Jehovah Shalom: God’s Benefit of Peace

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Bible and Glasses

We have been commemorating Jesus death on Passover, burial on Unleavened Bread, and resurrection on First Fruits. Through Jesusfulfillment of these, He gave us salvation and a future hope of eternal life. These benefits of Jesussuffering and resurrection are incredible, and if those were not enough, He has still more to give. The Bible says that He daily loads us with benefits (Psalm 68:19).

Through Christ’s death we have received many benefits as listed in Isaiah 53. He bore our griefs, carried our sorrows, was dishonored for our rebellion, was crushed for our depravity, was disciplined for the sake of our peace, and by his wounds and bruises and stripes we are healed. Psalm 103 also lists the benefits of forgiveness, healing, redemption, a crown of lovingkindness and tender mercies, satisfaction and restoration of youthfulness.

Let’s focus in on one of these benefits in particular: peace. He was disciplined for our peace.

There is a lot that could be said about this peace. To begin with, this is a peace between God and man. Secondly, it is a peace in spite of circumstances. Thirdly, and most importantly, it is a peace that only God has given and can and will give.

Gideon

In the book of Judges we find a story about Jehovah Shalom, “The LORD is peace.” Judges 6 begins by saying that Israel had done evil in God’s sight and because of that God had given Israel as a gift to Midian. Because of this, Israel was terribly oppressed even to the point of hiding in caves while Midian destroyed their crops and took all of their animals. It would be equivalent today of destroying all of our grocery stores, restaurants, the farms that produce all that, and taking anything edible away.

It is in this destitution and fear that we find Gideon secretly threshing wheat in a winepress. And an messenger of God appears to him as he hides in the winepress and addresses him as a mighty man of valor. One thing leads to another, and Gideon is gripped by the startling realization that he’s just seen a messenger of the LORD face to face. It is then that God speaks to him saying, …Peace be unto thee; fear not: thou shalt not die.” Gideon is so moved by God’s words that it says, “…Gideon built an altar there unto the LORD, and called it Jehovah shalom…” which means, “The LORD is peace.”

Yet, there was no peace in any of Gideon’s circumstances. Many fearful obstacles still surrounded Gideon and would continue to face him. Nevertheless, he moved forward at the prompting of the LORD. He tore down his father’s altar to Baal and grove of trees wherein the Israelites committed idolatry. He then faced the zealous, idolatrous men who would have killed him on behalf of their fallen idol. He then successfully gathered 32,000 men to do battle against the Midianites, and after getting further confirmation from God, prepared for battle. The man who at the beginning of the story was hiding in a winepress, and who throughout the story kept asking for signs, was unmoved by his and his nation’s overwhelming circumstances in light of the God of peace who had appeared to him and had spoken directly to him.

And things got crazier! God said that 32,000 soldiers was too many! Judges 7:1-3 reads, And the LORD said unto Gideon, The people that are with thee are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel vaunt themselves against me, saying, Mine own hand hath saved me.3 Now therefore go to, proclaim in the ears of the people, saying, Whosoever is fearful and afraid, let him return and depart early from mount Gilead. And there returned of the people twenty and two thousand; and there remained ten thousand.”

So, there were to be ten thousand to fight against a multitude. Judges 7:12 says that “the Midianites and the Amalekites and all the children of the east lay along in the valley like grasshoppers for multitude; and their camels were without number, as the sand by the sea side for multitude.” Ten thousand against an enemy so countless that they were like a swarm of locusts blackening the sky and devastating all in their path.

But God was not finished. It got crazier! Judges 7:4-8 continues, “And the LORD said unto Gideon, The people are yet too many; bring them down unto the water, and I will try them for thee there: and it shall be, that of whom I say unto thee, This shall go with thee, the same shall go with thee; and of whomsoever I say unto thee, This shall not go with thee, the same shall not go.5 So he brought down the people unto the water: and the LORD said unto Gideon, Every one that lappeth of the water with his tongue, as a dog lappeth, him shalt thou set by himself; likewise every one that boweth down upon his knees to drink.6 And the number of them that lapped, putting their hand to their mouth, were three hundred men: but all the rest of the people bowed down upon their knees to drink water.7 And the LORD said unto Gideon, By the three hundred men that lapped will I save you, and deliver the Midianites into thine hand: and let all the other people go every man unto his place.8 So the people took victuals in their hand, and their trumpets: and he sent all the rest of Israel every man unto his tent, and retained those three hundred men: and the host of Midian was beneath him in the valley.”

Three hundred men. Three hundred men versus a multitude. But Gideon chose to rest in the LORD of peace, for the battle belonged to Him. And with the faith of that one man and the foolishness of three hundred men smashing pitchers and blowing on ram’s horns, God scattered the host of Midian and in their fear the enemy even killed each other.

The BIG Question

How big is our God? No I mean, how big is He in our lives today? When we are faced with great emotion, who is bigger? God or the emotion? Who is bigger? God or the problem? Who is bigger? God or the roommate issue? Who is bigger? God or the medication issue? Who is bigger? God or the communication issue? Who is bigger? God or the loneliness issue? God or . . . you think of your own situation whatever it might be?

Walking on the Water

In Matthew 14 we come upon a scene of amazing grandeur. There, Jesus has separated from His disciples and gone off to pray. The day had been wearying to Jesus and the disciples. Many had been healed, and it had ended in a mind-boggling multiplication of the five loaves and 2 fishes. The disciples had stood in shock as that meager amount fed a great multitude of hungry men, women and children. Now, Jesus had insisted on dismissing the enormous crowd himself and insisted that the disciples go ahead and sail to the other side of the great lake. He’d meet up with them later. Meanwhile, it says in verse 24 that they were in the middle of an agitated, restless sea that tossed their ship about as the wind blew antagonistically.

That of course is when Jesus appeared . . . walking on the water, and His disciples thought He must be a ghost. That’s when Jesus called out to them, and Peter daringly said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.29 And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.30 But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.31 And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?32 And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased.”

Conclusion

There is a difference between fact and truth. It was a fact that the army of Midian was enormous. But the truth was that God was greater. It was a fact that the wind was contrary and the waves rising, but the truth was that Jesus was the Lord of the wind and the waves. No matter how much Gideon planned or strategized, the army of Midian was still too vast and too numerous that even 32,000 men in their own strength could not have defeated them. General MacArthur himself could not have bombed, blasted or barricaded them away. And as for the sea, no one has ever tamed the sea nor ever will. Only God!

And indeed, it is no different in our lives when faced with the sea of anxiety and fear and emotions of all kinds, as well as army of physical problems, relationship issues, or any circumstance that is overwhelming of unfair. It is then that the enemy of our entire being swarms upon us and rages against us like the fury of Midian, and we like Gideon hide and wonder where God is. The sea comes crashing in and the wind threatens to blow apart our ship. But Jesus said in John 14:27, Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 16:33,These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”

“Be Magnified” Song written by Don Moen

I have made You too small in my eyes
O Lord, forgive me;
I have believed in a lie
That You were unable to help me.
But now, O Lord, I see my wrong
Heal my heart and show Yourself strong;
And in my eyes and with my song
O Lord, be magnified
O Lord, be magnified.

Be magnified, O Lord
You are highly exalted;
And there is nothing You can’t do
O Lord, my eyes are on You.
Be magnified,
O Lord, be magnified.

I have leaned on the wisdom of men
O Lord, forgive me;
And I have responded to them
Instead of Your light and Your mercy.
But now, O Lord, I see my wrong
Heal my heart and show Yourself strong;
And in my eyes with my song
O Lord, be magnified
O Lord, be magnified.

Be magnified, O Lord
You are highly exalted;
And there is nothing You can’t do
O Lord, my eyes are on You.
Be magnified,
O Lord, be magnified.”

youtube video sung by Kim Hill: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sX4yYJg-5G8

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True Freedom

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free-bing-pic-choose-this-day

What is freedom?

Throughout the nations of the world and the centuries that have passed, Christianity has been persecuted and still is, from the Apostles, to the early Church fathers, to the Waldenses of France in the 1300s, to the Quakers of England in the 1600s, to the Pilgrims who sought a safe place to practice Christianity in 1620. Those who truly believed in Jesus were imprisoned, unfairly treated, driven in the caves and hidden places of the world, and killed for the bold stance that Jesus is the only way and Scripture is the ultimate authority. Then, the Pilgrims, risking all, sailed across the treacherous Atlantic Ocean.

In the words of Peter Marshall, chaplain of the U.S. Senate in 1947, said in his sermon entitled, “the American Dream”, “Ours…is the only surviving nation on earth that had its origins in the determinations of the Founding Fathers to establish a settlement “to the glory of God and the advancement of the Christian faith.” That was what William Bradford and [John] Carver had in mind when, beneath the swinging lantern in the cabin of the Mayflower, they affixed their signatures to the solemn declaration which established the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. They had come from the Old World and were seeking refuge in the New. They had come from tyranny and oppression…they had come from fear and coercion…they had come from faimine and from difficulty…from wars and threats of wars…..and they sought a new life in a new land. Religious liberty to worship god according to the dictates of one’s own conscience and equal opportunity for all men…These are the twin pillars of the American Dream….There have been periods in our history when the American Dream has faded and grown dim. Today there is real danger that the American Dream will become the Forgotten Dream [Reminder: this was a sermon from the late 1940s]. For freedom is not the right to do as one pleases, but the opportunity to do what is right. The Founding Fathers sought freedom…not from the law but freedom in loaw; not freedom from government—but freedom in government; not freedom from speech—but freedom in speech; not freedom from the press—but freedom in the press; no freedom from religion—but freedom in religion. We need to ponder these things today…..” (Quote from book, American Government and Economics, pg 112-113).

The main reason American began, the force driving the Pilgrims across the frothing ocean, was freedom to worship.

But what is true freedom? Can one be free when imprisoned? Can one be free when physically persecuted? Is freedom something physical? Tangible? Something that can be touched?

America has been such a place of tangible freedom. But, even if and when that tangible freedom is wiped away, there is a freedom that still upholds the peasant girl in China who will never attend a university and may never know how to read, but she has Jesus in her heart and she sings songs while sitting in a sweatshop. There is a freedom that still emboldens the young man in Indonesia who preaches Christ and Him crucified in spite of all odds against him and his young family and the threat of imprisonment looms inevitable. There is a freedom that comforts the elderly as they lie in their dirt hut deep in the jungles of South America with no tv, no radio, no telephone, no internet, no nurses or doctors to attend them, but theirs is a deep freedom that cannot be touched by hardship nor pain. The greatest freedom is not that which is merely tangible, but is intangible. For true freedom is inside first, not outside first. There are nations in this world who have tried for freedom, but cannot accomplish it because freedom must first be in the heart.

Thus, if the Statue of Liberty stands no longer as a beacon of freedom, the Capital dome lies in ruins, the monuments to presidents of the past begin to crumble and fall, and our bold and brilliant flag of red, white and blue fades to gray, and liberty’s song falters off-key, I want you to know that freedom has not died as long as Christ still resides in the hearts of Christians. The verse that embodies this truth is found in John 8:36, “Therefore, if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.” And 2 Corinthians 3:17, “And now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.”

Back in Peter Marshall’s day, 63% of the American people were “without even a nominal connection with any church.” Today according to Barna Research though a majority of Americas claim to be Christian (as if it is equivalent with being American), only 35% claim to be “born again,” a mere 23% are “Bible-minded”, and only 7% are “Evangelical”. Evangelical, according to Barna did not mean they said they were Evangelical, but it did mean that they met seven criteria including faith is vitally important, salvation is by grace alone, a responsibility to share their faith, belief that Satan exists, Jesus was sinless while here on earth, the Bible is the inerrant, inspired Word of God, and God is sovereign over all. Only 7% believed this in 2016.

In all of our tangible freedom, Americans have forgotten God, and it is God who made America and gave it liberty both physically and in heart. Though the American Dream, to which Peter Marshall referred, has all but completely faded, within its fading light, the light of freedom remains undimmed. Though America has been representative of both tangible and intangible freedom, true freedom is not bound up in a flag or monuments or capitals or presidents or high sounding speeches or the colors of red, white and blue, but is found in Christ and in Him alone. And I emphasize again John 8:36, it is he whom the Son has set free that is free indeed, and 2 Corinthians 3:17, “where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty.”

Now, we here are a part of that minority of “born again” believers, and as born again believers we must continue to pray for this nation, and choose this day whom we will serve. As for me, and my house, that’s “this” house, we will serve the Lord! And in so doing, freedom will never die.

 

Sources:

American Government and Economics, quote of Peter Marshall on pg 112-113.

“The State of the Church 2016,” by Barna Research, https://www.barna.com/research/state-church-2016/

“William Penn: English Quaker Leader and Colonist,” https://www.britannica.com/biography/William-Penn-English-Quaker-leader-and-colonist

“Quakers in America: from Persecution through Toleration to Domination,” by Ryan C. MacPherson, Ph.D., fhttps://www.ryancmacpherson.com/publications/26-research-papers/74-quakers-in-america-from-persecution-through-toleration-to-domination.html

“The Waldenses Religious Movement,” https://www.britannica.com/topic/Waldenses

Taking Up Our Cross Daily

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free bing picture cross with scripture

We all have a cross to bare, but each cross is as different as the one who bares it. Not all are literally martyrs, yet all of us, in some way, are to die.

Jesus of all people did not have to die. He had no sin nature to crucify, no weakness to overcome. Nevertheless, Jesus, eternally equal with God the Father, enthroned in majesty, awesome in splendor, worshiped and adored, humbled Himself to take on the form of a servant. He

veiled His true identity and glory though remaining equal with God in nature and was conceived as a child, lived as a man, and laid down His life for all. Thus, the infinite God incarnated Himself, and in Him the fullness of the God-head dwelt bodily…for us (Philippians 2).

Think on this:

Jesus did not command us to take up our cross daily without having done so first Himself. Truly, Jesus bore a cross His whole life, and it was completed on the road to Calvary. His cross of humility, incarnation and service He bore well. He was questioned, disbelieved and resisted by those who should have bowed with fear and trembling. He was eagerly sought by thousands of people for free food and miracles, signs and wonders but was not sought for who He was. Indeed, the Great I AM, Creator God who created the very ones who crucified Him, willingly subjected Himself to humiliation, contradiction, reviling, spitting, false accusation, ridicule, dishonor, beating, disbelief, crucifixion, and death. This was the cross He took up for us.

Even as He had a cross, we also have a cross to take up for Him. For some this cross is one of continual physical suffering. Still, others struggle with the cross of loneliness or singleness. Some are unjustly and unfairly treated by fellow-Christians or family and friends for whatever reason. Others are persecuted for their faith, some even to the point of imprisonment or death. But whether these sufferings are short-lived or long-lived, like Jesus we are to “endure the cross” while at the same time despising the shame (Hebrews 12:2).

Yes, it’s unfair that we should be sued by another Christian.

It’s unjust that we should lose our business because of one upset customer.

It’s not right that we should never get ahead financially no matter how hard we try.

It’s painfully unfair that we are always sick or needing something or someone to care.

It’s upsetting that we are always overlooked for promotion.

It’s beyond ridiculous that we are still single.

It’s unfair that we have to raise our kids as a single parent.

Life is unfair.

But in all of our crying and anger and pleading that it’s all so unfair, unjust, and not right, let’s not forget what Jesus–God incarnate–went through and that cross of humiliation and shame that He bore. It’s true. We are not Jesus. We’re not dying for the sins of the world. This means, however, that no matter what HELL we might be enduring, it’s nothing compared to Christ’s suffering.

Jesus took up His cross without complaint or question, and He now bids us to take up our cross and follow Him. But, we keep throwing off our cross. We don’t want to carry it. It goes against the grain and sounds like fingernails on a chalkboard. Nevertheless, we are called by Jesus to bare our cross as He did, and press on to our eternal reward which far outweighs our present pain and shame. Even so, let’s set our minds on things above, not on earthly things (Colossians 3:2) and press on toward the prize (Philippians 3); and may we remember that we are not alone in this, for there is a great cloud of overcoming, cross-bearing witnesses that have gone before us (Hebrews 12).

Jesus and the Four Cups of Passover

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free bing silver cup

We are in a truly special and holy season of the year; one of the most exciting as well. But the excitement and holiness does not center around a bunny who lays eggs nor new dresses nor fancy hats nor colorful baskets nor ham dinners. And really, all of that is not just for fun either. Historically all of those details are rooted in the Babylonian Mystery religion that goes as far back as Nimrod and his mother/wife Semiramus and the tower of Babel. And as a matter of fact, the name Easter is in reality the name of a Babylonian fertility goddess whose symbols were the bunny and the egg: the bunny because of how quickly they propagate and the egg represented reincarnation.

The origin of Easter egg hunts and wicker baskets come from the yearly celebration of this fertility goddess’ reincarnation. It was thought that the first to find an egg would be blessed by the goddess. Furthermore, it was said that the egg of the goddess was to descend into a wicker basket. And thus the reason for the use of baskets in modern times when looking for hidden eggs at Easter time.

The origin of Easter bonnets and new clothes also stems from the occult following of this fertility goddess. Every spring at this festival the women would wear new bonnets (that looked more like baby bonnets) and the men would be dressed in white new clothes.

As for the ham dinner, that too comes from this fertility cult following. For, it is believed that the goddess’ son, Tammuz, was killed by a wild bore. Thus, every year the worshipers of the goddess would kill a pig on behalf of her dead son and eat ham.

Though paganism has always attempted to overshadow the holy throughout the centuries, the holy still shines more piercingly than ever. For God ordained from before the foundation of the world that His only begotten Son, the Lamb, would be slain. And God created His own calendar of His own divine appointments and called His own people to celebrate each one in a certain way at specific time of year. Jesus therefore fulfilled every detail of God’s spring calendar of events including the feast days of Passover and Unleavened Bread. Jesus came as the Passover Lamb whose blood would take away the sin of the world, and also came as the sinless unleavened bread that was striped, pierced and bruised for our salvation. Thus, Jesus is the reason for this season of the year, and the cross combined with the empty tomb is the central attraction.

Elements Of The Last Supper

Every holiday has specific food related to it. When we think of our national Thanksgiving day we think of turkey dinner. When we think of Independence day we think of barbequed hamburgers or hotdogs. When we think of birthdays we think of usually think of cake. Even so, with God’s holidays there are certain foods that were eaten. This was not just tradition. The food actually had meaning.

The Passover supper consisted of bitter herbs, matzah, charoset, lamb, and wine. Since Biblical times, the Jews have added other elements that also have meaning, but the ones that God attributed meaning to are most important.

We have already covered the lamb and the unleavened bread. Today we will explore the significance of the wine.

Usually during God’s feast days there are two cups of wine at the table. However, during Passover there are four. In Luke 22:14-17 we catch a glimpse of two of these being served: namely the second and the third. And the one we are most familiar with is the third cup that Jesus raised up as the cup of a new covenant in His blood. Did you know that that cup was a part of Passover?

The first cup of Passover is referred to as the cup of sanctification, the second as the cup of deliverance, the third as the cup of redemption and the fourth as the cup of acceptance and hope. In these cups of wine, we can see the amazing picture of God’s ultimate salvation through Jesus.

The Four Cups of Passover

The concept of these four cups is found in Exodus 6:6-8 which reads,

6 Therefore say to the children of Israel: ‘I am the Lord; I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, I will rescue you from their bondage, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments. 7 I will take you as My people, and I will be your God. Then you shall know that I am the Lord your God who brings you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. 8 And I will bring you into the land which I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; and I will give it to you as a heritage: I am the Lord.’ ”

The picture conveyed here is that of a slave who is carrying a monstrously heavy burden –just think of something too heavy to carry and it is placed on your shoulders, that’s what it means. Not only this, but the slave is in thick chains and is trapped in slavery in a foreign land to a cruel taskmaster with no hope of freedom, ever.

The Cup of Sanctification

So, what does God say, “I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians…”

This is the phrase associated with the first cup: the cup of Sanctification. Essentially the Hebrews had cried out to God because they were weary of the uncomfortable burden of their cruel enslavement to a hard taskmaster. Physically they were weary; emotionally they were exhausted. But…they in desperation cried out. And so God came down to investigate, and upon doing so, promised to change their status from that of heavily burdened to unburdened, to set them apart as His own. This was not just for the sake of doing it, but as God stated time and again to Pharoah, it was so that the Hebrews might worship Him. For indeed the concept of servitude in the Hebrew language has to do with worship. This unburdening was all about the transfer of their service from Pharoah to God. Thus, God unburdened them and sanctified them which means that He set them apart and made them holy that they might worship Him.

Thus, the burden was gone and they were made holy for God’s service, but they were still chained and under the authority of Pharaoh in a foreign land.

The Cup of Deliverance

Continuing on with Exodus 6:6-8, it says, “I will rescue you from their bondage… And so we come to the second cup: the cup of Deliverance. The definition of this word is actually “to rescue or to snatch away.” The powerful reality conveyed in this sentence is this: the Hebrews were utterly helpless to deliver themselves. There was nothing they could do. Nothing. They were chained. They were powerless. And these chains were not merely physical chains nor political chains nor ethnic chains, but were the chains of idolatry. Though the word for bondage is often a common word for work, in this verse, “I will rescue you from their bondage” there is more to it than work. For indeed, the word for “bondage” actually carries in its definition the concept of worship. “Israel surely needed to be “rescued” from the “service” of Egypt, because the tentacles of idolatry had already entwined and penetrated her national consciousness” (Hegg, pg 3). In other words, what had been happening in Egypt was not merely physical, but spiritual. The chains were not just on their feet; the chains were on their minds and hearts as well.

So, God promised to unburden them and make them holy for worship and to unshackle them that they might worship Him. But, they were still owned by Pharoah in a foreign land.

The Cup of Redemption

Continuing on with Exodus 6:6-8 we read, “…and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments.” And so we come to the Cup of Redemption. How was God to redeem them? With an outstretched arm and great judgments. In the Hebrew language there are two words for redeem. The word used here is a familial one. In other words, the one being redeemed was family. God even tells Pharoah that Israel is His first born son. Furthermore, redemption always requires payment. Thus, God was essentially buying back Israel from Pharoah. And God redeemed them with an “outstretched arm”. When in Hebrew the term “outstretched arm” is used, it “pictures power at it’s zenith—extreme power. This metaphor is used in connection with creation…” (Jeremiah 32:17). Though creating the world with an outstretched arm could be said to have cost God nothing, the redemption of Israel came at the cost of blood.

The Cup of Acceptance and Hope

At this point, God’s promise was for Israel to be unburdened, unshackled and paid for with blood, but they were still in Egypt. The last two verses of this passage in Exodus 6 essentially constitute the fourth cup at the Passover supper: the cup of Acceptance and Hope. For God accepts Israel as His own people, and promises them a home in the Promise Land. But, the Promise Land would not be reached immediately, for the Israelites had to travel the long journey through the Red Sea, across the desert, through foreign lands, and finally through the Jordan River. For indeed, Redemption guarantees the final destination, but the journey is still necessary.” (Hegg, pg 5).

The Christian Application

These cups, however, are not just for the Jew. Through Jesus, the beautiful symbolism of these cups becomes our own.

For in the The Cup of Sanctification we recognize that God has lifted our burdens and sanctified us to live holy lives of worship for Him. Jesus said in Matthew 11:28, 28“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” And furthermore, we are God’s workmanship created for good works in Christ (Ephesians 2:10).

In the The Cup of Deliverance we agree that we too were helpless to free ourselves from the shackles of sin and so God Himself rescued us from our idolatrous chains. How this same picture fits each and everyone who is born from above! Our bondage to sin has left us unable to rescue ourselves. We simply cannot find our way to freedom because we are shackled by the chains of self-centeredness, which is idolatry. Our only hope is that One stronger than our fetters should come in and deliver us from our prison. Paul speaks of this when he writes in Colossians 1:13-14: For He delivered us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” (Hegg, pg 3). “8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.”

In The Cup of Redemption we find that the price of redemption is always blood, for without blood there is no remission of sin. Jeremiah 31:31-34 says, 31 “The days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah. 32 It will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them, ” declares the LORD. 33 “This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,” declares the LORD. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people…“I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” The old covenant established on the continual death of goats and lambs was crucified with Christ, and God saved us through the blood of His only begotten Son, once for all. Jesus said that this third cup of the Passover supper was a cup of the new covenant in His blood.

And last but not least, in the fourth cup, The Cup of Acceptance and Hope we recognize that right now in this world we as Christians are pilgrims and strangers. Though completely accepted by God as His people, we still await the city whose builder and maker is God (Hebrews 11). We still await the mansions that Jesus promised that He is building for us (John 14). We still await our Savior’s return to snatch us away to our eternal home where there will be no more tears, no more pain, and no more death. That He who began a good work in us will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus (Philippians 1:6).

As we approach the day of Passover and Resurrection, may our minds not be filled with bunnies and eggs and ham dinner, but rather, let us reflect on the fact that Jesus is our sanctifier who unburdened us, our deliverer who unchained us, our redeemer who paid for us with His own blood and our blessed hope that He is returning SOON!

Sources:

Youtube “America’s Occult Holidays” By Doc Marquis, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OMWaX7sLakU and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qm_7DAlcgRY

“The Pagan Origins of Easter,” by David J. Meyer, www.Lasttrumpetministries.org/tracts/tract1.html

“The Four Cups,” by Tim Hegg https://torahresource.com/EnglishArticles/Four%20Cups.pdf

Jesus Our Unleavened Bread

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free bing unleavened bread picture

God has a schedule that He keeps in great detail. The example of Algebra can be used to explain God’s schedule, because with Algebra the whole formula is important, every step is significant and not just the answer. In fact, even if the final result is the correct number, if the steps of the equation are not met, then the entire answer is considered wrong. That is how detailed God is with his schedule.

On His schedule are seven holidays, three fall holidays and four spring holidays. These were kept by the Jews as meticulous dress rehearsals, but though the Jews observed these holidays they are not technically Jewish holidays. They are God’s (Leviticus 23:1). In Bible study last September, we discovered the three fall holidays, and last week we learned about the first of the four spring holidays, namely the Lord’s Passover and how Jesus is the fulfillment of every minute detail of Passover, from the selection and inspection of the lamb, to the very songs that were sung, the exact timing of events, and the very words that were spoken.

Here are just a few of the Passover details that Jesus fulfilled:

Four days before Passover a lamb was selected and taken into the family’s house to be inspected to make sure it was without blemish. In Jesus’ day the lambs were escorted into Jerusalem by the High Priest with songs (from the Hallel, namely Psalms 113-118, and even more specifically Psalm 118 was sung while ascending to Jerusalem) of “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” (Psalm 118) up into the Temple precincts four days before Passover. Even so, four days before Passover, Jesus was selected and ushered by a large crowd up into the Temple precincts to the tune of “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” He was then inspected with questions for four days and found to be blameless, without blemish, The perfect Lamb of God.

Year after year since the first Exodus, the lambs had been slain “between the evenings” at 3pm (Exodus 12). In Jesus’ day the High Priest would slay the lamb at 3pm then stretch out his arms and say, “It is finished.” Even so, Jesus on the cross had his arms stretched out, and his final words (John 19:30) were, “It is finished” as he died at 3pm.

These are just a few ways in which Jesus fulfilled Passover. And that’s just scratching the surface! Incredibly, God planned it all in every microscopic facet, marked it on His calendar, and brought it to pass on the exact day and at the precise time it was to happen. God inspired the particular songs that would be sung as Jesus entered Jerusalem; He chose the very day and even the very second that Jesus would die; even Jesus’ words said from the cross were a script from the Father and in fulfillment of the minutest detail of the law.

The Feasts/Appointments of the Lord

There are four spring feasts altogether. Passover is the first one. Unleavened Bread is the second in that series, and overlaps with Passover. Just as God wove an amazing set of details into the feast of Passover, He also interlaced Unleavened Bread with its own elements that Jesus fulfilled perfectly.

The Feast of Unleavened Bread

Now, what is unleavened bread? It is bread made without any rising agent in it, in other words, no yeast, no baking powder. In Hebrew the word for leaven actually means “sour”. It might bring to mind sourdough bread.

Here is what it looks like (hold up/pass out example Matzah). It has holes in it because they would pierce it to keep it from rising/bubbling which is yeast-like behavior. It has lines on it because it is grilled. It has dark marks on it too because of the fire.

The history behind this day takes us all the way back to the Exodus of the Jews out of Egypt. They had prepared in haste, eaten in a rush, and in all the hurry and flurry they did not have time to let their bread rise. It’s not like today when you can just stop at a grocery store and pick up what you need to eat. They had to make everything from scratch. And on this hectic day of the Exodus, they did not have time to leaven their dough.

God had them continue this tradition of eating unleavened bread every year, in order that they remember that significant day that changed their lives forever, the day in which God lifted the burden from their shoulders, released them from their chains, ransomed them from Pharaoh, and promised them a new life of liberty. On top of this, leaven in the Bible refers to sin, because sin just like leaven, spreads through the entire lump of dough or body of believers and causes it to become puffed up (like the rising of leavened dough), to become proud and hardhearted because of sin. God wanted to remind them through the eating of unleavened bread the importance of living sinless lives. They were not liberated by God in order that they might sin, but instead were liberated from sin that they might live unbound by the cruel taskmaster of sin.

Thus, for years and years, even in the time of Jesus, the Jews would make sure that all the leaven was out of their houses. It was not enough to simply have it out of their bread, but it was not to be found in their home. First the mother would clean until all was spotless, but she would intentionally leave a small cake of yeast hidden somewhere. It was then that the father of the household would enlist the help of the kids as sort of search party. “Yeast: Wanted Dead or Alive”. And they would do this at night. The father would hold a torch or candle, and one child would hold a wooden spoon while another held a feather, and the group would look for the hidden yeast. Once it was found, the feather would dust the yeast into the spoon and they would take it outside where they would burn it. The Orthodox and some traditional Jews still perform this search today.

Jesus: Our Unleavened Bread

Jesus fulfills all of this, down to the last detail. Let’s take a look!

Matthew 21:12-13; Mark 11:15-17; Luke 19:45-46; John 2:13-16 all give a similar account of a particular event. Matthew’s account reads as follows: “And Jesus went into the Temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the Temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves, and said unto them, “It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer, but ye have made it a den of thieves.” (Jeremiah 7:11).

Have you ever wondered what on earth this was about? It’s a zealous action, and makes me think of Nehemiah’s zeal. Nehemiah had been so zealous for God and His word and purity that he took men by their beards and pulled out the hair to get them to listen. We catch a glimpse of God’s heart concerning sin through Nehemiah 13. It says, speaking of what Nehemiah did to the leadership of Israel, “25 So I contended with them and cursed them, struck some of them and pulled out their hair, and made them swear by God, saying, “You shall not give your daughters as wives to their sons, nor take their daughters for your sons or yourselves. 26 Did not Solomon king of Israel sin by these things? Yet among many nations there was no king like him, who was beloved of his God; and God made him king over all Israel. Nevertheless, pagan women caused even him to sin. 27 Should we then hear of your doing all this great evil, transgressing against our God by marrying pagan women?”

Well, in Jesus’ day it was nearly Passover, a day of holiness and purification and corruption was being allowed by the religious leadership to thrive in the House of God. But, there’s more to it than holy zeal. Remember, God is a God of details.

Jesus had just entered Jerusalem to the tune of children and throngs of people shouting and singing, “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” And had thus been selected as the Passover Lamb. He then entered the Temple, the house of His Father, and just as the mother, father and children had been taught by God to cleanse their home of all leaven before Passover, Jesus carefully cleansed His Father’s house of sin by forcefully extracting the greedy moneychangers out of the Temple.

Remember, leaven symbolizes sin. So, Jesus like the unleavened bread, otherwise known as matzah, was without sin. As 1 Peter 2:22 says, “Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth…” and 1 John 3:5, “And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin.”

Furthermore, Jesus just like a piece of matzah was pierced, striped and bruised. As it states in Isaiah 53:5, “he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.” And in Psalm 22:16b it states of the future dying Messiah, “they pierced my hands and my feet.” Indeed, Jesus was beaten with many stripes by the Roman soldiers (Matthew 20:19, 27:26; Luke 18:33; John 19:1), was pierced in His hands and feet and in His side by a sword (John 19:34), and bruised with the fists of angry and cruel Jewish leadership (Matthew 26:67-68; Mark 14:65; John 18:22).

Conclusion

As we move into this holiest season of the year, let us remember Jesus our Passover Lamb and Unleavened Bread. God, who is a God of details, fulfilled in specific detail those two feast days through the death of Jesus. Jesus was the Lamb without blemish. Jesus was the sinless bread. Jesus was pierced. Jesus was bruised. Jesus was striped. Jesus was indeed, the Lamb of God who was slain before the foundation of the world. Jesus was the Lamb, who God had prepared for Himself to be our perfect sacrifice, once for all. Jesus cleansed His Father’s house of leaven.

Now, as Christians we have all been cleansed by the blood of Jesus the perfect Lamb; we have been made new creations in Christ. The old has passed away, and all has been made new. He has therefore, called us to live “unleavened” sinless lives. So, as we enter more deeply into this special time of year, may we examine our lives and hearts and thoughts, and may we allow God’s Holy Spirit to convict us. When we are alone with God, may we be still and allow Him to show us. For we are God’s His Temple, each of us individually, as well as all of us together (1 Corinthians 3 and 6). And we have seen through the example of the Jewish families how important it was for the leaven to be cleansed from their homes. Nehemiah also exemplified this. We have also seen through Jesus’ example of zeal how important it was for His Temple, His Father’s house to be purified. We are that house; we are that Temple. We want to be without spot and without blemish as the Day of Jesus’ return approaches.

Let us say with David in Psalm 139:23 “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: 24 And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Let us also in agreement with David say with Psalm 51:10, “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. 11 Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me.12 Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit [and renew a right spirit within me].”

Sources:

Bill Cloud and Perry Stone video, “The Seven Feasts of Israel.”

Mark Biltz DVD series, “The Feasts of the Lord.”

Jesus Our Passover

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Free bing passover lamb

We are in the most amazing season of the year, for it is both the soberest and the most incredibly exuberant time. It is the soberest because it is the season wherein Jesus, the eternal King of Glory, was arrested, tried illegally, falsely accused, beaten mercilessly, drug before a jeering crowd, unjustly condemned to die the death of a criminal, namely the death of a thief, was cruelly crucified, and then was laid to rest in a borrowed tomb. It is the most incredibly exuberant time of the year because Jesus released the captives in Paradise (Ephesians 4:8-10), preached to the fallen angels in the deepest, darkest prison of Hell (1 Peter 3:19), took back the keys of Death, Hell and the Grave (Revelation 1:18), openly shamed principalities and powers (Colossians 2:15), and defied death by rising bodily from the dead.

We know that this time of year Jesus came and died for our sins and to then rose again. But, have you ever thought about why He died this time of year? Why didn’t he die in June or January, August or November? Why did He rise again on the third day and not the fourth or seventh day?

Why? Because Jesus came to fulfill the law and the prophets and within the law and prophets is a calendar. God’s calendar. And His calendar is filled with appointments otherwise known as festivals that He has kept and will keep.

God’s Schedule

God’s schedule is exact. It is as exact as a mathematical, algebraic equation.

I took 2 years of high school Algebra and then 2 years of Algebra in college. Number one, when it comes to me and math, I always make simple problems extremely complex. On top of that, when I would think that I had gotten an answer correct, I would realize that I had the formula wrong, and thus, I would not get credit for the answer. You see, in Algebra, it’s not the conclusion that matters most, but rather, it is the process, the steps, the details that matter most.

It is the same with God’s schedule. He is precise in every minute detail. Every detail, not just the answer. It therefore, was not enough that Jesus die on a certain holiday, but that Jesus would fulfill ALL the other details in the formula first.

On God’s calendar there are seven specific appointments of God, also referred to as holidays. We learned about the three Fall holidays back in September, namely: The Day of Blowing, The Day of Atonement, and the Day of Tabernacles. We learned that these are not Jewish holidays but are God’s holidays (Leviticus 23:1).

There are also four Spring holidays: Passover, Unleavened Bread, First Fruits, and the Feast of Weeks. These were four appointments of God on His own calendar. Each one was initially lived out in the Exodus of the Jews out of Egypt, but that was only a foreshadow, a dress rehearsal of better things to come. Unbeknownst to the Jews, each of these Spring feast days not only pointed back to their awe-inspiring, miraculous Exodus, but pointed to the ultimate fulfillment in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus.

Today, we’re going to take of look at God’s first appointment on His calendar. The Passover. In so doing, we will barely begin to scratch the surface of God’s incredible accuracy and precision.

The First Passover

Four days before the first Passover, each household picked out a perfect yearling lamb. This lamb they took into their house in order to inspect it thoroughly to make sure it truly was without blemish. For four days the lamb became a part of the family, even a family pet while the children of the house would play with it and probably even name it.

Then, on the fourth day, the little perfect and very beloved lamb would be led by the father of the household to the threshold of the front door under which was a trench (to keep water from getting into the house), and there he would kill the lamb specifically between the evenings, that is between the times of 3 and 6 o’clock pm.

It was a night unlike any other night,” the saying goes when speaking of the very first Passover in Egypt. Everyone was huddled in their homes, approximately ten people per house. The silence of the evening was probably deafening as they hastily ate their roasted lamb, bitter herbs and unleavened bread, perhaps the children even cried over their pet lamb, and they all tensely waited.

Then, they would begin to hear it. Blood curdling screams. Frightened shouts. Gut wrenching wailing. Until fear filled the air as up and down the streets the death angel walked taking with him the first born out of every household that had not been anointed with the blood of a lamb.

Breathlessly, they waited until everyone’s door was suddenly pounded upon and word spread that they were to leave Egypt immediately. The Egyptians themselves approached the Jewish slaves, frantically begging them to leave and leave now. The Egyptians even gave them gold, silver, precious stones and beautiful clothing just to get them to go.

It was a night of both darkness and deliverance, death and redemption.

Psalm 118

In the time of Jesus, the Jews continued to celebrate the Passover. After all, God said they would celebrate it forever. And when God says forever He means forever. Thus, every year they would pick out a lamb for their family, and every year they would sacrifice it, sing certain songs, and continue to rehearse the details of Passover.

In Jesus’ day, around 3 million Jews would ascend every year up to Jerusalem for the Passover, and they would sing certain songs, just like we have certain hymns we sing for certain occasions, like “Up From the Grave He Arose” every Resurrection Sunday and “Silent Night” each Christmas. Even so, they sang certain Psalms, namely Psalm 113-118 (referred to as the Hallel).

Jerusalem had four gates: north, south, east and west. Four days before Passover, the High Priest would enter Jerusalem through the north gate leading national lamb, along with all the other lambs. Each family picked out their own lamb for their family, and then there was the one lamb that would die for all the people. While the High Priest led the little lamb, a crowd would follow behind and the High Priest would sing Psalm 118.

Some of the lyrics/verses of Psalm 118 read (25-26), “Save now (the word here is Hosanna), I beseech thee, O LORD: O LORD, I beseech thee, send now prosperity. Blessed be he that cometh in the name of the LORD.” These are the words that the High Priest would be singing as he entered town with the national lamb that was to be inspected for four days

Even so, four days before Passover, Jesus in Matthew 21:1-11 entered Jerusalem. It reads, “And when they drew nigh unto Jerusalem, and were come to Bethphage, unto the mount of Olives, then sent Jesus two disciples, 6 And the disciples went, and did as Jesus commanded them, 7 And brought the ass, and the colt, and put on them their clothes, and they set him thereon. 8 And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way; others cut down branches from the trees, and strawed them in the way. 9 And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the Son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest.”

As the High Priest with a crowd and a lamb was entering the northern gate singing from Psalm 118, saying “Hosanna…blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD…” Jesus entered the eastern gate with a crowd to the tune of the shouts of the people who said, “Hosanna…blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.” And even as the lamb was inspected for four days in the Temple, Jesus, the Lamb of God, was inspected in the Temple with questions and found to be without blemish time after time after time. As it says in Matthew 26:59-60, “Now the chief priests and the elders and all the council sought false witness against Jesus to put him to death, but found none…” Even Pontius Pilate said in Matthew 27:24, “…I am innocent of the blood of this just person…” Thus, Jesus was declared to be spotless, and therefore, worthy to be the Passover Lamb.

It Is Finished

Each Synoptic Gospel specifically notes that at 3pm, Jesus drank of the vinegar, commended His spirit to God, and then breathed His last. To begin with, 3pm is exactly the “between the evenings” mentioned in Exodus 12.

John 19, unlike the other three Gospels, quotes Jesus as saying something very important. “It is finished.”

As Jesus was dying on the cross at 3pm, between the evenings, the High Priest back in the Temple was preparing to slay the national Passover lamb. When he had completed the task, he would stretch out his arms from side to side and say, “It is finished.” And thus, Jesus as our sacrificial Lamb of God who came to take away the sin of the world and as our Great High Priest, with his arms stretched out said from the cross the very same words, “It is finished.” And because of God’s exactness, the High Priest and Jesus said the words at the exact same time.

Conclusion

These are only a few ways in which Jesus fulfilled the Passover. There are so many other ways in which Jesus in minute detail fulfilled the law and the prophets, but to cover them all would take us an indeterminate amount of time.

God is a God of order and details. As it says in Matthew 5:18, For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” A jot is both the smallest Greek and Hebrew letter (the iota and the yod), and a tittle is kind of like the dot on our “i”. In other words, a tittle is smaller than the smallest letter. God did not say every word will be fulfilled. No. Notice it is every smallest letter and smallest stroke of a pen that will be fulfilled. Now that is detail! Some say that the devil is in the details. But, really, it is God who is in the details!

Just think, God planned it all in every microscopic facet, marked it on His calendar, and brought it to pass on the exact day and at the precise time it was to happen. God inspired the exact songs that would be sung as Jesus entered Jerusalem; He chose the very day and even the very second that Jesus would die; even Jesus’ words said from the cross were a script from the Father and in fulfillment of the minutest detail of the law.

For years, the Jews had rehearsed the very steps, and somehow, just as we all do, got so lost in those details of the day that they missed the awe inspiring, miraculous handiwork of God. So, this holiday season, I encourage us all to not just go through the motions of the incredible holidays of God. Let’s think on each intricate part of the Biblical story that is read because even the smallest detail is significant; let’s reflect on our own great need for a Savior and how He fulfilled the smallest details in God’s salvation plan for us; let’s stand in awe of the Lamb of God sent to take away the sin of the world, and let’s not miss God’s perfect, meticulous fulfillment of Passover through Jesus.

Sources:

Bill Cloud and Perry Stone video, “The Seven Feasts of Israel.”

Mark Biltz DVD series, “The Feasts of the Lord.”

We Are At War: The Shield of Faith

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free bing roman soldier shielf of faith

Here are some things we have learned so far about Ephesians 6.

*We are war.

*The combat is up close and personal and very real.

-The battle is unseen

-The battle is spiritual

-The battle is mostly in the mind

*God has equipped us.

-A showy, impenetrable helmet

-An ornate, indispensable belt

-A small but deadly sword

Ephesians 6:16

“Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.”

The Make of the Roman Shield

The ancient Roman shield of Jesus’ day was called a scutum (plural scuti). A scutum was a semi-cylindrical, rectangular shape, was four feet tall, two and half feet wide, and weighed around twenty pounds. The Roman shield was made of several components including wood, several woven together layers of leather that became so strong it was nearly like steal (Rick Renner, “Spiritual Warfare: Understanding Your Shield of Faith” https://renner.org/spiritual-warfare-understanding-your-shield-of-faith/), canvas, iron edging, and a central feature or “boss” was made of iron, bronze or brass, (“Roman Gladius and Scutum: Carving Out An Empire” http://www.historynet.com/roman-gladius-and-scutum-carving-out-an-empire.htm). Interestingly enough, the scutum covered most of the soldier’s body. Furthermore, “The word “shield” is the Greek word thureos, which was used by the Greeks and Romans to depict an oblong door that was wide in width and long in length. The reason Roman soldiers used this word to describe their battle shields was that their shields were actually door-shaped! They were wide in width and long in length, just like the door of a house,” (Rick Renner, Spiritual Warfare: Understanding Your Shield of Faith” https://renner.org/spiritual-warfare-understanding-your-shield-of-faith/).

The Use of the Roman Shield

The scutum was not wielded like any other shield, for it was too large to be maneuvered quickly. Most importantly, it was not merely defensive, but was first and foremost, used offensively. The Roman soldier did not wait for the enemy on the field to advance to him. After getting close to the enemy, volleys of pila were thrust at them. Pila were javelins that would stick in an opponent’s shield rendering it difficult to wield (“The Shield: An Abridged History of It’s Use and Development” http://myarmoury.com/feature_shield.html). It was then that the Roman soldier would charge forward with shield stretched out directly in front of him, his left arm straight and set. With the shield he would ram his enemy, knocking him off guard and possibly off of his feet. After doing this, the Roman soldier would could use the metal edges of his shield to hack at his opponent. If hacking was not an option for whatever reason, the Roman soldier would thrust his shield into the ground and fight from behind it, either in a crouching or kneeling position.

The Preparation of the Shield

Because the shield to the Roman soldier was of utmost importance offensively and defensively, he daily set aside time to oil its leather. After all, if leather gets dry, it cracks, and one does not want a faulty shield, especially when your life is at stake.

On top of this, before a battle, they would saturate their shield with water. This of course would make it heavier. So, why would they do this?

The opponents often had arrows they would shoot in the direction of the Roman advancement. Sometimes they were just ordinary arrows, and therefore, harmless so long as one held up their shield. Other times the ends of the arrows were set on fire so that when they hit their mark a fire would kindle. And then there were the insidious arrows which only appeared to be ordinary arrows but were filled with explosive material that would explode into fire as soon as the target was met (https://renner.org/take-up-your-shield-of-faith/). However, when any type of arrow (ordinary, fiery, or deceptively explosive) met the Roman’s saturated shield, the arrow fizzled and could not do the damage it was intended to do.

For this reason, it was imperative that the Roman soldier prepare his shield daily with oil, and with water before battle.

The Verse: Why “Above All”?

Now, to the Christian, the shield that we wield is that of faith. And according to the Apostle Paul Christians are to “Above all,” take it up. “Above all” however, does not mean that it is more important than the rest of the armor nor that it should be held onto more than the others nor to be chosen above the others. “The phrase “above all” is taken from the Greek phrase epi pasin. The word epi means over. The word pasin means all or everything. So rather than stating that the shield of faith is more important than the other pieces of armor, the phrase epi pasin describes the position faith should have over the other pieces of armor. It could be better translated, “Out in front of all….” or “Covering all….”” (Rick Renner, Take Up Your Shield of Faith” https://renner.org/take-up-your-shield-of-faith/). In other words, the shield is not to be at our side or on the ground or in a closet or in another state. The shield is to be directly in front of us, covering all of us as well as covering most of the other armor that we are wearing. It is to cover all.

The Verse: What Does “Taking” Mean?

When Paul says, ““…Taking the shield of faith….” the word “taking” is from the word analambano, which is a compound of the Greek words ana and lambano. The word ana means up, back, or again; the word lambano means to take up or to take in hand. When compounded together, it means to take something up in hand or to pick something back up again. This plainly means your shield of faith can be either picked up or laid down. It places the responsibility on you as to whether you will use your shield of faith or allow yourself to go through life unprotected,” (Rick Renner, Take Up Your Shield of Faith” ).

The Rest of the Verse

“…wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.”

When it says Christians “shall be able” this is not just an ordinary word. It sounds rather stale or limp actually, “shall be able”. But, incredibly it comes from the word dunamis. You all know what dynamite is. Dynamite is an explosive, and explosive dynamite gets its name from this word dunamis. Perhaps a better way to translate what Paul said is ““Above all, taking the shield of faith, by which you will be dynamically empowered.…” (Here’s How to Extinguish the Fiery Darts” https://renner.org/heres-how-to-extinguish-the-fiery-darts-of-the-wicke/).

Think about that! Christians are explosively, dynamically empowered by this shield of faith.

Practical Application

So…what does this mean for us as Christians? What does God want us to learn from this information? And how do we apply it?

To begin with, the Lord has given us a unique, body sized, door shaped shield. It is large enough to completely cover us if it is held directly in front. It is not just a defensive weapon, but is really our first line of offense. But, in order for it to work for us, we must take care of it. First of all we must oil our faith daily. How do we do that? In the Bible oil is most often associated with the Holy Spirit, and it says in Ephesians 5:18 that we are to be freshly filled with the Holy Spirit over and over and over again. It says, “And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit…” In the Greek this being filled is a continuous, ongoing thing. So we need our faith to be oiled by the continuous filling of the Holy Spirit.

Secondly, we must saturate our faith. But what are we to saturate it with? Questions? Fears? Doubts? In Ephesians 5:25-27 the Apostle Paul has already given us the answer to this question by saying, “…Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.” Thus, we see that the way we get a saturated faith is through the “washing of water by the word.” Indeed, we can’t even really have faith without the word. As Romans 10:17 says, “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” So we need our faith to be saturated with the word of God.

Remember, if our shield of faith is not oiled, it will crack and ultimately bring about certain death. We are in a very real battle with an enemy who is out to “steal, kill, and destroy” us. This is not a game. Furthermore, our shield of faith must be saturated with the word of God or else the deceptive fiery darts of the enemy will hit us and set us on fire. Without the water of God’s word we cannot “quench” those deadly darts.

And finally, we as Christians must daily choose to take up the shield of faith and charge into battle. Remember, the Roman soldier did not saunter; he did not casually walk into battle. He charged. He meant business. The well-oiled, water saturated shield is our first offensive weapon. It knocks our enemy off guard; it gives us a foothold on the battlefield. And it covers us completely. Not one of us is lacking in faith. Not one of us has too little faith or needs to increase in faith, for according to Romans 12:3 God has given each of us a measure of faith. And that measure is perfectly proportioned to each of us, and covers us exactly where each of us needs it. All we need do is take it up and use it.

Sources:

“Spiritual Warfare: Understanding Your Shield of Faith”

https://renner.org/spiritual-warfare-understanding-your-shield-of-faith/

“Take Up Your Shield of Faith”

https://renner.org/take-up-your-shield-of-faith/

“Here’s How to Extinguish the Fiery Darts”

https://renner.org/heres-how-to-extinguish-the-fiery-darts-of-the-wicke/

“Three Kinds of Ancient Roman Shields”

http://madefrom.com/history/antiquity/kinds-of-ancient-roman-shields/

“Armor”

https://romanmilitary.net/tools/armor/

“The Shield: An Abridged History of It’s Use and Development”

http://myarmoury.com/feature_shield.html

“Shields: Terminology and History”

http://web.prm.ox.ac.uk/Kent/shieweap/shgenex3.html

“Roman Gladius and Scutum: Carving Out An Empire”

http://www.historynet.com/roman-gladius-and-scutum-carving-out-an-empire.htm

We Are At War: Shoes of Peace

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free bing roman soldiers shoes

We have been learning that we are at war with an unseen enemy. We are in hand to hand combat with an enemy that wants to destroy us, but we have been empowered by God so that we can withstand all orderly methods/strategies of the enemy no matter what level that enemy is whether “against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (verse 12). The empowering that we have received from the Lord is in the form of armor, and is composed of pieces, of which we are to take up the “whole” armor of God, not just one piece or two. These pieces include: the helmet, the breastplate, the belt, the shield, the sword, and the shoes.

Review

Let’s review the pieces of armor that we have covered so far, namely the helmet, the belt, the shield and the sword.

The Helmet:

The helmet was flashy, showpiece that was also durable, weighty and an impenetrable protection against the battle axes of the enemy. This is a picture of our salvation: Impenetrable and ornate. The helmet of our salvation is there to protect our thinking, for we have been given the mind of Christ. The helmet is one of wholeness, security, right thinking, renewal, a shield from destructive mindsets and emotions. It is a helmet that enables us to change our form and be transfigured from the earthly to the spiritual, from darkness to light.

The Shield:

The well-oiled, water-saturated shield is our first offensive weapon. Thus, is our faith. Our faith is offensive not defensive. It knocks our enemy off guard; it gives us a foothold on the battlefield. Remember, the shield of the Roman soldier covered them completely. Even so, each of us is covered completely by our faith, and not one of us is lacking in faith. But we need to keep our faith anointed with the Holy Spirit and washed with the water of the Word of God. After all faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. Remaining in the Word and the refilling of the Holy Spirit will oil and saturate our faith so that the enemy’s deceptions will do us no harm.

The Belt:

Furthermore, we are equipped with the sparkling belt of truth. And this we found out is no ordinary belt, but rather, is the defining feature of a soldier. Whether on the battlefield or off, the Roman soldier was recognized because of this distinct belt. This belt even made the soldier walk differently, stand differently, and act differently. No one else walked or stood like a soldier, and no one else wore such a belt. This for the Christian is the belt of Truth, for the Truth makes us walk differently, talk differently, act differently. The truth is what sets us free. The truth is what distinguishes Christianity from all other religions of the world. Not only this, but the belt of truth is that upon which much of the armor is connected in some form or fashion, including the breastplate of righteousness and the sword.

The Sword:

The Roman soldier always wore his sword, for his sword and belt were intertwined so as to not be separated. Though most of Roman society could not wear a weapon in public, the soldier could. Even so, God’s belt of truth and His sword of the Spirit that is the Word of God are intimately linked and inseparable. There is no truth outside of God’s Word. When it comes to the Christian, this sword is of the Spirit and is the Word of God. But, the Word of God referred to here is not the entire Word (logos), but rather, a specific passage from Scripture (Rhema) for a specific situation, and is to be even more specifically used in warfare prayer. Yes, the whole Word is inspired, indeed, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

17 That the man of God may be perfect, thouroghly furnished unto all good works,” I Timothy 3:16-17. But, in instances of praying, specific inspired passages of the inspired Word will be brought to mind by the Holy Spirit that are to be used as a sword against the enemy.

Putting on Our Shoes

Today, we are going to look at what we as Christians are to have upon our spiritual feet.

Stand therefore having…your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace…”

Ephesians 6:15

Before we ever go anywhere, we get dressed, and a very important part of getting dressed is putting on our shoes. There are actually restaurants and other establishments that still put up signs that say, “No shirt, no shoes, no service.” Shoes are very important. And more important than that, is what kind of shoes you wear!

A Roman Soldier’s Battle Shoes

When a Roman soldier was not on the battlefield, he could still be recognized as a soldier. In our modern day everyone looks alike when not in uniform. If one nowadays is in the military or the medical field or is a farmer or waitress or a manager of a store or even a pastor of a church, everyone in their off time seems to dress the same. However, back in Paul’s day, that was not the case. So, how did people know that a soldier was a soldier even when on leave? His belt and his shoes.

According to researcher Stefani Hoss, “Only the hobnailed caligae and the belt can be defined as typical for soldiers, identifying them as milites [military] even when they were not wearing amour. While caligae were also worn by civilians, they are typical for soldiers. Literary sources and inscriptions describe soldiers’ expressis verbis as caligati or as serving in caligae. And the hobnailed boots and their wearers are also equated both in the Roman and Jewish literature at the time.” (“A Theoretical Approach to Roman Military Belts,” by Stefani Hoss, http://www.academia.edu/4849015/A_Theoretical_Approach_to_Roman_Military_Belts, page 320-321). The military belt was decorated with elaborate buckles, metal plates, strap-ends and other attachments, which made it heavy, eye-catching and jingly. Together with the crunch of hob-nailed sandals, the jingling of the metal belt pieces must have given soldiers a distinctive ‘sound’, announcing their presence.” (The Roman Military Belt,” by Stefani Hoss, http://www.academia.edu/212354/The_Roman_Military_Belt, page 30).

In other words, before you even saw a soldier approaching, you heard him, from the jingling of his belt, the clanking of the inseparable sword, and the clacking of his hobnailed shoes.

The shoes a soldier wore were cleated, sort of like golfer’s shoes or baseball players. They also had a spike at the heal and the toe. In other words, these shoes meant business and were made for both stability on the battlefield and to be a weapon against the enemy. “One good kick with those shoes, and an enemy would be dead. Just a few seconds of stomping on a fallen adversary would have eradicated that foe forever!” (Are You Wearing Your Killer Shoes?” by Rick Renner, https://renner.org/are-you-wearing-your-killer-shoes/).

Practical Application

As Christians who are at war, we are to make sure that we get the correct footwear on our feet, and Ephesians 6:15 tells us exactly what those shoes are.

Stand therefore having…your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace…”

Ephesians 6:15

Just as the Roman soldiers tightly tied on their “killer shoes”, we too are to snugly tie on these cleated shoes for ourselves. No one else can put the shoes on for us. We do it, and we are to always be ready with our feet tightly fitted with these shoes. The Greek tense expresses this clearly. The shoes we are to put on are called “preparation.” However, another way to translate this word is “foundation or firm footing.” So, we are to put on the shoes of the firm foundation of the Gospel which also means “good news”. The Apostle Paul used this description of the Gospel elsewhere in Scripture including 1 Corinthians 3 where he explicitly states that there is to be no other foundation but that of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And it is this Gospel that brings “peace”.

Peace in both the Greek and Hebrew carries with it the powerful meaning of wholeness in every way including our bodies, our minds, our spirits and our finances. It is the absence of confusion and war. It is “Truly the tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, fearing nothing from God and consequently content with its earthly lot, whatever it is” (The Complete Word Study Dictionary, by Spiros Zodhiates, page 520).

But this peace is not for our enemy. With our cleats we not only are held firmly in place doctrinally, be we can also use them to stomp on the evil that would steal, kill and destroy us. Greek scholar Rick Renner states, “…As the soldier used those spikes to kick and to kill his opponent, there is no need for you to ever stop moving ahead just because the devil tries to block your path. If he is foolish enough to try to get in front of you, just keep walking! Stomp all along the way! By the time you’re finished using your shoes of peace, you won’t have much of a devil problem to deal with anymore!” (“Are You Wearing Your Killer Shoes?” by Rick Renner, https://renner.org/are-you-wearing-your-killer-shoes/).

This is what we as Christians are to put on our feet. The firm foundation of the Gospel of wholeness in body, mind, and spirit, peace and not confusion is that in which we are to walk. For it is this Gospel of Christ that stabilizes us in every terrain no matter how treacherous, and steadies us on a very slippery, messy, litter ridden battlefield. When we are firmly founded on the Gospel and know that which we believe, we cannot lose our footing and thus, the enemy cannot knock us down. And even when not in a spiritual battle in our mind or in prayer or otherwise, when our feet are shod with the firm foundation of the Gospel of peace, people will know that we are different. Even as the Roman soldier when on leave strolling through town was still known to be a soldier because of the clacking of his cleats, we too ought to sound and walk differently than everybody else all the time and in every situation. Indeed, wherever we are, everyone should know that we are Christians.


Specific Word Studies:

Shod:

hupodesamenoi, appears to be a 1st Aorist Middle Participle (aorist participle because of the sa, and middle because of the menoi

From hupodeo #5265, meaning literally, “to bind under” like sandals, slippers or shoes.

In this sense it means that sometime in the undefined past one bound her sandals to her own feet for her own self. In other words, “having shod one’s feet for one’s self.”

Preparation:

hetoimasia #2091, “Preparation, a basis, foundation, firm footing”

From hetoimos #2092, meaning “ready, prepared.” (Like just before a race, “ready, get set, go!”)

Gospel:

euanggelion #2098, meaning, “bringing good news, to proclaim or tell good news”

Peace:

Eirene #1515 meaning, “peace” as the opposite of war, health, all kinds of good physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

Hebrew equivalent is shalom #7965 which means, “wholeness, soundness, health, well-being, prosperity, absence of confusion and anything opposite of war.”

**Truly the tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, fearing nothing from God and consequently content with its earthly lot, whatever it is” (The Complete Word Study Dictionary, by Spiros Zodhiates, page 520)


Sources:

Josephus BellJud, 6:85, Juvenal, Satires 3.248, 16:25; Palestinian Talmud (Yerushalmi), Shabbath 8a and 20a

A Theoretical Approach to Roman Military Belts,” http://www.academia.edu/4849015/A_Theoretical_Approach_to_Roman_Military_Belts

The Roman Military Belt,” by Stefani Hoss, http://www.academia.edu/212354/The_Roman_Military_Belt

“Are You Dressed in the Whole Armor of God?” by Rick Renner, https://renner.org/are-you-dressed-in-the-whole-armor-of-god/

“Armor of God: Gospel of Peace,” by Dave Johnson, https://lifehopeandtruth.com/change/christian-conversion/armor-of-god/gospel-of-peace/

Are You Wearing Your Killer Shoes?” by Rick Renner, https://renner.org/are-you-wearing-your-killer-shoes/

We Are At War: The Breastplate of Righteousness

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free bing fighting roman soldier picture

The Full Armor of the Living God is an armor of light given to us by our Lord who is light within light. The wearing of this armor is imperative and is a matter of life and death in every way, for we are born on a battlefield. We are born both physically and spiritually and emotionally on a battlefield, and not merely on a battlefield, but that battlefield is in enemy territory. God has reclaimed that battlefield, but the enemy still thinks it is his. And we are in the cross-hairs. Thus, we MUST be armed for all out war.

This is not a war whose end is unclear nor up for grabs nor is a toss up. Rather, this is a war that is already won. Through the apparent weakness of the cross the greatest victory in the world was determined. Through the weakness of love, all evil in every way was completely and utterly defeated at the foot of the foolishness of the old rugged cross.

But the battle is very, very real, and is really, really dirty. The enemy has learned how to play us, and he plays us well. And we literally fall for it all of time.

But, God in His incredible victory has not left us powerless. No! Indeed, He has to powerfully equipped us with armor by His Spirit that if we could ever begin to fathom it, grasp it, or begin to tap into this power, we would be in awe as the enemy is blown away!

So, what is this armor that we are to don with confidence and the authority of the Most High? Number one, we are to snugly fit upon our heads the Helmet of Salvation which is all about having right, faith-filled, Christ-like thinking, Bible mindsets, with thoughts set upon things above and not on earthly things and on the incredible hope of eternal salvation in the presence of the Living God! Next we are to put on our dazzling Belt of Truth which holds it all together, the belt which we are to wear wherever we go and whenever we go there. We also lace up tightly the Shoes of the Gospel of Peace, an unshakable peace that the world cannot give nor understands; shoes that stabilize us in the slipperiest and bloodiest of battlefields and keep us firmly planted in the Word rather than circumstances. We are take up the body-sized Shield of Faith that covers us completely, successfully protecting us defensively and offensively, and if watered by the Word and oiled by the daily anointing of the Spirit will quench every fiery dart of the enemy. Then taking up the Sword of the Spirit that is the Word of God we are called to jab the very evil that would steal, kill and destroy us. With the truth of the Word of God supernaturally inspired by the Spirit through us in prayer deals a death blow to the enemy.

Indeed we have been dressed by God to kill a very real, demonic enemy.

But, there is one piece of armor…one more vital bit of equipment that cannot be overlooked, for to go into battle without it was beyond heedless and meant certain death. This life saving, undeniably important protection is the Breastplate of Righteousness.

The Roman Breastplate in Jesus’ Day

“The breastplate was a central part of the Roman soldier’s armor—it provided protection for the torso, which contains vital organs like the heart, lungs and so on. Without a breastplate, a soldier would be asking for death, as any attack could instantly become fatal. With a sturdy breastplate, the very same attacks become ineffective and useless, as blows glance off the armor,” (Bible Study Guides).

“The Romans had the ideas for armor design which provided light weight combined with ease of movement and protection from blows. This breastplate was attached to the belt by leather thongs passed through rings on the bottom to keep it solidly attached. It was anchored to the belt, and it was above the belt. Note: the belt had to be put on first, then the breastplate,” (The Christian Arsenal).

“The Roman breastplate was typically made of bronze, backed with leather. It was designed to protect the vital area. A blow through this was usually fatal,” (Chuck Missler).

The Biblical Breastplate

“The breastplate or heart-guard that Paul was recommending was not made of hard metal, but of something much stronger. It is made of righteousness. The Greek word used for righteousness is dikaiosune, Strong’s #1343, defined as “equity (of character or act); specially (Christian) justification.” Vine’s defines the word as “the character or quality of being right or just”; it was formerly spelled ‘rightwiseness,’ which clearly expresses the meaning.” (Dan Wesol).

Truly, righteousness is “the conformity to the claims of higher authority and stands in opposition to… lawlessness,” (The Complete Word Study Dictionary, pg 458). Thus, righteousness is the crucifying of our way of living and the complete surrender to living life God’s way. This is our breastplate.

Man’s Righteousness Vs. God’s

Throughout the history of the world, individuals and people groups, false religions and cults of all kinds have sought to do good in order to please a transcendent being far beyond themselves in order to accrue enough credit in the heavenlies for the sake of their uncertain eternal security. Much has been done to appease countless gods and goddesses, and innumerable moments have passed as people do good for others simply because it makes them feel good to do so. The social gospel is highly active even today, and anyone and everyone can and does get caught up in the wave of it. “But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; we all fade as a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away,” (Isaiah 64:6). As it is written: “There is none righteous, no, not one; There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside; They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one,” (Romans 3:10-13).

Even Christians can get caught up in the “doing good” bug, and become driven by good works and achieving goals and seeking to look good in the eyes of others. But, “Putting on His breastplate of righteousness is not “putting on” your own good works, integrity, or honesty. It is not “putting on” Bible reading and prayer. It is not “putting on” church attendance. When we put on the cloak of His righteousness, it contrasts with our righteousness,” (Chuck Missler). For indeed, righteousness is all about God and not about us at all. The Lord is the source of all righteousness, even the very foundation of His throne is righteousness and justice and the heavens declare His righteousness and all people have seen His glory (Psalm 97).

Application: Being Not Just Doing

The greatest glory of God’s righteousness has been exemplified for all to see through Jesus Christ His beloved Son. As Ephesians 2:8-10 reads, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” The incredible magnitude of God’s righteousness superseding our goodness is apparent in this passage. On top of this is that undeserving as we are we have been made God’s righteousness (II Corinthians 5:21) and because of this, we have been empowered us to do righteous deeds the right way and for the right reason. This is righteousness.

“People have different ideas about righteousness. We must understand that righteousness is something we are, not something we do. Righteousness within us affects what we do, but what we do does not make us righteous,” (Chuck Missler).

Now that we have been made the righteousness of God in Christ, “let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love…” (I Thessalonians 5:8). Thus, the breastplate of righteousness is also a breastplate of faith and love: faith because without faith it is impossible to please God, and love because Jesus said that if we believe in Him we will walk in love. Righteousness, therefore, has everything to do with having faith in Jesus and walking in love.

In Job we see a picture of what righteousness looks like. Job 29:12-17 says, “Because I delivered the poor who cried out, The fatherless and the one who had no helper. The blessing of a perishing man came upon me, And I caused the widow’s heart to sing for joy. I put on righteousness, and it clothed me; My justice was like a robe and a turban. I was eyes to the blind, And I was feet to the lame. I was a father to the poor, And I searched out the case that I did not know. I broke the fangs of the wicked, And plucked the victim from his teeth.” First John 3:16-17 also says, “By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?”

God in all of His glory, seated high upon His majestic throne, perceived our dire need as we wallowed destitute and condemned in sin’s muck and mire. But… God so loved the world that He GAVE His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not parish but have everlasting life (John 3:16). And that same selfless attitude of Christ is to be in us (Philippians 2), for that is righteousness in action.

Conclusion

A vital part of our arsenal is the Breastplate of Righteousness. With righteousness our hearts, which are the well-spring of life, are guarded above all else. This righteousness is from God alone for only God is righteous, and He because of what Jesus did on the cross and in His resurrection has made us righteous and righteousness. Christ our great High Priest has made us a holy priesthood (I Peter 2:5) and as such we are to be “clothed in righteousness” (Psalm 132:9). Not only are we to be clothed in righteousness, but we are the righteousness of God in Christ. Thus, we no longer are to walk in fear, but in faith. We are no longer to walk in selfish impatience but in love. This righteousness that God has made us through Christ and that is exemplified through faith and love in action is what guards our hearts from the enemy’s continual attacks. Let us then put on the breastplate of righteousness. And having suited up in the full armor of God’s light, let us stand unwaveringly and unashamedly in this ever darkening, depraved, deceived world that is quickly passing away. Jesus is coming soon! Let us “gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ…” (I Peter 1:13), as we look for our “blessed hope” (Titus 2:13).

Sources:

Bible Study Guides, “Series 3 – The Great Teachings of the Bible and What They Mean for You: The Armor of God,” http://www.freebiblestudyguides.org/bible-teachings/armor-of-god-breasplate-of-righteousness.htm.

Margaret Minnicks, “The Whole Armor of God,” https://owlcation.com/humanities/Put-On-The-Whole-Armor-of-God.

Chuck Missler, “The Breastplate of Righteousness,” http://khouse.org/articles/1996/269/

Dan Wesol, “Putting on the Breastplate,” http://www.heraldmag.org/2009/09jf_2.htm

The Christian Arsenal, “The Full Armor of God,” http://www.christianarsenal.com/Christian_Arsenal/Full_Armor_of_God.html

Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament

God’s Holidays: Chag HaSukkot

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free-bing-festival-of-light-sukkot

So far we’ve learned that God has seven holidays. Of those seven, the four spring holidays have been fulfilled by Jesus and the three fall holidays have not. The three autumn feasts that are yet to be fulfilled are the Day of Trumpets/Blowing (Yom Teruah), the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur), and the Feast of Tabernacles (Chag HaSukkot). The Day of Trumpets has many nicknames including “the hidden day,” “the day of the awakening blast,” and “the day that no one knows the day or the hour” and has everything to do with Christ’s return in the near future. The Day of Atonement is the holiest and most solemn of God’s holidays, and is both a day of atonement and judgment. Isaiah 61 is a major passage read on Yom Kippur and only on Yom Kippur. Jesus actually read this passage and declared that He fulfilled the “acceptable year of the Lord,” the atonement part of Isaiah 61. However, Jesus has not yet fulfilled the other half of that passage, “the day of the vengeance of our God.” Thus, Jesus is the present atonement for those who repent, but the future judgment of those who have not repented.

GOD’S COMMAND

The third fall holiday called the Feast of Tabernacles was one of three feasts (the other two being Passover and Pentecost) that all men were commanded to attend in Jerusalem. The women and children were very much invited, but all the men age 20 and over were commanded to come (Exodus 23:17; Deuteronomy 16:16). Every seven years, however, everyone was to attend as it says in Deuteronomy 31:10-13, “And Moses commanded them, saying: “At the end of every seven years, at the appointed time in the year of release, at the Feast of Tabernacles, when all Israel comes to appear before the Lord your God in the place which He chooses, you shall read this law before all Israel in their hearing. Gather the people together, men and women and little ones, and the stranger who is within your gates, that they may hear and that they may learn to fear the Lord your God and carefully observe all the words of this law…”

WHAT ARE SUKKOT?

During this eight day holiday, the Jews specifically were and are to dwell in sukkot, translated as tabernacles, booths, and temporary dwellings (Leviticus 23:41-43), in order to commemorate how they lived when God brought them out of Egypt. While gathered in Jerusalem, all the men, with or without their families, were to build temporary shelters that were enclosed on three sides and were made of branches from trees. This way, when lying down for sleep at night, one could look up through the branches and see the stars overhead. In short, it could be said that this holiday is camping done God’s way.

THE REVIVAL OF NEHEMIAH’S DAY

In the book of Nehemiah we read the powerful story about God’s people who had returned from Babylonian captivity and of their incredible revival. In reading this book we also catch a glimpse of what a Feast of Tabernacles was to look like.

Nehemiah 8:14-18 says,

14 And they found written in the Law, which the Lord had commanded by Moses, that the children of Israel should dwell in booths during the feast of the seventh month,

15 and that they should announce and proclaim in all their cities and in Jerusalem, saying, “Go out to the mountain, and bring olive branches, branches of oil trees, myrtle branches, palm branches, and branches of leafy trees, to make booths, as it is written.”

16 Then the people went out and brought them and made themselves booths, each one on the roof of his house, or in their courtyards or the courts of the house of God, and in the open square of the Water Gate and in the open square of the Gate of Ephraim.

17 So the whole assembly of those who had returned from the captivity made booths and sat under the booths; for since the days of Joshua the son of Nun until that day the children of Israel had not done so. And there was very great gladness.

18 Also day by day, from the first day until the last day, he read from the Book of the Law of God. And they kept the feast seven days; and on the eighth day there was a sacred assembly, according to the prescribed manner.”

 

HOLIDAY OF WONDER

The Feast of Tabernacles all about lights, water, wind, great joy, the telling and retelling of the good old stories of the Word of God, and Emmanuel—God Himself abiding among His people.

It is all about light for it was at that time when the Jews would celebrate it from Jerusalem (even in Jesus’ day) and the lights of Jerusalem would be seen up to 40 miles away in all directions. Those north into the region of Galilee and west out onto the Mediterranean Sea would see the lights. Indeed, located on a hill of about 2,500 feet, Jerusalem at that time of the year was referred to as “the light of the world”. In the temple court there would have been four extremely tall tall candlesticks rising 7.5 stories into the sky, which is about 75 feet high. Each would be filled with gallons and gallons and gallons of oil continually for eight days so that all night long the people could celebrate with great exuberance. It was at this time that Jesus stood up and declared in John 8:12, “I am the light of the world.”

It is also about water, for part of the ceremonies performed on the Day of Tabernacles was that of the water libation (the definition of libation is “pouring out water to a diety”) wherein 8 priests, with singing and music and many parading behind them, would descend from Jerusalem to the Pool of Siloam to draw water with a golden pitcher. Then they would all march uphill back to the Temple with the water as well as a silver pitcher of wine. Once they reached the Temple they would pour the water into a cup on the brazen altar and the wine into another cup on the altar. While they poured out the water and the wine they would be singing Isaiah 12:3 which says, “3 Therefore with joy you will draw water From the wells of salvation.” Interestingly enough, the name of Jesus–Yeshua–means salvation. Furthermore, at the time of Jesus, while the priests were pouring out the water and praying for rain in order to have good crops the following year, Jesus arose to say with a loud voice, “If any man thirst, let him come to me and drink. He that believeth on me as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water” John 7:37-38.

It is also about wind, for while 8 priests were drawing the water from the wells of salvation, 8 other priests went out and cut down long (even up to 30 feet) branches of willow trees. Then, from different directions, those with the water and those with the branches would ascend back up into Jerusalem to the Temple. Both groups of priests would be accompanied by large crowds of followers. Those bearing the long branches would travel back to Jerusalem waving those branches causing a sound like that of a great wind to blow. Not only this, but everyone else also held onto such branches and waved them about during the celebration. The Holy Spirit is depicted in the great feast through this wind caused by the willow branches being waved. The word for Spirit in Hebrew quite literally means, “wind, breath.” Thus, the wind being caused is symbolic of the blowing of the Spirit. Indeed, later on in Acts 2, the Spirit would come upon those in the upper room who were waiting for the promise of the Father like the blowing of a violent wind.

It is also all about great joy, specifically the joy of the Word of God. After all, the 8th day of the feast was called Simchat Torah, which means, “rejoice in the teaching” or Word of God. For even as the people needed rain for their crops and were praying to God for that rain, the people also needed the Word of God to fall like rain and for the knowledge of the Lord to cover the earth as the water covers the sea (Isaiah 11:9). The Word of God (Torah) is compared to water and rain. Their songs were taken from the Psalms and Isaiah, and their joy was in God their savior. And their rejoicing was not simply in good food, hanging out with friends, singing their favorite songs or in the hopes for the rains to come, but rather, their rejoicing was in the knowledge of a personal, sovereign, detail-oriented, incredible God who would one day rain down upon all and dwelling among us.

GOD’S DWELLING AT SINAI

God had at one time descended from on high and tabernacled among the Jews in what was referred to as the Tabernacle. Can you imagine that? God’s holy, awesome presence dwelt in His own tent right in the midst of the tents of His people. He was their neighbor! What if God were your neighbor and lived in the house right next to yours? Well, God’s tent was right in the center of the Israelite wilderness housing project!

GOD’S TEMPLE “IN” CHRISTIANS

At this time because of Jesus, unbelievably and incredibly, God actually dwells not simply among us but within us as Christians. He dwells in each of us individually and corporately. I Corinthains 6:19 speaks of us as individuals, “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?” I Corinthians 3:16 speaks of us as a corporate body of believers, “Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” Furthermore, Jesus in John 15:4-5 says, “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” And in John 14:23 Jesus says, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.” Because of Christ’s atonement, we may abide in Him in this “acceptable year of the Lord”.

GOD WILL DWELL “AMONG” US AGAIN

Spectacular as this is, one day He will also one day soon dwell among us even as He did in the days of Sinai when the glory of the Lord filled the Tabernacle in the midst of all the people. Isaiah 2:2-4 (in unison with Micah 4:1-2) says, “Now it shall come to pass in the latter days That the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established on the top of the mountains, And shall be exalted above the hills; And all nations shall flow to it. Many people shall come and say, “Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, To the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, And we shall walk in His paths.” For out of Zion shall go forth the law, And the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations, And rebuke many people; They shall beat their swords into plowshares, And their spears into pruning hooks; Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, Neither shall they learn war anymore.” In this special time of Christ’s rule and reign on earth “He [Jesus] shall come down like rain on the mowed grass, like showers that water the earth. In His days the righteous shall flourish; and abundance of peace, until the moon is not. He shall also have the rule from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth,” Psalm 72:6-8. And “the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea,” Habakkuk 2:14.

TABERNACLES DURING THE MILLENNIUM

Not only will Jesus tabernacle among us physically on earth, but amazingly, the Feast of Tabernacles will be a required celebration at that time of Christ’s rule and reign even as it says in Zechariah 14:2a-4, 5c-7a, 8-9, 16-19, “For I will gather all the nations to battle against Jerusalem; The city shall be taken… Then the Lord will go forth And fight against those nations, As He fights in the day of battle. And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, Which faces Jerusalem on the east. And the Mount of Olives shall be split in two, From east to west, Making a very large valley; Half of the mountain shall move toward the north And half of it toward the south…Thus the Lord my God will come, And all the saints with You. It shall come to pass in that day That there will be no light; The lights will diminish. It shall be one day which is known to the Lord…And in that day it shall be That living waters shall flow from Jerusalem, Half of them toward the eastern sea And half of them toward the western sea; In both summer and winter it shall occur. And the Lord shall be King over all the earth. In that day it shall be– The Lord is one,” And His name one… And it shall come to pass that everyone who is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles. And it shall be that whichever of the families of the earth do not come up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, on them there will be no rain. If the family of Egypt will not come up and enter in, they shall have no rain; they shall receive the plague with which the Lord strikes the nations who do not come up to keep the Feast of Tabernacles. This shall be the punishment of Egypt and the punishment of all the nations that do not come up to keep the Feast of Tabernacles.”

CONCLUSION

The Feast of Tabernacles is about many things such as light, water, wind, and the joy of God’s word, but it is also about dwelling in booths and how God wants to dwell among His people. Because of Jesus, Christians are now God’s dwelling. But, one day, even as God once dwelt among His people at Sinai, and Jesus came as Emmanuel “God with us”, He will physically dwell among us again. In Nehemiah’s day God’s people after nearly ninety years of darkness became aware of God’s word and of His requirements. Because of this there was great weeping and an even greater joy that followed as they began to practice what God desired of them, including the celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles.

The Feast of Tabernacles is an incredible holiday of joyous jubilation and meaning. When the people actually celebrated it as they should, upwards to over 2 million people would be in attendance. Men would be dancing and juggling lit torches, while the sounds of singing filled the air and music wafted on the breeze. All week long people participated in God-ordained rituals, sacrifices, camping out under the stars, prayer, feasting, dancing, singing, music, and the reading of God’s Word, and then they did it all over again into the night and into the next day and the day after that. If anyone thinks that God is a stick in the mud and doesn’t know how to have fun, then they have not celebrated this feast! However, unlike all other parties celebrated in this world, at this great party God was the focus, for it was about God coming down as the blessing of rain to dwell among humanity.

We as Christians have been delivered from the Law of Sin and Death (Romans 8:2). We have been delivered from “the power of darkness” and have been “translated into the kingdom of the Son of His love,” (Colossians 1:13). We have been washed by the water of the word (John 14 and Ephesians 5), have been made new creations in Christ even children of light (Ephesians 5:8, I Thessalonians 5:5), been filled with the wind of His Holy Spirit (John and Acts). In other words, we have been “atoned for” and are God’s dwelling place, His holy of holies. Thus, no matter what trial or tribulation we are suffering and enduring, we have so much to celebrate.

And on top of all this, The Feast of Tabernacles will lived out more completely when Jesus, our risen Savior, physically returns and sets up His kingdom here where He shall dwell among us as King of kings and Lord of lords, and all nations of the world will ascend to Jerusalem to keep the Feast of Tabernacles year after year.

This is the most joyous of all God’s holidays for those who are called by His name. May we rejoice and be glad in it as we look forward to the day of Jesus’ triumphant return!

May it be sooner than soon! The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” Yes, come quickly LORD Jesus!!!!


For more information regarding God’s Holidays please refer to the Mark Biltz web addresses below:

Page on All the Feasts: https://www.elshaddaiministries.us/feasts_pages.php

Main Web Address: https://www.elshaddaiministries.us/index.php

To purchase the DVD set on the Feasts of the Lord: http://shop.elshaddaiministries.us/Feasts-of-the-Lord-Set-ITEM-100-001.htm (Right now the package is only $10.00!!)