiences Your judgments The inhabitants of the world learn righteousness.”Isaiah 26:9

Visit this website for cross references related to the above scripture BibleHub.com

  • Put on the whole armor of God, and pray continually with all kinds of prayers
  • Be watchful (pray and read the scriptures)
  • Keep seeking, keep knocking, keep asking (pray and read the scriptures)
  • Seek peace and pursue it (pray and read the scriptures)

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength, and love your neighbor as yourself.Jesus

(Mathew 22:37; Mark 12:30; Luke 10:27; Deuteronomy 6:5)

.

.

Before you go, may we have a prayer together?

Dear Heavenly Father, I pray for my brothers and sisters, my spouse, my parents, my children, my friends, my family, and for myself, that You, O Lord will forgive us our sins, all of our sins, sweep our houses (body, soul, & spirit) clean and put our houses in order. I pray Your blood will cover ALL our transgressions and that You will write our names in the Lamb’s book of life forever. I pray that You will fill us with Your Holy Spirit, as a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance. I pray that You will tune our ears to hear what the Spirit tells us, and help us to remember everything You have told us in Your word. I pray that we will each grow stronger in Spirit every day. I pray that You will suit us up in the Spiritual Armor this day and every day, wash our feet of the heathen dust of the earth, and be attentive to our prayers. If the enemy asks to sift us as wheat I pray that you will tell him NO. I pray that You will bind our enemy, cast him as far from us as the east is from the west; cast out every fear, pull down every stronghold, and cast down every high thing that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. I pray that You will put a hedge of protection around us, place us under Your feathers and in Your shadow, surrounded by Your holy guardian angels who will intimidate and chase away every enemy, real or imagined. Set for us safe boundaries that the enemy cannot penetrate. I pray that You will put in us a desire to seek peace and pursue it with every person in our lives including You. When we are weak You are strong. I pray that You will give us clear minds, to this end, that we will forever worship You in Your kingdom, and forever be with You. We love and honor You. We worship You, O precious merciful LORD. We magnify Your name in all the earth. Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses and we forgive those who trespass against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen

.

“In mercy and truth Atonement is provided for iniquity; And by the fear of the Lord one departs from evil.”
Proverbs 16:6 NKJV

“And they overcame by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony.” Revelation 12:11

.

Next year in “New” Jerusalem!

(*Le-shanah ha-ba’ah bi-Yerushalayim)

* Closing toast for every Passover and every Yom Kippur observance, every year. Note that both feasts are about the blood, the Passover blood of the Lamb of God that takes away our sins, and the Atoning blood of our merciful High Priest that cleanses away our sins.

Please visit this website (Hebrew4Christians) for a more in-depth study of Yom Kippur, the fall feasts and High Holy Days, from a messianic Jewish perspective.

.

Feast of Trumpets

Standard
Feast of Trumpets

fall-feasts

Four Feasts we’ve studied (Passover & Unleavened Bread, Firstfruits, and Pentecost), three Feasts remain (Trumpets, Atonement, and Tabernacles). The remaining three are fall Feasts, and all three take place at the last harvest of the year, the grape harvest, and within the span of about a month.

The Feast of Trumpets

This year (2017) the Feast of Trumpets, or Rosh Hashanah, arrives on the evening of Wednesday, September 20 and will end in the evening of Friday, September 22, of this Hebrew Year 5778.

This is how it got started:

Then God spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the children of Israel, saying:

“In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall have a Sabbath-rest, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, a holy convocation. You shall do no customary work on it; and you shall offer an offering made by fire to the Lord.” Leviticus 23:24-25

What was the offering to be made by fire to the Lord?

“… one young bull, one ram, and seven lambs in their first year. Be sure they are without blemish. (a blood offering). Their grain offering shall be of fine flour mixed with oil. (an unleavened bread offering). Also one kid of the goats as a sin offering, (scapegoat) besides the sin offering for atonement, the regular burnt offering with its grain offering, and their drink offerings.” Numbers 29:7-11

Rosh Hashanah is always observed on the first two days of Tishri, the seventh month of the Hebrew calendar. Why is a “New Year” celebrated in the middle of a year? Because it celebrates the end of one agricultural year/season and the beginning of another. It’s what we might call a fiscal new year, like the one when we have to choose our healthcare plans. In God’s kingdom it is all about the harvests, the harvest of crops and the harvest of souls. How many stories did Jesus tell where He used sowing seeds, watering plants, tending crops, and bringing in the harvests to describe His kingdom and our ministry on this earth?

The trumpet is often used to gather people. Trumpets, and shouts, were also used as a weapon of war, for example, to bring down the walls of Jericho. And in the same vein, “… I [Jesus] will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Matthew 16:18 (KJV). I believe that we who are His will hear the trump of the Lord one day very soon, and that it will gather us from the heavens and the earth, to protect us from some severely ugly times. I believe God will allow the ugly times to come to hopefully show the deceived who they are truly worshipping, and hopefully it will turn their hearts.

It was seventy years after the death and resurrection of our blessed Savior, that the Jewish people became a scattered people over the face of the earth, their temple destroyed, and their land taken over, but it was prophesied that in the last days God would gather them again to their promised land (Deuteronomy 28:58-67). After just under 1900 years it has happened as prophesied. In 1967 the Shofar blew in celebration in Jerusalem on the Temple Mount after the victory of the Six-Day War between returning Jews and the occupants of the promised land. Since that time Jews have been allowed to return to their homeland! Even so, it is still fearcely squabbled over, and hard to believe that such a tiny speck of a place on the globe could be the object of so much violent hostility. It seems there will never be peace in Israel.

The holiday though is also very relevant to Christians, as we also are a scattered people all over the globe – as God wanted us to be so that we could share the gospel with every tribe and tongue and race and nation; and we are also scattered between heaven and earth. (Please check out: Should Christians Celebrate Rosh Hashanah?).

“And one of them, Caiaphas, being high priest that year… prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, and not for that nation only, but also that He would gather together in one the children of God who were scattered abroad” John 12:49-52

Clearly in the New Testament it is a trumpet that will summon and gather God’s people from all the places where we have been scattered:

“For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first; Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air; and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” (1Thessalonians 4:16-17)

“Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump; for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” (1 Corinthians 15:51-52)

* * *

This picture of “gathering people” reminds me so much of something from the little town where I grew up. Atop of the hill, in the center of town stood a charming little log church with a steeple. The pews were each hewn of split logs, and even the pulpit and altar were hand-made of logs and hand cut boards. When the time for Sunday Service came one of the elders or deacons of the church would undo the bolt on the doors, turn the knob, and pull the front double doors open, and then He’d begin clanging that big brass church bell, taking grasp of the thick rope that hung down into the front foyer with his two strong hands and pulling with his body weight, then letting the rope rise back up, pulling it down again, and letting the rope rise back up. The sound would echo across the rooftops and down that lofty steeple, causing all the nesting birds to take flight.

Magically, at the clang-clang-clang of that bell, folks began bustling from their houses and vehicles, all dressed in their Sunday-best go-to-meeting clothes. Ladies in dresses, spritzed with perfume, curled hair in hats, wearing makeup and white gloves. Men, freshly shaven, in suits with stiff collars and ties, and hair neatly parted and combed into place. Children, bathed, with shining faces, coiffed and suited and well-mannered, as miniatures of their parents. They all strolled and shuffled up that hill, smiling and greeting one another, and gathering through the open doors, taking their places in the rustic hardwood pews for a sit-down spiritual feast. Oh how lovely it was on Sunday morning to hear those church bells ringing! The piano playing. And the choir singing.

In the same way as the church folks gathered in to satisfy their hungry souls, so similar was the practice on ranches all over my rugged cowboy state. When supper was ready it was common to hear the cook or the wife step outside and run the wand around on the triangle and holler, “COME AND GET IT!” and here they’d come. The hard-working, broke-back, famished ranch hands would wobble to their feet, swing a leg off their horses, toss their tools in a box, remove their hats to wipe the sweat from their brow, and knock the dust off their pants as they started the journey to the chow hall. They all came a hobblin’ from the far corners of the fields, some smiling, and some grunting, and all eager to fill their aching bellies, have a laugh (or a cry), share a story, and then call it a night.

Can you hear the church bells ringing? Can you hear the choir singing? Can you hear a little lady belting out, “COME AND GET IT! O weary sojourner, come and hear the word of the Lord!”

Our Savior is coming! The Landowner is coming to settle accounts, and gather His grapes into the winepress. I don’t want you to be taken by surprise.

Scripture says, two men will be in the field and one will be taken and one will be left. Two women will be in the kitchen. One will be taken and one will be left (Matt.24 & Luke 17). The wise virgins will go with the bridegroom and the foolish virgins will be left behind (Matthew 25).

“For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking…until the flood came and took them all away…” Matthew 24:36-39

“You have heard Me say to you, ‘I am going away and coming back to you.’ If you loved Me, you would rejoice because I said, ‘I am going to the Father,’ for My Father is greater than I. And now I have told you before it comes, that when it does come to pass, you may believe.” John 14:28-29 (NKJV)

“Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There!’ do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand. Therefore if they say to you, ‘Look, He is in the desert!’ do not go out; or ‘Look, He is in the inner rooms!’ do not believe it. For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be” (Matthew 24: 23-27) …for those who are HIS!

Have you ever wondered why we dream that we can fly?  Not fly like a bird, but rather float like a balloon, but with the ability to maneuver up and down and left and right with our arms and legs, like we can in water, but without any resistance.  In my dreams I am able to fly above my enemies, just out of their reach.  I can go farther and faster than them.

(Thank you Carleen Sabin for making and posting this beautiful You-Tube video)

The word of God says that some of us will fall asleep (die), and some will just fly away (like Elijah). The redeemed will be blessed to experience the Rapture, the magnificent fulfillment of the Feast of Trumpets.  The defiant, who refuse to hear the word of God will be left behind.  If you’ve been riding the fence, please don’t wait until it is too late.  Get with a believer or a pastor today. Don’t let the trumpet of God surprise you. Come, while the door is open.

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23

Most assuredly I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God. John 3:3

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9

For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whosoever will believe on Him shall have eternal life. John 3:16

Jesus said to him, I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. John 14:6

If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. Romans 18:9-10

He who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself; he who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed the testimony that God has given of His Son. And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life: he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the son of God. 1 John 5:10-13

Behold I [Jesus] stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. Revelation 3:20

.

Happy Firey Tongues Day!

Standard
Happy Firey Tongues Day!

pretty-sunset1

“When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.” Acts 2:1

Pentecost is celebrated in late spring/early summer (on these dates).

Most folks are familiar with the word Pentecost and the event in the New Testament which it represents. It was on this day a little over 2000 years ago that the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples and they all spoke in tongues.  It is the day that marked the birth of the Christian church.

But several thousand years before that, God introduced Shavuot to His people (Exodus 23:16). Shavuot was a memorial to be observed exactly 50 days (or 7 weeks plus a day) from the Jewish Feast of Firstfruits – which was the tithe (bikkurim) and regard to God for the spring harvest, which took place right after Passover/Unleavened Bread.  In Jewish history, it marks the day that the Torah was given to the children of Israel on Mount Sinai and is celebrated today by the reading of the book of Ruth, as well as dressing in white robes, and holding baptisms.

The word “Pentecost” means fiftieth. Originally, on this blessing-of-the-summer-harvest or pilgrim “feast of weeks,” the people were to bring out of their habitations two loaves of bread, and unlike the feasts before it, this time the bread was baked WITH leaven.  The loaves were to be of the same weight and was therefore called the Counting of the Omer (a dry measure or sheaf of grain).

Firstfruits and Shavuot are both grain harvests. Firstfruits is a harvest of barley, and is the setting for the story in the Book of Ruth where Boaz harvests his fields and leaves behind a little for the gleaners (the poor who lived in the land). Ruth came to glean in order to provide food for herself and Naomi, her mother-in-law, who had both been away in another country until the death of their husbands forced them to come back home. Boaz was Naomi’s close relative, and therefore Boaz honored a Hebrew obligation to redeem the land for his cousin/close friend who died and left no living male descendents to carry on his name. Out of respect for Naomi, Boaz graciously married Ruth (who was not Jewish) and the two had a son, Obed (who was king David’s grandfather and is listed in the genealogy of Jesus in Matthew 1:5), giving him a share of Boaz’s wealth and an inheritance in the land (and in the kingdom to come). Boaz became the kinsman redeemer, and his valor is a gorgeous picture of hospitality.

Shavuot is the firstfruits offering of the wheat harvest, waved to the Lord to honor and thank God for His provision. The leaven in the flour of those loaves was covered by bread that had risen, the leaven therefore was no longer visible. The summer wheat harvest was always a bigger harvest than the spring barley harvest, but a mere drop in the bucket compared to the fall (fruit) harvest.

Copy and Shadow of things to Come

Once again, Jesus is the fulfillment of these beautiful Jewish feasts.  He is our “Bread of life.” He has covered our “sin” (leaven) by his body that was sacrificed and now is risen.

He is our Kinsmen Redeemer because He has graciously married us, who are not Jewish, and given us a new life and an inheritance in the kingdom to come, grafting us in and making us part of the family of God by His redeeming blood.

The Torah brought the Law of God to His people ~ and ~ The Word/Logos-of-God brought the Spirit to His people

It is to our advantage that Jesus ascended into heaven after redeeming us, for if Jesus had not gone, the Holy Spirit could not have come (John 16:7).  We all needed the Holy Spirit to come, for so many reasons, including…

We would receive power when the Holy Spirit came upon us (Acts 1:8)

He would teach us and guide us, and help us to be discerners of truth

He would empart to us Spiritual gifts that would enable us to do the will of God

The ministry of the Holy Spirit is the heart of Pentecost.  Like the other feasts, Pentecost has a first observance, followed by a middle ritual observance part, and finally a fulfillment, both on earth and in God’s kingdom to come.  The Jewish Feasts were and are a copy and shadow of things to come. Jesus, before He ascended into heaven (BTW: on the very day of Firstfruits, as the wave offering to God of the harvest of souls to come), instructed his disciples to…

 “tarry in the city until they were endued with power from on high”   — Luke 24:49

It was an event He had been preparing them for since before He went to the cross, and one He reminded them of again after His resurrection, during the 40 days of His appearances before His ascension. He told them He would be leaving and that it was to their advantage that He go, for if He didn’t go the Holy Spirit would not come (John 16:7).

He encouraged them that the Holy Spirit would stay with them and help them (John 14:16). The Holy Spirit would convict the world of sin (John 16:8). He would guide them, and relay to them whatever He heard from the Father (John 16:13). He would tell them of things to come (John 16:13), remind them of the scriptures that they had read and heard, and give them power to heal and to preach ( Luke 4:18; 1 Cor. 12:9).  All very vital things for a people who’s Savior was traveling on to His throne and would be out of sight until His promised return.  It was a token of assurance for them, as He is for us, that our Lord will keep His promise to come back for us (2 Cor. 1:22).

The Mystery

There is a LOT of philosophy out there about the Holy Spirit.  The New Testament church has been divided and subdivided over this issue of the Baptism of the Holy Ghost.  This very country that I live in today was birthed out of such divisions.  There are scholars with waaaaaaaaay more credentials than lowly little me to debate the issue, but the one thing they, and I, and we all have in common as the basis for our beliefs are the eye witness testimonies of the men and women who were actually there when the event occured.  Some of Jesus last words to His Apostles were, “You are witnesses of these things.”  And that is something no one else on the planet can boast.  It makes the word of God, the Bible, an extremely valuable document.  And if anyone wants to know about the Holy Spirit of God all we have to do is seek Him in the scriptures.  Study the scriptures and you will find Him!  The scriptures are in fact the sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17; Hebrews 4:12; 2 Timothy 2:15) and they are intricately woven.

In the closing chapter of Luke Jesus said,

“Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.”

I have prayed that I may rightly divide this word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15), and scripture always teaches scripture.  So, I am convinced that Jesus wanted His disciples to go and wait in the city, to stay in the city, to NOT LEAVE THE CITY of Jerusalem until the Holy Spirit came to them, because of the confirmation of Acts 1:4 – just in case they had other ideas, since Jesus had just told them in Luke 24:47 that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.  He didn’t want them to go off on a missions adventure just yet, and certainly not without the company of the Holy Ghost.

No question the disciples were saved.  No question their lives were totally changed when Jesus came into their lives.  But their calling, their ministry was not complete without the Holy Spirit, without the fullness of God, because they had His work to do.

“The Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.” John 14:17

In John 20:22 it says Jesus breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit” possibly prophesying how the Holy Spirit would come to them – in a breath or wind from heaven, and demonstrating that it is He who gives us the ability to receive the Holy Spirit.

“And the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostsrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.”  Genesis 2:7

“Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.  That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.  Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes.  So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”  John 3:5-8

So where did the disciples go after their Messiah had ascended to heaven and disappeared out of their sight?  They obeyed their Lord, and went to the city, as Jesus had instructed, “and were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God” Luke 24:53.  And they were in the upper room all together in fellowship, with one accord in prayer and supplication, all eleven disciples and the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers (Acts 1:12-14).  While they were there clinging to Jesus in prayer and biding the time with each other, they chose a replacement for Judas.  They obeyed Jesus directions and trusted His order and His timing.

As Fish Drawn Up in a Net

I wonder what draws you to this post today?  Are you searching for the Baptism of the Holy Ghost? Are you here reading this today because you are at a place in your new spiritual walk with Jesus where you have experienced His passover (saving blood) and unleavened bread (cleansing), you’ve communed with Him as Savior, and experienced His breath of new life – been baptised in water for the remission of sins.  You know that your soul is among His firstfruits offering, but reading in John and Acts you feel as if you lack the power and courage to truly love as the Bible tells us to love (1 Corinthians 13)?

Are you reading about the Fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5, and know that you don’t always have those qualities or virtues evident in you?

Are you reading about Spiritual Gifts in Romans 12, Ephesians 4, and 1 Corinthians 12, and haven’t a clue what yours are, much less the ability to fan them into flame (2 Timothy 1:6)?

Are you timid and fearful to share your faith?

Do you always seem to be under attack by the enemy, unable to fight him off or get your head above the flood of your struggles?  Is your Spiritual Armor laying on the pages of your Bible instead of covering your body?

Are you reading in your Bible of people who over and over again received the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues, and you don’t speak in tongues?  You neither speak in a foreign language that others can understand, nor a prayer language that only God understands?

These are the very things that drew me to seek the truth of the Holy Spirit, the baptism, the indwelling, the empowering Holy Spirit in the scriptures.  The Feast of Pentecost!

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

What is my motive?  To be better than others? To be held in high regard?  Are my motives poisoned by jealousy?  Is there bitterness or iniquity in my heart?

Honestly, in my quest to know the Holy Spirit of God – the truth, I have found many imposters, or maybe not necessarily imposters, but seekers like myself who were blown to and fro by every wind of doctrine, and tossed by every tempest.  It has been the blind leading the blind in many cases.  Some also may have pretended to be filled with the Holy Spirit just to fit in with all the craziness sweeping through.  There are tongues of men and tongues of angels (even dark angels).  Tongues can be faked.  False teachers abound.  There are tares among the wheat!

I am not called to judge, or pluck up what I think are weeds.  We are to be patient with those weaker in faith, as our Father is patient with us.

But I am convinced the scriptures will lead us to the truth, if we search for it with all of our hearts.  And I  believe the Holy Spirit is not gotten by any other means than that Jesus give Him to us, and that Jesus gives Him to us for for His own good purpose (not ours): to enable us to hear His voice and fulfill the gifts and calling He has placed on our lives, to be fruitful to take the good news of Christ’s love to the world, to be equipped for ministry (Eph. 4:12-16), and to be able to have those private conversations with Him that nobody else can understand or evesdrop on, especially Satan.  And I believe it isn’t something we have to fear will be weird or scary – just like our Salvation wasn’t weird or scarry, but glorious.  I believe the Holy Spirit is poured into us to be poured out of us, and that we have a constant need of refilling, or of fanning into flame, when we feel empty, weary, or lost.

Our Father desires to give us good gifts, and if we ask for the Holy Spirit out of right motive I am confident He will give Him to us (Luke 11:11-13) and that the fruit of the Spirit will be evident in us (Gal.5:22-23).

I believe in order to receive the Baptism of the Holy Spirit we must love God from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith (1 Timothy 1:5), and be willing to do God’s will, and follow God’s instructions, and not quench the Holy Spirit (1 Thess. 5:19) who leads us.   (*Quenching the Spirit is, I believe, to withhold love by suppressing conviction, prohibiting manifestation, or snuffing out a Holy fire that is kindled in our hearts).  Like the parable of the rich young ruler who tells Jesus he has done everything that is required, but is there anything else that he must do, and Jesus tells him to sell everything he has and give it to the poor, and come follow Him.  If we are like this young pharisee and desire to keep anything back, we will never receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit (Luke 14:25-33; Luke 18:18-22).  We must be empty of our own will, because the Holy Spirit will sometimes lead us where we do not wish to go (John 21:18).  The Spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.

Could it be that we must cling to Jesus like the apostles did – in the church, continually praising and blessing God! …and in one accord with the brethren in prayer and supplication?  The word of God says, if we seek Him we will find Him, when we search for Him with all of our heart (Jeremiah 29:13)!  It says that where two or more are gathered in His name, there He is amongst us (Matthew 18:20).  Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven,”  Matthew 18:19.

So, the discpiles waited in the city, but the use of the word “Tarry” is even more incredible than that…

The word “tarry” captured my imagination when I studied this scripture. So I pulled my Complete Word Study of the New Testament book off the shelf and researched the word tarry in Luke 24:49. When I did I found that the Greek word translated tarry in this one place in the scriptures is kathizo (Strongs 2523) and next to it is a tiny grammatical code “aim.” It is an abbreviation of the words aorist imperative, which indicates that this was a simple action to be done in the future, not “pim,” which is present imperative, and would have commanded a continuous or repetitive action.

This is another one of those instances when the Bible proves to be parable-like, with special things hidden away in it that the Lord only shares with those who seek Him.  Why does the Holy Spirit prompt us to be curious about the words in scripture?  Because the jots and tittles in scripture are important, so much so that not one of them shall pass away until they are fulfilled.  Words mean things.  Jesus’ choice of words is important. I’m so grateful that I had the time to obey the Spirit’s prompting and study this out, because there was treasure hidden.

I looked up the word kathizo and found that it means to sit, to set down, to seat down, to dwell. It is never used however when the action is to rest, but refers rather to a person taking a special seat of importance, one reserved for important tasks, like a judge sits at his bench in a courtroom to hear a case, or a king on his throne to govern his kingdom, or a preacher in his pulpit to preach to his congregation, or a watchman at his post to guard the city. It isn’t about taking a load off; it’s about taking the captain’s chair in the control tower. Literally the scripture could be read, “…but sit (take your place) in the city…until you are endued…”

Isn’t that interesting?  Well, I hope YOU’RE sitting down, because I have something pretty exciting to share and I can hardly wait for you to see it. Please turn to Acts 2:2 and fill in the blank below to find out what the disciples were doing when the Holy Spirit arrived:

“And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as a rushing might wind, and it filled the whole house where they were ________________.”

What a beautiful mystery!

Jesus told His disciples to literally go sit in Jerusalem in the special place, and when the time had fully come for the Holy Spirit to arrive, here He came, first with a voice in that mighty rushing wind, as if the Lord were whispering from His throne in heaven: Are you sitting? Here it comes!  It honestly gives me goosebumps to think of it…

Twelve Apostles SITTING, as on thrones – like the elders sitting on thrones around God’s throne  – Revelation 4:4.  Kings and Priests.  A copy and shadow of things to come!!!!

And just in case that isn’t awesome enough, let’s finish that verse of scripture with a discerning look at the word “endued.”  I always thought it meant imparted or given, but it is Strongs #1746 enduo, and it means CLOTHED  – in the sense of sinking into a garment (sitting into it perhaps?); invested with clothing; arrayed…  Wow!

Twelve Apostles SITTING, as on thrones, and CLOTHED in white robes, with crowns of gold on their headsRevelation 4:4.

This scripture reveals the Holy Spirit as clothing, as an investment – as a deposit guaranteeing our redemption, as Spiritual Armor, as a robe of righteousness, as a Bride made ready!!!!

Check out these scriptures about white robes and fine linen…

“Then a white robe was given to each of them; and it was said to them that they should rest a little while longer, until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren who would be killed as they were, was completed.” Revelation 6:11

“After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands.”  Revelation 7:9

“Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife and made herself ready.  And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.”  Revelation 19:7-8

The Holy Spirit gave the Apostles the power to do righteous acts, which we get to read all about in the Book of Acts!  A righteous act is like righteous judgment – it is an act or a judgment that knows every hidden thing.  The only way for a human to know every hidden thing is to have it emparted to us by an all-knowing God.  Who can know the mind of God except the Spirit!  The Spirit reveals the mind of God to us and therefore the will of God.

Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse.  And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True…He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood...  – Revelation 19:11,13

There is a dress code in heaven.  This is why the person was thrown out of the wedding banquet in Matthew 22:11-14.  He was a fake (Isaiah 64:6; Matthew 23:25-33) in filthy rags.  He was a “tare,” who grew up among the wheat, but he doesn’t fool the King!

Oh wise virgins, seek Him while He may be found – fill your lamps with the oil that lasts until the bridegroom returns (Matthew 25:1-13) – like the oil of Hanukkah.

The apostles received power when the Holy Spirit came upon them…

Let me set the actual scene:  Jewish people from every nation and language of the world were in Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of Weeks, and consequently they all became eye witnesses of the spectacle of its fulfillment.  When the Holy Spirit gave divine utterance to Jesus’ apostles, the people there each heard the gospel of salvation being preached to them in their native language. Everyone present became witnesses of the power of Jesus in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and Samaria, and took the testimony back to their homes far and wide, and ultimately to the ends of the earth. And the powerful sermon that Peter bravely preached to them that day, by the power of the Holy Spirit that was newly poured into him, resulted in the salvation of 3,000 people.

3,000!  This was a greater number of souls than was harvested at Jesus’ crucifixion – FIRSTFRUITS (when the graves were opened and the bodies of the saints were raised), but only a drop in the bucket to the fall harvest – Feast of Trumpets, which is yet to come. I believe 3000 is an intentional number, for it was the exact number who were killed on the day the law came down from Mount Sinai, because of the golden calf (Exodus 32:28). Second Corinthians 3:6 says, “The letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.”

The giving of the Law (and the Torah) at Mount Sinai, after the Passover, and after their baptism in the Red Sea, marked the birth of a new nation bound for their promised land…  In like manner, Pentecost marked the birth of the Christian church, the adopted children of God, with the same inheritance (eternal life in God’s kingdom) as our Jewish brothers and sisters. Jew and Christian = two loaves.

Let’s recap the closing words of Peter’s famous sermon: Repent! Be baptized! Receive the gift of the Holy Spirit!

“For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.” (Acts 2:38-39)

The promise is the same today as it was yesterday, and last year, and last century, and that magnificent day in the ancient world.

“The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few” (Matthew 10:37).

If we are born again, we are laborors for Christ.  One disciple may plant the word of God into mens hearts, while another waters what was planted, but truly it is only the Lord who gives the increase and causes the seed to to live and breathe and have its being.  No man comes to the Father except the Spirit draws him. If it is the Lord who gives the increase then it is foolish for us to get puffed up and take credit for anything, isn’t it?

“Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the Lord of hosts.” Zechariah 4:6

“Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” Paul asked of the new Ephesian disciples. “We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.” “And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them…” (Acts 19:2, 6)

Ask, and It shall be given to you! The Spirit cannot be purchased (Acts 8:14-24), and if you do not have Him working through you, beware (the Seven Sons of Sceva, Acts 19:11-19). But, if you are saved, and you fear the Lord, and your motives are pure, ask of the Father and He will give you the Helper to clothe you, to lead you, protect you, enable you, empower and guide you in all wisdom.

“If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish? Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him.” (Luke 11:11-13)

If you have asked Jesus into your heart, confessed and repented of your sins, been washed and cleansed in the blood of the Savior, been baptised (died to your old fleshly ways and been raised to new life) making confession before men, and yet feel timid to do the work of an apostle or ambassador of Christ, or you didn’t speak with new tongues, or because you don’t feel the power (boldness) that the scriptures speak of to preach or to heal, then ask my dear brother or sister, please ask.

We must do as the disciples did and spend our time in the church praising and blessing God, clinging to Jesus humbly.  We must sell everything we have (the iniquity in our heart) and follow Jesus (Philippians 3:8-11).  If we give God our whole hearts, Jesus will sweep us clean and put us in order (Matthew 12:43-45; Luke 11:24-26) – breathe on us! But then He must also fill us with the Holy Spirit so that when those old spirits come knocking again, there will be no room inside.  Without the Holy Spirit we are unable to do the will of God.  We are unable to resist the devil.  And we are slaves to our flesh (the Spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak).  The Holy Spirit is given to us for our good and the good of the world.

“Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.”  Philippians 3:12

You and I are in the summer harvest time of God’s calendar: “Let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” (Galatians 6:9)

Let us be WISE VIRGINS and fill our lamps with the *oil that doesn’t run out (read about the history of the feast of Hanukkah or Dedication when after cleansing the temple, the priests lit the Menorah with a day’s worth of oil, but it burned (gave light) for 8 days and never went out until the rider on the horse returned).  (*Oil is another symbol used for the Holy Spirit in scripture.)

And let us look forward to that great fall harvest, when the greatest body of Jews will join the church at the Second Coming of Christ (Zechariah 12:10; 13:1), the great fall (fruit) harvest when “All Israel will be saved” (Romans 11:26). That is when the times of the Gentiles will be fulfilled. God will bless us who have blessed her, and curse those who cursed her, and welcome us both to our inheritance.  Two loaves!!!!!

Climb up Sunshine Mtn

 

“So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.” Acts 2:46-47

*This mini-Bible study is part of a study of the feasts of Israel.  If you have enjoyed it you may also enjoy reading about all the other feasts in scripture: “The Lord our Passover,” “FIRSTFRUITS,” “Feast of Trumpets,” “No Man Knows the Day or the Hour…,” and “Feast of Booths.”  You can find the links to these in the list of recent posts listed on the right column of this page.  Thank you for sharing this journey with me.  I pray that you are blessed by God’s word and filled with a desire to know Him with all of your heart and share Him with a lost world.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aside
Welcome…

Horse2

Welcome…

…to my new adventure in writing… (I’m just horsin’ around, really).

Memoirs of a Reluctant Hostess

Sooooooo…if you’ve stumbled upon this post today by some divine fortuity, and lavished even one precious minute of your life (that you’ll never get back) upon reading my stuff, I hope and pray you leave with something eternally useful in your heart.

Front Door

GIFT OF HOSPITALITY – HO HUM

The Lord has been patiently prodding this stubborn old mule/me for years to fan into flame the gift – if you want to call it that.  But my obedience to obey ebbs and flows as the ocean tides. One season will bring a warm current of inspiration, and as it runs through will have me twirling and tossing about in swirling eddies of eagerness. I’m coaxed from my inhibitions, like a feral cat out from under a rickety porch, to crack open my front door, peek with squinted eyes outside to see who might be there, and even muster the courage to inv…  to inv… to invite you inside. Encouraged by your warm response I might feel eager to throw an even bigger shindig next time.

But just as surely as the autumn leaves fall off the trees, a cool wind will blow in my heart (life gets busy, or sad, or new interests vie for my attention; a dish will go awry, friends will cancel last-minute, or the heartwarming comedy I so carefully constructed somehow ends in tragedy – ugh, drama). The disappointment loosens my grasp on that high place where I had climbed to. I lower my sails, dump my plans overboard, pull up the anchor (or actually it’s the welcome mat), switch off the porch light, turn the deadbolt on my decorative, etched glass door…and retreat into the depths of my quiet abode with just my loved ones and my thoughts.

The funny thing about a comfort zone however, is that it is only serene and nice for a while, and then it becomes dreary, and boring, and lifeless. Ho-hum!  In my lackluster funk I make up my mind that I am sick to death of all the same old dishes, and begin to only half-heartedly piddle in the kitchen. All my meals end up as “blackened” (something) – the smoke alarm becomes our new dinner bell. The answer to what’s for dinner is met with, “Are you talking to me?” in my Jersey Mike’s Godfather voice …or “TAKE OUT!”   I give up wanting to cook even more, because I have no (nix, nada) desire to clean up the mess afterward. Ho-Ho-Ho-humbug!

The longer this season lasts, the more lowly I feel until desperate for friendship I’ll dust off my Bible and invite Jesus for coffee. God bless Him, He is always faithful to bring a sermon, steer me to a new recipe, drag me to some new person, or march me by a holiday, and before I know it His warm El Niño will drift back into my heart again. His latter rains will fall on my parched and sun-baked soul, and what-do-you-know I’m floating in the great flood plain again.

God’s word, the company of Jesus, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit never fail to re-persuade me that LIFE IS ALL ABOUT THE TABLE – and our calling to it is irresistible.

This blog is my homely confession but handsome voyage. Could it also be yours?

Coffee with Dad
COFFEE WITH DAD

Many years ago, one summer Sunday morning, I was a young mom with young children, and a brand new Christian. Husband was gone to work and I was ready to leave for church, but my car wouldn’t start. I called my dad to ask him what could be the matter with it, hoping it might be something simple that I could fix, and then be on my way. He said he’d be right over, and the generous, helpful man that he predictably was, in two shakes of a lamb’s tail, was there. We popped the hood and he worked his magic, as dads always do. He made the old jalopy live again. But by this time it was a half hour past the start of church and I decided I didn’t want to walk in late. So I made a pot of coffee, put the kids in their play clothes, and Dad and I sat for a visit.

My dad and I have had our share of “philosophical” conversations over the years, and a few about religion. I’ve never seen my dad read the Good Book, or grace the pews of God’s house, except for the time when he and Mom came to my baptism, but that isn’t to say he is devoid of religion. I may never have sought to be baptized (saved) if not for my dad, who made it clear he hoped his girls would all do that for him some day. His mother (my grandmother) was certainly a Spirit-filled, God-fearing woman as well, and had to have had at least as much influence on him as she did on me – his daughter.

This particular day, as the flowers prayed and the birds sang, Dad and I had church at my table. We sipped our brew and explored the back roads of many religious topics until our little heart-to-heart finally found a bench to rest on. Out of a quiet moment he asked me if I thought Jesus was the sort of man who would sit down and have a cup of coffee with you. Being a very new Christian at the time I didn’t know very much of my Bible, but the Holy Spirit dropped a scripture in my thoughts just then, and with assurance I spoke, “Oh yes, I think Jesus is exactly that kind of man. It says in Revelation, ‘Behold I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me’” (Revelation 3:20).

I think both our hearts burned within us just then. Dad sat, quietly, thinking, and then he gathered up his hat, sipped the last drop from his cup, and said, as he went to the door, “There have been a few times in my life when I felt close to God, but this might be the closest.” And with that he placed his cap and was on his way.

I cherish this and all the good memories, for Dad is now a prisoner in the dark world of dementia, a mere whisper of the man he once was. He is fragile, and old, and many miles away from me now. As I write this he’s in a nursing home recuperating from a fall in which he broke his hip. I called Mom this last Veteran’s Day and asked her to pass on my “Happy Veteran’s Day” wishes to Dad. I was surprised when she said, “You can tell him yourself, he has been very lucid today. In fact he just asked about you.” “He did?” I replied in astonishment. “Yes, he said, where’s my Colleen? I seem to have lost track of her.” It reduced me to tears instantly! …And again now as I write about it.

Dad didn’t talk long, but we got to hear each other’s voices, and for a brief moment God filled my heart another time with affection for him, on this meandering, uncertain road of life we journey. I hope God used our chat that summer day. I hope my dad trusted Jesus in his heart and found his peace with God. Jesus certainly used my dad to speak to me that day too. For it was after that I began to realize, and piece together in my heart, a portrait of our Father’s kingdom, and His ministry at the supper table.

If you read His word and follow the bread crumb trail, the sum of the Bible points us to a meal with Jesus. The first scraps to fall from the Master’s table are in Genesis, where God gave Adam and Eve a garden for their table and communed with them there (Genesis 2:8-9; 3:8). It follows them out of the garden, leads into an ark (Genesis 7:1, 16), and back off again (Genesis 8:20). “Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. I have given you all things, even as the green herbs…behold I establish my covenant with you and with your descendents after you” (Genesis 9:3, 9). The bread crumbs lead Abraham to the land of promise (Genesis 12:7, 8) and into a tent by some terebinth trees (Genesis 13:18) where he had a meal with God. “Then Melchizedek, king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of God Most High.” (Genesis 14:18) He blessed Abraham, and Abraham gave him a tithe. And God made a covenant (a name change and circumcision was established) with Abraham there (Genesis 15).

The Lord and two others visited Abraham’s tent later and received Abraham’s hospitality, “My Lord, if I have now found favor in Your sight, do not pass on by Your servant. Please let a little water be brought, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree. And I will bring a morsel of bread, that you may refresh your hearts. After that you may pass by…” (Genesis 18:3-5). And when Abraham sought a wife for his son Isaac, his servant encountered the plentiful hospitality of Laban, Rebekah’s brother (Genesis 24:31-33, 54-55). And thus God taught all of us, His children, about hospitality.

God staked his tent in the Wilderness with us here on earth, broke bread (or manna) and passed the offering plate through Exodus, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy; teaching us to share the bounty of our crops and herds (our tithes and offerings) to help the needy (Levite, stranger, fatherless, widow). From one great deliverance (Passover) to the next (Purim) God teaches His people to celebrate with feasts. Hot dishes have been passed from one judge’s table to another, one king’s table to another, and one prophet’s table to another, until they found their place at the Last Supper – a rehearsal of Passover but also a glimpse of the future Wedding Feast of the Lamb. For it was at this supper that Jesus instituted the Holy Communion and said, “I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom” (Matthew 26:29). He told of this Heavenly Feast in Matthew 22 and Revelation 19:9, giving us glimpses of heaven, and something to look forward to.

Jesus, in his earthly ministry, said to the wee little man, Zacchaeus, “Come down from there, for I’m coming to your house,” And to the church of the Laodiceans in Revelation He announced, “Behold I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me” (Revelation 3:20). God has been our host and asks to be our guest. He teaches us to be both good hosts and good guests. His Spirit flows into and then out of each of us. I have found God’s WORD to be a magnificent tapestry of the art of breaking bread. He is the Father of it and His word begs us to learn to practice with Him, and to look forward to a fulfillment in heaven. This is the spirit and inspiration behind this blog, although it is comical, almost scandalous that God would have me (honestly me?) put together a blog about hospitality.

Surely He jests.

Sister's and seashells
EATING & DRINKING – GOD’S DESIGN?

My sister is a Baptist and you know what they say about Baptists don’t you? Well, they love to eat! Her church has about as many food fellowships as worship services. I’ve been included to participate in many of them, and although some may call it excess, I think they are wise indeed. “The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look, a glutton and a winebibber, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ But wisdom is justified by her children” (Matthew 11:19). Every feast established by God in scripture is a shadow of things to come – a rehearsal of a future event. “So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or Sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ” Colossians 2:17.

When tax collectors and sinners drew near to Jesus, to hear Him, the Pharisees and scribes of that day also complained, saying, ‘This Man receives sinners and eats with them’ (Luke 15). So Jesus spoke parables to them. He told one story of the prodigal son (the wayward son who squandered half the family wealth – as we do also when we spend God’s gifting on ourselves and our own pleasures). When he returned home (as we do when we accept Christ as Savior), his father (like our Father in heaven) ran to him (even though his sins were great) when he saw him returning home and coming down the road. With tears in his eyes he hugged his neck, kissed him, and blessed God that he had returned. The son asked forgiveness, but the father never mentioned his transgressions. Instead, he called for the best robe, a ring, and sandals for his feet. And after that, he threw a grand feast with music and dancing, because his son had been lost and now he was found. I believe that is the picture God wants us to see of heaven. It’s exactly what I believe is going to happen. That is how thrilled I believe our Lord will be to see us and welcome us to heaven, and to His table.

Alicia's Table

THE SUPPER TABLE – A COPY & SHADOW

It is a shame to admit what we in this country have done to the supper table (shoved it off in a special room that nobody goes into, made a shrine of it, or piled it high with unfolded laundry and school books – wait, am I the only one?). God didn’t intend meals to be in front of the TV (not that there’s anything wrong with that on occasion), and surely He intended for meals to not be a necessary evil, but a blessing. God made us to need food. He gave us fruits and vegetables, grains, fishes and meat to be received with thanksgiving for nourishment. But beyond that, He gave us herbs and spices and tongues and taste buds to ENJOY the flavors. Why would He do that? Surely He knew some of us would have no self-control, or that we’d eat all the wrong things and for all the wrong reasons, and make ourselves sick, or develop allergies, or make endless diets to fix endless problems? Stop the merry-go-round for a minute and think…maybe we wouldn’t have all those issues if we went back to eating our meals with gratitude, at the table, with our Unseen Guest.

“And there you shall eat before the Lord your God, and you shall rejoice in all to which you have put your hand, you and your households, in which the Lord your God has blessed you” Deuteronomy 12:7

Maybe if mealtime was a retreat and destination rather than a filling station beside the busy highway of life we wouldn’t have to count calories, check our plate size, or worry about the cholesterol count – the Lord would bless that food to our bodies for strength and health. And that satisfying meal would sustain us to the next one. Maybe if we took the time to savor truly delicious food (coupled with rich conversation) we wouldn’t have such an addiction to garbage food (and gossip)? Perhaps if we made the Lord the center of the experience we’d have His blessing upon it, and all the diets and obesity would go obsolete. I don’t know…just sayin’.

Here’s an idea. Would you be willing to give it a try with me? Shall we make the effort to make at least one dinner a month (for now) into a “special occasion?” Shall we gather around the table and eat before the Lord? This doesn’t have to be a huge production; it just has to include reverence and gratitude, and our Master – who has provided it. We don’t have to be limited by my scanty recipe suggestions, or be wrangled into cheffy cuisine – but sometimes a new cookbook inspires my enthusiasm. And if we’re too nervous to cook, there’s always take-out. The main thing is that God, family, and friends are gathered around, that there is love, and a table is at the center of it – and that we learn what God’s heartbeat is about eating with others, with friends and strangers, with family and with Him. For if we learn it, I know (I just know it) we will be blessed in it. We’ll see the big picture.

Are you in this with me? Are you ready to find a blessing? Our kids might even want to invite their friends over to show off their cool mom’s creativity with food and music and decorations. Then again, you might be thinking, “No kids, just hubby!” Send the kids away for the evening and surprise the husband with a gourmet meal and romantic evening. Maybe there are no kids or they are grown and moved away. Maybe there is no husband? What if the next time we ate a meal out all by ourselves, we sought out another who may be in the restaurant all by themselves, and we shared the meal and a grace with them?

Who knows that God placed us here for such a time as this? Do we know our neighbors? Why not have them over and pay them back for all the snow shoveling they did with their groovy little machine over the winter, or thank them for the times they watched the house, took in our mail, watered our garden, watched the dog, and made it look like we were home when we were away. Wouldn’t it be nice to show our appreciation by making an evening unforgettable for them!

Maybe there are some new neighbors (or acquaintances at work…or church)? Shall we introduce ourselves, treat them to a home-cooked meal, and in the process introduce them to … well … God’s Supper Table, and give them a glimpse of heaven?

Blog header

In the pages of this blog I’ve shared themed meals and recipes from all over the world, for the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet that was cast into the sea and gathered some of every kind; here there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but we are all one in Christ.  This gospel shall be preached in all the world, and all the nations will be gathered before the Lord, for He has redeemed us from every tribe and nation, every people and language.

I’ve shared some of the most precious things I’ve learned from scripture.  And I’m passing along a hodge-podge of other little things too (crafts, projects, hobbies, etc.) as life has brought them to me, I am sharing with you.

I hope you’ll enjoy my little cul-de-sac on the Web. It is all God’s doing. I hope you’ll join with me also in fanning into flame this gift that God has placed within us.  Let us not forsake the gathering of ourselves together, or neglect the spiritual nourishment that our earthly bodies so desperately need.

May our Lord bless and keep you forever! IJN Amen

https://youtu.be/DXXxLwxfo0U

Welcome…