The Love of the Truth

Within 2 Thessalonians 2 we have a statement about the love of the truth sparing the lover from deception. Something to note about the context of the statement is that Paul has just finished speaking about the end of the age and the coming of Jesus. He is saying that the false manifestations and false signs and wonders to be performed by the man of sin at the end of the age will only be resisted by the lovers of truth. There is something within the truth itself that will cause for the lover to see the forgery.

When Daniel was taken away to Babylon, he and his companions were able to smell the aroma of the king’s table, and it was the stench of death to them. Such a statement cannot be said of the many others who were taken with Daniel. Because Daniel knew of the Lord’s table, and ate of it with joy and love, the opposing table was not pleasing or appetizing. So it is in the love of the truth. To love the authentic thing, what God has truly called for, and what God truly acts in the earth, is to then despise any counterfeit or inauthentic display. To those who are being saved, the fragrance of Christ is the most beautiful aroma to perfume the air. Yet, the sweetness of that aroma is the stench of death and massacre to they who are perishing. God allows such a testimony to be made, whether of the sacrifice upon the altar, the way in which we view the atonement, or even the wisdom of God itself.

It has never been enough to believe. Faith and works go hand in hand, and the authentic apostolicity of the believer will lead them into truth in the inward parts. When Jesus or the apostles healed someone, it was not merely an outward manifestation of physical healing. There was a wholeness that entered the one healed. It was a demonstration of a certain Kingdom, and the character of that Kingdom was revealed. When demons were cast out, it was not enough that they flee the victim. There was then soundness and life that entered. A half healing is not a healing, and a miracle that leaves you in need is not a miracle. Elijah did not leave the widow, even though he had prophesied and the miracle of the oil and grain continued. He remained with that widow, because in the wisdom of God the miracle was not the provision, but rather the revelation of, “Now I know that the word of God in your mouth is truth.”

Whether we are talking about state church, about institutional religion, about righteousness according to the law, about false signs and wonders, about dubious manifestations, about flashy gimmicks, about glib truisms and cliches, or about entertainment to occupy the day, in all these cases the lover of the truth cannot settle for unreality. Many are coming out of the systems called church buildings, because they can no longer believe in a system of worship that the Bible doesn’t speak of. For these lovers it is more important to them to keep themselves undefiled than to settle for something until the alternative comes. A cheap alternative for the sake of having “something” is not a love of the truth, but rather an outright disobedience.

Even within our most Charismatic denominations, where the Spirit is celebrated highly and with joy, if we have sought after miracles or manifestations for the sake of these things, we have abandoned the truth, and certainly have abandoned the love of the truth. Such an abandonment is spiritual malpractice at best, and making a covenant with death and hell at worst. To applaud something simply because it has the correct words, or the correct theology, or the display that ‘only God can do’ is to leave oneself susceptible to even more erroneous and dangerous kinds of things. If the Toronto Blessing was not a dubious and false manifestation, and the many that followed afterward likewise, then what will differentiate the actual false thing? And, what will cause they who profess to be believers to stand against such falsity when discernment was utterly abandoned for the sake of a blessing?

Truth in the inward parts demand integrity. Even if we don’t go along with the crowd and get mocked, misunderstood, or even wrongfully accused, we should rejoice that we are counted worthy of such treatment, for the prophets and apostles before us were treated the same way. I don’t want to suggest that we should be critical of all things, but rather that we should be trusting the truth that God has revealed to us, and if something does not align itself with that revelation of God in us, to us, and through us, then we will not allow ourselves the leisure of being exposed to such a phenomenon. Better to miss out on the blessing than to dive in and find out it was actually a false blessing that has now damaged your walk with the Lord. The love of the truth is discernment. A high degree of knowledge with a nonexistent discernment is not only dangerous to the individual, but to everyone else also. Apostolic and prophetic perception sees past the physical and into the very spiritual reality, and can speak to that reality the words of God in healing and wholeness,1 so that the one hearing is set free, and free indeed. Yet, a love for words without a love for truth will allow us to rejoice at the physical display without the spiritual manifestation. This is the danger, and this is why the love of the truth will spare us from deception, both now and in the days to come.

1 It isn’t just that there is healing, but there is wholeness. The apostle and prophet see past the physical, and into the spiritual, and that doesn’t diminish the physical, nor exalt the spiritual, but says they are connected together, and that without healing both infirmities, neither will truly be healed.

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Walking in Truth

It was John’s joy to see those whom he loved, his dearest children, walking in the truth. Of all the things that could describe our relationship to truth, why does John choose walking? Wouldn’t performing, or speaking, or demonstrating seem to fit much better? Walking seems to denote a movement, and specifically an unconscious movement from years of development and practice. Walking is as commonplace as breathing, at least to those who are old enough to know the balance and strength that it demands. For the infant or toddler, walking is an exercise, and sometimes a chore or impossibility. Yet, for you who are reading this, walking is so basic that you barely notice when you’re doing it.

For John to say that it gives him exuberant joy to see his children walking in truth indicates that his joy is not full in their mere apprehension of truth. It isn’t that they are reciting the words they were taught, and giving an answer to all opposition. John’s disciples were not students of theology, being able to give grand depth in what they were proclaiming, and showing magnificent insight into the ways of God. Speech was only a medium, but the real action was in the daily lives. Magnificent insight into the ways of God leads us to walking the way Jesus walked, and talking the way Jesus talked, and living the way Jesus lived. Insight itself devastates. When we’ve perceived something of God – especially something magnificent – it crushes anything that does not add up to that into powder.

They were walking in truth. Living out the principles of God, and the things that God approves of, was so natural to them that they didn’t even have to continually tell themselves “not to” and “to do”. What if these children of John’s didn’t have to seek the Lord in every decision they made? What if they didn’t have to fast every time there was a major consideration? What if in the daily practicing of walking in truth, God has revealed to them a character and mindset that allows them to actually know the intimations of His heart? Can you say of yourself that you’ve become so fluent in truth and understanding God that you might intimate His heart and thoughts, even without needing to pray to get His heart and thoughts? And do you have faith to believe that such a place in God is possible?

The Task of Theology

When using a word like “task”, we must ask what it is that we mean. Can theology itself perform something? Or, by task, are we referring to something that it leads us into? While the majority claims theology helps us understand the Bible, I’ve also considered that theology is for the next generation. If you want to understand your Bible, then read it. You don’t gain insight by reading what others say of it, but by reading the source itself. Theology could be to make the details of theology available to the people, who themselves are not considered to be theologians, and many don’t want to be. It isn’t about self, but about others. Especially over 500 years after the Protestant Reformation, we of all people should no longer be withholding such knowledge of God and His nature to the people of God.

While considering this issue seriously, I have a different answer still. The task of theology, which often is the question of why we study theology, shouldn’t be about passing it on to the next generation either. While that is a subsequent result of its task, I’m no longer convinced that it is the task in and of itself. Rather, the task of theology is to understand that we have touched heaven, and through messiah have been brought into a reality that is tangible. Our hearts were strangely warmed, and the expression of that heavenly reality cannot be denied.

Christian theology is not based upon philosophy. It is based upon truth. It is not based upon reason, but upon experience. While none of these things should conflict with one another, it is only too true of a statement that in many theological circles we’ve been denied the authentic thing for the discussion of that authentic thing. The keys to the kingdom have been received and locked in a small metal box, most likely stored within the catacombs of the Vatican somewhere, and one of the church fathers swallowed the key to opening that box. Now that we’re 1,500 years after those “fathers”, our generation is left to explore new ways of opening the box.

Because we believe in the messiah, or more specifically, that the messiah has come, we must believe that heaven and earth have kissed. “As in heaven, so on earth,” is not simply the prayer to recite. It is the life embodied in messiah, and it is the crux of the issue. As believers, we have tasted of both – heaven and earth are one within us. “We are in the world, but not of the world”. We are “ambassadors of heaven”, “seated with Christ in heavenly places”, and beckoned to “draw near”, having “boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus.”

As believers we have fellowship with these realities. The task of theology is the imperative participation in these realities. The task of theology is to explain the imperative participation in these realities. We are not interested in sound doctrine. We are not interested in “truth”. Intellectual truth is nothing more than trite truism. Yet, the authentic thing, that which is truly true, the expression of eternality itself, is what we’re desiring to partake, comprehend, and explain.

If our theology is merely a piecing together of various themes, and attempting to make them work together cohesively, we have missed the mark abominably. Every denomination and bend have their pet doctrines, by which they shove everything else through. This kind of filter pollutes rather than reveals. In all cases, other than unorthodox liberal theology, sin and depravity are continuously at the forefront. I suppose the reason is found in Hebrews 5 and 6, and shouldn’t be such an enigma. Even these believers were stuck in the “elementary principles”, a Pauline concept from Colossians 2 and 3, which describes the wisdom of the principalities and powers of darkness, that they might usurp and rule over religious man in a way that binds him to immaturity and tradition. While we quibble about such elementary things, the powers of darkness brood over our cities and countries, not content with the authority we’re only too quick to give them. These things we’ve devoted ourselves to, which are only shadows of the the things of Christ, ultimately meaning we’re discussing the discussion of the discussion of God, not finding the substance in Christ, “these things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the Body.”

We rob ourselves of our own humanity through depravity focused theology. The result of dehumanizing self is that we don’t even get to enjoy the benefits of human redemption. The thing that the angels desire to look into we forfeit, even after tasting of the heavenly gift, simply because we desire to continue to aver and banter over the milk, calling it meat, and never realizing our own immaturity. Instead of finding fullness, and coming into that Melchizedek priesthood, where we are under the new covenant, free from the bondage of such “elementary principles”, found in fellowship with God in the Holiest Place, perpetuating the faith of all the saints and greats of all generations, overcoming to a place where the world was not worth, no longer standing before Sinai, but now coming unto Zion, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and ecclesia of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood sprinkled that speaks better things than that of Abel, we must wait for the redemption of all things, for which the creation currently moans and groans, because we’ve reduced being human to being beasts or even creatures.

By our unbelief we must watch as others enter in before us. The very glory that the Church displays in the book of Acts, which is ultimately the intention of God for all humanity from the foundation of the earth, is at best a quandary to us, and at worst something marked up as only for that generation. The task of theology is to take us past all of the mumbo jumbo that we’ve erected in the name of religion, thinking that our Gentile superstition was somehow correct, and that what we’ve now experienced in Christ is only an additive, or even supplement, to the already established pagan means of worship. No longer do we offer our children on altars. No, we do worse by making them two-fold sons of hell.

Theology is supposed to be the study of God, seeking Him whom we’ve been united unto. Because we’ve been brought into relationship with Him, and our hearts have beautifully been united unto Him, our biggest concern in theology would be to make the part stand for the whole, or worded more plainly, taking the worldly system and mindset that we’ve sucked down from our mother’s breast and calling it the same as God’s mindset and wisdom. Theology is about seeking “those things which are above, where Christ is…” Setting our minds “on things above, and not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” If you are dead, then, it isn’t an issue of putting to death, but of putting on life. We put to death our “members which are on the earth…” The point of theology is the recognition that we are no longer “of the earth”, and therefore must now live of a different culture – one that is of heaven.

Consecrating Firstborns – Exodus 13:1-16

When we read this whole segment, you’ll notice that it begins and ends with regulations regarding the firstborn. However, sandwiched between this are verses regarding the first fruits. This has significance for a couple reasons. First, after Passover comes First Fruits, which is celebrated three days after the Passover – the day that Israel crossed the Red Sea, and that Jesus would have resurrected. Second, this is the season. It is early spring, when the flowers are blooming, the winter crops are being harvested, the animals are giving birth, and nature itself shows the reality of resurrection.

Therefore, I don’t see the consecration of the firstborn as something altogether separate and distinct from the rituals mentioned regarding first fruits and Unleavened Bread. The consecration mentioned in Exodus 13:2 is later expanded in Numbers 3:12, 8:16, and 18. The firstborn are seen at the Tabernacle performing Levitical duties. Here in verse 2, that which is consecrated is specifically that which was dealt with in the plague. Men were affected, and therefore they must be consecrated. Beasts were affected, and therefore they must be consecrated. God has spared the firstborn of Israel, and therefore the firstborn is considered holy unto the Lord.

Therefore, with verse 3, we have “Remember this day…” Why? It isn’t just the date that is commemorated, as if this event is a single event. This event is eternal. It is a pattern by which we can comprehend the glory of God, and His intentions throughout all generations. It is a prophetic perception, and not merely something that we “believe” that gives this kind of testimony. Passover is seen throughout the whole Scripture, and not just the actual event, but the eternal pattern of pesach.

Passover represents the coming out of darkness and into light, the coming out of “the house of bondage” (a phrase Moses uses frequently in Deuteronomy as well) and into the beautiful freedom of God’s House. Therefore the unleavened bread is more than just a sing of remembrance. It is more than a matter of leaven meaning “sin”. “Beware the leaven of the Pharisees” was a warning regarding their doctrine, and not simply their practices. There is a spirit behind the words, and an attitude that conveys whether they are truth or only factual.

“For seven days you shall eat unleavened bread…” Seven is the number of perfection, and not simply completion. Yes, I know that that the creation was completed in seven days, but it was also made perfect. There were seven nations “greater and stronger than” Israel that they must dispossess from the land. Why? Because there was completion? No, because the Land is perfect, and from it the glory of the LORD is to go forth, but the enemy has desired to take hold of that Land. This is a perfecting of the saints. We hold the feast of Unleavened Bread through the bread of sincerity and truth (1 Cor 5:6-8) – that is, from living, speaking, doing, and having all of our life governed by authenticity in Christ.

Notice the rest of that verse. it isn’t merely that we are forced to eat without leaven, and oh what a burden that is. We celebrate with a feast on the seventh day. It isn’t like God is trying to make us eat the bread of affliction (Deut 16:3), or that we’re required to eat the bread of adversity (Isaiah 30:20), or the bread of tears (Psalm 80:5), but that we’re to have a massive party and celebrate that God is not causing us to live in that any longer. The point isn’t oppression, but freedom.

In regard to explaining to the children, this particular verse is not directed at when the children ask. This is spoken to the parents to simply explain it, whether the child initiates the conversation or not. In the following verse (9), the wearing of tefillin is mentioned. The Jews have translated this verse as wrapping a leather cord around your arm (traditionally, the left arm, but it’s not specified), and a box upon your forehead. In the box are four verses, and this is one of them. Personally, I don’t quibble against the phylacteries (tefillin), but I believe that the command has to make sense in the context.

What is it about unleavened bread that has to do with the arm or forehead? It makes sense that in our mouth the command of God shall be – for we’re eating it in observance. When we’re released from bondage, it is a release from that which constrains. Therefore, the sign is upon our hand/arm because we are no longer held back, and upon our head because it takes the mindset of freedom to recognize freedom. If you hold an animal in captivity from its youth, even when you let it free, it won’t realize that it can move beyond whatever leash it was given in captivity. There must be more than a breaking of chains, but also a mental recognition and ascension unto freedom. And let us not forget the last bit of the verse, that it was “by the strong hand of the LORD” that we were let out.

In our final section (verse 11-16), we deal again with the firstborns. Here we have God again speaking regarding how the firstborn is His, not only now, but also when they inherit the Land. The means by which you can have your firstborn back is through what is called “redemption”. Redemption is not merely being free from sin, or being “saved”, or making it to heaven, or whatever other silly things we typically think. Redemption is deeply rooted in the patriarchal system. When a family member is injured, stolen, or lost, it is up to the patriarch of the family to “redeem” them – to bring them back into the family safely, whatever the cost, and whatever the need.

When we’re dealing with redemption from the Lord, we’re speaking specifically in flesh and blood manner. If you want to keep your firstborn son to continue your family name, then you must purchase him back from the priests/Levites for an allotted price. Once again, this isn’t to be “Ra ra fury fury”, but rather to in the Hebrew culture, this was an honor. It was a living means by which they could perpetuate the remembrance of what God has done for them, and such demand is a grace that should reveal to us that God is not an elitist. Yes, the Levites and priests are the only ones allowed to be near the tabernacle… except for the firstborns who are consecrated unto God.

I confess that I have not the sufficient insight to understanding why certain things are the redemption of certain animals. Nor do I fully grasp why you must break the neck of the donkey if you don’t redeem it. If any of you have some suggestions, I would be honored to hear them.

Pesach – Exodus 12:1-28

This time I want to focus upon Exodus 12 in the context of Exodus 12. I’ve written much before on the Passover. You can find all of that here:
Behold the Lamb
What is the point of Passover?
Passover and the Gods of Egypt
The Matzah and the Veil of Christ’s Body
Christ in the Jewish Passover
Charoseth
A Passover Egg

In this blog, I want my focus to instead be upon more of a commentary regarding Exodus 12, and not necessarily an expounding of Passover. Of course, you can’t address Exodus 12 without also addressing Passover.

The Hebrew verb stem Sh-M-R is used seven times, breaking the passage into a sevenfold repetition. For those of  you who don’t know, Sh-M-R is the verb “to guard” or “preserve”. It is used in relation to Genesis 2, that Adam was told to tend and KEEP the Garden. That word “keep”, which is also used in Exodus later (and Deuteronomy’s parallel) for the Ten Commandments, is better understood as a preserving. To ‘keep’ the Law is to guard it, and to protect it from being disobeyed, or misunderstood even. Therefore, I find it greatly interesting that this word would occur seven times in this passage.

What is interesting to me is that the chapter begins with the statement that they are still in the Land of Egypt. Why? Because the Law is considered as something given at Sinai, but here we find Passover – which is arguably the most important part of the Law – enacted and commanded in Egypt. This doesn’t take place while the Israelites are free, but while they are still here in the land of bondage. What this signifies to you and I is incredible. Think of it this way: God tells you while you’re in bondage (we’ll call it sin and unbelief) that He is going to rescue you, and bring you out of bondage, and make you a part of His people. Most people would scoff at such a thing, but for this time (why not so many times before?) it brings you to repentance and hope – a first hope in the God you’ve never acknowledged or cared about. Now is the struggle, where you know that you are to do these things, and not those things, and that you don’t want to be associated with your past anymore, and  you’ve been made a new creation, bought and purchased with a price. Yet, why is it that you’re still in bondage? Wasn’t God supposed to bring you out? But there are these things happening in you life where you can’t deny God’s working. God is obviously bringing you forth with much growth.

Now we’ve reached a climax. This is the ultimate dark night of the soul. The moment in time has come. For some, this is in regard to that one last sin that doesn’t seem to be broken. For others, it is about a shift in thinking, that we are no longer in the kingdom of the world, and therefore the mindset and wisdom of the world, but are now in the Kingdom of God, and now are thinking as God things, and perceiving as God perceives. This is our “Passover”. While we’re still yet in the place of bondage, having not yet left to cross over our Red Seas and find the absolute victory, whether in deed, word, mindset, or otherwise, it is exactly there that God demands of us to take a Lamb into our homes, the most personal place where it will wreck everything. It is exactly there that God gives drastic commands, of cleaning the whole house so that there is no leaven, nothing that would be insincere, nothing that is perfunctory or desultory (the actual phrase that came to mind wasn’t ‘proper’ for Christian blogs lol).

Why in such a place as in the house of bondage? Doesn’t it make more sense to give the victory before giving these commands?

No

Such commands are necessary in the house of bondage. If we aren’t willing to take these drastic measures while we’re in bondage, then why would we be willing when we’re not in bondage? Are we expecting that out of the blue, because now we’re free, that we’re suddenly going to become something we’ve never before been? That isn’t reality.

For those of you who are stuck in bondage, whatever that might be, it is precisely there that we are called to give ourselves entirely to the purposes of God. Whether it feels like it or not, and whether we are benefited or not, we are to make the drastic decision of accepting whatever it is that Jesus says. If Jesus says it, then I perform whatever action necessary in response. In this, we take the Lamb in and determine whether it has any spot or blemish. It is about putting the words to the test in an ultimate way. It is about having the faith to believe, even when the words are too fantastic to believe. We take in that Lamb, trusting that the words He has spoken are ultimate reality, and therefore do all we can to live accordingly – spending all and being expended.

It is also for this reason that the calendar was changed. In verse 2, we read that this shall be the first month of the year. Rather than debating whether we’re supposed to follow the Hebrew calendar as Christians, I think the bigger point of this is that we find from this moment on, from that first choice to make a drastic decision in following Christ, we call that the beginning. It is no longer about my life before that moment. Now I’m in this new life, this new ‘calendar’.

The tenth of Nissan was an important date to the Israelites. It wasn’t only in Exodus 12 and subsequent Passovers that this date had significance, but even in the book of Joshua we find that they crossed the Jordan on the tenth of Nissan. Jesus entered Jerusalem that final time on the tenth of Nissan. In regards to tenths, Yom Kippur also falls on the tenth of the seventh month, and the Jubilee year was to be ushered in after that Yom Kippur.

It is in the act of sacrificing the lamb, taking it in for four days as Jesus was also examined by the religious leaders and people in Jerusalem, that Israel is in direct defiance of Egypt. There are Egyptian gods associated with the lamb, that if the Israelites will sacrifice these animals, it shall surely bring an uproar. This was why Moses said it shall not be that they sacrifice in Egypt back in Exodus 8:8. Yet, God not only requests the sacrifice of the lamb, but even tells the Israelites to put the blood on their doorposts. This is a blatant sign of disassociation from Egypt, and both Israel and the Egyptians know it. While God has up to this point been asking Pharaoh and the Egyptians if they believe yet, it is at this point that we find the first mention of God turning that question toward His own people.

The people were commanded to eat of the sacrifice, and leave none until morning. Jesus also told His disciples that they must eat of His flesh, or else they have no part in Him. Now, what makes this so difficult is that John also records in that same passage that Jesus tells His disciples to drink of His blood. You don’t drink blood as a Jew. God in fact commands against it. Yet, the offense is found in that Jesus would claim we must eat of His flesh – something altogether disgusting when thinking physically – and drink His blood. We know this is ultimately a reflection of the communion, that Christ took the bread and said, “This is my body broken for you”, and the cup saying, “This is my blood poured out for you”.

Here in Passover, it is the blood that is put upon the doorposts, and the flesh of the lamb to be eaten by every single person. Not one portion of that lamb was to be left in the morning. Anything that was left was to be burned. In Malachi 1:7, we read of the altar being called “the table of the LORD”. Here it is before us. Christ Jesus is the Lamb slain, of whose flesh we are to eat, leaving none until morning. In this, we take of the table of the LORD rather than the table of demons. We accept the consequences of taking that blood and putting it upon the doorposts of our lives for all to see. We accept the consequences of what the Egyptians might do, seeing us perform sacrilege in their midst. It is in this that we ‘take up our crosses and follow Him’.

We’re told in verse 6 to ‘keep’ the lamb for four days. This doesn’t mean that we’re to hold possession of it, but to protect it. Preserve the lamb from blemish. Keep that lamb spotless, because the powers of darkness are doing all they can to make it impure before God. We can use this in context of our own lives and testimony. In what you speak, how you act, how  you react, the lifestyle practices you’ve adopted – in all things, whether in eating or drinking, do unto the glory of God.

The blood was a demarkation between Israel and the profane world outside. We put it upon the doorposts of our own lives, taking full assurance and faith in that blood. By making those clear demarkation in our own lives, not willing to be one of the boys, acting a certain way, going certain places, endorsing certain things, or even spending money on certain things, we apply the blood upon the doorposts. Nothing impure enters this house, which is your body, which is His temple. Not by food, not by your own foul speech, nor by devoting yourself to lucre. It is not as though you must isolate yourself from any form of hearing language or coarse jesting, for such things would require leaving the earth itself. Rather, we make sure that which is profane remains outside.

Later in verse 17 we find the ‘guarding of matzah’. Within the context, God has been expressing how for future generations the people of God are to celebrate a feast of unleavened bread, which we find further explained in Leviticus 23. It is imperative to note, though, that this is not some sort of special command independent of the first. We shouldn’t read this passage as altogether distinct from the slaughtering of the lamb and putting the blood upon the doorpost. This is all mentioned together, and for millennia later it was tradition that there would be these three feasts lumped together with the ‘preparation’ for Passover. You have the disposal of all leaven, the preserving of the lamb, and the forward outlook to the feast of first fruits. Just as it was that you have the lamb slain, and the seven days of not having leaven available to the Israelites, the first fruits were revealed in that Israel crossed the Red Sea and made the inheritance and ‘first fruits’ of all nations as God’s people.

Verses 21-28 are another reiteration, where we find the guarding of this pattern and narrative in remembrance in verse 25.

It is in verse 22 that the words of David run through my mind. When the psalmist is repenting before God, he asks to be cleansed with hyssop to be made pure (Psalm 51:7). It is interesting to me that this kind of cleansing is, physically typified in the smearing of blood on the doorposts of the house, is actually a seal. Just like the Israelites are told that they shall not be visited by the destroying angel when the angel sees the blood, so too are we told of a sealing in the end times, both in Ezekiel 9 and Revelation 7. There is a seal to ensure that the people of God are not taken away in the plagues.

I hope that with this, though there be much here for expansion and cogitation, that you might find this last verse to be especially applicable to you. “And the children of Israel went away, and did as the Lord had commanded Moses and Aaron, so did they.” I pray that you, too, might now go, and do as the Lord has commanded.

Hail and Locusts – Exodus 9:8-10:20

I’ve been attempting to put a post for each plague, but it was when I began to dread coming up with something to say that I realized I need to figure out a better tactic… So, I’m doubling this one, and hopefully I’ll have something to write. For those of you who don’t know, this blog is pretty well a platform for me to just write out my thoughts as they come, and so there is never a “second draft” that ends up coming up. Instead, all of the grammar or spelling mistakes are evidence of the “first draft”.

With the Ten Plagues, what has caught me is that these were all somehow related to battling one of the gods of Egypt (see this post). This morning I read of how the Philistines captured the ark of God (1 Sam 4), how they put it with their god Dagon (1 Sam 5), and other various cities, and the Philistines received plagues. Therefore, they sent the ark back to Israel (1 Sam 6). This got me wondering whether that might be another instance where God plagued the Philistines according to their gods, just like we find again with Elijah praying for there to be no rain…

Within the Bible, when we find hail as a plague, it is specific to devastating an entire empire. I think of Joshua 10-12, where they are fighting the five kings, and God sends the hailstones that kill more people than Israel did. The final time of hail is mentioned in Revelation, but not just once. We find in Revelation 6:12-17 that part of the sixth seal (which I believe is the return of Jesus) has hailstones. In Revelation 8:5, we find hail again. In Revelation 11:15-18 (which I believe to also be the return of Jesus), we have hail mentioned again. Again in Revelation 16:17-21, we find that part of the seventh bowl is hail. We trace the same description, thunderings, lightning, and hail, throughout the whole of Revelation. It is my understanding that these are not separate storms, but the same one, the events leading up to it being retold through different language and symbolism each time.

It is interesting with the hail in Exodus that God gives the command of warning. Moses tells the Egyptians to bring their animals inside, and don’t allow your family or servants to go outside. They who heed the warning are saved, but they who are foolish and don’t believe are killed. Is that not exactly how God does things? Even with the serpent on the pole, you had to look up to the serpent in order to be saved. Those who are unwilling, because of unbelief, don’t get healed of the plague of snakes. The truth is that the snakes (spiritually) were already there devouring the children of Israel in their unbelief. Similarly, the Egyptians were already devastated and destroyed, through the worship of these gods that are not God. The hail was only a physical “guerrilla theater” to make manifest the spiritual reality.

When we come unto the locusts, we have another instance where we find locusts having an end time significance. Of course, Deuteronomy 28 talks about the enemies of Israel swarming into the Land and eating the fruit of the children of Israel like locusts, and this is a plague for disobedience unto God. Joel picks that up in the first two chapters of his book, and so we find these “locusts” that come into Israel and have horses and destroy much more than just the crops. In fact, the “locusts” of Joel are said to be part and parcel of the Day of the LORD!

The prophetic mind sees these similarities. He intuits the plan of God, that these sorts of plagues and judgments are not simply “one time events”. It’s not, as the commentators suggest, a plague of locusts that invaded Israel during the time, or soon after the time, of Joel. And, to the other commentators who are smart enough to catch it, it is not as though Joel is prophesying the invasion of Babylon, and therefore it’s over and been fulfilled. The plague in Egypt is an eternal phenomenon. It resounds outward through history even unto the present age. The Israel, like modern Israel, that has become Egypt in all her practices shall face the same plagues – locusts not being excluded. There is an immanent storm coming, just as all the prophets foresaw, and that “immanency” doesn’t mean it has to happen within a certain timeframe. Imminence in the Bible is a matter of spiritual condition. Because you are spiritually already in this place, the physical outworking is only a matter of time.

Therefore, we can string together the Egyptian plague of locusts, realizing that it is the judgment of God upon a people who trust in their crops as their provision, the locusts of Joel 1-2, and the locusts of Revelation 9. They are interwoven, because God deals with His people in cycles and patterns. God sends judgment upon Sodom, and then in Ezekiel 16 tells Judah that they saw Sodom’s fate, and they saw northern Israel’s fate, and yet they persist in their disobedience as if God won’t judge them… Here it is that Israel has seen Egypt’s plague, they have seen the locusts in the time of the Old Testament prophets, they saw the significance of the locusts as being an invading army, and yet still they persist in their unbelief and iniquity. This is sadly the case of many Christians as well.

What other option is there, but to send again the plagues forewarned, but this time, as it says in Leviticus, seven times more fierce?

Notice Exodus 10:7. The servants ask Pharaoh, “Do you not yet know that Egypt is destroyed?” Is this true? Was Egypt already destroyed? Why, then, does God not relent? And why does Pharaoh not yet relent? I think that the servants were correct, but once again, it was not the physical statement yet being made. Something happened in Egypt, which history attests to, where it caused for the death of Pharaoh, his son, and the demise of Egypt altogether. When we consult the history books, we find that there was a time when the wife of Pharaoh actually sent to the Hittites looking for a husband to carry on the dynasty of Egypt. At that time, the Egyptians threw away their gods and started a whole new religious system. If interested, you can find the info here.

I suppose the question is now to turn toward ourselves, eh? Are we following the LORD in a manner distinct from the majority of Israel? Is our relationship with God much more paralleled with the saints of the Old and New Testament, or is it true that we are very much shallow and not even close to expressing the same faith? And, maybe the most pressing question, what are we going to do about it? Will it take plagues from God before we begin to reform our ways?

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.