Leaping off into desert waters

Sometimes reality leaps off the pages of the Bible and docks itself in the reader’s mind and agenda. When that happens it is an opportunity for the splendour of the living word to make sense and fill us with wonder at the same time. Simple trust flips everything into the realm of waters in the wilderness and streams in the desert.

Wide-eyed reverie

They will soar. They will run. They will walk. These are normal activities for birds, for fainting and powerless people.   But who wants those labels?

Isaiah 35:5-6 is an eyeopening vista on what is in the works when comfort comes to town (chapter 40). There is a season for extreme intervention. Reality does not pass away because we do not read, do not want to hear or refuse to think soberly about our lives.

  • Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened
  • the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped
  • the lame man leap as an hart
  • the tongue of the dumb sing

This has got to be one of the best-crafted prophecies with Messianic reach. It connects people to the last and greatest prophet. It corners the reader with:

  • FORGIVENESS OF SIN Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the Lord’s hand double for all her sins. (v2)
  • SETS THE TIME BY UNIQUE MESSAGING. The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. (v3)
  • REVERSALS OF CONDITIONS. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain
  • THE GLORY OF GOD. And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it. (Vs 5)
  • THE FACTS THAT IDENTIFY HUMANITY. The voice said, Cry. And he said, What shall I cry? All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field: The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: because the spirit of the Lord bloweth upon it: surely the people is grass. (Vs 6-7)
  • EXALTS THE WORD OF GOD. The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever. (v8)

Streams in the desert are bound to start one leaping and the desert is bound to be unattractive.

Divine oaths that bind

“You will certainly die” (Gen. 2;17) gets attention as does “I will certainly bless you” (22:17) spoken to the man and Abram respectively. These are recognized as oaths. These oaths are functional and persistent. Oaths also appear as intensified sayings like the following.

Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.

Genesis 3:16

“Greatly multiply” expresses certainty not intensity. Dying you will die is precisely the same form as multiplying I will multiply or blessing I will bless.

Yahweh pinned his sovereignty to civic duty too, not only all-inclusive matters such as female sorrow and blessing Abram. We cannot reasonably pass on the other side or pretend we do not see our neighbour’s property at risk.

If thou meet thine enemy’s ox or his ass going astray, thou shalt surely bring it back to him again.

Exodus 23:4

Where are the righteous nations?

In the modern era we suffer from hundreds of dangerous soundbytes. Some of them are a single word, others consist of a few words and may be a full sentence. Even if the words are factual the sound few soundbytes can compete for leaving the smell of death like “God and country” or “one nation under God”.

What is a soundbyte? It is an expression that is small and intentionally charged with meaning, positive or negative. Advertisements on television and radio are popular users of soundbytes: well-chosen words intended to seize attention and become part of the public’s thinking.

Nation under God

Where is that righteous nation? Why does a nation have transgression and sins? How do these two conditions get resolved? These are our concerns for the people who take the bible into their civic life as if one can make a car run on grape juice.

Isaiah had an assignment that helps us understand the values of any nation or kingdom that steps up to be registered as righteous. In 58:1-2 we read of the rebellion and misses.

Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins. Yet they seek me daily, and delight to know my ways, as a nation that did righteousness, and forsook not the ordinance of their God: they ask of me the ordinances of justice; they take delight in approaching to God.

If these people who Isaiah addressed had the best instruction what hope can anyone clung to in quest of a righteous report card?

In every nation

Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.

Acts 10:34ff

The devil’s grip on the nations

That word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ: (he is Lord of all:) That word, I say, ye know, which was published throughout all Judæa, and began from Galilee, after the baptism which John preached; How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him

The nation vs the righteous

  • And we are witnesses of all things which he did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem;
  • whom they slew and hanged on a tree:
  • Him God raised up the third day,
  • and shewed him openly; Not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before of God, even to us, who did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead.
  • And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead.
  • To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.

There is no righteousness in the law, not for nations nor for individuals. So what could possibly constitute the righteous report card for the world’s modern nations? Will they turn their swords in farming tools? Will empty their prisons of condemned inncent and their jurisdictions of poor and disenfranchised citizens?

Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.

Ps. 127:1

Nations are typically defined as republics, kingdoms, principalities, or states. The Bible recognizes all of them but only the kingdom, those having an effective head in whom resides both leadership and representation has a chance of getting a well-done from God. That is rare, and the entity that puts its own goals and concepts ahead of pure philanthropy can be expected to be part of the alliance that separates divine graces from its civic process can hardly be called righteous. Even when they claim to have Judaic and Christian foundations the politics turns out to be a mishmash of cruelty and oppression. The rich are the models while the messengers of the healing of the human family are despised and assassinated.

Here what Stephen had to say when he came face to face with the civic power of a religious entity. It is a severe warning about mixing political power with a religious agenda. No-one with a cleansed heart can want to be subject to the judgment of religious bigots as Stephen was.

Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have now betrayed and murdered, Acts. 7:52 you who received the law as delivered by angels and did not keep it.” Acts. 7:53 Now when they heard these things they were enraged, and they ground their teeth at him. Acts. 7:54

The search for the righteous nation with the same qualities as the redeemed person is futile. No mob rule – people blindly following traditon – can ever represent God’s idea of righteous. “Nations under God” are bound to be idolatrous comedies. The beast will never beome a man. The mixing of Caesar’s dominion with a corporate religious entity will give way to individual responsibility.

“Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will sow the house of Israel and the house of Judah with the seed of man and the seed of beast. Jer. 31:27 And it shall come to pass that as I have watched over them to pluck up and break down, to overthrow, destroy, and bring harm, so I will watch over them to build and to plant, declares the LORD. Jer. 31:28 In those days they shall no longer say: “‘The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge.’ Jer. 31:29 But everyone shall die for his own iniquity. Each man who eats sour grapes, his teeth shall be set on edge. Jer. 31:30

The real regime

“Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, Jer. 31:31
not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the LORD. Jer. 31:32

A righteous nation can only have righteous building blocks, as Peter calls them, living stones. No alliance with Caesar is acceptable. the guidance offered to earth’s nations in our times has been ignored: only a sense of collective security commitment to the human race can qualify the nations for righteous identity. The great and mighty have the greatest hurdles to getting there.

Be very sure my friends

Relations with the Risen Christ is not defined by prophetic, wonder-working, or exorcist ministries.  Ask Yeshua.

Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name? and in your name have cast out devils? and in your name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, all of you that work iniquity. Therefore whosoever hears these sayings of mine, and does them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that hears these sayings of mine, and does them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.

Matthew 7:22-27

When happiness touches down

Since happiness is in the context of being persecuted for the sake of righteousness shouldn’t a society that is based on moral attitudes and social norms of decency outlaw persecution for doing the right things?

Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

Matthew 5:12

“Updated” KJV Sinks Low

Translations are often disappointing and when they shift the context into the core it is just plain unhealthy. Matthew 26:27 is one less serious of hundreds of sentences that even modern translations tend to turn to mush. Really!

And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink all of you all of it;

Matthew 26:27

Verb treatment should have high definition, not simply storytelling. This is some lazy translation! 😌 Every action comes out as mere storytelling; he took, he thanked, he gave. Why did they not keep that “simple” approach with “he said”? I will show you. The so-called literal translation points the way.


These panels below show the KJV, Young’s Literal Translation, a Greek Manuscript, and Weymouth’s.

Λαβων and ευχαρίστας are not merely “he took” and “he thanked”. They’re in the same form (words are inflected to convey meaning as in English hear > hears >heard > hearing) as requires a contextual interpretation; “when he had…” or “as he was…” or “as they were…” (example in verse 26 below)

And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body.

Matthew 26:26

The reason they did they not keep that “simple” approach with “he said” for saying is that saying is also inflected for a contextual treatment. It goes to show that rightly dividing does not happen automatically in the many translations.