The Table of the Lord notes

 

I recently made a video that traces the communion table from Genesis through Revelation, expressing the common theme behind it. It also looks at the table of demons, which instead of feasting upon Christ we feast upon our brethren. If you’re interested, check out the video, and here are the notes that go along with it:

Malachi 1:7, Ezekiel 41:22, 44:16
-Here in the prophets the altar is called “The table of hte LORD”.

Leviticus 21:6
-Here God calls the offerings “the food of God”
+This idea of food being provided by God comes up over and over again throughout the Bible.

Genesis 1:29
-God gave every herb and tree for food – specifically anything bearing seed.
+There is an eternal provision, just like we previously learned of the eternal tabernacle. This “food” here is again made very apparent in other key places.

Genesis 4
-If the altar = Table of the Lord and food of God, let us consider the first sacrifice recorded in Scripture.
-Cain brought from the cursed ground, by the sweat of his brow (Gen 3:17)
-Abel brought of the flock, which God had multiplied and blessed
+Abel brought from rest. It is in the wisdom and eternal pattern of God to bring a firstborn yearling lamb, for “God will provide tha lamb”, and even the meekness portrays God’s character.

Ezekiel 34:1-10, Micah 3:1-3, Zechariah 11:15-17, Jeremiah 10:25, Psalm 14:4
-Over and over again there are these people working by their own toil, according to their own knowledge. Just like with Cain, the result is to slay their brethren.
+God provided good food, and said to eat of every tree, but this one tree – the tree of the knowledge of good and evil – do not eat. Don’t take in the food of your own toil and knowledge, leaving rest as you do so. There is no seed in that – only death.

Leviticus 6:26, Deuteronomy 18:2-3, Numbers 18:11-12
-The sacrifice was not intended to be “feeding God”, but rather as the allotment for the priests and Levites. In offering the sacrifice, you feed your brethren and give them provision.
+Malachi 1:7-14 – In bringing bad sacrifices, the people aren’t providing for their brethren. In this, they again show the mindset of the bad shepherds who feast themselves, while others go hungry.
-1 Corinthians 11:21-22 – Paul rebukes Corinth for this very thing.

Jacob and Esau
-Esau despised his birthright, even the blessing of all nation, and sold it for lentils.
-Jacob, perceiving the provision for many nations, inherited the birthright and blessing, while Esau sought it with many tears.
+Just like Cain, the response to his brother’s righteousness was murder (1 John 3:10-12)

Joseph and his brothers
-God gives Joseph dreams, which he then shares. There is a certain favor upon Joseph from his father.
+Just like God favored Abel’s offering, bringing what God blessed.
-Joseph’s brothers despised their brother because of his dreams and favor, and just like Cain they desired to kill their brother.

David and Eliab
-David brings bread to his brothers and cheese to the commanders, so they might look with favor upon the sons of Jesse.
+Just like the sacrifice is provision for priests and Levites
-Eliab, David’s oldest brother, shows hostility and accusation against David, even after witnessing him be chosen of God, and anointed, filled with the Spirit.

1 Corinthians 10:14-22
-The context before this is Israel being fed and provided for in the wilderness, and yet they served idols, committed sexual immorality, and tested God.
+Though they ate of the bread and cup, they showed in their actions which table they feast from.
-Manna from heaven was given – the bread of life
+Jesus is the bread from heaven (John 6)
-Drank from the spiritual rock
+1 Corinthians 10:4 – Jesus was the rock, water representing His blood (Jn 19:34, 1 Cor 10:16)
-In all these things, they partook of Christ as we. For them it was a tqable prepared in the wilderness (Ps 78:19-20), sacrifices offered upon an altar. For us, we see Jesus our high priest (Heb 3:1) offering Himself upon the heavenly altar (Heb 9:24).
-Do we not partake of one bread? Are we not that broken Body, divided of Jew and Gentile? Yet, we are divided, some feasting from the communion God provides, laying our lives down as living sacrifices (Rom 12:1), an offering of the Gentiles made holy by the Holy Spirit (Rom 15:16). Others take of the table of demons, despising their brethren, and biting and devouring one another (Gal 5:15), whether their brethren be Jews or Christians.
+You cannot eat of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. They who minister at an altar with sacrifices have no right to eat of the table we eat upon (Heb 13:10). They are within a system built on the wisdom of the principalities and powers. Though they minister at “God’s House”, they are not in Zion, the eternal City, whose builder and maker is God. So let us join Jesus, who suffered outside the gate, and leave the camp to find His provision in the wilderness.

Table in the Wilderness
-There are many end time passages that speak of God preparing a table in the wilderness. These are passages that hint at an end time “exodus”.
-Ezekiel 20:33-35
+Hosea 2:14-15, Amos 9:8-10, Micah 7:13-15, Revelation 12:6, 14
-Deuteronomy 30:1-6
+Deuteronomy 32:20-22
-Revelation 12:6
+”They should nourish/feed for her…”
+Psalm 102:13-14, Luke 12:42, Matthew 24:45

Matthew 25:31-46 – The Least of These My Brethren
-They are judged uppon how they treat Jesus’ brethren.
+To not act is to act. It is to repeat the sins of the wicked leaders/shepherds who save themselves at the expense of God’s flock. It is feasting upon the people of God for your own nourishment, rather than nourishing them. This shows your identification with the table of demons, for who else comes to steal, kill, and destroy?

Generation After Josiah (Parts of this section are not in the video)
-Daniel and his companions refused to eat of the defiled meat. Where did they gain the wisdom it was defiled? In eating from the Table of the Lord, they were granted wisdom and discernment.
+1 Corinthians 10:21, 1 Corinthians 6:12 – Everything is permissible, so why can’t we eat from this table? It is even more repulsive than not being beneficial. It is defiled.
-Who can bring them meat in due season? (Mat 24:45, Luke 12:42)
+Luke 15:29-30 – The youngest son in the parable of the prodigal is accused of “devouring your livelihood with harlots”. Yet, the “faithful and wise servant” in the parable brought the fatted calf for this son. He has passed from death unto life, and therefore again eats from the proper table.
+Matthew 24:45-51 – At the end of the age we will either feed others nourishment, or we will beat our fellow servants. There is no in between.
-Matthew 25:31-46 – “What did you do to the least of these my brethren?”
-Parable of prodigal, the eldest son complains because he isn’t given even a young goat. “Where’s my meat?”
+Exodus 16:2-3, “Oh that we died in Egypt, when we had meat to eat and we ate bread to the full…”
-Psalm 78:19-20, “Can God prepare a table in the wilderness?”
+The eldest son complains that the younger brother “devoured with harlots”. Jerusalem/Israel is often called a harlot in the prophets.

Revelation 17 – Babylon
-Revelation 17:15-18 – The description of the judgement upon this harlot fits many Old Testament prophecies concerning Jerusalem.
+Ezekiel 16:23, 37-42, Ezekiel 23:29, Jeremiah 22:20-22, 50:41-42, Hosea 2 describing Israel as a harlot
-They who call themselves God’s people, Israel, or Jerusalem go through this chastisement. However, they who are truly God’s people shall come out refined, purified, and made white (Daniel 11:35).

Revelation 12:6 – “They provide for her…”
-The woman is Israel, fleeing in the wilderness.
+Can God prepare a table in the wilderness?
+Who is the faithful and wise servant to provide meat in due season?
-They who are like Abel, but the Cain people/false shepherds feast upon Israel, beat their fellow servants, and despise their own inheritance/roots.
-The Abel people bring an “offering” to God to provide for thise woman. 1 John 1:9, Revelation 7:14, Daniel 11:33-35, Romans 15:16 (12:1)
-Revelation 17:6 – Cain (Daniel 11:32, Isa 25:18)

Psalm 107:4-9
-Who is that wise and faithful servant who shall prepare the way, being an ambassador of that City, building the highway of holiness, so that they may say, “This isthe way, walk ye in it”?
-Psalm 102 – The Set Time to Favor Zion
+The psalm opens up to imagery of horrendous persecution. It describes an Israel in Holocaust-like scenario.
+Verses 12-14 then speak of a time that has come, a set time, where God now has mercy upon Israel. This set time to favor Zion is contingent upon one thing: God’s servants cherish Zion’s stones, and show favor to her dust.
-These servants cannot be a part of the persecuted and judged Israel, for they are bearing the mercy of God. They must then be something distinct, and yet still in God’s Household to be called “servants”.
-What does it mean to cherish her stones and show favor to her dust?
+Psalm 103:13-14
+Luke 12:42 – Who is that wise and faithful steward, whom is master will  make ruler over his avadim, to give them their okhel (food)?
-For thy avadim cherish her stones…
-Psalm 145:15 – For the servants to give food in due season is for God to give food in due season (Ezekiel 22:33-35 – I will plead)
-Genesis 42:10 – Joseph provided food for his brothers without cost (Gen 42:25-26, Isa 55:1, Rev 22:17)

Cities of Refuge
-Revelation 12:6 – A place prepared in the wilderness, for refuge
+Numbers 35:6, 1 Timothy 2:2
-We don’t wait until “one day” to be this, for the saints have always lived like this in their own generations.
+Noah prepared an ark for the saving of his household (Heb 11:7)
+Shem expressed something of God in the covering of his father’s nakedness, and therfore received the greatest blessing (Gen 9)
+Abraham believed God, and in leaving nation, family, and father’s house he became God’s nation to bless all nations.
+Melchizedek brought unto Abram bread and wine (Gen 14:18)
+Abraham slaughters the fatted calf and bakes 70 pounds of bread for three strangers (Gen 18)
+Lot takes in the two strangers and protects them under the shadow of his roof (Gen 19)
+Joseph was used to provide food to his brethren and to all nations
+The sacrifices provided for the priests and Levites
+David brought bread to his brothers and cheese to the commanders
+Ziba, the servant of Saul, brought David’s men cakes and wine to feed the faint (2 Sam 16:1-4)
+Nabal denied David’s men food, but Abigail provided lavishly (1 Sam 25)
+The widow offered two mites, all that she had, and was honored above everyone else’s offering
+Jesus tells His disciples to feed the people, even in such a solitary place (Mark 8)
+The Shunamite woman provided for Elisha a room he could always call home
-As God’s people, we are called to be that solace in the wilderness in our own generation, If we won’t do it now, then we simply never will. All these died having not received the promise. Why do we think we shall receive with much less effort, and with much less willingness?

Hebrews 13:10-16 as benediction

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Prophets and Seers

I assume that if you clicked on this it is because you’re interested in the subject. You’ve probably read or heard the Scripture, “he who is called a prophet now was formerly called a seer.” It is located in 1 Samuel 9, and this is specifically verse 9. The verse itself doesn’t give a whole lot of clue as to what or why. There is practically no explanation.

For myself, I haven’t begun to understand what the hubbub is. It seems obvious. There aren’t two “classes” of prophets, as if one sees visions and the other hears words. It isn’t like God is telling us that seers are somehow based around physical or spiritual sight, but prophets are a broader term. It isn’t like the prophet is one who can “read your mail”, and tell you all about your life and the things that God says to you. These are all false understanding, even though somewhat popular and mainstream within Charismatic circles.

The text simply means what it says. The term “seer” was given as description of the “prophet” originally. Most likely, this was in reverence for “the prophet” who would come after Moses. Because of the caliber of that man, whom God gave the Law through, it’s difficult to label others under the same title. Sight in the prophetic books is emphasized consistently. Sight, defined by the prophet, is more than what you “see”. It encompasses the spiritual dimension and temporal field together.

I don’t have a good word for it. “Seeing” doesn’t cut it. It’s more than “seeing”. It is a perception, an intuition, a cosmic view of the faith, an eternal witnessing. The largeness of this word escapes me. It is a concrete concept, and yet for they who have not experienced such a view have nothing else to compare it with. This “seeing” involves both spiritual and physical aspects, seeing past them to that which is eternal and does not fade away.

We read in Haggai 2:21, “I am going to shake the heavens and the earth.” Hebrews then expands this to saying that with this shaking is the removal of what can be shaken so that the unshakable would remain. What is it that is the shakable things? We’ve been naive to suggest it is the physical or the temporary. The author tells us it is the created things. And what is not created? The whole book of Hebrews is telling us what is not created.

Why is Jesus greater than the angels? What is this eternal name that the angels don’t get to inherit? What is this rest that we enter, yet the Hebrews inheriting under Joshua did not enter? What is this Melchizedek priesthood? What is this sacrifice upon the heavenly altar? What is the Holy of Holies that we’re beckoned to enter by the blood of Jesus? What is the faith expressed through all of the saints – Hebrews 11 using specifically the Old Testament saints before Jesus? What is this “Zion” that we’ve come unto? What is this altar that we have a right to eat from, but they who eat from the altar at the Temple have no right to eat from? What is this City whose builder and maker is God, which is outside of the camp, and we’re called to leave the camp and join Jesus outside?

The “whats” here are all interlocked with both spiritual and physical things. It isn’t the “spiritual” that makes it unshakable, nor the “physical” that makes it shakable. Rather, God has chosen Zion, which is not a statement of heavenly abode solely, but is still indefinitely tied together with the land of Israel itself. There is a prophetic view, which is also the apostolic view, that can see the eternal covenant, stemming from before the creation of the world, all the way unto the age to come. That eternal covenant, taking into sight all things eternal and everlasting, is the very “sight” of the prophet.

It is the beholding of Him who sits upon the throne and is lifted up. It is the beholding of Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. It is the beholding of angels crying, “Holy, holy, holy”. It is the seeing of the throne room, and the great multitude that sits round about. It is coming unto Zion, the New Jerusalem, to the general assembly and ekklesia of the firstborn who are registered in heaven. It is perceiving God, the Judge of all. It heralds the faith once and for all given, the faith of just men made perfect. It witnesses the Messiah Jesus, the Mediator of the new covenant, and the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel.

The prophets used to be called seers because of their larger perspective. They could comprehend that there was more to the story, and more at play in flesh and blood life. When the prophets would witness the destruction of Israel, the captivity or overcoming of the people of God, the destruction of Jerusalem, or even just the oppression by Israel’s enemies, they saw that this isn’t just a moment in history. This is God’s Kingdom and Name being overcome. This is the principalities and powers ruling over God’s people, and it isn’t because they don’t have the power or authority to be free. Rather, in their own lives and choices they have collectively and individually chosen to give themselves unto the wisdom of the world, which is the wisdom of demons, and thus their decision was made manifest by their oppression, devastation, and exile.

When we claim to eat of the table of the Lord, and yet then indulge in the table of demons, maybe not even physically, but through our practices and choices, we will reap the judgment of it. God will not be mocked; you reap what you sow. To belittle your brethren, betray, ignore or even oppress the poor, the widows, the orphans, and they who have no voice, to seek advancement by whatever means necessary, and/or to even seek the things of this world and the pleasures of “life” that is not truly life is to reject the wisdom and calling of God.

For a people who are to be a prophetic people, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, it is an absolute shame and even blaspheme that we would follow the same pattern that has been given us from the Old Testament. After being told multiple times in the New Testament that these things were written as patterns and signs for us, that we might comprehend that we should not go the same way, we have all too well gone the same exact path of apostasy. This year we’re celebrating 500 years of the protestant reformation. Yet, no one even asks whether the reformation actually went far enough. We’re 500 years into this, and even now we act more Catholic than we’re willing to consider. And with all of the so-called prophets running around, why is there no one who is speaking this, condemning the institutionalized religion that has called itself God? Many can’t understand the interchange between prophets and seers, simply because the prophets they listen to are false to the uttermost.

Eunuchs and the Tree of Life

With the discussion of the two trees in the Garden, we’re again discussing the Kingdom of God and the kingdom of darkness. These are two different cultures at enmity with each other. Within the first two chapters of Genesis, we have the Kingdom of God expressed. In Genesis 1:16-8, we have the darkness being “ruled” over by the sun and moon. In Genesis 1:26-27, we have humanity being made in God’s image, that it might “rule”, or “have dominion”, over the creation. This ruling is described in further detail with the wording of Genesis 2.

The words of our English Bibles tell us that God God commanded the man that he would “tend and keep” the Garden. The Hebrew words denote something slightly different than what commonly comes to mind. In my mind, I always read that Adam was to “tend” the Garden, and I assumed that meant working. But God isn’t talking about work. He isn’t talking about labor. Rather, God is talking about a certain kind of building up, a certain kind of servanthood that takes into consideration what the creation needs, and then becomes that foundation that tends to the needs of the Garden. This describes nothing short of what it means to be apostolic or prophetic. Apostles and prophets are called the foundation, the very thing that holds up the building, and gets walked on without any thought or consideration.

Our word “keep” doesn’t work well anymore. It used to be that to “keep” something was to guard and cherish it, but it has now become simply possessing. For God to tell Adam to keep the Garden, He was telling Adam to cherish and guard it. This is also the word used for the commandments of God. We’re to keep the commands, which we’ve interpreted as flawlessly adhering to their demands. While it might be true that God expects we’ll live in obedience to Him, the word that he used was the same as here in the Garden. The Hebrew word shamyir means to guard, or to cherish. If you tell someone who loves God to guard His commands, they would gladly risk their lives to make sure that they do so. In fact, many of the traditions of the Jews come from this very thing. They want to guard the commands, and so they must rigorously ask the question of what exactly it means to covet, or to steal, or to bear false witness.

God’s Kingdom is expressed fully in the Garden of Eden. His rule is one of service, giving itself over to the needs of others. Indeed, just as Jesus taught, we should not be rulers in the sense of the Gentiles, who lord over one another. Rather, anyone who wants to be great must become the least, and anyone who wants to “rule” must serve. This idea of being a servant is scattered throughout the parables of Jesus. At one time He minces no words in telling us that some are made eunuchs out of their own volition, for the sake of the Kingdom of God.

To be a eunuch for the Kingdom is to strip away your own rights, your own thoughts, your own needs, and your own reputation. Eunuchs are servants who have no regard for their own households. Their only regard is for building up the house of their master. Just like the apostles wrote themselves as being “bondslaves” and “servants” of the Lord Jesus Christ, the apostle is one who fundamentally stands in adherence to the word of God. Every waking moment is a pulsation of desiring and coveting that God be served and get the glory in all things. Our life is no longer our own. “I must decrease so that He might increase.” Just as the prodigal son desired to come to the Father no longer deserving to be a son, but now coveting to be a servant, for the servants have bread and enough to spare, the apostolic man and Body does not seek their own fame and reputation, but rather seeks to train the sons in maturity and fullness, that they might become heirs.

What strikes me is that Scripture doesn’t say anything negative of the eunuchs, other than that in Leviticus they are told not to come near the altar. Every other mention, and certainly the concept of that lifetime devotion unto your master, is blatantly held in high regard. Isaiah claims that these eunuchs shall indeed come near the House of God, and shall even be given names better than sons and daughters. It is said of Elijah that he comes at the end of the age to restore the sons unto the fathers, and to turn the hearts of the fathers back to the sons. This heart is one that bleeds of that eunuch-type servanthood. It has laid down everything so that it might raise up heirs who will inherit the glorious City. As Paul said to the Corinthians, they have been prepared for one Husband.

The Elijah people are they who have given up everything of their own, they who see the Bridegroom and rejoice, preparing the Bride for but one Husband, decreasing so that He might increase, and jealously seeking to build up His house alone. For this reason, because they have no desire to build up their own name and household, they are entrusted with the secret things of God, and they are men of authority. These apostolic and prophetic men are they who God has created from the beginning. Adam was the first foundational man, expressing what it means to rule in the Kingdom of God, and was therefore the steward of the great mystery. This mystery is God revealed. Adam reflecting God outward to all creation, and bringing even the creation into fullness and maturity, that the way may be prepared for the coming of its King.

When we examine the two trees of the Garden, we must bear in mind that they are given as symbols as much as they’re real things. Yes, Adam ate a tangible fruit. Yes, there was a real and lasting death that took place. However, the two trees represent heavenly realities as well. To the tree of life we have full expression of overcoming and ruling in the Kingdom of God. To the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, we have full expression of dwelling in death, choosing death moment by moment rather than life, and thus becoming the antithesis of “seek first the Kingdom of God…”

Slaughtering Children – Matthew 2:16-18

When I spend time in prayer, it is a time of silence. I sit still before God, and I wait for His words, for His heart. His heart is almost always something that I’m not even considering.  I’ll be thinking upon whatever Scripture I’ve been reading/wrestling, or I’ll be considering a life circumstance, or a theological question, but this is never what God seems to be considering…

He speaks to me about things that seem absolutely out of left field for everything that I would like to hear Him say. One of those times regarded this passage of Scripture. My mind went from Exodus 1, when Pharaoh slaughters the Hebrew children, to this passage, where Herod kills the children of Bethlehem, and unto Revelation 12, when Satan desires to devour the male-child. In that same instant, I hear the words of God, “Why does he always go after the children?”

In God’s eyes, children are not ‘mere’ necessities to perpetuate the human race. They aren’t annoyances that suffocate the patience of adults. Children are the innocent. They are the ultimate representation of the needy. God’s heart for those who are unable to speak for themselves, unable to take care of themselves, unable to fend for and protect themselves, unable to bring justice, etc is so juicing with compassion that if you glimpse it you’ll burst. God loves those who are unbearable and unlovable.

We find it a nuisance to have to take care of the elderly, infants, or the sick. I confess that I say “we”, because I am not altogether different. My grandmother who is wheelchair bound, and often gets hurt because she doesn’t want to use the wheelchair, I haven’t seen in months. The heck of it is that I don’t want to go see her. Of course, it should be said that the reason is more than just that she needs someone else to take care of her. It isn’t that I’m unwilling to help. Instead, it is because of the lifestyle and mentality that she has. It is at enmity with everything that I stand for.

Even so, this is often true of those who are in need. The point remains, though. Children are often spoken of as these ‘beasts’ who throw temper tantrums and drive their parents berserk. Too often I hear parents who speak about how much their children are annoying, or worse. My wife and I have both said, to each other and to parents, “If you don’t like your kids, then why did you have them?”

The point is that in God’s eyes, children are the pristine example of those who are unable to take care of themselves. God’s heart toward the poor, the oppressed, the helpless, and those who have no voice is one of compassion. He cannot tolerate when there is injustice against those who have no ability to defend themselves. I’m not sure there is anything that makes Him more angry…

Can you feel the sadness? When you see someone who is defenseless being persecuted or mistreated, can your heart break for them? These children, not even old enough to understand what is happening, are being slaughtered.

Why does Satan always go after the children?

It is interesting to me that when we think of biblical Egypt, we often think of the place of oppression and slavery. Yet, in the previous passage, the place where Joseph, Mary, and Jesus all found safety and freedom was in Egypt…

Behold Israel under Herod:
The New Egypt.

But how can this be? The City of God, the Holy City, the Place with God’s Name, where all nations shall one day come unto to find God, and to hear God, and to be atoned before God has become a place of every evil spirit and wicked practice.

Oh how the mighty have fallen! He has cast down from heaven to earth the beauty of Israel! She was once the princess of all the nations, the very apple of God’s eye, the very place of all that is perfect and true! But now, behold, now God has made her a public spectacle, and a shame and a curse! Why, O Israel, have you gone so astray? What has the LORD ever done that makes you wayward? Did He not find you as a youth, seeing you mistreated and naked before your adversaries, only to take you in, and cleanse your wounds, and heal them fully? Has He not clothed you with splendor and honor? Why, then, O Israel, do you now seek to reject Him, and to mourn at His coming, and to slay His children in the streets, until the blood runs, and the sound of lamentation and woe is all that is heard?

You are not Israel, though you call yourself Israel! You are not Jerusalem, though you claim that title and name! You are Egypt and Sodom! You are Babylon, playing the harlot with all nations, getting drunk from the blood of the saints, killing until there is none other to kill! Which of the prophets have you not slain, O Jerusalem? And which of the righteous saints have you not murdered, O Israel? You are Cain, and his prime city Enoch, O Israel and Jerusalem.

But let us not forget:
“A voice was heard in Ramah,
Lamentation, weeping, and great mourning,
Rachel weeping for her children,
Refusing to be comforted,
Because they are no more…”

When we turn back to Jeremiah 31, where this statement is made, we find the context to be quite interesting. In fact, with both places, I’ve often asked why it is mentioned that Rachel weeps. Why not Leah? Why Rachel? The previous verses were just expressing how those who survive the sword shall find grace in the wilderness (verse 2), and how God will bring redemption unto Israel, so that there will be no more weeping, but instead rejoicing. It speaks of how the young men and old together will comfort one another, and will dance, and will rejoice rather than sorrow. It speaks of how the souls of the priests will satiate with abundance, and all of God’s people Israel will be satisfied with His goodness.

And then, after all this is said, we find “a voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping…” Why is there bitter tears? Why this lamentation? Why such sobs that are causing convulsions, and making it impossible to even stand? Notice the next verse in Jeremiah 31: “Thus says the LORD: Refrain your voice from weeping, and your eyes from tears; for your work shall be rewarded, says the LORD, and they shall come back from the land of the enemy…”

This is altogether a bizarre passage for Matthew to be quoting. It’s like when Matthew quoted Micah 5:2, to remind the readers of a time when the natural branches would be cast off for a season, but shall be grafted back in after “she who is in labor gives birth”. Interjected straight into the heart of the story, Matthew almost seems to change focus altogether in referencing Jeremiah.

Why does this segment end with this quotation? It is my opinion that we must comprehend something a bit more ethereal, which does translate into the physical. Follow me to Genesis 37:9.

“Then [Joseph] dreamed still another dream and told it to his brothers, and said, ‘Look, I have dreamed another dream. And this time, the sun, the moon, and the eleven stars bowed down to me.’ So he told it to his father and his brothers; and his father rebuked him and said to him, ‘What is this dream that you have dreamed? Shall  your mother and I and your brothers indeed come to bow down to the earth before you?'”

Question:
When did that take place? When did it happen?

You cannot tell me that it took place at the time when Jacob and his sons came into Egypt. First of all, Joseph’s brothers bowed down to him before this. Second of all, there is no mention of Jacob/Israel bowing before Joseph. Instead, they embrace and weep upon one another’s neck. Third of all, Rachel had died while giving birth to Benjamin, so this dream seems somewhat absurd to begin with.

Then, when we come to Jeremiah 31:15, why is Rachel mentioned? We can see the context is for Ephraim, so it makes sense that it is Rachel and not Leah. However, I want to ask the question of possibility. Is it possible that Jeremiah was perceiving something beyond in Joseph’s dream? We can go to Revelation 12:1, and find the woman standing upon the sun, clothed with the moon, and having twelve stars upon her head. I believe this to be Israel, connecting it back to Joseph’s dream.

Move to Judges 5:7, “Villagers in Israel would not fight; they held back until I, Deborah, arose, until I arose, a mother in Israel.” Deborah was called “a mother in Israel”, or “the mother of Israel”. What is this? Go to Galatians 4:26, “But the Jerusalem that is above is free, and she is our mother.” Now go to Hebrews 12:22, “But you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem…”

Notice this. Deborah is called the mother of Israel. Then, the “Jerusalem that is above” is called our mother. Then, we collect from Hebrews 12:24 that Zion is another name for “the Jerusalem that is above”. Go to Isaiah 49:14, “But Zion said, “The Lord has forsaken me, the Lord has forgotten me. Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me. Your children hasten back, and those who laid you waste depart from you. Lift up your eyes and look around; all your children gather and come to you. As surely as I live,” declares the Lord, “you will wear them all as ornaments; you will put them on, like a bride.”

Do you see how similar this passage in Isaiah is with Jeremiah 31?

I think that there is a nuance here. There is something beyond just the obvious interpretation. Rachel was to come and bow before Joseph, along with Jacob. But, Jacob never bowed, and Rachel wasn’t alive to bow. So, there waits a future fulfillment of this, even if not with the exact people. Instead, there are ‘types’ (I truly hate that word, but I have no better alternative). Rachel is patterning Zion, just like Deborah was a type of Zion, the mother of us all.

Look at Isaiah 62:4-5, “No longer will they call you Deserted, or name your land Desolate. But you will be called Hephzibah, and your land Beulah; for the LORD will take delight in you, and your land will be married. As a young man marries a young woman, so will your Builder marry you; as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you.”

God says that the land itself will be married at the marriage supper. This is the end of the age, when the Bride has made herself ready, and the wedding of the Lamb is at hand. We then come to Revelation 21, and the City is described, being called the Bride of the Lamb. But, why is it a City? I thought the Bride was the people…

We find the twelve foundations represent the apostles, which would represent “the Church” (I hesitate to say such a thing). Then, the twelve gates of pearl represent the twelve tribes of Israel. This is not two separate entities, or two separate “peoples of God”. This is one Body, unified by one Spirit, culminating together as one Bride of the Lamb, in one City called “New Jerusalem” and “Zion”.

What am I getting at?

There is a Jerusalem that is distressed at the coming of her King, who is ruled by men like Herod, who will slaughter children in order to destroy the threat of the true King. We find this to be the Babylon of Revelation, that the Antichrist finds his rule and epicenter in Jerusalem (see Revelation 11). Somehow, there is a Jerusalem that is ruled by the principalities and powers, a Jerusalem that looks more like Sodom, Egypt, and Babylon, where the Lord was crucified. But there is another Jerusalem, the eternal City, the heavenly City, the City whose builder and maker is God.  That Jerusalem, which is above, is our true dwelling, and it is the true Jerusalem of God. But that heavenly dwelling is not the fullness, for the earthly Jerusalem is the physical counterpart. Just like the soul has the physical body as its counterpart, so too does the true inheritance of God have the physical land of Canaan, the true Holy City have the physical Jerusalem, the true heavenly Temple have the physical tabernacle and temple, and etc.

Rachel is weeping, even from beyond the grave, because Rachel is not simply a character in the Bible. She is an eternal reality, just like Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are not dead, but living. God is not the God of the dead, but of the living. Therefore, Rachel weeps, for her children are no more. They who are defenseless, who are the people of God, who are the eternal people, who are the very representation of the heaven upon the earth are being slaughtered.

Rachel weeps. Can you hear it?

I Will Make A Ransom – Exodus 8:20-32

Within the fourth plague, it begins again with Moses meeting Pharaoh at the river. This is how the first plague commences. Here God begins something new. Now the children of Israel are being distinguished from the Egyptians. The Hebrew wording here is not “to make a distinction”, at least not in the strict English connotation of those words, but rather, “to make a ransom”. God tells Pharaoh that He shall “make a ransom” of Israel, and within that “ransom” is the distinction and deliverance of Israel from this plague. The obvious connotation from this is that if they’re delivered from the plague, they will also be delivered from Egypt.

It is here that we have a quite interesting dialogue. Pharaoh doesn’t seem to assert his authority over God this time. Outside of the fact that Pharaoh is the one who declares, “I will let them go”, you can’t seem to make out much of any notion that Pharaoh is denouncing God’s power, or yawning at such a thing. Whereas from the miracles performed before the first plague unto the previous plague, every time Pharaoh as been unimpressed and unburdened. Previously, the magicians claimed it was the finger of God to perform the third plague. Pharaoh wasn’t phased.

There is the reasoning back and forth, almost like a bartering. Pharaoh tells Moses to sacrifice in the land of Egypt, but Moses says that this will result in Israel being stoned. Many commentaries express that they don’t know why this would be the case. If we simply look at ancient Egyptian religion, we find that the lamb was a sacred animal. Moses knew that God required the lamb to be slaughtered, just like Abel knew before there was the giving of the Law. In the relationship of faith with God, there is something intuited and communicated to the inner man that allows one to know that it requires the sacrifice of the lamb, and not simply of a chicken, pig, or some other animal. Abraham told Isaac that God would provide the LAMB, and not the goat, bull, or deer.

This was a sacred animal to the Egyptians. Therefore, Moses knew they must leave to sacrifice it. I find it interesting, though, that later God will demand of Israel to sacrifice the Passover lamb in Egypt before they leave. Not only does He require this, but then also demands they put the blood on their doorposts for all of Egypt to see!

What begins as Pharaoh attempting to keep Israel within Egypt turns into him suggesting that they can leave, but not very far… Don’t venture three days out; just stay here in the region. This is not what God has said, and therefore there is no deal. The devil does this with us too. You can be a Christian; there is no problem with that. Just don’t start living in a righteous manner. Keep your drinking, your promiscuity, and other acts of the flesh, and you can call yourself whatever you want. When we refuse this, it turns into not going too far. Sure, live righteously. Tell people that sin is wrong, and don’t mince your words. Just don’t start to tell people that the mindsets that they have are wrong. Don’t start living by a different wisdom. Make sure that you keep your job and live by the conventional wisdom of the age. Go into debt, enslave yourself to your occupation and the bank, fill your life with so much that you have no time for prayer or Scripture reading, and then among all the piles of laundry and household chores, you can remind yourself that you’re doing fine because you’re going to church every Sunday and not doing the despicable things.

I just described to you the majority of conventional Christianity in the West.

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter, because Pharaoh will harden his heart and not let you go. You have an advocate with the Father, who is not simply the one who cleanses you from sin and your sacrifice of atonement, but is your Moses who stretches forth His rod and declares, “Let my people go!” It is the rod of iron that Jesus holds. To His people, it is the rod of God, the very rod that brings comfort to the sheep. To Satan and his darkened kingdom, it is the rod of God, the very rod that shall smash in pieces all of his kingdom and all of the nations he has deceived.

This plague is significant because of the discourse that we find here. It’s significance is found in the reality of knowing that God is on our side, and as long as we won’t give up, neither will He. He will plague the darkened kingdom, even sending it into darkness, in order to bring you out into deliverance. To exodus Egypt in this kind of “spiritual” sense is to come out of sin, come out of the false mindsets and attitudes of the world, and to come face-to-face with the living God. It is in that wilderness that Israel heard the voice of God and received the marriage covenant. It is there that we hear our hearts being beckoned, and if you won’t harden your hearts today, as you did in the rebellion, you can enter into that rest.

 

Share in All Things – Galatians 6:6-10

Within this passage is a mandate to all. First, let me explain a bit of what it meant to be within the first century Church. Second, we’ll look at the passage directly. Third, we’ll ask the question of how we get there.

Within Acts 2:42-47, we read that they who were added to the Church continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, having all things in common, selling their possessions and distributing as anyone had need, and spending time together daily, whether in the temple, going from house to house, or or otherwise. It was completely natural. You didn’t have to tell anyone to sell their possessions; they did it naturally. You didn’t have to tell people to live in obedience to the apostles’ teaching; they did that naturally. It was the logic of the salvation and outpouring of the Spirit that caused them to come together daily, and not merely weekly.

It is within this context, spending day after day with the other believers throughout your city, that we have a definition of Church. The Greek word (ekklesia) actually comes from the Hebrew Kahal, neither having any kind of religious connotation. It simply means an assembly, or a group of people who have gathered together. The sunagoge (synagogue) was where they met. Once again, there was absolutely nothing religiously affiliated with that word in the first century. Herod called the scholars together, and that gathering was called a sunagoge (Matt 2:4). In Hebrews 10:25, the “gathering together” is sunagoge. In 2 Thessalonians 2:1, the place where Jesus gathers His Church is called an epi-sunagoge.

From this context, let us ask again what “Church” is. Within that first century manifestation, the Church was simply the people of God. For this reason, we find that Paul writes to whole cities, and not congregations within those cities. They met together daily, and anyone who had need was provided for. How did they have so much money? They didn’t. Everyone lived within their means, living a peaceful and quiet life. They didn’t spend their money on large homes, fancy clothing, or “things”. Rather, they spent their money on one another, putting it to a greater use than themselves.

This all came down to the eschatological dimension. The end times were not something far away and outside, but were a dynamic that was lived out in daily life. There was an expectation of imminent judgment upon the House of Israel, and a knowing that the righteous should be preserved. There was a knowledge that God was progressing His people forward in an ultimate drama, and therefore every day was another chance to grow and develop, progressing with God toward that ultimate climax of the age.

When we come to Galatians 6:6, we find Paul telling the people to give to they who teach. For you who are being taught, and who are finding much growth spiritually through a certain teacher, you should do what you can to provide for their needs. In 2 Corinthians 9:6, Paul uses the idea of sowing and reaping in a similar context. But, notice that Paul doesn’t remain with providing for they who teach, but the conclusion in verse 10 is to do good to all. Given the context, it must be that Paul is speaking about physical need, and giving to those who have need.

Why is this stressed?

It is the logic of our salvation, the logic of love, to provide for one another. Simply living what we’ve received demands that we would take care of one another. And how do we even get back to such a thing? In our day and age, especially here in the West, we are enshrouded with debt, with expenses, and with financial trouble. How do we get free of this? Let me be clear: Dave Ramsey might speak about getting free from debt, but he doesn’t give the biblical answer.

From the New Testament text, it seems that the way that we get free from debt is selling everything. You have your house paid off? Invite they who don’t have their homes paid off in, and allow them to live with you until they have the necessary provision to buy a home without debt. Are you still paying on your car? Sell it and get something much less exotic. Are you struggling to pay your bills? Get rid of the cable, the Internet, the cigarettes, the Netflix, and anything else that is unnecessary, and ultimately is a waste of life and time. Jesus told the rich young ruler, “Sell your possessions, give to the poor, THEN come and follow me.” How many of us would also go away saddened, and not follow Jesus?

You want freedom? How much? You want the first century reality in your midst? How much? Are you willing to buy your brother or sister a new roof on their house because they need it? Are you willing to ding-dong ditch some groceries? Are you willing to purchase a car for the single mom who can’t afford to fix the minivan that she is currently driving at 250,000 miles? Are you willing to get to know the people around you well enough to know their needs, and know whether you can provide or not? It is a shameful testimony that you can have someone who can’t even afford to feed their child and someone who has tens of thousands of dollars in their bank account gathering at the same building for “church”.

My wife and I live at a level that is so far in poverty that we don’t even register on the chart. Yet, we don’t have debt, we pay our bills, we have clothes, we have food, and everything is provided in its time. I confess, we often do have struggle, and we’ve gone without meat, we’ve gone without reasonable shoes, we are currently going with clothes that are worn out and falling apart, we have no computers, our apartment is so small that the living room is our bedroom, when car insurance or veterinarian bills come we get nervous, we’ve known hunger, we’ve known what it is to only afford water, we’ve known what it means to have a drafty house that chills you in the winter, we’ve known what it means to skip changing the oil in the car because you can’t afford it, we’ve known what it means to debate paying the electric bill or buying groceries, we’ve experienced the ghetto poverty even outside of the ghetto, and yet I boast in these things because His grace is sufficient.

You want to know why my words are often so powerful? You want to know why I speak so much of resurrection? It is because if my God is not real, then my wife and I will perish. Everything is cast upon God. If He doesn’t come through for us, providing us our daily bread, then we don’t eat. It’s not expedient, and it certainly isn’t comfortable, but it’s life from the dead.

So I ask again:
How much are you willing to experience the first century phenomenon?

 

To Help, Or Not To Help – Galatians 6:1-5

When we begin the last chapter of Galatians, it seems to be starting off well. Paul says that the who are spiritual should restore someone who struggles with temptation (notice he doesn’t say sin – more on that in a minute). Yet, when you come to the last statement of the passage, you read Paul saying that everyone should bear their own load. What the heck? Am I supposed to help, or not help? Are we to bear one another’s burdens, or examine our own work?

This makes me to think of the crucifixion of Jesus, even. Did He carry His own cross, as Matthew and John say? Or, did Jesus have help from this Simon fellow, as Mark and Luke say? I’ll try to give some advice, even if the truth is that I find this passage perplexing as well lol.

If someone is struggling with a sin, then let you who are spiritual do all that you can to help them bear that temptation and overcome. Yet, if it isn’t “temptation” in this sense, but is rather the following of an utterly different Gospel, a Gospel of works, then each man must examine his own work. For you who are attempting to stop smoking, or quit drinking, or break the porn addiction, or find healthier lifestyles in eating and exercising, then you need to find someone who is able to wrestle alongside of you. Find someone who you know to be spiritual, and not simply a pastor or elder. This is one of the biggest problems in our day. With all of the people in “leadership”, I don’t know them well enough to know whether I can trust them. And, it only takes that one time that you confess a fault to someone, and they then gossip it around town, that you no longer trust anyone.

We need to be incredible careful and wise with who we reveal our faults to. They need to be someone that we know will have gentleness and compassion on us, but at the same time are spiritual enough to perceive past just the struggle.

What do I mean?

You aren’t smoking because you’re addicted to cigarettes. You’re not playing video games for many hours into the night on multiple days a week because you simply enjoy video games. You’re not looking at porn, or flirting with boys/girls, or seeking intimate relationships because you enjoy the feeling. There is something deeper here. Before you ever smoked your first cigarette, you never had the need for a cigarette. Before you lost your virginity, you never needed sex. You never needed alcohol to have a good time and party before you first started drinking. What has changed that you now look for it?

This is the issue behind the issue. They who are spiritual can help you wrestle that one though, and in wrestling together, to overcome the original problem that led to the addiction. It might be that there are wounds that haven’t healed, wounds that you’ve forgotten of, but when you start to attempt to wage war against the demonic voices and the lies that you’ve believed, the wound is uncovered, and now you’re reminded. It takes someone who is able to stand with you, and not accuse you, in these moments. This is why Paul charges they that are spiritual to restore their brother with gentleness, and not to assail them.

In regard to the other issue, in examining ourselves, notice the context of the statement. “If anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.” What are you saying Paul? He’s saying that there is a mindset of exaltedness, one that comes from a knowledge that puffs up, in which we can live and believe, simple because we are under law. You who are spiritual, who think yourself at a place to help they who are struggling with temptation: Why are you capable? Is it that you don’t commit the same sins they do, and therefore you’re at a place of higher devotion and holiness? Or, is it because, by the grace of God, you’ve been given a disposition that is servant-like? Are you at a place to better help others because you’re “more spiritual”, understanding “spiritual warfare”, and “prayer”, and other such tactics to cause for this “weaker brother” to be brought into maturity like you are? Or, are you able to recognize that apart from the grace of God, none of us are righteous, none of us are able, and therefore it is only through the grace and power of God that we will have ability to help them overcome?

Here is the dividing line, dear children. I could go off into the various Scripture references to bring you to seeing how Paul uses this language all over his epistles, but what is more important to me is your freedom. For you who are free, and who live in that freedom, and who fight to remain in that freedom, help they who are overcoming. Notice that Paul doesn’t call it sin. According to the Gospel, we’ve died with Christ, and we aren’t any longer “sinners”. The “sinner” is dead; I am alive in Christ. What now must happen is that I need to learn how to live again. I must relearn what it means to walk, to talk, to live, and to move, and to have my being in God instead of self. That is not a process of putting to death the old man, for the old man has always been dead. That is a process of learning to live out of the new man, the one who is truly alive. It takes time, but they who are mature should be able to perceive what is necessary to bring the young into maturity.

Hard Hearts – Exodus 7:1-7

In this passage of Exodus, we have the reiteration that God tells Moses to speak to Pharaoh, and that Aaron will be his mouthpiece. It it interesting that God tells Moses that he shall be “Elohim” (God) to Pharaoh, and Aaron shall be the prophet. This is actually how the chapter begins. We saw this same declaration back in chapter 4, but here it is in a slightly different context. It is one thing for God to tell Moses this at the burning bush, but for it to be said again just before entering the court of Pharaoh is something altogether noteworthy.

When the Bible says the same thing twice, it needs to be noted. Something is trying to be conveyed here. Why would Moses be “Elohim” unto Pharaoh? Why isn’t Moses the spokesman of Elohim, and therefore Aaron is just the guy who is speaking on Moses’ behalf? The answer lies within Egyptian tradition. Pharaoh is not simply a human prophet or “frontman” for the gods, but the Egyptian Pharaohs were claimed to be gods incarnate. Certain Pharaohs were considered to be one of the gods in the flesh, and they had their palace and burial place decorated to commemorate that. Moses is “Elohim” unto Pharaoh, just like Pharaoh is supposedly “incarnate god” to the Egyptians.

The passage as a whole revolves around a certain notion: God will harden the heart of Pharaoh. Why is Moses and Aaron to go unto Pharaoh? Because God will release His people through mighty acts and judgments. Why can’t God just perform the mighty acts and judgments, and thus cause Israel to go out apart from Moses and Aaron addressing Pharaoh? There are a couple reasons for this, and probably the most difficult to grasp is that God works alongside of humanity, and not independently.

Pharaoh is to know of the judgments of God. He is to know of the coming wrath. In fact, there is extremely good Scriptural support that God does not send judgment without also first sending warning. Thus, between God’s fairness and His drive to work hand-in-hand with His creation (instead of independently), we have the reasons for why God would send Moses and Aaron at all. He certainly has every ability of bankrupting Egypt and causing it to collapse, thus giving more than sufficient means for Israel to leave. But, that isn’t how God works. Ever.

Instead, God will harden the heart of Pharaoh. Even here, the question can be asked: Why?

Why does God need to harden the heart of Pharaoh? Why can’t the command go forth, and then let Pharaoh to decide whether he wants to obey or not? Why would God deliberately harden the heart of Pharaoh, and thus keep His people in tribulation for another few weeks or months? These sorts of questions will ruin you. You will either find no comfortable answer, and therefore be left with questions that force you to lose your faith, or you will find the deepest, most intimate, and apostolic answers, which will uncover to you the very essence of who God is.

So, why does God harden Pharaoh’s heart? Notice Deuteronomy 2:30. What does it say? “But Sihon, king of Heshon, would not let us pass through, for the LORD your God hardened his spirit and made his heart obstinate, that He might deliver him into your hand, as it is this day.” Notice Joshua 11:20. “For it was of the LORD to harden their hearts, that they should come against Israel in battle, that He might utterly destroy them, and that they might receive no mercy, but that He might destroy them, as the LORD had commanded Moses.”

This phrase is specific to the deliverance from Egypt and the conquest of Canaan. Maybe you can find it elsewhere (and please correct me if I’m wrong), but I can’t find the phrase anywhere else. It isn’t in Judges, it isn’t in Samuel, it isn’t in Kings, and it isn’t in the later history after the exile. You don’t find this hardness in the New Testament, except to point it our from the past. Even Paul saying, “God has mercy on whom he will have mercy, and hardens whom he will harden”, it is only a statement in a larger context pointing back to Pharaoh, and decreeing that God has hardened Israel in these last days so that they would now be “not His people”, as Hosea has proclaimed, only the then be the selfsame people that God will turn to and proclaim, “they are my people”.

What am I getting at?

Go to Revelation 16. This concept of hardening the heart is only found in Exodus, Deuteronomy, and Joshua, only to then be used of Paul to claim that Israel has now been hardened so as to no longer be God’s people (but only temporarily). Notice Revelation 16:13 and onward: “And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs coming out of the mouth of the dragon, out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of the great day of God Almighty. (Jesus speaking) Behold, I am coming as a theif. Blessed is he who watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame. And they gathered them together to the place called in Hebrew, Armageddon.”

Two things: first, notice that the gathering together of the nations for the final battle against Jesus at His second coming is prompted by demons. Second, notice that Jesus’ “thief-like” coming isn’t the rapture (as if it happens before the tribulation), but His legitimate, actual second coming, which is what all of the prophets and apostles have always declared.

Now go to Revelation 17. There is a great harlot that sits on many waters, and she is riding the scarlet beast. This beast is the self-same beast mentioned in Revelation 13, which is the Antichrist Kingdom. There is something happening here, a mystery. The beast somehow represents the whole kingdom of Antichrist, and yet the Antichrist himself as well. The beast that comes out of the waters is a hybrid, or a composite, of the four beasts of Daniel 7. There are seven heads on the beast, just like when you add up the heads on the four beasts of Daniel, there are seven altogether. Here we have the seven-headed beast, along with the ten horns, which is the Antichrist Kingdom.

How do I know this?

When you look at Daniel 7, you find that each beast represents a different kingdom, just like the statue of Daniel 2 represented different kingdoms. Yet, there is a continuum from Genesis 4, the city called Enoch, unto the Tower of Babel, and ultimately unto Babylon, which is the first kingdom mentioned in Daniel 2 and 7. Look at Revelation 17:9-11. The seven heads represent more than just the amount of heads upon those four beasts, and the kings are more than just the kings of Daniel 11. We have here the seven oppressors of Israel: Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, Rome, and finally the Antichrist. This is why “five have fallen, one is, and the other has not yet come.” The first five of those kingdoms by this point were no longer oppressive super-powers. Rome was the dominating force, and there was to be another oppressive force against Israel that would rise up as a world super-power after Rome.

Let us look at the woman for a minute. Who is this woman? Look at verse 6: “I saw the woman, drunk with the blood of the saints and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus. And when I saw her, I marveled with great amazement.” Now examine the words of Jesus. “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who have slain all the prophets.” Or, what about, “Would it be right for a prophet to be killed outside of Jerusalem?” What about Peter ending his first epistle, saying that the “saints in Babylon greet you”? Peter wasn’t in Babylon; Babylon didn’t exist anymore. Peter is writing from Jerusalem.

The woman is called a harlot. Go to Ezekiel 16. In Ezekiel 16, you have the prophet speaking the word of God over Judah and Jerusalem. In verse 15 you have it begin, “But you trusted in your own beauty, played the harlot because of your fame, and poured out your harlotry on everyone passing by who would have it.” Now, just because Israel is called a harlot doesn’t mean that Israel is the harlot of Revelation 17. Let us get better evidence than this one verse. When you continue through Ezekiel 16, you come to verses 35 and onward, where we find statements like, “I will gather your lovers with whom you took pleasure… I will gather them all around against you and will uncover your nakedness to them, that they may see all your nakedness. And I will judge you as women who break wedlock… I will bring blood upon you in fury and jealousy… They shall also strip you of your clothes, take you beautiful jewelry, and leave you naked and bare. They shall also bring up an assembly against you, and they shall stone you with stones and thrust you through with their swords. They shall burn your houses with fire, and execute judgments on you…”

Go back to Revelation 17. You find in verses 16 and onward, “And the ten horns which you saw on the beast, these will hate the harlot, make her desolate and naked, eat her flesh (compare Psalm 14:4, Micah 3:3, Jeremiah 10:25, 1 Corinthians 10:21, etc) and burn her with fire. For God has put it into their hearts to fulfill His purpose, to be of one mind, and to give their kingdom to the beast, until the words of God are fulfilled.” Now look at Revelation 18:4, “And I heard another voice from heaven saying, “Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues.”

What am I getting at here?

When we look at Exodus 7:1-7 and the other places where God hardens the hearts of the wicked kings, it is in relation to Israel being freed from oppression and bring brought into the Land of Canaan. When you examine the Old and New Testament in regard to the end times, it seems like there is a small pattern in only a handful of verses. Jeremiah 16:4-5 is a more obvious depiction of this small pattern. It claims that Israel, after they have been judged for their iniquity, will no longer say, “As the Lord who brought us out of Egypt,” because what God is going to do is going to surpass what He did when He brought Israel out of Egypt.

You have in the end times a “new exodus” of sorts. Somehow, Jerusalem itself is made to be the “Egypt” and “Babylon” that must be judged. Somehow, Israel herself is the one hardened, but unlike Egypt and Babylon, she shall not be utterly destroyed. Instead, the cry goes forth to “come out from her”, and God speaks over and over again (even in Romans 9) that though “not all Israel is Israel”, and though they are the people who have been made “not my people”, as Paul will conclude later, “all Israel shall be saved”, and they who were “not my people” shall be the very ones who are now called “my people”.

Here is the great mystery, and incredibly difficult concept to grasp. Somehow God only hardens the hearts of they who He shall send judgment upon in regard to His people. Yet, there comes a time and place – which has indeed already come, and is at hand – when God shall send judgment upon His own people, hardening His own people’s hearts, so as to bring deliverance and salvation. Do you see the extreme difficulty that this produces? The pre-tribulation rapture then neuters this view by claiming that the mechanism of Israel’s deliverance (the church – Rev 12:6, 13-17, Rom 11:11, 25-31, etc) is supposed to be gone. Replacement theologians neuter this understanding by claiming ethnic Israel means nothing, and neither does the land itself. But, if it means nothing, then why does the entirety of God’s cosmic redemptive paradigm utterly revolve around that people, and that land, to such a degree that God gathers all nations at the end of the world unto Israel and Jerusalem – at Har Megiddo – where Jesus shall then return? It has great significance, and we need to know our place as His people in this end time stratagem, or else we will be destined to always seeking “more”, “deeper”, “bigger”, and “powerful”, because we have not the actual authentic thing.

Walking in the Spirit – Galatians 5:16-18

I want to give some practical advise to walking in the Spirit. Let me make it simple: It’s really simple. Got it?

After about 10 years in the Lord, I’ve heard a lot of messages about walking with God, about walking with the Spirit, and I’ve read a lot of books, articles, and blogs. This is pretty well what I do. When I was first saved, I went to church daily. 7 days out of the week I was spending all of my free time either at church, in a Bible study, or on the streets evangelizing. I have about 500 sermons on my computer that I’m still working through. That number was upward to about 10,000. I say all this to say that I know this is a question that people are asking about, and I know that a lot of times the answers are clouded in uncertainty (to say the least).

So, first things first, let us reason naturally. When you’re born, you can’t walk immediately. Most of you muscles are unfit for being used in maturity. You drink milk, you flail about without hand-eye coordination, and even your vocal/speaking mechanisms are unable to communicate as adults. After a couple years, the child has probably gotten to a place where he/she can say some words, can walk (somewhat), is eating food instead of milk, etc. It takes time for the body to grow and mature. The same is true spiritually.

When you’re first born into the Lord, you probably don’t know a whole lot of what you’re doing, or how to do much. There is nothing wrong with that, because you can’t expect an infant to be potty trained or reason with the philosophers of our day. There has to be maturing that takes place. Whether you’re years or months (or decades) in the faith, don’t feel like because you haven’t seen the fruit you were hoping for that you’re somehow doing it wrong. It takes time, it takes devotion, and it takes dedication.

Now that that is out of the way, what exactly do we even mean when we say “walk in the Spirit”? I’m afraid that it has almost been supercharged into this unattainable super-human, super-spiritual thing. Just as walking is such a natural ability of the creature (what animal do you know that isn’t naturally able to figure out the walking thing?), so too is walking in the Spirit. It’s simply what you do when you’re in the faith. So, lets go ahead and look at a few Scriptures (you’ll notice that all of these pertain directly to our passage):

Rom 6:12-14, “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.” (see Gal 5:16 and 18)

Rom 8:1-4, “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”

Rom 8:12-14, “Therefore, brethren, we are debtors—not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.”

I know all of these verses are in Romans. You’ll notice if you go through a concordance (or search Bible Gateway with the phrase “walk in the spirit”) that in almost every case (if not every case), it is immediately in regard to not walking in the flesh, not falling to temptation, beholding the Day of the Lord and our redemption that comes with it, and therefore living in purity before God here and now.

So, what is walking in the Spirit? If our theology tells us that to walk according to the Spirit is to somehow be led out of our homes, across the country or across the world, to preaching to people that need Jesus, or to knowing with intuition that someone needs help that we can offer, then we have missed the mark. Prophecy, healing, miracles, and missionary work is not the definition of walking according to the Spirit. It isn’t about hearing some Divine emanation and then doing what this voice from heaven speaks. It is not about knowing the will of God for your life and then pursuing it.

Walking in the Spirit is really simple. In fact, if you’re truly in Christ, it is the most basic thing that you can do. What it comes down to is this: What does God approve of? If you open the Bible and simply begin to read it, what conclusions will you come to about what God approves of and expects His people to act like? Let me give a few thoughts off the top of my head:

  1. Compassion on the oppressed
    Compassion is about justice. God hears the cry of the oppressed, whether the poor, the widows, the fatherless, or the sojourner. If you’re in Christ, and you truly have the Spirit of God within you, then you cannot ignore this cry. Something in you drives you to noticing when there is injustice and oppression of the lowly. You can’t ignore it, because it is fundamentally something that God gets super pissed about. I told my wife the other day, “I’ve figured it out… I’m an Amos.” The reason that I continue to harp and gripe about the injustice I see Christendom doing, and the theories that promote selfishness, is because I’m an Amos. I might not have the glorious visions and prophecies of Isaiah or Zechariah, but when you read Amos you can’t ignore the compassion and love that he radiates for His people and for the poor.
  2. Faithfulness
    This word is something that has been lost to us. Faithfulness doesn’t mean that we’re sinless, nor that we somehow spend all and are expended upon the Lord’s behalf, but that we’re simply faithful. We devote ourselves to the Lord, and if He directs our path in another direction, then we go. If He doesn’t move us, then we’re content to stay and live a simple life. We’re faithful with what He has given us, and we’re faithful to not complain and covet what others have. When we have need, we pray, and when we don’t have need, we have gratitude.
  3. Acknowledgement of God
    How sad is it that one of the biggest things that God desires is to simply be acknowledged? Even within Deuteronomy, one of the statements that rings out is to not forget God when you get blessed… To acknowledge Him is to recognize on a deeper level that it is by God that you live, and move, and have your being. Don’t think that simply saying, “Oh, but God provides” is enough. That statement shouldn’t be a quick cliche to spout out, but the very reality that you live from.
  4. Simplicity
    There is never anything, anywhere, in the Bible that is complex. You might have deep thoughts, amazing wisdom, and incredible insight, but you don’t have anything complex. Things like “Bible codes”, hoops to jump through, demands that you need to know multiple languages to understand the Bible, etc are all lies. God is simple, and He expects that we live simply. In Exodus, he who gathered much had nothing left over, and he who gathered little did not go hungry. You live within your means. Proverbs speaks against debt profusely. In all things, live simply. Know that the Bible is simple, and even Leviticus can be easily understood when you’ve read it a couple times to become familiar with it, and that we’re asked to live within our means, not desiring bigger, better, faster, more. That kind of thinking (bigger, better, faster, deeper, more) comes from demons, and not God.
  5. Mercy
    Once again, this seems super simple, right? God has granted you mercy, so go and do likewise to/for others. There isn’t a “unless” or “except for” in that command of Jesus. You weren’t deserving of mercy, and neither are they.

To learn to live in this manner (and this is just a quick off-the-top-of-my-head outline) is to walk in the Spirit. Learning of God’s character and the things He approves of is to learn to walk according to the Spirit. Therefore, “spirit-led worship” and “spirit-led sermons” and other stuff is nonsense. To be “Spirit led” is to learn from the Spirit the very wisdom and lifestyle of heaven, and to then live from that reality in all things that you do. This is why “walking in the Spirit” is the opposite of “walking in the flesh”.

Our Priestly Heritage – Exodus 6:14-30

Genealogies are possibly the most boring (am I allowed to say that?), and yet sometimes also the most insightful pieces of Scripture. When you are able to trace the names through the Bible, you begin to put pieces together that you would have never noticed before. One of my favorite examples, because it brings such a massive perspective change, is to trace Nimrod and the cities that he established. You find Nimrod in Genesis 10:10-12, where he is the one who builds Nineveh (capitol of Assyria, who will later be a hostile enemy of Israel). Yet, it is also Nimrod who builds the tower of Babel, in the plains of Shinar, which is the exact location that the future Babylon would be built (the city, before it was a super-nation). Babylon was not only a hostile enemy of Israel, but is the prophetic kingdom of darkness upon the face of the earth (which is why Babylon shows up in Revelation 17, even though its been in ruins for centuries by that point).

Here in Exodus 6, we have the heads of the families mentioned. At the last, you have Levi, and you have from Levi the priestly family (Aaron). So, here is my question: Why is it that Levi is chosen instead of Reuben, Issachar, Judah, or some other tribe? What does Levi have that others don’t? Or, is there nothing that Levi brings to the table, and it is all God’s prerogative and Divine choosing?

First off, let us address one thing. When you begin to read the passage, you find Reuben first mentioned (see Genesis 29:30-32). He is the first born, and therefore the first genealogy. Then, we find Simeon, who is the second born to Israel (see Genesis 29:33). Then, when we turn to Levi, we find the genealogy all the way down to Moses and Aaron, but we don’t have a continuation of the genealogies of the other tribes. Obviously the point of this genealogy is not to show the heads of all the tribes, but to come unto Levi. But, then we can ask why Reuben and Simeon are even mentioned…

My best guess to why they are mentioned is to point out that Levi is not the eldest son, but it is who God chose to be the priesthood (which is the leadership until the kingship is established). We all know according to history, and according to Levitical/Deuteronomic Law, that the eldest is the one to get the birthright. Yet, in Genesis, over and over again it isn’t the firstborn, but some later son. You have Seth rather than Cain getting the blessing. You have Shem rather than Ham or Japheth. You have Abraham rather than Nahor. You have Isaac instead of Ishmael. You have Jacob instead of Esau. You have Joseph and Benjamin being loved more highly than the other twelve sons. You have Ephraim being blessed over Manasseh. And here in Exodus, you also have Levi instead of Reuben or Simeon getting the blessing of the firstborn.

This seems to be the way that God works (even with David being the youngest of his brothers). Traditionally, the first name is the firstborn. And so, with the sons of Levi, you have Gershon, the eldest, Kohath, and Merari. Then, you have the genealogy traced through Kohath. Kohath’s eldest is Amram, and it is Amram who was the father of Aaron (the eldest) and Moses. Now, in regard to Korah, I want to kill this bird here and now. When you read the Psalms, you find that certain psalms are either dedicated to or sung by the Korahites. We then think this means that Korah, who rebelled against Moses and Aaron (Num 16), had children who repented. That isn’t so. We have here in Exodus 6:21 that the second son of Kohath, Izhar, bore Korah, Nepheg, and Zichri. The Korah mentioned in the Psalms would be of this genealogy, and not the rebellious Korah of Numbers. You find that they even had the honor of working along with the priests under David (1 Chron 6:31-38), but so did the other sons of Levi.

This genealogy ends with Eleazar, Aaron’s son, taking for himself one of the daughters of Putiel (only place name mentioned in Bible) as wife, and she bore him Phinehas. Phinehas is later going to be the one who steadies God’s wrath by throwing a spear through a Midianite woman and an elder of Israel who are weeping before the Tabernacle, and before Moses (Numbers 25:6-9). This elder so desperately wants to continue to commit idolatry with his wife that he will weep outside of the Tabernacle with her – right in the very face of God.

The place of this genealogy seems strange, unless you comprehend the Hebrew mind. In the Hebrew mind, you focus upon stories instead of chronology. So, for example, the book of Exodus opens up with the genealogy to connect from Genesis to the current time. Then, we move from there to finding the great oppression of Israel, the birth of Moses, the life events that led to Moses’ fleeing Egypt, Moses’ life in the wilderness, and then God calling Moses back unto Pharaoh. Wouldn’t it seem a good place to put this genealogy back in chapter 2 with the introduction of Moses? Yet, that isn’t the place that we find this genealogy. Instead, we find the whole of the backstory given, all the way through to Moses going unto Pharaoh, the oppression worsening, and God reassuring Moses of what is about to happen.

The Gospels also have this. Why does Matthew conflict so heavily with Mark, Luke, and John as far as chronology? Why do all of the Gospels have the same teachings and stories (save John being 92% original), and yet not a one of them have the same chronology of those stories or teachings? It is because each Gospel is being written with a certain intent in mind. There is a purpose behind the story, and a purpose behind the teaching, that while the story/teaching gives us great understanding by itself, when coupled with the events before and afterward, we find there is a larger reason why it is placed where it is. This is why John has stories that the other Gospels don’t, and why certain Gospels have certain stories or teachings, while the others seem totally oblivious to such events. They aren’t oblivious to the event, nor the chronology, but are desiring to put forth a certain argument beyond just the stories and teachings.

Here in Exodus, we have the opening scene of the book, which might be longer than most television shows or movies, but is nonetheless the opening scene to give us all of the background information necessary. From there, we transition to the credits, which is this genealogy of Aaron and Moses. From there, we transition back to the story, picking up where we left off, that Moses and Aaron go back unto Pharaoh and demand that he let the people go. Whether this encounter we’re going to go into in chapter 7 is a reiteration of chapter 5, I’m not sure. It certainly could be, but there are also some distinguishing marks. Either way, the passage at hand is not something to simply skip past because we find the genealogies boring or uninteresting. Within it we find the heritage of the priesthood, of which we are called.

In the Old Testament, you have even within the book of Exodus a priestly nation (Israel – Exodus 19:6), and then a priesthood within that priestly nation. So it is today, that you have the priesthood (Church) within the priestly nation. In Exodus, the priesthood is quite tangible, with certain duties that surround the Tabernacle/Temple. In modern times, with the Temple destroyed, the priesthood is spiritual. The whole understanding of what it means to be Israel is spiritual. Jacob wrestled with God and with man, and yet overcame. That is why he inherited the name Israel. It is no less true today. Just because natural Israel doesn’t fit the bill doesn’t mean it isn’t their call, for “the gifts and calling of God are irrevocable”. I could make the same argument that in many ways the Church hasn’t fit that bill either.

What does it mean for us to be priestly, even in the New Covenant? One thing it must certainly mean is that we know our heritage. We might not be of the priesthood of Aaron, but that doesn’t nullify its significance. The Melchizedek of Genesis has no heritage, and that is the point, but we must realize that our heritage is found in Hebrews 11, and that we do have roots that go back to “Adam, the son of God” (Lk 3:38). That priestly heritage is everything that it means to be Levitical (of Levi).

Malachi 2:1-6 gives us that perspective. I’ve actually heard this quoted (the first half) to ‘prove’ that Israel is no longer God’s people, but it is now about the Church. It’s incredibly ironic that the very passages that these supersessionists choose are the very passages that will demand Israel’s chosenness if you keep reading.

“And now, O priests, this commandment is for you. If you will not hear, and if you will not take it to heart, to give glory to my name, says the LORD of hosts, I will send a curse upon you, and I will curse your blessings. Yes, I have cursed them already, because you do not take it to heart. Behold, I will rebuke your descendants and spread refuse on your faces, the refuse of your solemn feasts; and one will take you away with it. Then you shall know that I have sent this commandment to you, that my covenant with Levi will continue, says the LORD of hosts. My covenant was with him, one of life and peace, and I gave them to him that he might fear me; so he feared me and was reverent before my name. The law of truth was in his mouth, and injustice was not found on his lips. He walked with me in peace and equity, and turned many away from iniquity.”

Can you follow that? Let me repeat, for it bears repetition: They who are priestly are they who 1) give glory to God’s name, 2) fear God, 3) revere His name, 4) have the law of truth in their mouth, 5) keep injustice far away from their lips, 6) walk with God in peace and equity, and 7) turn many away from iniquity. You know what this sounds like? It sounds like the very Davidic heart and character. The Kingdom of God is eternally a Davidic Kingdom. The heart of David is the heart of God, and the heart of God is the heart of David. The character of David is the character of God, and the character of God is the character of David. What David represents is the quintessential Jesus, and visa versa. If you want to know what it means to be priestly, you must know what it means to be Davidic. If you want to know what it means to be Davidic, you must immerse yourself in the Psalms, and within the books of Samuel and 1 Chronicles.

David was a priestly king, and a prophet as well. Jesus was also prophet, priest, and King. This is our heritage. This is our mandate. Unto this glory have we been called, whether we know it or not, and whether we know how to communicate it or not. We have fallen far short of this glory, but that doesn’t then negate our purpose. Let us run the race, casting off all restraint to come unto the beauty of holiness, seeing Jesus as our High Priest and the author of our confession, and seeing the great cloud of witnesses, who are our heritage, both enduring along with us, and not made perfect without us. Let this be the greatest motivation necessary, that the eternal covenant (known in the New Testament as the “new covenant”) is sufficient to save to the uttermost, because Christ’s sacrifice is sufficient.