Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Loyalty to the Compassionate Ruler

Palal the son of Uzai, over against the turning of the wall, and the tower which lieth out from the king's high house, that was by the court of the prison. After him Pedaiah the son of Parosh. Nehemiah 3:25

"Every Christian could take as his motto Shakespeare’s words, “May that thought when I imagine ill against my king and brethren be my last breathing in this mortal world.”

Such loyalty from a citizen puts an obligation on the ruler. Among the Jews, the chosen people, “the king’s upper house [palace] was by the court of the prison (Nehemiah 3:25).” This is the right place for a king to dwell—where he can always have in view how much his sovereignty costs those over whom he rules.

In order for the king to have the majesty and the power of a ruler, others must die in wars under his command. Orphans remain behind. Driven by poverty and lack of education, they end in prison. The king may have neglected to spread morality among his people. His life should remain close to the lowliest of the rejected so he will perceive his kingdom truly.

In biblical Greek, “to rule” and “to feed” are the same word, poimaino—as a shepherd both tends and feeds his flock. What matters is not how many state banquets the king attends, but how much care he has taken that the hungry be fed.

In Aramean, “Lamb of God,” a name for Jesus, is talya Aeloha, which also means “servant of God.” The king can be the first servant of a country only if he has the character of a lamb."

(Wurmbrand, Richard., 100 Prison Meditations Cries of Truth from Behind the Iron Curtain, Living Sacrifice Books, Bartlesville, OK, 1982, pg 162)

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Lean on Me

Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2

The Bible says,... "Bear one another’s burdens" (Gal. 6:2). Although this involves "standing on our heads" together—sharing each other’s pain, it does NOT convey the full scope of these verses.

One involves sharing a load; the other involves removing a load. Actually, two words are used for "bearing" in the New Testament. One word could be construed to mean standing beside a brother or sister in times of need to strengthen and comfort.

The other, however, means something entirely different. The first one, anechomai, means "to sustain, bear or hold up against a thing," much as a person would tie a stake to a tomato plant to sustain it from the weight it carries. The strength of the stake is transferred to the plant and thus "bears it up."

When the Lord commands us to bear with one another in Colossians 3:13 and Epheisans 4:2, He isn’t simply saying, "Put up with one another." Although He is telling us to do that, He is also saying, "Stake yourselves to one another."

In other words, we’re to come alongside a weak brother or sister who is "weighted down" and say, "You’re not going to fall and be broken or destroyed because I’m staking myself to you. My strength is now yours. Go ahead, lean on me. As long as I can stand, you will."

(Sheets, Dutch. 1996. Intercessory Prayer. Ventura, CA: Regal Books. pgs 61-62)

Monday, June 28, 2010

The Necessities of Life

R. J. Brimmer wrote:

"Throughout the Bible, God uses simple, everyday illustrations to communicate spiritual truth. Frequently these illustrations are taken from the agrarian lifestyle common in biblical times. These teachings were meant to bring clarity and insight to the readers in an easy-to-understand manner.

Unfortunately, we live 2,000 years after the events of the Bible, and most of us are not involved in growing our own food. Even if we are farmers, the methods have changed dramatically over the centuries. We read Scripture through our own cultural eyeglasses, and often miss truths because we simply don’t understand the illustrations.

So, let’s transport ourselves back in time several thousand years. First, we need to understand that life in Bible times was much more fragile than today.

People were totally dependent on the crops they grew. If there was a drought, a famine ensued. There were no grocery stores from which to purchase food. If there was no rain, there was no harvest, and if there was no harvest, the people starved. Life revolved around the seasons. It wasn’t just a segment of society that was concerned about farming issues, as in our modern society; everyone was affected. When God said that the Israelites were to obey Him or there would be no rain, it was serious business: “

‘And it shall be that if you earnestly obey My commandments which I command you today; to love the Lord your God and serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul, then I will give you the rain for your land in its season, the early rain and the latter rain, that you may gather in your grain, your new wine, and your oil.

And I will send grass in your fields for your livestock, that you may eat and be filled.’ Take heed to yourselves, lest your heart be deceived, and you turn and serve other gods and worship them, lest the Lord’s anger be aroused against you, and He shut up the heavens so that there be no rain, and the land yield no produce, and you perish quickly from the good land which the Lord is giving you”
(Deut. 11:13–17).

These verses were so important that the Jewish people were commanded to recite them morning and evening and to write them upon the doorposts of their houses and upon the gates of their cities. To this day they do so in their daily prayers (Hareuveni). Mezuzot, small boxes created to hold the Scripture passages, are affixed to the doorposts of the houses as a constant reminder to love and serve the Lord as a condition to receiving His blessings.

Notice the three food items listed: grain, new wine (from grapes), and oil (from olives). These were the staples of life to the Israelis. It was as if God were saying to them: If you love and serve Me, I will provide all the necessities of life. The key was to be in relationship with God.

In the Christian Scriptures when Yeshua (Jesus) says,

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you(Matt. 6:33).

What things was He referring to? Look at verses 25–32 for the answer: food, drink, and clothing. God will provide for our sustenance if we will love and serve Him, putting Him and His kingdom first."

[Donna: In the King James Version, the word corn is a generic term used for grain. Corn as we know it did not exist in the Holy Land in Bible times. The author uses a different translation than the KJV where this verse says corn.]

Friday, June 25, 2010

Weeping For Aaron

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of of God. Matthew 5:9

"When all the congregation saw that Aaron had died, all the house of Israel wept for Aaron thirty days. " (Numbers 20:29) Why did Israel weep for Aaron thirty days? Aaron was 123 years old when he died, a ripe old age, full of years, yet all Israel wept for Aaron thirty days.

Thirty days is the customary term of mourning for a close relative, and Aaron, as high priest over the congregation, was like a close relative to all Israel. According to Jewish tradition, Aaron was especially beloved by all Israel because he was known as a peacemaker. He was like a family member to each person because he had made peace within their families.

One traditional teaching about Aaron says that when husbands and wives quarreled, they would seek out Aaron. He would counsel them with words of peace and bring reconciliation to their relationship. He was so adept at making peace between husbands and wives that he had many children named after him: There were thousands in Israel who were called by the name of Aaron, for if not for Aaron, they would not have come into the world.

Another popular folktale about Aaron says that when two men were fighting, Aaron would go to the first one and say to him, "Reuben, I was talking with Simon, and he was saying he's feeling really bad about this fight you are having, and he wants to make peace." Then Aaron would go to Simon and say, "I ran into Reuben, and he was telling me that he's feeling really bad about this fight you are having, and he wants to make peace with you." When the two men encountered each other, they would each assume the other wanted to make peace. They would embrace and set their argument aside.

These stories about Aaron remind us that we are called not only to be peaceful people but also to be peacemakers, a people proactively making peace. Being a peacemaker is one of the things that characterize us as disciples of [Christ]."

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Jesus and the Role of Women pt.5

"It is no wonder that Jesus had such a spiritual attraction for women, who were so often neglected by the teachers of that period. Luke 8:1-3 records that many women followed Him and ministered to His needs.

Why was it that a formerly immoral woman could cry tears of thanks on Jesus' feet and dry them with her hair, without fear? Why was it that Mary felt so free in His presence and anointed His feet with costly perfume, at the risk of rebuke by others? It was because the Master simply accepted them as people. Compassionately and with complete purity, He accepted their affection while moving them to repentance.

Dorothy Sayers remarked, "They had never known a man like this Man-there has never been such another. A prophet and teacher who never nagged at them nor patronized them; who never made jokes about them and who took their questions seriously; who took them as He found them. Nobody could possibly guess from the words and deeds of Jesus that there was anything 'funny' about woman's nature" (Are Women Human?, p. 47).

It is not surprising, therefore, that wherever the gospel has penetrated the cultures of this world, an inevitable result has been that the social status of women has been raised. Rather than attack Christianity for oppressing women, we must recognize that the message of the gospel provides true liberation for both male and female, who are both "one in Christ Jesus" (Gal. 3:28)."

Varner, Will; Jesus and the Role of Women

The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry, Inc.


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Jesus and the Role of Women pt.4

Women in Jesus' Actions
It was not only in what He taught, but also in how He related to women publicly that Jesus displayed a truly revolutionary attitude-in the sense that He was overthrowing the wrong social conventions of His day. Consider the following three incidents in His ministry, each of which involved a woman.

Jesus' very public ministry to the Samaritan woman at a well, recorded in John 4:1-42, contravened accepted practice for a Jewish male of His day. He not only talked to the woman in public, He instructed her and revealed Himself to her as the Messiah. The disciples' astonishment at Jesus' action is indicated in John 4:27a: "And upon this came his disciples, and marveled that he talked with the woman." Jesus did not follow the rabbinic dictum to not engage in public discourse with a woman. He always sought to minister to women, rather than ignore them, even if it meant risking the misunderstanding of his male disciples.

The case of the woman taken in adultery, recorded in John 7:53-8:11, provides another example of His compassionate attitude toward women. Jesus rebuked her accusers, who had conveniently ignored the guilty man. While not approving of her action ("go, and sin no more," Jn. 8:11), His tender dealing with her contrasted sharply with the harsh and hypocritical attitude of those who were so quick to pronounce the sentence of death upon her.

The incident in the house of Mary and Martha, recorded in Luke 10:38-42, provides yet another example of Jesus' practice of contravening the accepted social norms of His day regarding the instruction of women. Jesus not only took the time to instruct Mary, but His words to Martha indicate that Mary had actually "chosen that good part" (Lk. 10:42). While Jesus would never have condemned a woman for attending to household duties, He still commended Mary for desiring to study and learn the Word. The rabbis thought women were intellectually inferior and incapable of study; Jesus evidently thought otherwise.

In addition to these incidents in His ministry, it is noteworthy that women were the last ones at the cross, when all of the male disciples, except John, forsook their Master and fled. They were also the first ones at the tomb, when those same males were cowering in fear.

It was a woman whom Jesus chose to be the first witness to His resurrection. Mary Magdalene was the astonished recipient of this great privilege, recorded in Luke 14:1-10. He then commissioned her to testify to its truth. The rabbis did not believe women were reliable witnesses. Jesus thought otherwise. Do not forget, however, the reaction of the men when they heard the testimony of the women: "And their words seemed to them as idle tales, and they believed them not" (Lk. 24:11).


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Jesus and the Role of Women pt.3

Women in Jesus' Teaching

In His public teaching, Jesus never uttered a word of deprecation or humiliation regarding women. They never were the object of cruel jokes or criticisms, nor were they ever put down for being women.

In His condemnation of adultery and divorce in Matthew 5:27-28 and 19:3-10, Jesus taught that women were not to be treated as sex objects.

In His sermons, at least twice He used the example of a woman to rebuke the faithless men of His generation: the widow of Zarephath to the men of Nazareth, recorded in Luke 4:25-26, and the Queen of Sheba to the Pharisees, recorded in Luke 11:31.

At least twice in His parables Jesus used a woman in a striking way to illustrate faith and determination: the persistent widow in Luke 18:2-8 and the woman searching for the lost coin in Luke 15:8-10.

Jesus never uttered a word that would support the idea of treating women as intrinsically inferior to men. They were always honored in His teaching and never humiliated-a practice modern teachers should take note of and follow. In many churches today, women are subjected to some very cruel comments at their expense, something Jesus never did.


Monday, June 21, 2010

Jesus and the Role of Women pt.2

"In the centuries following the close of the Old Testament, however, the rabbis instituted practices that went beyond the biblical norms and resulted in much greater restrictions of women's privileges. These rabbinical strictures were not inspired by God and often reflect a wrong attitude toward women and their abilities. These traditions of men should not be identified as biblical commands or practices.

Rabbinical writings in the Mishna and Talmud, although written down after the first century, reflect practices that were contemporaneous with the time of Jesus' earthly ministry. The following four social norms were practiced in Jesus' day.

1. Women were to be shunned in public social contact. Consider the following passage from the Mishna tractate Abot, 1, 5: "Engage not in too much conversation with women. They said this with regard to one's own wife. How much more does the rule apply to another man's wife? As long as a man engages in too much conversation with women, he causes evil to himself, for he goes idle from the study of the Torah, so that his end will be that he will inherit gehenna."[Hell.]

2. Women were not to be publicly taught the Torah. This was not true in the Old Testament period (e.g., Josh. 8:35; Neh. 8:2-3). Consider, however, the following passage from the tractate Sota, 10a: "May the words of Torah be burned, than that they should be handed over to women." In Sota 21b it is written, "Rabbi Eliezer says: Whoever teaches his daughter Torah teaches her obscenity." This attitude about women's innate inability to learn the Torah was manifested by having special courts for women in the Second Temple and also in synagogues, where they were separated from men. The latter practice continues to the present time among Orthodox Jews. The idea that women could learn in the same schools with men was not even entertained.

3. Women were restricted from orally communicating the Torah to others, even to children. Consider Mishna Kiddushin 4,13: "An unmarried man must not be a teacher of children, nor may a woman be a teacher of children." This restriction also applied to publicly reading Scripture in the synagogue (Megillot 73a) and even to pronouncing the benediction after a meal in the home (Mishna Bereshit 7:2).

4. Women did not have the right to bear public witness in judicial cases. Baba Kamma 88a declares, "Though the woman is subject to the commandments, she is disqualified from giving evidence." The first-century Jewish historian, Josephus, characterized the general attitude of his time in Antiquities 4,219: "Let not the testimony of women be admitted because of the levity and boldness of their sex."

Such burdensome restrictions certainly went far beyond what the Old Testament taught about the woman's role outside the home. The rabbinic Judaism of the post-biblical period actually involved more reaction than progress. When viewed against this rigid background, Jesus' attitude toward women in His ministry comes as a breath of fresh air on an arid and barren plain.


Friday, June 18, 2010

Jesus and the Role of Women pt.1

Will Varner writes about the biblical authors against the background of their contemporary culture, and comes up with some very helpful insights. His article is too long to reprint here, but I will excerpt some of his research in the next few posts.

"Rather than advocating oppressive treatment of women, the biblical authors' attitudes and actions toward women often went against the grain of their contemporary culture and helped to eventually elevate the status of women. Christianity actually helped liberate women rather than enslave them.

The purpose of this article is to examine one particular example of this truly liberating attitude–the teaching and actions of Jesus regarding the women whom He encountered in His ministry.

Women in Ancient Judaism During the Old Testament period, women were exempt from the requirement to attend the annual festivals (Ex. 23:17), but they were permitted to attend if they were able to do so (1 Sam. 1:9, 21-22). The Mosaic Law recognized that women who were also wives and mothers had responsibilities in the home that would make public attendance at religious gatherings difficult.

On the other hand, women were able to serve at the door of the Tabernacle (Ex. 38:8), take a Nazirite vow (Num. 6:2), hear the Word of God (Neh. 8:2-3), engage in music ministry (Ex. 15:20-21; 1 Chr. 25:5), and sometimes even prophesy (Ex. 1520; Jud. 4:6-7). It is clear, however, that the office of priest was limited to male members of the priestly line (Ex. 28:1; Num. 18:1-7). Apart from this restriction, there was far more freedom for women than has often been taught.


Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Weaned Child

Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts. Isaiah 28:9

Today's post comes from an author who traveled through Israel in the late 1800's, when Biblical customs there were still carefully observed.

"It is, however, no extraordinary thing for a mother to continue to give a “man-child” the breast till the end of his fourth or fifth year. Indeed, our Bethlehem nurse assured us that she had known the case of a favorite child whose mother had not weaned it until it was seven years of age! Girls would never be treated in this way, meeting as they do on all occasions with marked neglect. The native women believe that the longer a child is allowed to remain at the breast the stronger he grows. When, therefore, a boy appears one of great promise, or is a firstborn, or seems likely to be the only child, the mother, if it is possible, nurses him until he is four years of age.

These facts are really important as rendering intelligible the early history of little Samuel. Her child was granted to Hannah at a time when she was hopelessly barren, in answer to special prayer, and she had dedicated him before his birth to the Lord by a solemn vow, in which she declared she would “give him unto Jehovah all the days of his life.

When he was born Hannah determined that it would be lawful for her to keep him until he was weaned, and doubtless, like all women of Palestine at the present day, believed that the longer she could nurse him the stronger and better he would become. She, therefore, proposed to stay at home, and not accompany her husband on his yearly pilgrimage to Shiloh until the child was taken from the breast, and “then,” she said, “I will bring him, that he may appear before Jehovah, and abide there for ever.” This decision thoroughly approved itself to her affectionate husband. Elkanah said to her: “Do what seemeth thee good; tarry until thou have weaned him; only Jehovah establish His word. So the woman abode, and gave her son suck until she weaned him” (1 Sam 1.21-23).

How many yearly festivals passed by before that event we are not told; but from what has been said above, we cannot doubt that, according to every usage and feeling of the East at the present day, little Samuel was not weaned until he was from three to five years of age, and therefore quite old enough to be left by himself with the aged high-priest, and to enter at once upon some childish service in the sanctuary. Doubtless when the infant Moses was so providentially restored to his mother, she kept him at the breast much as Hannah kept Samuel, if only that she might have her child under her own care as long as possible."

(Neil, Reverend James., Peeps Into Palestine, Stanley Martin & Co. Ltd, UK, ~1913)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Outlandish Women

Did not Solomon king of Israel sin by these things? yet among many nations was there no king like him, who was beloved of his God, and God made him king over all Israel: nevertheless even him did outlandish women cause to sin. Nehemiah 13:26

[Note from Donna: My southern grandmothers would always tell me to not be so "outlandish" whenever I was behaving in a manner that seemed unladylike to them. I was interested to learn that that adjective was used in the Bible and to find out what it really meant.]

Outlandish is used once (Nehemiah 13:26) to represent the Hebrew word which the KJV elsewhere translates by "alien," "foreigner," "strange," or "stranger." The passage refers to Solomon: "among many nations was there no king like him, who was beloved of his God, and God make him king over all Israel: nevertheless even him did outlandish women cause to sin." RSV has: ". . . nevertheless foreign women made even him to sin." For the same Hebrew phrase the KJV has "strange women" in 1 Kings 11:1, and "strange wives" in 1 Kings 11:8 and Nehemiah 13:27. Coverdale had the word "outlandish" in all these passages, meaning by it "from a foreign land."

The Bible Word Book, Bridges & Weigle, pg 246

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Desire and Husbands

I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you. Genesis 3:16 [NIV]

After Adam and Eve disobey God, creation, which had been orderly and without blemish, becomes disorderly and flawed. Eve will experience pain in childbirth, and her “desire” will be for her husband. In the Hebrew language, the word desire encompasses much more than the idea of longing. The entire soul or essence of the person is involved. Therefore, this passage suggests that Eve’s sense of herself, emotionally and physically, will become dependent on her husband.

General Editor Jean E. Syswerda, NIV Women of Faith Study Bible, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Mischigan, 2001, pg 10

Monday, June 14, 2010

Bearing the Burdens

For mine iniquities are gone over mine head: as an heavy burden they are too heavy for me. Psalms 38:4

One of the first things we noticed in Palestine, and we could scarcely believe our eyes, was the enormous loads carried by the porter or atal. You can scarcely understand unless you have seen these burdens yourself.

We have several times seen a single porter carry an ordinary piano on his back for quite a distance. His piled up burden very often extends far beyond his head.

After the burden has been placed on the porter’s back, he cannot easily lay it down until he has reached his destination. When he becomes desperately weary and must have a little rest, he calls a wayfarer, and the latter just stoops down under the load for a few minutes, takes the weight of the burden from the weary porter, and gives him a short rest. This is what Gal. 6:2, “Bear ye one another’s burdens,” means.

In the same chapter and the fifth verse we read, “for every man shall bear his own burden.” That sounds like a contradiction, but not so. In our Greek Testament in verse two we have the word baros, meaning the very heavy burdens like the porter carries; in verse five we have this word, phortion, the light burden that any person might carry in his hand.

The word of God is telling us that Christians must be ready to get under another’s heavy load and give him a little rest, he must not throw his own lawful burdens upon others, he must carry the light ones alone.

(Bowen, Barbara M., Strange Scriptures that Perplex the Western Mind, WM B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1944, pgs 66-67)

Friday, June 11, 2010

Lessons from the Annointing Oil Pt.5

Olive We have seen the olive presses throughout Israel , those heavy stones that press the olives until oil is extracted by pressure. We’ve seen how the oil is channeled into vats. The lesson of the olive press is very evident. Jesus was tested in the wilderness. There He fasted for forty days and forty nights, and Satan tempted Him (Matt. 4:1–11).

It was after this testing that Yeshua came out of the desert and began His ministry. How have you stood the time of trial and testing? Have you allowed the Lord to put Satan under your feet? After that initial trial, comes the next phase of the anointing. There is another price to be paid.

To go to the next level, the Lord will have to be first in your life. When you have chosen this step, the olive oil comes to bring the Lord’s blending process. “ You shall make of these a holy anointing oil, a perfume mixture, the work of a perfumer; it shall be a holy anointing oil” (Exod. 30:25).

To experience the Lord’s anointing means we do not seek our own importance; we do not resort to gimmicks or stunts. In Exodus 30:22, God said He will not pour His anointing on man’s flesh. So if we seek a ministry/forum for our self-importance, it will fail.

Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD? And who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood, and has not sworn deceitfully. He shall receive a blessing from the LORD and righteousness from the God of his salvation(Ps. 24:3–5).

Our heart’s desire is that we achieve the Lord’s purpose. I pray we can all reach the heights of the beloved psalmist and say as he shared in Psalm 92:10,

I have been anointed with fresh oil .”

For a [complete] color PDF version of this article click here :

Israel Mosaic Radio
Bridges for Peace Bibliography Fishbane, Michael. Etz Hayim Torah and Commentary. Lieber, David L., ed. The Jewish Publication Society, 1999.
Fishbane, Michael, ed. The Jewish Study Bible, (Tanakh Translation). The Jewish Publication Society, Oxford University Press, 1999.
Henry, Matthew. "Commentary on Luke 4." Matthew Henry Commentary on the Whole Bible. Blue Letter Bible, 1996.
Wikipedia Free Encyclopedia, 2001.
Scriptures taken from the New American Standard Version, unless otherwise noted.
Teaching Letters

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Lessons from the Annointing Oil Pt.4

Cassia Today, in the USA and Canada , most of that which is sold as cinnamon is actually cassia. The two are closely related. The Hebrew word for cassia is from the root word quadad, which means “to bend, to bow, or to stoop.” It’s appropriate to say those who enjoy the anointing of the Lord have bowed, humbly before Him.

For this cause make yourselves low under the strong hand of God, so that when the time comes you may be lifted up. (1 Pet. 5:6, Bible in Basic English)

We have an enemy who seeks to destroy our anointing. If we grasp the simple truth that anointing means being bathed in the presence of God, it is not hard to understand the enemy seeks to contaminate that experience.

The enemy seeks to quench the Spirit of the Lord. He often comes at us with pride and arrogance, which resists the Lord and His anointing oil. Cassia reminds us that we must come to the King and bow before Him.

But the LORD, who brought you up from the land of Egypt with great power and with an outstretched arm, Him you shall fear, and to Him you shall bow yourselves down, and to Him you shall sacrifice (2 Kings 17:36).

Come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the LORD our Maker
(Ps. 95:6).

This is not a position of weakness. It is one of submission to the Creator of the Universe. He gives us an anointing to crush Satan under our feet. “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you(Rom. 16:20 ).


Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Lessons from the Annointing Oil Pt.3

Calamus Calamus (or cane) is described as a big, smelly plant with sword-shaped leaves and small yellow/green flowers. It grows to about ten feet in height. To extract its essence, calamus must be broken and crushed. Then it unleashes a sweet fragrance.

Do you know what this means? The more the calamus is crushed, the more the fragrance comes.

But to this one I will look, to him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word ” (Isa. 66:2b).

To be contrite in Hebrew is to be smitten. I think most of us know what it is to be broken before the Lord. Many walk in a constant process of brokenness. That may seem to be humble and submissive, but is that what the Lord expects from His people? Consider Mark 14:3:

“ And while He was in Bethany at the home of Simon the leper, and reclining at the table, there came a woman with an alabaster vial of very costly perfume of pure nard; and she broke the vial and poured it over His head.

The woman had filled a flask with valuable perfume ready to anoint her groom on their wedding day. She chose to anoint Jesus instead. To do that, she had to break the flask. Brokenness is the process by which we give ourselves to the Lord. This lady gave the Lord the most precious item she had. Out of her sacrifice came forth great fragrance in her relationship with Him.

So deal with those things the Lord reveals to your heart, but get on with the “joy of your salvation.” Don’t stay in brokenness all your life. Please take these Scriptures very seriously.

We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body (2 Cor. 4:8–10).

So calamus speaks of fragrance, but it does not come cheaply. It cost Christ His life on Calvary , and it will cost you your life in this world. In return, you will know the fragrance of the Lord.


Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Lessons from the Annointing Oil Pt. 2

Cinnamon Wikipedia, the Internet encyclopedia, says: “Cinnamon has been known from remote antiquity, and it was so highly prized among ancient nations that it was regarded as a gift fit for monarchs and other great potentates.” It was a valuable spice. To acquire cinnamon required sacrifice.

God has a call on our lives, which requires sacrifice. You must determine that your relationship with the Lord is more valuable than anything else you may choose. You cannot settle for that which is just good. Strive in your walk with the Lord for the best. To be anointed may cost you—your home, your friends, your career. This is the price of obtaining the fragrance of the cinnamon.

For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost, to see if he has enough to complete it?(Luke 14:28).

Carl Roos, an outstanding motivational speaker once asked, “Who is the navigator of your life?” Many will answer Jesus or the Holy Spirit. Roos says, “You are the navigator of your life. It is your choices that decide your success.

Have you made your choices? Have you counted the cost? The fragrance of the cinnamon is costly, but it’s a price worthy of your sacrifices.


Monday, June 7, 2010

Lessons from the Annointing Oil Pt. 1

"Oil is a symbol of the Holy Spirit. The word “symbol” comes from the Greek sym, which means “together” and ballein, which means “to throw.” To be “thrown together” indicates an object used to represent something else. How then does oil qualify to be a symbol of the Holy Spirit?

We search the Amplified Bible to find this clue:

Moreover, the Lord said to Moses, ‘Take the best spices: of liquid myrrh 500 shekels, of sweet-scented cinnamon half as much, 250 shekels, of fragrant calamus 250 shekels, and of cassia 500 shekels, in terms of the sanctuary shekel, and of olive oil a hin. And you shall make of these a holy anointing oil, a perfume compounded after the art of the perfumer; it shall be a sacred anointing oil ’” Ex. 30:22–25.

First of all, the Lord insisted on “the best spices.” These were costly, rare, and valuable. There were four spices—myrrh, cinnamon, calamus (or cane), and cassia—plus a hin of olive oil, thus, five ingredients. The number five speaks of grace. We will not earn the anointing by personal effort. It actually becomes ours the more we surrender. God is full of favor and grace. In our weaknesses, we can stand in victory over the enemy because He is faithful to His Kingdom family.

God was very meticulous with this recipe for anointing oil. It could not be used for any other purpose. It was set apart for Temple use only. Let’s consider the significance of each of these ingredients.

Myrrh The name “myrrh” is from the Hebrew for “bitter.” It is used today in healing salves. In ancient times, it was greatly valued for perfume and incense and was worth more than its weight in gold. So myrrh speaks to us of fragrance which is bitter to taste.

It has healing ingredients and so when applied as an ingredient of the anointing of the believer, it represents cleansing and purification. It is an ingredient of purification: “ I indeed baptize you in (with) water because of repentance [that is, because of your changing your minds for the better, heartily amending your ways, with abhorrence of your past sins]. But He Who is coming after me is mightier than I, Whose sandals I am not worthy or fit to take off or carry; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire ” (Matt. 3:11 , Amplified).

Being anointed by God is not just a mountain top experience. There is also a process of fire and purification which we all experience. His fire does not destroy us, but by His grace, He works on a continuous process of purification: “ So whoever cleanses himself [from what is ignoble and unclean, who separates himself from contact with contaminating and corrupting influences] will [then himself] be a vessel set apart and useful for honorable and noble purposes, consecrated and profitable to the Master, fit and ready for any good work (2 Tim. 2:21, Amplified).

We must not fear purification, but we must get right with God. After all, the Holy Spirit is our comforter, and we will find great uplifting solace and encouragement in Him no matter what cleansing process is required. The very thing we may rebuke as a work of the enemy, may be that God-given opportunity for us to deal with our heart—our prejudice and agenda—and be cleansed.

Here’s an interesting factor. When burned, myrrh does not melt or liquefy, but rather expands and blooms. The scent of burning myrrh is vanilla-like. In ancient times, it was burned at funerals to nullify the smell of death. Isn’t it interesting that an item with such attributes is part of the anointing oil?


Friday, June 4, 2010

Heaven's Fast Track

"There is a blessing in being humble before God, and the Scriptures declare: God dwells with the humble (Isa. 57:15); the humble will inherit the land (Ps. 37:11); God looks to him (Isa. 66:2); God gives grace to the humble (Jas. 4:6); God exalts the humble (I Pet. 5:6, Lk. 18:14); and God brings good tidings to the humble (Isa. 61:1).

Paradoxically, the reward of the humble is often greatness. Those who seek greatness often find it eludes them, but those who seek to serve God wholeheartedly with a humble spirit will find that God not only looks on them with approval, but God also uses them for great things in His kingdom.

Man spends his life striving for greatness, recognition, and position. Yet Scripture says, “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord and He will lift you up” (Jas. 4:10 )."

Thursday, June 3, 2010

A Contrite Spirit

The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit. Psalms 34:18

"One way we try to win God’s approval is through striving for perfection. Sadly, none of us achieve this state. We are frail human beings subject to temptation and sin. Did God create us to fail? Is there no hope?

Fortunately, God has not made perfection the measuring device. He is looking for people who will react to missing the mark (as the Jewish writers say) with contrition of spirit. When confronted with your sin and failures, how do you respond? Do you try and justify it or continue in the practice in defiance? Or, do you fall on your knees, repent, and seek God’s forgiveness for your failure?

The word “contrite” is from the Hebrew word daca and literally means “to bruise or crush.” It has the connotation of smitten, maimed, dejected, lame, or contrite. In modern Hebrew usage, the word describes a handicapped, disabled, or crippled person. Webster’s dictionary describes contrition as “sincerely remorseful, having a deep and painful sense of guilt for wrong-doing.”

When God says He looks on the man who has a contrite heart, God is saying he is looking for people who when they sin, respond to their actions with deep sorrow. It is more than mere recognition or acknowledgement of sin. It is a brokenness before a holy God, which leads to repentance [which means] turning from the sin, and literally running the other way."

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Hebrew Hyperbole

"It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God." Matthew 19:24

[Donna: I've abbreviated this much longer post-the address for the entire article is at the bottom]

"What we have [here], I believe, is a beautiful Hebrew hyperbole, as in the tree sticking out of one's eye whilst one is removing a speck in another's eye! Indeed, Jewish Talmudic literature uses a similar aphorism about an elephant passing through the eye of a needle as a figure of speech implying the unlikely or impossible:

"They do not show a man a palm tree of gold, nor an elephant going through the eye of a needle."

This first instance concerned dreams and their interpretation and suggested that men only dream that which is natural or possible, not that which is unlikely ever to have occurred to them.

"… who can make an elephant pass through the eye of a needle."

In this case, the illustration concerns a dispute between two rabbis, one of whom suggests that the other is speaking "things which are impossible". The camel was the largest animal seen regularly in Israel, whereas in regions where the Babylonian Talmud was written, the elephant was the biggest animal. Thus the aphorism is culturally translated from a camel to an elephant in regions outside of Israel.

Jewish writings use the "eye of the needle" as a picture of a very small place,

"A needle's eye is not too narrow for two friends, but the world is not wide enough for two enemies." .

The ludicrous contrast between the small size of the needle's eye and the largest indigenous animal is to be preserved for its very improbability. Jesus' hearers believed that wealth and prosperity were a sign of God's blessing (cf. Leviticus and Deuteronomy). So their incredulity is more along the lines that, "if the rich, who must be seen as righteous by God by dint of their evident blessing, can't be saved, who can be?".

Later Christians have turned this around to portray wealth as a hindrance to salvation, which it can be – but no more so than many other things, when the message is that salvation is impossible for all men for it comes from God alone. But beyond impossibility is possibility with God for, elsewhere, a Jewish midrash records:

"The Holy One said, open for me a door as big as a needle's eye and I will open for you a door through which may enter tents and [camels?]"

In other words God only needs the sinner to open up just a crack for him and God will come pouring in and set up room for an oasis. God only needs a 'foot in the door', so to speak.

The exaggerated and contrasted size is deliberate and is not an overt judgement on riches or poverty.
Jesus reflects on how hard it often is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God. The riches are a distraction and hard to share if one is too attached to them. The disciples' incredulity is that if even the rich cannot be saved, who can? But the verdict is that even the rich, and not only the rich, will find it impossible to save themselves – but with God all things are possible.

'Difficult Sayings' - Column for Week of January 9 - 15, 2005

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Incomplete Metamorphosis

It is Christ's desire that each of his children be transformed into his likeness and receive his image in their countenances. This process requires a mighty change and a new birth. We literally become new creatures in Christ.

In the insect kingdom, a complete metamorphosis would be analogous to a caterpillar changing to a butterfly.

Allen Meyer wrote the quote used below about an incomplete metamorphosis:

Insects have life-cycles that are very short so we can watch and learn from the birth, growth, maturity, and death of an entire generation in only one year. They develop in a very unique manner that follows one of two basic paths: complete and incomplete metamorphosis. These help us understand the two most important paths of all: Christ’s and Satan’s (Genesis 3:15).

Incomplete metamorphosis involves the gradual change from a newly hatched juvenile to a fully formed adult. The juveniles resemble the adults, and one usually calls them nymphs (Greek for “young, veiled bride”). The nymphs go through a series of moults without any dramatic change in appearance, except they may have wings when they become adults. This occurs in insects such as termites, lice, locusts, and dragonflies (Revelation 9:9). It’s sort of like a serpent when it sheds its skin; same critter, a little older, with a new outfit.

This process is well-described by the Greek word metaschematizo. It means “to change shape” or “to disguise,” from schema, a “figure” or “external condition” (compare “scheme” or “schematic”). Metaschematizo is translated “transform” in 2 Corinthians 11:13-15 —

For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.

Satan is the chief copier, and will even copy Christ (Matthew 24:24-31; 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4). He changes his skin from time to time, but he’s the same, old critter underneath; as with his ministers. Their works are evil, and haven’t changed since the beginning; just as adult locusts are larger, winged versions of young locusts (2 Corinthians 11:2-4).

(Meyer, Allen R., Insects and Other Critters of the Bible, Bible-Student Resources, Claimont, Alberta, Canada, 1997, pg 150)