Love Suffers: It Must!

Hurt, woundedness, death are all a part of love. If not, in fact, a prerequisite to it. There can be no life without death, and no resurrection without crucifixion. We hurt, wound, insult, inflict pain upon God and yet, He loves us. Hence, so we do also to one another.  This is nowhere more evident than in marriage.  Or, at least, in mine. It is a tragic mental misconception that we adopted when we equate the fact that we hurt, wound, and inflict pain upon one another as evidence that we don’t love one another.  Somewhere, with us, it became a marital more’ that if someone hurts us, they must not love us.  This is not true and not a biblical principle.  Love requires suffering.  Love is bloody and painful and hurtful. These are oftentimes the characteristics of love and not evidence that there is no love.  More often than not, it is the pain and the wound that leads to death and this then leads to life.

When I hurt Rina, she can respond in three ways: return the pain (evil for evil), attempt to control whereas to not get hurt again (witchcraft) or die!  Death in marriage, at least in mine, is an essential.  It is the only option for us that will produce life.  The evil for evil, hurt you because you hurt me option, only exacerbates the problem.  The second, that of “promise me you will never do this EVER AGAIN!”  Only puts a temporary band aid on the problem and worsens the wound the next time I rip it off without warning.  The final, death, is the only option for us.  Why is death to self the only option?  Dead people don’t care what the other person does (“Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead…”(Romans 6:11)) They don’t care because they can’t care, they are dead!  It is impossible for a dead person to be selfish, they just don’t have that capability.  Only living people have it.  While we live in hurt, pain, and woundedness we react out of that power base. Death is essential and it does not come easy. It hurts. It hurt Jesus. It hurts my wife. It takes a long time and I do it without even thinking about it.

We cant help but hurt one another. We are all “by nature children of wrath.” (Eph 2:3) We innately serve this inner nature that will, by its very existence, hurt and wound and kill the very people that we profess to love the most.  It is a fact of marriage!  I will hurt her, she will hurt me, and we will do this unintentionally most of the time.  We will hurt and wound and not even realize that we are doing it.  But it will happen and I must respond to it. I must allow myself to be crucified by the one I love the most. By the very one who vowed before God to love me above all others. I must allow that person to destroy me because it is only out of that death that life can come. I am to consider self as dead.  Dead men don’t grumble, they don’t complain, the don’t retaliate, they don’t seek to control or to protect themselves against the next onslaught of inevitable emotional pain. They are simply, unequivocally, and unapologetically: Dead!

“So death is working in us…” (2 Corinthians 4:12), this was Paul’s description of the spiritual life of the apostolic minister.  When the apostle would die to self life would be manifest in others.  The rest of the verse (2 Cor 2:4:12) says, “but life in you”.  Our sacrifice produces life in others.

There is freedom in death for both parties. Death in her produces life in me and likewise, death in me produces life in her and likewise, the death of Christ produced life for us all. This is the mystery that Paul tells us. (Ephesians 5:22) If you love your wife you will be hurt, wounded, and even killed without mercy. If you love your husband, you will be hurt, wounded and even killed without mercy. Jesus loves us and was hurt, wounded and crucified without mercy. This is love: the very first description of it is “suffers long.” (I cor 13:5 ) The Greek means this: “to persevere patiently and bravely in enduring misfortunes and troubles; to be patient in bearing the offenses and injuries of others.” This is the very first description of what love “is” in the biblical narrative.

What does love do in the face of suffering. Does it return evil for evil? Does it seek to control to prevent pain from reoccuring? No. In return, it is “kind.” When “Goodness” becomes action it manifests itself as kindness. This produces life. Love suffers insults, pain, and woundedness and in return, it is kind even in the face of insult, injury, and pain.   That is only possible for me if I am dead.  Dead to selfish reflections of pain and hurt.  Dead to the obsession over how careless she can be.  Only then, can the Holy Spirit in me manifest itself as kindness.  And she also, must be dead to the wound that I continually pour salt upon.  Dead to the empty promises and dead to the fact that this will inevitably happen again.  Dead to the fact that she will be crucified and afterwards, I will be the one holding the hammer.  Then, and only then, can she reflect kindness.  This produces life in me. But, and to the point at hand, the wound and the pain are a prerequisite.  Life from death. That is love. That produces life.  That is our marriage. That is Jesus Christ!

 

The Work of the People

This year, I’ve been reading the Eastern Orthodox Study Bible that my good friend Alan bought me.  I like this Bible because it is an updated English translation of the Greek Septuagint (LXX) as the orthodox hold it, and not the Masoretic text, as their “sacred.”  I am very excited about this fresh perspective on the Old Testament.  So, here is my first post of “stuff that I get from this book.”

In numbers 1:50, God tells Moses to take a census of the Levites so they can “minister unto the Lord.”  The Septuagint uses the Greek word “leitourgountwn” (this is a transliteration as I can’t find the Greek font on this new fangled wordpress thing) and it means liturgy or the liturgical ministry.  The orthodox commentary states, “The word liturgy means ‘the work of the people'”.  The usage of this verb is telling.

After the exodus, God wanted to make Israel a nation of priest and prophets to minster liturgically unto Him. (Exodus 19:6)  However, the people rebel and Levi was chosen (Exodus 32).  So, the Levites were called upon to do what the people should have done and thus, the priesthood was born.  But this was not the Lord’s original intention.

Again, with the inauguration of the New Covenant, God intended for all of His people to minister liturgically to Him. (I Peter 2:9)  We see this played in Acts 13:2 as the same Greek word is used here as was used in Numbers 1:50.  The church at Antioch was ministering to the Lord with prayer and fasting.  It was the people who ministered to God, not a special social class of folks identified as clergy.  It was all the church ministering unto God not seminary graduates.  It was this ministry that birthed the first evangelical mission of the Apostle Paul.  He and Barnabas were commissioned as the people ministered to God.  That’s what New Covenant Christianity is all about.  Once the people of God took their rightful place as minister unto God, the priesthood would no longer be necessary.  Messiah would be the High Priest and all of us His ministers.  And yet, a class of clergy continues to exist in every single Christian denomination doing the work that the People of God ought to be doing!  Why?  There are probably two reasons

First, the people of God continue to live in rebellion and this continues to necessitate a  priesthood to do the ministry unto God.  Secondly, clergyman are not quick to release the power and control that comes with positions of authority, respect, and esteem.  Nonetheless, I say, it is time for the people of God to minister unto Hims with prayer and fasting as the church at Antioch did in Acts 13.  It was the work of the people, their liturgical ministry unto God as priest and prophets that birthed that first apostolic ministry.  It is time for the church of God to again birth Apostles through its own work unto the Lord.

Holiness is His Job

For He Who Began A Good Work in You, will Complete It-Phil 1:6

     I’m beginning to understand that holiness is not about changing our behavior; it is about changing our hearts.  For me, it is quite simple, if I have a desire to do something, even a sinful something, I will find a way to do it.  Even if I have set up external factors that prevent me from engaging in whatever behavior I have the desire to do, eventually I will find a way to do it.  Holiness is not about controlling my external environment; it is about changing the heart behind the behavior.  The removal of the desire is rarely accomplished by my own human efforts; it must be a work of the Holy Spirit.  For me, this is what Paul is talking about in the above-quoted verse.  I think this was also on David’s mind when he composed Psalm 139.

     David writes, “You have hedged me behind and before and laid Your hand upon me.” (139:5). It seems that David is recognizing the fact that God is doing a work in his heart that he is not able to accomplish on his own.  After yielding my heart to God, such as it is, sinful and all, The Holy Spirit will be begin to remove evil desires to from my heart.  He concludes, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139: 23-24).  It seems that David is here describing the process of holiness.  He acknowledges that it is an “inside job” and requires the intervention of God.  Likewise, Psalm 141:4 states “Do not incline my heart to any evil thing, to practice wicked works.”  David knew that the process of sanctification is filled with events.  The removal of an evil desire from the heart is an event.  A baptism in the love of God is also an event.  However, the entirety of becoming holy, for me, has been a process filled with events.  These events lead me into increasing levels of holiness.  It seems this was also on David’s mind when he writes, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”

The Mundane and the Miraculous

     After writing my last post regarding revival and God’s work, I had a discussion with my good Patrick.  Patrick brought up a really profound point that I would like to share.  First, that if we can’t see God in the mundane, then we will struggle to see him in the miraculous.  Secondly, the desire we have to see miracles may be the exact reason why we are not seeing them.

     Noah Webster defines the mundane as “belonging to the world.”  It is derived from the Latin word “mundus” which means “world, universe.”  In the Latin Vulgate, this word is seen in some interesting places.  In John 1:10 we read, “He was in the world.”  Mundus or the mundane is the word deployed by St. Jerome here.  What is implied from the reading is that God is in the mundane.

    All things around us’ plants, animals, the cycles of seasons, the moon and the stars, and any other aspect of creation, God is “in them.”  When we begin to find intimacy with God in the things that are common we will position ourselves to view that which is uncommon.  Relationship with God in the mundane provides opportunities to see the miraculous.

     The children of Israel wandered in the desert a long time.  They were miraculously fed by God’s manna everyday.  The miraculous became mundane for them.  When they failed to appreciate the mundane, it altered their perception of reality.  We read, “And the people spoke against God and against Moses, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness?  For there is no food and no water, and we loathe this worthless food.” (Numbers 21:5) What they described as “worthless food” was the miraculous bread from heaven, the manna.  The children of Israel are really crying out for a miracle.  They desire to see some great work that will fulfill all the desires of their flesh.  Their desire for tasty food and beverage.  Their reality had become distorted.  They failed to see the miraculous that happened before their eyes.  Their desire for a new miracle prevented them from seeing the miracle that took place every morning.  They had lost their appreciation for the mundane.  Let us not make the same mistake.

Revive Me, Oh Lord!!

     The writer of Psalm 119 was no spiritual novice.  He was very acquainted with his God.  He was acquainted with spirituality, worship, and the study of the law.  He had “tasted and seen” that the Lord, He is good.  And yet, he prayed for personal revival.

     He writes, “Revive me, according to Your Word.” (Psalm 119:25); “Revive me in Your Way.” (119:37); “Revive me in Your Loving-kindness.” (119:88); “Revive me in Your Righteousness.” ((119:40); “Revive me, Oh Lord, according to your Word.”; “Revive me, according to Your Justice.” (119:144); “Revive me, according to Your Word.” (119:151); “Revive me, according to Your Judgments (119:156) and finally, “Revive me, according to your Loving-kindness.” (119:159). Eight times during this Psalm, he prays for personal revival according to the things of God that he has previously experienced.  And yet, he ends the Psalm with his current spiritual condition, “I have gone astray like a lost sheep!  Seek your servant.” (119:176) He is well aware that he has had a falling away from God.  He is acutely aware that he is powerless over his current condition and he seeks God for personal revival.

The Hebrew word used repeatedly in this Psalm is the word hyj pronounced “chaya.”  It basic meaning is “Life is the ability to exercise all one’s vital power to the fullest; death is the opposite.  The verb “haya”  ‘to live’ involves the ability to have life somewhere on the scale between the fullest enjoyment of all the powers of one’s being, with health and prosperity on the one hand and descent into trouble, sickness, and death on the other.” (1)  The Psalmist recognizes that life apart from God is death and that intimate communion with God according to the kingdom principles of promise, justice, loving-kindness, and righteousness is what it means “to live.”  This knowledge can only come by experience.  True personal revival presupposes a falling away.

Charles Finney once wrote, “A revival of true Christianity presupposes a falling away.  Almost all true Christianity in the world has been produced by revivals, because God has found it necessary to use humanity’s excitability to produce powerful awakenings among them before He can lead them to obey.  People are spiritually sluggish.  So many things lead their minds away from God and oppose the influence of the Gospel that God must arouse excitement in them until the wave rises so high that it sweeps away all obstacles.  Before they will obey God, people must be thoroughly awakened.  Only then will they overcome counteracting forces.  No that excited feeling is spirituality.  It is not.  But it is excited worldly desires, appetites, and feelings that prevent true Christianity.” (2)  Any relationship that involves humans will have revivals and falling aways.  It is somewhat to be expected based upon the human condition.  The enemy would have us believe that since we have fallen away, God has subsequently rejected us.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  The fact of the matter is that this particular falling away has positioned us for perhaps the greatest personal revival of all time.  If only we can refrain from judging ourselves, we may be 5 minutes from a great personal awakening.  Perhaps this is the norm of Christianity and should be expected for real spiritual growth.

Endnotes

  1.  Harris, R. Laird; Archer, Gleason L.; Waltke, Bruce; “The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament” Moody Publishers, Chicago, IL, 1980, page 280.
  2. Finney, Charles G., Lectures on Revival,  Bethany House Publishers, Minneapolis, Minn., 1988, page.

“Oh Lord, Revive Your Works” (Habakkuk 3:2)

     The prophet Habakkuk makes this statement after an intense dialectical discussion with God.  Habakkuk cries out to God concerning the violence for the sake of hatred and greed {the definition of the Hebrew word hamas (smj) which he uses in verse 1:2} that is being perpetrated by his own countryman.  He cries out to God for justice.  God responds by telling the prophet that He will send the armies of Babylon to crush the unrepentant nation of Israel.  Immediately following, Habakkuk makes the above-quoted verse.  It is so insightful and relevant to our time that it warrants examination.

     To begin with, Habakkuk recognizes that something is lacking in the present state of Israel and equally lacking in God’s solution of total destruction. It is revival! The heart of Habakkuk cries out to God for revival!  The prophet recognizes that this is the only real hope in the reality between the present lawless state of Israel and the divinely proposed destruction of it.  It is the only solution that offers salvation.  Consequently, he prays for revival of “Your Works.”

The Hebrew word here is “paal” (lep).  The basic meaning of the word is “to do.”  In our present verse it means “Your doings”, “the things that you do” or “Your works.”  It means “God’s acts in history.” (1)  God’s works with the nation of Israel is wrought with the miraculous.  However, no one in scripture exemplifies the “works of God” more than Jesus.  Jesus tells us, “But I have a greater witness than John; for the works which the Father has given Me to finish—the very works that I do—bear witness of me, that the Father has sent Me.” (John 5:36)  What were the works of Jesus?  He tells the disciples of John that, “the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them.” (Matt11:5) These are the works of God.  The miraculous will always follow the preaching of the kingdom of God.  When Jesus sends out His disciples to preach, He tells them “And as you go, preach, saying, the kingdom of heaven is at hand,  heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons’ (Matt 10:7-8)  these are the works that change nations,  In the ancient world, no city was as lost as Tyre.  The Bible tells us that satan was its spiritual leader (Ezek 28:11) and it ruler was blindlessly self-exalting (Ezek 28:1) And yet, Jesus says, “Woe to you Chrazon!  Woe to you Bethsaida!  For if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.” (Matt 11:21) The works of God in history involve the miraculous and this is what the prophet recognizes as the only viable option between the present condition in Israel and the divinely appointed destruction of the nation.

For far too long have the Disciples of Christ not walked in the miraculous.  We have a mandate from Christ to preach the nearness of the kingdom and to validate it by the miraculous.  This is what Jesus did.  It is what the apostles of old did and it is what the church should be doing.  Jesus tells the Jews, “If I do not do the works of the Father, do not believe ME; but if I do, though you do not believe the Me, believe the works, that you may know and believe that the Father is in Me and I, in Him.” Jesus also tells his disciples, “Believe Me, that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else, believe Me for the sake of the works themselves.  Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these will he do.”  (John 14:11-12)  Jesus always pointed to the miraculous for two reasons.  First, His miracles were a public display of the works of God.  Secondly,  they were a testimony of His relationship with the Father.  Likewise, Christians ought to be able to walk as Jesus did and should be able to make the same statements to a dying and unbelieving world.  We have the same relationship with the Father as Jesus did.  He tells us, “I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.” (John 14: 20) This means that the public demonstration of this relationship is the miraculous works of God done through us.  That is what lights fires in the hearts of men to seek after God.  This is what fires revival.  This is what the prophet prays for.  This is what prophetic people of our time are crying out for.  Mainly, that the sons and daughters of God would demonstrate to the human world the works of God as proof of their relationship with the Father through the Son.  This is what sparks revival.  Oh Lord, Revive Your Works!

Endnotes

  1. Harris, R. Laird; Archer, Gleason L.; Waltke, Bruce; “The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament” Moody Publishers, Chicago, IL, 1980, page 730.

The Keeping of Torah Positions Us for Revelation

“Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast of restraint, but blessed Is he who keeps the law. (Proverbs 29:18 ESV)

    This is one of those verses that just “leapt” off the page at me.  It is so ripe with meaning that a brief discussion of it is in order.  God is called “The Living God” and as such, desires a dynamic and individual relationship with all of us.  There is to be an “ebb and flow” between us and the spiritual realm.  Without this relationship, things don’t seem to go well for us humans.  We are the agents of God in the physical realm.  We were created in His Image and Likeness and we are to be everything in this realm that He is in the spiritual realm.  We are His representatives and co-laborers.  We are commissioned by Him, to loose His Will on earth as His Will exists in heaven.  This demands a dynamic relationship between us and Him.  This is “prophetic vision”.  That God will reveals His will to us in whatever circumstances we find ourselves in and it is then our job to release His spiritual power into that circumstance to bring heaven on earth. This keeps us grounded as human beings.  It gives us focus, destiny, and purpose and, when this is lacking, people tend to cast off restraint.  Without this prophetic mission, human beings tend to become very human indeed.  We search for fulfillment in things that were never meant to be fulfilling.  Sin is the main dish of this diet.   However, there seems to be a lifestyle that we can adopt that will position us to receive prophetic revelation.

The keeping of the commandments of God demonstrates our great love for Him.  If we are keeping commandments for any other reason other than an expression of our love for Him, then we are either self-righteous or embracing works based theology.  Neither, of which, is capable of producing spiritual life.  But, when we keep the Torah out of a love for Him, we position ourselves to receive prophetic revelation.

The Law has a restraining effect upon the lust of the eyes, the world, and the flesh.  This restraining effect positions us to receive spiritual revelation and keeps us grounded in Him.   It is the prophetic vision of that God shows us about our lives that keeps us grounded and the restraining of the flesh by the keeping of Torah positions us for spiritual release.

The Importance and Power of the Prophetic Ministry

“But if they had stood in My counsel, And had caused My people to hear My words Then they would have turned them from their evil way.  And from the evil of their doings.  Am I a God near at hand, says the Lord ,and not a God afar off?”  (Jeremiah 23:22-23 NKJV)

     This verse was spoken by the Lord through the prophet Jeremiah.  It was give at a time when Judah was about to go into exile for their unrepentant hearts and sins.  This verse emphasizes the importance and power of the prophetic ministry because, had the prophets done what they were supposed to do, the outcome for Judah  may have been different.

Before the invasion of Canaan, God spoke to Moses saying, “Behold, you will rest with your fathers; and this people will rise and play the harlot with the gods of the foreigners of the land, where they go to be among them ,and they will forsake Me and break My covenant which I have made with them.” (Deuteronomy 31:16)  Despite the fact that God had commanded them saying, “When you come into the land which the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominations of those nations.  There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, or a one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead.  For all who do these things are an abomination to the Lord, and because of these abominations the Lord your God drives them out from before you.  You shall be blameless before the LORD your God.  For these nations which you will dispossess  listened to soothsayers and diviners; but as for you, the LORD your God has not appointed such for you.” (Duet 18:9-14), the children of Israel fail to drive out the inhabitants of the land and instead make covenants with them.  In Judges it states, “Then the Angel of the Lord came up from Gilgal to Bochim , and said:  I led you up from Egypt and brought you to the land of which I swore to your fathers; and I said, I will never break My covenant with you.  And you shall make no covenant with the inhabitants of this land; you shall tear down their alters.  But you have not obeyed My voice. Why have you done this?  Therefore, I also said, “I will not drive them out before you; but they shall be thorns in your side, and their gods shall be a snare to you.” ( Judges 2:1-4)  This spiritual union with the “nations” that God wanted to drive out, becomes a source of Israeli destruction.

Israel’s failure to destroy the nations of the land and subsequently, the worship of their gods, perpetuates the downfall of Judah and Israel.  Scripture states, “For so it was that he children of Israel had sinned against the Lord their god, who had brought them up out of the land of Egypt, from under the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt; and they had feared other gods, and had walked in the statutes of the nations whom the lord had cast our from before the children of Israel, and of the kings of Israel which they had made.” (2 Kings 17:7-8)  Yet, there was one ministry that could’ve turned the tide for Israel.  Had the prophets engaged in their appointed spiritual position, the outcome for the nation may have been different.  The Lord says, “”But if they had stood in My counsel, And had caused My people to hear My words Then they would have turned them from their evil way And from the evil of their doings. ”

Let us not make the same mistakes as the children of Israel who didn’t want to hear the words of her prophets and in fact, incited her prophets to not speak what the Lord had spoken.  Let us neither despise the prophetic word nor the ministry of the prophets, but let us embrace it.  Let us acknowledge that they have been sent to us by God for our edification.

The Essence of the Divine Commission for Evangelical and Missionary Endeavors

“Then he called His twelve disciples together and gave them power and authority over all demons, and to cure diseases.  He sent them to preach the Kingdom of God and to heal the sick.” (Luke 9:1-2NKJV)

      Anytime I read a passage as rich as the one above, it always stirs up the fire of revival inside of me.  Anyone who knows me knows that I am all about revival.  Additionally, anyone who knows me knows that I am also about Greek and Hebrew in the context of the scriptures for accurate interpretation and application in the life of the believer.  So, having read this wonderful passage, I set out this week to break down the verse, Greek word by word, to arrive at a fuller understanding of what Messiah commissioned the twelve, and ultimately us, to do.

     Sugkalesamenos de tous dwdeka maqhas auton.  This is the beginning of the verse in the Greek.  It is not a complete sentence it is a phrase that has at its root, a participle.  Participles are verbal stems that have noun endings.  They are modifiers.  This particular participle is identified by the ending “samenos.” This indicates that it is an Aorist middle voice participle.  It agrees in number, case and gender with the 12 disciples and is going to tell us something about what the twelve are doing.  Participles are difficult to translate literally and are most often translated with an English temporal clause.  With the Aorist, it is translated with “after” since the aorist indicates a past action.  Hence, “After calling together His twelve disciples” seems to be an accurate translation of the phrase.  However, simply because it is an accurate English translation doesn’t necessarily imply that it gives it the full meaning intended.  So, let’s go a little deeper.  This particular verbal stem used in the participle carries the idea of creating an assembly.  Thus, he created an assembly of the 12 disciples simply by calling them.  The nature of the calling produced commonality and unity of all members generating more than just a gathering; it became an assembly, body, church, or convocation.  The Hebrew word used for this particular “calling” in the Old Testament is the Hebrew word, “arq” which is transliterated “karah.”  It is used to describe Adam’s authority over creation by his “calling” them their names.  God “called” Cyrus by name commissioning him. (Isaiah 45:4)  Gabriel told Mary “to call” the Messiah Immanuel. It is also the Hebrew title of the Old Testament book Leviticus.  The Hebrew takes its title from the first word of the book which happens to be “arq” which signifies the calling on Moses life to receive the law from God.  (Incidentally, the English title Leviticus takes its name from the Septuagint which gave it this title because so much of the book deals with the priests, the Levites)  Lastly, a derivative is used to describe the holy convocations (Hebrew “arqm”) at the sacred feasts of the Lord.  It denotes a gathering that has a divine sanction associated with it.  A commissioning of a called out group of individuals creates an assembly for divine purpose and unity.  This is such an amazing concept for every New Testament believer.  The moment we were “called out” of a sick, dying, and cursed world, a divine commissioning was placed upon all of our lives which united us with an assembly of people, i.e.:  the church, the body of Christ, and the people of God.  We are all united simply because we have been “called” by God.  This calling of every New Testament believer gives their life a divine sanction and commission. We all have purpose.  This concept is so rich in and of itself that we could just camp out here and dissect what this really entails.  However, that is not the purpose of this article and we haven’t even finished the first sentence yet!!!

     Following the participial phrase, is the verb of the sentence.  It is the word “edwken.” This is an irregular verb, in the Greek, and is written in the Aorist tense.  The aorist is a past tense.  Hence, we translate the word, “He gave.”  The “en” ending denotes the third person so the pronoun “He” is implied in the Greek although it is not implicitly stated.  Again, the meaning of the word is much richer than the English “gave.”  When this word is joined with words that describe power, virtue, and authority, it is better translated, “to endue or to furnish.” (1)  This endowment speaks of an impartation.  Mainly, that Jesus was “giving” them an endowment of the spiritual power that was invested in and upon Him.  It was a foretaste of being “clothed with power from on high.”  Again, the Spirit-filled New Testament believer is given the “same Spirit which raised Jesus from the dead.”  The endowment that rested on Jesus, He imparted to the twelve, and He also imparted to every New Testament believer through the giving of the Holy Spirit.  What we have so far in this verse is this, “After he created a divinely commissioned and called out assembly of His twelve disciples, he endued and imparted them with the same spiritual power and essence that was upon Him.”  Again, the implications of this are so rich we could camp out here, but we must press on.  The verse will continue on to tell us what the impartation looks like.

     The impartation looks like, power and authority.”dunamin kai exousian” are the Greek words next in the verse.  These words are written in the dative case which makes them the direct object of the sentence.  In this case, it will tell us what he gave to the twelve disciples.  The words for what is given are very powerful and the English doesn’t fully convey the meaning of the Greek.  “dunamin” is the word for which the English “dynamite” is derived.  Its meaning is basically, “The power residing in a thing by the virtue of its nature.” (2)  Simply, the power that rests upon the New Testament believer simply because the Holy Spirit is present.  The simple presence of God brings about its own unstated power.  This is the essence of the word, the power that is present simply because something exists.  In fact, the King James Version translates the word “virtue.”  An inherent power resides in the impartation simply because it is an impartation of God.  The simple bestowing of the anointing is accompanied with power.  It is the power of God to release healings over the oppressed children of men.  This virtue is present within the body of very New Testament believer; John G. Lake describes it far better than I could.  He writes, “If you will analyze that Greek word you will see it means the life or substance of His being, the quickening, living power of God, the very nature and being of God…Jesus demonstrated these two facts:  The marvelous capacity of the nature of man to receive God into his being, and the marvelous capacity of the nature of man to reveal God…You see people have been so in the habit of putting Jesus in a class by Himself that they have failed to recognize that he has made provision for the same living Spirit of God that dwelt in his own life, and of which he Himself was a living manifestation, to inhabit your being and mine just as it inhabited the being of Jesus and Paul.” (3)

     “exousian” basically means authority.  Now, authority is different from power and, in some respects, much richer in meaning.  Authority is “the power of rule and government.  The power of him whose will and commands must be submitted to by others and obeyed.” (4)  God has established an order in the universe.  The order exists simply because God exists.  In this order, God has given humans authority to rule and govern over the earth.  It began with God giving Adam and Eve rule over the earth.  The expression of this authority occurred as Adam was endowed with the power and authority to “name or call” all of creation.  Psalm 8 describes humans as being, “created a little lower than God.” (so, the Hebrew reads, elohim).  John describes the New Testament believer writing, “As He is, so are we in this world.”  This means, that as the image-bearers of God we have been divinely commissioned and appointed to be all in this physical realm that He is in the spiritual realm.  In the spiritual realm, God reigns supreme.  He has thusly created us to govern, to rule, to have authority over all the earth and this includes the demonic powers.  We read in Scripture that Satan and his hordes were cast out of heaven onto the earth, thus, mankind has authority over them on the earth.  They have always desired the power and the authority, thus they have been in constant conflict with the sons of men.  Jesus, giving authority to the disciples, restored the original divine commission given by the Father.  It was lost at the fall trough sin, but Messiah, being sinless, retained the original position of authority which he has imparted to us.  The context of this is alluded to in the next part of the verse.

     epi panta ta daimonia is roughly translated, “over all the demonic/demons.”  epi is a preposition which, with the genitive case, the case present here, it is translated “over”.  (This can be a tough verse for Greek students as the “ia” can also be the dative case.  However, in the plural neuter genitive case, it has this same ending.  The demonic is described in the neuter case as being neither male nor female) It is important here to identify the genitive case because the translation of the preposition will change as the case changes.  “Over” is the accurate translation as daimonia is in the genitive case.  panta, in the plural nomitive neuter case,  carries the general idea of “all” but that isn’t the most accurate description of the word. However, “in the predicate position (as it is here mainly without the article present), it means, all members of the whole.” (5)  Again, the richness of the Greek is impacting here.  Not one single member of the demonic forces can escape the fact the spiritual authority and power imparted by God demands their submission.  They simply must obey because this is the established order by God.

     “daimonia”, in Greek, has the basic meaning of “evil spirits, messengers and ministers of the devil.” (6)  Hell has a ministry and it has ministers.  The ministry and mission of hell is to “kill, steal, and destroy” (John 10:10)  It’s ministers are evil spirits, personalities without bodies, who go forth to cause sickness, sin, disease, depression, and any other condition that exists on earth but not in heaven.  Even though hell is organized into a ministry, it must still submit itself to the divinely ordained order.  Of which, Jesus is establishing, and releasing through the twelve contextually and all Christians ultimately, that hell has not the final say in the affairs of mankind.  We do, as Spirit filled Christians.  As Christians, it is our identity to confront hell to produce a different reality, namely, heaven.  This is evident in what Jesus continues through the verse.

     kai uosois qerapeuein which is roughly translated literally “and diseases heal.”  The ministry of hell is uosois which is diseases.  Jesus commissions us to confront he effects of hell’s ministry to reverse it by qerapeuein.  Notice the ein ending a the end of the word. This tells us that the word is an infinitive.  “An infinitive is a verbal noun, when the action of a verb becomes a ‘thing’ that functions in a sentence like a noun, this is an infinitive.” (7)  Generally, we add the English “to” in front of it.  So, the common translation is “to heal diseases.”  The word  qerapew is the word from which our English word “therapy” is derived.  The idea here is to heal, to restore to health, mankind’s soul, body, and spirit.  This confronts and reverses the ministry of hell.  This is further evident as the verse continues along.

     kai apesteilen autos khrusein thn basileian tou qeou, which is roughly “and he sent them to preach the kingdom of God.”  The word for sent here is the word from which “apostle” is derived.  It is the word that describes the action of the assembly when they are released into the world. The English word sent doesn’t quite covey the same meaning.  In Greek, it carries the idea of setting out to complete a divinely ordained commission.  What is interesting about this word is that the object of the mission is usually defined by the infinitive that follows the word.  This is Greek.  When reading this passage in Greek, the reader knows exactly what the divine commission is going to look like by the infinitives that follow.  The infinitive that follows is khrussein.  Again, notice the ending as it will tell us that this word is an infinitive.  Most translation use the word “preach” but over the centuries the word has lost its biblical meaning.  The essence of the word is “to be a herald, to officiate s a herald, to proclaim after the manner of a herald.” (8)  The real problem for modern readers is the nonexistence of a herald.  Thus, we must define what a herald is.  Noah Webster defines a herald as, “An officer whose business was to denounce or proclaim war, to challenge to battle, to proclaim peace, and to bear messages from the commander of an army.” (9)  Let that definition sink in for a moment, because this is the essence of Christian preaching.  There is another interesting aspect of this word.  It is also a synonym for a Hebrew word that we have seen already.  That word is “arq”.  Here is where things get deeper.  Jesus has commissioned them on a divinely ordained mission as officers to proclaim war against the enemy, and pronounce peace to the captives and the method they will use will be to invite them into the “call” from which they were “called.”  In essence, “to call” them into the “calling” that the preacher was originally called themselves.  The preacher does this by engaging the demonic in battle; speaking peace over people’s lives, releasing the power and authority of heaven to change the circumstances in someone’s life.  Then, invite them into the calling to become a part of the sacred Assembly of God’s people.  This is further evidenced by the last two words of the verse.

     isqai asqenountas to cure the sick.  Again, notice the “qai” ending of the first word.  This is an infinitive which again, links us back to the essence of what the divinely commissioned sent ones will be doing.    The word isqai means to make whole, to free from errors and sins, and to bring about one’s salvation of soul; body; and spirit.  This is what preaching the Kingdom of God incorporates.  Freeing the soul from the effects of sin, healing the body of all disease and sickness, and delivering the spirit from demonic torment is kingdom preaching.  The final word   asqenountas drives home the point even further.  The point being that salvation is about the soul, the body, and the spirit.  As John Lake called it, “triune salvation.”  This last word means literally, weak, feeble, or to be without strength or ultimately powerless. People can become powerless over sin, demons, addiction, depression, sickness, the flesh, and the world, but an invasion of heavenly power and authority can change that dynamic.  An invasion of pwer form the Kingdom preacher imparts virtue to the powerless, realizing them from torment and empowering them to live a life of freedom.  Then the Kingdom preacher invites them into the very calling by which he was called. This is the essence of all Christian missionary and evangelical endeavors and those who lack these components have not fully grasped all that Messiah gave us with our calling.

 

Endnotes

  1.  Thayer, Joseph, Greek and English Lexicon of the New Testament, Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., Peabody, Mass. 2005, page 146.
  2. Ibid, page 159.
  3. Liardon, Roberts, John G. Lake;The Complete Collection of His Life Teachings, Albury Publishing, Tulsa OK, 1999, page 226-225.
  4. Thayer, page 225.
  5. Machen, Gresham, J., McCartney, Dan, New Testament Greek for Beginners, second edition, Pearson Prentice Hall publishers, Upper Saddle River, NJ, page 215.
  6. Thayer, page 124
  7. Machen and McCartney, page 184.
  8. Thayer, page 346.
  9. Webster, Noah, American Dictionary of the English Language 1828 edition, Foundation of the American Christian Education, Chesapeake, VA, 1995.

Revival through Justice and Burning

“When the Lord has washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and purged the blood of Jerusalem from her midst by the spirit of judgment and the spirit of burning then the Lord will create above every dwelling place of Mount Zion, and above her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day and the shining of a flaming fire by night.  For over all the glory there will be a covering.” (Isaiah 4:4-5)

 

     When I read passages like this one, I get pumped for revival.  I can imagine being in the assembly when the cloud and smoke and fire of the presence of God manifest itself.  This is what revival is built upon, the continual abiding presence of God.  Here in this passage, God gives us two distinct spiritual elements that usher in revival.  Let’s examine the two phrases, “spirit of judgment” and spirit of burning” to see if we can develop a fuller understanding of what takes place as a precursor of revival.

     The Hebrew phrases are “reb hOrbO tpvm hOrB” which is correctly translated “the spirit of judgment and the spirit of burning.”  The Hebrew word for spirit, “hOr” is used twice in the passage. (It is used as hOrB and as hOrbO respectively.  The reader will notice the O in the front of the second occurrence, this is the conjunctive vav and means and, but ,and also.  The reader will also notice the b which occurs in front of both occurrences.  This is an inseparable preposition and it attaches to the front of the word.  It’s basic meaning with “b” is with.  The reader will also notice the dot in the middle of the first occurrence.  This is called a dagesh lene and occurs with certain letters called beghadkephat {a pneumonic device for Hebrew letters that will receive the dagesh lene namely tpkdkb.}  These letters will receive the dagesh lene and occasionally will change the pronunciation, though not the meaning of words.  In this case, the first would be pronounced as a “b” sound while the second would be pronounced as a “v” sound.)  The basic idea of spirit is “wind in motion.”  That these two spirits are separate and distinct from the Holy Spirit can be evidenced by the missing title “cdooiioqh” pronounced Ha-kodesh” meaning Spirit of the Holy.  It seems to me that these are two spirits that are sent from God to accomplish His purposes.  God lives in a realm that is spiritual and He is Spirit (John 4:24)  God reigns supreme in ths realm and beings such as spiritual ones complete his purposes.  This is what we are looking at in this passage.  We will come back to this momentarily.

     The Hebrew word for judgment is the word “tpvm” which is pronounced, “mishphat.”  Judgment doesn’t quite effectively convey the essence of this Hebrew word.  An example of what it means may readily explain what it means.  Solomon, when he prays for wisdom, asks God to give him wisdom so that he can “misphat” the children of Israel.  Mishphat means to establish an order.  The establishment of the correct understanding of order or government.  The essence is the establishment of an order where justice is the normal function of the established system.  This word has also been translated as manner or custom meaning that they system that is established yields a social more or law that all are expected to order their lives according too.  This is what Solomon asked God for and this spirit of Mishphat was granted and it brought about huge revival during the reign of Solomon including the aforementioned cloud and smoke of the presence.  The Greek word that is used in the Septuagint carries a very similar meaning but also carries the idea of separation.  This implies that judgment will separate the people of justice from the people of lawlessness.  To the verse in question, this tells us that order and justice is an actual spiritual force that is released by God to counteract the prevailing spirit of lawlessness that operates where wanton sin abounds.

     The Hebrew word for “burning” is the word, “reb” which is pronounced “va-er.”  The basic idea here is to seek out, to glean, or to collect in order to destroy by fire.  Basically, mishphat separates and identifies evil and sin and vaer completely destroys and consumes it.  The Greek of the Septuagint carries a similar idea “to suffer from feverish burning” as in the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah when God rained down fire from heaven which yielded complete destruction of evil and sin.  To the passage in question, God releases an actual spiritual force that yields the complete consumption of the effects of sin and evil.  This spiritual force, like a raging consuming fire, completely destroys whatever it is targeted against, in this case, the evil that is identified through mishphat.  Once this takes place, only that which is good; pure; and holy remains.  Then, the presence of God will swell with us as a cloud by dire and a fire by night.  This is the essence of revival.  No compromise with evil and sin.  The Presence will not tolerate moral compromise and injustice.  Evil must be completely eliminated and the establishment of justice; order, and the proper use of government ushers in revival. Perhaps our prayer should be for God to send the spirit of judgment and burning into our lives, our churches, and our nation, in order to usher in real individual, corporate, and national revival and reform.