What Land and Which Ways?

2 Chronicles 7:14 contains a piece of ancient Israel’s history that we cannot afford to misplace. There is no place to which anyone needs to look or go for access to God, and if the land was diseased in Solomon’s reign (!) it is in critical condition and on life support today.

if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

Step one: a formidable hurdle

Humility is practically a dead mule, eclipsed by gender, ethnic and tribal biases. People only talk about humility when they are looking for an advancement or some kind of promotion.

Furthermore there is this notion that every Christian is some kind of head, as opposed to the tail. Is not this head-tail tale what the Jewish people have been telling us all along, even though we know that they never accepted the performance of God’s will?

  1. humble myself (control or subdue)
  2. pray (petition or supplicate)
  3. seek Yahweh’s face
  4. turn from my wicked ways

The promised outcomes are:

  1. hear from heaven (a personal reply)
  2. forgive sin
  3. heal the land

Newsflash!

  • God, especially Christ, is higher than heaven
  • Christ did not die to save or heal land
  • Sins are forgiven in mercy and grace
  • One wicked way of unbelief is the virus

Does the land of Israel look healed? Do Jews appear to have controlled or subdued themselves? To whom are they praying when there is no house of prayer and no sign of the holy name?

Faith saves and keeps us healthy and God happy

Ephesians 2:8
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,

2 Corinthians 5:7
for we walk by faith, not by sight.

The With-us God

The valley of death’s shadow is a place no one wants to be, yet Yahweh is certainly there if I am there. Against the backdrop of our Lord’s cry on the cross “Eli, Eli, lama sabachtani!” and His glorious resurrection (a) we are sobered by the terror of His death and (b) anchored by the God-with-us in the Son and the Spirit.

Let us stop allowing ourselves to be treated as aliens. Prayers for God’s presence are uninformed. The people who assume God’s absence are ungrateful and forgetful. God-with-us is neither temporary nor conditional. If there is no intention to deceive, the prayer leader – regardless of any title he or she bears – by asking for God to be present is wasting time, is stomping on the ironclad promise “I will never leave you or forsake you”, and misrepresents the facts.

Think what would it mean if God moved out of his residence, moved on from his relationship with one individual.

How can we grow without grace?

The heroes of faith are not winners of a race, taking the three possible medals. They are not like popular Grammy winners having the acclaim of their peers They lived in faith and died clinging to the promises they had embraced whether they had received what was promised or not. They struggled and rejoiced in adversity and in comforts. Faith was their victory.

Not many us are like Sarah and Abraham, having a child against all odds. Not many us are like David and Gideon, conquering kingdoms with meager resources. Not many us are like the cave-dwelling faithful of ancient times, harrassed and pursued with murderous intent, choosing to die rather than deny their relationship with God. None of us has resisted the pressure of testing, choosing to die so that life can be distributed to others.

How does our garden grow?

The new and false notion of grace does not allow believers to suffer, or be in need of assistance, or have the very benefits that declare the difference between Christ and others. The new and false notion of grace has people flipping the pages of their imagination between saved and lost, between condemnation and justification, and between life and death. This is the torment that attends the unrepentant and hard hardhearted. Christ is just not enough for them. They have to invent circumcision and holy food and drink, allegiances to dead moons, and erect barriers that Christ has thrown down.

Are you saved? Are you dead? Are you a child of God?

I know whole groups of believers who would like us to believe that answers to these questions cannot be a simple yes or no. These are the people who would kill a man raised from the dead because of malice.

There are seeds that do not germinate, people who do not believe the gospel, and the two situations define the dead and those still in the dark kingdom.

The living do not return to the grave of condemnation. They stay with the Saviour God.

John 8:31-32

So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.

New Heart and Old Ways

One of the strange alleyways of Christian thought is the one that assigns priority to first or ancient things even when no evidence exists for a golden human age. Not even Eden’s pristine moments hold out any example of excellence. The gold and goldplated items in the sacred tent are themselves eyeopening realities. At Sinai, however, the people declined a one-to-one with Yahweh and Moses’ protest was met with Yahweh’s resignation that they did not have the heart. This does not mean that they were afraid. It means that they did not have (and could not get, since the Lord was not yet incarnate much less glorified) a heart to receive God’s will. So what does Ezekiel’s prediction of new heart mean for Israel?

We can ask Isaiah. He confirms (29:13) that the Israelite kept his heart at a distance from Yahweh. Jewish religion had become nice talk.

And the Lord said: Because this people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me, and their fear of me is a commandment taught by men,

Jeremiah (13:10) tells a similar story.

This evil people, who refuse to hear my words, who stubbornly follow their own heart and have gone after other gods to serve them and worship them, shall be like this loincloth, which is good for nothing.

Some people, including Christians, would like us to conduct our lives as if the events in the Gospels have no bearing on God’s will. They dress up for truth and salvation but put the one Way in a subsidiary position. They prefer the symbols to the Life.

Mark records (7:6-13) the same condition as Moses, Isaiah, and Jeremiah.

And he said to them, Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men. You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men. And he said to them, You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition! For Moses said, Honor your father and your mother; and, Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die. But you say, If a man tells his father or his mother, Whatever you would have gained from me is Corban (that is, given to God)— then you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or mother, thus making void the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And many such things you do.

When the world ruling power calls for allegiance and compliance with its actions and legislation the masses will think it is a good thing because they have not committed themselves to the truth of the gospel. We would be in great company if we accept the call for obedience to human institutions and secular powers – with their presumed new heart full of old lies – but we would be en route to the darkness ditch. The church is Christ’s body.

The new is not the old. Symbols and types are not saving realities. They never were.

We have an altar from which those who serve the tent have no right to eat. Hebrews 13:10

Run if it ain’t the man Messiah Yeshua

The idols that populate the universe of deception are many and often are not concealed. They are with us in plain sight. They’re all part of creation.

Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. 1 Corinthians 10:14

To avoid idolatry might seem easy since opposite creation stands the Creator. For many people, buildings, purchases, things we have lost, things we want, church membership, and even people are more attractive than Christ. The risk is huge.

As soon as the conversation turns from God’s Son we know the truth is no longer central. Idolatry looms in opting for Moses, looms in the choice of Saul, looms in the choice of Judah over Israel, looms in the choice of Jerusalem over Samaria, and inthe choice of Barabbas over Messiah. That is why we should run if the conversation turns from the man Messiah Yeshua

The king needs to be saved

Now know I that the LORD saveth his anointed; he will hear him from his holy heaven with the saving strength of his right hand. (Psalms 20:6)

This king is either David, Davidide or Israelite. Do we know a king who does not need to be saved? Like the Nazarene, for example.

In his atoning death; saved from death:

As he saith also in another place, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec. Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared; (Hebrews 5:6-7)

A prince’s obedience

Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him; (Hebrews 5:8-9) Called of God an high priest after the order of Melchisedec (Hebrews 5:10)

Do we know a believer who gets saved repeatedly – every time they sin? We know many who find their obedience in a vice list, who have established a grip on the follies of Israel at Sinai, who replicate rebellion on the borders of Canaan, and who covet the greed and influence of the priesthood in New Testament times.

A Love We are Loathe to Reduplicate

The episode in the garden before where our Lord was arrested is a memorable glimpse of the enduring love of God.  It is a love for one that he declared to be lost. He calls the lost one, from among the chosen twelve, friend.  With this display, we are seeing an aspect of God’s majestic love that we shrink from, and our Bibles caution us against friendships of this type.  The potter having his way with the clay, his familiar friend, his shalom (Psalm 41:9) is a picture that ought to wake us out of our apathy, our disapproval of people not like us, and ought to shake our idolatrous worship of our ability to choose. How amazing indeed is God’s love.