SoulBreaths

Combat Zone Series: Part 1—Your Soul

By SoulBreaths Author [ 1 year 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.

 

IN A BEGINNING

 

Mine, that is. One word kept popping up through my life: soul. And it’s been unshakably linked to my longtime subterranean awareness of God—regardless of my life choices.

 

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. Derailing me, away from His plan and goodness, away from the Light of the world.

 

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

 

It’s those back-and-forth struggles that can get frustrating, right? Understanding what’s going on behind the scenes of your soul’s battle can help . . .

 
 

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 with a gazillion subplots—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. After all, 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 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

Combat Zone Series: Part 3—Rules of Engagement

By SoulBreaths Author [ 1 year 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 three posts in 2020. Judaic scripture number references used with Christian numbering in parentheses, when it’s different.]

 

SUGGEST READING PARTS 1 & 2 FIRST: COMBAT ZONE: PART 1—YOUR SOUL and COMBAT ZONE: PART 2—SOUL NUANCES

 

READING TIME: 8 MINUTES.

 

Symbiotic. That’s what some rabbis say about the soul-body matrix. You are a God-breathed soul with three nuances—breath, spirit/wind that rises/descends, and “rested” life force—clothed in a body that’s from the earth and tethered to this world.

 

Your soul is called upward, the body downward. And so the battle ensues, along with a host of other factors that complicate your soul story.

 

RULES OF ENGAGEMENT

 

The good news: In those firefly-like moments when the true light of God flows unhindered through your soul-breath, the entire soul-body matrix works in tandem, emanates His ways, becomes a menorah, a witness of His light to the world.

 

Actually, you, me, and the next guy are all called to be more than a menorah of light—we’re called to love and worship Him in truth and in spirit, becoming His menorah of true light, reflecting that great light of His Word to the world around us. Connecting . . . resting . . . gently listening, humbly serving, loving/honoring Him and others.

 

Proverbs 20:27 Man’s soul [nishmat, variant of Soul Nuance #1, neshama] is a lamp of ADONAI, which searches out all of the innermost parts.

 

To be honest, being a menorah of His light may sometimes—who are we kidding?—okay, may oftentimes feel like a TALL order. Depending on what’s going on in my world, that can feel more like a massively how-can-I-possibly-do-that order.

 

But here’s the deal: Sin (rebellion against God’s way of living/doing things) can, in time, erode the connection between your soul-breath and God.

 

That can cause your soul to disengage from the things of God and that Soul Nuance #3, the self-driven nefesh, to negatively attach itself, saddling up to the “flesh”—your rogue, world-driven body.

 

A little compromise here. An ignoring of God there. Toying with this. Hanging around that. In time, the flesh becomes so strong in its earthbound desires that it pulls your soul away from God’s ways so even doctrines of demons—guised as light, acceptable social mores at odds with God’s standards—can seep into your soul.

 

Darkening it, hardening it, and blinding your spiritual sight. A hostile takeover, indeed.

 

That’s why it’s so critical to learn the rules of engagement for the soul battle down here.

 

RULES OF ENGAGEMENT #1: SECURE YOUR POSITION

 

God says throughout His Word that humanity is disconnected from Him. The words and concept behind His “there are none righteous” warnings occur in numerous scriptures, such as:

 

Genesis 8:21b, Ecclesiastes 7:20, Isaiah 59:1-2, Isaiah 64:6, Psalm 14: 2-3, Psalm 53: 3-4, Jeremiah 17:9-10, Romans 3:23, Romans 3:10, Romans 8:6, among others.

 

But God is love, merciful, and l-o-n-g-suffering. So He made a way to restore that relationship with Him. There were temporary measures at first—blood sacrifices that had to be repeated daily, annually.

 

But those were mere shadows of what was coming, the greatest gift . . . a one-time holy sacrifice. A doorway giving us access to the Father, to the King of Kings.

 

Fulfilling the soul’s journey begins with receiving the restoration gift from God: Jesus. From there, your soul grows and is transformed by letting your soul [neshama], its wind/spirit [ruach] rest [nafash/nefesh] within the fibers of His presence, His Word, His ways . . . being hidden in Him, where you’re surrendered. Total white-flag territory.

 

It’s where your soul-body matrix gets into sync,
working as a whole with God, bowing before Him.

 


God’s way of restoring relationship with Him:

“I am the Truth, the Life, the Way . . . no man comes to the Father except through me.”

— John 14:6. The Messiah, Jesus (Yeshua, his Hebrew name)


 

RULES OF ENGAGEMENT #2: HONOR YOUR KING, YOUR COMMANDER IN CHIEF

 

It’s our human default to lean on our own understanding and to even get caught up in the emotions and mindset of the world at large.

 

But a good soldier needs to stand under his commander.

 

This slight paraphrase of Isaiah 8: 12-14 helps draw some clear-thinking guidelines. I’ve fleshed out the meanings of “fear” and “awed” from the Hebrew for a better visual.

 

Don’t fear (be shaken, swept into conspiracies) what people fear (call conspiracies) nor give strength to it
or be awed (shaken terribly, oppressed) by what awes them.
Let G-d be the object of your awe (trembling holy fear) . . .
consecrate Him.
He alone is to be your sanctuary.

 

RULES OF ENGAGEMENT #3: FOLLOW YOUR COMMANDER’S LEAD

 

For this battle, your nefesh—that Soul Nuance known as the life force that can cling, negatively or positively—needs to obey orders. Clinging to God means He’s in front and you’re behind Him. That’s how you stay in position. This psalm leads the way, showing in the Hebrew what the nefesh is clinging to . . .

 

Psalm 63:2, 9 (1, 8) . O God, You are my God, I seek You. My soul [Soul Nuance nefesh] thirsts for You, in an arid and thirsty land, without water. My soul [nefesh] clings to your hind parts; Your righteous right hand upholds me.

 

RULES OF ENGAGEMENT #4: KEEP YOUR EYES RIGHTLY FOCUSED

 

You are battling on two main fronts—the spiritual world (your soul against the principalities and powers of the enemy) and the physical world. Like in any war, things shift, take on different patterns.

 

Do you know what you’re really seeing—or is it a delusion, a camouflage? There’s only one way to hold your position while waiting for intel about what’s really going on in a realm you can’t physically see or physically touch. Stay mindful, focused, in God’s presence.

 

“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:18

 

What is unseen . . . is God. Yet you are called to fix your soul’s eyes on Him, the Eternal One, to see more clearly in the battles down here. To not lose heart.

 

Although the body (“outer man”) is decaying and warring, your inner essence, your soul’s nuances (breath from God/neshama, spirit/ruach, inner living substance/nefesh) is being renewed day by day in Him.

 

The next two scriptures reveal what your stance should be in battle . . . do what you He has ordered to the best of your ability, then STAND. Confidently, boldly in Him. Even (and especially) when the next order is to simply wait.

 

“Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”—Joshua 1:9.

 

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.
 

Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand firm therefore . . .”—Ephesians 6:10-14a.

 

God’s not asking you or me to stand on ceremony, get caught up in religious acts or rituals (He gave the Law, but we’re not supposed to love the Law over Him—that’s idolatry), or drown our souls in legalism. He created our souls to breathe out and breathe in a genuine love for Him.

 

What God wants is a restored relationship with Him, walking in His truth, His Word, and His love.

 

Photo by Piotr Wilk on Unsplash

Be prepared. In season and out of season.

 

RULES OF ENGAGEMENT #5: KNOW YOUR WEAPON

 

Go through basic training and refresher trainings with your weapon (the Word of God), just like a soldier needs to qualify for live-fire drills—and the real thing. And this battle you and I are in daily is always the real deal.

 

SO STAY IN HIS WORD. It is life, it is renewing, it is Truth that will show you where to walk and help you not be derailed in your soul journey down here.

 

Check out this insightful passage from the New Testament (the Soul Nuances are inserted to help connect the dots for you) . . .

 

Hebrews 4:12. See, the Word of God is alive! It is at work and is sharper than any double-edged sword — it cuts right through to where soul meets spirit [dividing where the Soul Nuances of neshama, ruach/spirit, and nefesh intersect] and where joints meet marrow [dividing where your vessel/body’s inner parts intersect], and it is quick to judge the inner reflections and attitudes of the heart.

 

PRAYER! Full-on, distractions blocked. Prayer is warfare in the spiritual realm. It’s where the war is won, really. With that, I’d strongly add worship since worship is battle—and it is prayer. The two work together, interlocked for intense spiritual fighting, using both simultaneously.

 

James 5:16 nails it simply: The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.

 

So crank up powerful worship music, grab your Bible, humble yourself before the Lord, and get to it! Sing-pray through the attacks, valleys, and even on those mountaintops to keep a lookout and get prepared in season and out of season.

 

[Recommendation: My go-to music is Rick Pino’s worship songs—from his warfare albums to his stirring songs before the Lord. Hands down, he is an anointed worship leader and his team is amazing. I had the privilege of meeting him briefly after one of his musical events in Santa Rosa, CA when I lived in the Bay. God had used Rick’s music to get me through a deeply difficult time.]

 

RULES OF ENGAGEMENT #6: KEEP COMMUNICATION LINES OPEN

 

This is soul-to-soul communication, yours and God’s. Report what’s going on, what you see, what you’ve done, what you need—and wait for God to respond and lead. Sometimes you aren’t to speak—just still your soul and listen.

 

Psalm 42:7, a downtrodden soul [Soul Nuance nefesh per the line prior] calls out to God: Deep [tehom, תְּהוֹם, subterranean waters of the soul] is calling to deep at the thunder of Your waterfalls; all Your surging rapids and waves are sweeping over me.

 

Photo by Phil Botha on Unsplash

Deep calls to deep at the thunder of His waterfalls

 

There, in the deep part of your soul, humbled and hungry to reach His soul’s deep, is where holy communication is sparked, where you discover yet another layer of who He is, what He is, where He’s moving, how He’s guiding you, what He’s saying to you for this season of your life. It’s where you’ll swim in the glorious waterfall that flows from His throne and releases . . .

 

revelations
prophecies
words of knowledge
wisdom
discernment & understanding
provisions
love
mercy & grace
long-suffering
His consuming fire

 

RULES OF ENGAGEMENT #7: STAY ALERT, THE ENEMY IS ON THE PROWL

 

Actually, he’s always on the prowl with his wicked trickery, looking for more spiritually slumbering victims. So don’t get caught in so-called spirituality—as the term is used in the world today—that brashly proclaims there are “many ways to God.”

 

You won’t find God’s truth in rote mantras, transcendental meditation, crystals, astrology, tarot cards, or trance-like states, and the rest of the “New” Age and one-world religious system. etc. Same goes for fashioning your version of God . . . that’s called idolatry.

 

Securing your position in Him is all about connecting with Him on His terms and His Word, not the world’s, not yours, not mine. God has made His terms clear from Genesis onward, revealing His holy character, His holy desires, His holy ways.

 

READ THIS FINAL COMBAT ZONE POST WITH A FILM NOIR BENT. COMBAT ZONE: PART 4—SOUL VIA A FILM NOIR LENS

 

SCRIPTURES: BE ENCOURAGED

 

Exodus 34:6 Then the LORD passed by in front of him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth.

 

Lamentations 3:22-23 The LORD’S lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.

 

Deuteronomy 31:6 Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.

 

Deuteronomy 6:5 & Matthew 22:37. You are to love Adonai your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.

 

Matthew 11:29. [And Jesus/Yeshua said] Come to me, all of you who are struggling and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

 

John 4:23-24. But the hour is coming—indeed, it’s here now—when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is spirit and those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.

 

CREDIT: Sniper Girl photo by Piotr Will on Unsplash.com

CREDIT: Waterfall photo by Phil Botha on Unsplash.com

Resurrection, Real or Not: Part 1—What God Revealed

By SoulBreaths Author [ 1 year 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: 5 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 (future of) days—called acharit ha-yamim in Hebrew, אחרית הימים—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.

 
 
BIBLE-TWINKLE LIGHTS - timothy-eberly-y88JWjn-s1E-unsplash copy
 
 

THE 4-1-1 SCRIPTURE BRIEF

 

Here they are . . . 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’s (Yeshua’s) resurrection.The most powerful 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.

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

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.

 

It all comes down to this: God is sovereign. He sits on the throne as judge—both justice and mercy. But for the mercy part, you need to be living according to His divine plan for your soul, His roadmap—not doing your own thing or believing your version of what He said.

 
 
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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.
The Restorer, Repairer, Healer.
The Redeemer. The Messiah.

 

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’s Resurrection

Why A Bodily Resurrection

His Righteousness Can Be Yours

 

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, Real or Not: Part 2b—Real-Life Accounts Cont’d

By SoulBreaths Author [ 1 year 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: 6 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 LAZARUS—FOUR 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’s Resurrection

Why A Bodily Resurrection

His Righteousness Can Be Yours

 

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, Real or Not: Part 3—The Resurrection Thunderbolt From Heaven

By SoulBreaths Author [ 1 year ago ]

Rolled stone from tomb

The resurrection event that shifted the world and eternity in one mighty move—on both sides of the Judaic-Messianic bridge: Jesus of Nazereth.

 

© 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

 

This resurrection event—factual, real, historic—was heaven thunderbolting our earthly dimension. Victorious over death’s grip . . . physically and spiritually.  For your soul and everyone who ever lived.

 

Unlike the other resurrected people mentioned in the Bible, Jesus didn’t have to die a second time. He conquered death.

 

JESUS (YESHUA): JEWISH MESSIAH
THE LEAD-UP 

 

It was prophesied. He was to suffer. You may even know the Isaiah 53 Messianic prophecy—given 700 years before it was fulfilled. The same prophecy rabbinic sages knew . . .

 

The arm of the Lord (his salvation power, Messiah) would be wounded (pierced) for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities . . . upon him was the punishment that brought us peace . . . by his wounds, his scourging, we are healed.

 

It is the glorious and unimaginable plan of God. His Messiah, holy and blameless, yet oppressed and afflicted.

 

And us, Jew and Gentile—both fractured like those shattered tablets of Moses, yet made whole in our Messiah, the one sent by God.

 

That fractured state—our sin—was the reason the crucifixion was needed.

 

Because no one does what is right . . . our best works are viewed as “filthy menstrual rags” before our Holy God: Genesis 8:21b, I Kings 8:46, Ecclesiastes 7:20, Isaiah 59:1-2, Psalm 14:23, Psalm 53: 2-4 (3-5), and many others.

 

So ultimately, it was God’s love that put the Messiah on the cross.

 

Not the Jewish authorities.

Not Roman rule.

Not the angry mob.

 

Jesus (Yeshua, his Hebrew name) makes it clear in John 10:17-18:

 

For this reason the Father loves me,
because I lay down my life
that I may take it up again.
No one takes it from me,
but I lay it down of my own accord.
I have authority to lay it down,
and I have authority to take it up again.
This charge I have received from my Father.

 

Jesus/Yeshua became the way for us—the only way—to bridge a restoration, an eternal relationship with the eternal God.

 

He was a Tzadik, a righteous person. Fulfiller of the Law and Messianic prophecies. Teacher. Healer. Miracle worker.

 

God’s Truth manifested on Earth . . . the Light of heaven piercing humanity’s darkness.

 

Born a Jew, Jesus/Yeshua lived as a Jew—and was crucified as King of the Jews.

 

But he resurrected as King of Kings, Lord of all.

 

In sync with what Isaiah 35:5-6 said about the Messiah, Jesus made the blind see, the deaf hear, the mute speak . . . and he cleansed the lepers, healed the sick, delivered people from demonic possession—and raised the dead.

 

John, an early disciple of Jesus/Yeshua says in the last line of his gospel account: Jesus also did many other things. If all of them were to be written one by one, I suppose that the whole world couldn’t contain the books that would be written. —John 21:25

 

Many Pharisees, even some members of the Sanhedrin, and multitudes of Jewish lay people and others witnessed these fulfillments, recognizing and believing that Jesus was (and is) the Jewish Messiah, the Son of God.

 

But other Jewish authorities didn’t . . .

 

 

COUNTERPOINT

 

The proverbial pot brewed to a feisty, rolling boil. The top three reasons why the Jewish authorities were nearing the brink . . .

 

Reason #1: Truth Spoken. Many of the Jewish authorities of the day flowed in pride and religiosity and burdened the people with added laws and demands. Jesus, the voice of God, called them out on it—many times.

 

At one point he referenced Isaiah, saying he’d prophesied right about them:

 

And the Lord said:
“Because this people has come near;
with their mouth and with their lips they honor Me,
but their heart they draw far away from Me,
and their fear [reverence] of Me
has become precepts of people
[doctrines of human origin].”
—Isaiah 29:13, Matthew 15:8-9

 

Jesus also called them “blind leaders of the blind” (Matthew 15:14) and
said they appeared righteous on the outside but were full of hypocrisy and wickedness on the inside. Like whitewashed tombs—appearing clean but dead within.

 

“The scribes and the Pharisees sit in the seat of Moses;
therefore all that they tell you, do and observe,
but do not do according to their deeds;
for they say things and do not do them.

They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men’s shoulders,
but they themselves aren’t willing to lift a finger to move them.

But they do all their deeds to be noticed by men;
for they broaden their tefillin (phylacteries)
and lengthen their tzitziyot (garment tassels)
.

They love the place of honor at banquets
and the chief seats in the synagogues,
they love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces
and to be called rabbi by others
.”
Matthew 23:2-7

 

Reason #2: Rome. The throngs of people in the street following Jesus . . . the hot debates erupting among the crowds about whether or not Jesus was the Messiah . . . the Pharisees butting up against Jesus and his followers . . . were all catching the unwanted attention of Rome who demanded obedience from their conquered population—not commotion or unrest.

 

The last thing the Sanhedrin wanted was their distinguished perch rocked.

 

Reason #3: Miracles. The movement of God couldn’t be stopped. Everywhere Jesus walked, he said what the Lord told him to say, did what he saw the Father doing, and prayed what the Father prayed.

 

Healings and miracles resulted. But the tipping point happened when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead—because Lazarus had been in the tomb four days.

 

In fact, the chief priests wanted to kill Lazarus just as much as they wanted to kill Jesus since even more Jews were now believing Jesus was the Messiah.

 

So they forged a plan. One that dovetailed into Messianic prophecy.

 

Therefore the chief priests and the Pharisees
convened a council and were saying,
“What are we doing? For this man is performing many signs.
If we let Him go on like this, all men will believe in Him,
and the Romans will come and take away both our place
and our nation
.”

But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year,
said to them, “You know nothing at all,
nor do you take into account that
it is expedient for you that one man die for the people,
and that the whole nation not perish.”

Now he did not say this on his own initiative,
but being high priest that year,
he prophesied that Jesus was going to die for the nation,
and not for the nation only,
but in order that He might also gather together into one
the children of God who are scattered abroad.

 

So from that day on they planned together to kill Him.
—John 11:47-53

 
tom-barrett-7FNOH-qSxMI-unsplash
 

THE CRUCIFIXION

 

It was a holy journey of love . . . paved with treachery. Jesus was taken in the night to stand before the High Priest Caiphus and the Sanhedrin.

 

He was struck by a soldier, later blindfolded and mocked, spat on. By morning, he was marched to Pontius Pilate, handed over to Herod, and afterward brought back to Pilate, where he was flogged.

 

The Roman flagrum:
a short whip with several heavy leather thongs—
with two small balls of lead attached near each end.

 

The “heavy whip is brought down with full force” repeatedly
across the shoulders, back, and legs.

The whip cuts through the skin,
then deep into subcutaneous tissues,
eventually spurting arterial bleeding.

The skin of the back is hanging in long ribbons . . .
an unrecognizable mass of bleeding tissue.

[Roman whipping information from the Dr. C. Truman Davis article
“A Physician’s View of the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ”]

 

Per John 19:2-3 and Matthew 27:28-32: The governor’s soldiers stripped Jesus of his clothes, put a purple robe on him, twisted thorn branches into a crown and placed it on his head—causing tremendous bleeding—and put a stick in his right hand, kneeling before him mockingly saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!”

 

They spit on him and used the stick to beat him about his head. Then they removed the robe—an excruciating moment as it tore against his deep wounds—and redressed him in his clothes before leading him through Jerusalem in his extremely fragile state.

 

Their destination: a place called Gulgotha [the Skull], outside the city.

 

Roman soldiers drove iron nails through Jesus’ wrists and feet. Pilate ordered a sign be posted on the cross in three languages, Hebrew, Latin, Greek: Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.

 

I am poured out like water, and all My bones are out of joint;
My heart is like wax; it has melted within Me.
My strength is dried up like a potsherd,
and My tongue clings to My jaws;
You have brought Me to the dust of death.
For dogs have surrounded Me;
the assembly of the wicked has enclosed Me.
They pierced My hands and My feet;
I can count all My bones.
They look and stare at Me.
—Psalm 22:14-17,
prophetically written by King David about the Messiah’s death

 

It was Friday, a day of preparation for the Shabbat [Sabbath]—a special one because it was Passover week. The Jewish leaders didn’t want the bodies remaining on the crucifixion stake passed sundown—Jesus’ body and those of the two criminals crucified on other side of him.

 

So they asked Pilate to hasten the deaths of the three men by breaking their legs. The soldiers first broke the legs of the men on either side of Jesus, but when they went to Jesus, they saw that he was already dead.

 

One soldier took his sword and pierced Jesus’ side. Immediately, blood and water poured out. He died without one of his bones broken, fulfilling Psalm 34.

 

Joseph of Arimathea—a Jew, a man of means, a respected member of the council, and a follower of Jesus—asked Pilate for Jesus’ body. Pilate granted him permission.

 

Joseph and another Jew, Nicodemus—a Pharisee, member of the Sanhedrin, and follower of Jesus (John 3)—took the Messiah’s body, wrapped it in linen sheets with the myrrh-and-aloes spices, in accordance with Judean burial practice, and placed the body in a new tomb (previously purchased by Joseph of Arimathea for himself), located in a nearby garden.

 

Afterward, a huge stone locked the entrance—and Pilate placed soldiers to guard the tomb, worried about the stories of Jesus’ promised resurrection.

 

jon-tyson-XmMsdtiGSfo-unsplash

 

GLORIOUS RESURRECTION

 

Early on the first day of the week—Sunday—when it was still dark, Miriam from Magdala along with Miriam (the mother of James), and Salome went to the tomb in hopes of finding someone to roll the stone away, so they could anoint the body with spices. [Mark 16]

 

But the stone was already rolled away.

 

Miriam Magdala ran to tell the disciples Peter and John, who immediately went to the tomb and saw that it was empty. Not understanding, they returned home, perplexed. Miriam stood outside the tomb crying, then bent down and peered into the tomb.

 

Two angels sat where the body of Jesus had been—one at the head and one at the feet.

 

Familiar, right? Like the two angels facing one another on top of the Arc of the Covenant.

 

“Why are you crying?” the angels asked Miriam.

“They took my Lord, and I don’t know where they’ve put him,” she cried.

Just then, she turned and saw Jesus standing there.

 

In the evening of the same day—the first day of the week—the disciples were gathered behind a locked door, fearful of the Judeans.

 

Jesus appeared, stood in the middle, and said, “Peace be upon you!”
He showed them his hands and his pierced side.

 

Throughout the next forty days, he appeared to many people, per convincing proofs, and spoke of things regarding the Kingdom of God.

 

He appeared to  . . .

 

(1) several women immediately afterward (Miriam Magdala, Miriam, Salome, Joanna)

(2) Simon Peter

(3) his disciples at various times (e.g. in an upper room and at the Sea of Galilee and on a mountain in the Galil)

(4) two disciples on the Emmaus Road

(5) James, his half brother

(6) over 500 people at the same time (1 Corinthians 15:6)

 

While he was blessing the disciples, Jesus ascended into heaven, returning back to the Father. His followers evidenced him being taken up into a cloud (Acts 1).

 

His ascension was witnessed by his disciples: Simon (Kefa/Peter), Andrew, John, Ya’akov ben Zavdi (James, son of Zebedee), Philip, Bartholomew (Nathanael, Bar-Talmai), T’oma (Thomas), Mattityahu (Matthew), Ya’akov bar-Halfai (James, son of Alphaeus), Simon the Zealot, and Taddai (Thaddeus, also known as Judas—not Iscariot, but the son of James).

 

Right afterward, two men clad in white robes said to his followers:
“Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven?
This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven,
will so come back just as you saw Him go into heaven.”

 

And there’s so much more to that story . . . coming in a future series.

 

But for now, let’s talk about you.

 
franck-v-0La7MwJhSyo-unsplash
 

BACK TO YOU

 

The Messianic prophecies in the Bible (108 minimal, some classify 300 or more) point in just one direction—Jesus (Yeshua).

 

The chance of fulfilling just 16 [of the minimal 108 Messianic prophecies] is 1 in 1045. Accidentally fulfilling the prophecies is “beyond the realm of possibility,” per Lamb and Lion Ministries’ website.

 

Multitudes of people in the first century CE, from Jewish leaders and lay people to Gentiles, recognized Jesus as the Jewish Messiah sent from God.

 

But others considered the miracles and said he must be John the Baptist (who had been beheaded much earlier per Herod’s orders) or one of the ancient prophets, Elijah or Jeremiah.

 

And now there’s you . . .

 

Jesus asks you the same
soul-transforming question
that he asked his disciples

(Matthew 16:13-17):
But who do you say I am?

 

* * *

 

READ THE NEXT POST IN THE SERIES

Rabbi Scholars Defend Jesus’s Resurrection

Why A Bodily Resurrection

His Righteousness Can Be Yours

 

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

 

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

 

RELATED RESOURCE

Here’s more in English/Hebrew about Isaiah 53 at One for Israel Ministry

 

CREDIT: Blue/Red Chairs photo by Chris Barbalis on Unsplash.com

CREDIT: Storm-light clouds photo by Tom Barrett on Unsplash.com

CREDIT: Good News photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash.com

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

 

Soul Remodeling Series: The Wilderness Call, Part 1

By SoulBreaths Author [ 2 years 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: Joseph

By SoulBreaths Author [ 5 years ago ]

Seeing you as G-d sees you.

JOSEPH

favor lost, favor regained—in spite of himself

 

© SoulBreaths.com. All rights reserved.

 

First—click this pop-up for a 1-2-3 recap of God's soul-wilderness tactic.

 

READING TIME: 6 MINUTES.

 

Position doesn’t just happen. It’s given by God. Joseph’s prophetic dreams aren’t a free pass to ride the tails of his royal or priest-like, multi-colored coat.

 

The word for 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—signifying his soul being brought down to a lowly place spiritually.

 

A place where he’ll become deconstructed and then reconstructed into the holy.

 

Where Joseph would first have to become one with his barrenness (personal desert experience).

 

Unshackled from all he feels due him.

Freed from 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.

 

tony-eight-media-iy34kwDyJ4E-unsplash

 

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 so appreciate Joseph’s soul moment. It’s the stuff these biblical soul-arrow stories are made of.

 

All 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.
 

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

 

Finally Joseph 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 Remodeling 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: 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: Moses

By SoulBreaths Author [ 5 years ago ]

Seeing you as G-d sees you.

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

 

©SoulBreaths.com. All rights reserved.

 

First—click this pop-up for a 1-2-3 recap of God's soul-wilderness tactic.

 

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 through Moses’s soul when he 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.

 

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.

 

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. 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’.

 

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 Remodeling 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: 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: Jeremiah

By SoulBreaths Author [ 5 years ago ]

Seeing you as G-d sees you.

JEREMIAH (YIRMEYAHU)

Running with Horses

accidental prophet—cohen (priest) turned vessel of holy fire

© SoulBreaths.com. All rights reserved.

 

First—click this pop-up for a 1-2-3 recap of God's soul-wilderness tactic.

 

READING TIME: 8 MINUTES.

 

Personally, I really like 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. And 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


 

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 siege.

 

But the Southern Kingdom, Judah, wasn’t so quick to learn from the idolatrous falterings of its fellow tribesmen.

 

According to the Lord: Truth had perished—vanished from their lips. They clung to deceit, no one repented, they refused to return to the Lord’s ways. Each pursued their own course like a horse charging into battle.

 

And so, along came God’s love call to His nation: Jeremiah.

 

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 Lord 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

 

Jeremiah would be strategically placed in God’s archery bow—launched into dark moments taking him to near death. Yet along the way, spiritually transformed deeper and deeper and deeper still.

 

Jeremiah, a prophetic voice to a rebellious nation.
A cohen, standing in for Judah before the Lord.
God’s relentless love would trigger
deconstruction (tearing down/captivity) to breathe forth
reconstruction (humbled souls realigned with Him,
a return to their Land,
and Temple restoration).

 

For twenty years, Jeremiah sounds the alarm of the impending seventy-year Babylonian captivity—which is gradual, done in waves, beginning around 605 BCE, taking princes (like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, Azariah) for positions. Then toward the end, the captors deport the poorest of the poor Judeans as slaves.

 

photo by Eddie & Carolina Stigson on Unsplash

 

LIKE MOSES, FEELING UNREADY

 

Jeremiah’s calling wouldn’t be easy. He pretty much knows that going in. What’s 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.

 

Human viewpoint would say that a man trained in spiritual matters, matured, married, and long observant in his priestly duties is far better suited to attempt the task.

 

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

He may have a cohen lineage,
but he’d yet to personally know the power of God.

The journey wasn’t ever about Jeremiah’s strength, knowledge,
bloodline, or abilities.

It was—and always will be—about God and His strength,
plan, power, will.

 

iStock_000002760657Small fire ice

 

FIRE IN THE SOUL

 

This isn’t a mission designed for a single man. God is working in Jeremiah’s soul for his own edification—while working through Jeremiah for Judah’s soul.

 

Making Jeremiah a fire-and-ice instrument in God’s hands.

 

A prophetic 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 seething 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.

 

At times Jeremiah is sad, angry, appalled, and even feels abandoned by God. Other times he’s overcome with grace, mercy, and hope, empowered by His presence.

 

Don’t know about you, but that emotional flip-flop 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
entangled with your earth-focused vessel.

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

 

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, gloriously 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.

 
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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 return 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—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 Remodeling 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: Horse photo by Michael Anfange on Unsplash

CREDIT: Desert photo by Eddie and Carolina Stigson on Unsplash

CREDIT: Girl Looking Out photo by Edgar Hernandez on Unsplash

Article created July 28, 2015.

Soul Remodeling: Saul Paulus

By SoulBreaths Author [ 5 years ago ]

Seeing you as G-d sees you.

persecuting zealot—turned God’s messianic servant

© SoulBreaths.com. All rights reserved.

 

First—click this pop-up for a 1-2-3 recap of God's soul-wilderness tactic.

 

READING TIME: 9 MINUTES.

 

He’s the famed pharisee who 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? The guy who was privileged and free—yet caged behind bars of religious zealousness. The guy who later would be caged by man—but amazingly set free in the Spirit of God.

 

Let’s start here . . .

 

SAUL PAULUS: THE 4-1-1

 

  • 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 began 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 shortly after 30 CE.
  •  

  • Educated under the renowned Rabbi Gamaliel. Saul, as an excellent, serious student, would have gone deeper into his studies, including rabbinic interpretation and scripture memorization, possibly scroll writing, then finally, scholarly study under the famed Rabbi Gamaliel.
     
    The Rabbi taught strictly according to the law of the patriarchs—”being zealous for God”—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 . . . although it wasn’t unusual for Jews to have both a Hebrew name and a Roman/Latinized one.
  •  

  • 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 the Messiah’s years of teaching/miracle works . . . the first time Saul Paulus encountered Jesus is via his Damascene experience with the resurrected/ascended Messiah, per Acts 9.
     
    He would later write in 1 Corinthians 15:8 that he was “untimely born”—the other apostles had walked with Jesus and witnessed the miracles and all the other eternal-shifting events. And he viewed himself as the “least of the apostles” and “not fit to be called an apostle” because he “persecuted the church of God.”

 

But now the rest of his story.

 
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SOUL MATTER

 

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

 

But

his

soul

was

stuck.

Resistant.

Turned around.

 

Sure, his dedication to Torah/Tanakh learning was good, painstaking, exhilarating, a worthy life immersed in the things of God.

 

But then I recall something the Lord had said to me. 

 

It was 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, Jesus (Yeshua) often taught on those same steps.

 

God’s words came to me along with a soul-penetrating vision: Jesus 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 Lord:

 

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

 

About three years later, the Lord led me to share His words with an orthodox rabbi at a synagogue I’d attended now and then. When he’d heard those words, he sat back, silenced.

 

As I explained it further, he nodded, understanding and agreeing.

 

I’d told him that 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’d 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.

 

And 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.

 

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

 

Just consider what the life of a first-century pharisee looked like:

 

Set apart.

Meticulously living the law.

Focused.

Unmistakably robed.

Honored by the majority.

 

And at philosophical odds with the Sadducee sect, who denied resurrection of the dead, destiny, and the soul’s permanence.

 

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 (Yeshua).

 

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.

 
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TWO SANHEDRIN


 

Take a look at the religious-political stew Saul Paulus swam in—the same milieu 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.

 

It 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). It 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).

 

Qualifications? 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 . . . women charged with adultery, religious-law disputes, ritual acts, Temple service, burning the Red Heifer, water-purification prep, city selection for atonement of a murdered person, harvest tithes.

 

No wonder these Pharisees, Sadducees, Sanhedrin had rushed to Jesus (Yeshua) 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 had countered them with the words of the Father . . . and with demonstrations of miraculous power and wisdom beyond their realm. Leaving them speechless. See Matthew 7:28-29.

 

And now, these so-called esteemed authorities were the molding the mind of Saul Paulus—particularly regarding Jewish believers who were followers of the crucified (resurrected and ascended) Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth.

 
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SAUL: ZEALOT EXTREMES


 

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 Paulus..

 

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

 

 
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SAUL: REBORN

 

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.

 
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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.

 

Read all the Soul Remodeling 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: Tree by Martin Brechtl on Unsplash.

CREDIT: Torah Scroll photo by Taylor Wilcox on Unsplash.

CREDIT: Stone Pile photo by Markus Spiskeon on Unsplash.

CREDIT: Man’s Arm/Light photo by Elia Pellegrini on Unsplash.

CREDIT: Humbled Man photo by Ben White on Unsplash.

 

Article created October 14, 2015.

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