SoulBreaths

Combat Zone Series: Part 1—Your Soul

By SoulBreaths Author [ 4 months ago ]

Soul Combat

 

Connected upward, yet pulled downward. 

That is the battle within your soul.

But it’s for a purpose. And it’s good.

 

© SoulBreaths.com. All rights reserved.

 

[Combat Zone is the foundational post for soul basics. The original article was created/posted in 2009, but for easier reading divided into four posts in 2020. Judaic scripture number references used.]

 

READING TIME: 3 MINUTES.

 

Italians might wish a newborn benvenuti alla lucewelcome to the light—but whenever I see a baby, one of my first thoughts is “Welcome to the battlefield.”

 

The dynamics have begun. Within that little body lies a great commission . . . its soul’s journey, purpose, identity.

 

It won’t be easy because the soul-body (a uniquely fused form, a matrix for physical/spiritual life) will engage in a no-holds-barred tug of war vs. resting in a holy balance.

 

I know that battle well. More than likely, you sense it too. It is, after all, the stuff within all of us residing on this side of heaven.

 

Some say that each of us is given a word . . . a word that keeps popping up through our lives. If that’s the case, my word is soul, which is intrinsically linked to my longtime subterranean awareness of God.

 

My earliest recollections of God’s presence, hearing Him on some level, and my deep desire to be with Him (and return to Him) started around age 4. I’d think of Him, spend time in quiet places outdoors seeking Him . . . and would sometimes lie across the bed in the afternoon for a nap, asking if I could go be with Him.

 

But every time I’d wake up from those hoping-to-be-with-God naps, there I was. Still here. I’d get sad and cry because He hadn’t taken me.

 

I believe that was my young soul reaching for what it instinctively hungered: Him.

 

But it’s been a long and

w

  i

n

  d

i

  n

g

soul road since then—with a hiatus or two (or more) from that earlier panting for Him.

 

A seriously real spiritual battle had pulled my soul in various directions. Trying to eclipse Him.

 

But then . . . He stepped in. And the deep-dive into the soul and Him began—again.

 

Here’s a look at what’s behind the scenes of your soul battle and mine.

 

 

WHAT’S WARRING WITHIN

 

Your soul is breathed from God. It holds the identity of what God made you to be in Him vs. the illusion that whispers to you from the world and other sources.

 

An unseen God and an unseen soul. Both real, tangible in a unique and mysterious way. Both hidden, yet sensed, felt, and evidenced in this physical world.

 

Your God-breathed soul is called upward to Him—but its visible vessel, the body, is made from the earth (dust to dust) and is tethered to this world.

 

Like in a theatrical production, both players (soul and body) move downstage. The power struggle begins. The soul’s battle-heavy glory work ignites.

 

And a cast of characters join in and muddle your soul story—many opponents on many soul-body battlefronts, spiritually and physically:

 

(1) the world—earthly, mundane, carnal, temporal pursuits

(2) your DNA

(3) outer impacts—cultural/environmental

(4) relationships—family, friends, coworkers, neighbors, congregant members, etc.

(5) life encounters/experiences

(6) your since-the-beginning-of-time adversary, satan

 

And let’s not forget free will . . . complete with your two-sided inclinations (good guy/not-so-good guy).

 

Now to the Hebrew for some insights, things that might be hidden otherwise. The drive toward doing/choosing/thinking things that are good before humanity and before God is called yetzer  hatov (yet-zer hah-tove, יֵצֶר טוב).

 

And the drive toward doing/choosing/thinking not-so-good things—a self-driven, world-tethered life—is called yetzer hara (yet-zer hah-rah, יֵצֶר הַרַע).

 

Yetzer means plan, create, produce—and hatov means the good while hara means the evil.

 

Humanity’s plan (way of thinking, choosing, thinking) is what got us in trouble to begin with—i.e. the Garden of Eden.

 

Repeatedly throughout scripture God warns us about our soul-body’s planning, thinking, choosing, doing. He says . . .

 

(1) our hearts (the seat of our emotions and thoughts) are deceitfully wicked (Jeremiah 17:9, 10)
(2) our most righteous acts are like filthy menstral rags before God’s holiness (Isaiah 64:6)
(3) our imaginings (rooted in our hearts) are evil from youth (Genesis 8:21b)
(4) none of us are righteous (Ecclesiastes 7:20, Psalm 53:3-4, Psalm 14:2-3), among many others.

 

So considering the state of our inclinations, soul-body dynamic, and outside forces, it doesn’t take much to stir up an inner battle that impacts your life with others and with God. Instead of doing what the soul-body matrix should be doing. Stirring up its entire being to love and serve Him.

 

What can you do? Plenty, actually. But let’s take it gently, get more understanding, and start with the nuances of the soul, at what the Hebrew reveals.

 

READ PART TWO NOW. COMBAT ZONE SERIES: PART 2—SOUL NUANCES

 

CREDITS: Canyon crevice photo by Joe Gardner on Unsplash.com

Resurrection Jewish Style Series: Part 1—What God Revealed

By SoulBreaths Author [ 4 months ago ]

Empty tomb, garden near Golgatha

It’s real . . . with sneak peeks throughout the Bible to prove it.

 

© SoulBreaths.com. All rights reserved.

 

READING TIME: 7 MINUTES.

 

Death. Is it a body decomposing into nothingness, trapped in a waiting-for-Godot moment—as Emily Dickinson portrays, rather derisively, in her “Alabaster Chambers” poem below? Or is it a future transition of the soul-body matrix into something far greater?

 

Safe in their Alabaster Chambers—

Untouched by Morning

And untouched by Noon—

Lie the meek members of the Resurrection—

Rafter of Satin—and Roof of Stone!
—Emily Dickinson, original first stanza;
later published in her third version, posthumously, in 1890

 

You probably have your take on the resurrection matter. But opinions and poets aside . . . the real question is, what does God say? In His words, the Bible. After all, it’s His creation, His rules, His story. The gist of His resurrection event unfolds like this . . .

 

Death isn’t the end. It’s another beginning. The soul is eternal.

 

God said to Moses, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” At this, Moses hid his face because he was afraid to look at God. —Exodus 3:6, approximately 1446 BCE.

 

What was God saying?
I am the God of your father—not I was.
Your father’s soul is with Me. His soul is not dead.
Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob have long past from this world,
and yet, their souls are alive.

I am their God.

But God doesn’t leave things suspended there, with the eternal soul separated from its earthly vessel (the body) . . . the design from the beginning was for us to enjoy an everlasting soul-body existence made holy unto Him.

 

That’s why an integral part of the what’s-ahead story is the soul-body reunion, coming at the end of days—called acharit ha-yamim in Hebrew, אחרית הימים—and orchestrated by the hand of God.

 

He’s been telling humanity about that for thousands of years—and He’s given ten sneak-peek accounts of it to make this seemingly preposterous resurrection notion understandable to us, recognizing it as a valid upcoming event.

 
kelly-sikkema-u8FRCb7FQDI-unsplash
 

THE 4-1-1 BRIEF

 

From scripture . . . some resurrection cues and actual resurrection accounts given to us over time.

 

1406 BCE (approximate). Resurrection cue. Song of Moses about God’s might; Moses was the leader-deliverer of Israel from Egypt, God’s mouthpiece and humble prophet who spoke with God face to face.

See now that it is I!
I am the One, and there is no god like Me!
I cause death and make alive
[restore life back from the dead, per the Hebrew].
I strike, but I heal, and no one can rescue from My Hand!
—Deuteronomy 32:39

 

1100 BCE (approximate). Resurrection cue. Hannah. Mother of the prophet Samuel and a faithful servant of the Lord; she prophetically said this after a mighty move of God that made her longtime barren womb fertile:

There is no one holy like the Lord;
there is no one besides you;
there is no Rock like our God.

The Lord brings death and makes alive
[restores the dead to life, per the Hebrew];
he brings down to the grave and raises up.

It is not by strength that one prevails;
those who oppose the Lord will be broken.
The Most High will thunder from heaven;
the Lord will judge from heaven;
the Lord will judge the ends of the earth.
He will give strength to his king
and exalt the horn of his anointed.
—1 Samuel 2:2,6,10

 

1044 BCE (approximate). Resurrection cue. David. King of Israel, prophet, psalmist, a man after God’s own heart. His Davidic throne will seat the Messiah.

You will not abandon my soul to the grave;
You shall not allow your pious one to see the pit.
—Psalm 16:10

 

1000 BCE (approximate). Resurrection cue. Also ascribed to King David.

You have shown me great
and severe troubles again;
you shall revive me
[restore to life from the dead, per the Hebrew]
and from the depths of the earth
You will raise me up again.
—Psalm 71:20

 

863 BCE (approximate). Resurrection sneak-peek account. Elijah (Eliyahu, in Hebrew). Renowned, zealous prophet of Israel; under God’s power, Elijah resurrected a widow’s child. 1 Kings 17:10-14.

 

849 BCE (approximate). Resurrection sneak-peek account. Elisha. Elijah’s disciple who carried on the mantle of Elijah’s prophetic work; Elisha resurrected a Shunammite’s child. 2 Kings 4:20-37.

 

812 BCE (approximate). Resurrection sneak-peek account. Elisha’s tomb. Well after Elisha died and his body placed in a burial cave, some men buried a dead man’s body in that cave—but when the body touched Elisha’s bones, the man was resurrected. 2 Kings 13:20-21.

 

753 BCE (approximate). Resurrection cue.  Hosea. A major prophet ministering in the Northern Kingdom of Israel; his life, a symbol in God’s hands demonstrating God’s unfathomable love for His unfaithful people.

He will revive us [restore the dead to life, per the Hebrew]
after two days;
He will raise us up on the third day,
That we may live in His sight.
—Hosea 6:2

 

725 BCE (approximate). Resurrection cue.  Isaiah. A mighty prophet and a surrendered vessel in God’s hands for Israel, Messianic prophecies, and end-times events.

Your dead will live;
Their corpses will rise.
You who lie in the dust [are dead], awake and shout for joy,
For your dew is as the dew of the dawn,
And the earth will give birth to the departed spirits.
—Isaiah 26:19

 

539 BCE (approximate). Resurrection cue. Daniel. A courageously faithful prophet and dream interpreter of the Lord during the Babylonian captivity; a vehicle for God’s voice regarding many end-times prophecies.

And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth [the dead]
shall awake to everlasting life
and others to everlasting reproach and abhorrence.
—Daniel 12:2

 

28 CE (approximate). Resurrection cue. Jesus (Yeshua, his Hebrew name). Renowned rabbi, prophet, and for those with ears to hear, Messiah.

For an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs
will hear his voice and will come forth;
those who have done good will come to a resurrection of life,
those who have done evil will come to a resurrection of judgment.
—John 5:28-29

 

28-33 CE (approximate). Resurrection sneak-peek accounts: six of them. Witnessed by many. John 11:1-44; Mark 5: 21-43; Luke 7:11-16; Matthew 27:50-53; Acts 9:36-41; Acts 29:7-12.

 

33 CE (approximate). Resurrection sneak-peek account. Jesus (Yeshua).The most powerful and most unique resurrection event—even some Jewish scholars don’t deny it. Matthew 28:1-10; Mark 16:1-8; Luke 24:1-8; John 20:1-13.

 

THAT BEGS THE QUESTION

 

Since resurrection is a futuristic event, what is our life down here about? There’s much to that answer—some discussed in this series and elsewhere on this blog. But for now, as one rabbinic source puts it . . .

 

This world is like a lobby before the World to Come;
prepare yourself in the lobby
so that you may enter the banquet hall.
—Rabbi Yaakov, Pirkei Avot 4:21

(Ethics of our Fathers, ethical/moral Torah teachings
from the Mishnaic 2nd century CE period)

 

Keep this in mind: There are no do-overs. No reincarnation to try it again. God’s word is pretty straightforward about that. That’s why what you do down here in the “lobby” is critical. Are you living according to His word, His roadmap—or your imagined version of that?

 
tingey-injury-law-firm-nSpj-Z12lX0-unsplash
 

HE SAID/THEY SAID 

 

God has graciously given us ten sneak peeks in the Bible to demonstrate His resurrection power. They are real stories about real people who breathed their last, were mourned, and were either entombed or on their way to that tomb—then were resurrected to demonstrate God’s power, compassion, and future promise. Ten accounts—of Jews and Gentiles—given to nudge our faith toward the main event up ahead.

 

But despite that, there have been various voices going against His grain.

 

Exhibit A. For Messianic Jews and evangelical Christians, God’s word and resurrection are the bedrock of their belief system. Orthodox Judaism also adheres to the resurrection teaching. In fact, the resurrection of the dead has been so entrenched in Jewish/biblical doctrine that it became the thirteenth principle of faith, as defined by The Rambam—Moses ben Maimonides, a renowned, 12th-century rabbinic scholar and philosopher.

 

Yet other Jewish sects—Reform, Conservative, Reconstruction, Renewal, Humanistic—stray from that biblical core truth (and most others) to one degree or another.

 

Eh, so what’s new? Exactly. Through the millennia, things may change but somehow remain the same. During the Second Temple period—1st century CE—the two major sects of the day argued it out.

 
 

Their Judaic counterpart—the Sadducees—pooh-poohed the soul’s eternal existence, the resurrection, angels, and spirits. One account of the Pharisees-Sadduccees disagreements before the Sanhedrin is recorded in Acts 23:1-10.

 

The Sadducees even tried to corner Jesus (Yeshua) on the subject of resurrection—a trap because they didn’t believe in it. So they gave him an afterlife scenario and asked for his viewpoint. It went like this:

 

On that same day some Sadducees
(who say there is no resurrection)
came to Jesus and questioned him, asking,
“Teacher, Moses said, ‘If a man dies having no children,
his brother as next of kin shall marry his wife,
and raise up children for his brother.’

“Now there were seven brothers with us;
and the first married and died,
and having no children left his wife to his brother;
so also the second, and the third, down to the seventh.
Last of all, the woman died.
In the resurrection, therefore,
whose wife of the seven will she be?
For they all had married her.”

But Jesus answered
and said to them,”You are mistaken,
not understanding the scriptures nor the power of God.
For in the resurrection
they neither marry nor are given in marriage,
but are like angels in heaven.
But regarding the resurrection of the dead,
have you not read what was spoken to you by God?
I am the God of Abraham,
and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.
He is not the God of the dead but of the living.”

When the crowds heard this,
they were astonished at his teaching.
—Matthew 22: 23-33

 
marija-zaric-wMybzaBOaSQ-unsplash
 

RESURRECTION: SNEAK PEEKS

 

Explore each account via the links below. These resurrected people went on to live again . . . but eventually had to die again and now await the resurrection occurring at the end of days.

 

That is, all except one.
The life giver . . . and life changer.

 

There’s more coming up about that singularly unique resurrection story in this series. But now . . . those real-life resurrection accounts.

 

Real-Life Accounts

Real-Life Accounts Cont’d

The Resurrection Thunderbolt From Heaven

Rabbi Scholars Defend Jesus’ Resurrection

Why A Bodily Resurrection

 

Resurrection series initially created between March 30, 2016 – July 3, 2016

 
 

CREDITS: Bible photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash.com

CREDITS: Gavel photo by Tingey Injury Law Firm on Unsplash.com

CREDITS: Roll the Drums photo by Marija Zaric on Unsplash.com

 

RELATED RESOURCES

 

McFarland, Philip (2004), Hawthorne in Concord, New York: Grove Press, p. 149, ISBN 0-8021-1776-7.

Royot, Daniel (2002), “Poe’s humor”, in Hayes, Kevin J, The Cambridge Companion to Edgar Allan Poe, Cambridge University Press, pp. 61–2, ISBN 0-521-79727-6.

http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/13614-shulamite

http://jwa.org/encyclopedia/article/shunammite-midrash-and-aggadah

https://www.biblegateway.com/resources/all-women-bible/Great-Woman-Shunem

http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/107781/jewish/Ani-Maamin-I-Believe.htm

http://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/jewish-resurrection-of-the-dead/

 

Resurrection Jewish Style Series: Part 2a—Real-Life Accounts

By SoulBreaths Author [ 4 months ago ]

Empty tomb, garden near Golgatha

Three resurrection accounts set the spiritual ball in motion.

 

© SoulBreaths.com. All rights reserved.

 

READING TIME: 4 MINUTES.

 

HAVE YOU READ THE FIRST POST IN THIS SERIES?
What God Revealed

 
 

The first three resurrection accounts are in the Hebrew Bible (Tanakh)—and are followed by seven more accounts in the New Testament (B’rit Chadashah).

 

They’re all bridge-crossing events of epic proportions, regardless of what part of the bridge you’re on . . . Judaic, Messianic Judaic, or Christian.

 

Each time, God peels back a piece of the spiritual dimension so we can evidence His power and catch a glimpse of the resurrection promise to come. Yep, resurrection is real, and it’s the main event up ahead.

 

#1. GENTILE WIDOW OF TZARFAT’S SON

[1 Kings 17:10-24]

 

Meager, drought-riddled times. The place was Tzarfat [Zarephath]—a Phoenician city between Sidon and Tyre in Lebanon.

 

The great prophet Elijah [Eliyahu] stood at the city gate where he saw a gentile widow gathering sticks. Perhaps hesitantly, he asked for a little cup of water, then later, for some bread. But she only had enough flour and oil to make a last meal for her son and herself before they starved to death.

 

Elijah instructed her not to fear but to bake him the bread—and then bake more for her and her son. The widow’s obedience was honored. The flour and oil never ran out during the drought. Then time passed and the widow’s son became ill. Increasingly ill. The boy stopped breathing and died. The favor of the Lord seemed to have vanished from the widow’s house.

 

Elijah took the dead boy from the mother’s lap, carried him upstairs to the prophet’s upper room, and laid the boy on the bed. Crying out to the Lord, questioning why this misery was put upon the widow, the prophet Elijah made a faith move. He stretched himself out on the child three times and pleaded for Adonai to allow the child’s soul to be returned to the body.

 

God’s compassion prevailed. Elijah carried the now-resurrected child back to his mother and said, “See? Your son is alive.”

 * * * 

 

#2. JEWISH SHUNAMMITE’S SON

[2 Kings 4:20-37]

 

Opening scene: The village of Shunem, north of Jezreel in the Tribe of Issachar’s land.

 

Elisha was a disciple and prophet-successor of the great prophet Elijah [Eliyahu]—as well as a frequent guest of a Jewish Shunammite, a woman of means and rank who prepared an upper room for his visits.

 

Rabbinic teachings speak highly of her hospitality, saying we all should bring a Torah scholar under our roofs, giving them nourishment and allowing them to partake of all that we possess. [Perek Zedakot 1]

 

To honor the Shunammite woman’s kindness, the Lord told Elisha that the childless woman would bear a son, even though her husband was old. A year later, she indeed gave birth to a son. But when the child was a bit older, he died. A woman of resolute, bold faith, she laid her dead child on the prophet’s bed in the upper room, shut the door, and went out. She asked her husband to send her a servant and a donkey so she could leave immediately to see the prophet Elisha.

 

Elisha wasted no time. He gave his staff to his servant Geichazi, ordering him to dress for action and go ahead to the woman’s house—but warned him not to stop or answer anyone and to lay his staff on the child’s face. The servant obeyed, but the child didn’t stir. No sound, no sign of life. Later on, Elisha arrived and went to the room, shut the door, and prayed to Adonai. Then he stretched himself out on the child, putting his mouth on the child’s mouth, his eyes on the child’s eyes, his hands on the child’s hands.

 

As Elisha performed that prophetic action, the child’s flesh began to grow warm. The prophet went back downstairs, walked around the house for a bit, then went back up and once again stretched himself out on the child. The child sneezed seven times—then opened his eyes.

 

The prophet called for the Shunammite woman. When she arrived, Elisha said, “Pick up your son.” She fell at his feet, prostrated herself on the floor, then picked up her son and went out.

 

The soul connection to those seven sneezes? In Genesis 2:7, God blew into Adam’s nostrils the soul of life. Some used to posit that sneezing meant the soul was exiting from that same place it entered. Who knows, maybe the seven sneezes were “death” exiting so the new, resurrected breath of G-d could enter and revive the child.

 

* * *

 

#3. ELISHA’S TOMB—JEWISH MAN RESURRECTED

[2 Kings 13:20-21]

 

The prophet Elisha fell sick and died, his body placed in a burial cave. Time passed. Then one day, some men came to bury another man. But when they spotted their enemy—a Moab raiding party—coming near, they were so frightened, they just hurled the dead man’s body into Elisha’s burial cave. The moment the dead man’s body touched the bones of Elisha, the man’s body came to life . . . and the newly resurrected man stood on his feet.

 

So I’m thinking, if those guys were freaked out about the Moabites closing in, they probably totally lost it when that dead man was resurrected. Seriously.

 

READ THE NEXT POSTS IN THE SERIES
Real-Life Accounts Cont’d
The Resurrection Thunderbolt From Heaven
Rabbi Scholars Defend Jesus’ Resurrection
Why A Bodily Resurrection

 

HAVE YOU READ THESE POSTS IN THE SERIES?
What God Revealed
Real-Life Accounts

 

Resurrection series initially created between March 30, 2016 – July 3, 2016

Resurrection Jewish Style Series: Part 2b—Real-Life Accounts Cont’d

By SoulBreaths Author [ 4 months ago ]

Empty tomb, garden near Golgatha

Seven more resurrection accounts nudge the spiritual ball further—much, much further.

 

© SoulBreaths.com. All rights reserved.

 

READING TIME: 7 MINUTES.

 

HAVE YOU READ THE FIRST POSTS IN THIS SERIES?
What God Revealed
Real-Life Accounts

 

Besides God’s three sneak-peek resurrection accounts in the Hebrew Bible (Tanakh)—He gave us seven more (in the New Testament) that take on even greater momentum.

 
 
 

And since even rabbis study the New Testament, let’s check out those accounts. Six are in this post . . . the seventh account deserves its own post.

 

Drum roll, please . . .

 

#1. JEWISH LAZARUSFOUR DAYS ENTOMBED

[John 11: 1-44]

 

Lazarus of Bethany and his two sisters—Miriam and Martha—were Jewish followers of Jesus [Yeshua] and close friends of the famed rabbi. One day, Lazarus fell sick. His sisters sent a message to Jesus to please come, knowing of his healing miracles. But Jesus opted to stay two more days where he was and prophetically said, “This sickness will not end in death . . . it is for God’s glory.”

 

The days passed and Jesus told his disciples that Lazarus was “asleep”—meaning he died. “I’m glad I wasn’t there so that you will come to have faith. Let’s go to him.”

 

By the time they arrived, Lazarus had been dead four days. That’s right—four days in the tomb. But Jesus nudged the sisters’ faith.

 

Jesus said to Martha, “Your brother will rise again.”
In true Jewish fashion, she answered, “I know that he’ll rise again at the Resurrection on the Last Day.”

 

But Jesus wasn’t referring to the end-of-days resurrection. He meant now. This is the part when it gets really, really good—and why this is one of the most dramatic resurrection accounts in the Bible. Adonai was about to reveal the resurrection-and-life power in Jesus as Messiah.

 

Jesus, the two Jewish sisters, the many Jewish mourners, and the Jewish disciples walk to the tomb. It was a cave with a large stone covering the tomb’s entrance.

 

“Take the stone away!” Jesus says.

But Martha warns him,
“By now his body must smell—it’s been four day since he died!”

Jesus answers,
“Didn’t I tell you that if you keep trusting,
you will see the glory of God?” 

 

So they remove the stone. Jesus looks upward and says, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I know you always hear me, but I say this because of the crowd standing around, so that they may believe you have sent me.

 

Then Jesus called out. “Lazarus, come out!”
The man who had been dead came out.
His hands and fee wrapped in strips of linen
and his face covered with a cloth.
Jesus said, “Unwrap him and let him go!”

 

Unlike the prophets Elijah and Elisha who had to continue to pray over a body and stretch out over it, etc. before the body was resurrected, Jesus merely commanded life with the words and power of God—and it was done.

 

Not surprisingly, many of the Judeans who had come to visit the sisters and seen what Jesus had done believed in him as Messiah. But not all. Nope, some ran to the Pharisees and told them about the resurrection. Well, you can imagine how that went.

 

The head cohanim (priests) and the Pharisees called a meeting of the Sanhedrin. They weren’t pleased and began plotting to not only kill Jesus but to do away with Lazarus as well, since it was because of his resurrection that large numbers of Judeans were leaving their leaders and putting their faith in Jesus as Messiah. (John 12: 9-10)

* * *

 

#2. JEWISH SYNAGOGUE LEADER’S DAUGHTER

[Mark 5:21-24, 35-43]

 

Jesus [Yeshua] had been ministering to a crowd of people near the Sea of Galilee—casting out demons, healing the sick, etc. A Jewish synagogue official named Ya’ir fell at the feet of Jesus, pleading desperately. “My little daughter is at the point of death. Please! Come and lay your hands on her so she will get well and live!”

 

Jesus agreed to go, the crowd of people pressing in on him on all sides. A woman touched the hem of his garment and was healed of her twelve-year bout of hemorrhaging. Then people from the synagogue official’s house arrived and said, “Your daughter has died. Why bother the rabbi any longer?”

 

Ignoring what they said, Jesus tells the synagogue official, “Don’t be afraid, just keep trusting.”

 

Jesus let his disciples Peter, James, and John follow him to the man’s home. At the house, there was great commotion—understandably. Weeping and wailing. “Why all this commotion and weeping? The child isn’t dead, she’s just asleep!” Jesus said. The people jeered at him, so he put them all outside, then took the child’s parents and his three disciples with him to the child.

 

Jesus took the twelve-year-old child by the hand and said, “Little girl, I say to you, get up!” At once, the girl got up and began walking around.

 

Everyone was amazed. Jesus told them to give her something to eat—and gave strict orders for them to say nothing about the event to anyone.

 

Yeah, I’m not so sure they obeyed that last request . . . especially since we’re still reading about it and telling the miraculous event 2,000 years later.

 

* * *

#3. JEWISH WIDOW OF NA’IM’S SON

[Luke 7:11-16]

 

Jesus, his twelve disciples, and a large crowd went to a lower-Galilee town called Na’im, just south of Mount Tabor within the boundaries of the Tribe of Issachar. As he approached the town gate, a dead Jewish man was being carried out for burial. Surrounded by a sizable crowd, the man’s mother—a widow with no other children—wept and walked with the others. A bleak future lay before her.

 

When Jesus saw her, he felt compassion for her and said, “Don’t cry.” Then he came close and touched the coffin—the pallbearers stopped.

 

Jesus said,” Young man, I say to you, Get up!”
The dead man sat up and began to speak. And Jesus gave him to his mother.

 

They were filled with awe and gave glory to God. The report about Jesus spread throughout all Judah and the surrounding countryside.

 

* * *

 

#4. MANY JEWS RAISED SIMULTANEOUSLY

[Matthew 27:50-53]

 

Right after Jesus breathed his last on the crucifixion stake, the earth shook, rocks split, and tombs were opened. After Jesus was resurrected, many bodies of the righteous were raised and appeared in the Holy City to many. When the centurion and his fellow soldiers who had been guarding the tomb of Jesus saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe and said, “Truly, this was the Son of God.”

 

* * *

 

#5. TABITHA, A MESSIANIC JEW & WIDOW

[Acts 9:36-41]

 

This resurrected record happened well after Jesus had been crucified, buried, resurrected, and forty days later, ascended into heaven.

 

The Messianic community was being built up in Judah, the Galilee, and Samaria. Their numbers, multiplying. A beloved woman named Tabitha—Dorcas in Greek—lived in the Mediterranean port city Joppa, about 30 miles south of Caesarea. A believer in Yeshua (Jesus) as Messiah, she was esteemed for her tireless charitable work making clothes for the poor, widows, and others.

 

In time, Tabitha grew ill and died. After washing her, they laid her in a room upstairs.

 

The Messianic believers heard that Peter—a well-known disciple of Jesus—was in nearby Lydda and sent for him to come without delay. When he arrived, all the widows were standing around Tabitha’s body, sobbing and showing Peter all the dresses and coats she had made for people.

 

Peter put them outside, knelt down, and prayed.
As a Jewish believer in Jesus as Messiah, he was indwelt with the power of the Holy Spirit and had learned how to step into that heaven-earth soul connection to hear God’s voice and know what He was doing, what He was saying, how He was leading.

 

In obedience to God’s voice, Peter turned to the body, he said, “Tabitha, get up!” She opened her eyes, saw Peter, and sat up.

 

He offered his hand and helped her to her feet, then called the believers and widows, presenting Tabitha to them alive. Many people put their trust in Jesus as Messiah because of what God had done for Tabitha.

 

* * *

 

#6. EUTYCHUS, GENTILE

[Acts 20:7-12]

 

Pharisee Saul Paulus had a Damascene encounter with the ascended Jesus—and thereafter became a believer in Yeshua (Jesus) as Messiah. He traveled extensively to spread the truth of the Messiah—often amid great persecution.

 

At one point in his travels, Saul Paulus spent five days in Troas, an ancient Greek city on the Aegean Sea, near Turkey’s northern tip. He taught and ministered to followers of the Messiah. On the first day of the week, he gathered with believers to break bread. Since he was going to leave the following day, he prolonged his message until midnight.

 

There were many oil lamps burning in the upstairs room where they were meeting. A young man named Eutychus was sitting on the window sill. As Saul Paulus continued teaching, the young man eventually grew sound asleep and fell from the third-story window.

 

When they picked him up from the ground, he was dead. But Saul went down, threw himself onto him, put his arms around him. His faith went into action. Saul said, “Don’t be upset, he’s alive!”

 

Then Paul went back upstairs, broke the bread and shared it with everyone. He continued teaching until daylight—with everyone greatly relieved the boy was brought back to life.

 

* * *

 

READ THE NEXT POST IN THE SERIES
The Resurrection Thunderbolt From Heaven
Rabbi Scholars Defend Jesus’ Resurrection
Why A Bodily Resurrection

 

HAVE YOU READ THESE POSTS IN THE SERIES?
What God Revealed
Real-Life Accounts
Real-Life Accounts Cont’d

 

Resurrection series initially created between March 30, 2016 – July 3, 2016

Resurrection Jewish Style Series: Part 4—Rabbi Scholars Defend Jesus’ Resurrection

By SoulBreaths Author [ 4 months ago ]

Rolled stone from tomb

The resurrection event that changed everything—on both sides of the Judaic-Messianic bridge. What an orthodox rabbi and Jewish scholars have to say about the resurrection of Jesus (Yeshua, his Hebrew name).

 

© SoulBreaths.com. All rights reserved.

 

READING TIME: 7 MINUTES.

 

HAVE YOU READ THE FIRST POSTS IN THIS SERIES?
What God Revealed
Real-Life Accounts
Real-Life Accounts Cont’d
The Resurrection Thunderbolt From Heaven

 

The world’s history has long encompassed extremes—light and darkness, goodness and evil, sagacity and folly, hope and discouragement . . . and the ultimate dichotomy, death and resurrection.

 

It’s the stuff authors love to write about, carefully mirroring our up-down, soul-body matrix existence in their art, which sometimes is reflected back into life. Remember the seesaw duality of Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities?

 


It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,
it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness . . .
it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness


 

Thankfully, God doesn’t leave us in our fractured state. We will rise from the abyss of death.

 

But in sync with life’s duality, even the resurrection event is good news/bad news. There will be a resurrection to everlasting life for the righteous . . . and a resurrection to judgment for the others. (Daniel 12:2 and John 5:28-29.)

 

This is serious business. So God gave us ten resurrection accounts—seriously, count them—to encourage us, to help us see our lives down here via a more heavenly lens. (See prior posts in this series.)

 

And yet, all those resurrection accounts beg the question.

Since resurrection is an obvious biblical teaching,
then why do some people give
an acknowledging nod
to many of those accounts . . .

but discount 
one resurrection in particular?
Namely, the historical resurrection of 
Jesus.

 

Well, one modern-day orthodox rabbi didn’t.
Nor did some other Jewish biblical scholars and rabbis.

 

note: stock photo, not Rabbi Lapide

 

MEET RABBI PINCHAS LAPIDE
author, Jewish scholar, theologian specializing in the New Testament

 

An Orthodox rabbi, Lapide had a real bridge-crossing view. He even wrote a book in 1979 about it: “The Resurrection of Jesus: A Jewish Perspective.” It made quite a stir back then, even garnering attention in Time magazine’s religion section.

 

Lapide (1922-1997) and his scholarly process were all about rediscovering the Jewish aspects of early Christianity. After all, Jesus (Yeshua) and his followers were Jews.

 

Lapide’s convincing Judaic arguments in favor of Jesus’ resurrection as a historic event are worth examining.

 

I mean, rabbis, some of the Sanhedrin, and Pharisees—not to mention multitudes of Jews—recognized in the first century CE that Jesus (Yeshua) is the Messiah. So when a modern-day rabbi studies the totality of the scriptures and supports Jesus’ resurrection, it’s a red-letter moment.

 

Per Lapide, the “Hebrew Bible knows of the translation of Enoch (Genesis 5:24), a transfiguration (Saul: I Samuel 10:6), an ascension (Elijah: 2 Kings 2:11) and three resurrections [which God] carried out through the hands of His prophets.”

 

Namely: I Kings 7: 17-24; 2 Kings 4:18-21, 32-37; 2 Kings 13:20-21.

 

Not a single case was met with unbelief in Israel, per Lapide.
Nope, not one.

 

The hope and belief in resurrection were so ingrained in Judaic thinking, it became part of the daily prayer from renowned 12th-century rabbinic scholar, Moses ben Maimonides and his Thirteen Articles of Faith:

 

Lapide also commented that postbiblical literature gives reports of several miraculous healings, multiplication of bread, diversion of a flood, victory over demons, rainfall after prayer, etc.

 

So the historic resurrection of Jesus
wasn’t a bizarre, non-Jewish event.
And it wasn’t so-called magic or a scheme.
It was real.
From the hand of Adonai, God Himself.
In fact, over the 40-day period following his resurrection,
Jesus appeared to his disciples, others, and over 500 people at once.

 

In addition to Lapide’s scientific analysis of Jesus’ resurrection—which includes support for the genuineness of Saul Paulus’ Damascene experience—he mentioned two other points as further support:

 

(1) God permitted the women to be the first to witness and give testimony of that resurrection—when they held no value in the culture.

 

(2) Many  Jewish believers were willing to die defending their belief in Jesus’ resurrection.

 

Per Rabbi Pinchas Lapide:
Without the Sinai experience—no Judaism.
Without the Easter [Passover/Crucifixion/Resurrection] experience—no Christianity.
Both were Jewish faith experiences whose radiating power . . .
were meant for the world of nations.
For inscrutable reasons, the resurrection faith of Golgotha was necessary to carry the message of Sinai into the world.

 
marija-zaric-ZcXEmpelsoU-unsplash
 

THREE FINE POINTS

 

Point #1. Messiahship. Now I don’t agree with Lapide’s initial inference that Jesus (Yeshua) is only the messiah for the Gentiles (Goyim)—but Lapid did say that in Jesus’ parousia (second coming) he would manifest himself as Israel’s Messiah.

 

To clarify that . . . the prophet Zechariah says that what actually happens at the second coming is this: Israel’s spiritual eyes are open, the veil is removed, so they can see Jesus (Yeshua) for who he is and always has been, the Jewish Messiah of the world.

 

I will pour out on the house of David
and on those living in Jerusalem
a spirit of grace and prayer;
and they will look to me, whom they pierced.
They will mourn for him as one mourns for an only son;
they will be in bitterness on his behalf
like the bitterness for a firstborn son.
—Zechariah 12:10

 

There is one Messiah—per scriptures—sent by God
for the Jew first and then for the Gentile.
And Jesus fulfilled all the prophecies, over 100.
Including the Messiah’s initial coming for spiritual redemption,
which will be followed by the final physical redemption,
ushering in the Messianic Age.

 

Point #2. Probability factor. The scientific probability of Jesus (Yeshua) fulfilling the many messianic prophecies is mind-boggling. As Lion and Lamb Ministry aptly states on their site, referencing the noted work of now-deceased mathematics/astronomy university chair Peter Stoner:

 

“The chances of fulfilling 16 [of the 108 prophecies]  is 1 in 1045.
When you get to a total of 48 [prophecies fulfilled],
the odds increase to 1 in 10157.

Accidental fulfillment of these prophecies is
simply beyond the realm of possibility.”

 

Point #3. Lapide and the hotly debated three-days-in-the-tomb issue. Even Christians battle out the calculations. [An easy method to me—without gagging on a calculations gnat—is using our Judaic/biblical view that a day is measured sundown to sundown: (1st “day”) Friday daylight buried before Shabbat began; (2nd day) Friday sundown to Saturday sundown, still in the tomb; (3rd “day”) Saturday sundown to Sunday morning, arose on that third day.]

 

But Lapide gives a compelling Judaic response: It’s not a literal expression in the Hebrew Bible.

 

Stick with me for a moment and hear him out . . .

 

Lapide says, for those with ears biblically educated, that three-days-in-the-tomb expression used in various scriptures refers to the clear evidence of God’s mercy and grace that is revealed after two days of affliction and death by way of redemption.

 

  • Genesis 22:4. On the third day, Abraham lifted his eyes . . . [before the Akedah, the binding of Isaac]
  • Exodus 19: 16. On the morning of the third day, there was thunder . . . [before God’s Sinai appearance]
  • Genesis 42:18. On the third day, Joseph said to them . . . [before releasing his brothers—except one—to return to Canaan]
  • Jonah 1:17. Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days . . . [before he was saved]
  • Esther 5:1. On the third day, Esther put on her royal robes . . . [Israel saved after bitter affliction]
  • Hosea 6:2. After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will raise us up . . . [before He comes like the spring rain to water their souls ]

 
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JESUS  & JEWISH BIBLICAL SCHOLARS 

 

Per Lapide, the Pentecost testimony of the apostles—claiming the crucified Jesus had risen—proved a big pain you know where for the Sadducees. But for the Pharisees or the majority of Jews, it was a “problem seriously to be investigated.” They knew a resurrection was “entirely in the realm of the possible (Sanhedrin 90b).”

 

And also per Lapide’s book (pages 137-138, 142), the spiritual heirs of those Pharisees—today’s Jewish rabbis and biblical scholars—have commented on the matter from different angles.

 

  • Maimonides—renowned rabbinic authority. “All these matters which refer to Jesus of Nazareth . . . only served to make the way free for the King Messiah and to prepare the whole world for the worship of God with a united heart, as it is written: Yea, at that time I will change the speech of the peoples to a pure speech, that all of them may call on the name of the Lord and serve him with one accord (Zeph. 3:9). In this way, the messianic hope, the Torah, and the commandments have become a widespread heritage of faith—among the inhabitants of the far islands and among many nations, uncircumcised in heart and flesh.”
  • Rabbi Samuel Hirsch—pioneer of the Jewish Reform movement. “In order that Jesus’ power of hope and greatness of soul should not end with his death, God has raised in the group of his disciples the idea that he rose from death and continues living. Indeed, He continues living in all those who want to be true Jews.”
  • Rabbi Leo Baeck—author of The Essence of Judaism. “They [disciples of Jesus] were seeking the Messiah, the son of David, the promised one, and they found and beheld him in Jesus. His disciples in Israel believed in him even beyond his death so that it became to them an existential certainty that he—as the prophet foretold—had risen from the dead on the third day.”
  • Rabbi Samuel Sandmel—prolific author, theologian, an authority on Jewish-Christian relations. “Only a Jew whose unique combination of qualities was extraordinary could have been thought by other Jews to have been accorded a special resurrection.”
  • J. Carmel—Israeli teacher/author, who says he regrets the Gospels aren’t at home in the framework of Jewish literature. “If the prophet Elijah has ridden a fiery chariot into heaven, why should not Jesus rise and go to heaven?”

 

READ THE NEXT POST IN THE SERIES

Why A Bodily Resurrection

 

HAVE YOU READ THESE EARLIER POSTS IN THIS SERIES?

What God Revealed

Real-Life Accounts

Real-Life Accounts Cont’d

The Resurrection Thunderbolt From Heaven

Rabbi Scholars Defend Jesus’ Resurrection

 

Resurrection series initially created between March 30, 2016 – July 3, 2016

 

CREDIT: Western Wall photo by Dave Herring on Unsplash.com

CREDIT: Bridging the Distance photo by Marija Zaric on Unsplash.com

CREDIT: Lion photo by Jeff Rodgers on Unsplash.com

Resurrection Jewish Style: Part 5—Why A Bodily Resurrection?

By SoulBreaths Author [ 4 months ago ]

picture from pinkpigart.co.uk

Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale shadows our soul-body journey. But what’s that got to do with needing a resurrection? A few things, as it turns out.

 

© SoulBreaths.com. All rights reserved.

 

READING TIME: 8 MINUTES.
HAVE YOU READ THE FIRST POSTS IN THIS SERIES?
What God Revealed
Real-Life Accounts
Real-Life Accounts Cont’d
The Resurrection Thunderbolt From Heaven
Rabbi Scholars Defend Jesus’ Resurrection

 

Shakespeare’s plays often navigate spiritual waters. The Winter’s Tale is no exception. The tragicomedy travels the barrenness, brokenness, and blackened leaves of our wintry lives and moves to a spring-like moment.

 
 

It’s a light nod to God’s promised latter rain in the Bible. This rainy season—as Judaic scholars call it—is resurrection, where your soul-body enters an everlasting fruitfulness.

 

But we don’t all have the same resurrection ending. The soul and body are reunited in resurrection, then face litigation in God’s court, are judged, and subsequently step into one of two places: everlasting life (for the righteous) or everlasting contempt (for the unrighteous), per Daniel 12:2 and John 5:28-29, among other scriptures.

 

Per scripture, certain things impact that judgment . . . but simply said, it centers on what the soul-body did down here in light of God’s ways—and more to the point, what it did regarding one act of God in particular.

 

Before we get to that, let’s look at some plausible reasons why there’s even a need for resurrection.

 

 

CUES FROM THE BARD

 

In Act 1, Scene 2 of The Winter’s Tale, Polixenes—King of Bohemia—describes his childhood relationship with Sicily’s King Leontes as being like twins, buddy buddies, innocents.

 

That is, until life happens and they’re cast out of their Garden-of-Eden-esque existence and into the Sicilian King’s irrational rampage, where he goes all Othello on his alleged “slippery wife” (Hermiones) and her alleged lover, Polixenes, the king’s friend.

 

The king is wrong. Like really wrong. For the sake of the plot—not unlike our own soul stories—the king and some others choose anything but the humble, righteous path.

 

The tale bulges with jealousies, accusations, misjudgments, malicious lies, for-the-better-good lies, over-the-top emotional reactions, bitterness, relationship splits, disloyalty, paranoia, tyranny, expulsions, broken hearts, death, and more.

 

Along the way, Shakespeare exposes familiar elements of the soul’s journey—its rise, decline, fall, redemptive resurrection (Queen Hermiones is brought back to life after being dead sixteen years).

 

He even turns the physical tables of the atmosphere to mirror the inner soul rumblings of his characters—Sicily’s Mediterranean warmth and light are shrouded in a wintry gloom.

 

Veiled, fractured souls.
Adrift.
Out of sync with God’s ways.
Self-focused. Earthly tethered.
Becoming a wintry heart of darkness.

 

Enter two reasons for an end-of-days resurrection . . .

 

(1) accountability—of what the soul-body matrix has done, said, thought along its earthly journey.

 

(2) divine reconstruction of the soul-body—so it no longer is earthbound/self-focused but raised, recalibrated, made new so those deemed righteous can move with the give-receive love flow of heaven.

 

Let me explain . . .

 
zdenek-machacek-_QG2C0q6J-s-unsplash
 

EXIT, PURSUED BY A BEAR

journeying between weight and responsibility

 

Okay, so you’re not exactly like Shakespeare’s Antigonus, the king’s advisor who teeters between loyalty to the crown and loyalty to truth, makes concessions to protect, and then is chased off stage by a bear and killed.

 

But believe it or not, bears and their presumed Shakespearean connotation have their place in your soul experience and its aftermath, your future resurrection.

 

The word bear appears about twelve times in the play—where a person bears the onus for their actions and their related guilt. And, yeah, the fierce “bearish” beast appears in the midst of it all.

 

How bear/bearing translates to the soul’s journey and end-of-days accountability goes like this—on both sides of the Judaic-Messianic bridge:

 

Bearing your soul—transparent before your Creator, God.
Bearing the weight of your actions—good and not so good.
Bearing the scrutiny of others and our internal self.
Bearing the hardships and testings along life’s journey.
Bearing the responsibility for what you’ve said, done, thought, written, shared, taught, imposed, desired, touched, took, gave, blessed, cursed, healed, harmed, lifted up, brought down.
Bearing the yoke of Heaven (surrendered to God, His word, His covenant—your identity is in Him).
Bearing the final outcome of it all—with your soul’s work salted by His holy fire, tested by His holiness, so the work is either reduced to ash and stubble or glorified in Him.

 

For God shall bring every deed (every action, work)
into litigation (for His judgment),
everything that is concealed,
whether it be good or whether it be evil.
—Ecclesiastes (Kohelet) 12:14

 

And I saw a great white throne and the one sitting on it.
The earth and sky fled from his presence,
but they found no place to hide.
I saw the dead, both great and small, standing before God’s throne.
And the books were opened, including the Book of Life.
And the dead were judged according to what they had done . . .
And anyone whose name was not found recorded in the Book of Life
was thrown into the lake of fire.
Revelation 20: 11, 12, 15

 

Both the soul and the body face their shared judgment: Both are accountable for the life journey. So they are reunited in a new way at the end of days—for a resurrection to righteousness or to punishment.

 

Their embattled soul-body relationship and fractured state lead to the second reason why we need a bodily resurrection . . .

 
nienke-broeksema-UdTV56iEjIw-unsplash
 

SHORT VERSION: SOUL-BODY DILEMMA

the need for a re-alliance

 

Your soul—with its various nuances—is knitted (so to speak) to your body while in the womb. Together, your soul and body embark on a journey and specific life work . . . a work that ignites your soul-body refinement.

 

“The spirit of God has made me,
and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.”
Job 33:4

 

And the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground,
and He breathed into his nostrils the soul of life,
and man became a living soul.
Genesis 2:7

 

Yes, God’s breath is in you. He breathed into you from deep within Himself. How profound and amazing is that? He’s that close to you, day by day, hour by hour, soul-breath by soul-breath.

 

Per the Hebrew in scripture, there are three nuances of the soul. The one translated as life force/self (nefesh) is enmeshed with the body and makes a way for the soul to join the body in a human experience while in this worldly dimension.

 

The job of the God-breathed soul is upward: Elevating the soul-body relationship from glory to glory, for a spiritually fruitful life. Surrendering to the will of God, accepting the yoke of heaven.

 

But that presents challenges. Big ones. The body—from dust to dust—is tethered to the things of this world. It came from the earth and is drawn to earthly things. (You can learn more later about the nuances of the soul in The Combat Zone series.)

 

The push-pull is on. And if the soul follows the body’s earth-minded drives vs. the call upward, the soul-body matrix can become . . .

 

Flooded with spiritual darkness, doctrines of demons.

Strictly a receptor—receiving for self, with no capacity for authentic giving.

Compelled by the things of this world.

Defiant, resisting the yoke of heaven.

Dissonant, clashing with God Himself.

 

In other words, a ravaged, war-scarred vessel whose soul-body partnership is in disrepair.

 

For a resurrection to righteousness,
it will need a reconstruction worthy of God’s presence.

Raised. Recalibrated. Renewed.

 

The corruptible body must return to the dust
and be raised in a glorified body—not constructed from the dust,
not tethered to this earthly realm and ways.
It must work in tandem with a soul that has been tested and tried,
and is in alignment with God.

 

Now about your having a resurrection to righteousness vs. a resurrection to contempt . . .

 
geetanjal-khanna-8CwoHpZe3qE-unsplash
 

HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS CAN BE YOURS

not deserved, yet given—a love not of this world

 

The Lord can come to you like the rain—a glory rain, the true latter rain (resurrection to righteousness) after the barrenness, brokenness, and blackened leaves of the soul’s winter tale.

 

A rain that heralds in the spring, hope, vegetation, new beginnings for you and all those who have lived and died in Him.

 

After two days, he will revive us;
on the third day, he will raise us up;
and we will live in his presence.
And let us know, let us strive to know the LORD:
 like the dawn whose going forth is sure,
and He will come to us like the rain,
like the latter rain  which satisfies the earth.
Hosea 6:2-3

 

But in the winter tale of your soul, there can be lot of swerving here and there. And it can get complicated by a treacherous spiritual battle going on within you and around you.

 

Then there’s trying to do good. Human good. Well meaning but falling way short of God’s holiness and His righteousness.

 

He actually says our deeds—which we’re judged on and linked to our thoughts and words—are stained before Him. They’re like soiled rags from menstrual flux, per the Hebrew.

 

And we all have become like one unclean,
and our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment
[soiled menstrual rag],
and we all have withered like a leaf,
and our iniquities carry us away like the wind.
Isaiah 64:5 (6)

 

So if your soul can become spiritually barren, holding on to the decayed, withered leaves of your wintry tale . . .

 

And if your best deeds, thoughts, words are like filthy menstrual rags compared to God’s holy standard . . .

 

Then how can you or anyone stand before God’s judgment seat—and receive a resurrection to righteousness?

 
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GOD MADE IT POSSIBLE

his truth, his life, his way
 

The veil that covered your wintry, fractured soul can be gone. Death, gone. His breath can bring your soul-body to life—again.

 

On this mountain he [the Lord God of Hosts] will destroy
the veil which covers the face of all peoples,
the veil enshrouding all the nations.

 

He will swallow up death forever.
Adonai Elohim will wipe away
the tears from every face . . .
Isaiah 25:6-8 excerpts

 

Despite the fractured stated of humanity, God made a way for your receiving a resurrection to righteousness—and avoiding a resurrection of punishment.

 

But it’s your choice.

 

If you receive His way, your deeds are still judged—but through the blood sacrifice of the Messiah, His Son, Jesus (Yeshua, his Hebrew name).

 

He took on those filthy-ragged deeds/sins (mentioned in Isaiah 64) at the cross so his act of love could wipe your slate clean. When you receive Jesus as Messiah, God’s holy righteousness is imparted to you.

 

Accepting what God has done through the Messiah doesn’t mean you get to live your life willy nilly . . . it means putting on that precious gift and the responsibilities that go with it.

 

Not the manmade yoke of religiosity and compounded burdens—but the gentle yoke of the Messiah.

 

The yoke of heaven that is easy, light, profound. Loving God, walking upright in His ways, letting Him become your identity.

 

Yet through it all, mindful that you’re made of dust and fractured. But standing on His wholeness. Steeped in His strength and faithfulness. Submerged in a holy, grace-empowered process in Him.

 

Jesus is the only way to God for Jews and Gentiles. He is the Living Torah, the fulfillment of the Law, the Redeemer, the Holy Lamb of God who died for your sins, mine, and the world’s.

 

When you have a bodily resurrection in the Messiah,
winter and the soul-body war are over.

 

The KING has conquered death.

 

The body and soul become like a wheel within a wheel.

 

The receiver-driven body is dead, corrupted, disintegrated.
The resurrected body is glorified, incorruptible.
A giver and a receiver. Harmonious with God.
Donning the yoke of heaven.

 

The body is reunited with its now-refined soul,
made holy in and with Him.
All things are made new.

 

Existing as one in holy tandem,
giving and receiving in a sanctified way.
Without self-gratification or self-adoration.

 

Raised in His image.
Mirroring His circular, love-funneled nature.
A soul-body matrix, tested, tried, submerged, empowered
by and through His Truth, Life, Way, Word.

 

In Him . . .
The latter rain is the greatest glory.
The latter rain is His gift to you, a glorified bodily resurrection.

 
 

HAVE YOU READ THESE POSTS IN THE SERIES?

What God Revealed

Real-Life Accounts

Real-Life Accounts Cont’d

The Resurrection Thunderbolt From Heaven

Rabbi Scholars Defend Jesus’ Resurrection

Why A Bodily Resurrection

 

Resurrection series created between March 30, 2016 – July 3, 2016

 

CREDIT: Tree Archway in Snow, Edinburgh (Source: pinkpigart.co.uk)

CREDIT: Shakespeare by Jessica Pamp on Unsplash.com

CREDIT: Bear Running by Zdeněk Macháček on Unsplash.com

CREDIT: It’s Your Breath by Nienke Broeksema on Unsplash.com

CREDIT: Hand Catching Rain by Geetanjal Khanna on Unsplash.com

CREDIT: White Crown by Ashton Mullins on Unsplash.com

 

RELATED RESOURCES

 

http://www.heraldmag.org/olb/contents/treatises/1913cr.htm
In the shadow of the ladder, Rabbi Yehudah Lev Ashlag
http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/281644/jewish/The-Resurrection-of-the-Dead.htm

http://www.chabad.org/kabbalah/article_cdo/aid/380651/jewish/Levels-of-Soul-Consciousness.htm

http://www.aish.com/sp/pg/Path-of-the-Soul-1-Discovering-Mussar.html (Maimonides character traits)

R.. Sproul:
http://www.ligonier.org/learn/articles/dark-night-soul/

http://articles.baltimoresun.com/2002-02-28/features/0202280319_1_bear-center-stage-shakespeare

 

Soul Remodeling Series: The Wilderness Call, Part 1

By SoulBreaths Author [ 5 months ago ]

Seeing you as G-d sees you.

Deconstructing . . . for your soul’s reconstruction.
Breaking free from preconceived “factions”—
becoming
Divergent, your unique self in the L-rd.

 

© SoulBreaths.com. All rights reserved.

 

[The original article was created/posted in 2015 with some additions later. Judaic scripture numbering references used.]

 

READ TIME: 4 MINUTES.

 

He said, “Go.” But I wondered, “Where? When? For how long?” A shift was in motion. It was palpable, stirring in the pit of my soul, pushing me to the edge of a cliff with no way back.

 

So I waited. Waited for His move that would move me. I stood before Him . . . praying . . . pacing . . . questioning . . . seeking . . . kneeling . . . then standing some more. But He wasn’t “moving” me anywhere. I felt like I’d been dropped into no-man’s-land.

 

That doesn’t mean things were stilled. I had become a girl interrupted—on a cliff in a God-designed wilderness. Recently widowed, followed by what felt like an avalanche of even more losses, relationship changes, twists, and turns. Suspended.

 

I was free falling. I couldn’t breathe. My body, yes. My soul, not so much. It was suffocating. I’d lost my tribe in more ways than one and didn’t know where I fit in any more, if any place. And the uneasiness of where else this journey was taking me (soul wise or otherwise) was escalating. I felt like a character in one of my favorite YA movies, Divergent.

 


It will be difficult to break the habits of thinking . . .
instilled in me, like tugging a single thread
from a complex work of embroidery.
—Tris, Divergent by Veronica Roth


 
diana-simumpande-ABrC7X4_gLY-unsplash-2
 

GOD’S LOVE CALL

 

God is in the soul business. And He was moving deep within mine to set it apart for His purpose, taking me off the grid of my life and into a six-year-and-counting process called in Hebrew lech lecha (pronounced lek leh-kah, לֶךְ-לְךָ).

 

Totally à la Abraham in Genesis 12:1 where God told him to leave his land, father’s house, all that he knew to follow God to a new place.

 

A lech lecha journey is God-appointed . . . the soul traverses deeper, going to itself, within itself, and for itself, for a higher purpose.

 

A special period of time God sets apart. On a special journey. Not always a physical move. Not a disciplinary action. It’s a love call.

 

A wooing-from-God wilderness journey
away from the common,
into the holy,
uncovering the soul’s hiddenness.

 

It’s where He does the deepest work in your soul so it can emerge in another level of its potential in Him—a matter of the soul where it becomes its purpose, which is always linked to bringing forth the kingdom of God.

 

He removes any heaviness in your soul that’s hindering its movement . . . anything that’s muffling His voice or words . . . anything that’s blinding the soul from seeing or receiving His visions and revelations.

 

It’s like God is parting the Red Sea inside you. Rabbinic thought says that God peeled back the sea to reveal a mystery. The earth represents the physical, what is visible, tangible. But the hidden under the sea represents the spiritual, what isn’t discerned in the physical and natural.

 

During your soul-remodeling process, God peels your life back. He removes you from what’s been your “natural” way of moving and being to expose what is flowing in those subterranean waters within your soul, within its nuances.

 

Those soul nuances are revealed through three Hebrew words from scripture—words interchangeably used for soul: neshama (breath), ruach (wind/breath, spirit), and nefesh (life force, rested breath, living being).

 

[Get more soul basics later: Combat Zone series.]

 

When your soul is free to stream the light and heart of God unhindered, it is in alignment and flooded with things of God. But when sin and self prevail and your soul—more specifically the soul nuance “nefesh”—partners with your world-tethered body (your soul’s vessel), things can start to go spiritually south and spiritually dark.

 

That’s because the nefesh—also referred to as the soul’s life force—clings, negatively or positively, has self-awareness, yearnings, appetite, and is enmeshed with the body.

 

The deconstruction-reconstruction process doesn’t necessarily occur because you’re steeped in sin and out of alignment . . . although that can happen. The deconstruction-reconstruction process is first and foremost a time when God wants to go deeper and draw you closer.

 

It’s a time where things are stripped away so the soul can get newly aligned with Him, away from the earthbound/world-focused body, making room for what is to come.

 

The process isn’t comfortable or easy. It may seem as if everything you put your hand to doesn’t work. Even if it flowed smoothly before.

 

Losses may surround you—like in finances, personal endeavors, work, relationships, family matters, health issues. The way you and God used to communicate and interact takes a hard right turn—your prayer life, study time, worship time.

 

Things may seem . . .
abandoned,
disconnected,
uncertain,
foreign,
not your norm.

 

Photo by Zoltan Tasi on Unsplash

You might be tempted to see things rapidly sliding
d
o
w
n
h
i
l
l
without any end in sight.

 

BUT. HANG. ON. He is there with you in the center of it all. There will be flashes of light. His light of revelation, understanding, direction. Maybe small flashes like a firefly—or greater, like lightning cracking the sky.

 

In time, in bits here and there, you’ll get a glimpse of where your soul is, what’s going on, and what He expects through the deep-work process.

 

And at times, you just might find your unsettling feeling starting to converge with an inner lightning bolt of excitement.

 

You also might start to realize that He is journeying with you for a specific purpose through unchartered territory where your soul will mature, awaken, and soar in unimagined ways. Ways it couldn’t have if you were still living in the old and familiar.

 

What you need is God’s game plan. Yep, He has one.

 

Read about it next: Soul Remodeling: The Wilderness Call, Part 2

 


I throw my arms out to the side and imagine that I am flying . . .
My heart beats so hard it hurts, and I can’t scream and I can’t breathe,
but I also feel everything, every vein, and every fiber, every bone
and every nerve, all awake and buzzing in my body
as if charged with electricity.
I am pure adrenaline.

—Tris, Divergent by Veronica Roth


 

CREDITS: Boat photo by Zoltan Tase on Unsplash.com
CREDITS: Woman praying by Diana Simumpande on Unsplash.com

Soul Remodeling Series: Soul Arrow—Sarah

By SoulBreaths Author [ 4 years ago ]

Photo by Franck V. on Unsplash

SARAH (SARAI) from barrenness of soul to prophet—and the world’s matriarch

 

© SoulBreaths.com. All rights reserved.

 

Before you begin—click this pop-up for a recap of the Soul Arrow series.

 

READING TIME: 8 MINUTES.

 

Flashes of His light. A moment of revelation. xThe soul pricked with divine sparks. That was Sarah as every crack of lightning cut through her story. The call from the polytheistic, cosmopolitan Ur to Haran, move from Haran to Canaan, dealings with Lot, battle with the five kings, sweepings into pharaoh’s and Abimelech’s harems.

 

Something had to be learned here, absorbed here, infused here, stripped here in order to birth something of greater magnitude later.

 

Sarah was strong, independent, vocal, and faithful to God’s calling on her soul. Rashi, a renowned medieval French rabbi, said the various meanings of her name reveal Sarah’s identity, her soul’s ascent as it were: divine spirit, beauty, royal leadership, and prophetic gifting that surpassed Abraham’s.

 

After all, God did say, “Everything Sarah says to you—listen to her voice.” Genesis 21:12.

 

Yet the catalyst of Sarah’s story—barrenness—could reveal even more.

 

Sketchy pieces of her earlier story appear in Genesis 11:29-31, before God renamed her (Sarai to Sarah) and her husband (Abram to Abraham). “The name of Abram’s wife was Sarai . . . And Sarai was barren; she had no child . . . And Terach took Abram his son, and Lot the son of Haran, his son’s son, and Sarai his daughter-in-law, his son Abram’s wife; and they went forth with them from Ur of the Chaldees, to go into the land of Canaan; and they came unto Haran, and dwelt there . . . And the days of Terach were 205 years; Terach died in Haran.”

 

The next line begins chapter 12 and jumps right to God giving Abram the “lech lecha” command. Meaning, go for yourself, to yourself, into yourself. But hold up. How did Abram know God at this point? There’s no introduction—unlike when God introduces Himself to Moses in Exodus 3 at the burning bush.

 

Not to mention that Terach, Abram’s father, was an idolater and an idol maker, per midrash. And just why was Terach moving Abram, Sarai, and the rest of the clan initially to Canaan? And why did they stop in Haran and stay there instead of reaching their destination?

 

 

BACKSTORY: WHAT’S NOT SAID

 

Some rabbinic teachings suggest that Abram got the call of God—or perhaps, the introduction to Him—earlier in Ur, where he convinced his father to head out toward Canaan. Rabbi Meir Schweiger of Pardes Institute posited in a 2008 podcast on the Lech Lecha Torah portion that Terach may have thought, why not? Change your locale, you could change your luck. [1]

 

Couldn’t hurt. Sarai was barren, after all. Things just may do a turnaround.

 

But Canaan wasn’t Terach’s calling—it was Abram’s. Terach stopped along the way after setting eyes on Haran . . . perhaps distracted by what it offered or perhaps seeing it as a place to profit for his idol business. He apparently wasn’t someone with “spiritual” endeavors in mind, someone who could keep his eye on the goal and finish the task—namely, Canaan.

 

As a result, Abram and Sarai were interrupted from their destiny call to Canaan until Terach dies. They lived those years with their souls compressurized in a pagan family that had a pagan business, in a pagan city, in a pagan world. When the lech lecha command came forth in Genesis 12, Abram is 75 and Sarai is 65.

 

Her soul had to be freed from its barrenness.
Even though she had met the one true God,
her life had been steeped in the lie of paganism.

 

It was as if God were saying . . .

 

You’ve met me, but I need to take you through a series of events
to tenderize your soul and work out the toxic lies of satan
and the human viewpoint that has been polluting your soul.
I need you to come away with me
to remove any earthbound holds on your soul . . .
to remove all ties with darkness
so my Presence can flood every part of your soul
(breath, spirit/wind, rested breath/life force)
where I will release My voice, My truth of who I am
so you can discover the truth of who you are in me,
what I’ve called you to be.

 

alexandru-zdrobau-4bmtMXGuVqo-unsplash

 

THE DAYS IN BETWEEN

 

Anticipation. Frustration. Each month, watching for signs of a pregnancy. Years passed. Was it a curse or sin? A divine abandonment? Something more . . . something different?

 

Sarai had her questions, maybe her doubts.

 

Could her soul even breathe in its barren exile—or did that empty nest, as some rabbinic teachings suggest, give rise to her independence and a more visible position along side her husband?

 

Was she consistently inundated with her in-law’s pagan fertility rituals, which added more pressure, physically and spiritually?

 

Did she eventually bury the hope of a child and learn to find contentment in her relationship and gifting from the one true God?

 

Actually, there’s a possibility that, in time, Sarai started growing and flowing in her barren state, and perhaps—with God’s strength—even getting a bit comfortable in her motherless wife role—free to move about, spiritually partnering with her husband.

 

But perhaps . . . perhaps that hope kept gnawing down deep within.

 


BELOVED, gaze in thine own heart,
The holy tree is growing there;
From joy the holy branches start,
And all the trembling flowers they bear.

The Two Trees, W.B. Yeats


 

engin-akyurt-0bgCyhlq9oU-unsplash

 

PHYSICAL JOURNEYS MIRROR THE SOUL’S INNER JOURNEY

 

Pressurized, stark, or barren situations in the natural reflect, ignite, and even move the tensions within the soul.

 

Like you and me, Sarai’s come-away-with-me, lech lecha call from God was no different.

 

She and Abram sojourned in the physical desert—living nomadically, in infertility, leaving all that was common, their land, birthplace, and relatives, entertaining guests and angels—while traversing the untapped spiritual terrain within their souls. [2]

 

Up probably felt like down. Down felt like up. A sojourn wrought with emotional, physical, and spiritual trials—not to mention those infamous family matters. Certainly, no cakewalk.

 

Promises from God were still sitting on the table.

But they couldn’t be touched or lived out until decades later.

 

When God gave 86-year-old Abram the promise of having a child by his loins, the bold, faithful Sarai came up with a plan of how they could fulfill God’s decree—a “solution” in the natural that lagged lightyears behind God’s intentions.

 

Enter stage left, Hagar.

 

Sarai’s so-called plan (using her Egyptian maidservant as a surrogate vs. God’s plan, having a child birthed by Sarai) resulted in another 13 years of deconstruction-reconstruction soul work for her and Abram—enduring and resolving the consequences of her prior getting-ahead-of-God decision to use Hagar.

 

Since Hagar’s son with Abram—Ishmael—was outside of God’s instructions, the Abrahamic covenant couldn’t be honored/fulfilled via him. However, Ishmael is considered the father of the Arab world.
 

GOD’S PLAN MOVES FORWARD

 

Count on it. God’s purposes will be fulfilled—even when we go rogue.

 

He voiced a promise and a new name into Abram and Sarai that impacted their destiny . . . a move from having “a” mission to having a worldwide calling, per the Talmud.[3]

 

Ninety-nine-year-old Abram—his name meaning father of a nation—became Avraham, father of many nations.

 

Eighty-nine-year-old, Sarai—meaning my princess, of a tribe/household—became Sarah, princess of the world, mother of every Jewish convert.

 

At age 90, counterintuitive to any human logic, Sarah was finally ready in God’s eyes to exhale her soul’s purpose . . . not just the birth of Isaac, but becoming a vessel in God’s hands to birth a nation out of a wilderness womb that would transform the world.

 

Read all the Soul Arrow stories:

 

I’ve had my God- designed wilderness journeys to deconstruct-reconstruct my soul. How about you? These posts can shed some light and encouragement: Soul Remodeling Series: The Wilderness Call, Part 1 and Soul Remodeling Series: The Wilderness Call, Part 2.

 

RESOURCES & CREDITS

 

[1] Rabbi Meir Schweiger’s newer podcasts can be found on Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies.

[2] Genesis 12:1-3, Genesis 13, Genesis 14, Genesis 15:1-6, Genesis 18, Genesis 22:16-18

[3] The Talmudic concept regarding Avraham and Sarah moving from a particular mission to a universal one is from Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Berachot 13a.

CREDIT: Arrow photo by Franck V. on Unsplash.com

CREDIT: Camels in Israel photo by Cole Keister on Unsplash.com

CREDIT: Woman’s eyes photo by Alexandru Zdrobău on Unsplash.com

CREDIT: Hair-blown woman photo by Engin Akyurt on Unsplash.com

Article created July 26, 2015.

Soul Remodeling Series: Soul Arrow—Joseph

By SoulBreaths Author [ 4 years ago ]

Photo by Franck V. on Unsplash

JOSEPH

favor lost, favor regained—in spite of himself

 

© SoulBreaths.com. All rights reserved.

 

Before you begin—click this pop-up for a recap of the Soul Arrow series.

 

READING TIME: 6 MINUTES.

 

Position doesn’t just happen. It’s given by God. Joseph’s prophetic dreams isn’t a free pass to ride the tails of his royal or priest-like, multi-colored coat. That coat in the Hebrew is k’tonet pasim, כתנת פסים—the name of the high priest’s garment. And perhaps a hint of Joseph’s future soul story.

 

Those dreams are something else. Manifestations of a calling that would first become a lightning rod in God’s hands— a tool that would spark situations and form a wilderness path for Joseph’s soul.

 

It begins with his father’s favoritism and skyrockets to his brothers’ actions and reactions to Joseph’s golden position and arrogant dream-talk.

 

Sforno—Italian rabbi and regarded Torah commentator (late 1400s)—chalks up Joseph’s behavior to “youthful immaturity.”

 

Meh. Maybe. But his dream-flaunting, scandalous reporting of his brothers and overall swag demeanor are firefly flashes . . . momentary peeks into Joseph’s soul character at that moment.

 

And then there are flashes of revelation from God that Joseph experiences earlier on. So he isn’t suffering from a lost soul identity or ignorance of his destiny.

 

It’s a matter of Joseph’s soul not understanding, not being prepared to walk in that identity. And so, sure, immaturity plays a part when he “sees” a glimpse of his future calling but then walks about “as if” it’s already occurring.

 

With that, he starts sharing it with his father. And then his brothers—who aren’t amused.

 

Per Genesis 37:8, his brothers hated him even more for his dreams and for his words. So, like any of us, Joseph has to learn about prophetic gifting . . . and timing.

 

Here’s the point. We’re not always meant to share the secrets Adonai gives us from the secret place. It shouldn’t matter who sees or learns what God revealed to us . . . or who recognizes our gifting.

 

We need to remain intentionally prayerful on if, when, where, to whom, and how much to share. And if we believe things need to be shared, we should double-check our motivations. Is it to seek self-glory, recognition, position, approval?

 

And that’s the thing with Joseph. His motives behind the dream-boasting may be viewed as suspect. Certainly by his brothers. They don’t recognize him, don’t approve. The only position they want him to have is the bottom of that animal pit or somewhere outside of Canaan altogether.

 

Nonetheless, Joseph is destined to become the linchpin—a sustainer for B’nai Israel (children of Israel)—in spite of himself.

 

GOD STEPPED IN

 

aaron-burden-lPCu8HnGU2E-unsplash copy 2

 

My heart was wandering in the sands,
a restless thing, a scorn apart;
Love set his fire in my hands,
I clasp’d the flame unto my heart.
—My Heart Was Wandering In The Sands, Christopher Brennan

 

Separated from the common in his life, Joseph is brought down physically to Egypt, which signifies his soul being brought down to a lowly place spiritually to become deconstructed and then reconstructed into the holy.

 

A place where Joseph would first have to become one with his barrenness (personal “desert” experience), unshackled from all he feels due him or all he previously owned—including physical and spiritual gifting, positions as prophesied, favor with his father, and even his initial favor with Potiphar.
 

Distanced from his prior owning . . .
Joseph becomes the ownerless (hefker,הֶפְקֵר).
Left, lost, unclaimed, renounced.
No hope of being, reclaiming his perceived entitlements,
his perceived identity.
All that he thought he was vanished.
Unfulfilled position, status, prophetic dreams.
Instead, regarded as a derelict.
Imprisoned.

But the love call is sounded.
The wilderness journey begins.
Relying on God for transformation, promotion, and release.
However, only in God’s timing, His way.

 

It would take a while.

 

Becoming ownerless isn’t easy on the soul-body matrix. The earth-focused body/vessel is pulled to things of this world—and its old habits die hard.

 

Even with all Joseph had gone through, he still attempts to wield matters in the natural to force the birth of his prophesied future position.

 

CASE IN POINT: GENESIS 40

 

Egypt’s king sent his chamberlains (cupbearer and baker) to prison, where they serve for a year along side Joseph. The king’s duo each have a dream that only Joseph can interpret.

 

Despite his physical imprisonment and its boa constrictor–like grip on his soul, Joseph knows on some level that God is keeping the communication channels open . . . breathing into him, flowing understanding.

 

It’s undeniable. God’s authoritative words are echoing within Joseph’s soul.

 

Flashes of lightning awaken the prophetic-anointing within him. Joseph recognizes it, steps up, speaks out. After all, don’t interpretations belong to God?

 

But like in any dim room after a single flash of light, darkness returns.

 

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TRUST: FAITH BECOMING REAL

 

Does Joseph still believe, remember, his early prophetic dreams? Is he encouraged by God’s lightning flashes through his soul over the years? Not right then.

 

In fact, he doesn’t merely ask the cupbearer to remember him before the king when the dream comes to pass—that would have been understandable.

 

The Hebrew reveals that Joseph pleaded, graveled, begged (nah, נא ) with the cupbearer to have lovingkindness/compassion (chesed, חסד) on him before the king so he could get out of prison. Because he was, after all, innocent.

 

Joseph may have been thinking, enough already.

 

My soul can’t breathe in this uncertain darkness any longer.
My mind is exhausted. My heart is weakened.
Favored in this prison pit or not, I want out—and I want out now.
And what about those prophetic dreams God clearly spoke to me?
I’ve waited long enough . . . time to take action.

 

There’s a difference between faith (אמונה) and trust (בִּטָּחוֹן), per commentary in The Stone Edition of the Chumash (Parasha Vayeishev, Genesis 37-40:23, pg 221).

 

Believing God exists is faith. But trust is having the certainty, the confidence, that God is “involved in events and that their outcome accords with His will.”

 

Joseph’s faith is sure. God existed. God speaks to His people. God can do the impossible. God gives flashes of light to reveal our steps along the way.

 

Trust is faith in action. It would take his soul-body matrix working in tandem, listening and daring to believe upwardly . . . maintaining a firm standing, going beyond what the physical eye and natural mind could perceive.

 

I can so appreciate Joseph’s soul moment. It’s the stuff these biblical soul-arrow stories are made of. These people are real. Human. Broken. Quivering or questioning themselves, others, God—even in their moments of faith and trust, regardless of who they are and what they are about to do with God that is amazing.

 

They are you, me, and everyone else on the planet.

 
lubo-minar-HtJGfVyG4rA-unsplash
 

GOD KNEW: JOSEPH’S SOUL POTENTIAL

 

The Lord cast His light through Joseph’s soul to reveal things from a different perspective on high. Much had been gifted in Joseph. Now more would be required to birth it forth.

 

Two more years in the pit—his wilderness journey. Two more years of impatience, uncertainty, wavering beliefs pulverized. Two more years walking with God toward the uncommon, a holy place within the soul.

 

Pride is worked out, and humility worked into the new fabric of his soul.

 

Grace is deposited, mercy is infused, and forgiveness (especially for his brothers) is birthed.

 

Joseph isn’t just physically delivered from prison, he’s spiritually delivered . . . his soul freed, raised to a new level, a more honest relationship with God.
 

Now—deconstructed along his wilderness journey and reconstructed for his destiny—he’s able to wear that prophetic garment in humility and servanthood.

 

And now he can be lifted into a position of authority among his captors—and later, be elevated in the eyes of his brothers and father—who also have undergone a level of wilderness transformation before God.

 

Read all the Soul Arrow stories:

 

I’ve had my God- designed wilderness journeys to deconstruct-reconstruct my soul. How about you? These posts can shed some light and encouragement: Soul Remodeling Series: The Wilderness Call, Part 1 and Soul Remodeling Series: The Wilderness Call, Part 2.

 

CREDIT: Arrow photo by Franck V. on Unsplash.com

CREDIT: Prayerful man photo at sunset photo by Aaron-burdenon Unsplash.com

CREDIT: God is faithful photo by Tony Eight Media on Unsplash.com

CREDIT: Sapling photo by Lugo Minar on Unsplash.com

Article initially created August 17, 2015.

Soul Remodeling Series: Soul Arrow—Moses

By SoulBreaths Author [ 4 years ago ]

Photo by Franck V. on Unsplash

MOSES (MOSHE)
fugitive prince turned bride guardian—who almost missed his calling

 

©SoulBreaths.com. All rights reserved.

 

Before you begin—click this pop-up for a recap of the Soul Arrow series.

 

READING TIME: 6 MINUTES.

 

Ever since my younger years—later elementary school and decades forward—God has used Moses as a teacher and an example to awaken and stir my soul’s DNA (Judaic roots), guiding it into deeper understanding of God’s Word and His relationship with His people, His world.

 

Moses was a surrendered soul, truly in love with his God. But with all he was allowed to do under God’s hand, he was still a man.

 

Egypt proved a blessing for the twelve tribes of Israel during the famine years when Joseph held a high position. Then the shift emerged and Israel experienced over 400 years of oppressive enslavement.

 

But God’s precision timing was about to unfold—not only Moses’s soul, but also for Israel’s.
 

God begins by separating Moses from the common—his birth tribe and his adopted, privileged position in Egypt—for a series of deconstructing-reconstructing encounters—meetups with God to beat all others.

 

God’s lightning revelations flashed through Moses’s soul
time and time again.
Moses was humbled at the burning bush,
silenced at the sight of God’s glory,
illuminated at God’s giving of the Torah.

 

It was a process of discovering who he was in God.

 

Lightning cracked when Moses first encountered the Egyptian beating a Hebrew slave. His response was a natural one. He brought down the Egyptian to help raise up that slave.

 

Moses’ destiny burst forth for a moment, like a firefly flash . . . a hint of what was to come, what would be birthed . . . a foretaste of the servant redeemer that his soul was meant to be.

 

From that major lightning crack across the sky at the burning bush, his soul’s relationship with the living God rose to such a magnitude that the flashes of lightning became his new norm.

 

He had more of these lightning moments once totally surrendered to God.

 

Times on the mountain, glory times in the tent. It all was part and parcel of what it would mean—for him and us—to flow in God’s presence, spirit, and the prophetic.

 
ricardo-arce-cY_TCKr5bek-unsplash
 

BUT MOSES ALMOST MISSED IT

 

Torah scholar/commentator/author Avivah Zornberg gave some insight about “The Transformation of Pharoah, Moses, and God,” during an interview she gave to OnBeing.com’s Krista Tippet.

 

Moses argued with God for seven days no less when he was first called to lead Israel. His thinking was rooted in earthly, physical standards, not in a heavenly perspective.

 

Internal resistance was stirring in his soul.

 

Psychologically, Zornberg says, Moses—like Pharoah and the Hebrews—has an unwillingness to open himself to an alternative reality.

 

He blames it on his speech—in the Hebrew the wording is heavy (kaved, kah-vehd,כָּבֵד). Moses says he’s got a heavy/impeding mouth and heavy/impeding tongue: כְבַד-פֶּה וּכְבַד לָשׁוֹן. Clearly, a negative connotation.

 

There’s another word association, per Zornberg.

 

The Hebrew word for heavy (kaved) is the same word used to describe Pharoah’s hardness of heart during the ten plagues—with the negative connotation of being closed in/off, impervious, resistant.

 

[Note: Kaved is not kavod—ka-vohd (כָּבוד) means glory or honor. Same shoresh (root), so there’s a link. Yet, as we’re seeing, kaved often reflects a negative usage; kavod, a positive one.]

 

Was the heavy (kaved) tongue of Moses also closed off, resistant to God?

 

Moses, per Zornberg, appears willing to forego the whole opportunity to redeem Israel, seeing himself as not the right person for the job. He does recognize, she posits, that an “operation” of sorts is needed—since Moses is like a babe in need of a circumcision and refers to himself as a man of uncircumcised lips.

 

However, this “heaviness,” an inability to open up to God and His word—psychologically, spiritually, emotionally, or otherwise—appears to go well beyond Moses, Israel’s exodus years, and Pharoah.

 

The Cambridge Bible commentary states the “closed in” or “impervious to good impressions” wording in regards to a “heavy, uncircumcised heart” appears elsewhere in the Tanach: Leviticus 26:41, Jeremiah 9:25(26), and Ezekiel 44:7,9.

 

The wording also is used similarly when speaking of the ear, in Jeremiah 6:10, revealing that the nation heard imperfectly.

 

I dare say this “heaviness” is a human condition. One that only a spiritual surgery in God’s wilderness venues can heal. Turning a no into a . . . teetering if-you-say-so.

 

REDUCED SMALLER - iStock_000009489613XLarge

 

QUESTIONABLE BRIDE—REDEEMING BRIDE GUARDIAN

 

Fortunately for us, Moses surrendered to God’s soul deconstructing-reconstructing process and embraced his soul’s calling—as Israel’s leader, intercessor, shepherd, bride guardian.

 

So much so that the Torah’s final words in Deuteronomy (Devarim) 34 say that “no prophet in Israel has since arose whom God knew face to face” and that Moses “evoked great terror before the eyes of all Israel.”

 

Rabbinic commentary says this great terror is none other than Moses’ shattering of the first set of tablets—which is linked to a midrash that goes something like this.

 

So there was a king, a bride-to-be, and her maidservants. The king heads out of town on some business, putting the maidservants in care of his bride. But their character was lacking, big time. They engaged in harlotry, consequently smudging the betrothed bride’s character.

 

Well, that pushed the king’s anger into overdrive. To the point where he wanted his betrothed killed and out of his life. Clean and tidy.

 

But the bride’s guardian was quick on his feet. As soon as he learned of the king’s intentions, he swooped in and destroyed the marriage contract: “Even if she was found wanting, she wasn’t your wife yet. So . . .  all’s good. She’s not accountable to the contract.”

 

Presto, there was no need to kill her. That appeased the king, which was a good thing because he later discovered his bride’s behavior really hadn’t been awry—just her maidservants’.

 

At that, the bride’s guardian stepped in and suggested the king write a new marriage contract. The king agrees. “Fine. But since you tore up the first one, you provide the paper and I’ll write it in my own hand.”

 

kelly-sikkema-E8H76nY1v6Q-unsplash

 

SOUND FAMILIAR?

 
Israel is found wanting—though not all of them. Moses protects her covenant with God by destroying the first marriage agreement, the first set of tablets that God had carved and written on. Then when God is willing to redo the marriage contract, He has Moses co-labor with him by carving out the tablets that God will write on.

 

But the Ramban—Nachmanides, a Spanish Sephardic rabbi and noted medieval Jewish scholar—adds another component. He says Moses had a temper, i.e. killing the Egyptian and striking the rock incidents. So it wasn’t all about his acting as defender of the bride.

 

I tend to merge the two thoughts. When you have a critical position that has to be assigned to someone—maybe a person who will handle significant aspects of your business or oversee your health directive or your will—you need to choose someone who won’t be intimidated in making tough, wise decisions. Someone who can do that in a split moment, if needed.

 

That’s why I think God chose Moses. Yes, he had passion, a temper even. For Moses, when something was wrong, it was wrong. He acted on it. The excessive actions of the Egyptian, the excessive rebellion of Israel at the rock.

 

In his talmudic commentary Shabbat 87a, French medieval rabbi Rashi played with the reading of “ashur” (meaning “that” or “which”) for “ishur” (meaning “affirm” or “praise”) to basically suggest that when it comes to the shattered tablets, it’s as if God thanked or praised Moses for his actions.[1]

 

Was God saying this? “Thank you, bride guardian, for having the passion, wisdom, boldness, and courage to make the hard decision when needed to defend Israel and allow me to still make covenant with her via a new contract.”

 

Quite possibly.

 

One thing’s for certain. Through all his soul’s wilderness travails with Israel and within himself, Moses humbly steadies the course at all costs—relinquishing any rights to a personal life or family legacy . . . God’s people became his legacy.

 

Read all the Soul Arrow stories:

 

I’ve had my God- designed wilderness journeys to deconstruct-reconstruct my soul. How about you? These posts can shed some light and encouragement: Soul Remodeling Series: The Wilderness Call, Part 1 and Soul Remodeling Series: The Wilderness Call, Part 2.

 

[1] Rashi’s comment per an article called “The Marriage Contract,” appearing on www.meaningfullife.com

CREDIT: Arrow photo by Franck V. on Unsplash

CREDIT: Blurred Arrow Target photo by Ricardo Arce on Unsplash

CREDIT:Broken Heart photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

 

Article created August 17, 2015.

Soul Remodeling: Soul Arrow—Jeremiah

By SoulBreaths Author [ 4 years ago ]

Photo by Franck V. on Unsplash

JEREMIAH (YIRMEYAHU)

Running with Horses

accidental prophet—cohen (priest) turned vessel of holyfire

© SoulBreaths.com. All rights reserved.

 

Before you begin—click this pop-up for a recap of the Soul Arrow series.

 

READING TIME: 11 MINUTES.

 

Personally, I love the 1998 Lux Vid film Jeremiah, directed/written by Harry Winer and starring Patrick Dempsey as the weeping prophet. Yes, it weaves in a non-Biblical, yet quite plausible, plot line here and there—but it also breathes life into Jeremiah’s soul story.

 

Dempsey hits the right emotional notes, delivering a spiritually encouraging performance—equally matched by the rest of the cast. If you haven’t guessed, I watch it often.

 

Jeremiah’s real story begins with God awakening the soon-to-be prophet’s soul, pronouncing his destiny. There would be no discussion, no fiery bush, no staff-turned-snake demonstrations as Adonai had done with Moses. It would begin with a stirring, voiced in the womb.

 


Heaven and I wept together,

And its sweet tears were salt with mortal mine.

—The Hound Of Heaven, Francis Thompson


 

Born in Anatot—a town given to the tribe of Benjamin, per Joshua 21, about three miles northeast of Jerusalem by way of the Mount of Olives—Jeremiah’s call-to-action probably occurred sometime before he was 25 or 30 . . . old enough to marry, but not yet beginning his rightful cohen (priestly) duties as son of the High Priest, Hilkiah.

 

Then the L-rd reached out His hand
and touched my mouth and said to me,
“Now I have put my words in your mouth.
Today, I have placed you over nations and kingdoms
to uproot and to tear down, to destroy and to demolish,
to build and to plant.”
—Jeremiah 1:9

 

A soul-focused interpretation of what God was saying?

 

There, Jeremiah. It may seem counterintuitive, but it’s done. What your soul will grow into and what it will do for Me are already accomplished in the spiritual realm . . . I have spoken and My words are quick to perform. With the breath of My word, all that is—and will be—has been brought forth. It is accomplished in the interwoven crevices of your unseen soul, arming you with the sinew for the task, and manifested in the natural at My appointed time and place.

 

Jeremiah was going to be strategically placed in God’s archery bow with various tensions—dark moments taking him to near death—drawing him further back so he could be launched higher, for the sake of God’s mercy, love, covenant with His people.

 

In fact, God’s orchestrated deconstruction/reconstruction soul process in Jeremiah would mirror the work He eventually would do in the soul of the wayward Southern Kingdom of Judah—deconstruction (captivity) and reconstruction (redemption, restoration).

 

Jeremiah would be the prophetic voice of God to Judah . . .
still a Cohen (ritual priest) standing in for Judah
before the Lord,the Hound of Heaven,
the One whose relentless love would chase Judah into captivity
for a national deconstruction-reconstruction process.

 

Back story: Around 755 BCE, Amos and Hosea prophesied to the Northern Kingdom of Israel, who had long meshed their Judaism with paganism. Israel ignored the warnings and landed in the middle of God’s divine discipline: Assyrian captivity, 721 BCE after a three-year seige. But Judah was not so quick to learn from the idolatrous falterings of its fellow tribesmen.

 

And so, along came God’s love call. Jeremiah.

 

For twenty years, Jeremiah sounded the alarm of the impending seventy-year Babylonian captivity—gradual, in waves, beginning around 605 BCE, taking princes (like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, Azariah) for positions, then toward the end, deporting the poorest of the poor Judeans as slaves. He also encouraged them, prophesying about Judah’s restoration . . . and a new covenant in the future, where Torah would be written on our hearts.

 

photo by Eddie & Carolina Stigson on Unsplash

 

LIKE MOSES, FEELING UNREADY

 

Jeremiah’s calling was not going to be easy. He pretty much knew that going in. What was up ahead—a lonely soul experience with twists, turns, and chasmic drops—would break off any hardness and self-focus to uncover the soul’s holy hiddenness.

 

By God’s further command, there would be no wife. And no children. And no living his priestly heritage. No normality on any level. Only risks and danger—on the wings of a prophetic calling that would voice sorrow, pain, surrender, exile, and the promise of a future redemption for Judah, a nation whose “soul” was under the power of its earthbound vessel . . . unwilling, prideful, rebellious, delusional.

 

But you [Jeremiah], dress for action, stand up,
and tell them everything I order you to say.
Don’t break down or I will break you down in front of them.
For today, I have made you into a fortified city, a pillar of iron,
a wall of bronze against the whole land—against the kings of Judah,
against its princes, against its cohanim [priests],
and the people of the land.
They [Judah] will fight against you, but will not overcome you,
for I am with you and will rescue you, declares the LORD.
—Jeremiah 1:17-19

 

Jeremiah’s knee-jerk reaction? Like Moses, he thought God should look elsewhere.  His “I’m only a young man” response—the word is na’ar (נַעַר) in the Hebrew—reveals Jeremiah’s take on his lack of abilities and readiness.

 

A na’ar is a young man, defined by age (teen through twenties) or of marriageable age, and sometimes, rabbinically defined as not yet ready to fulfill his duties/position. (As an aside, 17-year-old Joseph in Genesis 37:2 was called a na’ar.)

 

Based on Jeremiah’s writings regarding his prophetic calling spanning five kings, his birth is set around 655 BCE. His prophetic calling began in the thirteenth year of King Josiah’s reign—putting him around age 25 – 29, as mentioned earlier in this post.

 

Jeremiah 1:6-7

 וָאֹמַר, אֲהָהּ אֲדֹנָי יְהוִה, הִנֵּה לֹא-יָדַעְתִּי, דַּבֵּר:  כִּי-נַעַר

אָנֹכִי. 

And I said, “You are my LORD, ADONAI, here I am (or alas/behold), I  don’t know a thing because I am a young man.

 

וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה אֵלַי, אַל-תֹּאמַר נַעַר אָנֹכִי:  כִּי עַל-כָּל-אֲשֶׁר

שְׁלָחֲךָ, תֵּלֵךְ, וְאֵת כָּל-אֲשֶׁר אֲצַוְּךָ, תְּדַבֵּר.

And the LORD said to me, you shall not say I am a young man: because wherever I send you, you will go and all that I command you, you will say.

 

In the natural, I get why Jeremiah tried to excuse himself. To a young man who had yet to spread his wings, the call must have seemed like a galaxy beyond his skill set.

 

You can almost hear him logically deduce it like this: At least a man trained in spiritual matters, matured, married, and long observant in his priestly duties would be far better suited to attempt the task.

 

Jeremiah may have studied Torah,
but he had yet to swim in God’s deep, secret place.

He may have been a cohen,
but he had yet to personally know the dunamis (power) of God.

It was never about Jeremiah’s strength, knowledge,
bloodline, or abilities.

It was—and always is—about God and His strength,
plan, power, abilities.

 

God never goes for the obvious. Or the best suited, smartest, most educated, strongest. Remember how God reduced Gideon’s army of 32,000 down to a mere 300—and then gave Israel a mighty victory over the Midianites?

 

God will do what He will do . . . will be what He will be. His name and character are one and the same.

 
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HE IS: THE INEFFABLE HOLY NAME

יהוה

 

The bottom-line issue at this point is Jeremiah’s soul-body matrix. It’s out of sync.

 

His spiritual eyesight is off. His soul, confused. Human viewpoint/human standards vs. God’s heavenly perspective and power.

 

But God’s words are stirring a fire in Jeremiah’s soul.

 

The soul deconstruction/reconstruction process is in motion, beginning to part the Red Sea (so to speak) inside Jeremiah’s soul. God peels away the common—cultural mindsets, religiosities, human expectations, spiritual compromises, so Jeremiah can go on that à la Avraham wilderness-call journey to see with God’s perspective of what is good and right.

 

The famed “lech lecha” (לֶךְ-לְךָ) call . . . meaning go to yourself, for yourself, into yourself . . . and submerge into God’s secret place, His holy, murmuring deep . . . will change everything for Jeremiah—and the nation.

 

Because this isn’t a mission designed for a single man. God is working in Jeremiah’s soul for his own edification—and through Jeremiah’s soul, making him an instrument in His hands.

 

An instrument that would see what God sees, feel what God feels, and experience in the physical what Judah is doing to God in the spiritual. Soul to soul.

 

Two realms begin to clash—with Jeremiah as both the scapegoat of Judah’s contempt for God’s ways and the conduit for God’s convictions, discipline, and hope.

 

Jeremiah is becoming God’s prophetic lightning rod.

 

He attracts the fiery anger of Judah . . . while being consumed by God’s righteous, fiery words. Within those blasts of light, Judah’s soul condition is exposed.

 

There’s no place to hide. No place to run. There’s only surrender.

 

Ironically, it’s a bit of a replay. Previously, God had commanded Hosea to marry a harlot—a portrayal of God’s relationship to the adulterous Northern Kingdom. In that deconstruction process, Hosea’s soul touched the holy, the uncommon, and lived out God’s experiences with his bride, Israel: betrayal, sorrow, longing, calling for her return to righteousness.

 

photo: ancientresource.com

 

TWO SIDES OF SAME COIN

 

Moses had led God’s nation out of captivity—toward a promise—and for forty years dealt with their rebellion, grumblings, faithlessness, and near mutinies. And yet, he’d interceded for the people and pleaded with God to not take His presence from the nation.

 

Jeremiah prophesies for forty years to Judah’s deaf ears and stoney hearts, nearly dying by their hands . . . is beaten, put in stocks, flogged, mocked, imprisoned. And yet, he stands by them as they move toward their destined seventy-year Babylonian captivity—and waits, encouraged because of God’s promise of their return to Jerusalem and the Land.

 


I stand amid the dust o’ the mounded years—

My mangled youth lies dead beneath the heap.

My days have crackled and gone up in smoke,


Have puffed and burst as sun-sta
rts on a stream.

—The Hound Of Heaven, Francis Thompson


 

And Jeremiah—like Moses in his soul-remodeling journey—undergoes layers of God’sdeconstruction/reconstruction process . . . slowly experiencing a holy, softening transformation where the sensitivities of the Father’s heart are infused into his own.

 

At times he feels sad, angery, appalled, or is overcome with grace, mercy, and hope. But at other times, he feels abandoned by God, then empowered by His presence. Don’t know about you, but that flip-flop of emotions sounds way too familiar.

 

I am ridiculed all day long; everyone mocks me . . . so the word of the LORD has brought me insult and reproach all day long.—Jeremiah 20:7b, 8b

 

But the LORD is with me like a mighty warrior; so my persecutors will stumble and not prevail. —Jeremiah 20:11a

 

It’s always a matter of who’s on first—your soul surrendered to God
or your earth-focused vessel partnered up with a darkened soul.
Therein is the battle within the battle.

 

Jeremiah learns that. The wilderness journey and the battle humble him. Knock the wind out of him along the way. The timing. The disappointments. The rage. The angst. The depression.

 

Tensions roll over him in every form, on every front. He once walked among the privileged, a cohen. Then he becomes an outcast.

 

But he can’t, won’t stop. Why? Because he knows his calling. He has surrendered to His king. Accepts and bears the yoke of the kingdom of heaven—עֹל מַלְכוּת שָׁמַיִם.

 

photo by Michael Anfang on Unsplash

 

RUNNING WITH HORSES

 

High calling or not, Jeremiah still faces moments of exhaustion and wanting out. His soul can’t take much more. He is boxed in on all sides—sometimes, literally.

 

And yet . . . the yoke of heaven continues to move him forward.

 

If I say, “I will not mention Him or speak any more in His name,” His word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot.—Jeremiah 20:9

 

Atmospheres are challenged when God’s words flow through Jeremiah. But the cost is high. Extremely high.

 

If you’ve run with the footmen and they’ve exhausted you,
then how will you compete against horses?
You may feel secure in a land of peace,
but how will you do in the Yarden’s thick brush?
—Jeremiah 12:5

 

What is God conveying to Jeremiah? If you can’t keep up with the easier battle campaigns on the ground (footmen) when things aren’t that intense, how will you handle the thick of war?

 

A slightly closer look via the Hebrew fleshes it out . . .

 

כִּי אֶת-רַגְלִים רַצְתָּה וַיַּלְאוּךָ,

If you’re running/as in “rushing” (רַצְתָּה) with soldiers/footmen and they’re tiring you out (וַיַּלְאוּךָ)

וְאֵיךְ תְּתַחֲרֶה אֶת-הַסּוּסִים;

then how will you vie for/rival against (תְּתַחֲרֶה) horses [symbolic of army strength, an animal used for war times]

וּבְאֶרֶץ שָׁלוֹם אַתָּה בוֹטֵחַ, וְאֵיךְ

and in the land of peace you confidently trust in (or feel secure in), then how

תַּעֲשֶׂה בִּגְאוֹן הַיַּרְדֵּן.

will you do in the thicket (or raging/swelling or magnificence) of the Jordan?

 

In its glory days, the Jordan—which means “descender”—had umpteen curves with varying widths, from 75 feet to 200 feet. Many rapids and falls were along its course, which usually had a rapid, strong current.*

 

Sounds similar to a soul wilderness journey to me.
Being called down into His murmuring deep, descending into a place with rugged terrain and raging waters . . . an uncommon place where God alone is your road map.

 

Along his destined journey, Jeremiah learns how to focus on what God is doing—not what He’s removing during that soul wilderness process.

 

But that’s the thing, isn’t it? When God places any of us in a pressurized soul situation, we see what’s missing. What’s been taken away, diminished, lost.

 

We mourn for what was—and wonder when, if ever, we will return to some state of our previous “normal.”

 

We long for release and hope for a new normal—the promise of something within that immerses us into His holiness and transforms us so we aren’t even a shadow of our former selves.

 
edgar-hernandez-D2jfHCj7T-o-unsplash
 

PUTTING IT INTO PERSPECTIVE

 

Life isn’t easy. And trials of any magnitude are disturbing. But the point is . . . are you first seeking God and believing His Word, following His leading, and getting covered in prayer from trusted believers in Him—or is your soul dial set for auto-tilt?

 

You know, your spiritual compass hitting a “10” on the frustration richter scale.

 

Believe me, I’ve been there and can get there in no time, if I’m not staying in His flow.

 

That’s why Jeremiah 12:5 is special to me. God used it often to encourage me during one of my extremely difficult wilderness journeys.

 

When I didn’t think I could take another step, another hit, another disappointment—newly widowed, family issues, uncertainties on so many levels—He’d given me a vision . . . allowing me to see and hear the stampeding hooves of mighty horses.

 

Would I run with them or fall to the side? If these spiritual battles—in times of relative national peace with challenges common to humanity—would get me down, how would I ever finish the race against tougher enemies?

 

And what would I do in times of more difficult hardships or even persecution?

 

My soul knew the answer. It had to keep pushing forward in Him and with Him. But I had no strength on my own. Throughout that five-year process (and counting), I had to take it step by step, soul breath by soul breath.

 

I’m in process, learning to rest on this truth in Jeremiah 20:11 . . .
God is with me like a mighty warrior.

 

Read all the Soul Arrow stories:

 

I’ve had my God- designed wilderness journeys to deconstruct-reconstruct my soul. How about you? These posts can shed some light and encouragement: Soul Remodeling Series: The Wilderness Call, Part 1 and Soul Remodeling Series: The Wilderness Call, Part 2.

 

*Stats on Jordan from biblehub.com

 

CREDIT: Arrow photo by Franck V. on Unsplash

CREDIT: Horse photo by Michael Anfange on Unsplash

CREDIT: Desert photo by Eddie and Carolina Stigson on Unsplash

CREDIT: Ancient coin photo from ancientresource.com

CREDIT: Perfect Love photo by Priscilla DuPreez on Unsplash

CREDIT: Girl Looking Out photo by Edgar Hernandez on Unsplash

Article created July 28, 2015.

Soul Remodeling: Soul Arrow—Saul Paulus

By SoulBreaths Author [ 4 years ago ]

Photo by Franck V. on Unsplash

persecuting zealot—turned God’s messianic servant

© SoulBreaths.com. All rights reserved.

 

Before you begin—click this pop-up for a recap of the Soul Arrow series.

 

READING TIME: 15-20 MINUTES.

 

He’s the famed pharisee whom some Jews and some Christians love to hate. His story—a real page-turner. His name, Saul Paulus from Tarsus.

 

So who exactly was this love-him-or-hate-him Saul Paulus . . . who was privileged and free, yet caged behind bars of religious zealousness, then later caged by man, yet free in the Spirit of God?

 

  • A Jew. From the tribe of Benjamin, born in Tarsus of Cilicia (estimated 10 CE), circumcised on the eighth day, of the nation of Israel, a Hebrew born of Hebrews, in regards to the law, a pharisee—per Saul Paulus in his letter Philippians 3:5 and the book giving an accounting of the first Jewish believers, Acts 22:3
  • A pharisee. Descended from pharisees, a scholar, highly intelligent, moved to Jerusalem to be a talmid (devoted student of the law)—which typically mean beginning by age 16 with deeper study to follow in early 20s until age 25 or 30, potentially putting Saul Paulus in Jerusalem for his rabbinic/pharisaical schooling somewhere between 26-30 CE
  • Educated under the renowned Rabbi Gamaliel. Strictly according to the law of the patriarchs, “being zealous for God”—Rabbi Gamaliel taught from approximately 22 CE to 55 CE and in the more lenient, more welcoming of converts, non-radical, nonviolent tradition of his grandfather, the great Hillel
  • Yet, overzealous, persecuting—students were to become like their masters (rabbis), but Saul Paulus at times appeared more like the stricter, Jews-only traditions of Shammai (a sage opposing Hillel’s more lenient teachings) or in step with the oft blinding pride of the religious Sanhedrin—however, after his messianic conversion, Saul Paulus became more tender, more focused on love, promoting the one-new-man convergence—Jew and Gentile becoming one in Messiah, with joint access to ADONAI, per Amos 9:11-12 and Ephesians 2:14-15, 18, 22
  • Jew and Roman citizen. The Roman citizenship was purchased by his presumed “moderately wealthy” family, hence his Jewish-Roman name, Saul Paulus
  • A tentmaker of goat’s hair. Saul Paulus learned the trade from his father’s successful business and later on employed the trade to bear the expenses of his messianic ministry—Acts 18:3, I Thessalonians 2:9, II Thessalonians 3:8, I Corinthians 4:12, I Corinthians 9:6-18
  • Did not witness or interact with Jesus (Yeshua, Hebrew name) during his years of teaching/miracle works . . . the first time Saul Paulus encountered Jesus is via his Damascene experience with the resurrected/ascended Messiahmy posit for this is shared toward the end of this article

 

STILL A SOUL MATTER

 

He may have had Torah knowledge. Pedigree. Been a rising star among the pharisees.

 

But

his

soul

was

stuck.

Resistant. 

 

Revelation from above alluded him because he was stuck in a religiously spirited mindset. Made his soul stubborn like caliche, filled with cemented-together soil particles that restricted spiritual root growth and God’s river movement.

 

There was no rich soil, no aeration, no room, no flow from His throne so the soul could stretch upward. Sure, Saul Paulus’ dedication to Torah/Tanakh learning was good, painstaking, exhilarating, a worthy life immersed in the things of God.

 

However . . .

 

What God said. I recall the words the L-rd spoke to me back in 2005 as I sat reflective on the lower part of the southern steps in Jerusalem—Herod’s southern extension of the Temple Mount where Jews, including Jesua/Yeshua and the disciples, would have ascended to reach the Temple’s entrance, particularly during Pesach, Shavuot, Sukkot. In fact, these steps are where Jesus often would teach.

 

God’s words to me came with a soul-penetrating vision: Jesus/Yeshua standing beside me on those steps, his long robe, his feet, and an impression of the disciples standing behind him. I followed his gaze, which looked passed me and outward to the city, the people. Then I heard these words from the L-rd:

 

“I gave them the law,
but they loved the law more than Me.”

 

About three years later, the L-rd led me to share His words with an orthodox rabbi—who upon hearing them, sat back, silenced. As I explained it further, along the lines of the following words, he nodded in understanding and agreement. I said, “Adonai gave the law, but the law can become an idol too—anything that takes the place of God is idolatry.”

 

Perhaps Saul Paulus had made that blurry-line transition without knowing it. Perhaps he had became more enthralled by the religious elements, position, and spirituality—the law itself, the halachic steps, the learning, discussions about God, debates, commentaries, Hebraic word plays, standing apart from the masses.

 

Perhaps without realizing it, his world-bound vessel
was more in love with and actually worshipping
the stuff of the law, spiritual gifting, and heritage  . . .
rather than falling in love with and worshipping . . .
God
, the giver.

 

It’s a tricky business: Being spiritually minded, spiritually driven—yet misaligned in the soul. The swelling and swelling of knowledge . . . which can cause deeper fissures in the soul, releasing toxic, legalistic vapors.

 

Manmade laws. Manmade separations. Self-driven interpretations. Performance and self-ambition waif upward, act slick, and claim center stage in the soul.

 

The reality is, studying or talking about someone doesn’t mean you know the person. Studying scripture doesn’t mean you have a personal relationship with the living God. It simply means you’ve been acquiring knowledge—accurate, false, human, divine, or otherwise.

 

His thinking would become heavy/impeded (kaved, kah-vehd,כָּבֵד), like the uncircumcised lips of Moses that almost cost him his calling, uncircumcised hearts of B’nai Israel during the wanderings that cost them entering the land, and the hard heart of Pharoah throughout the ten plagues that cost him his firstborn and much more.

 

Human intellect takes you only so far.

True revelation from spending time seeking God’s heart lifts your soul to His throne and ushers you into His secret place, where His deep calls to your deep, releasing the prophetic.
The unseen that is unveiled
in and through what’s seen.
And that is precisely where God wanted to take Saul Paulus. 

 

YOUNG MAN, YOUNG PHARISEE

 

From early childhood to late teens, Saul Paulus probably studied the gamut: Torah, oral traditions, the rest of the Tanakh—nevi’im/prophets (נביאים) and ketuvim/writings (כְּתוּבִים). But as an excellent, serious student, he went on to further study, which would have included rabbinic interpretation and scripture memorization/possibly scroll writing, then finally, scholarly study under a noted rabbi. As stated earlier, in Saul’s case, it was the famed Rabbi Gamaliel.

 

What did that life look like in the tradition of a first-century pharisee sect? Set apart. Meticulously living the law. Focused. Unmistakably robed. Honored by the majority. At philosophical odds with the Sadducee sect, who denied resurrection of the dead, destiny, and the soul’s permanence.

 

While claiming that everything is affected by destiny, they [pharisees] do not deprive human will of power in these things. For it occurred to God to make a combination and to admit to his counsel the will of men—with its virtue and its vice. Their belief is that there is an undying power in souls and that, under the ground, there is an accounting to reward and punish those who were righteous or unrighteous in life. Eternal punishment is offered to the latter, but re-creation in a new life to the former. —Jewish historian Josephus in his Antiquities

 

Despite all that—or perhaps because of it—Saul had become a dogmatist, fueled by youthful zeal. Not to mention, the heated indoctrinations of some rabbinic teachers, sadducees, and Sanhedrin members who unabashedly made defamatory comments against Jesus.

 

I say some because followers of Jesus included pharisees, sadducees, members of the Sanhedrin, Torah teachers, the wealthy, the poor, the middle class . . . a multitude of Jews from every walk of first-century life.

 

Of course, Jesus had a few things from the Father to say about these men of notoriety . . .

 

In Matthew 23, Jesus  [Yeshua] cautions the people to do what the Torah teachers and Pharisees said since they occupied the “seat of Moses,” but don’t do what they do:

 

“They tie heavy loads onto people’s shoulders but won’t lift a finger to help carry them. Everything they do is done to be seen by others, for they make their tefillin broad and their tzitziyot long, loving the place of honor at banquets and the best seats in the synagogues, being greeted deferentially in the marketplaces, and being called Rabbi.”

 

 

Under your tallit, Adonai, I will find refuge.
TWO SANHEDRIN

Take a look at the religious-political stew Saul Paulus swam in—the same one that confronted Jesus, and later on, railroaded Saul.

 

The political/secular Sanhedrin during this period functioned like a supreme court—with 70 (or 71 counting the president) aristocratic members, who met in a chamber of the Temple or elsewhere, held varying functions per the Roman government’s restrictions, was presided over by a president (the Jewish high priest held this position), heard criminal cases, and could impose capital punishment. (1)

 

There was another Sanhedrin at the time—a religious council called the Great Bet Din (or Bet Din), originated as Kenesset ha-Gedolah/the Great Synagogue during the time of Ezra and Nehemiah—who were regarded as being the highest religious authority. It had two titled officers at the head: a Nasi (“prince,” held by the high priest, but prevented at times from presiding over the meetings) and Av Bet Din (father of the court, the director).

 

The Great Bet Din had 70 members (some Pharisees and/or Sadducees, depending on who held influence at the time) whose qualifications included scholarship, modesty, popularity among their fellow men, as well as being courageous and strong. They sat daily (not on shabbat or feast days) on the southern side of the Temple’s inner court, between morning and evening services. (1)

 

The Great Bet Din supervised over  . . .

 

1. judgment of women charged with adultery (sotah/bitter water drinking)

 

2. any questions/disputes regarding religious law

 

3. ritual acts

 

4. the Temple service

 

5. burning of the Red Heifer

 

6. water purification preparations

 

7. which city would be selected to atone for the body of a murdered person

 

8. harvest tithes

 

No wonder these Pharisees, Sadducees, Sanhedrin rushed to Jesus with coy questions—healing on the sabbath, hand washing, fasting, the adulterous woman, paying taxes, eating the grain from the wheat fields, etc. (Matthew 12, John 8, Luke 11:38-54, Matthew 6:16-18, Luke 18:9-14.)

 

Yet each time, Jesus countered them with the words and actions of the Father . . . and with demonstrations of miraculous power and wisdom beyond their realm.

 

When Jesus [Yeshua] had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at the way he taught, for he was not instructing them like their Torah teachers, but as one who had authority himself.—Matthew 7:28-29

 

SAUL REBORN

 

The regarded Rabbi Gamaliel had one idea of how to handle Messianic Jews . . . later on, Saul Paulus would have his own.

 

But one of the members of the Sanhedrin rose to his feet, a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the Torah highly respected by all the people. He ordered the men be put outside for a little while; he then addressed the court:

 

“Men of Isra’el, take care what you do to these people. Some time ago, there was a rebellion under Todah, who claimed to be somebody special; and a number of men, maybe four hundred, rallied behind him. But upon his being put to death, his whole following was broken up and came to nothing. After this, Y’hudah HaG’lili led another uprising, back at the time of the enrollment for the Roman tax; and he got some people to defect to him. But he was killed, and all his followers were scattered. So in the present case, my advice to you is not to interfere with these people, but to leave them alone. For if this idea or this movement has a human origin, it will collapse. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop them; you might even find yourselves fighting God!

 

They heeded his advice. After summoning the disciples and flogging them, they commanded them not to speak in the name of Jesus [Yeshua], and let them go. The disciples left the Sanhedrin overjoyed at having been considered worthy of suffering disgrace on account of him. And not for a single day, either in the Temple court or in private homes, did they stop teaching and proclaiming the Good News that Jesus [Yeshua] is the Messiah.—Acts 5:34-42

 

That didn’t stop Saul. He oversaw the stoning of Stephen, the first Messianic Jew martyred, and continued to keep his persecuting pedal to the metal.

 

 I persecuted this Way [Messianic Jews] to the death, binding and putting both men and women into prisons, as also the high priest and all the Council of the elders can testify. From them I also received letters to the brethren, and started off for Damascus in order to bring even those who were there to Jerusalem as prisoners to be punished.—admission by Saul Paulus, Acts 22:4-5

 

They [Stephen’s executioners] began yelling at the top of their voices, so that they wouldn’t have to hear him [Stephen]; and with one accord, they rushed at him, threw him outside the city and began stoning him. And the witnesses laid down their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul.—Acts 7:58

 

Saul Paulus was a threat to contend with. But then, God stepped in. It was deconstruction-reconstruction-of-the-soul time.

 

Just as we stand on the shattered tablets of Sinai and hold the second set of whole tablets in our hands, so Saul would be shattered in order to become whole.

 

On his way to Damascus, Saul experiences a physical and a spiritual flash of light. Not a bolt of lightning cracking the sky. It was the glory of the resurrected and risen Messiah, Jesus/Yeshua. A lightning moment that penetrated Saul’s body and soul—his physical and spiritual man—a light that physically blinds him for three days . . . and spiritually awakens him so he can finally, truly see.

 

The intensity of the heavenly lightning equated to the intensity of the calling on Saul’s life. He spends three days wondering where it all would lead. Three days of going from an honored, intellectual pharisee to a stilled soul before God.

 

Saul regains his physical sight and emerges with a radically different spiritual sight. It took years—including three years of solitary time in the desert with God and near abandonment from his fellow messianic believers—to grow through his deconstruction process before his soul was readied for its destiny. A destiny as a chosen vessel to bear the Messiah’s name “before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel,” per Acts 9:15.

 

BECOMING A SERVANT

Saul had lost everything with his conversion and soul reconstruction process. Position. Jewish community. His pharisaical robes. His honor by the majority. Indeed, he now was at odds not only with the Sadducees, but the Pharisees, unbelieving Jews, and Rome itself.

 

Saul, the one who once hunted . . . became the hunted.

 

The one previously seated with the Pharisees and Torah teachers who occupied the “seat of Moses”—per Matthew 23—was unseated from everything he thought and was.

 

He had a new seat at the feet of the Messiah. There, Saul surrendered everything to be deconstructed in order to be reconstructed for a humble purpose in the service of the living God.

 

In fact, he was ecstatic about it. In his letter to the Philippians 3:8-11, Saul writes this:

 

I consider everything a disadvantage in comparison with
the supreme value of knowing the Messiah Jesus [Yeshua] as my Lord.
It was because of him that I gave up everything and regard it all as garbage,
in order to gain the Messiah
 and be found in union with him,
not having any righteousness of my own based on legalism,
but having that righteousness which comes through the Messiah’s faithfulness,
the righteousness from God based on faith.

Yes, I gave it all up in order to know him, that is,
to know the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of his sufferings
as I am being conformed to his death,

so that somehow I might arrive at being resurrected from the dead.

 

CONTEMPORARIES—JESUS, PAUL?

Jesus was crucified around 33 CE. So if Saul Paulus was studying in Jerusalem around 26 CE . . . did the twain ever meet?

 

Probably not. Saul—a young man still in training at the time—may have been somewhat shielded from having his own encounters with the messiah.

 

Why do I suggest that? Several reasons. This deeply intellectual, dedicated-to-detail pharisee never once mentioned hearing or seeing Jesus prior to his Damascus Road experience—and he never mentioned taking part in, hearing, or seeing so much as a smidgen of the 33 CE (estimated) crucifixion proceedings.

 

And when he finally comes to faith in Jesus as messiah, Saul Paulus labels himself as the “least of the apostles and not fit to be called an apostle” because he “persecuted the church of God”—I Corinthians 15:8, 9. If he had heard and debated Jesus’ teachings, joined the pharisaical surges against Jesus, even casted a nod in favor of the crucifixion . . . he certainly would have included such actions in his I Corinthians remorse.

 

Then in Galatians 1:11-12, Saul Paulus says the gospel preached by him was not according to man, not taught to him by man—it was given to him by revelation from the risen Messiah, Jesus [Yeshua, ha Moshiach].

 

So either Saul was sent elsewhere, out of Israel, for a period of time to study (or teach, perhaps back in Cilicia?) or he was shielded in some way from the occasions when Jesus was in Jerusalem.

 

Regardless of how it played out, Saul Paulus—fueled with his well-meaning, but misplaced, zealous fire (or hotheadedness?)—didn’t appear to interact with Jesus until that transformational day when Saul was on the road to Damascus to fulfill his raison d’être, the destruction of Messianic Jews, followers of The Way.

 

Read all the Soul Arrow stories:

 

I’ve had my God- designed wilderness journeys to deconstruct-reconstruct my soul. How about you? These posts can shed some light and encouragement: Soul Remodeling Series: The Wilderness Call, Part 1 and Soul Remodeling Series: The Wilderness Call, Part 2.

 

(1) Information on the political/secular and religious Sanhedrin is from various sources presented on the site http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/13178-sanhedrin

CREDIT: ARROW PHOTO BY FRANCK V. ON UNSPLASH

Article created October 14, 2015.
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