SPIRITUAL “Sclerosis”

Before going on in this POST, I thought it important to give you first, definitions of the word “Sclerosis” –then, explain how it fits in with our spirituality in life and in the Church as a whole.

“SCLEROSIS” or “hardening”:  (See Footnotes [i] and [ii])

#1.  Medical Definition – A pathological hardening of tissue, especially from overgrowth of fibrous tissue or increase in interstitial tissue.

In the GREEK, “hardening or “to harden” – 

#2.  porosis denotes “a hardening,” a covering with a poros, a kind of stone, indicating “a process” and is used metaphorically of dulled spiritual perception.

With the above definitions in mind, lets take a deep look into God’s Word and investigate a principle set forth for us all to ponder in our Christian service.

CAUGHT UP IN “RITUALISM”?  (Zechariah 7:1-7 AMP Bible)–

[1] AND IN the fourth year of the reign of King darius, the word of the Lord came to Zechariah on the fourth day of the ninth month, Chislev.

[2] Now the people of Bethel had sent Sharezer and regem-melech and their men to pray and entreat the favor of the Lord.  [3] And to speak to the priests of the house of the Lord of hosts and to the prophets, saying,  [Now that I am returned from exile] should I weep in the fifth month, separating myself as I have done these so many years [in Babylon]?

[4] Then came the word of the Lord of hosts to me [Zechariah], saying,

[5] Speak to all the people of the land and to the priests, saying,  When you fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh months, even those seventy years you were in exile, was it for Me that you fasted, for Me?  [6] And when you ate and when you drank, did you not eat for yourselves and drink for yourselves?

[7] Should you not hear the words the Lord cried by the former prophets when Jerusalem was inhabited and in prosperity with her cities round about her, and the South (the Negev) and the lowlands were inhabited?

According to the Scofield Bible, “Religious Externalism”:  “The whole matter, like much in modern pseudo-Christianity, was extra-Biblical, formal and futile.”   RITUALISM appeals to the FLESH and helps people feel “religious.”  

In my opinion, I don’t think Christianity needs any help in being “religious” in today’s society and I find it a sign of spiritual decline.

How so?

Zechariah 7:1-3 – “What about FASTING?”

The question seems to imply a readiness to discontinue the practice, the ritual of THE FAST.  That question may have been going through their heads at the time, but was not asked…”Would discontinuing the FAST be evidence of a false sense of security or would it add to the displeasure of the LORD?  All good questions.

In their present SPIRITUALITY, the people were still in distress, under the Lord’s displeasure.  From the human viewpoint, there might be something said in favor of discontinuing the fasts–and in case you’re wondering by now, is this blog-Post about “FASTING”?  Yes and no. I’ll get to that as we move along

The LORD has changed His method of dealing with His people; returning to them in the way of MERCY!  So, would it not be proper to change their method of performing their duties?  [NOT just “fasting” as required by the clergy].

It seems as if the MAIN CONCERN of the delegation was the FAST held on the fifth month; the remembrance of the burning of the first TEMPLE.  At this point in time, the NEW TEMPLE was almost completely restored [See picture below of model].

So why FAST?

Having kept the ritual of fasting for 70+ years in exile, the delegation members felt it wouldn’t be a good idea to discontinue something they had grown accustomed to without approval from the PRIESTS and the PROPHETS.

The 2nd Temple Model
The 2nd Temple Model

 Some Questions Arise…

Should a good and productive method of RELIGIOUS SERVICES, which we find beneficial to ourselves and others, be simply abandoned or altered because of the changes taking place in society and the world?

What then, should OUR PURPOSE be in coming to church on Sunday, or during the week in “service”?

In this portion of Scripture,  Zechariah 7, the delegation’s PURPOSE for coming was to PRAY and SEEK God’s will in the matter of the continuance of the FASTS.

Our PURPOSE for coming to the House of the Lord…

It should be to pray and seek the LORD’s will for our lives; to WORSHIP HIM.  It’s NOT for entertainment.

When we present our requests, our petitions to the LORD, we should be in a READINESS TO RECEIVE instructions from Him.  If we refuse to listen, we can’t expect the LORD to accept our prayers.

The QUESTION we should bring before our LORD and Savior is not, what will You do for me, but what can I do for You, even though You don’t need my help.

In God’s answer to the LORD of hosts asked question,  “When you fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh months, even those seventy years…was it for Me that you fasted, for Me?”  – (verse 5).

“CONSIDER YOUR WAYS”  

Consider what you’re doing and why; WORSHIP WITH PRAISE AND THANKSGIVING, PRAYING IN PUBLIC, TITHING IN CHURCH, SERVING IN MINISTRY, etc., etc.

The question posed in VERSE 5, not only does it involve the delegation, but to ALL the priests and the people of the land.  And in case you are wondering…we too are included in the answer…”was it for Me…, for Me?”.

The LORD of hosts asked this question because the delegation’s question seemed to be more concerned about the ceremony, the ritual, than about the SUBSTANCE or the spirit of it.  They seemed to be BOASTING of their fasting, believing they should have been returned to the LORD’s MERCY sooner than it did.

A similar question was asked by the people in the prophet Isaiah’s day:

“Why have we fasted, they say, and You do not see it? Why have we afflicted ourselves, and You take no knowledge  [of it]? Behold [O Israel], on the day of your fast [when you should be grieving for your sins], you find profit in your business, and [instead of stopping all work, as the law implies you and your workmen should do]  you extort from your hired servants a full amount of labor”  (Isaiah 58:3 ).

What the priests and people were doing wasn’t bad, not done in the right way.  The LORD wasn’t charging them with OMISSION or NEGLECT of their duty.  He was charging them of WRONG INTENT!

He was saying,  those who come with a good intent, to SEEK GOD’s MERCY, must be willing to admit their FAULTS, a hard thing to do.  We can sometimes be so zealous in our approach, in performance of our worship on Sundays, we set aside our need to faithfully examine our attitude or motives for even being there.  Don’t wait for the Worship & Praise team to motivate you on Sundays!

We should ask ourselves in service and duty,  “WHY AM I DOING WHAT I’M DOING?”

The LORD appeals to the conscience…

If the people had not been sincere in the performance of duty and their worship, they needed to understand, we need to understand, there is One who is far greater than their consciences.

PhotoBucket
PhotoBucket

In their FASTING and WORSHIP, a form of godliness, they lacked life, soul, and power.  The stress of their doing was laid upon the REPETITION of the rituals, instead of upon the worship of the LORD.  Even those who were seeking to please their heavenly Father, to obtain His favor, who are sincere in their intentions, were wanting.  This is why, in the sight of the LORD, their FASTS were a mockery.  They were using FASTS as a covering; a covering for their SIN, as Jezebel’s fast, or as the Pharisees’ fasts, resting in outward expressions of humiliation [false humility], while in the process, their hearts were unhumbled.

Nothing New in Zechariah 7:7:

The people and priests are told what the LORD of hosts has said, and it’s nothing new.  The question seems to imply they have forgotten.  The GOOD THING the Captives should have done…was left undone!

On their FAST DAYS, the captives went and separated themselves from daily activities; being a sign of their sorrow for the judgment they were under.  This wasn’t enough.  What they should have done was to search the Scriptures and they would have seen what was the reason for God’s controversy with their fathers, taking a warning by their miseries, not going down the same pathway.

The AFFLICTION that rested on their shoulders was to WAKE THEM UP!  Bring them to REPENTANCE!

A Warning!!!

The disobedience of others and the consequences should be a WARNING to us!  God’s judgements upon Israel of old for their sins were written for a CAUTION to Christians today:

“Now these things befell them by the way of a figure [as an example and warning to us]; they were written to admonish and fit us for right action by good instruction, we in whose days the ages have reached their climax (their consummation and concluding period)”  (1 Corinthians 10:11).

So Church, Why do we do what we do on Sundays?

In my reading for this study, I ran across a story that directed my thoughts to the above question.

A story is told about a wife who was cooking a roast.  She cuts the end off of the roast, puts it on a pan, then into the oven.  The husband asks,  “Why did you cut the end off?”

She replies  “Because my mom always did.”

The next day the wife asks her mom  “Why did you cut the end off of the roast before putting it in the oven?”  Mom replies  “Because my mom always did.”

So both of them went to Grandma and asked the same question.  “Grandma, why do you cut the end of the roast off before cooking it?”

Grandma replies  “So it would fit in the pan!”

Mark Batterson says  “All of us develop hypotheses about everything all the time.  Then we look for evidence to support our hypotheses and ignore evidence to the contrary.”    GUILTY! 

Questions to ask ourselves before, during and after the Sunday Service–it’s more than about “fasting”:

Why do we take COMMUNION–How many of us are partaking in the way God desires us to participate in the Lord’s supper?  What is it that you WORSHIP?  What is it that you get excited about?  Why do we TITHE, why do we FELLOWSHIP (meet and greet time) right after worship and praise?  Why our we FASTING?  Does GOD want me to, or is it just at the pastor’s request?  Why do we do what we do?

And the answer to the many questions…”Was it for Me?”

“WAS IT FOR ME that you fasted, for Me?  (Zechariah 7:5 b.)

“WAS IT FOR ME” that you are taking the Lord’s Supper?

“WAS IT FOR ME” that you are singing and worshiping?

“WAS IT FOR ME” you put in your tithe and offering?

Or is the condition of our SPIRITUALITY in a state of “Sclerosis”?  You’ll have to answer that question.

 

 

Photo Credits:  2nd Temple – Wikipedia Israel Museum;  “Sorry I’m Fasting” T-Shirt–PhotoBucket

Footnote References:

[i] – Merriam Webster Dictionary

[ii] –  Expository Dictionary of Bible Words–page  466 NT Words.

 

 

 

 

Don’t Get Stuck In A “WRINGER”!

Zechariah 3:1-7  (MSG):

(1-2)  Next, the Messenger-Angel showed me the high priest, Joshua.  He was standing before God’s Angel where the Accuser showed up to accuse him.  Then GOD said to the Accuser, “I, GOD rebuke you, Accuser!  I rebuke you and choose Jerusalem. Surprise!  Everything is going up in flames, but I reach in and pull out Jerusalem!”

(3-4)  Joshua, standing before the Angel, was dressed in dirty clothes.  The Angel spoke to his attendants, “Get him out of those filthy clothes,” and then said to Joshua, “Look, I’ve stripped you of your sin and dressed you up in clean clothes.”  I spoke up and said, “How about a clean new turban for his head also?”  And they did it–put a clean new turban on his head. Then they finished dressing him, with GOD’s Angel looking on.

(6-7)  GOD’s Angel then charged Joshua, “Orders from GOD-OF-THE-ANGEL-ARMIES:  ‘If you live the way I tell you and remain obedient in my service, then you’ll make the decisions around here and oversee my affairs.  And all my attendants standing here will be at your service.’

The "Little Old Wringer" Washing Maching
The “Little Old Wringer” Washing Machine

 

I still remember a little old wringer type washing machine my mother would used every Monday when I was a child.  MONDAY, was WASH DAY. Period!

It was an all-day ritual; washing clothes, wringing them as dry as possible, and hanging the wash outside on a clothesline.

I know most of you would wonder how anyone could remember that far back.  Wasn’t that before the days of radio?  No, it wasn’t that far back but it was before the days of 4- track and 8- track players, cassettes, color TV (most couldn’t afford a black & white TV), and the internet.

It was the early to mid-1950’s, when I remember mom pulling that old wringer washer out from the closet beneath the stairway, then pushing it on its wheels into the tiny apartment kitchen.  What a job wash-day must have been.

I was too young to do much work but, I’m certain that I was a drain on her energy level as she had to watch me too.

There’s one image that still remains about that old washing machine.  The image of those flat pressed clothes as they came out of the wringer and into the clothes basket before hanging them outside to dry.

And on one of those days, in my enthusiasm to help mom on wash-day, I decided I could and would…feed the clean, wet sheets through the wringer.  My thoughts must have been”,  I wonder if those sheets are in any pain?”  

And at that moment of “wondering”, being somewhat distracted, I inadvertently let my fingers and hand follow the sheets through the wringer. The clothes weren’t the only thing in pain.  By the time my mom could release the rollers, she found me up to my elbow, with my little toes barely touching the floor–frozen in time as tears flowed down my cheeks.

To this day, I still think of that old wringer washer and how much of our lives are spent going through a wringer, and I can definitely say…it does hurt when you’re going through it.

The problem is, if you didn’t put those DIRTY CLOTHES through the process, of washing and wringing them out at regular intervals, then the clothes would become useless, or, if you did wear them anyway, no one would want to be around you very much.

IN THE OLD TESTAMENT BOOK OF THE PROPHET, ZECHARIAH 3:1-3:

Who Was JOSHUA?

Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right side to accuse him.  The Lord said to Satan,  “The Lord rebuke you, Satan!  The Lord, who has chosen Jerusalem, rebuke you!  Is not this man a burning stick snatched from the fire?”  Now Joshua was dressed in filthy clothes as he stood before the angel.  (NIV translation)

The GARMENTS of the High Priest
The GARMENTS of the High Priest

At the end of the Babylonian Captivity, Nehemiah and a number of Jews were released and sent back to REBUILD Jerusalem and the Temple.

At the end of the work, one of the HIGH PRIESTS who ministered in that rebuilt temple was JOSHUA.

This man, Joshua, was typical of the priesthood and its condition in Israel at the time.  He had little or no rule over his own house.

His sons had married outside the faith, polluting the nation with idolatry.  And, because of Joshua’s SIN, the sin of his family, Zechariah was given a VISION that spoke of Joshua’s life.

The Similarities…

But in a greater sense, that VISION spoke of the condition of all of us.  JOSHUA may have worn the outward robes that signified righteousness and holiness, the ephod of the High Priest, the golden mitre on his head with the words, “HOLINESS UNTO THE LORD” on a gold band around it, and the robe he wore under the outer garment made of pure, white linen.  But Joshua’s life was far from the holiness he tried to display to those around him.

God Knew Joshua’s Heart…and so did Satan

We see in Zechariah’s vision, Joshua, Israel’s High Priest standing before the courts of Heaven; standing before the Angel of the Lord, which is no angel at all, but is one of the Old Testaments names given to Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Angel of God’s very presence.

Here then is an unholy priest standing before a Holy God in pure guilt and shame from the SIN in his life.

His self-righteousness was shown for what it was now–“FILTH!”:

“All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.  No one calls on your name or strives to lay hold of you; for you have hidden your face from us and made us waste away because of our sins.  Yet, O Lord, you are our Father.  We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand”  (Isaiah 64:6-8 NIV).

It wasn’t bad enough Joshua stood there in sin and shame facing almighty God, but he had some company.  Right beside Joshua, on his right hand, was the one that Revelation 12:10 calls “the accuser of the brethren”, Satan.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t need the devil pointing out my sins to God.  I do a good enough job on my own to condemn myself.

Nevertheless, there he was, Satan, standing there with his outstretched pointing finger, accusing Joshua right in his face–every failure, every sin, every doubt, every fear, and every disobedience before the Bar.  He was there for one purpose only.

Satan’s One Purpose…stealing this soul from God’s hand…

Destroying any chance of Joshua’s survival of High Priest in the land, but of Israel’s right to be a nation.  Satan’s PURPOSE was to steal, kill, and destroy Joshua and Israel once and for all (John 10:10-a).

The Evidence…

Satan had eye-witness accounts, even though he didn’t need any, because God already knew how sinful that Joshua was.

As Joshua stood there that day, his filthy garments and the SIN that was on him was evident.  The evidence was so outstanding in court against Joshua, Satan must have believed he had this case in the bag.  CONVICTED!!!  That’s how we are in our own righteousness too.

Right now, before the court in Heaven, the “accuser of the brethren” is standing there pointing his finger of accusation, making known every sin that you and I commit.  He has proof from the way we are dressed–in filthy clothing of the flesh that stinks to ‘high heaven’ with B.O. (‘bad odor’) of sin.

Satan is still attempting to snatch us from the very presence of God.  What a terrible thought it is, to be that close to God’s holiness, yet never know Heaven’s glories.

That’s what it will be like for those who will face God on judgement day without JESUS in their heart.  So close, and yet so far away.

Are you wrestling with sin in your life?

Do you wrestle with the “accusing finger” of the devil, who says to you…”You don’t PRAY ENOUGH, STUDY ENOUGH, AREN’T COMMITTED ENOUGH…and there is no way you will ever be “GOOD ENOUGH” or “HOLY ENOUGH” or “RIGHTEOUS ENOUGH”; at least not in your own power.

The apostle Paul said in Romans 3:10,  “There is no one righteous, not even one;”

So, is there any chance we can be holy and righteous…any way that our filthy garments of sin can be taken away and new clothes place upon us making us more presentable to our Holy God?

Yes, there certainly is, but not by might or power of our own hand.  Too many people keep trying to make themselves more presentable–righteous and holy–and all it does is backfire, proving themselves more sinful and unholy; back through the “wringer” and squeezed once more.

Most of the time we are sorry for being “filthy” but refuse to allow the cleansing POWER OF THE BLOOD OF JESUS to wash away the stain of sin. Instead, we try to find ways to soothe the guilt and pain:

—  We may continue in our sin but we will at the same time, try to spend more time in prayer.

—  We get down on the scrub board, turn on the agitator, bounce around for a while, hoping that somehow what we do… will play a part in our depth of sin.

We can cover the outside with good works (“whitewashing” – Matt. 23:27; Acts 23:3) all we want, but if JESUS isn’t in your heart…the center of your life, then you are still clothed in “filthy rags” of self-righteousness and that’s how you will stand before God.

A WHITER, FLUFFIER LOOK!
“A WHITER, FLUFFIER LOOK!”

Every time we try these the little ‘gimmicks’ ,trying to cover over the iniquities, we’re actually throwing ourselves in the washing machine ( “soft water makes a whiter, fluffier wash”), agitate the contents for a while and go through the WRINGER one more time…and find ourselves  come out, still as filthy, or find ourselves up to our elbows, caught once more in the wringer with our toes barely touching the ground.

I don’t know about you, but I didn’t like going through my mother’s WRINGER when I was young, nor going through GOD’S WRINGER now.

HOLINESS:

In the Hebrew, the word is gadash, and in the Greek, the word is hagios (Footnote [i]).  Their similarity in meaning is almost identical:  “Those persons and things that are “holy” in the sense of being SET APART for divine redemptive purposes.”

We should be tired of trying to be holy enough or righteous enough.  I want to have TRUE RIGHTEOUSNESS!  I want to live in TRUE HOLINESS!

BUT HOW?

Looking back in Zechariah 3:2-5, Joshua represented you and I.

I love the way God answers Satan.  It’s as though God says to the devil,  SHUT UP! I AM GOD!  I am the One who has chosen this one, who stands before Me!  [Put your name in the place of the word “JERUSALEM”.  The meaning is still the same].

God saved us! God chose us!

God did the choosing and He won’t let go; no man can pluck us out of His hand!  Yes, Joshua had on filthy clothing!

— You and I have no righteousness with ourselves.

— We have no holiness within us.

— We have no power to deliver our soul from sin…

BUT JESUS DOES!

God speaks out to the angels who had gathered around…

Listening and watching for His commands-GET HIM OUT OF THOSE FILTHY CLOTHES!  GIVE HIM A NEW GARMENT AND A CHANGE OF HEART!  CLOTHE HIM IN RIGHTEOUSNESS!

Joshua didn’t deserve to be clothed in righteousness but neither are we.  None of us will ever be WORTHY enough.

It has nothing to do with WORTHINESS but everything to do with FOLLOWING JESUS, allowing Him to give us His righteousness by His own choice.

GOD took away Joshua’s SIN, then gave him robes of righteousness–placed a pure mitre of white linen upon his head with the words, “HOLINESS UNTO THE LORD,” written across them.

JESUS stood by us when the work was finished because, when He purchased our salvation on the cross, His work was completed.  In other words, GOD takes away our sin, washes them away in the Blood of the Lamb, while clothing us in RIGHTEOUSNESS for His own name’s sake and changing our way of life and thinking while writing His Holiness upon our lives.

Zechariah 3:6-7, then says,

God’s Angel then charged Joshua,  “Orders from God-of-the-Angel-Armies:  ‘If you live the way I tell you and remain obedient in My service then you’ll make the decisions around here and oversee My affairs.  And all My attendants standing here will be at your service.

I love all the “IF s” and the “AND s” in Scripture.  “IF” we will walk in the ways of the LORD, keep His commandments, obey His Word, judge righteous judgements, not judge one another, and keep close to JESUS…then God promises we would walk among those who stood by.

WHO ARE THOSE WHO STOOD BY?

The Holy angels of Glory!  We will be there, right along side of Michael and Gabriel, the archangels.  We will walk and talk with JESUS, living eternally in the presence of our Father God without filthy garments but clothed in the pure righteousness and holiness.

HOW DO WE RECEIVE THESE CLEAN, PURE WHITE LINEN CLOTHING – THE ROBES OF RIGHTEOUSNESS?

HOW DO WE GET RID OF THAT OLD, GREASY, FILTHY BASEBALL CAP WE’VE BEEN WEARING DAILY AND REPLACE IT WITH A NEW TURBAN WITH THE WORDS “HOLY UNTO THE LORD”?

HOW ARE OUR SINS ALL BE WASHED AWAY?

By ACCEPTING and CONFESSING that Jesus as your Lord and Savior–SACRIFICED for your sins.  By BELIEVING in His death, burial and resurrection.  By BELIEVING that He is ALIVE FOREVER, and by ALLOWING HIM to RULE and REIGN in your life.

So the question becomes, are we willing to allow Jesus to enter our lives and give Him the control, or are we ready to go through the WRINGER one more time?

The choice is yours!  What will it be? 

 

Footnotes and Credits:

[i]  Definition of Holy or Holiness is from EXPOSITORY DICTIONARY OF BIBLE WORDS by Stephen D. Renn.

High Priest Photo by http://www.robertmock@biblesearchers.com

Other Photos by Photo Pin.

Referenced Bible Translations:

The Message Bible; The NIV Bible; Amplified Bible. 

 

 

ISRAELS’ “Title Deed” Has Already Been Issued!

293170964_6790e9ec90“TITLE DEED” Definition:

A deed or document evidencing a person’s or people’s legal right or title to property constituting evidence of ownership.  [See Footnote [i]]

Joel 3:1-14:

I will gather all nations and enter into judgment against them concerning my inheritance, my people Israel, for they scattered my people among the nations and divided up my land Multitudes in the Valley of Decision!  For the day of the LORD is near in the Valley of Decision.

TAKING A STAND

“I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you”  (Genesis 12:3 NIV).

I won’t speak to or about other countries in “taking a stand”; although I’ve recently been in discussion on Social Media regarding feelings and attitudes regarding what’s going on in the conflict of Israel and Palestine/Hamas.  But I’ll leave that discussion for a later time.

AMERICA IS AT A MOMENTOUS CROSSROADS!  WILL WE BELIEVE GOD AND STAND BY ISRAEL?

Or, will we “waffle” and give our sympathies to Israel’s enemies?  Having already turned our back on God in America, we are feeling the sharpness, the bite from His restorative judgments.  I know, GOD IS LOVE!  But He is also righteous and holy and a “jealous” God!! (Deut. 32:16, 21; 1 Kings 14:22; Psalm 78:58; 1 Cor. 10:22).

Yes, we still  have a form of religion, but we have lost the moral and spiritual power we once possessed.  Where we find ourselves today is in an unprovoked, worldwide WAR with militant Islamist terrorists and our homeland is vulnerable.

Yet, while our President has often remarked, to act against TERRORISTS and those who harbor them…at the same time pressed ISRAEL not to retaliate against the Palestinian terrorists.  And, the center of his Middle East policy is to divide the land of Israel and to create a terrorist-ruled, Islamist Palestine state in the center of the Promised Land.

GOD’s Word speaks to this issue (Joel 3:1-17).  And because there will be sobering consequences if we fail in disobedience to Him [*SEE Jer. 12:14-16; Zech. 2:7-13].

TWO ABSOLUTES IN OUR “STANDING” WITH THE JEWS CLAIM TO THE LAND:

GOD Himself gave THE TITLE DEED to the land of Israel to the Jewish people!  Unlike historic claims that other nations might have to their land, the Jews have an overriding, stronger claim.  “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof.”

Any human ownership of land is but a lease.

I remember one area of Orange County California I lived in, who established homeowners to LEASED the property their homes sat on,  for ninety-nine years.  Their thinking I suppose was, “Who would still be living on that property for 99 years?  God never stipulated in His promise in the TITLE DEED, that His covenant land was to be leased–that Israel would have to parcel up their right to ownership to any “squatters”.

GOD does the “establishing” and not man (Deut. 32:8-10; Num. 34:10-15; Josh. 11:16-22; 14; Acts 17:26).

Knowing the Promises of GOD…

HOW MUCH LAND DID GOD GIVE ISRAEL?
HOW MUCH LAND DID GOD GIVE ISRAEL?

Every Christian should know God’s PROMISES, what God says about the Jews and His Covenant land, especially in this day of decisions.

Each of us should be as the Bereans, SEARCH THE SCRIPTURES; NOT ALLOW OUR UNDERSTANDING TO BE CLOUDED by doctrines with strained and skewed conclusions, nullifying the plain PROMISES OF GOD (Acts 17:11-12; 1 Peter 1:19-21).

God’s Warning to the Nations…

“All who try to move [Jerusalem] will injure themselves.”

GOD PROMISES to punish the nations (people) who come against Israel:  “…and whoever curses you I will curse” ~ Genesis 12:3 b.

America, the Arabs, the European Union, Russia, China, all the nations, are in the valley of decision (Joel 3:14).  Every nation that presumes to interfere with God’s plan for Israel, including the U.S., STANDS NOT only against Israel, but against God Almighty!  GOD is rising to JUDGE THE NATIONS  (Ezek. 38:1-39; Zech. 2:8-9; 12:2-9).

“Why ISRAEL Has the Right to their Land and Others do not”–

Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) gave an important speech on the floor of the U.S. Senate on March 11, 2002:

 —  SEVEN REASONS WHY ISRAEL HAS THE RIGHT TO “THEIR LAND” —

Six of his reasons which are simple truths apply to common sense.  If you are interested in reading the entire document, it can be viewed on-line –(http://www.senate.gov/~inhofe/fl030402.html).

The seventh, his most important, is an appeal to FAITH IN GOD of the Bible and His covenant with the Jewish people.

We must support Israel’s right to the land because God’ said so!

In Genesis 13:14-17, the Bible says:

The Lord said to Abram, “Lift up now your eyes and look from the place where you are for all the land which you see, to you will I give it, and to your seed forever…”

Only God Can solve the Middle East Crisis…

America must concentrate doing what is right.  I’m not saying we should give blind approval on anything Israel may do.  But Israels restraint toward its Palestinian enemies, so far, has been admirable–a model for all nations, and our pressure on Israel not to retaliate against a terrorist run state, to endure endless assaults against their own civilian population all in hopes of bolstering negotiations with terrorists leaders in Egypt, is foolish and immoral (Prov. 19:27; Ps. 1:1-2; 2:2-12; 33:10-22; Is. 1:16; Jer. 23:32).

The Problem Goes Far Beyond the Palestinian People

The HEART of the Muslim faith and its opposition to Scripture begins with belief that the Land of Israel belongs to the Arabs through the lineages of Ishmael and Esau.  The Muslims reject the Bible record of God’s covenants with Isaac and Jacob, believing that Ishmael and Esau, the first-born sons of Abraham and Isaac, were the legitimate heirs.  THIS IS A LIE!

The problem can never be resolved apart from the Gospel of Jesus Christ and/or the return of Jesus, Himself!  God’s Word provides for law-abiding Arabs and other non-Jews who live in Israel (See Ezek. 47:22-23 – Christians and Muslim Arabs would enjoy for greater political and economic prosperity under Israel than under Muslim terrorist leaders).

But this doesn’t mean Israel should accept the immigration of millions of self-proclaimed refugees or to divide up Israel and Jerusalem, forever compromising Israel’s security.  God holds Israeli government responsible, as He does all governments, to protect its people to bring criminals to justice, especially those guilty of shedding innocent blood (Gen. 9:6; Dt. 19:11-13; Rom. 13:1-4).

That the world (U.N.) community interprets Israels use of military authority in self-defense (Romans 13) as morally inferior to Palestinian/Hamas suicide (homicide) bombers, rockets, and other terrorist acts, simply reveals the worlds ill will toward the Just and Righteous God of the Bible.

President Obama cannot both appease the nations and serve the God of the Bible.  AMERICA is in the valley of decision.  Will we simply do what’s right and just (as defined by God’s Word), or yield to the political circumstances and threats against us?

A Worldwide Resurgence of Anti-Semitism–

Psalm 35:19-20 NIV translation:

[19] Let not those gloat over me who are my enemies without cause; let not those who hate me without reason maliciously wink the eye.  [20] They do not speak peaceably, but devise false accusations against those who live quietly in the land.

The pleasure of savagery, Palestinian/Hamas rockets (3500+), against the Jewish civilian population has elicited sympathy and support for the Israelis in the U.S., but sleeping demons of anti-Semitism has raised its ugly head once more around the globe.

Pro-Palestinian propaganda, broadcast by the liberal media, has fueled an international resurgence of Anti-Semitism, especially in Europe, Russia and the Arab world.

Denunciations of Israel by the U.N. once more, many nations have fueled the fires of protests by tens of thousands, boycotts of Israeli goods, and other political efforts to punish Israel.

 The Church s Contribution–

Some Christians believe the natural Israel was permanently cast off by God and wholly replaced by the New Testament Church (Replacement Theology); that the rebirth of Israel as a nation today has no part in God’s plan for our spiritual well-being.

But they completely ignore or twist a lot of Bible promises to the contrary.

THE DESTINY OF NATIONS:

All Nations, not just America, are tied to their responses to God’s will as revealed in Scripture.  God holds NATIONS uniquely accountable to their actions for or…against the Jews and His covenant Land.

How will He deal with America, or your country, if we look away from the demonically inspired anti-Semitism that’s growing around us?  We cannot keep silent when forces are working day and night to turn our political leaders against Israel.

My son accidently poked his finger in my eye once. 

Who hasn’t had someone accidentally POKED you in the eye?  I sure have.  It was clearly accidental, but never-the-less, it didn’t hurt any less.

A POKE in the EYE
A POKE in the EYE

Your EYE is sensitive to touch and the center of your eye, your “iris”, the “pupil” of your eye–the APPLE, is the most sensitive part.

When my son accidentally poked me in the eye years ago, my first response was anger!  My aggravated, uncontrolled words in response to my pain…“You’ve got to be more careful with your fingers, it can ‘poke’ someone’s eye out!”  I don’t know what that meant to him at the time, but he replied to my outrage by saying, “I’m sorry dad. I didn’t mean to. It was an accident.”  And of course, I accepted his apology as any loving dad would because of his repentance.

But what if the POKE IN THE EYE had been on purpose with the intention of doing harm?

“For this is what the Lord Almighty says:  “After he has honored me and has sent me against the nnations that have plundered you–for whoever touches you touches the apple [the “iris”; the “pupil”, the “center”] of My eye”  (Zech. 2:8 NIV). *NOTE: Bracketed words were inserted for emphasis.

American Christians must pray and act to be sure that AMERICA stands by Israel!

 

 

FOOTNOTE (s):  

[i] Title Deed – Dictionary.com

PHOTOS:  

Map of Israel – Files From Toni: How Much Land Did God Give Israel? at filesfromtoni.blogspot.com/how-much-land-did-god-give-israel-html

Photo Pin

BIBLE TRANSLATIONS: 

NIV Translation

Amplified Bible

 

 

“Latter Rains” Are Great! But A Flood?

A Southern California Lifestyle…

Living in California for over 38 years, one of my pleasures during the year was taking road trips to the desert--Borrego Hot Springs State Park.

Borrego Hot Springs After The RAINS
Borrego Hot Springs After The RAINS

My folks liked to go right after the winter rains, when the desert was in full, or almost in full of  cactus bloom.

And our going always depended on the RAIN.  No rain, no desert floor flowers!   On the 1st of March, without latter winter rains in any given year, my plea, my cry, was always… “LET IT RAIN!”

“LATTER RAINS” – [See Footnotes – [i] ]

RAIN in the Middle East varies greatly from thirty inches per year in the hill country of Palestine-Syria, to zero to four inches in the southern part of Palestine, the modern Negev Sinai peninsula and Egypt and in the desert area east of the Jordan Rift, south of Syria.

THE HEAVY RAINS come in late November to early March.  Before and after this period come usually lighter rains.  The former coming in October-November and the LATTER RAINS–March-April.

The Absence of Rain in the Bible…

Lack of RAIN always produced famine in a country so completely dependant upon it and its withholding by GOD was terrible punishment (Deuteronomy 28:22-24).

Could the ABSENCE OF RAIN in many areas of our own country be more than just “Global Warming”?  What can we do, if anything?

Crying Out in Fervent, Earnest, Prayer for God to Open the FLOODGATES OF HEAVEN!

“The LORD will open the heavens, the storehouse of his bounty, to send RAIN on your land in season and to bless all the works of your hands”  (Deuteronomy 28 :12 NIV).

In PREPARATION for God’s Glory…

Every Sunday morning before leaving the house for worship and praise in the fellowship, I put a CD in the player of worship and praise music.  It sets a spiritual tone for me while doing my everyday morning activities [Walk & Feed the dog, put the coffee on, check the computer for messages, etc.].

A Plea from God…

Last Sunday was no exception; but with a twist.   My wife decided to change things up a little by picking out something  to hear from the past.  If you haven’t guessed already, her chosen CD was recorded by Michael W. Smith – See Footnote [ii].

We want to see Your Glory, God!

Do you want to see His Glory?

Lift your voices, lift your hands!

Let it rain, let it rain.

Open the floodgates of Heaven.

[Repeat]

Do we really want to see a FLOOD of  God’s GLORY–for Him to send a Spiritual Rain onto this world in which we live?

OPEN THE "FLOODGATES"
OPEN THE “FLOODGATES”

“The effective prayer [the earnest–heartfelt, continued-AMP] of a righteous man can accomplish much.  Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain; and it did not rain on earth for three years and six months.  And he prayed again, and the sky poured rain, and the earth produced its fruit” (James 5:16-18 NAS).

WHAT IS “GLORY” ?

Religious people very often have a vocabulary that is intermingled in society that has meaning to some, but little understanding by most.  So at this point in my blog, I decided to go to some old notes I’ve kept from a spiritual mentor of mine.  Dr. Creflo A. Dollar:  [See Footnotes [iii]] 

THE GLORY OF GOD is simply the manifestation of His Word.  It is the thing you have desired, confessed and prayed.

THE GLORY is like a fruit tree that originated from a SEED.  Ex.: When you plant an apple seed, the “glory” of that apple tree is the apple.

THE WORD OF GOD is a seed that, when planted in your heart [soul and spirit] will produce visible results, or GLORY in your life.

** [I hope this might give you something to think about while reading the rest of my investigation].

Natural Rains provide…

RAIN brings satisfaction of quenching of thirst for plants and animals.  It’s a necessity for life to exist on earth.  When the rain comes to a desert, it gives life in that desert; an opportunity provided to quench their thirst by the life-giving water in a dry and barren land and…the GLORY is revealed.

Spiritual Rain provides…

We know the importance of the natural RAIN.

Now living in the American Northwest, the State of Washington, I’m very familiar of the importance of the rain.  Washington wouldn’t have the nickname, The Evergreen State, if not for the natural rain.  I’ve  certainly have become aware of the effects on the life of a resident.  “It is what it is!”

GOD’S SPIRITUAL RAIN:

The rains of heaven promise to quench our thirst if we drink them in.  When we drink from the RAIN of Heaven, we quench our thirst for that missing spiritual water.

The Rain of Heaven, when its being poured out, softens the soil of individuals hearts, so they are moldable to have the ability to plant seeds of eternal life in their lives.

The RAIN helps prepare the soil, but it also is instrumental in getting SEEDS to bud; break open with new life.  Moisture and the sun help this process to blossom and it births new life starting the process of growth and eventually the fruit–THE GLORY.

Cry of the Heart…

In this weeks investigation of the WORD DETECTIVE, I ran across the poem from one person:  [See Footnote iv]

Let it Rain!

Rainbow visions, reflected, refractive…

As I gaze out my window.

Bright skies, only a pane away.

Inside, only pain.

I wish it would rain, and was the iridescence from the streaked, and cracked glass that holds me prisoner.

Here inside my world, of self-induced pain…

Let it rain, let it rain, let it rain.

DO YOU HEAR THE CRY OF THIS HEART?

“Here inside my world of self-induced pain, let it rain.”

She is crying out for the hurt to be washed away.  She wants to be cleansed and to be filled with joy.  She doesn’t want the HURT and PAIN.

LET IT RAIN!

The person here is crying for the type of rain that HEALS PAIN, BROKEN RELATIONSHIPS, and the hurts of life.

GOD’S RAIN is able to accomplish this task!

The “Importance of GOD’S RAIN”:

1 Kings 18:41-46 (NIV):

THE RAINS COME!

And Elijah said to Ahab, “Go, eat and drink, for there is the sound of a heavy rain.”  Do Ahab went off to eat and drink, but Elijah climbed to the top of Carmel, bent down to the ground and put his face between his knees.

“Go and look toward the sea,” he told his servant.  And he went up and looked.

“There is nothing there,” he said.

Seven times Elijah said, “Go back.”

The seventh time the servant reported, “A cloud as small as a man’s hand is rising from the sea.”

So Elijah said, “Go and tell Ahab, hitch up your chariot and go down before the rain stops you.”

Meanwhile, the sky grew black with clouds, the wind rose, a heavy rain came on and Ahab rode off to Jezreel.  The power of the Lord came upon Elijah and, tucking his cloak into his belt, he ran ahead of Ahab all the way to Jezreel.

1.  The area is being cleansed with the HEAVY RAIN.

2.  The soil for plenty is being soften up.

3.  The RAIN comes–and there is refreshment in the air.

4.  There is NEW LIFE being produced.

5.  The old sinful way of drought is being swept away in the FLOOD of God’s rain (1 Kings Chapters 21-22).

The “Latter Rains”…

“So rejoice, O sons of Zion.  And be glad in the Lord your God.  For He has given you the early rain for your vindication and He has poured down for you the rain, the early and latter rain as before”  (Joel 2:23 NAS).

The literal rains were symbolic of a greater truth.  They symbolized times of a special outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

Different versions of the Bible differ in their translation of the phrase,  “He has given you the early rain for your vindication” (NAS).  This is because some Hebrew manuscripts use the words “moreh sedaqah” here, and others use “yoreh sedaqah.”

As I dug deeper, I discovered an interesting point.

“Yoreh” is the word for early rain.  While “Moreh” is the word for teacher.

So the phrase could be referencing to the “former rains”, or… referencing to the “teacher of righteousness–the Holy spirit.”

I don’t think there is unclearness presented here as an accident.  The symbolic meaning becomes even clearer in Joel Chapter 2:

[28] “And afterward I will pour out My Spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions.

[29] Even upon the manservants and upon the maidservants in those days will I pour out My Spirit.

[30] And I will show signs and wonders in the heavens, and on the earth, blood and fire and columns of smoke.

[31] The sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood BEFORE the great and terrible day of the Lord comes.  [Revelation 6:12-17].

[32] And whoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered and saved, for in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as the Lord has said, and among the remnant [of survivors] shall be those whom the Lord calls.”

~Joel 2:28-32 Amplified Bible~

Crying Out in a Parched and Dry Land…

“And it will come about that whoever calls on the name of the LORD…”

We are asking… the LORD to pour out His spirit on our lives.

We are praying…to the LORD to send His cleansing RAIN, His refreshing RAIN, His life-giving RAIN into our lives and the lives around us.

WE NEED THE RAIN!  A special outpouring of the Holy spirit.

I think we need more than a ‘light sprinkling‘ of God’s Spirit; more than a few “April Showers”–

It’s time for the FLOODGATES OF HEAVEN TO OPEN in our lives–

—  A cleansing touch of the Lord…all 

—  A refreshing touch of the spirit in our souls…

—  A preparation of our hearts and other hearts in planting of eternal seeds…

—  The birth of eternal seeds in our hearts…

—  The growth of the fruit of the Spirit…

—  The ability to experience Abundant New Life…

—  The blessing of having a fruitful life filled with JOY…

In OBEDIENCE to Our Lord and Savior, as Stewards of His Blessings, God Promises Us Even More:

See if I will not throw open the FLOODGATES of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it”               (Malachi 3:10 b. NIV Bible).

Being Filled with JOY
Being Filled with JOY

Some of you who are reading all of this NEED it to RAIN in your personal lives.  Now is the time to CRY OUT…“LET IT RAIN GOD!”

 

FOOTNOTES:

[i]  Young’s Bible Dictionary – G. Douglas Young, PhD Institute of Holy Land Studies, Jerusalem.  [ii] Study Notes from “The Word, The Blessing and The Glory” –  [iii] Michael W. Smith Lyrics with Writers: Carolyn Mitchell, Michael W. Smith, Deborah Smith – Copyright: Sony/ATV Milene Music, Peach Pie Music, WB Music Corp.  [iv] Copyright…Teresa Bess.

PHOTO CREDITS:

Photo Pin and… “Anza-Borrego Desert State Park” at http://desertusa.com/wildflo/ca.absap/html