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.

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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.

The Prophetic Picture of Habakkuk 2:3-4

For the vision is yet for an appointed time; But at the end it will speak, and it will not lie. Though it tarries, wait for it, Because it will surely come, it will not tarry. Behold, the proud, his soul is not upright in him, But the just shall live by his faith.”(Habakkuk 2:3-4 NKJV)

A friend of mine emailed me these verses along with a commentarial note from the Jewish Publication Societies Study Bible or Tanach. Here is the commentary on this passage. In reference to verse 3, it states, “This verse is associated in Jewish tradition with the coming of the Messiah and is reflected in the language of the twelfth principle of the thirteen principles of faith of Maimonides.” (1) Neither of us had ever heard of this verse, “For the vision is yet for an appointed time; but at the end it will speak and it will not lie. Though it tarries, wait for it, because it will surely come, it will not tarry” as referring to the coming of Messiah. And this reference is not from just some ordinary everyday rabbi. This is from Maimonides, or Ramban as he is sometimes referred to, is generally regarded as one of the greatest rabbinical minds in history. This really peaked my interest. Hence, I began to delve into the Hebrew of this passage.

The first word of the verse, in Hebrew, refers to “the vision.” It is the word from which “seer” is derived in the Old Testament (Strong’s # 2377); hence, vision is an appropriate translation. The next word blew me away when I read it. It is the word “moed” (Strong’s #4150) and has the meaning of “an appointed time.” Its use in Scripture gives us a clearer picture of what this “vision” is about. When God would visit Israel above the mercy seat and talk with Moses face to face, that was said to be a “moed.” An appointed time where God will meet with mankind. I’m beginning to see inside the mind of Ramban here. The essence of what we are reading thus far is this, “the prophetic vision of the appointed time when God will meet with mankind face to face.” This is exactly what Maimonides had in mind when he labeled this passage as Messianic. He was correct. Jesus was the ultimate fulfillment of this passage. The appointed time when God would put on flesh and meet mankind face to face on their turf, was an appointed time which had been prophesied about for years prior. The final word in the first part of that verse is also interesting. It means literally, “to blow.” (Strong’s 6315) A possible translation for what we have thus far could be, “The prophetic vision of the appointed time when God will meet with mankind face to face will blow, even if it tarries, wait for it, because it will surely come to pass.” The Keil and Delitzsch commentary writes, “The prophecy is for the appointed time; it relates to the period fixed by God for its realization, which was then still far off. The vision had a direction towards a point, which, when looked at from the present, was still in the future. The goal was the end, the Messianic times, in which the judgment would fall upon the power of the world.” (2) This sets the stage for the next verse.

“Behold, the proud, his soul is not upright in him, But the just shall live by his faith.” (Habakkuk 2:4) The obvious point being made here is a juxtaposition of the unrighteous versus the righteous. One position of selfishness and one position of selflessness. Even in the dire circumstances presented in the book of Habakkuk, the lifestyle of the righteous doesn’t change. They continue to live a live of dependency upon God. The JPS commentary catches this point as well. It writes, “According to one of the Rabbis in b. Mak. 23b, this saying encapsulates all the commandments…In its original context the saing is clearly interwoven with the first part of the verse. The saying there focuses on a person whose life is swollen and crooked. Then the verse moves to the opposite pole, a pious person who keeps his or her trust in the LORD under the dire circumstances described in the book, ie, when the righteous are asked to wait while those who do not deserve worldly power wield it over them.” (3) I thought the first part of this commentary was interesting. Mainly, the Rabbinical thought recognized that faith fulfilled the law. That the righteous will live by faith and the external evidence of this faith is to love the Lord and to love all others regardless of their behavior. Of course, the verse “the just shall live by faith” is rich within Christian history. It was the battle cry of the Protestant reformation. A closer look at the Hebrew will reveal a little more than how the verse is translated.

The first word in the verse is the Hebrew word, “zaddikim.” (Strong’s 6662) In modern Hebrew, if one is considered pious, the are referred to as a “Zadik.” (the im ending on the Hebrew noun makes it plural) this man is the embodiment of piety, holiness, and love. The next word is one that is also very familiar, it is “emunah” (Strong’s 530) It is the word from which “amen” is derived. The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament describes it as, “it is used to refer to those whose lives God establishes.” (4) So far, the meaning of verse reads, “The righteous, holy, pius person, God will establish them because of their trust in Him.” The last word is the most transforming of all the words in the verse. It is a derivative of the verb, “haya” (Strong’s 2421) It is the word from which “YHWH” is derived. “The verb 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.” (5) Additionally, the longer that one lives this lifestyle, the more transformed into the image of YHWH they will become. So, let’s put all this together. The full meaning of the Hebrew here reads, “The righteous/pious/holy person is established by God’s because of their dependency upon Him as they love Him and all others, fulfilling the law, and as they continue in this lifestyle, they will become more like Him.” It is my opinion that it is of no coincidence that the verse follows something so strongly Messianic. No wonder Luther was quickened to it. This also matches Paul’s understanding of the verse when he writes, “ For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is reveal from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.” (Romans 1:16-17) Paul has this same understanding. Mainly, that a person quickened to life by faith in God, will begin a transformation of becoming more like God as they move from faith to faith. The longer a person lives in faith, the more they love God, love others, they will become more like God.

 

Endnotes

1. Berlin, Adele, Brettler, Marc Zvi, The Jewish Study Bible, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2004, page 1229.

2. Keil, C.F., Delitzsch, F., Commentary on the Old Testament, Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody Mass., 2004, volume “The Minor Prophets”, page 400.

3. Ibid, Berlin, page 1229.

4. Harris, R. Laird, Archer, Gleason, L., Waltke, Bruce K., Theological ?Wordbook of the Old Testament, Moody Publishers, Chicago, IL, 1980, page 522.

5. Ibid, 279-280.

40 Focus for Prayer and Fasting

Blow a Trumpet n Zion, Consecrate a fast, call a sacred assembly; Gather the people, sanctify the congregation. Assemble the elders, gather the children and nursing babes; …then the Lord will be zealous for His land, and pity His people. The Lord will answer and say to His people, “Behold I will send you grain and oil, And you will be satisfied with them.” (Joel 2:15-18)

For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him. (2 Chronicles 16:9)

I just wanted to let you guys know that it is exactly 40 days until Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. I am beginning a 40 day period of fasting and prayer. It is my intention to foster a greater intimacy with God and to pray for a powerful out-pouring of God during the week of the feast similar to what we experienced during Tabernacles. I wanted to invite all of you to join me on this 40 day focus.

Fasting is a wonderful thing for me. I will be fasting certain foods as well as caffeine over the next 40 days in order to get my mind focused more on the spiritual realm than on the physical worldly fleshly world that seems to catch me within its snares. The first tenet of Satanism is “1. Satan represents indulgence instead of abstinence! Nothing is to be gained by denying oneself pleasure. Religious calls for abstinence most often come from faiths that view the physical world and its pleasures as spiritually dangerous. Satanism is a world-affirming, not world-denying, religion. However, the encouragement of indulgence does not equate mindless submersion into pleasures. Sometimes refrain leads to heightened enjoyment later, in which case patience and discipline are encouraged. Finally, indulgence requires one to always be in control. If satisfying a desire becomes a compulsion (such as an addiction), then control has been surrendered to the object of desire, which is never encouraged.” (this was taken off the church of satan website. ) As you can see, the logic of this statement is extremely flawed and unbiblical. Without getting into a lengthy response, fasting is the opposite of Satanism. The denial of worldly stuff in order for a greater growing in spiritual stuff. Hence, I want to cultivate a lifestyle of prayer and fasting. Oftentimes, I am naturally more like a Satanist that I am a Christian, this is what I want to change.

 Additionally, after the feast of unleavened bread, there are exactly 50 days between it and Pentecost. Hence, in order to foster a lifestyle of prayer and fasting, I will be organizing something between those two feasts as well. Of course, we will be celebrating these feast and all are invited to attend.

Let me know if you are interested in joining this prayer focus and I will send out weekly updates etc… or maybe we could start something through Rina on face book, depending on how many are interested.

Love and Grace to all of you,

Jon

Inner Healing and Deliverance

 It is not the intention to delve into every aspect of these two broad topics, but to familiarize the reader with them. (1) Whereas, if the reader is in need of them, they will be familiar with them and be able to contact the resources needed for obtaining healing and freedom. This is the commission on the ministry of Jesus and the commission that has been, subsequently, passed to us. (Isaiah 61:1)

Inner healing is a healing that takes place “on the inside” as opposed to a physical healing. Much of this field owes special thanks to the Charismatic Catholics who pioneered this healing ministry. The basic theory is that, just as one needs healing in their body, one can also need healing in their emotions and in their soul. It is my belief that anyone suffering from an addiction needs this type of ministry. Furthermore, just about every human being alive has some inner wounds from childhood that need to be healed. As one psychiatrist friend of mine used to say, “You spend 18 years of your life growing up and the rest of your life trying to recover from it.” This is the essence of the inner healing ministry. “The basic idea of inner healing is simply this: that Jesus, who is the same yesterday, today, and forever, can take the memories of our past and: 1) Heal us from the inner wounds that still remain in our memories or subconscious and affect our present lives; 2) Fill with his love all these places in us that have so long remained empty.” (2) Inner healing is indicated when the false identity is rooted in some emotional wound from the past. “The idea behind inner healing is simply that we can ask Jesus Christ to walk back to the time we were hurt and to free us from the effects of that wound in the present. This involves two things: 1) Bringing to light the things that have hurt us. Usually this is best done with another person; even the talking out of the problem is in itself part of the healing process. 2) Praying to ask the Lord to heal the binding effects of the hurtful incidents of the pasts.” (3) The premise is to walk the person back to the point of injury and pray for healing at the moment. There will be a need for forgiveness of the offending party on the part of the one needing healing. There will be a need to receive healing from Jesus regarding the event, and there may be a need for deliverance.

Deliverance

Deliverance, at its essence, is simply, casting out demons. The biblical evidence for the existence of demons is to numerous to mention here. Suffice it to say, that the bible never seeks to prove the existence of demons, it only describes their activities and the fact that part of Jesus mission was to “destroy the works of the devil.” (I John 3:8) A great summary statement of the mission of Jesus is found in the book of Acts. It says, “How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth, with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went about doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.” (Acts 10:38 NIV) Jesus was constantly setting free people who were under the influence of evil spirits. They constantly recognize who He is, and He constantly defeats their activities in the lives of wounded and hurting people. It is a foregone conclusion that if the Kingdom of God is at hand then the Kingdom of Satan is being defeated. Evil does exist in the form of invisible spirits that have various levels of function and activity.

Evil spirits affect humanity on different levels. Some of them are from without (outside of us) and some are from within (inside of us). Let us begin by identifying the ways we are affected from without. There are two basic mechanism, that of thought and of emotions.

Let us begin by defining what is meant by thoughts and emotion and then delve into how the spirit realm affects these. It is important to note that a thought is not an emotion. There is a distinct difference between the two. An emotion motivates one to action while a thought is simply an idea that comes into ones mind. Emotions are powerful and they can dictate all other functions of the soul. The word emotions is derived from a Latin word, “emotio” which roughly means “to move”. Hence, emotions are those things that stir us into action. (Shame and fear moved Adam and Eve to construct fig leaf clothing) Emotions are more than feelings, they get things moving. Emotions are defined as “an internal motion or agitation of the mind which passes away without desire; when desire follows, the motion or agitation is called a passion…This strong impression, or vivid sensation, immediately produces a reaction correspondent to its nature, either to appropriate and enjoy, or avoid and repel the exciting clause.” (4) In other words, if an emotion is pleasant, the soul is stirred to continue the action that causes the pleasant experience or to repeat the action of the emotion after it has passed away. Furthermore, if the emotion is unpleasant, the soul is stirred to repel or prevent the circumstances that brought about the disagreeable experience.

Thoughts don’t necessarily prompt one to action. The Biblical Greek word for thoughts is the word “dialogismos” (Strong’s #1261), it is the word from which “dialogue” is derived. Hence, the thought often times works in tangent with mind. It is defined as, “inward reasoning, questioning, consideration, and deliberation, turning thought over in the mind; reckoning by mental questions, opinions, designs and disputes.” (5) Hence, ideas are discussed and “tossed around” inside of ones head without inciting to action, as an emotion would. However, once certain ideas are tossed around long enough, they can evoke an emotional response. For example, an addict may have a using thought come into his mind. Initially, it is just a thought. But, if the thought is meditated upon and romanced in the mind, it will become a drug craving, which is the emotional response of the romanced thought. Once the emotional craving kicks in, the addict begins to strategize and use the intellect to plan the next use. Once a plan is decided upon, the plan is executed in the action phase. Thus, we see that our flesh can be activated by our thought life. An undisciplined thought life can trigger the flesh mechanism which leads to sin and ultimately to death. Scripture is very clear in this regard, “bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor 10:5) And again, “Do not be hasty in word or impulsive in thought.” (Ecc 5:2).

The spiritual realm exhibits its influence over the thoughts and emotions of humans. One can consider that human beings are composed of a body, a soul, and a spirit. They physical body is simple enough to explain. It is the outer shell, or tent, of the soul. It is the shell that the soul lives inside. The human soul has been defined as “It is the seat of the affections, will desire, emotions, mind, reason, and understanding. It is the inner self.” (6) The Greek word is “psuche” (Strong‘s #5590). It is the word that psychology is derived from. Hence, psychology is the study of the human soul. The soul is vaguely comprised of a will, an intellect, and an emotional seat. The emotional seat is at the center of the soul. The mind and the intellect function around the emotional center and the will carries out the actions and decisions of the emotions and the intellect.

The spirit is the communication link between the physical realm and the spiritual realm. One can think of the ones spirit as a cell-phone link to the spiritual realm. When a spirit wants to communicate with us, it sends a “text message“, if you will, from them to us via our spirit and it “pops” into the soul or mind, as a thought. If these thoughts are left unchecked they can have disastrous consequences. If they are caught and brought into subjection to Christ, then they can be resolved. This is one aspect of the spiritual realm communicating to us. This is how some prophecy takes place, the Holy Spirit flows with our spirit and sends messages to our mind which we speak to an individual or situation. We can speak the mind of God when the Spirit of God communicates with our spirits. Then our minds understand the message and speak it to the situation. Whereby, we become the spokesperson for the Spirit. This can work for the Holy Spirit, but it can also work for demonic spirits as well. Once, a thought is romanced and decided to act upon, an individual may begin to discuss the issue with people. Let’s take our addict again. Once a spirit of bondage (or addiction) has influenced and gained control of the thought life and mind of an addict, that addict begins to talk about using drugs. Thus, this individual becomes the spokesperson for the spirit of bondage (or addiction). A Biblical example is evidenced when one lying spirit influenced every prophet Ahab had to entice him into battle to be killed. The Bible states, “I saw the Lord sitting on His throne, and all the host of heaven standing by, on His right hand and on His left. And the Lord said, ’Who will persuade Ahab to go up, that he may fall at Ramoth Gilead?’ So one spoke in this manner, and another spoke in that manner. Then a spirit came forward and stood before the Lord, and said, ’I will persuade him.’ And the Lord said to him, ‘In what way?’ So he said, ‘I will go out and be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.’ And the Lord said, ‘You shall persuade him, and prevail. Go out and do so.” (I Kings 22:19-22). Thus, once one prophet became the spokesperson for this spirit, all the prophets were brought under its influence.

My dear friend Patrick Pegues proposed another mechanism of contact between us and the spiritual world. Oddly enough, it is through our emotions. As it has been demonstrated earlier, emotions tend to motivate human behavior. This becomes a powerful means of communication. A spirit can send our soul an emotional download. Thus, in the presence of some spirits, an emotional download is given to a person and they respond with action out of this emotion. Thus, bypassing the ability to think things through. This is true when people tell us that they don’t want to do the things they are doing but they just “can’t help it.” This may be the outworking of a spirit. For example, a spirit of anxiety will produce an emotional response of anxiety in a room. This is why we are taught to walk during a fire drill. The emotional spiritual experience is much stronger than just the thought experience because emotions can move us right into action. These spirits are much more influential over human behavior. Conversely, the Holy Spirit has similar effects on individual as evidenced by the holy laughter and crying that can be exhibited in time of revival and renewal. Being able to discern the presence of these sprits is difficult. One must posses the ability to tease out their own emotions in a given situation versus an unprovoked emotional response caused by a spirit. Oftentimes, people who are untrained in the gift of discerning of the spirits, struggle with seemingly wanton mood swings and can’t figure out what is “wrong with them”. Nothing is wrong with them, they are just untrained in their giftings but are oftentimes medicated and diagnosed as bipolars. The essence of some forms of temptation come from spirits sending us emotions. We are not saying that all temptation comes from demons, but we are certainly saying, that there are times when it absolutely comes from evil spirits.

There are two levels of activity from within, inside of us. They are demonization and possession. Let us begin with demonization and then progress to possession. It is possible to be demonized without being possessed. “The Greek word used in the New Testament can best be translated as “to have a demon” or to be “demonized” rather than to “be possessed.” This correct translation makes all the difference because it is quite possible to have a demon yet not be possessed.” (7) What we are talking about here, is that demons get inside of people and influence their actions and lives without actually possessing them. An example is a man who is plagued with use of pornography. He seeks spiritual help and goes to a deliverance team. They pray and bind a “perverse spirit” and command it to leave him. It leaves, and the man voices an immediate peace and release. More importantly, he reports that the compulsion and desire to use pornography has completely left him. He is free from it. He was not possessed but nonetheless, he was demonized by a spirit that lived inside of him and influenced him in powerful ways. Once the spirit is gone, there is relief. This is how the majority of deliverance ministry takes place. Just like this. More often people are demonized but not possessed. They come for prayer and get better immediately. This is also an indicator of a spiritual problem, after prayer, the client gets better rapidly. The cause of the problem being removed with deliverance. Cindy Jacobs lists several causes of demonization, they are: Bitterness and unforgiveness, iniquity (including sins of the fathers and past generations), the occult, sin (particular sexual sin as it is a union that transfers sprits), trauma, and abuse.(8) These are all portals of entry for the demonic. Jacobs goes on to list stages of demonization. They are:

1. Regression: a person no longer has a desire for the things of God.

2. Repression: the absence of joy in the individuals life.

3. Suppression: a general sense of melancholy or lethargy.

4. Depression: a state of worthlessness and hopelessness involving loss of appetite and loss of sleep.

5. Oppression: the sense of being weighed down by an unseen force.

6. Obsession: a persistent disturbing preoccupation with an often unreasonable idea or feeling. This changes the mind and calls what is evil, good.

7. Demonization: the individual has given demons the right to dwell inside of them by the sins of their flesh.

True cases of demonic possession are extremely rare. Personally, I have never seen a case. However, that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist. They are just extremely rare. Noted German theologian Kurt Koch identified eight “marks” of demonic possession. They are: 1. the demons are really living inside the individual and seem to have control. 2. Unusual or supernatural strength. 3. Visible conflict within the possessed person. 4. An opposition to the things of God. 5. Clairvoyance- Koch sites the demoniac of Gadarenes ability to identify Jesus even though they had never met before. This is a knowledge of hidden or secret things 6. Ability to speak in voices not their own and often in languages that they don’t know. 7. An immediate instantaneous improvement of the patient once the exorcism is complete. 8. Transference: Koch sites the legion that was cast into the pigs and destroyed the herd. This transference is a sign of possession. (10) Exorcism of these individuals is possible, but oftentimes, it takes longer and is much more involved. It should be noted that no novice in the deliverance ministry should attempt an exorcism without the help of trained professional ministers.

The person suffering from an identity crisis will, probably, be in need of some inner healing, if not, deliverance. Again, this section is not intended to be exhaustive but to familiarize the reader with the process of becoming whole in Christ.

 

 

 

Endnotes

1. Here the reader is referred to “Healing” by Francis MacNutt. “Healing the Wounded Spirit” by John and Paul Sandford, and “The Healing Gifts of the Spirit” by Agnes Sanford. Also, “Strongman is His Name, What is His Game.” by Jerry and Carol Robeson, “Deliverance from Evil Spirits“, by Fances MacNutt, “Demonology, Past and Present” by Kurt Koch, and “They Shall Expel Demons“, by Derek Prince. “Deliver Us From Evil” by Cindy Jacobs.

2. MacNutt, Frances, Healing, Ave Marie Press, Notre Dame, IN, 1999, page 146.

3. Ibid, page 147.

4. Webster Noah, American Dictionary of the English Language 1828 edition, San Francisco, CA, Foundation for American Christian Education, 2006, page

5. Hayford, Jack, The Spirit Filled Life Bible, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN, 1991, page 1512.

6. Ibid, page 1557.

7. MacNutt, Frances, Deliverance from Evil Spirits, A Practical Manual, Chosen Books, Grand Rapids, MI, 1995, page 69.

8. Jacobs, Cindy, Deliver Us From Evil, Regal Books, Ventura, CA, 2001, pages 189-190.

9. Ibid, pages 193-195.

10. Koch, Kurt, Demonology: Past and Present Discerning and Overcoming Demonic Strongholds, Kregel Publications, Grand Rapids MI, 1973, pages 136-140.

Surprised by the favorable answer of God

Why is it that we as the people of God are surprised when God answers our prayers. Today, two different believers (people who I know have intimate relationships with God) told me, rather joyfully and surprisingly, that God had answered their prayers. What is it about us that makes us brace ourselves for God to not answer our prayers. Then, when He answers, we are shocked. Why? I don’t know about others but I understand why I do it. There are two reasons. First, a lack of faith in His willingness and secondly, a lack of trust because of past woundedness when I prayed something and it didn’t get answered.

Before proceeding any further, we should describe the appropriate response that we should be surprised when the God of love, who didn’t even spare His own Son for us, answers in a way that is favorable towards us. This should be the knee-jerk response of any believer that engages in prayer. So, why do we not believe Him? Why do we hold resentments towards God because of past woundedness. We definitely are lacking something when we are shocked by His favorable response towards us.

Resentments and past woundedness from a prayer that didn’t get answered, stem from a lack of knowledge of Him. It is rooted in not knowing the character of the Master. God is good and incapable of evil. He is not a cosmic vending machine that we can deposit prayer into and get out what we want. He doesn’t serve us. If he just heaped upon us all our request, He would raise spoiled children. But, many of us have prayed for certain things or for others and neither received desired effect nor the desired answer. I don’t know why this happens. But, it is at these times that we must rely on our knowledge of His character. His character is love and He is incapable of evil and sin. It is impossible for God to move towards us out of anything but love because God is love. When these prayers are not answered it must be that it serves a higher purpose other than our desire, that we may not understand.

Unbelief in His willingness is exactly what happened to Israel after their Egyptian captivity and subsequent deliverance. These people had seen God blast Egypt with 10 plagues and divide the Red Sea, all on their behalf. Then, after a few days, they doubt His willingness to provide even the basic necessities of water. Why? What happens to humans that we doubt His willingness to repeat miraculous provision? Do we not know His promises to us or do we not know that He is incapable of lying? Is it counter intuitive to us who know we are not worthy of God’s favor and have had instilled into our souls that we should strife to not be dependent upon God, nor upon His grace? Is it society that teaches us that we should work towards not needing Jesus anymore? Is it just easier to be dependent upon our leaders in the physical realm than to rely upon our spiritual Father? Do we not know that He is burdened for us and desires to be our Hero? Do we not know how much He loves us? Perhaps it is a culmination of all these things. Whatever it is, we are lacking something when we are surprised when the supernatural God does miracles.

I want my soul to have a cellular response that speaks, “of course, He heals diseases. Of course, He raises the dead. Of course, He provides financial deliverance. Yes, I have favor with God in all aspects of my life. Why wouldn’t He answer this prayer favorably towards me, He loves me.” God really loves us, He really loves us a lot.

“He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:32)