Death of the Firstborn – Exodus 12:29-36

In these two verses are many thoughts that stir within me. First, I see that this plague comes at midnight, and think about how the ten virgins are all sleeping, but at midnight the groom comes (we know that five of them don’t make it in, but the point is connecting the two midnights here). Then I also have another end time consideration of how when Babylon falls, in Revelation 18, all the nations mourn for that fall. This is reflected in the prophets as well.

Typically the way that we read this passage is to see the death of the firstborn as the climactic end of Egypt. Finally Israel is set free and permitted leave. I have a different view, however. It isn’t that this isn’t a climax, for it is indeed the final plague upon Egypt. Yet, when we’re reading Exodus, we find that at the Red Sea is another conflict, and one of epic proportion. God is not yet finished, because Pharaoh is not yet finished. When we conclude the 15th chapter, it is finally at that point where Israel is truly free.

It does so happen in this passage, though, that Israel is liberated, and finally outside of the land of Egypt, headed toward that glorious Promised Land. As the LORD had spoken, she despoiled the Egyptians, asking her neighbors for silver and gold and articles of value. In Pharaoh’s response (verse 31), it is the first time that he addresses the people as “Israelites”. Every other time, if he even addresses them, it is “people”, which sounds much lower and lesser than an actual people. In the first verse of Exodus, the oppression was beginning to be explained with this term, and now finally at it’s close it is being used again. They are Israelites, and not merely slaves.

Because of the death of the firstborn, which will later be contrasted in chapter 13 by the blessing of the firstborn, all of Egypt fears for their lives. All the plagues up to this point have damaged property, killed animals, and caused bodily harm, but nothing has been so devastating as to kill in a moment a mass part of the Egyptians. With fear, the Egyptians send Israel out hastily. For this reason, in Deuteronomy 16:3 the unleavened bread is called “the bread of affliction”, which is contrasted later with the bread of heaven (manna) that Israel receives in the wilderness. These contrasts that are made show the vicissitude of the Exodus, just as much as the ecstatic ascent unto Sinai.

There is a melancholy, because they are leaving the land that provided much luxury for them, but at the same time a rejoicing at finally being rid of the slavery and oppression. Within the next few chapters, we’ll find the Israelites complaining and grumbling over and over again. Think of it this way, if you were forcefully uprooted from your home, sent into the heat and intensity of a desert, and not given the proper rations for food and water to make the journey, not knowing where you’re going or how to get out, and all that you have leading you is this Moses fellow who might or might not have been this way before, would you grumble? I would.

But this is Passover. We haven’t yet come to that.

Here we find emphasis being put upon the Israelites following the word of Moses. Why? What is so important about that?

Moses is the prophet, which in this case is more than just a man. He is the mouthpiece of God, and beyond that, he is God unto the people. Later we’re going to see that he has horns (like a crown) and a staff (like a ruler). Moses is the ‘king’ of Israel, which was a title for God alone. Yet, back in Exodus 4, God told Moses that he shall be “Elohim” unto Pharaoh. Here it is as well, that even unto the children of Israel, Moses is likened unto God. To follow the words of Moses is to follow the word of God, for the two have become one. So it is with the apostle and prophet, that when we follow their words, we follow the words of God. It is established by word and deed, for Paul confesses often that he didn’t just speak idle words, but gave demonstrations of power. If you think those demonstrations consisted of miracles and healings, then you have sadly mistaken what Paul is saying. It might well have, but let us not forget that with the anointing, the words themselves are demonstrations and events.

To hear the word of the apostle or prophet is to hear God. That kind of hearing, coupled with faith, will bring about salvation to the uttermost. It strikes life into the heart, and causes the listener to be quickened by the very same Spirit that is enabling the speaker. For Israel to obey the words of Moses is more than a statement of their disposition. This shows their obedience unto God, and the receiving of the same quickening that has come upon Moses at this point. We’ll see later that there is something greater imparted unto Moses, which will then be prayed over the elders and imparted.

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.

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.

Love Fulfills the Law – Galatians 5:7-15

In this passage, there are a couple things noteworthy, but it all leads to the point: “For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” What is it that leads to this “for” declaration? What is the “for” resting upon that is the so obvious conclusion of?

We noticed in the last segment how Paul is expressing “Christian liberty”. It isn’t that our freedom for freedom’s sake is given so that we can go out and live like we want to, but that we are not bound to a righteousness that demands we live according to what others conceive of being righteous. Our foundation is not upon a law, nor upon what we do, but upon Christ and what He has done. In that, we can rest in the fact that we are alive in Him, and that through Him we can be content simply in being His. One of my friends once told me, “We’re human beings, not human doings.”

It’s the proverbial Moses’ call to “come up the mount and BE there”. Don’t think about how your going to get down. Don’t think about food and water. Don’t think about the Israelites at the base of the mountain. Come up the mount, and be with me.

Now, we haven’t come to Sinai, which Paul so brilliantly already declared in Galatians 4:25-27, but unto Zion (New Jerusalem – Hebrews 12:18-24). The mount that we’re to climb is not one based upon “do this, don’t do that”, but upon faith and the grace of God. We’ve come to Zion, the very heavenly dwelling of God’s throne and glory. We’ve come to Zion, the very beauty that draws out the angel’s worship, “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD God Almighty, who was and is and is to come. The whole earth is filled with His glory.” We’ve come to Zion, the place where brothers dwell together in unity, and tears flow for the sake of God’s glory being established on the face of the earth.

Because we’ve come unto that, and not unto the mount that burned with fire, that caused for the people to declare that they were too afraid to hear God anymore, and even Moses declared, “I am exceedingly afraid and trembling” (Deut 9:19, Heb 12:21), the next thought is one of love fulfilling the whole of the Law. Between here and there, we have Paul asking again, “Who hindered you from obeying the truth?” Notice that this was asked before in Galatians 3:1 a different way.

Don’t you know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? And what exactly is that leaven? Jesus uses leaven in a couple different ways. He uses it in regard to the Kingdom of God, that even just a little leaven within the large batch of dough works its way through the whole lump, and this is how the Kingdom of God is (Matt 13:33). He also warns His disciples to “beware the yeast (leaven) of the Pharisees” (Matt 16:6). In both times, the leaven is neither good nor bad, but simply the very contagious mechanism that causes for the whole lump to become holy or unholy.

We can see how this pertains again to the foundation of our lives. Obviously the Galatians want to obey Christ, and obviously they are doing what they are being told will help to be closer to Jesus. So, it isn’t about making Jesus the center, as if that alone is all that is necessary. The question at hand is the very means by which we serve and worship Jesus. Does the way in which you perceive yourself before God stem from whether you have overcome that besetting sin or not? Do you determine whether you’re truly right with God by whether you have stopped getting angry so easily? Is it through your outward works that you determine where you stand before God, or is it through what God has declared?

Please don’t misunderstand me. We can’t simply cast off what Jesus and the apostles have said elsewhere about the way that we live and treat one another, but we also shouldn’t expect that if we’re somehow not living up to it that we just must not be saved. I’ve heard that kind of damnation on the Internet, really on just about every Christian video that you can find, which would conclude that your brother or sister is not actually saved because of what they believe or because they struggle. There is no room for arrogance in the Kingdom of God, and that includes a self-despising.

The leaven that leavens the whole lump is the basis by which you define yourself, and from there, it works its way through the whole lump. If you perception is “to God be glory in all things”, then it doesn’t matter whether you fall or not. With time, God will bring you through. What bothers me so heavily is when people start making statements with their theology like Meshach, Shadrach, and Abednego, “God will deliver us, O King!” But, don’t forget the rest of the statement: “But even if He doesn’t, we still will not bow and worship your statue…”

Is it about God delivering you from suffering, from poverty, from sin, and from the difficulties of life, or is it about God gaining glory in all things? How can it be that Stephen would be stoned, and instead of crying out against the injustice he is able to reiterate what Jesus said, “Forgive them, for they know not what they do”? Such a heart of compassion and love, even for they who are killing him, does not come from a mind that is saturated in self. That kind of prayer can only be prayed honestly when you have no care for your own life, and your only care is God’s name and His glory. If it grants God the greater glory that Stephen should be martyred, and that Saul would behold this and later come to the faith through such a sight, then who are we to grumble that Stephen could have done great things? Nothing would have exceeded what we find in the New Testament, not because of Stephen’s incapability, but because it is about God and God’s glory alone.

When your heart pants for the glory of God in all things, and not that you would behold it or share in it, but that He would be glorified, you find that people get very upset indeed. “If I still preach circumcision, then why am I still being persecuted?” I could rephrase this for myself: “If I were still preaching the Kingdom of Jesus and me, then why do people get offended at my words?” It isn’t about “Jesus and me”, but about Jesus, and Jesus alone. Circumcision means nothing apart from Christ, and if through Christ you’ve been circumcised in heart, then why do you need to now get circumcised?

The fulfillment of the law is this: love your neighbor as yourself. You can’t do that apart from Christ, for it is only in having that disposition, “may Jesus be glorified”, that we have the possibility of this. If it is about myself, then I’m going to tend to my own wants and needs. But, if it is about Jesus, then it must also be about His Body. Therefore, if my brother has no coats, and we’re living in Ohio where the winter can get down to negative temperatures (Fahrenheit), then how can I not have compassion on him to give him one of my coats? If my sister has to decide between repairing the roof of her house or buying groceries, how can I not buy her groceries so that it’s no longer a decision? If my other sister is going to need to drop out of college because she can’t afford it, but we both know it is God’s will that she finishes, then how can I not send her thousands of dollars to pay for her tuition?

(I give these examples as things I’ve actually done)

It is love that matters. Knowledge will come to a brim, prophecy will cease, and even tongues mean nothing if we have not love, but love goes on forever. Paul never tells us to seek tongues, nor any other gift (except prophecy), but to seek love. Why? Because if you are truly doing the loving thing, you aren’t wanting the gifts that edify yourself, but the gifts that edify the Body. And, if an unbeliever were to be in your midst, and you have a prophetic word, or you have unction from the Holy Spirit to pray for their healing, why would tongues even matter at that moment? Tongues mean nothing, for you don’t know what you’re saying unless you also have interpretation, and they certainly don’t know what’s happening. Therefore, pray for prophecy, pray for interpretation of tongues, pray for the operation of healings and miracles, because in these gifts there is fuller expression of love.

Do you see how this is completely contrary to what modern Christendom teaches? The law of love is utterly different and distinct, as it should be. Unto which mindset have you come? Have you come to the place of “all to Jesus”, or are you still in the “kingdom of Jesus and me”? And, more importantly, what has stolen your joy that you had at the beginning? Why have you transferred from that first moment when you loved Jesus with all of your being, only to go back into the self-centered mindset? Who has robbed you of this joy? Return, thou sleeper, unto your first love. Arise, and shine, for the true Light is already shining, and He is alive in our hearts.

He Had Looked on Their Affliction – Exodus 4:27-31

This text begins with Aaron being told to meet Moses in the wilderness. In true prophetic form, I see great significance here that gets passed over with a light reading. The prophet Moses is in the wilderness. Prophets are ever and always wilderness prophets. While the priests were in Jerusalem, with the Pharisees and the Sadducees, John the Baptist is out in the wilderness at the Jordan. While the false prophets of Baal are in the palace with King Ahab and his wife Jezebel, and the false priest-draft dining well with them, the true prophets are hidden away in a cave (1 King 18:13), and Elijah is sitting at the brook Cherith (1 King 17:3). Right down the line, from Abraham unto Jesus Himself, every prophet that we behold seems to be a pariah, outside of the systems, in the wilderness secluded, somehow “disattached” to the Body in the eyes of the priests, yet never truly “disattached” from the Body (how can that be so?).

Here we see it. Moses in the wilderness, as every prophet is truly a wilderness prophet. And Aaron, who represents the priesthood, is going out to meet him. In the Gospels, the priests and the religious leaders sent men out to John the Baptist, but it was not in belief. It was in curiosity. Here, we have Aaron going out to Moses to return hand in hand with the prophet. Such a scenario is rare. The priests often mock the prophets (just listen to some of the teachings of modern day pastors and teachers regarding the prophets. They’re wild, untamed, spouting out who knows what, and full of judgment and condemnation), and the prophet often comes against the work of the priest (which you can find in statements like Isaiah 1:13-15).

The two are not meant to go in opposition to one another. It is God’s intention that the prophet and apostle would be the foundation, held to account by one another, but inevitably on a different plane than the pastor, evangelist, and teacher. The prophet and apostle are given the whole counsel of God, given the perception of eternity itself, that they might communicate and reveal to the people the very heart and word of God. The priest, ordained by God indeed, is to submit to the authority of the prophet and apostle (that is, the true apostle and prophet) as the very spokesman of God (Ex 4:16). This is a beautiful example of the prophet and priest working together – Aaron speaking to the people and displaying the signs in confidence of what the prophet has declared, and Moses boldly declaring the word of God both unto the people and unto Pharaoh.

Even the embrace of Aaron and Moses, with the holy kiss of affection, is deeply significant. Do you not realize that between these two men we find “the Spirit and the Bride say come”? We have a pattern – a paradigm – of eschatological significance. Out in the wilderness are the prophets, who are hearing the voice of God and speaking boldly in His name, and out to the prophet comes “Aaron”.

Turn to Revelation 12.

The book of Revelation inevitably calls all the followers of Jesus “prophetic”. It is subtle, but it is there. One of the more blatant displays of this is Revelation 19:10, “The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” At the beginning of Revelation we are called “servants”, along with John being a “servant” who “holds to the testimony of Jesus”. The testimony of Jesus is something that shows up over and over in Revelation (always in relation to something that the saints hold to). If the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy, we have a subtle suggestion that the saints are a prophetic body (even if not necessarily prophets themselves).

We have in Revelation 12 an endtime outline. At the first part of the chapter, we find two signs. The first is a woman (Israel, compare with Gen 37:9-10), the second is identified as Satan. Satan chases the woman into the wilderness, where God has prepared a place for her. The KJV follows the Greek accurately here (which is surprising, because the KJV is usually one of the versions that doesn’t in controversial passages) where it says, “And they shall take care of her for 1,260 days”. Who are the “they”? It is the prophetic body of Christ that is already in the wilderness, the overcomers who love not their lives unto the death. For that reason, we have the persecution of the saints mentioned at the end of the chapter (notice that the woman can’t be the Church for this very reason).

At the end of the age, we have another gathering together of Moses and Aaron – being typified by a prophetic Body of Christ and the Jews. Within this text of Exodus we have a pattern of what we should be seeing in the Body of Christ, and what we shall see at the end of the age. It is through the prophetic declaration, and the priest being the mouth of the prophet, that we have the Israel of God believing. This isn’t a formula, but it is a statement of how the Kingdom of God works. It is with the prophetic declaration, and the priest and prophet working together instead of against one another, that causes for the people to believe, to take hope in their God, and to worship.

Sons and Heirs – Galatians 3:26-4:7

As we saw last time, Galatians 3 is tracing the story of Abraham in Genesis 12-17. That will come in handy in Galatians 4 as well. Here at the end of Galatians 3, the point is about how we’ve been adopted in Christ Jesus. Here is where many of you were probably asking questions in my last post. I emphasized Israel and the Kingdom of God through Israel, but then the tendency that I’ve noticed from Gentile Christians is to ask, “What about me?”

Here it is, folks. This is the answer to the question “what about me”. You and I, as Gentiles, were outside of the promises and covenant with God. Yet, even the Jewish people are living in a manner contrary to that covenant (as we’ve seen in Paul’s point regarding the law). So, the question is now formed into, “How can anyone enter the Kingdom of God?”

The answer to that is adoption.

Adoption is one of the most fundamental and important words of the New Testament. In a sense, we’ve all be outsiders. We’ve all gone our own way. We’ve all been led down a path that is not God’s intention. Therefore, we’ve all received an adoption of sorts. For the Gentile, it is to be grafted in as a wild olive branch. For the Jew, it is to be grafted in as the natural branch. (This is the whole point of Romans 11, by the way.) There is a “spiritual Israel”, by which the word Israel actually defines the term (see Gen 32:28), that has ever and always existed. There have been both Israelites and Gentiles who have been a part of that “spiritual Israel”. Yet, what is important to remember from Romans 11 is that Paul never says the spiritual Israel supersedes, or replaces, natural Israel.

The issue of being “spiritual Israel” is the issue of adoption. This is where it gets interesting. In Galatians 3:24, Paul made the statement that the law was a “tutor” until the “seed” (Jesus) should come. In Galatians 4:2-5, the same point is being made. Here is the point:
Israel in its infancy, coming out of Egypt, could not bear the eternal covenant in maturity, and was therefore placed under “tutors” (namely, the law and the ‘elements of the world’) until there would come a time (indeed, the fullness of time) when God could send His Son as redeemer, and we might be taken together with Him into that eternal covenant.

It isn’t as though there were none in the Old Testament to be a part of that eternal covenant. This has been Paul’s whole argument from the beginning. When you see Noah finding grace in the eyes of the Lord, is that because Noah did something special? Did Abraham receive the call and the promise because of some merit within Abraham? Do we believe that Moses was called deliverer and mediator because of something intrinsic within Moses?

Trick question.

Yes, we do, but no we don’t.

There is something intrinsic within these saints that gives credence to God’s call, but it isn’t because of the individual. Rather, it is because the eternal covenant has ever and always been something that brings forth this kind of redemption that Paul is speaking (which, once again, is his whole point). So, no there is nothing within the person themselves, for it is of faith and not of works. Yet, we can’t just throw away the whole point that God chose them for a reason.

Anyway, the scripture at hand is explaining to us that these “tutors” had been placed in charge over Israel, which remain to this day, until there would be the time that God would give a means of redemption, a means of coming out from and into. Here is the difficulty of Old Testament revelation. If we believe that Jesus is the messiah, and that redemption only comes through Him, then how were the saints in the Old Testament redeemed, and how is it that we do find attributes of new covenant resurrection/regeneration in the Old Testament? The answer is that we’re not looking at a covenant contained within time, but a covenant that is “eternal”, and therefore beyond time. Jesus was the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world, and that isn’t a rhetoric and fancy use of wording. This is the eternal covenant, the Lamb slain on the heavenly altar, the covenant that stems back to the Garden of Eden and Adam being a son of God.

Here is the point.

We find in Colossians 2:8 and 20 the same discussion regarding these “elements”. Here Paul calls them “tutors”. There he leaves no question when claiming the law to be tied together with the principalities and powers. In Psalm 82, we read of these “judges” (sometimes translated kings) who rule wickedly, and shall be held accountable. They are told that though they are greater than men, they shall be judged like men. The chapter ends, then, with all of the nations coming to worship the Lord. Does anything seem bizarre to you about that?

These judges of Psalm 82 are actually the principalities. They are demons in the place of influence and authority over nations, who have used their influence and authority to manipulate, deceive, usurp, and oppress. Therefore, they shall be judged as men (meaning, they shall ‘die’, though they are not subject to life and death as we know it), and the judgment of those powers results in the nations coming to God. Compare this with Isaiah 25:7, where God says “upon this mountain (Zion) He will destroy the veil that is spread over all nations.” The context of the statement is redemption for the nations.

Again, we ask ourselves how this has anything to do with “tutors” being set up over Israel. And, again we must conclude that the law was given through a mediator (Moses), that God was marrying Israel, but that Israel desired a mediator rather than God Himself. Therefore, because we read in Exodus 20:19 that the people took Moses rather than God, it was allowed that Israel would for a time be ruled over by “elements” (whether judges, kings, or priests who were under the influence of demons and not God), not the least of these elements being the simple “do this; don’t do that” mentality of the law.

To try to tie together some of the loose ends and make sense of what I’m saying, then, I think we can consult Ephesians 2:1-7. There was a time in yours and my past where we were not in Christ. We lived according to a different mindset, a different wisdom. That wisdom was not a wisdom from God, but rather of demons. They had an influence over us, a way of causing us to think, that promoted righteousness via works and “doing or not doing”. Because I haven’t killed anyone, I must not be as bad as the murderer, right? Such a mindset is blatant error, as Jesus points out, because murder doesn’t start with the act. It starts with the heart that would think someone so worthless that the world would be a better place without that person. That I am guilty of, and therefore I am indeed guilty of murder.

It was to that kingdom, the darkened kingdom, that I subscribed, and therefore lived and breathed and had my being in the demonic perspective. Even while being an atheist and not believing in demons, I still gained my understanding and worldview from the wisdom of demons. However, there came a point in time – a divinely orchestrated point in time – when God sent His Son so that Israel might indeed be heirs and receive the inheritance due her. They who have been promised the eternal covenant, and the inheritance of that eternal covenant all died without receiving that inheritance (Heb 11:39). Notice that the statement does not then go, “but to you…” No, we also have not inherited, because we’re told quite plainly that we shall receive our inheritance with them at the end of the age (Ephesians 1:13-14, 3:1-6).

Our adoption has been one of coming out from being under that darkened kingdom and into the Kingdom of Light. Adoption in the New Testament doesn’t necessitate that we were outside of Israel. In fact, even the Jews had to receive an adoption of sorts, or else Paul wouldn’t make the point that Jesus redeemed “those who were under the law, that we might receive adoption as sons”. Who was it that was “under the law”? Was the law given to Gentiles or to Israel? But now, in Christ, we have all been redeemed, so there is neither Jew nor Greek in Christ, and made to be sons instead of children, inheriting the eternal covenant rather than being under the supervision of “stewards”.

Sonship is the issue of covenant. It is the issue of maturity. It is the issue of adoption. All of these things go hand-in-glove, because all of these things are essentially defining the same thing. The same issue is behind it all. Though they be different from one another, the issue behind the issue for all three of these things is the Kingdom of God, the rulership of God, the eternal purpose of man (to rule), and all of these things being made manifest on the earth. This was the purpose of the covenant made with Abraham (to be God’s nation among the nations), and it continues to be God’s prerogative.

Despoiling Egyptians – Exodus 3:16-22

After God tells Moses His name, God then starts to tell Moses what he will do when he goes back to Egypt. At first, we know from chapter four, Moses resists. We’ll take that up later. Here we are examining what God tells Moses. There are a couple things that stick out to me.

First, notice verse 18. God tells Moses to go to the elders and declare that YAHWEH has sent him to deliver Israel, but it isn’t Moses that goes to Pharaoh. It is Moses and all of the elders of Israel that go to Pharaoh. Straightway we see the pattern and plan of God. Later Jethro will get on his son-in-law because Moses is having all civil disputes come to him as mediator. God never intended that Moses would be the guy up front that everyone must listen to.

Let us break this down a bit more in regard to modern day. When we establish our “churches” in a form that causes an elevation of the pastor, teacher, preacher, or minister (whatever your denomination/church calls them), it brings in a falsity that the gods of this world delight in. Our God and Father has nothing to do with it. Firstly, from the beginning – as far back as you can go – our faith and heritage has always been one of community. Our father Abraham lived daily in the presence of other followers and believers, even if they might have predominately been his servants.

God has established that the Church, the assembly of the Living God, would be something more than what you meet in. It is the people, the saints themselves, going from house to house daily, wrestling, interacting, seeking, learning, growing, and living life together. The nit and grit of life is played out before everyone’s eyes. Even in the most populous areas – in Jerusalem itself – we read in Acts 2 that 3000 people were able to be like family with one another, seeing each other daily, and sharing all they had with those in need.

What is your excuse?

“I live on the other side of town, and the majority of people who I know from church don’t have time…” Okay, move. Invite them over for dinner. Find out what they are a part of and volunteer. If you’re the one without the time, why are you without time? That which you find most important you put at the forefront. If it is that you work too often, then find employment with less hours. You might have to cut back on the luxuries of cable, Internet, steaks, multiple cars, bigger homes than you could ever use, or all of the junk that gets shoved into your closet and never seen again, but in reality you’ll be better off without it anyway. Learn to live within your means, and take less hours to spend more time with the saints.

Notice that in Moses going to Pharaoh with all the elders of Israel that there is no longer “hierarchy”. Moses received the call, and yet he isn’t distinguished in front of Pharaoh in any way other than that he went to the elders and told them God is delivering them. This is the way that we should live. The fact that it is obvious who is the pastor in the church building, simply by looking for the “pastor’s seat” at the front is a shame. There should be an overlap, that the people interact as if they are all saints, and therefore the pastors or the elders are indistinguishable from the people, and from one another, unless they are called upon to employ their God given authority in Christ.

I’ve noticed often that it seems like when I’m in the midst of other believers, my wife and I will take the backseat, listening and watching. Sometimes it leads to they who are in authority or leadership to pomp, bloating their positions so to show their superiority (as if we were even trying to challenge it). Other times, we’ve found that we’re able to speak and give advice, and that it is received with joy. All of this is most often experienced within the context of a Bible study, but we’ve even experienced it at a conference and several church services.

What is it that is inherent within us that desires to expand our egos when we’re given authority or power? It is precisely here that Jesus’ words are most devastating: “Anyone who wants to be greatest must become the least, and the servant of all” (paraphrase of Mark 9:35, Matthew 20:26, and Luke 22:26).

Another thing that sticks out to me in this passage is Exodus 3:21-22. What must take place for the people in Egypt to look favorably upon the Israelites, so that they might go to their neighbors and ask for gold, and precious things, and that request would be granted? Egypt is not considered for its generosity. It is seen as a place of bondage, which later shall also be labeled with Assyria and Babylon. Egypt is the place of merchandise, of prosperity, of wealth and obtainment of wealth. It is the place of glory, that is, human achievement and stature.

For the Israelites to despoil the Egyptians, one of two things must happen. Either the Egyptians must come to love the Israelites more than their wealth, or the Egyptians must desire the Israelites to leave more than their desire their wealth. We know the story well enough to know that it is the latter that takes place.

I end with a question, one that I’m not sure I’ve fully come to any conclusions on. What might it mean in our day and age for God to give a similar charge, even within our salvation and sanctification, for us to despoil the Egyptians? Are there other examples of the Exodus narrative in our lives, coming out of darkness and into light, that might give clue to in what ways we also despoil our own Egypt?

Jubilee – Lev 25:8-55

Jubilee should get us excited. When we read that God has commanded freedom for the oppressed and enslaved, what else could we desire? The only reason that this might cause our hearts to wallow in sadness would be that we are the people getting rich off of enslaving others. For someone who is making their profit off of the enslavement and oppression of their fellow humanity, this kind of law will be quite a bit uncomfortable. Who doesn’t want to be set free? Could you imagine the loss that the credit card companies would have? Could you imagine how much the banks would lose if they had to cancel debts (or loans) on all of the houses they’ve sold? How much college debt have you racked up that might finally go away?

The year of Jubilee was a time of incredible celebration. It stems back to the idea that when in Egypt, you were enslaved. Remember the joy that you had when you were enslaved in Egypt and the Lord brought you out. Remember how God caused for your heart to skip. Don’t forget how you went out in such splendor that even some of the Egyptians joined you. Even pagans could not deny the favor and power of your God upon you. Remember how you were lead like a bride through the wilderness. Teach your children and your children’s children all of these things, and write it on your doorposts so that you also won’t forget. These things are awesome, and continue to be marveled at throughout all generations.

Lets face it, though. The year of Jubilee is not for you. It isn’t for me. How long is fifty years? Will I live long enough to find freedom from the slavery that I cause for myself? If my house loan isn’t paid off, and I pass away, who is going to pay for it? What if in my lifetime the economy goes south, and I end up losing my family farm? What if things just don’t go well, and because of circumstances I end up having to enslave myself to someone in order to have something to eat and feed my family? Will I truly have the opportunity of saying, “Well, in fifty years I won’t have to deal with this anymore”?

Jubilee was marked off by the Sabbath years, and not by when you go into debt. This is true. However, fifty years is a long time for a human being. Most likely, it won’t be me that finds this freedom. It will be my children. If something happens where I can’t pay the bills, and therefore I have to either go into debt, enslave myself to someone, or flat out lose my inherited land, that is going to last even unto the time of my children. How difficult would it be to make the decision to become a slave, if you know that your children will never taste freedom?

Because of the mistakes that I’ve made, my kids will suffer. They will have the vexation of not inheriting the family land. My debt will cause their torment. It will be my fault that they can’t make it in life, because I have set them up for failure – destined them to the grave. This is why God commands every fiftieth year that debts be canceled. It is not so that I don’t have to deal with consequences. It is so that my children don’t have to deal with my consequences. If my children make mistakes of their own, then they will deal with their own consequences. But, for them to deal with the bad decisions that I have made is unfair. God says in another place that He will not hold the child accountable for their father’s sin, nor the father accountable for the child’s sin.

What if…

What if God wanted to practice the Jubilee today? What would that look like? What would that mean for we who are Christians to practice the year of Jubilee?

We discussed in Leviticus 20 what it might mean to “follow in the sins of the forefathers” today. What if God would honor this generation by not holding them accountable? What if the slate were wiped clean, and we had the opportunity to make it right? What would you do? Would you take that opportunity?

If you go back fifty years, it puts you in the midst of the Jesus Movement in the 70’s. But this is Jubilee. We don’t go back to the way it was fifty years ago. We get our inherited land back. We get to go all the way back to the way it was at the first. Our inheritance stems from Acts, which actually stems from Leviticus and Deuteronomy. The book of Acts is like a massive Jubilee, where God has restored the ancient roots of the faith unto His people. He has taken us back to what it means to be His sons and daughters (see Luke 3:38 where Adam is called ‘the son of God’ and Exodus 4:22 where Israel it called ‘God’s firstborn son’).

This is why adoption language is so prevalent in the New Testament. We have been given our inheritance back. We are no longer in exile. Exile is not what happens when you disobey God. Exile is the result of walking away from God. We find the pattern in Scripture. First, Israel is under bondage in Egypt. Second, Israel is delivered from Egypt. Third, Israel forsakes the Lord her God, and begins to become Egypt (the nation of oppression). Fourth, Israel becomes oppressed or exiled. This is the pattern.

We find this to be true in our own time. Look through the annuls of church history. All the way up to now, we have seen that this is the pattern, and we’re coming up to the place of exile. What happened at the book of Acts to break the cycle was that they had a Jubilee, a time when they got back to the ancient roots, the first intention of God. The people began to see God’s original plan, both from the Garden and from the birthing of the nation of Israel out of Egypt. This resulted in the people living out the commands given at the first, exactly as they were intended to be lived out.

Somehow, we read of Paul saying to us that we are no longer under law, but under grace. And yet, at least twice we read of Paul taking a Nazarite vow. We find Paul going to the Temple to sacrifice, which wouldn’t have been the first time that he did this (this was the second time that he took the Nazarite vow, and he would have had to sacrifice in order to finish the vow the first time). We read of him telling the Corinthians that he was going to go to Jerusalem to celebrate Pentecost. Peter had a vision of a napkin with clean and unclean animals upon it, and God tells him to rise, kill, and eat. Peter’s response is that he has kept kosher, and it would appear that even after this vision Peter continues to keep kosher (see Galatians 2:11-14 for example).

It would appear that the first disciples had talmudim – disciples. But, they didn’t have “disciples” like we think of disciples. Disciples in the Hebraic mind entails that you take these people in, you let them eat with you, you let them sleep in the same home (or room) as you. You live every moment of you life with these disciples. You pay for everything, and they live off of you. They are following you everywhere you go, because the whole point of being a disciple is to examine your life to understand what it means to be a rabbi, or to be a child of God, or to be a Christ follower (however you want to phrase that). In Acts 19, when riot breaks out in Ephesus, we read of these “traveling companions” of Paul from Macedonia. They aren’t merely “traveling companions”. These are Paul’s disciples, his talmudim.

The origination of the “church” in Acts 2, which really isn’t the origination (ecclesia simply means “assembly” and translates the Hebrew word “kahal” – see Acts 6:38 for a reference to the “church” at Mount Sinai with Moses), tapped back into the ancient roots of the faith. This is what I believe we’re being called to in this generation. Sadly, the enemy tries to pervert this, and so we find false movements. Things like the Hebrew Roots movement has broken forth, and from this deception comes the idea that we’re just not supposed to go toward that direction at all. But this is a mistake. Just because someone misuses or abuses God’s original intention does not mean that it isn’t God’s intention. We are still called back to the book of Leviticus. We’re still beckoned to go back to those ancient roots and figure out what it means to be children of God.

Isaiah 37:31 speaks about roots that go downward so that fruit might bear upward. Those roots have to go down deep if the fruit is to bear upward. We might be able to bear fruit by simply reading the New Testament, but that will be a tremendous stumbling block to us. The richness of the Old Testament is the very root and sap from which we draw. To neglect it is to neglect the roots themselves. So, you tell me: Are you following Christ because you want to make it to heaven, or are you following Christ because you are a lover of God?

If it is the latter, then you must consider the ancient roots from which we came. Yes, it is difficult. Yes, many times there are these genealogies and laws that don’t seem to make any sense to how they have anything to do with our lives. Yes, it takes a lot of digging and studying before we can truly come to the knowledge of the significance of the Old Testament. Yes, it often monotonous and tiring. Yes, it is something that will make you stand out like a sore thumb among your peers. Yes, people will tell you that you don’t have to be dedicated to that “law stuff”, and they will make fun of you for it – possibly even calling you a heretic or false teacher. Yes, we are under the new covenant and not under the old covenant, and so the rules and regulations that we read need to be interpreted from the new covenant perspective (a task that takes tremendous effort in understanding both the old and the new before we can even begin to do so). So, yes, in all ways it seems like this is just a bad idea.

However, it is worth it. The eternal radiance of glory emanates from every syllable of the Old Testament. I often find myself skipping books of the Old Testament when I come to them and it isn’t shining through. Often, I find myself in 1 Chronicles and before long I’m putting down Chronicles to take up Ezra (because that comes next in the Bible). Often I get to Job and I get about half way through before I start debating whether I truly want to read this whole thing or not. Often I find myself in Exodus 25-40, and it is just painful to try to read and comprehend. When these moments come, I simply skip it. I’ll come back to it later.

What is more important is that you are immersed in both the Old and the New. The book of Numbers is extremely difficult for me to get into. I don’t enjoy it much. Yet, just like Leviticus, when I begin to see the beauty being shed in these books, I begin to desire to read them more. When I begin to see the allusions, quotes, or connections that the New Testament authors make to some of these books, and I begin to understand more of what they’re saying (and not just what they’re quoting), I begin to desire to saturate in these Old Testament books. Something changes within me.

At the first, we read these books of the Bible and hate them. I know. Most people don’t actually like to read the book of Leviticus or Deuteronomy or Numbers or the last part of Exodus (etcetera). It takes a lot of time and attention to the details before it begins to come together, but when it begins to come together, suddenly our lives are changed. Suddenly the way that we live is less “Christian” and more “Hebrew”. Suddenly we are no longer talking to the other believers in the same manner. Suddenly we’re interacting with people on a much deeper level. Suddenly our worship and adoration of God is intensified. You just look back one day, and you notice how much you’ve grown and changed from studying this stuff.

I believe that God desires to restore the ancient roots to us if we’re willing to listen to His voice. Yet, do learn wisdom. Learn from those who have heard the voice and then taken up the task in their own strength and power. The people who desire to get back to the Hebrew roots, and so they begin to eat kosher, they begin to wear yarmulkes, and they begin to wear their prayer shawls, they aren’t actually getting back to the Hebrew roots. For example (to give one of many), the yarmulke wasn’t even around during the time of the New Testament. Modern Judaism invented it, but we think that it goes back to what Paul said about head coverings (1 Corinthians 11). Paul was talking about the prayer shawl being put over your head while praying or prophesying, not the yarmulke.

Our task is enormous. There are a few who have taken up this task and restored much, but it needs to go further. I would recommend finding books or audio of David Baron, Adolf Safir, Arthur Katz, or even one of my new favorites (and very dear friend) Lars Widerburg. I know that there are more resources, but even the Messianic Judaism movement (which was probably born out of Jews for Jesus) falls extremely short. It isn’t about Judaism; it is about adoption unto the ancient heritage. To a certain extent, I could care less about the modern Jewish practices. To another extent, much of the modern Jewish practices are a later tradition of an early interpretation. Some of what the rabbis teach will truly get you back to the ancient roots, while other things will infect you with humanism if you aren’t guarded. My personal favorite rabbi would be Mordechai Kraft.

As a people, we are called in this generation to restore the ancient boundaries, and to have respect for those ancient boundaries. The altar has been torn down, because we’ve desired our Gentile practices and mindsets over God’s heart and opinion. Once again, if I can be of any service to helping you restore these ancient roots, please get a hold of every means that you can to be in contact with me. Read my blogs, listen to my podcasts, find me on Facebook and ask me questions, email me, convince me to start shooting youtube videos (I probably won’t because of my current living circumstances), and whatever else you need to do in order to be edified. Sermon Index has hundreds of sermons by Art Katz, and I recommend them all. Lars Widerburg has two Facebook groups where you can download his books for free (Apostolicity and One Final Sifting). Adolf Safir and David Baron are old enough that many of their writings are free online – open to public domain. If you find other sources, please share them.

As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.

Priestly Ordination – Leviticus 9

I skipped Leviticus 8, because I have already written on it here. Instead, I want to look at chapter 9. After the priest has been made pure before God, consecrated, and has waiting until the Lord would call them forth, they begin their ministry. There is a term, the five-fold ministry, that comes from Ephesians 4:11. I believe that all calls of God have root in priestliness. For those who desire to be apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, or teachers, you cannot legitimately have that role without priestliness. It takes more than schooling, education, understanding, knowledge, etc. Understanding and knowledge can be found outside of schooling, I don’t think anyone would argue, but often the pastor gets hired when they have the credentials. Sadly, this is one credential that often gets overlooked.

Notice Leviticus 9:1, “On the eighth day…” God had ordered that the priests be in waiting for seven days. For many of us, we would consider seven days to mean seven days. Yet, I have the inclination that the priests didn’t wait seven, but rather eight by our count. The day that they were consecrated was one, and then after that were seven more days of waiting before the Lord in silence. This totals eight days. I come to this conclusion from the book of Exodus. In Exodus 19, God tells Moses to tell the people to consecrate themselves, and in three days, He will show Himself to them. Moses then tells the people to consecrate themselves for three days, and on the fourth day, God will reveal Himself. God desired three full days. Here, God desires seven days. Aaron and his sons had spent some of the first day already. Therefore, I believe that there were another seven days after the first.

Looking back at what these sacrifices mean, we can come to better understanding of what it would signify for Aaron and his sons to offer these sacrifices. They have been consecrated before the whole house of Israel. Now, they offer sacrifices on their behalf first, and then on behalf of the people. They offer the sin offering and the burnt offering together (verse 7). In this, they find atonement to draw near to God and to be made pure before Him through the sin offering. The flesh and the hide were burned outside of the camp (verse 11) to show that they shall not let any flesh be exposed, nor touch the holy things of God. For, as Paul puts it, it is impossible for those controlled by the flesh to please God.

In verses 15 and onward, Aaron begins to offer the sacrifices for the people. We find they also have a sin offering and a burnt offering being given before God. When we had examined the sin offering and the guilt offering, we had come to the conclusion that there is necessarily a second work to be done. We don’t simply have the burnt offering to draw near to God, because then what about our sin nature? Rather, we find the burnt offering to be our atonement, and the sin offering being the filling of the Spirit. There has never been a time in history when all of Israel was filled with the Spirit. That awaits a future time, as the prophet Joel prophesied, “I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh”.

They offer a grain offering. This signifies Israel’s tribute unto God. They aren’t simply going to be a people that treat God like an idol, but will rather be living sacrifices before Him. They offer the fellowship offering, by which we see their communion with God through their lives lived together. The priest and the people fellowshipping, where you wouldn’t know the difference between the priest and people if it weren’t for the job of the priest to offer the sacrifices on the people’s behalf. In all ways they are one. They eat from the same table, they commune with God in the same manner, and they learn and teach one another by the same Spirit. They are one body, though many members, and the priests are only distinguished in their function before God.

They offer the wave offering, where they take the breast and make the symbol of the cross with it. In this, we see that we are more than just fellowshipping together. We are giving ourselves for one another. Every day we die on behalf of our brothers and sisters. I pour my life into those that are near me, and they pour their lives into me. Through our bearing of the cross for one another, we find that we never lack and are never empty.

Finally, Aaron lifts his hands toward the people and blesses them. We find the words to this blessing in Numbers 6:22-27. The priest who is doing true work before God is the only one who has authority to bless the people. No other blessing is truly blessing. But their words shall be honored. It was when the priests blessed the people that the glory of the Lord appeared to all the people (verse 23). Fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed the burnt offering and the fat portions on the altar. When all the people saw it, they shouted for joy and fell face downward. If we hope to have a similar reaction by the saints that we assemble with, we too must take up the call to be a priest unto God. Our priesthood is not of Aaron, but of Melchizedek. It is by this order that David and his sons were priests. It is by this order that all of the prophets offered sacrifices unto God.

What was it about Elijah that caused his sacrifice to be accepted, and his prayer to be heard? Don’t think that it was something astounding, nor something specific to his call as the prophet. It is directly correlated to his priestliness. It is the priest alone who offers sacrifices before God, and the priest alone who can bless the people. It is the priest alone who will receive the answer by fire. That fire will manifest in various ways, but the response is always that the people fall upon their face before God. It is to this end that we pray, not that there be a reaction or that revival might come, but that God would be glorified. If there be any other motive, even the motive of reaction, we will not truly be able to offer the sacrifices in a priestly way, nor bless the people, because our focus and hearts will be set against the Lord and instead of for Him.

May the Lord bless you and keep you, and may He shine His face upon you and be gracious to you. May He turn His face toward you and give you peace. He shall put His name upon you, and He will bless you thoroughly. Amen.