The Song of Moses (set to music)

Sunday, October 30. 2011

Album Cover for In the book of Revelation (ch 15) there is a reference to those who were victorious over the beast, and they were singing the song of Moses, and the song of the Lamb. I do not think it insignificant that they first sang the song of Moses, the servant of God and giver of the Law that condemns all who do not keep it perfectly to a sentence of death. If you will sing that song, and agree with its verdict, then you may also sing the song of the Lamb, who tasted death for every man, and was raised to life again by the power of God.

The theme verse of the Zion Christian Press website has been Deut 32:21 since its inception. A few years ago I asked the Lord for help writing music to the "song" that Moses spoke in this chapter. In more recent months, my friend Reggie Kelly made a comment about the other "song" passage in Exodus that stirred something in me that it might be time to begin work. I am calling that work complete now.

Unlike Psalm 119, which had beautiful 8 verse divisions, I have somewhat arbitrarily divided the song into five sections based on verses that held together musically.

A continuous 5-part video playlist from YouTube is linked below [approximately 21min]:

The Seventy Sevens of Daniel (and Jesus)

Saturday, September 3. 2011
Bible Commentary

During the Chapter 9 session of our study of Daniel at the 2010 Convocation ("A People Prepared for These Last Days"), I made a comment near the end of the class regarding "the other" Seventy times Seven found in the New Testament (Mt 18:22). Our brother Phil Norcom, who organized the conference, later that afternoon gave me the homework assignment of elaborating on my point in writing. That is what I am attempting to do here.

To properly set the context, we had studied the visions recorded in the book of Daniel verse by verse on Friday and Saturday (in Chapters 2, 7 and 8 as they relate to the appearance of the antichrist in the last days). On the third day of our studies, we saw in chapter 9, that Daniel was moved to intercede for Israel when he understood ("by books") that the Seventy years of exile prophesied by Jeremiah were almost complete. While Daniel was praying and speaking, the angel Gabriel appeared to him and proceeded to give Daniel understanding concerning much more than the immediate predicament of his people's seventy year expulsion from the land of promise. "Seventy 'sevens' are decreed for your people," to accomplish the following things:

Finish transgression,
Atone for wickedness,
Bring in everlasting righteousness,
Seal up Vision and Prophecy, and
Anoint the most holy.

There will be sixty-nine "sevens" until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes (and is "cut off"). To those of us who have found favor in the eyes of God despite ourselves, the first century incarnation of Jesus, and His death at the cross in the first third of that century is a remarkable fulfillment of the foretold Sixty-Nine of the Seventy Sevens.

And then a final "Seven" which takes us to the end of this age.

The seventy sevens of Daniel take us through the Tribulation (the great one) and right on up to the return of the Lord, which simultaneously defeats the anti-christ, translates His Church, and opens the eyes of Israel who (as an entire nation) sees Him whom they have pierced, and mourns.

THAT is the grand scriptural background for the "seventy times seven" statement that Jesus makes to Peter. So, think about that for a moment. What will take place during that last "seven" of Daniel? What kinds of persecutions, betrayals, transgressions, offenses, etc. must transpire to make the final three and a half years that precede the coming of the Lord worthy of being called that most terrible of times?

In the closer context of Matthew chapter 18, Jesus has been put on the spot by this question from His disciples:  "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" The disciples are comparing themselves to themselves (2 Cor 10:12) and they want Jesus to cast the deciding vote. Jesus, being wise, then begins to talk about becoming like a child (Mt 18:4), welcoming a little child (Mt 18:5), and not looking down on one of these little ones (Mt 18:10). In most cases, little children aren't very good at anything except being dependent and needy. They do not hold positions of power and men do not generally feel a need for gaining their approval.

When we get to the latter parts of this chapter and start discussing what to do when a brother sins against you, we really haven't changed the subject. This is basically still a "who is greatest" problem. A brother is offensive when he won't concede that you hold the moral high ground, that you have the greater devotional life, or the most correct interpretation of scripture, etc, etc. Or worse yet, an enemy is convinced that what you have belongs to him. He thinks that he is more deserving to have your land, your hard work, or even your wife and children.

When this happens, it is very important to begin dealing with the offense one on one. This is to encourage the offended one to seek God first and come to the "offender" with expectation that God is able to change anyone's heart (since after all, God has already conquered your heart and you are the chief of sinners! Aren't you?) If that fails and you must bring in a second brother (or the whole church later), it is very important that the spirit of intimidation not be employed. The world runs on the fear of death. We have not been given the spirit of fear (but a Spirit of love, power and a sound mind).

This approach to one another is not normal. It is miraculous and powerful. It is driven by a Spirit not of this world. It is the very Spirit of God, and when two or more come together in this fashion, principalities and powers are shaken and removed. When just two agree to share God's view on a matter what they ask will be given.

How do you know if you have this approach? You will know you have it if there is a determination in your heart to be reconciled with the brother, or an enemy, even if it costs you everything. When Peter asks the question of Jesus, "How many times should I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?" he may have thought that he was holding out for some observable moral perfection. But Jesus ups the ante by referring to the exact language of our beloved Daniel when he caught the vision of these horribly intense trials and travail of the seventieth "seven." These are the days when Satan is hurled to the earth and wreaks havoc on the inhabiters of the earth. Fear, intimidation and gross darkness will cover the people and be the rule of the day.

How will you deal with those who feel they are better than you? With those who kill you thinking they are doing God a service? What kind of generosity of heart will you have toward these "enemies?" The Seventieth Seven takes us right up to the last moment before the return of the Lord. Your last breath may come and go before you are vindicated by His coming. If you stop short of that last breath in forgiving your brother, there will be a part of your robe that is not washed in the blood of the Lamb. If you don't maintain the "testimony of Jesus" to the end, then you are implicitly stating that there was something in you that was superior and more deserving than the offender. Do you or don't you depend totally on the gift of God's righteousness, in the way a child depends on his parents for every good thing? Then you must hold out and believe all things for your "enemy." "Lord Jesus, lay not this sin to their charge." (Acts 7:60)

The answers to these questions will determine whether the coming flood of evil will drown you, or lift you up into the heavens. (Gen 6-8)

The Five Visions of Daniel

Sunday, February 27. 2011

In September of 2010, I attended a Conference in Ohio called "A People Prepared for These Last Days." My dear friend Reggie Kelly was a featured speaker, and a few other brothers I knew were going to be in attendance. The brother who organized the event planned for us to go through the chapters of Daniel that contained visions regarding the last days (Ch 2, 7, 8, 9, and 10-12).

It is almost embarrassing to say that this is the first time in my 25 years of "believing," that any exposition of the "apocalyptic" books has rung true to me. Daniel, Revelation and portions of other books have been "closed" books to me, despite the abundance of commentaries that exist on the subject.

I took a nice audio recorder, not knowing exactly what for, but believing that something worth recording would be said. Another brother from Iran, brought a video recorder. Since coming home from that conference I have been working on editing the good quality audio and putting it together with the good video, so that listeners would be able to concentrate on the message, not the noise of the camcorder or those sitting near it. I've then divided it into 15 minute or less sections for uploading to YouTube (the maximum YT allows).

In recent days, the last section of Daniel video was uploaded. It has now been gathered into a course called "The Five Visions of Daniel." At this time I would like to highly commend the course to anyone who has happened upon this page. I believe the material is foundational, and that it provides a key to understanding the big picture of what our eternal God has been doing since creation, what He is doing today, and what He will be doing in the future.

I am praying that those who have ears to hear will be drawn to the course and that they will be given strength to listen to the bulk of the material, even in the absence of the excitement of being there with the saints.

How Long Must Your Servant Wait? - Psalm 119k - Kaph

Sunday, June 27. 2010
Psalm 119

81 My soul faints with longing for Your salvation,
- but I have put my hope in Your Word.
82 My eyes fail looking for Your promise;
- I say, “When will You comfort me?”
83 Though I am like a wineskin in the smoke,
- I do not forget Your decrees.
84 How long must Your servant wait?
- When will You punish those who persecute me?
85 The arrogant dig pitfalls for me,
- contrary to Your law.
86 All Your commands are worthy of trust;
- help me, for men persecute me without cause.
87 They almost wiped me from the earth,
- but I have not forsaken Your precepts.
88 Preserve my life according to Your love,
- and I will obey the statutes of Your mouth.

My soul faints with longing for Your salvation - There will be times when it seems that our soul seems to suffocate. These will occur even if (or perhaps especially if...) we are steadfastly looking for manifestations of the Lord's Kingdom on this earth. That kind of "looking" is good and was encouraged by the Lord Jesus when He taught us to pray saying, "Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven." When we come up against the contradictions, whether within ourselves or without, that resistance sucks the "air" out of our present hopes, and our soul faints. At times like these we are dependent on the true resurrection life of our Lord coming into us to raise us up.

But I have put my hope in Your Word -  On the day that Jesus was crucified, the adoring crowds and devoted disciples were gone. His own Father had turned Him over to the evil desires of sinful men who were thinking that they were doing God a service. No one and no thing from this realm below could deliver Him from the things He was suffering. His body and His soul were fainting, succumbing to death. Nevertheless, right before Jesus died, he cried out, "Into Thy hands I commend My Spirit." With no visible evidence  (or otherwise sensory) of any kind to support it, Jesus was still entertaining hope in His Father's faithfulness to every Word He had ever spoken.
My eyes fail, looking for Your promise.
I say, “When will You comfort me?” - When Jesus died, even His most dedicated disciples were despondent and crushed. They had invested everything they had in full persuasion that Jesus was the One whom God had promised to restore Israel. Despite the teachings of Jesus concerning his sufferings and death, they underestimated the nature and depth of the deliverance that Jesus came to bring about for Israel and the nations, and were blindsided by His arrest, trial and crucifixion. For two days and two nights they suffered the loss of all things. They were collapsing in despair.

Though I am like a wineskin in the smoke... The two disciples on the road to Emmaus complained to Jesus (before they recognized Him) - "What is more, it is the third day since all this took place." In other words, they had remembered the words of Jesus that He would be raised again on the third day (I do not forget Your decrees); but now it was well into the third day and they had grown weary waiting for a manifestation of the promise. They had stopped hoping. If "He" had been the Messiah, surely He would have come by now. How long must Your servant wait? When will You punish those who persecute me? Jesus paid the full penalty of our sin. He left no bill to our charge. He has conquered every foe. He has even poured out on us His very own Spirit. So what is up with His patience for the opposition that we still face? Psalm 59:11 says "Slay them not lest my people forget." The Lord desires to have a people that know Him in the heights... and in the depths (Eph 3:18). To accomplish this, He even puts hooks in the jaws of our enemies (Ezk 38:4) and brings them against us so that we might have need to discover those depths. The wicked think that these schemes are their own idea to undermine God's design. The arrogant dig pitfalls for me, contrary to Your law. However, as soon as His purpose in us is accomplished (though not a moment before) He will destroy them by the brightness of His coming (2Thes 2:8).

All Your commands are worthy of trust; help me, for men persecute me without cause.
Job says, "Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him." Abraham trusted God to keep His promises concerning Isaac even if it meant raising him from the dead. These things are written for our admonition, so that we (upon whom the ends of the world have come) would not be overthrown in the wilderness of our trials. He has commanded that we suffer, but His command is tempered with hope that we will lay hold of all that He is. May the Lord help us to trust Him until the end.

They almost wiped me from the earth, but I have not forsaken Your precepts.
It may seem to our flesh and soul that God has forsaken us, but He is a master craftsman who is fashioning pure vessels of hope. In our hour of temptation, when all seems lost, may we say with this Psalmist, "but I have not forsaken Your precepts."

Preserve my life according to Your love, and I will obey the statutes of Your mouth.
  I love this line. The Psalmist is asking LARGE. Is there any greater attribute of God than His love that one could appeal to? I think not. Though seemingly cast off and left for dead, he has cast himself upon the "I will's" of God (see Ez 37 & 38) and has found those words of God coming forth out of his own mouth. Of course, Jesus is our great forerunner and anchor in all of this. He who tasted death for every man is with us at this very moment, bring these exceedingly great and precious promises close at hand.

I Have Prepared A Place For You

Tuesday, February 23. 2010
Bible Commentary
2nd Kings Chapter 1 provides an account of an encounter with three different "battalions" of soldiers and Elijah the prophet. The soldiers had been sent by King Ahaziah to capture Elijah for prophesying that the King would not recover from his illness. Specifically, the reason given by Elijah was that the King refused to seek the LORD, but rather Baal-Zebub, the god of Ekron. The captains of the first 2 battalions apparently did not believe that Elijah was a prophet of the Most High God as the approached him with this demand: "Man of God, the king says, 'Come down!' " The second captain added "Man of God, the king says, 'Come down at ONCE!'"

To both of these commanders Elijah replied: "If I am a man of God, may fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty men!" Scripture records that "the fire of God fell from heaven and consumed him and his fifty men".

It would be reasonable to assume that the disciples of Jesus had this account in mind when they asked Jesus if He wanted them to call down fire from heaven ("as Elijah did") on the Samaritans that would not receive Jesus into their town because He was determined to go to Jerusalem. In apparent contradiction to the Old Testament account (when God responded to Elijah's request) Jesus replied to them: "You know not what manner of spirit you are of. For the Son of man is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them." From our vantage point, we know that those disciples did not yet know the depths to which God was required to go in order to redeem men.

Jesus, "knowing from whence He came, and where He was going" (Jn 13:3) absorbed within Himself the rejection of these Samaritans --- who had already professed a measure of faith in Jesus as the Christ during the incident with the woman at the well --- in a way that Elijah had not. How then did the fire of God (and of Jesus, who is God) fall from heaven at Elijah's word, if this later account seems to indicate that God is not like this? Could it be that the fire that Elijah called down was prophetic of an eternal fire that has been prepared solely for the devil and his angels and that comes to men only if they reject God's one means of escape in Christ?
Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. Matt 25:41
Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. John 14:2-3

Recently, I listened to some early sermons from the 1970's by the late Art Katz. Because of certain phrases and impressions, I am certain that I listened to a few of these during my first year as a Christian in the summer of 1985, when I was a volunteer at a liberal Christian Community and starving for the Word. A member of the community had gotten me hooked up with a Cassette Tape ministry and I stumbled upon these Art Katz messages that literally changed the course and direction of my life. One in particular, "The Fire of God" has captured my imagination once again (now 25 years later) as a key to bringing light and clarity to some ideas that have been wrestling each other in my mind.In this message Art pointed out that no person in all of scripture spoke of hell more than Jesus.
I am THE way, THE truth and THE life and NO man comes to the Father but by ME. John 14:6

He that believeth not shall be damned. Mark 16:16b

“You are from beneath. I am from above. You are from this world. I am not of this world. If you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.” John 8:23-24

Jesus drained the cup of God's wrath against sin when He died on the cross. He "tasted death for every man." Some say that this means that God is no longer a God of judgment. This view is short-sighted as this much is certain: the devil and his demonic cohorts still hate God and want no part of God's self sacrificing way of doing things. If God is in heaven, Satan would rather be somewhere else. In response to this foolish rebellion, God has prepared and isolated a special place in Himself for the evildoers that the Scriptures call hell. (Psalm 139:8)

So, what this boils down to is that there is in fact a judgement-free zone. It is vast and spacious, with many mansions, but the entrance to it is straight and narrow and involves embracing a cross. What we do with this man Jesus, God's anointed, and with the mighty outpouring of His Spirit that His death and resurrection makes available to us is the question of our lives. "I set before you this day life and death, blessing and curse. Choose life!" (Deut 30:19) God has made a way for us to escape the coming judgment on the devil and his angels. He has prepared another place for us that is near His heart. The question is now whether we will enter into that place through Jesus, the only door ("I AM the gate" John 10:9) that will get us there.

Psalm 119 "LP" Content

Sunday, November 29. 2009

I have been working recently on digital notes for the Psalm 119 music that the Lord gave me last year. It was inspired by the new iTunes LP feature which attempts to replicate digitally what we used to get in the old days when we purchased Vinyl LP's. That would be things such as Lyric Booklets, Guitar Chords, pictures of the artists, etc. It turnes out that the iTunes "technology" is fairly standard web stuff, so it can be previewed here on this site (although somewhat slower). It can be downloaded directly for use on iTunes here (160mb including the 22 mp3's).

The Kingdom of God is at Hand: Healing

Sunday, October 18. 2009
The Kingdom

Several months ago, when I sat down to write this entry, I felt that it was necessary to precede it with another on the topic of provision and wealth. The reason for that groundwork is the proliferation of the “Health and Wealth” gospel that has spread through America and beyond. It has degenerated into “another” gospel that sets its affections on things of earth and not on things above. So, not having to address the nature of prosperity again, let us now turn our attention to the other subject of this equation; namely, health. I will define health as: that condition in which all the parts of the body are vigorously performing the function for which they were designed.

A ministry of healing is therefore a restorative one. It brings a body back to the original intention of God, the Designer. This ministry of restoration was one of the signs and wonders that confirmed the message of Jesus as originating in God. As Nicodemus said:

“Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him.”

My interest in healing is heightened because of our call to bring the Gospel of the Kingdom “to the Jew first”. I do not want to cheat God out of any aspect of His character that He has revealed to equip us for the extraordinary task at hand. Of course we know now that the miracles of Jesus were not enough to convince the majority of Priests, Scribes and Pharisees of His identity then (see Deut 14). But the fact that God the Father testified to the identity Jesus with the miraculous and was rejected by "the authorities" does not mean that it was unnecessary or ineffective. They weren't convinced by His preaching or the words of the prophets either, but that does mean we stop looking to God for clarity of speech and revelation to persuade men. In healing, Jesus began to reveal the heart of the Father to His own generation in a way that alters the lives of those affected by the fall. In the case of the Jews, He was answering more than the fall, but additionally their inability to keep their end of the Covenant because the Covenant contained provision for healing.

He said, “If you listen carefully to the voice of the LORD your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the LORD, who heals you.” Ex 15:25-26

Was He aware that the people He was healing would later abandon or reject Him at the appointed hour? Certainly He was well aware of it ("for He knew what was in man" and more importantly Who wasn't in them), but their failure was not a factor in what demonstrations of grace He chose to display, just as it was not a factor in His willingness to suffer and die on the Cross (“While we were yet sinners...”). When He displayed God's Kingdom in His earthly ministry before His death, He was (by His own faith) drawing from the grace and power that was, from an earthly viewpoint, yet future. To put it another way, He was living by the power of an endless life. As He said to Mary and Martha, “I AM the Resurrection.”

He is calling us to that life and testimony. If we are identified with His death, then we are also identified with His life and seated with Him in heavenly places.

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. Gal 2:20 KJV

Ministry that is proceeding from any lesser place than the throne of God is “wood, hay and stubble”.

Most Christians will agree (if asked) that God is still able to heal today. The problem arises with the question of whether or not He is always willing and what to do when prayers requesting His intervention are not immediately answered.

Objection: Sometimes the Father says “No.”

We must remind ourselves that the way we learn about the will of God is to look upon Jesus. When we look at Him we are looking at the Father. (Jn 14:10) So when we read the Gospels and see that Jesus Himself spent what looks to be inordinate amounts of His time to accommodate the multitudes who came to Him in their distress, we are getting a glimpse into the very heart of God.

And He healed them all. Luke 6:19

They came to Him with diverse afflictions and dispositions. These were the same multitudes that left Him as He drew nearer to the cross. So to say that He healed them says much about His heart of compassion and His generosity towards the undeserving. This verse alone has been enough to dispel the doubts of many who have come to the Lord for healing for their bodies.

He made healing and demonic deliverance as commonplace as bread, and even likened it to such when He spoke to the Syro-phoencian woman: “It is not right to take the children's bread and give it to the dogs.

No matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” and “Amen” in Christ unto the glory of God (2 Cor 1:20)

This woman seems to have laid hold of that eternal “Yes” because she would not take the Lord’s initial “No” as the final word. Her response, “yes but even the dogs eat crumbs that fall from the masters table” evoked this praise from Jesus: “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.”

If we currently lack the kind of faith that Gentile woman had, we should not allow ourselves to be condemned.

There is therefore now no condemnation for them that are in Christ Jesus...

I will not allow myself to be condemned by the devil if up to this very moment I have never once seen great creative miracles in response to my prayers. But we should not allow those "No's" to shape our doctrine on how often it is God's desire to heal.  I believe that I will heal and be healed, because He has commanded, "Go and heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons and raise the dead." Let God be true and every man a liar. Perhaps I am still a child and have yet to be entrusted with the inheritance that is mine to walk in, with and through Christ because that kind of power would destroy me with pride. But even if the day never comes when by His mighty grace that works in me I speak forth His Word and see it fulfilled, let it be known that God made it possible when He raised Christ (and us in Him) from the dead.

I personally know precious saints bearing certain infirmities, who are more free in the Lord than most other "healthy" Christians I know. And I will agree that the affliction is often the tool that the Lord has used to bring about the freedom in Him that they enjoy. "It was good for me to be afflicted..." Ps 119 - Babylon's overthrow of Judah was right and just and wrought by the Lord. The same could be said of the Roman destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. But it does not follow that it is God's will for Israel to be excluded from the land until we all die and go to heaven. And so neither does it follow that a saint who has obtained a deeper walk with Jesus through his sickness will remain in that affliction until he or she dies.

"He has torn us to pieces, but He will heal us,
He has injured us, but He will bind up our wounds." Hosea 6:1

If there is ever a sickness among those whom God has set apart (and even those He hasn't), it must of necessity be targeted towards a healing on a deeper level with an ultimate intent on restoring both the deeper and the lesser levels to wholeness.

Objection: "Who has made man's mouth? Or who makes him dumb or deaf, or seeing or blind? Is it not I, the Lord?" - Ex. 4:11

It is true that God does take responsibility for such things (being Omnipotent as He is) but it is only with a greater purpose in mind that he considers allowing such strong measures. Again, with reference to Israel, Isaiah cried out in ch 6, "How long O Lord?" That is, how long shall they be hearing but not understanding, seeing but not perceiving, calloused but not understanding in their hearts? How long until they turn to be healed? The answer: Until every city is laid waste and nothing but the holy seed is left like a stump in the land. But THEN we see the glory of the LORD. We see a release from that strong medicine as they look upon Him whom they have pierced... and all of God's promises to Israel are fulfilled, never to be revoked again.

May our sicknesses drive us to Him who is that Holy Seed. To the extent that we have settled for anything less than Him, may God use every means (including sickness) at His disposal to get our attention and work a true repentance.

Jesus taught us to pray saying "...Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven..." If there is sickness in heaven then we should certainly accept it here. If there isn't, and of course there isn't, then it is appropriate to expect this prayer to find fulfillment here on earth now.

As I write this, I am suffering from a headache. I have headaches on a frequent basis and I take varying medications to mask the pain enough to continue to perform some basic demands of life. But I refuse to accept this as God's ultimate will for me and I believe He will derive pleasure from healing me.

God's ultimate goal is our spiritual oneness with Him. The LORD will use any and every tool at His disposal to accomplish His will. However, it is clear that He takes no delight in afflicting men. (Jer 3:31-33) The absence of sickness is not a reliable indicator of spiritual well-being, but neither is tolerance for an affliction after it has brought you to Jesus. Couldn't it be that some of the sorrow and grief that the Lord endures is because those He loves will not believe that it is His will to heal them? Faith in His great love will create hope for healing. We do know God does not respond to our needs, but He has obligated Himself to respond to the faith of His Son, and needs are met when He sees it. Some have faith to receive the lesser gifts but miss it when it comes to the greater desires of God. That does not demean the quality of the faith that obtained the lesser thing.

Jesus Himself lived for 30 years without performing a single miracle. There is no telling how many people he knew during those decades who suffered for years with this sickness or that oppression of the devil. Apparently, he watched His earthly father die as there is no mention of Joseph after Jesus' ministry began. And yet... there came a day when it pleased the Father that "all who came to Him were healed".

"What I am saying is that as long as the heir is a child, he is no different from a slave, although he owns the whole estate. He is subject to guardians and trustees until the time set by his father. So also, when we were children, we were in slavery under the basic principles of the world." Gal 4:1-3

Let every sickness provoke in us to the examination of our lives before God that brings us once again to the glorious ground zero of the Cross, with no hope of an affirmative answer based on our merit, but a blessed certainty that in Him there is not only the power but the will to restore. May it produce in us a tenacity so that there will come a day when one of His "No's" cause us to stand up before every demon in hell and say, "True Lord! But even the dogs eat crumbs from their master's table".

The kingdom of God suffereth violence and the violent take it by force.

Objection: If miracles occurred every moment, they no longer would qualify as miracles.

Jesus worked long hours with little or no compensation; with infrequent privacy; and with much persecution for preaching and performing miracles - those miracles that he made for us as common as bread (and which even He likened to the "bread of the children" as mentioned in a section above). Many of His miracles were performed in places that He later had to rebuke because they did not respond with the kind of deep change/repentance He was expecting. Healing is certainly not the not the glamorous ministry it has been portrayed to be by recent public figures. For the man of God, miracles are as the "drudgery" (to use an Oswald Chambers term) of regularly preparing a meal, cleaning the toilets or washing clothes. It will be the "ordinary" work of sons come unto maturity. Bringing miracles for the ungrateful and shallow is in itself a carrying of the Cross and a preparation for drinking of His cup.

Though miracles did not make the Pharisees believe, that did not stop Jesus from allowing God to testify in power to the truth of His Word. We must receive and defend every gift that He has given to us to accomplish the mighty work He has sent us to accomplish.

Objection: Isaiah 53 is about spiritual healing, not physical healing:

Surely he took up our infirmities
      and carried our sorrows,
       yet we considered him stricken by God,
       smitten by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
       he was crushed for our iniquities;
       the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,
       and by his wounds we are healed.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
       each of us has turned to his own way;
       and the LORD has laid on him
       the iniquity of us all.

There are portions of this passage that deal clearly with our sin condition, leaving "by His stripes we were healed" plenty of room to mean exactly what it implies at face value. Matthew confirms this when he quotes Isaiah 53:4 “He took up our infirmities and carried our diseases” in direct reference to the healing ministry of Jesus. (Mt 8:16-17)

Objection: Elisha, a mighty prophet of God died on a sickbed.

True enough. But does it follow that the sickness itself was God's will? As I get older the natural tendency of the body seems to be that it is more subject to weakness than when I was young. When some attack or heaviness of soul comes, and my propensity to fight the fight of faith is worn down, my body occasionally gives in with sickness. Elisha endured decades of the contradiction of sinful Israel against himself.  If his only peers were the same company of prophets that let him know "the facts" at the time Elijah was taken up to heaven then how much encouragement in the faith could he get in this later time of need. Another blow was that his servant Gehazi never seemed to carry the torch the way he himself did with Elijah. Faith comes by hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. Doubt comes by listening to the evidence of the body and to objections like this one.

Objection: Paul's "Thorn in the flesh" was sickness

Paul was the consummate man of the "Word". Hardly a paragraph in his writings goes by without some appeal and reference to Moses (the Law) and the Prophets. Paul's "thorn in the flesh" is no different.

But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land, those you allow to remain will become barbs in your eyes and thorns in your sides. They will give you trouble in the land where you will live. Num 33:55

This passage from Numbers (the first mention of the word "thorn" after the Genesis 3 episode) clearly references trouble that people, not disease, will be if God's instructions are not followed.

Furthermore, when Paul recounts his great afflictions he could have, by the Spirit, added one word that would have ended this debate once and for all.

we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles,hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything. 2 Cor 6:4-10
What anyone else dares to boast about—I am speaking as a fool—I also dare to boast about. Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they Abraham's descendants? So am I. Are they servants of Christ? (I am out of my mind to talk like this.) I am more. I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn? 2 Cor 11:21-29

With all of these afflictions that Paul mentions, sickness or disease is curiously not among them. Why would he omit mention of that "thorn in the flesh" that required the great grace of God working in his life?


The ministry of Jesus (the King of the kingdom) clearly points to a willingess in God to heal disease whenever faith is present. Delay (for the greater glory of God) and misplaced or immature faith are the only variables we see in Scripture. Doubting the character and goodness of God, who is the same yesterday, today and forever is not an option. The remedy for unanswered prayer is not to develop a Theology that accommodates for disease, but to continue to meditate on the words and deeds of the King and His soon coming (disease free) kingdom.

It Was Good For Me To Be Afflicted - Psalm 119i Teth

Sunday, August 23. 2009
Psalm 119
65 Do good to Your servant
- according to Your Word, O Lord.
66 Teach me knowledge and good judgment,
- for I believe in Your commands.
67 Before I was afflicted — I went astray,
- but now I obey Your Word.
68 You are good, and what You do is good;
- teach me Your decrees.
69 Though the arrogant have smeared me with lies,
- I keep Your precepts with all my heart.
70 Their hearts are callous and unfeeling,
- but I delight in Your law.
71 It was good for me to be afflicted
- that I might learn Your decrees.
72 The law from Your mouth is more precious to me
- than thousands of pieces of silver and of gold.

Do good to Your servant, according to Your Word...  THAT is a mouthful, especially if you believe as we Christians believe, that Jesus was and is "The Word". "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word WAS God... The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us" (John 1:1,14). I see similarities to Paul's prayer for believers in his epistle to the Ephesians:

I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Eph 3:14-19

So there it is. The first verse of this section of Psalm 119 is asking for nothing less than to be filled to the measure of ALL the fullness of God. It is building upon the theme of the previous section ("You are my portion") and it sets the tone for the verses that follow.

Teach me knowledge and good judgement for I believe in Your commands. The Psalmist has already heard and believes in the commands of the Lord. He has no controversy with them. But because he believes he is constrained to ask for instruction in them. A mental affirmation is not enough and could be likened to the Law being written on tablets of stone. The Word of the Lord is to become flesh in it's hearers.
I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put My Spirit IN you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. Ezekiel 36:26-27

When we have only a mental grasp of the Scriptures (even if it is doctrinally correct) we are dead.
You search the Scriptures for you think that in THEM you have eternal life. These are they that testify about Me and yet you refuse to come to Me for life. John 5:38-40

Before I was afflicted I went astray... As Psalm 14 says, "There is none that seeks God, no NOT EVEN one." So the great Shepherd of our souls came looking for us and found us in our devastated condition. He paid an awful price to not only draw near to you but to BE your life, in your current condition, no matter how dire and whether you can feel His presence or not. To those who are broken and in need this is good news. If we are rich and increased with goods and in need of nothing, we feel no need of Him and the Word is in danger of being choked out as Jesus said "by the deceitfulness of riches." James exhorts the rich man to take pride in his LOW position because the sun will rise with scorching heat and he will wither like a flower, even while he is going about his business.

But now I obey Your Word - If we are His sons we can expect His discipline to bring us into the place of receiving and dispensing His mercy. As Psalm 30 says, "But when You hid Your face from me, THEN I was dismayed. To You LORD I called; to the Lord I cried for mercy." He wants us to know, in our deeps, that any good thing that we have came from Him as a gift.

You are good and what You do is good... When the rich young ruler called Jesus "good teacher," Jesus asked, "Why do you call me good? None but God is good." There is no middle ground of a goodness independent of God's own life working in you. If we are identified with His death and His resurrection, we can say in truth, "It is no longer I that live but Christ that lives within me," and "the life that I now live, I live by the faith of the Son of God who loves me and gave Himself for me."

Though the arrogant have smeared me with lies... Claiming the life of God in Christ would seem to be presumption, but it is actually the humility of agreement with God. The moment we venture out into these waters, the threats and lies of God's enemies become directed at us. Jesus was accused of healing and casting out demons by the power of the Satan. He was accused of blasphemy by calling Himself the Son of God, but He would have been lying to say that He wasn't. ... I keep Your precepts with all my heart. Will you hold fast to your testimony when it begins to draw the ire of the powers that be?

Their hearts are callous and unfeeling, but I delight in Your law. Persecution arises from our identification with the life of God, but then it actually causes us to discover His life in depths that otherwise we would not have known.

It was GOOD for me to be afflicted that I might learn Your decrees. Even as Christ was rejected by the chief priests and elders, and abandoned by His closest friends, He was demonstrating the fullness of the depths of the love of God that had previously been hidden (though hinted at in the types and shadows of the "Old" Testament).

The Law from Your mouth is more precious to me than thousands of pieces of silver and gold. Jesus is the only One who has given God the reverence and honor that is His due. He reckoned His Father's will to be more valuable than anything, even His own precious life. This is the attitude that He gives us when we receive the gift of His Holy Spirit.
Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross!

If this is not our attitude then it is not the life of Jesus working within us.

The Kingdom of God is at Hand: Daily Provision

Saturday, August 22. 2009
The Kingdom
"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?

"And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:25-34

The summary of God's financial advice is right there: Seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness. Do that and there is absolute certainty of daily provision, and no need for anxiety concerning tomorrow. There is not a single word about any day beyond today. These words are comfort for the afflicted, and a necessary affliction to the comfortable. Any "gospel" promising something other than this is going beyond what is written and will lead to poverty in the life to come.

Looking at His disciples, Jesus said:
Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the Kingdom of Heaven...
Woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort. Luke 6:20,24

This admonition was specifically addressed to His disciples. Jesus, the great Shepherd, led those disciples to experience the devastation of His cross. Any hopes that they had that were LESS than what God is hoping for, were crushed and put to death there. As Paul says, when He died we died with Him. But when God raised Him from the dead, we were raised up IN Him in newness of life. If YOU are following Jesus, He will allow you to experience His cross also. He is no respecter of persons. There you will get to know Him as you may not have wanted to know Him. "For a small moment I have forsaken thee... but with GREAT mercies I will gather thee."

He is trying to get us to shift our focus and affections to the heavenly realm, where (if we will see it) we are seated with Christ. This is the place of rest and lack of worry that Jesus was describing in Matthew 6. Interestingly, once we begin to enter into this reality we become the targets of a special kind of hatred once reserved for God alone. In actuality, it IS the life of God that is still drawing the hatred. "I tell you the truth, no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age (homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—and with them, persecutions) Mark 10:29-30

Paul had this to say to the Corinthians about Apostles (those who have had a firsthand encounter with the risen Christ, and have been sent by Him to a people in the strength of that exchange):
Already you have all you want! Already you have become rich! You have become kings—and that without us! How I wish that you really had become kings so that we might be kings with you! For it seems to me that God has put us apostles on display at the end of the procession, like men condemned to die in the arena. We have been made a spectacle to the whole universe, to angels as well as to men. We are fools for Christ, but you are so wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are honored, we are dishonored! To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless. We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; when we are slandered, we answer kindly. Up to this moment we have become the scum of the earth, the refuse of the world. 1 Cor 4:8-13

It was the presence of the One who has conquered death that caused them to be utterly content living without the things that most men labor for their entire lives. If we are going to compare ourselves to anyone to gauge our Christian progress and our prosperity in God, it is to these "Apostolic" men, who were witnesses of His death and resurrection. : New Site for Reggie Kelly Writings

Monday, June 29. 2009

For the last couple of weeks I have been working on a new site for Reggie Kelly, the "Ben Israel 'Theologian-in-Residence'" as Art Katz once called him. My website host has made the WordPress "blog" system available to me in the last year, and rather than transfer my own online Journal to that space, I believe it will be put to much better use by putting Reggie's writings there. This has already proved to be significantly easier to post material than the way I had been doing on the old site.

The new site (called "Mystery of Israel") lends itself much more readily to comments (not that Reggie himself will be able to respond there), searches and categories. I will be leaving the "old" site up for the foreseeable future as it has the articles that were on the Ben Israel web site when Art was alive. It also has some newer articles that are not posted yet in the new format. Last but not least, the old site still ranks much better on Google when searching for Reggie's name. (He is not to be confused with the Reggie Kelly who once played football for the Cincinnati Bengals, although I think "our" Reggie just might be taller). So until all of the objections are overcome the old will stay.

But having said that, the new site already has significant content from 2007 not found on the old one. Until I started this project, I did not fully realize how much Reggie writes and how blessed those of us on his email list have been. Wow!