Posts tagged ‘Deuteronomy’

The Nearly Obsolete Church

What is the purpose of the Church?  To answer that, we need to ask, what is the purpose of Israel?  Some, or perhaps many, of you may be wondering what the connection is.  I’ll tell you.  “…and you–being a wild olive–were grafted in among them….”  Here is the whole verse.  Romans 11:17-18 – But if some of the branches were broken off and you–being a wild olive–were grafted in among them and became a partaker of the root of the olive tree with its richness, do not boast against the branches.  But if you do boast, it is not you who support the root but the root supports you.” TLV

And your point is???

Here is my point.  We, the Church, are grafted in to Israel, to be partakers in the blessings they receive from God.  First and foremost among them the Messiah.  Their Messiah is our Messiah, Yeshua (Jesus).  Whether all, or some of Israel have received Him or not is beside the point.  The fact is that Yeshua is their Messiah regardless of their acceptance of Him.  And He is our Messiah as well, thanks to them.  It is thanks to them because it is through them that the Messiah came.

Just as we share in their blessings as a result of the grafting in, we also share in their purpose.  Not the purpose of being the physical DNA of Yeshua.  That belongs to Israel and Israel alone.  But all through their history, they have had a purpose beyond the source of the Savior.  That being a nation that has been sanctified and made holy, to be set apart as God’s treasure.  They were to be a nation of people who, by their righteous living, pointed to the righteousness of God.  Who by their small size, yet amazing conquest, pointed to the power of God.  Who by their existence, pointed to the faithfulness of God.  And who by their  actions, pointed to the love of God.  By watching this little nation, the world was to see that Israel’s God was like no other god; that He was near to them, not afar off, in fact, that He dwelt with them.

Exodus 19:5 – “…you will be My own treasure from among all people.”

Deuteronomy 4:7-8 – “For what great nation is there that has gods so near to them, as ADONAI our God is whenever we call on Him?  What great nation is there that has statutes and ordinances that are righteous–like all of this Torah that I am setting before you today?”

Deuteronomy 4:20 – But you, ADONAI has taken…to be a people for His own inheritance….”

Deuteronomy 4:33-35 – Has a people ever heard the voice of God speaking from the midst of the fire, as you have heard–and lived?  or has any god ever tried to come to take for himself a nation from within a nation–by trials, by signs and wonders, and by war, and by a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, and by great terrors–like all that ADONAI your God did for you in Egypt before your eyes?  You were shown so that you might know that ADONAI is God–there is no other besides Him.

Deuteronomy 14:2 – For you are a holy people to ADONAI your God–from all the peoples on the face of the earth, ADONAI has chosen you to be His treasured people.

Deuteronomy 26:18-19 – Now today ADONAI has affirmed you as His treasured people, as He promised you; that you are to keep all His mitzvot [commandments]; that He will set you high above all the nations He has made, for praise, fame and honor; and that you are to be a holy people to ADONAI your God, as He has promised.

Deuteronomy 28:10 – Then all the peoples of the earth will see that you are called by the name of ADONAI and they will stand in awe of you.

Deuteronomy 33:29 – Happy are you, O Israel!  Who is like you, a people saved by ADONAI, the Shield of your help and the Sword of your triumph?  Your enemies will cower before you, and you will trample on their backs.

Ezekiel 37:26b-27 – I will set up My Sanctuary among them forever.  My dwelling place will be over them.  I will be their God and they will be My people.  Then the nations will know that I am ADONAI who sanctifies Israel, when My Sanctuary is in their midst forever.

The purpose of Israel is to point to God; to be witnesses to who He is (Isaiah 43:10).  The purpose of the Church, as a branch grafted in to Israel, is to do the same.  Of course additional to that, we are to be witnesses of Christ (Acts 1:8), and emissaries of Yeshua making disciples of all nations.

So we have determined the purpose of the Church, but let me ask you this question: how can we point to God, be witnesses of who He and Yeshua are, and make disciples of all nations when we look the same as every other person on the planet?

I remember when I was growing up going to church twice on Sunday and then Wednesday evening prayer service.  Then there were the other things.  There was youth group, Bible studies, choir, etc.  There were any number of ways to be involved, to keep my focus on God and His Word, and not on this world.  My family looked different from the families of my friends and neighbors because our lives revolved around God and His service, whether that was in the Church building itself, or in service to the community, or in worship and Bible study.  Whatever it was, it kept our eyes and hearts pointed in His direction.

What do our churches look like today?  Sunday morning service.  Sunday school during the school year; over the summer, that just gets in the way of family time.  Sunday evening service has been sacrificed on the alter of family time as well.  So has Wednesday evening prayer service…or maybe that was on the alter of school activities and “we are just too busy every other night of the week, so we need that night to just stay home.”  Youth group is attended as long as it doesn’t get in the way of …?  Even Sunday morning service is negotiable depending on 4H, the county fair, this trip to that place, that trip to the other place, and if we are honest, if we are not too tired from the busyness of everything else.

Busyness.  Yes, that is it.  The Church is actively being sacrificed on the alter of the god of Busyness.  I do not write this as someone who has no guilt.  In fact, I could be a lot more involved than I am.  Not that I am not involved at all, I am.  But there are things that I and my family could be involved with that we are not.  And the truth is it is because we have allowed church to have a priority level of about two.

To make matters worse, when we put church on the back burner, God tends to get pushed back there to the other back burner.  Our Bible reading and study at home slips until it is maybe once or twice a week, or not at all.

So what do our lives point to?  Who or what are they a witness of?  They point to Busyness.  They are a witness of Busyness.  Do we lead people to Christ?  No, why would we talk about Him when we barely give Him the time of day?  He’s an afterthought…oh yah!  It’s Sunday.  Maybe I should go to church.

Look at Israel!  Read through the book of Leviticus…its in the Old Testament.  Their entire lives revolved around keeping themselves righteous for God.  Being an Israelite was not just DNA, and it was more than cultural.  Being an Israelite was the definition of being set aside as a unique person for God.  They were intended to look different from everyone else.  God lived with them, and their lives revolved around Him.

Look at the Church.  The Spirit of God lives right inside each one of us!  How much more should our lives revolve around Him?  We already have righteousness through Messiah.  We have already received the salvation that they (Israel) worked for.  And yet we find it nearly impossible to set ourselves apart from the world.

How can the world see that God is worth living for if we don’t live for Him?  It is high time the Church tear down the idles of this world, and turn our faces to YAHWEH, the God of the Israelites and the God of the Church.

 

Eternity, Hanging in the Balance

A few days ago I was listening to Christian radio.  I don’t remember who I was listening to.  I don’t even remember if it was commentary between songs, or if it was a sermon!  It has been a busy week!  But.  I do remember one thing that was very clear.  The Holy Spirit’s voice.  Something on that radio station was said about the Israelites not being allowed to cross into Canaan, and God waited for the next generation to come along before taking them in.  The Holy Spirit spoke to me at that moment, very clearly.  “This could happen now.”  My heart sunk!  He gave me these words, and He gave me this meaning:  the rapture could be postponed in the same manner, and rewarded to the next generation.  What I didn’t know was why.  So I prayed.  And I went back to my favorite Old Testament book, Deuteronomy.

In Deuteronomy 1:19-46 Moses recounts how the Israelites came to the Jordan River, and the border of Canaan, the land God had promised to give to them since the time of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, their forefathers hundreds of years earlier.  The time had finally come.  And after many tremendous demonstrations of God’s faithfulness, power and might, they saw the moment at hand.  The time they and their fathers and grandfathers had waited for.  But they lacked the faith to believe God was mighty enough to hand the land and it’s inhabitants over to them in victory.  They forgot about how God had controlled nature itself when he submitted the Egyptians to the 10 plagues.  They forgot about the time God parted the Red Sea and gave them dry land to cross on, and then washed the enemy away in the same waters.  They didn’t understand the immeasurable love of the God who provided food for them day and night, and water when they needed it, and who stayed with them in a physical, visible presence of a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night.  They lacked the faith to trust in this God, His goodness and His promises.  And because they didn’t trust Him, after all they had been through with Him, He denied them His reward.  God did not go back on His promise, but He did postpone it for a generation who would honor Him with their faithfulness.

If you follow Christian teachings, it is not hard to find talk somewhere about the possible time of the Rapture?  Is it time?  Will Jesus return soon to take the Church to be with Him?  Events of the times point more and more to that promise.  And many have felt the assurance of the Holy Spirit that the time is near.  Of course no one can say for certain, and no one can name a date and time, but many believe that time to be soon.  The Rapture is the reward for the Church.  But it can be postponed for the next generation.  I believe that is what the Holy Spirit was speaking to me this week.  What would be the reasoning?

Our faith.  We have seen the goodness of God in our lives and in His creation.  Certainly we know His goodness, His mercy, His grace and His love when we look at the cross of Christ.  Yet, when we consider the Rapture, and the time leading up to it, do we fear?  Do we lack the faith and trust to believe in God’s goodness and His perfect plan and timing?  Do we cling to this world trying to hide from Him that we don’t want Jesus to return?  Would we rather go on with life as we know it, or knew it, than to upset the apple cart and begin anew, even if it is in glory with our Savior?  Do we see the persecution of our brethren around the world and fear that God is not in control and powerful enough to protect us?  Have we not drawn near enough to God through the reading of His Word, and through time spent in prayer to know without a doubt His love and His power and His might?  Do we not trust His mercy and His truth and His promise to return for us, to rescue us out of this world of sin and evil, and take us to our reward?  We do want Jesus to come back, right?

I do!  The more I watch the news, the more I long for His return.  The more I read and hear blasphemies against my God, the more I long for an end and the righteousness of Christ to come.  The more I see this world turn boldly to sin and away from holiness, the more I look to the skies to see my Savior return.  If you are not ready, GET READY!  If you say you trust God, then TRUST HIM!  If you can’t, ask Him to give you the faith you need.  Let now be the time!  Let our hearts long for Jesus!  Let us believe in God’s goodness, promises, and perfect timing!  MARANATHA!!  COME QUICKLY LORD JESUS!!!!  AMEN & AMEN

Radical Cleansing

As events world wide look more and more like the prophesied end times, I am reading more and more from Christians, Gentile and Jewish alike, who are experiencing intense times of cleansing from God in their lives.  God is preparing the believers to be in His presence, face to face.

One area in particular that I am seeing conviction is idolatry.  The Spirit is revealing to many where our hearts and lives have given control to someone or something other than God.  Over the summer I began to study written works by Messianic Jewish rabbi’s and leaders.  I believe they, as members of God’s chosen race, have been given special insight into understanding the Word of God.  I have read a number of books by the late Zola Levitt, and have also recently begun a study of the Torah by Dr. K. Blad (I will link to the study at the end of this post).  I jumped into the study near the end…call me weird for not checking to see where the beginning was…but I have learned so much already.

Through this study, I am sensing the Spirit beginning the scrubbing involved with His cleansing in my life.  Where, you might ask.  Idolatry.  For me it is taking the shape of having in my possession items that are used for idol worship, or that are used to deceive one into believing that signs and wonders can belong to anyone, not God alone.  Tools used to lead astray and minimize, in our hearts and minds, the power of God All-Mighty.

I have long  believed that Satan affixes his demons to people and things through which we may unwittingly open ourselves to attack.  I remember when my oldest son was a wee babe.  We had his crib in our bedroom.  After he had gone to sleep, we would quietly watch one of our favorite television programs.  At some point the Spirit revealed to me that every night that we watched that particular program, our son would wake up screaming.  I told my husband.  We quit watching it.  And our son quit waking in terror.  We haven’t watched that show since.  This is exactly what the Spirit is re-revealing to me now, and asking for a radical sacrifice from me.

Deuteronomy 7:26 says, speaking of objects used for idol worship, “Nor shall you bring an abomination into your house, lest you be doomed to destruction like it.  You shall utterly detest it and utterly abhor it, for it is an accursed thing.”  This is something to take very seriously.  The very first command God gave to the Israelites is:  “You shall have no other gods before Me.  You shall not make for yourself a carved image–any likeness of anything that  is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them.  For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.”  (Exodus 20:3-6).

If I have something in my house that can in any way be used for, whether by me, or by Satan to attack or deceive me, it is not only an abomination to God, but a thing that will bring curse and punishment on me and my children!  When I first read Deuteronomy 7, I began to pray that God would reveal to me anything in my home that He knew fell into this category.  You know what He immediately put in my mind?  My beloved Harry Potter series.  I have the whole DVD set…and the books downloaded on my kindle.  I resolved then and there to approach my husband, and then our children with this teaching, and then have a DVD burning.  But I put it off.  I kept thinking, even if my husband agrees, how are we going to convince the kids to give up Harry Potter forever?  Then a number of my favorite scenes from the movies flashed through my mind, and I thought, “God, is this really what you want me to do?  They are just innocent movies.  We know that You are God, and that the stuff in these movies is make believe.  Surely that is enough, isn’t it?”

Not long after, I was scoping out Facebook.  A friend had recently begun to read the Harry Potter series.  She posted that the books were triggering her night terrors so she was going to have to stop reading them.  Again, I felt completely convicted, and determined to rid our home of these items that offend my God.  And again, I avoided it long enough to convince myself that I was misunderstanding the Spirit’s leading.

This morning I read Deuteronomy chapter 13.  In it God tells how to deal with false prophets or dreamers who give signs and wonders, and use them to entice you to worship other gods.  They were to be stoned.  If an entire city was led astray to worship false gods, every living inhabitant, including the livestock, was to be killed with the sword.  The plunder from the city was to be gathered in a heap and burned so that “none of the accursed things shall remain in your hand, that the LORD may turn from the fierceness of His anger and show you mercy….”  Again I feel the conviction of the Holy Spirit to rid my home of these DVDs…and anything else that can be associated in any way with idol worship.  This includes santa claus decorations, halloween items, even Easter bunnies and eggs.  (Did you know that the word Easter was taken from the Babylonian goddess of fertility, Ishtar, and that the egg and the rabbit are objects of fertility used in worship?  Jesus rose to life on the Jewish feast of the First Fruits, which celebrates the fertility of the land God gave them, and also is prophetic in that Jesus was the first fruits when He was raised from the dead, and the dead in Christ and believers who will rise to meet Him in the sky at the rapture will be the 2nd and 3rd fruits.)

I have already admitted to witnessing firsthand how Satan can use something as seemingly innocent as a television program to deceive and attack, so what is holding me back?  It boils down to this:  Do I love God more than Harry Potter?  Am I willing to make this sacrifice in order to be obedient to Him?  As I look to the future, and consider the, possibly very soon, return of Christ, am I not willing to live the rest of my days here without seeing another Harry Potter movie or reading another Harry Potter book so that my soul can be ready to meet Jesus in the sky without shame?

What about you?  What are the idols you have stored in your closets or displayed on your shelves?  I encourage you to pray that God will reveal them to you…and give you the courage and determination to be obedient in destroying them.  Time for radical cleansing in the Church!

walking on the narrow path.

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