My Way….or the High(er) Way?

Proverbs 14:14 (ESV) The backslider in heart will be filled with the fruit of his ways, and a good man will be filled with the fruit of his ways.

Ezekiel 36:31-32 Then you will remember your evil ways, and your deeds that were not good, and you will loathe yourselves for your iniquities and your abominations,
It is not for your sake that I will act, declares the Lord God; let it be known to you. Be ashamed and confounded for your ways, O house of Israel.

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Contemplation of the day. Please exercise discretion if you choose to read my thoughts.

So.
When God rescued Israel from subjection to Egyptian slave masters, the people quickly (and repeatedly) began to find fault with their new circumstances.
Many revealed a heart that would have willingly returned to their former state of servitude as they pined for the perks (appealing meals, a house to return to each day, relative security regarding what hazards to expect, etc…).

They were truly freed from oppression in Egypt, yet had developed a strong internal attraction to the few comforts that sustained their miserable physical existence.

Likewise, we have been given the gift of freedom from bondage to sin, yet also can complain or even openly rebel when faced with the difficulty of relocation to God’s promised place of peace.

In response, God sometimes gives us exactly what we demand. Exodus 16 offers an interesting narrative as God sent both a familiar form of sustenance (quail) and a completely “supernatural” one (manna, which came with specific instructions) to the grumblers.

Personally, I see this as illustrative of the choice we are called to make to be nourished by either earthly “food” (which our sin-nature craves) vs God-blessed spiritual enrichment (through faith in Christ Jesus).

It is important to read Numbers 11 (ESP v 13, 18-21 and 31-34) to get a better idea of what happened specifically with the quail. It was NOT good.
The people gorged themselves and literally got sick from indulging their own unbelief-based desires.

(Oh. The song is obnoxiously loud and repetitive. I included it because I think it helps emphasize the point scripture makes regarding how foolish and damaging it is to stubbornly insist on opposing God. The question echoes loudly: Are you finally “fed up” with the results you’ve gotten for yourself?)

 

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The Truth About Truth

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Image courtesy Stuart Miles @ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Truth is beautiful, comforting, generous, gentle, freeing and healing to those who embrace it in its purest form.

It is also dangerously, destructively, unmercifully vicious when we try to cage and tame it to suit our own whims.

“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the Truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. ~Romans 1:18-19 (ESV)

“But now, the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it- The righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by His blood, to be received by faith.
This was to show God’s righteousness, because in His divine forbearance He had passed over former sins. It was to show His righteousness at the present time, so that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” ~Romans 3:21-26 (ESV)

Don’t Kick ’em While They’re Down

This is interesting.

Zechariah 1:14-15 (ESV) So the angel who talked with me said to me, ‘Cry out, Thus says the LORD of hosts: I am exceedingly jealous for Jerusalem and for Zion.
15 And I am exceedingly angry with the nations that are at ease; for while I was angry but a little, they furthered the disaster.

Me: these verses are a partial answer made by God to the question posed in v 12. “How long will You be angry and withhold mercy from Jerusalem and Judah?” (Paraphrase).

The Israelite people of Zechariah’s day were experiencing the predicted disciplinary response for having turned away from following God (read Leviticus 26:27-46). Specifically, they would be subjugated by the surrounding pagan nations whose ways they chose to adopt in spite of receiving strict instruction to the contrary.

Verse 15 (above) indicates that the civilizations which the Hebrew people were subjected to took full advantage of the national disgrace of the Israelites…that they actively abused the people in a way that far exceeded the authorization God had given them.

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It left me thinking that God is always good to correct us and allow us to experience the well-earned results of our disobedient choices…for our good, to encourage repentance.

And sometimes, the temporal consequences we bring on ourselves are extremely unpleasant, to say the least.

However, it is a very bad idea to recognize that someone is being chastised/humbled and take it upon one’s own self to add a greater load of pain or shame to their burden through mockery, looting of their possessions or physical abuse.

My Exciting News

I’m usually a little hesitant to donate to/promote fundraising efforts I know nothing about. It seems that far too many of them turn out to be not what they claim ūüė¶

However, I’m sharing the opportunity to support this young lady because:
1. I know her personally.
2. She is a Christian and I believe that her heart truly desires to serve those she interacts with.
3. She loves to travel and will be able to reach out to people I cannot.
4. She will pay her own expenses and intends every donated penny to be used to help the intended recipients

This is certainly something to consider carefully before choosing to donate, but I wanted to pass on the information to those who might be interested.ÔĽŅ

TIA to those who take the time to read her post.

The Runaway Traveller

There are an estimated 150-200 Million orphans in the world. Every 15 seconds a child loses a parent to an AIDS related condition. I would assume if one parent has it, normally the other will as well, causing this number to climb at a heartbreaking pace. The 2011 earthquake in Haiti left 300,000 children without their parents. The current Syrian war already has 8,000 orphaned children leave Syria. These are just a few of the hardest numbers I have seen as I have researched this. We have a terrible problem, there are so many babies out there struggling to survive at an age they shouldn‚Äôt even know what the word ‚Äúsurvival‚ÄĚ means. Do I have your attention? If you have started to read this, I ask that you read all of it. Don‚Äôt skim to the end, listen to what I am telling you, let the numbers sink in, and‚Ķ

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Joel 2:17-18

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Image courtesy africa @ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Biblical passage is referenced at the bottom of the page.

Some things I noticed:

  1.  The call to repentance is continued
  2. It was to be initiated…or supervised…or mediated by the priests.
  3. If I’ve correctly understood the floor-plan¬†image I located, Solomon’s Temple would have had three separate courts: ¬†The outermost being that of the gentiles (perhaps those who had an interest in worshiping God but were not naturalized Israelite citizens). ¬†Then, the court of¬†Israelites. ¬†The third, inner-most¬†court was that of the priests (who had direct access to the altar of burnt offerings). ¬† ¬†This LINK shows¬†another picture minus the outer courts. I’m guessing the porch which Joel mentioned was the series of steps which led from the court of the Israelites up to the inner court of the priests.
  4. It appears that the purpose for the weeping and mourning at this particular location is to signify to God a desire to return to His ways…so that HIS inheritance…(I believe this¬†means His people) and His reputation…would not have to suffer shame¬†among His (and their) enemies.
  5. God’s¬†promised, gracious response to repentance is seen in v 18. ¬†And here is another mention of the all-important combination of grain, wine and oil (My pair of personal observations regarding these sacrificial elements are located¬†HERE and HERE)
  6. The “church-age” equivalent of the Levitical priesthood would perhaps be the body of genuine, professing believers (See 1 Peter 2:8-10). ¬†If I am correct, then Christians today bear a great responsibility before God as servants of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If the warning of Joel’s letter is to be taken seriously, maybe we¬†should be¬†the first line of repentant intercessors who pray for the return¬†to¬†God¬†of our respectively wayward countries and citizens.

17 Let the priests, the Lord’s ministers,

Weep between the porch and the altar,
And let them say, “Spare Thy people, O Lord,
And do not make Thine inheritance a reproach,
A byword among the nations.
Why should they among the people’s say,
Where is their God?”

18 Then the Lord will be zealous for His land,
And will have pity on His people.
And the Lord will answer and say to His people,
“Behold, I am going to send you grain, new wine, and oil,
And you will be satisfied in full with them;
And I will never again make you a reproach among the nations.”

Joel 17-18 (NASB)

Joel 1:13 (Grain and Drink Offerings 1)

So, Joel specifically mentioned grain and drink offerings, which are described in the code of Levitical Law.

Put on sackcloth and lament, O priests;
wail, O ministers of the altar.
Go in, pass the night in sackcloth,
O ministers of my God!
Because grain offering and drink offering
are withheld from the house of your God.
Joel 1:13 (ESV)

I thought it would be helpful to take a look at the significance of these references.

Grain offering:

~When brought¬†by an individual, it was to be made of “fine flour”, oil, frankincense (Leviticus 2:1 ) BTW,¬†¬†frankincense was one of the gifts the wise men brought to young Jesus in Matthew 2:11.

~General description: made with “fine flour”, contain no leaven, oil was to be either mixed into the bread dough or smeared/spread on cooked wafers. (Leviticus 2:4-7). Oil was also poured over the broken grain offering (v6)

~In the NT, Jesus warned listeners to beware the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees (Matthew 16:6-12).  Luke 12:1 identifies this leaven as hypocrisy.

~The Hebrew word “mashach” is translated to “smear” in my ESV. ¬†The King James Version accurately¬†provides the¬†word “anointed”. ¬†It is interesting to note that “anointed”¬†¬†is also the meaning of the NT reference to Jesus as the¬†¬†“messaiah” (John 1:41; ¬†4:25).

~The first part of the grain offering was reserved for God as a memorial (Leviticus 2:9) and the rest was given to Aaron and his sons…the priests (2:10)

More grain references:

Distributed by Joseph during widespread famine (Genesis 41:49-51)

Manna is equated by the Jews with bread (John 6:31)

Jesus identified Himself as that BREAD of life (John 6:35)

Jesus also said that the scriptures (which would include Narrative, Law, Wisdom, Phophetic) testify about Him (John 5:39)

My conclusion: ¬†Jesus is the unhypocritical, anointed “bread” which was foreshadowed in the OT Levitical code.

I suppose that is enough musing for today.  Go ahead and check my references for accuracy.  Additional observations are welcome.