The disciple John is accredited with the authorship of The Gospel of John and the Book of Revelation and we can clearly see this in both Books. To the Apostle John was given the revelation of the new heaven and the new earth when all wickedness will be destroyed. In the Gospel that John also wrote we find an amazing correlation and prophecy with Messiah’s final words on the cross and His words in His revelation to John at the end of John’s life.In the Gospel of John we read:
John 19:28-30 “After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said in fulfillment of the Scripture, “I am thirsty.” A jar full of sour wine was placed there; so they put a sponge soaked in the sour wine on [a branch of] hyssop and held it to His mouth. When Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And He bowed His head and [voluntarily] gave up His spirit.”
The significance of Messiah saying that He was thirsty and was given sour wine is extraordinary when we see the sour wine in contrast with the living water He gives to His children as eternal life.
The sour wine is a representation of the old life and dying to sin. Messiah carried all of our sins on the cross and paid the ultimate price so that His children may inherit the promise of eternal life with Him. When Messiah said that “It is finished!”, He knew that the will of His Father had been done and that it set in motion the way for His children to receive the living water He offers freely and the promise of His reign as we through His grace can receive eternal life.
Now let us read what was revealed to John in Revelation to see the exact correlation and the remarkable truth found in the Word.
Revelation 21:5-6 “And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also He said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true [they are accurate, incorruptible, and trustworthy].” And He said to me, “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the one who thirsts I will give [water] from the fountain of the water of life without cost.”
This is the confirmation of the significance that took place on the cross as Messiah reveals to John once more that “It is done.” The death of Messiah on the cross showed the promise of the new life we have in Him along with the promise of His future reign and the creation of the new heaven and earth as this life and creation will pass away. As we are new creations in Him, so we also look to the promise when there will be a new creation of this life in eternity with our King.
As Messiah was thirsty on the cross and was given sour wine, He gives to those of us who thirst, living water from His fountain that points to eternal life that can only be found in Him.
Let us receive the living water that our Messiah blesses us with and put our sins to death as we live new lives for Him. We put the old sour wine aside and look ahead to become new creations in Him as we strive to follow Him in our everyday lives, being doers of His Word.
John 4:14 “But whoever drinks the water that I give him will never be thirsty again. But the water that I give him will become in him a spring of water [satisfying his thirst for God] welling up [continually flowing, bubbling within him] to eternal life.”
Be encouraged Brothers and Sisters in knowing that our Messiah loves us as His children and for us to be free is to follow Him and heed His Words as we reject sin and live lives that shows our love for our Messiah as we acknowledge the ultimate sacrifice that He paid for us. Our beloved Messiah freely gave up His perfect life here on earth to those of us not worthy. Through the tragedy of His death on the cross He defeated the enemy and He blessed His children with an inheritance of eternal life in His presence. There truly is no greater love than what Messiah did for us.
Let us not see the end of this life as the end of all things, but rather the beginning of all things new as we look forward in living out eternity with and forever serving in love Yeshua HaMasiach.
Walk in the way Messiah did and love one another as He showed love to us as we seek and look forward to His Kingdom.
Be blessed in Him.
Courtesy of Philia Contributor Daniel Prinsloo
Before Cain killed his innocent Brother Abel he already sinned in his heart and God warned him clearly of this. We also see that Cain did not heed the instructions that God gave to him and Abel and chose to not come under hearing of God’s instructions.
Genesis 4:2-8 “Now Abel kept the flocks [of sheep and goats], but Cain cultivated the ground. And in the course of time Cain brought to the Lord an offering of the fruit of the ground. But Abel brought [an offering of] the [finest] firstborn of his flock and the fat portions. And the Lord had respect (regard) for Abel and for his offering; but for Cain and his offering He had no respect. So Cain became extremely angry (indignant), and he looked annoyed and hostile. And the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you so angry? And why do you look annoyed? If you do well [believing Me and doing what is acceptable and pleasing to Me], will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well [but ignore My instruction], sin crouches at your door; its desire is for you [to overpower you], but you must master it.” Cain talked with Abel his brother [about what God had said]. And when they were [alone, working] in the field, Cain attacked Abel his brother and killed him.”
Temptation clearly leads to sin if we allow it to fester within our hearts, and it becomes an exponential cycle of sin leading to even more sin. Cain started by rebelling against God’s instructions in regards with offerings, and then he grew jealous of his Brother Abel. This led to anger and the murder of Abel. The final insult of Cain’s sin is him lying to God about murdering his brother Abel.
Genesis 4:9-14 “Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” And he [lied and] said, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?” The Lord said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s [innocent] blood is crying out to Me from the ground [for justice]. And now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s [shed] blood from your hand. When you cultivate the ground, it shall no longer yield its strength [it will resist producing good crops] for you; you shall be a fugitive and a vagabond [roaming aimlessly] on the earth [in perpetual exile without a home, a degraded outcast].” Cain said to the Lord, “My punishment is greater than I can bear. Behold, You have driven me out this day from the face of the land; and from Your face (presence) I will be hidden, and I will be a fugitive and an [aimless] vagabond on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.”
Cain’s response to God in saying, “Am I my Brother’s keeper?” is another instruction that Cain disregarded as we are all our Brother’s and Sister’s keepers when we are one in Messiah. We are called to love one another as we love ourselves and be willing to lay our life down for our Brother’s and Sister’s.
The apostle John warned us and referred back that we should not follow in the ways of Cain because he was unrighteous and did not love his Brother.
1 John 3:11-12 “For this is the message which you [believers] have heard from the beginning [of your relationship with Christ], that we should [unselfishly] love and seek the best for one another; and not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother [Abel]. And why did he murder him? Because Cain’s deeds were evil, and his brother’s were righteous.”
Finally we see the rebellious nature of Cain in full description by Jude as he warns us to avoid them because their end destination is that of despair and isolation with God.
Jude 1:8-13 “Nevertheless in the same way, these dreamers [who are dreaming that God will not punish them] also defile the body, and reject [legitimate] authority, and revile and mock angelic majesties. But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil (Satan), and arguing about the body of Moses, did not dare bring an abusive condemnation against him, but [simply] said, “The Lord rebuke you!” But these men sneer at anything which they do not understand; and whatever they do know by [mere] instinct, like unreasoning and irrational beasts—by these things they are destroyed. Woe to them! For they have gone the [defiant] way of Cain, and for profit they have run headlong into the error of Balaam, and perished in the rebellion of [mutinous] Korah. These men are hidden reefs [elements of great danger to others] in your love feasts when they feast together with you without fear, looking after [only] themselves; [they are like] clouds without water, swept along by the winds; autumn trees without fruit, doubly dead, uprooted and lifeless; wild waves of the sea, flinging up their own shame like foam; wandering stars, for whom the gloom of deep darkness has been reserved forever.”
Be encouraged that we are called by God to follow His ways and for us to live by His Holy Word. It’s better that we die as righteous men before God like Abel and be saved, than to live in unrighteousness like Cain and be removed from the love, protection and grace from our Heavenly Father.
Endure and Persevere in this hour and be an encouragement for your fellow Brothers and Sisters in Messiah.
Prayers and blessings in Yeshua’s name,
Courtesy of Philia Contributor Daniel Prinsloo
As we approach the start of the Biblical Fall Feasts I try to understand why Christianity and the Church in general have been reluctant to celebrate the Biblical Feasts, especially regarding the fact that all the Feasts speak about and celebrate our Messiah, Jesus Christ and prophesy about His return and reign as King.Is there the same religious spirit that corrupted the hearts of the Pharisees now present within the leaders of today’s mainstream and commercial churches? Institutions that have gained so much power and control like the Roman Catholic Church that they would rather deny the return of the King than to give up their earthly power and rule.
Is it also this rebellious and prideful spirit that has led Christianity to disregard the Biblical Feasts because it speaks of Messiah’s rule and reign?
Now read the Parable of the Landowner spoken by Messiah.
Matthew 21:33-46 “Listen to another parable. There was a landowner who PLANTED A VINEYARD AND PUT A WALL AROUND IT AND DUG A WINE PRESS IN IT, AND BUILT A TOWER, and rented it out to tenant farmers and went on a journey [to another country]. When the harvest time approached, he sent his servants to the tenants to get his [share of the] fruit. But the tenants took his servants and beat one, and killed another, and stoned a third. Again he sent other servants, more than the first time; and they treated them the same way. Finally he sent his own son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son and have regard for him.’ But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, ‘This [man] is the heir; come on, let us kill him and seize his inheritance.’ So they took the son and threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him. Now when the owner of the vineyard comes back, what will he do to those tenants?” They said to Him, “He will put those despicable men to a miserable end, and rent out the vineyard to other tenants [of good character] who will pay him the proceeds at the proper seasons.”
Jesus asked them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures:
‘THE [very] STONE WHICH THE BUILDERS REJECTED and THREW AWAY, HAS BECOME THE CHIEF CORNERSTONE; THIS IS THE LORD’S DOING, AND IT IS MARVELOUS and WONDERFUL IN OUR EYES’?
Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to [another] people who will produce the fruit of it. And he who falls on this Stone will be broken to pieces; but he on whom it falls will be crushed.”
When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard His parables, they understood that He was talking about them. And although they were trying to arrest Him, they feared the people, because they regarded Jesus as a prophet.” - Amplified Version
For me this parable is playing out before our eyes just as it played out as our Messiah walked on this earth and among His children. The Pharisees and the institutionalized religion of the time rejected Messiah because of their own pride and not wanting to relinquish what they perceived as rule and power over God’s children. We see the same disregard within some organized and institutionalized churches today that have mistreated believers and gathered riches and power for themselves. They have misused the stewardship that was their responsibility and inheritance just as the Pharisees did. They would yet again deny Messiah and deny the return of the King in order to hold onto the earthly kingdom they believe they have created for themselves. However we know that Messiah’s eminent return will bring forth His Kingdom and His sovereign reign will be established over all the earth and no earthly machination can stop His return as His children know the time is soon approaching. Is Messiah also saying that the church disregarded a kingdom because of their disobedience, just as the Pharisees gave away their priestly inheritance?
Now lastly read what the Apostle Paul writes and how he in fact encourages us to not let others judge us for wanting to keep and hold fast to the Sabbath and Abba Father’s Festivals.
Colossians 2:16-17 “Therefore let no one judge you in regard to food and drink or in regard to [the observance of] a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day. Such things are only a shadow of what is to come and they have only symbolic value; but the substance [the reality of what is foreshadowed] belongs to Christ."
I pray you are blessed and encouraged to seek the Word of our Heavenly Father and be motivated daily to follow the ways and come under hearing to the ways of our Messiah, Jesus Christ, Yeshua HaMasiach. Let us be blessed in celebrating with pure and humble hearts the Biblical Fall Feasts that point to our Messiah’s eminent return.
Shalom Brothers and Sisters
Courtesy of Philia Contributor Daniel Prinsloo
“God Blessed them, saying, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let the birds multiply on the earth.”
-Genesis 1:22 NASB
Bless. To be Blessed. This is a term that we often use as believers. It is a term that rolls from our speech very easily in our worship services and conversations. It is a term that we are comfortable repeating because it sounds ‘churchy.’ It has become a religious word. It is a word that is decorative and adds flavor to our speech. Much like an accessory on an outfit, the word bless is a point of emphasis. When we offer a blessing, we appear to be offering some sort of supernatural well wish upon the circumstances of that utterance of blessing. It is a term that we seem to use in all parts of speech. It can be a verb; a noun and it can even be used as a descriptor to modify the subject of our speech. It is a term that is used as a greeting as well as a send-off. As a greeting, ‘what a blessing it is to see you!’ As a send-off or a closing to a conversation, ‘God Bless or Blessings!’ As a descriptor ‘what a blessed morning!’ With the veracity of our use of the word, it sparked my interest in learning what this word actually means. As I stated before, we use the term in all sorts of ways. I feel that if we use the term, it is appropriate that we understand what we are saying when the term is used.
In this chapter, I am going to examine the word blessed as it is used Biblically. To begin, let’s look at the dictionary to see if we are able to discern an accurate definition. Dictionary.com lists the word ‘bless’ as a verb. They offer three definitions as
1. To consecrate or sanctify by a religious rite; make or pronounce holy.
2. To request of God that bestowal of divine favor on: Bless this house.
3. To bestow good of any kind upon: a nation blessed with peace.
While these definitions are not completely inaccurate, the intent of the word ‘bless’ is misrepresented. These definitions, as I have found, do not fully communicate the intent of the word.
As we often do as humans, we make everything about us. We use the bless, as implied in the dictionary definition, in an attempt to benefit from or receive some sort of personal gain. In this usage of bless, we seek God to provide for us by alleviating or adding something to our requests. We use the word bless as an impartation of well-wishes upon something. If we ask the Father to bless someone, we are, according to our dictionary definition, asking the Lord to act in goodness toward that person. Using the word this way is not wrong, but this interpretation of the word bless is not wholly accurate. It is limited in the true scope of the word. The fault, in our interpretation of bless, lies in the focus or benefactor of the use of the word. Like I said earlier, we use the term bless as a means to a personal end, in many ways. If we look at scripture, which is probably where we should look initially to gain understanding of spiritual matters, we find the first use of the term ‘blessed’ in Genesis 1:22, as written at the opening of this chapter. Verse twenty-two of Genesis one describes God’s actions toward the animals of the sea and air He created on day four of the creation week.
The Word says that God filled the waters with “swarms of living creatures” and He made birds to fly above the earth. God looked upon His creation and He saw that it was good. Verse twenty-two reads: “God blessed them, saying, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” It is interesting to note that the blessing was not in the fact that God instructed His creation to “be fruitful and multiply.” The blessing, by God, actually came before what we mistakenly consider to be the blessing. In human terms, the instruction of “be fruitful and multiply” seems to be the blessing. God imparted the animals with the ability to be well and to propagate. But this is not the blessing, this is an instruction from God. As the animals complied with God, they functioned within the instruction. This same language is also found in the account of the creation of man on day six.
“Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps o the earth. God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. God blessed them; and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on earth.’”
We have been created in the image of God. We are His image bearers, meaning that we are imparted with His attributes. We have the ability to carry the attributes of God as a witness to our culture. God gave Adam the authority to have dominion over the things that were created. The task assigned to Adam was to expand the Kingdom of God, the Garden, into the rest of the earth. Adam was to be a human representative of God’s grace and authority. As descendants of Adam, and as image bearers of the King, we too are charged with being a witness to righteousness as we walk this world. We are to build His Kingdom.
Now, in a casual reading of the text in Genesis, it is easy to claim that the authority that God gave to Adam was the blessing. We often misinterpret that God blessed Adam and Eve by giving them the ability to be “fruitful and multiply,” but as we will come to see, this was not the blessing. The blessing, in Genesis 1:26 came before God gave them instruction to be fruitful. The ability to be “fruitful and multiply” was given as instruction delineating the task set before Adam and Eve. Again, when Adam walked in obedience to God, he was walking in God’s instruction. Like Adam, we also have been given the instruction to be fruitful and build the Kingdom. We are instructed by God to work (1 Thess. 4:10-12) so that we are not dependent on anyone. Our independence gives us the freedom to be generous and share with those in need. As believers, we are also called to build His kingdom, to multiply. The great commission, given by our Savior, instructs us to take the message of repentance and salvation to the world
(Matthew 28: 16-10). In our work and witness, we follow God’s instruction. We are obeying the instruction that was given to Adam, but this is not the blessing. Remember, the dictionary definition of bless is to request or bestow. If we apply this understanding to the term bless, it does not make sense for God to request that He bless. Why would God have to request that He bestow a blessing upon that which He created? God does not need to request of God to impart divine favor, He is God. He is the divine favor! Our interpretations are often inaccurate. Like we often do, as humans, we twist everything to be about us and what we can gain. We perceive a blessing as a request lifted up to God and then God acting on our behalf to bestow us with and answer to that request. In the text from Genesis, we misunderstand that the blessing of God was that Adam was given the ability to accomplish the task set before him. Like Adam, we too have the ability to accomplish what has been set before us, but in our ability is not the blessing. In our determination to follow the instructions of God, we are acting in compliance with His image. In our work, we are bearing His image. As He is the Creator and Sustainer, we too have the ability to create peace, joy and hope as well as to sustain and provide for others. Life and death are in the power of the tongue (Proverbs 18:21). We have the ability to speak life or death into someone or into a situation. We have the ability to uplift and encourage or to demean and destroy. In this, we function, in a limited way, as God’s image bearers. Our authority to speak life into this world is in accordance with instruction given by God, but this is not the blessing. To truly understand the concept of blessing, we have to look at the original language. The first scriptural appearance of the word bless is found in the text I shared at the opening of this writing. “God Blessed them, saying, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let the birds multiply on the earth (Genesis 1:22 NASB).” The Hebrew word used here in this first appearance of the word bless is: בָּרַךְ (barak). This word appears over 300 times in the Hebrew (Old Testament) scriptures.
Before I get into the Hebraic definition of the word בָּרַךְ , (barak, bless), I want to talk briefly about the hermeneutical concept of “the law of first mention.” Hermeneutics is the theological word for Biblical interpretation. There are a number of hermeneutical principals that are used in the process of interpreting scripture. The “law of first mention” is “the principal that requires one to go to that portion of the Scriptures where a doctrine is mentioned for the first time and study the first occurrence of the same in order to get the fundamental inherent meaning of that doctrine.”1 In other words, we are to place an emphasis on the accuracy and intent of the use of a Biblical concept upon its first appearance in the Bible. It is beneficial to look at how a particular Biblical concept was used in its first appearance. That 1 Cooper, David PhD. Hermeneutics: the Science of Interpreting Scriptures, messianicassociation.org. accessed on 8/9/18. Initial context of the concept or word will be carried throughout the remainder of Scripture. We are to understand the “law of first mention” as that when God first reveals a truth, the foundation for that truth has been determined and defined by God. As we interpret Biblical truth, we are to base our interpretations upon that original intent of the concept. If our interpretations do not fall into compliance with God’s original intent for a word, then we are in error in our usage and understanding of that concept. God determines truth, we do not.
The Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon defines the word בָּרַךְ , (barak,
bless), in this way:
1. Kneel down
The Lexicon goes on to define the word bless according to various parts of speech and contextual usage based on tense, but the definitions all revolve around the concept of kneeling. When I first saw the actual meaning of this word, I was shocked. In my mind, I tried to incorporate God’s intent for this word with the way that we actually use the word in our speech. How do we reconcile the word bless with how we use the term?
There are two aspects of the term bless that we have to come to know in our attempt to fully understand the meaning of this word. Let me start by defining our ability and obligation to bless God. I will list just a few verses that speak of blessing God. This is not an exhaustive list, I am only pointing out a few to add clarity to our understanding of the word bless. All verses are taken from the NASB.
“Come and see the works of God, Who is awesome in His deeds towards the sons of men. He turned the sea to dry land; they passed through the river on foot; there let us rejoice in Him! He rules by His might forever; His eyes keep watch on the nations; Let not the rebellious exalt themselves, Selah. Bless our God, O peoples, and sound His praise abroad, who keeps us in life and does not allow our feet to slip (Psa. 66: 5-9).”
“A psalm of David. Bless the Lord, O my souls, and all that is within me, bless His holy name (Psa. 103: 1).”
“A Song of Ascents. Behold, bless the Lord, all servants of the Lord, who serve by night in the house of the Lord! Lift up your hands to the sanctuary and bless the Lord (Psa. 134: 1- 2).”
“Jethro rejoiced over all the goodness which the Lord had done in Israel, in delivering them from the hand of the Egyptians. So Jethro said, ‘Blessed be the Lord who delivered you from the hand of the Egyptians and from the hand of Pharaoh, and who delivered the people from under the hand of the Egyptians. Now I know the Lord is greater than all the gods; indeed, it was proven when they dealt proudly against the people (Ex. 18: 9-11).”
“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for HE has visited us and accomplished redemption for His people, and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of David His servant- as He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from of old- Salvation from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us; to show mercy toward our fathers, and to remember His holy covenant, the oath which He swore to Abraham our father, to grant us that we, being rescued from the hand of our enemies, Might serve Him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before Him all our days (Luke 1: 68- 75).”
In all of the verses listed, there is a recognition of the awesome authority and dominion of God. In recognizing the attributes of God, a sense of awe overshadows the speakers in the listed verses and they are compelled to revel in the mighty works of our Creator. The verses point to God’s deliverance, provision and diligent, unshakeable will to be true to the covenant He makes with His people. Because of the overwhelming weight of God’s glory that fell upon the speakers in the listed verses, they were compelled to pay homage and bless God. From this short sampling of verses that speak of blessing God, we can gather that it is appropriate and vital that we recognize what the Lord has done for us. It is essential that we recount the innumerable times that the Lord has delivered us from that which seeks to destroy us. As believers, it is imperative that we recognize that God will not forget nor nullify His covenant. In this recognition, the Name of our almighty Father is lifted up above all else. He is exalted and given His rightful place of honor. To bless God then, is to stop and to kneel before our mighty provider, to kneel before our Savior and Redeemer, to kneel in splendor of His immaculate glory. In blessing God, we set ourselves aside and honor Him. To bless is to kneel before our mighty King! This is one aspect of the fullness of the word bless. Looking back to our dictionary definition, we see that this understanding of requesting or bestowing favor does not quite fit into the Biblical model. I do not think it is wrong to use the word bless in the typical ways that we do in our speech. But I think it is beneficial to remember what we are actually saying when we use the word. Our act of blessing God, is in a recognition of who God is and what He does for His people. We should try our very best not to relegate the word bless to a simple nonchalant term in our everyday speech. To bless is to worship our Hope. Be diligent, my friends, in remembering that we are heirs of an eternal promise and take hold of the enduring hope set before us (Hebrews 6: 17-20). As we can see to bless God, is to kneel before His authority and revere His Name, but what of the fact that God also blesses us? In the Biblical definition of blessing, should we suggest that the Almighty bow before us? Should we suggest that God, Himself kneel before His creation? No, not at all. He is the Creator and the King. He bows before no one, but the concept of kneeling still applies to the blessings of God. Let me explain by citing the Aaronic Blessing. Aaron was the brother of Moses. In the book of Exodus, God calls Aaron and his sons to become priests ministering to the Lord. This was the establishment of the Aaronic priesthood, the Cohanim, that ministered to God, the Father, through the Tabernacle and Temple periods of Jewish history. God gave Moses and Aaron instruction on reciting this Priestly/ Aaronic blessing in the book of Numbers chapter 6 verses 22 through 27. This blessing was to be spoken over the Israelites in order that the Name of the Father be upon them. In English, the blessing reads in this way: “The Lord Bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn His face toward you and give you peace.” God, the Father, instructed Aaron to pronounce a blessing over the people. The blessing was a request that the Lord look upon the people. God’s instruction to Aaron was that Aaron speak God’s presence over the people. In other words, Aaron was to ask that God pay attention to the people. This is how we are to view the blessing of God in that Biblical framework of kneeling. Not that God kneel before us, but that He turn His face toward us, offering us His recognition. Is this interpretation consistent with other accounts in scripture? Let’s take a look at a few verses to clarify the point. “Make Your face to shine upon Your servant; save me in Your lovingkindness (Psalm 31: 16 NASB).”
“O God, restore us and cause Your face to shine upon us, and we will be saved (Psalm 80:3 NASB).”
“Make Your face shine upon Your servant, and teach me Your statues (Psalm 119:135 NASB).”
We see requests lifted up before God of salvation, provision and instruction. The blessing of God comes when He turns toward us. He blesses us by recognizing our call and looking upon us as His children. In requesting of God to receive a blessing, we are not suggesting that God kneel before us, but that God hear and pay attention to our voice. We are asking God to shine upon us His face of love and peace and console us in His presence.
A blessing of God is knowing that He is in control (Psalm 90:2, Colossians 1:17) and that we are in His hands (Isaiah 41:10, John 10:28-30).
In view of the Biblical definition of the word bless, we have an obligation to bless God.
We have an obligation to kneel before our Father and King offering Him praise. Our act of kneeling before the Father, will express our allegiance to His will on earth as well as in the heavenly realms. In our blessing of God, we lift His Name above all names, declaring Him as King!
In blessing God, kneeling before Him, it will cause Him to see our obedience. He will remember our submission to Him and He will in turn hear our call. He will turn His face toward us, He will bless us with His countenance and offer us the peace of His presence. James sums up this mutual act of blessing when he writes: “Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you (James 4:10 NASB).” If we cry out to God for a blessing, we must first fall to our knees in recognition of His authority. In our submission, He will lift us up.
“God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. God blessed them; and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on earth (Genesis 1:27-28 NASB).’”
God created us. He looks upon us and He blesses us with His presence. Because He looks upon us, we have the authority to take dominion of this world, suppressing evil, and declaring the true and rightful Kingship of our Lord!
Courtesy of Philia Contributor Corby Shuey @ Becoming Bereans
n 2 Kings 20:1-11 and 2 Chronicles 32:24-26 we find the extraordinary account of king Hezekiah, a righteous and honorable king of Judea who became ill and was told by the prophet Isaiah that he would die from his illness. Hezekiah wept and prayed to God and three days later he was healed and fifteen years added to his life and reign as king over Judea. (Also read Isaiah 38)2 Kings 20:1-7 “In those days [when Sennacherib first invaded Judah] Hezekiah became deathly ill. The prophet Isaiah the son of Amoz came and said to him, “Thus says the Lord, ‘Set your house in order, for you shall die and not recover.’” Then Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord, saying, “Please, O Lord, remember now [with compassion] how I have walked before You in faithfulness and truth and with a whole heart [entirely devoted to You], and have done what is good in Your sight.” And Hezekiah wept bitterly. Before Isaiah had gone out of the middle courtyard, the word of the Lord came to him, saying, “Go back and tell Hezekiah the leader of My people, ‘Thus says the Lord, the God of David your father (ancestor): “I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears. Behold, I am healing you; on the third day you shall go up to the house of the Lord. I will add fifteen years to your life and save you and this city [Jerusalem] from the hand of the king of Assyria; and I will protect this city for My own sake and for My servant David’s sake.” Then Isaiah said, “Bring a cake of figs. And they brought it and placed it on the [painful] inflammation, and he recovered.”2 Chronicles 32:24-25 “In those days Hezekiah became terminally ill; and he prayed to the Lord, and He answered him and gave him a [miraculous] sign. But Hezekiah did nothing [for the Lord] in return for the benefit bestowed on him, because his heart had become proud; therefore God’s wrath came on him and on Judah and Jerusalem.”
The miraculous healing of king Hezekiah led him to become prideful and during the fifteen year extension of life that God blessed him with, Hezekiah was instrumental in two key events that would lead to the ruin and captivity of Judea. Hence the will of one man changed the livelihoods of an entire nation.
Hezekiah’s pride led him to invite ambassadors from Babylon to view all the treasures of Judea. This led the Babylonians to see Judea as a future conquest that would leave Jerusalem in ruins and led its people being taking as captives to Babylon.
2 Kings 20:12-19 “At that time Berodach-baladan a son of Baladan, king of Babylon, sent letters and a gift to Hezekiah, for he had heard that Hezekiah had been sick. Hezekiah listened to and welcomed them and [foolishly] showed them all his treasure house—the silver and gold and spices and precious oil and his armory and everything that was found in his treasuries. There was nothing in his house (palace) nor in all his realm that Hezekiah did not show them. Then Isaiah the prophet came to King Hezekiah and said to him, “What did these men say [that would cause you to do this for them]? From where have they come to you?” Hezekiah said, “They have come from a far country, from Babylon.” Isaiah said, “What have they seen in your house?” Hezekiah answered, “They have seen everything that is in my house (palace). There is nothing in my treasuries that I have not shown them.” Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, “Hear the word of the Lord. ‘Behold, the time is coming when everything that is in your house, and that your fathers have stored up until this day, will be carried to Babylon; nothing will be left,’ says the Lord. ‘And some of your sons (descendants) who will be born to you will be taken away [as captives]; and they will become eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.’” Then Hezekiah said to Isaiah, “The word of the Lord which you have spoken is good.” For he thought, “Is it not good, if [at least] there will be peace and security in my lifetime?”
The second calamity for Judea and Jerusalem because of Hezekiah’s extended life and pride was that he fathered a son, king Manasseh during this fifteen year time period which God granted him. Manasseh would become one of Israel’s most brutal and godless kings.
2 Kings 21:1-16 “Manasseh was twelve years old when he became king, and he reigned for fifty-five years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Hephzibah. He did [great] evil in the sight of the Lord, in accordance with the [idolatrous] repulsive acts of the [pagan] nations whom the Lord dispossessed before the sons (descendants) of Israel. For he rebuilt the high places [for the worship of pagan gods] which his father Hezekiah had destroyed; and he set up altars for Baal and made an [image of] Asherah, just as Ahab king of Israel had done, and he worshiped all the [starry] host of heaven and served them. And he built [pagan] altars in the house (temple) of the Lord, of which the Lord had said, “In Jerusalem I will put My Name (Presence).” And he built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courtyards of the house of the Lord. He made his son pass through the fire and burned him [as an offering to Molech]; he practiced witchcraft and divination, and dealt with mediums and soothsayers. He did great evil in the sight of the Lord, provoking Him to anger. He made a carved image of the [goddess] Asherah and set it up in the house (temple), of which the Lord said to David and to his son Solomon, “In this house and in Jerusalem [in the tribe of Judah], which I have chosen from all the tribes of Israel, I will put My Name forever. And I will not make the feet of Israel wander anymore from the land which I gave their fathers, if only they will be careful to act in accordance with everything that I have commanded them, and with all the law that My servant Moses commanded them.” But they did not listen; and Manasseh seduced them to do more evil than the nations whom the Lord destroyed before the sons (descendants) of Israel. Now the Lord spoke through His servants the prophets, saying, “Because Manasseh king of Judah has committed these repulsive acts, having done more evil than all the Amorites did who were before him, and has also made Judah sin with his idols; therefore thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: ‘Behold, I am bringing such catastrophe on Jerusalem and Judah, that everyone who hears of it, both of his ears will ring [from the shock]. I will stretch over Jerusalem the measuring line of Samaria and the plummet of the house of Ahab; and I will wipe Jerusalem clean just as one wipes a [dirty] bowl clean, wiping it and turning it upside down. I will abandon the remnant (remainder) of My inheritance and hand them over to their enemies; and they will become plunder and spoil to all their enemies, because they have done evil in My sight, and have been provoking Me to anger, since the day their fathers came from Egypt to this day.’”Moreover, Manasseh shed a very great quantity of innocent blood, until he had filled Jerusalem from one end to another; besides his sin with which he made Judah sin, by doing evil in the sight of the Lord.”
The Biblical and historical account of king Hezekiah serves as a warning that we should always seek Abba Father’s will and be content with His sovereignty. Submitting to His will cultivates humility as in contrast seeking the will of men leads to pride.
The most perfect example of submitting to the will of the Father is found in the words spoken and the deeds done by our Messiah.
Matthew 26:39 “And after going a little farther, He fell face down and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it is possible [that is, consistent with Your will], let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.”
Mark 14:35-36 “After going a little farther, He fell to the ground [distressed by the weight of His spiritual burden] and began to pray that if it were possible [in the Father’s will], the hour [of suffering and death for the sins of mankind] might pass from Him. He was saying, “Abba, Father! All things are possible for You; take this cup [of judgment] away from Me; but not what I will, but what You will.”
Luke 22:41-42 “And He withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup [of divine wrath] from Me; yet not My will, but [always] Yours be done.”
We see the will granted to an earthly king and it led to ruin. Then we see the gracious humility and servitude of our Messiah who submitted Himself to the will of the Father that led to the penalty of sin and death being carried out by the one and only true heavenly King as a sacrifice for His children and for their salvation. There is no greater example of humility and servitude to see our beloved Messiah and God laying down His life for His children.
Let us always pray and live in the manner that Yeshua taught us. Let us truly follow Him in our daily lives.
Matthew 6:9-13“Pray, then, in this way:
‘Our Father, who is in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
‘Your kingdom come,
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.
‘Give us this day our daily bread.
‘And forgive us our debts, as we have forgiven our debtors[letting go of both the wrong and the resentment].
‘And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. [For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.]’
I pray this devotional is a blessing as we diligently seek to do Abba Father’s will in everything we do.
Shalom Brothers and Sisters!
Courtesy of Philia Contributor Daniel Prinsloo
“The people who walk in darkness will see a great light; those who live in a dark land, the light will shine on them. You shall multiply the nation, You shall increase their gladness; they will be glad in Your presence as with the gladness of harvest, as men rejoice when they divide the spoil. For You shall break the yoke of their burden and the staff on their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor, as the battle of Midian. For every boot of the booted warrior in the battle tumult, and cloak rolled in blood, will be for burning, fuel for the fire. For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. There will be no end to the increase of His government or peace, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness from then on and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will accomplish this (Isaiah 9: 2-7 NASB).”
“For a child will be born, a son will be given,” a child has come and a son has been given. He has come born of innocence in a land teeming with the stench of pride and death. His innocence the only sacrifice able to redeem fallen man. He was given, a Son. The precious Son of Almighty God, blameless. He was given, a Son, to pay the penalty that belongs to each one of us. He knew this before He came. He knew the suffering that was set before Him (Hebrews 12:1-3). He came, enduring the cross for the resurrection of the joy that which has been set before Him. That joy, us, His children. He endured shame and torment to be called Wonderful, Counselor, Prince of Peace, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Messiah, Jesus our Salvation.
Isaiah, in the verses above, recounts the hope of His light which will be poured out upon the earth. Isaiah writes as an encouragement to those who are in the midst of darkness. He writes to offer strength in the truth of an eternal King! Isaiah compares the hope that we all have in our King to the hope that Gideon found in the battle against the Midianites. Gideon was a reluctant hero. He was hiding in the winepress threshing wheat to avoid being noticed by his enemy the Midianites (Judges 6:11). Nonetheless, God chose Gideon to accomplish the task of delivering Israel from the oppression of the Midianite and Amalekite attackers. In what should have been an overwhelming defeat, God used just 300 men to overcome an army that was described as being as “numerous as locusts (Judges 7:12).” Even in what should have been certain destruction, God overcame the enemy because of the obedience of Gideon and the 300 with him. It was the Lord Almighty who broke the rod of Midian. God, Himself, delivered Israel in the face of overwhelming odds because there were a few who were willing to carry the light of the Almighty. God instructed Gideon and the others to carry pitchers and place torches inside of the pitchers. When the time was right, they were to blow the trumpets and then smash the pitchers revealing the torches hidden inside. This display struck so much fear into the hearts of the enemy that they actually started to fight one another (Judges 7: 22-25). Gideon overcame the enemy by the provision of the LORD. The Most High God brought victory because there were those who chose to hold up the light of His deliverance.
My friends, take heart in this familiar message; for it is a message that continues to speak. It is a message of great encouragement for those of us who call upon the true name of Salvation. We live in a world that grows dark. It is not difficult to see the many things of the enemy that plague our world. War, famine, sexual perversion and unrelenting pride pervades the landscape. The enemy crouches around every corner waiting to strike and bring down the hope that is within us. Just like the armies of Midian and Amalek, our enemy seems to be “as numerous as locusts or as sand on the seashore (Judges 7:12).” The influence of evil seems to be without end and the darkness overwhelming.
Many believers, feel the oppression. They feel the weight of the battle and the strength of the forces that stand against the throne of the true King. The view of many believers is one of pessimism. They view the fate of the true church, the true assembly of believers, as one of doom. They fear the church is coming to an end. They fear that the witness of God is fading within the earth. They sense that His influence is but a shadow, a whimper of the once glorious truth that fell upon those who were filled by His Holy Spirit in the book of Acts. We long for a revival, but in pessimism we cower in our winepresses. We thresh our wheat in secrecy to avoid the notice of the enemy. The gloom of oppression is an overwhelming weight that relegates us to silence and fear.
Tribulation. The word tribulation comes from the Greek word (Θλιψις), phonetically pronounced thlipsis. A literal definition of this word means pressing, pressing together, pressure. A figurative definition is anguish, burden, trouble. Our Messiah warns us that in this world we will have tribulation. He says to those who were with Him as they walked to Gethsemane after the Last Supper, “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world (John 16:33 NASB).” The Lord offers encouragement and hope in that we will face tribulation, but in Him, and only in Him, will we find peace. He can offer this peace because He has overcome the world. It is interesting to note that Yeshua, Jesus, states that He has overcome the world before His death and resurrection. Our Messiah entered this world as a child, given, to overcome through His obedience and diligent walk according to the Father’s will. Jesus was given to shed His blood for us on the cross, but He was also born into victory as the overcomer, the Redeemer of the lost. As Yeshua walked the earth, He knew the victory. Our Messiah also gives us a warning in the book of Matthew. The disciples were asking Him about signs of His return at the end of the age (Matthew 24:3). Jesus recounts events that will increase before His return in the end. He states that there will be war, rumors of war, famines and earthquakes. He explains that these things are like birth pangs before the return (Matthew 24: 6-8). Our Savior then states that during these dark days, believers in Messiah will be delivered over to tribulation. He uses the same Greek word thlipsis when describing this event. He warns the disciples that they will suffer tribulation, pressure, because of Him. They will be hated and some will even be delivered over to suffer death because of His Name, Salvation.
The most disturbing aspect of this warning given of the end days is found in verses ten through twelve. Jesus states, “At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another. Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold (Matthew 24: 10-12 NASB).” How true this is in our day! So many are falling away because of strife and discord in the body. We are so easily offended. We lash out at one another in anger, rather than embracing one another in an attempt to lift each other up in love. Lawlessness has increased and we can feel it within our hearts. Within ourselves we feel unsettled and on edge. Because of this internal recognition of strife in the world, we lash out at one another. This is a strategy of the lawless one to cause division in the body. The enemy knows that a house divided cannot stand (Luke 11:7). Our common enemy seeks to divide in order to conquer.
It is imperative that we recognize this as a strategy of the enemy. It is vital that we acknowledge the discord within us; the sense that at any moment disaster can strike. We need to embrace this sensation and allow it to guide our speech and actions. Knowing that the enemy works to cause dissention in the body, we should seek ever more diligently to remain united in the truth of Messiah and His return. He spoke one message, “Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand (Matthew 3:2).” In this hour, we should seek repentance and return to the purity of our faith. We can use the attacks of the enemy as a weapon to increase our own faith and to band together as His body. Isaiah writes, “’No weapon formed against you will prosper; and every tongue that accuses you in judgement you will condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their vindication is from Me’, declares the Lord (Isaiah 54:7 NASB).” It is within the authority of His people to use that which comes against us as a weapon to strike back and repel the enemy. The beauty of what Isaiah writes is that it is our heritage as servants of the Lord to have victory. Our lineage as His children is that we have the dominion to overcome. We are children of a KING! The enemy has been defeated; it is our duty to stop allowing him to have victory. Glory to God the Father!
There is one more truth I want to draw out of verse nine in Mathew chapter 24. Remember our Messiah says that because of Him we will face tribulation. Again, a literal translation of the word, thlipsis (tribulation), is pressure. We can easily grasp that as the days draw dark, there will be pressure that falls upon believers. The system that is against the One True God will increase the pressure as the end crests the horizon. I am sure that the pressure, the tribulation, will feel overwhelming at times. But take heart in this truth. If we inflate a ball, there is both pressure on the outside and the inside. The pressure experienced on the outside of the ball presses against the surface, much like the pressure spoken of by our Messiah. Though pressure is expressed against the external surface of the ball, the ball remains inflated because of the internal pressure. The hope is that as believers, we have the authority to stand firmly on His Word to demonstrate pressure against the whims of our enemy. We do not have to cave to the pressure because we have the promise of His Spirit dwelling within us to push back just as hard, if not harder, than anything that comes against us. Please remember this truth. “Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the Lord your God is the One who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you (Deuteronomy 31: 6 NASB).” His command: be strong, courageous and do not tremble because He goes with us and He will never fail us. Keep this thought of pressure in the back of your mind for a moment. I am going to move to another truth and then we will get back to our discussion of pressure and how it will play out as we prepare for His return.
To quickly summarize the events detailed by Yeshua from verse 9 in Matthew 24 up to verse 20, we see a description of tribulation that will befall the people who call upon His name and are alive during the period of time when the antichrist is beginning to be revealed. The tribulation spoken of is anguish felt by the people. The cause of the anguish is found at the hands of the world system that is allowing the antichrist to rise to power. In the words of Jesus, this is the tribulation. Now, looking at Matt. 24:21, we see a descriptor added to the word tribulation. Jesus begins to talk about a “great tribulation.” He describes this time as seemingly unbearable. The hope He gives is that the Father will cut the days short. The Messiah explains a little about what this time may be like, but it still remains a little unclear. Many scholars teach that when Jesus transitions from talking about tribulation to talking about the great tribulation, the recipients of the tribulation changes. Many scholars suggest that the initial tribulation can be compared to events described in Revelation chapter six. In this chapter, the seven seals are opened by Yeshua revealing the adversity that will befall the earth. In chapter six, we see the various riders inflicting destruction and torment across the world. We see the horsemen of the antichrist system, of war, famine, and death. The enemy is working to bring destruction to the people of God. This is the tribulation inflicted upon believers by the hand of the enemy. At the end of chapter six, we begin to see a great convulsion, a shaking upon the earth. The sun is darkened, the heavens are rolled up, the mountains and the islands are removed. We see the heavens begin to blow the trumpets and the bowls of God’s wrath are poured out against those with the audacity to stand in opposition to the Almighty. We begin to see the universe attempting to cope with the return of the victorious and conquering King!
The great tribulation, spoken of by Jesus, is compared to the sounding of the trumpets and the bowls of God’s wrath. We begin to see the Almighty unleash His judgement. The trumpets sound which causes hail, fire and blood fall to the earth. The bowls of wrath are poured out, as God makes war with lucifer. The great tribulation is the acts of God against the forces that are trying to separate Him from His children. This will be the Father’s acts of tribulation against the enemy. It is this time that Jesus declares to be of such wrath that it has never happened “since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will (Matthew 24: 21 NASB).” The greatest tribulation, pressure, will be felt on the back of those who seek to drive the sheep away from the shepherd.
Pressure. We can clearly see that the pressure from the enemy will increase before the Father moves to realign the world according to His design. I offer a word of encouragement in light of distress; for those who feel pessimistic about the state of His witness on the earth. For those who feel that His church, His assembly, His people are dwindling into obscurity. I offer this encouragement first in the form of a question. Think on this question before you read on. In a war, why would the enemy expend valuable effort and resources to increase the attack?
The only logical answer for an enemy to increase the attack by expending resources and effort is because those whom he fights grow in strength. An increased attack only means that the battle is becoming more difficult for the enemy. My friends, hope in the strength of Messiah because He fights for us. Our enemy is limited. he is not self-sufficient, omniscient or all powerful. If he chooses to increase the pressure against those who claim Messiah as their Lord, it only means that we, believers, are growing in strength. The challenge to deceive the true believers is becoming more difficult. The ease at which our enemy was once about to exert his will upon us is turning to agitation as he loses his influence against us. Deceptions are being revealed, the enemies plan is being laid out before us and the true people of God are waking to stand in authority and dominion as servants of the King. The army of God grows in authority! Take heart that only He offers victory! Stand in the authority given to you by the Risen Savior, for He has overcome. “You whom I have taken from the ends of the earth and called from its remotest parts and said to you, ‘You are my servant, I have chosen you and not rejected you. Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous hand (Isaiah 41: 9- 11 NASB).”
“The people who walk in darkness will see a great light; those who live in a dark land, the light will shine on them (Isaiah 9:2 NASB).” My friends, though the enemy encamps around us, the pressure will increase. The increase will be the pressure to push back against the enemy of man and God. Like a matchlight at midnight, those who place their faith in Messiah will shine brightly in the dark as a beacon for the lost. This is the hope that we are entering into as we see the world grow dark. The hope of His people is that we have the eternal Light of His Salvation emblazoned within us. This Light is brilliant. The darker the world becomes will result only in the increased intensity of this Light. No one can extinguish this Light. No enemy has the ability to remove the Light. Hope in this Light because this Light will pierce the darkness. This Light will push back the enemy as darkness has no authority over light. Darkness will not and cannot permeate the Light. Darkness cannot repel the Light; only the Light wields the authority. In the darkest hour, the brilliance of the Light of His Spirit will shine forth from His people drawing the lost to redemption.
This is our hope in tribulation. We will yet be brilliant as His servants to lead those who are lost to receive Life abundantly. In the words of Messiah, “Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, ‘If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me’, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water (John 7: 37- 38 NASB).’” Beloved, believe that He will accomplish His will for the good of His Name. Raise your torch, like the warriors with Gideon, and cast a piercing light upon the valley of deception. The hatred of the enemy will shrink away at the power of His glorious Light.
“For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. There will be no end to the increase of His government or peace, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness from then on and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will accomplish this (Isaiah 9: 6-7 NASB)."
The Child has come; the Son has been given. He sits in the throne room of God and awaits His return. He will ride in clouds descending upon this earth to establish His everlasting government. The very ground will split at the weight of His heel (Zechariah 14: 4). Rejoice, Be Glad! The Father will uphold these promises because of His zeal and for the sake of His Name!
TODAY'S TEACHING from Philia Contributor Corby Shuey @ www.becomingbereans.com
Scripture Reference: Matthew 7:24-25
“Therefore, everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against the house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell- and great was the fall. (Matthew 7: 24-25 NASB).”
The words of our Messiah meant as both an encouragement and a warning.
His words an encouragement to those who proclaim Jesus as their Lord. Believers in Messiah are those who have built their lives upon the Rock, the very Word of God. This Rock will never crumble and our faith in this Rock will be the fortification that will enable us to stand in the midst of tribulation.
The words of Messiah, as a warning to those who reject Him. He warns those who deny His majesty that they will meet hardship. They have chosen to build their houses upon the sand. The sand representing the ever changing promises and lies of mankind. Confusion and discord taint the words of those who deny the Messiah. The words of mankind, just like the sand, can be easily manipulated by external forces. Our words can be tossed to and fro, just like sand, by the torrent of the sea. The sand provides no firm foundation on which to build.
Jesus warns those who refuse to acknowledge Him, to consider what they are willing to endure. He promises that He will return and He will establish His throne (Zechariah 14:9, 2 Peter 3:10, Mathew 24:44). Every knee will bow and every tongue will confess (Romans 14:11, Philippians 2:9-11). In this hour, Jesus is giving us the opportunity to pay Him honor out of our love. The time is coming when those who reject Him, will give Him honor out of recognition. They will recognize the gift that they denied and they will bow in fear of and angry God with whom they have caused wrath to increase (Revelation 22).
I believe we can all understand the teaching Jesus offers as recorded in these verses by Matthew. Jesus did not mince words or speak incoherently. The parable that Jesus develops is spoken in clarity. Often as we read this parable, we focus on the foundation. We consider only the substance that the foundation of the two houses are built upon. This interpretation is correct and sufficient to give us instruction. We are getting what Jesus is preaching. But I believe we can go a little deeper.
One thing that we often neglect to consider is the fact that within this parable, Jesus tells us that the rain fell upon both houses. Now, looking at this aspect of the parable, we can get into an eschatological debate as to whether Jesus is talking about pre/post tribulation rapture. It is not my intention to address this subject in this writing. The topic of the rapture and when it will happen is something that we will never know for sure until the day it happens. The best teaching, I can offer on this is to prepare for the worst and pray for the best scenario.
Leaving the rapture debate aside, I want to focus on what Jesus means when He says it rains on both houses. We all can easily grasp His intent when He talks about rain falling on the house built on sand. This house is washed away by the trials of this world. The aggression of the sea and the rain cause the very ground that this house is built upon to crumble. The message is that we can built the most immaculate house, but if we are not building upon a firm foundation based in faith in Messiah, then when the tribulation of life hits, the sand supporting our efforts provides no resistance. In other words, there is no substance to push back against that which comes against us.
The interesting aspect of this parable is that Jesus explains that it will also rain on the house built upon the Rock. The Rock, again, represents our faith. Our faith in Jesus is our Rock. Our faith in Him causes us to be able to build our lives upon a foundation that can provide resistance to the tribulations of life. This foundation can offer support in times of difficulty. Unlike the sand, which will be washed away, we can be assured that the foundation of Messiah will be everlasting.
So, as believers in Messiah, we can expect to get rained on. There will be times in our lives that are difficult. Jesus tells us this, not as a discouragement, but as a directive to stand firm. He is our Rock. He is our resistance. He is our strength. He is the only firm foundation. I am reminded of the Hymn:
“My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness; I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name. On Christ, the solid Rock I stand, All other ground is sinking sand, All other ground is sinking sand.”
We cannot rely on the word of mankind to provide us with any type of functional, lasting, trustworthy support. Without Jesus our words are sinking sand.
Acknowledging that it will also rain on the house built upon the Rock, we as those of faith can ascertain our call. We are a witness to the house built upon the sand. The words of Jesus are not meant to be about doom and gloom. His words are an encouragement to those who have faith in Him to use the circumstances that life throws at us to be a living witness to the world around us. The rain falling on our houses should provide fodder for our weapons of spiritual warfare. We are to demonstrate fortitude, love and determination to those who are living atop sand. Our homes and our lives should be an example. We are called to be a living testimony. As the Apostle Paul writes in his letter to the church in Rome. Chapter 12: 1-3 reads:
“Therefore, I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed by this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God allotted to each a measure of faith (Romans 12: 1-3 NASB).”
We are called to be a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God. Our lives are to be a living testimony and witness to those around us. The world is to see that we are different, by the glorious Holy Spirit of God living within us. His Holy Spirit is to shine a light of His presence as a beacon to the lost. We are to intentionally make choices and act according to the will of God. As Paul writes “to be transformed by the renewing of our mind.” We are no longer slaves to this world corrupted by sin. We are made new and alive by the washing of His presence in our lives. We wear His robe of righteousness. We are to do His work on this earth. His work is to seek out the lost and call them home.
We are to help them build upon the Rock. All of us hurt. All of us experience suffering. As Paul warns us “not to think more highly of himself than he ought.” In humility, we are to come alongside of our neighbors. We are to help them up. Walk beside them. Offer them friendship and acceptance. We are to allow them to see the light of God’s glory shining within us. The result of our efforts is to give them a glimpse of the glory, mercy and peace of knowing Messiah. Because those with faith in Messiah, have a hope that is beyond hope. We have peace that surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:7) because He has overcome the world (John 16:33).
Let your light shine and in humble friendship, become a carpenter for the Kingdom of God. Help your neighbor build upon the Rock. Show them the peace and mercy of Messiah.
I have included a link to a beautiful song which eloquently brings our call to light. The link is:
I pray that the rain that falls upon my house will help me to stand more firmly in Messiah. He is my Rock and my strength. He is my hope and the hope of all mankind. By His Blood alone am I healed. Help me Father to be your servant. Help me to do your will. Help me to hear you call for my life. Help me to reach the lost. Speak through me and allow the ears of mankind to be opened. Only your voice has the power to convict. I am also a sinner. I am no witness in my own flesh. Allow your voice and the determined will of your Son to shine through me.
Rain falls on both houses.
Today's Teaching from Philia Contributor Corby Shuey @ Becoming Bereans Ministries https://www.becomingbereans.com/
Restoring our vision to align with the vision of the Father.
“Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he (Proverbs 29:18 KJV).”
In most instances when I hear this verse being quoted, those quoting most often only quote the beginning of the verse. What Solomon and those quoting this verse are conveying is the need to have vision in walking through this life. We should express forethought in our lives as to how we are directing the choices we make in the present in order to positively affect the future. Our lives should be a process of continual growth and learning. If we stop growing, if we stop learning, we stagnate in the blindness of comfort. The blindness of comfort being the complacency of allowing the present condition to govern our very being. Too often we settle and accept our circumstances out of comfort. Our tendency toward complacency lulls us to reject actively fulfilling the call of God to those who place their faith in Him.
I do believe we need to have diligent vision directing our lives. We should look at life through spiritual lenses knowing that this life is temporary; it is a shell of a greater reality awaiting us in the promises of God. Our vision should be directing us to make choices that help us come into alignment with this greater reality. Rather than having vision to cope with and make adjustment to meet the challenges we see on the horizon, we often just blankly stare ahead and await the coming of those challenges. The vision that Solomon speaks of is the vision to know what is on the horizon and adjust our lives to overcome the difficulties that we face.
Not only should our vision be looking ahead, our vision should also peer into the past. Our vision should expose us to the foundation of our beliefs. This vision cannot be limited to the traditions of our own doctrinal understanding, but our focus should be seeking the standard of Biblical truth. We should seek to pierce the veil of the cultural traditions that cloud the historical and spiritual heritage of our faith.
To then complete the thought that Solomon put forth in Proverbs 29, those who have vision should find rest on the foundation set forth by the Most High God. It is essential that there is also an anchor to ground our vision. Without this anchor, vision becomes relative to the individual. In this vision there can be no common ground as we all are like sheep who “have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all (Isa. 53:6 KJV).” Sheep without a shepherd are lost because there is no one to guide their vision. They will be distracted by every blade of grass further down the field that flickers in the light of curiosity. Solomon warns that vision must have a standard from which to find structure.
Our faith as Believers in Messiah should be driven by vision but at the same time, our faith should be anchored to our heritage. The heritage of the church is not the Roman political construct developed early on as a means to quell the people to submission to the state. Our heritage is in the heritage of God. The heritage of the people of God whom He brought out of slavery in order to establish an everlasting covenant. Our heritage is Hebraic. Our heritage is in the Hebraic account of God’s people as written in the Holy Scriptures. Our Heritage is God’s Word starting at “In the beginning,” Our truth must be derived from this council. Our vision must originate and be guided by this understanding and recognition.
If we simply take a quick survey of the landscape of the church in our day, we see division and confusion. There are countless divisions within the faith. Even within specific individual denominations there are divisions of doctrine and tradition. There is confusion in how we aree to appropriately interpret the Word of God. Do we take the Word literally, seriously, as a suggestion, as a moral allegory, or maybe even just as a story. In this state of confusion, our vision has no foundation. Without a foundation, the whims of the sin nature are able to run rampant on the desires of men. Sin then sets us free in our captivity to be bound to directionless, fruitless vision.
Paul writes of the difference between the fruit of the flesh and the fruit of the Spirit. He gives a clear distinction between the two as a means of discernment. Paul addresses this topic in order to give substance to our vision. Paul writes:
“But if you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another. But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the Kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such there is no law (Galatians 5:15-23 NASB).”
We can easily see that many in the church have not chosen to be led by the Spirit. This has caused the church to suffer many divisions and to stand upon a weak and ever shifting foundation, as we can see today manifested in the unprecedented tolerance of sin. Our vision truly is bound to the slavery of our sin nature.
Paul writes of two types of fruit. He first describes the fruit of the flesh. Paul describes this fruit as producing, what I think we can all agree, as being negative, harmful, angry results of division. This fruit divides, causes jealousy and impurity to rise, which undoubtedly leads to a lascivious lifestyle. The fruit of the flesh will always seek to please itself by causing its rot to permeate the whole being. Feelings of negativity fester and thrive within those driven by the spirit of the flesh.
Paul exhorts those who have faith to be aware of the fruit that they are producing. We are to consider the fruit that comes out of the choices that we make. If we are producing anger, discord and jealousy, we are acting in ways that are according to our sinful nature. If left unchecked, sin will permeate the whole person. Sin will consume the person like a cancer causing the infected individual to become increasingly preoccupied by that which the sin produces. We close in to ourselves and our vision is limited only to the things that will feed the ravenous sin dominating our lives.
As Believers, we are to be aware of our fruit. Our behaviors should be aligned with producing the Fruit of the Spirit. The choices we make, the words we use and the behavior we exhibit to others should contribute to the production of God’s Spiritual fruit. This fruit builds relationships. This fruit strengthens the faith of both the individual and those whom they come into contact with, and ultimately, this fruit draws us closer to God. Our character comes into agreement with the character of God that dwells within our hearts. The Spirit of God will be given opportunity to manifest outwardly as a witness.
I ask, where do we find the fruit that is produced on a tree?
The fruit is on the outside, hanging from the branches full and vibrance. This fruit finds nourishment from the root. In turn, heathy fruit gives nourishment to those in need. Healthy fruit contributes to the lives of those within the environment. Healthy trees drink from the source of water in its environment. The water must be living and alive. The root system of the tree must be firmly planted on the foundation of soil. The tree must work to draw the water up, through the foundation, this effort produces the abundance we see as fruit.
We, as those of faith in God Most High, should be like this tree. We need to be firmly planted in the foundation of our faith. We need to rely on the Word of God to direct our thought and actions. When we fail, we need to go to God to seek forgiveness, for this will produce a healthy root system by which we are able to drink from the Living Water. We, as Believers, must put in the effort to draw the Water up from the foundation and distribute it throughout the rest of our body. We need to allow the Water to refresh us and redeem us unto our Heavenly Father. This Water brings life and restores us to a right relationship with The One who created all that is seen and unseen. Without this redeemed relationship, we are bound to the sin nature and destined to produce rotten fruit.
Be Diligent! Be determined, my brothers and sisters, to draw from the Living Water. Allow the Source of Truth to enable you to produce good fruit. Inspect the fruit that you produce and compare it to what Paul describes as the Fruit of the Spirit. If this fruit is healthy, allow it to nourish others. If you encounter bad fruit, seek to discover the source of the contamination in your life. Prune the negative influence so that the sin will not taint the rest of the crop. Use your good fruit to bless others. Be an encouragement and seek to build the faith in those with whom you come into contact. Allow your life to be a source of nourishment, a source of good fruit.
In summary, the lesson is to have vision grounded in the Word. To produce fruit that is of the Spirit which will bring harmony and peace. Our vision should be in alignment with God’s vision. His vision is for His children to be a community of servants seeking to plant His grace within the fields of the hearts of mankind.
The Words of Jesus: “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for the tree is known by its fruit (Matt. 12:33 NASB).”
My friends, seek to be known as a good tree.
This Blog Post is Courtesy of Philia Contributor Corby Shuey Becoming Bereans Ministries https://www.becomingbereans.com
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