SoulBreaths

God’s Story Lens: Beginnings within Beginnings [Part 3]

By SoulBreaths Author [ 1 year ago ]

 

Continuing the story dig. After reading Parts 1 and 2 of this “beginning within a beginning” blog series, jump into this Part 3—walking the bridge from Genesis 1:1 to its messianic connection.

 

This series is related to a spiritual call (started in the early 90s) for me to walk a bridge—from the Judaic camp reaching out to the Messianic/Christian camp and then vice versa—crisscrossing it, realizing and later sharing who and what the real bridge is. Walk with me to discover God’s revelations and passionate plan for our souls.

 

© SoulBreaths.com. All rights reserved.

 

SUGGEST READING THIS FIRST: Beginnings within Beginnings [Part 1] and Beginnings within Beginnings [Part 2]

 

READING TIME: 4 MINUTES

 

From page one of the Bible, God is on the move. His love revealed. He speaks forth creation for the sake of His redemption story . . . for a humanity who has yet to be created.

 

A humanity who will rebel against His ways, refuse to surrender to Him, and recant their promises to Him.

 

And yet, His mercies endure forever. His love, the motivating factor in all that He does.

 

With a WORD, God created His story, this dimension, space, order, time, this beginning within a beginning. This beginning that is unfolding, contracting, stretching out and beginning again. Our sovereign God who loves to create . . . who desires to continually bring forth new things in line with His purpose and holy desire.

 

Rabbinic teaching says that the WORD God spoke did the actual creation. But this WORD did more than tell His story . . . it came from WITHIN Him, embodying and performing both the creative process and the world’s REDEMPTIVE process.

 
 

By the word of the Lord the heavens were made,

and by the breath of his mouth all their host.

He gathers the waters of the sea as a heap;

he puts the deeps in storehouses.

Let all the earth fear the Lord;

let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him!

For he spoke, and it came to be;

he commanded, and it stood firm.

Psalm 33:6-9

 
 

By faith we understand that the universe was created

by the word of God,

so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.

—Hebrews 11:3

 
 

But who or what is this WORD that “came from the Father”? And since creation is part and parcel of God’s redemption story, what part does this WORD play?

 

Let’s continue strolling both sides of the bridge to discover God’s mystery and riches in the WORD, in the one whom all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden.

 
 

 
 

WALK WITH ME: AND HE SPOKE

 

Just so we’re clear. We’re not talking about some mere vocabulary word used in the creation process—or even some everyday Joe who was a decent guy who God used down here to do the redemption part of the work.

 

Uh-uh. We’re talking about God Himself bringing forth from within Himself—the essence of Himself manifested in the WORD.

 

Therefore, the WORD is and was and always will be one with the Father.

 

So much so, that when the WORD would later come forth from the Father and manifest down here in the flesh for the sake of humanity’s redemption, he’d be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9).

 

And called . . .

 

a great light—no end to his kingdom (Isaiah 9)

 

the son given—the Son of God (Isaiah 9, Psalm 2)

 

having righteousness as the belt of his waist—and faithfulness the belt of his loins (Isaiah 11)

 

the healer of the blind, the mute, the lame—and the one cleansing lepers, raising the dead, and preaching the good news of heaven (Isaiah 35, Isaiah 61:1-2, Matthew 11, Luke 4:16-19, Luke 7:20-23)

 

the promised King, Messiah—bringing salvation, righteousness, humbly riding on a donkey (Zechariah 9:9)

 

the reflection of the Father—the exact imprint of His nature (Hebrews 1:1-3, John 14:9)

 

the Word that became flesh—and dwelt among us (John 1)

 

Faithful and True, The Word of God, and be clothed in a robe dipped in blood symbolic of the redemption completed (Revelation 19:11b, 13)
 

I will tell of the decree:

The Lord said to me, “You are my Son;

today I have begotten you [brought forth, per Hebrew]*

Psalm 2:7

*Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew-English Lexicon’s meaning for “begotten”
 

Long ago, at many times and in many ways,

God spoke to our fathers by the prophets,

but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son,

whom he appointed the heir of all things,

through whom also he created the world.

He is the radiance of the glory of God

and the exact imprint of his nature,

and he upholds the universe

by the WORD of his power.

Hebrews 1:1-3

 
 

IMPACT: HIS COMING FORTH

 

BACK IN THE LATE 90s/EARLY 2000s . . . I was still struggling at times with the Father and Messiah (Jesus) relationship. So one day, I’d asked my friend’s Greek husband to give me the 4-1-1 on John 8:42—translating the scripture from the Greek since the original language of the New Testament was written in Koine Greek.

 

He said it read that Jesus “came up out of the Father” . . . and that it was similarly written in John 16.

 

That image changed so much for me. It took time, but it began to unravel some of the mystery hidden within the WORD, the Messiah—one that actually mirrored rabbinic thinking about the WORD doing the creation.

 

It also furthered the understanding of God creating the world for the sake of redemption.

 

The fog was clearing for me. The Hebrew in Psalm 2 and in many other Judaic messianic-related passages was echoed and manifested in the New Testament’s factual accounts of the WORD that dwelt among us.

 

The Messiah was with and in God eternally—had come up out of Him—was one with the Father yet distinct in person, and was brought forth by the Father from within God Himself for the sake of the world, for the sake of God’s redemption story.

 

Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father,

you would love me,

for I came out from God and I am here.

I came not of my own accord, but he [God] sent me.”

—John 8:42

 

[Jesus said]: “For the Father Himself loves you,

because you have loved me

and have believed that I came out from God

and have come into the world,

and now I am leaving the world and going to the Father.”

—John 16:27

 

Not only is Jesus the WORD that came out of the Father and was with Him in creation . . . but God’s glory was fully on the Messiah—before, then, and now.

 

We’ll explore this more and other God-nuggets throughout this unfolding bridge series . . . and witness how the narrative, promises, and fulfillment of both the Judaic and Messianic/Christian sides are mirrored. A wondrous plan of God.

 
 
QUESTION FOR YOU:

Is there a MESSIANIC/GARDEN-OF-EDEN connection?

 

ANSWER:

Yep. That thread is part of an upcoming post in this God’s Story Lens series: Trees, Serpent, Lies.

 

Got more time now? Check the scripture list below related to this post.

 
 
 

 
 

GOT MORE TIME?
SCRIPTURES FOR YOUR REVIEW: THE WORD AMONG US

 

JESUS: THE WORD THAT “CAME UP OUT OF GOD”

 

Two Jewish disciples of the Messiah Jesus (part of the original twelve) give a factual, connecting the dots for us. One is John (not John the Baptist/Immerser) and the other is Matthew, a tax collector-turned-follower.

 

John 1:1-5 and John 1:14

Matthew 3:16-17

 
 

Pharisee-turned Believer, Saul Paulus (Apostle Paul), later wrote . . .

 

1 Corinthians 8:6

 
 

JESUS: GLORY BEFORE CREATION EXISTED

 

Isaiah 61:1-2 and Luke 4:16-19

John 17:1-5

 
 

JESUS: IMAGE OF THE INVISIBLE GOD

 

Isaiah 11:2 and Isaiah 11:5

Zechariah 9:9

Colossians 1:13-17

 
 

JESUS: THE WORD, THE NAME, I AM

 

Revelations 19:13-16

 f

Compare the Revelations 19:11-21 description with the one in Daniel 7:9-14 (the Son of Man, everlasting dominion, glory).

 
 

God told Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” [I will be what/who I will be.]—Exodus 3:14

 

Jesus/Yeshua repeatedly spoke of his eternal relationship with the Lord—his coming out of the Father, being one in essence with the Father, and returning to the Father.

 

John 8:54-58

John 18:2-6

John 10:30-38

Philippians 2:9-11

 
 

JESUS: THE REDEMPTION PROMISE TO YOU

 

Isaiah 9:2-7

Matthew 4:16-17

John 1:1-5

John 1:14-17

2 Corinthians 5:17

 
 
 

PHOTO CREDITS for this three/four-part Beginnings series:

 

CREDITS: Steam Punk Minister with Bible by Nathan Bingle on Unsplash.com

CREDITS: Steps with child by Jukan Tateisi on Unsplash.com

CREDITS: Follow the Line on asphalt photo by Vidar Nordli-Mathisen on Unsplash.com

CREDITS: Woman in jeans with Bible by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash.com

 
 

RESOURCES:

Sefaria.org

ABC Roadmap to Heaven: The Broken Bridge

By SoulBreaths Author [ 2 years ago ]

 

The Heaven-Earth expanse. How can our fractured, earth-driven souls be guaranteed an eternity with God in His holy place? God made the Way. But accepting that way is up to you.

 

© SoulBreaths.com. All rights reserved.

 

BE SURE TO READ PART 2 NEXT: ABC-ROADMAP TO HEAVEN: THE ABCs OF SALVATION

 

READING TIME: 4 MINUTES.

 

Worldview insists that there are many ways to reach God and enter heaven—and that God is whatever He means to you. Don’t fall for that. There’s no “harmonizing” of various religious ways or bundling it all under global religio-culturalism.

 

One World Religion and a whatever-you-do-is-cool spirituality are LIES from the master deceiver—satan—and a deceptive, self-desired-focus human soul.

 

God is clear in His instruction manual—the Bible—about who He is . . . and who we are. And what He requires for worship and salvation. Understanding that is the critical first step before you’re able to walk on His one-way road to heaven.

 

So let’s start our path toward those ABCs of Salvation by setting worldview aside and getting down to some straight facts about who God is—a quick 4-1-1—according to what He says about Himself in His Word, the Bible. Then we’ll take a look at how we stack up to who He is.

 

#1. HIS NAME IS HIS CHARACTER

 

The Great I AM. El Elyon, the Most High.

Faithful. Justice. Righteous. Truth.

Ha Kadosh, the Holy One.

Perfect. Steadfast. Mercy. Grace.

A Strong Tower. El Shaddai, the Almighty God.

El Gibbor, the Powerful Warrior, Hero, Mighty Champion.

Adonai, the LORD, Master.

Adonei ha’adonim, the LORD of lords.

The Living God, King of Kings, our Judge, the Rock.

He alone is God. There is none like Him.

Haggo’el, the Redeemer. Sar Shalom, Prince of Peace.

There is no salvation apart from Him.

He knows all things and declares the end from the beginning.

His decisions stand, His rule is forever.

 

#2. THERE ARE NONE LIKE HIM

(more scriptures at end of post)
 

I AM the LORD, and there is no one else.
I have not spoken in secret, in some dark land . . .
I, the LORD, speak righteousness,
Declaring things that are right . . .
There is no other GOD besides Me,
A righteous GOD and a SAVIOR,
There is none except Me.
Turn to Me and be saved,
all the ends of the earth.
Isaiah 45: 18b, 19, 21b, 22

 

But the LORD is the true GOD;
he is the living GOD and the everlasting King.
—Jeremiah 10:10a

 

Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.

He does not faint or grow weary;
his understanding is unsearchable.—Isaiah 40:28

 

You are my Lord, apart from you I have no good thing.”
—Psalm 16:1

 
 
elia-pellegrini-kV_u_GsXnwQ-unsplash
 
 

HOW DO WE STACK UP?

 

Ever since the Garden of Eden, humanity has shown its propensity for rebellion against God—choosing our selfish desires over His ways and falling for satan’s trickery.

 

Here are just a few (of many) scriptures revealing humanity’s soul condition. These are from both sides of the Judaic-Messianic bridge.

 

For there isn’t one righteous person on earth who does [only] good and does not sin. —Ecclesiastes 7:20 (CJB)

 

The Lord has looked down from heaven upon the sons of mankind to see if there are any who understand, who seek God. They have all turned aside, together they are corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one.—Psalm 14:2-3 (NASB)

 

The imaginings [inclinations] of a person’s heart are evil from his youth.
—Genesis 8:21b (CJB)

 

True, I was born guilty, was a sinner from the moment my mother conceived me.—Psalm 51:7 [5] (CJB)

 

For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of the Lord (ESV).
—Romans 3:23
 

OUR SINS SEPARATE US FROM HIM

 

Adonai’s arm is not too short to save, nor His ear too dull to hear, rather it’s your own crimes [sins] that separate you from God.
—Isaiah 59:1

 

Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil from your perspective; so that you are right in accusing me and justified in passing sentence . . . Turn away your face from my sins, and blot out all my crimes.—Psalm 51:6,11 (4,9)

 

THE HUMAN HEART LIES TO OUR SOUL

 

The heart is deceitfully wicked, who can know it? I, Adonai, search the heart. I test inner motivations in order to give to everyone what his actions and conduct deserve.—Jeremiah 17:9-10

 

If we claim not to have sin, we are deceiving ourselves, and
the truth is not in us.—1 John 1:8
 

HUMAN GOOD FALLS SHORT

 

All of our righteousness are like menstrual rags [filthy], misdeeds blown in the wind.—Isaiah 64:5 [6] (CJB)

 

For the person who keeps all of the laws except one is as guilty as a person who has broken all of God’s laws.—James 2:10

 

Yep, that’s us: we all break His Law every day . . . one way or another, at any given moment. In thoughts, words, actions. And it’s by those thoughts, words, actions that we’ll be judged.

 

HOPE UP AHEAD

 

With that reality check, how can any of us bridge the relationship gap with a holy God? We’re only human, right?

 

READ THE ANSWER in Part 2. ABC ROADMAP TO HEAVEN: THE ABCS OF SALVATION

 
 
 

* * * * *

 

MORE REVEALS ABOUT GOD’S CHARACTER

 

The Bible is filled from page one to its last page with truths about God’s character and our fractured state. The scriptures below are but a few more revealing His majesty and power.

 

For I am GOD, and there is no other;
I am GOD, and there is no one like Me,
declaring the end from the beginning
and from ancient times things not yet done,
saying, “My counsel shall stand,
and I will accomplish all my purpose.”
—Isaiah 46:9-10

 

There is none holy like the Lord:
for there is none besides you;
there is no rock like our God.
—2 Samuel 2:2

 

The LORD passed before him [Moses] and proclaimed,
The LORD, the LORD, a GOD merciful and gracious,
slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness,
keeping steadfast love for thousands,
forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin,
but who will by no means clear the guilty,
visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children
and the children’s children,
to the third and the fourth generation.”
—Exodus 34:6-7

 

For I will proclaim the name of ADONAI.
Come, declare the greatness of our GOD!
The Rock, his work is perfect,
for all his ways are justice.
A GOD of faithfulness who does no wrong,
he is justice and righteous.
—Deuteronomy 32:3-4

 

For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways, declares the LORD.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways
And My thoughts than your thoughts.
—Isaiah 55:8-9

 

CREDITS: Lit cobblestone photo by Ray Fragapane on Unsplash.com

CREDITS: Person in red photo by Elia Pellegrini on Unsplash.com

Resurrection, Real or Not: Part 5—Why A Bodily Resurrection?

By SoulBreaths Author [ 2 years ago ]

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

 

© SoulBreaths.com. All rights reserved.

 

READING TIME: 5 MINUTES.

 

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

 

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

 
 

It’s a light nod to God’s promised latter rain in the Bible. This rainy season—as the Talmud and Judaic scholars call it—is the glory rain, the promised resurrection.

 

So what’s with the withered leaves and wintry tales? In the Psalms, God likens us to trees. Some good, some not so good. The condition of a tree varies from season to season, choice by choice.

 

A good, solid tree is vibrant, flourishes, bears fruit, stretches its roots and branches. Other trees may appear lively for a season but are slowing decaying from the inside out.

 

Blessed is the man . . .

whose delight is in the law of the Lord,

and who meditates on His law day and night.

He is like a tree planted by streams of water

that yields its fruit in its season,

and its leaf does not wither.

In all that he does, he prospers.


—Psalm 1:2-3

 

The righteous flourish like the palm tree

and grow like a cedar in Lebanon.

Planted in the house of the Lord,

in the courts of our God they will flourish.


—Psalm 92:13-14 (12-13)

 

But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God.

I trust in the steadfast love of God

forever and ever.


—Psalm 52:10 (8)

 

In winter, all the trees are dormant, still, laid bare. Not that much different than the time of our individual wintry tale when we are laid still . . . waiting for that latter rain resurrection.

 

But we don’t all have the same resurrection ending.


 
The body and the soul are reunited in resurrection, then face litigation in God’s court, are judged, and subsequently step into one of two places: everlasting life (for the righteous) or everlasting contempt (for the unrighteous), per Daniel 12:2 and John 5:28-29, among other scriptures.

 

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

 

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

 

 

CUES FROM THE BARD

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Let me explain . . .

 
zdenek-machacek-_QG2C0q6J-s-unsplash
 

EXIT, PURSUED BY A BEAR

journeying between weight and responsibility

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 
nienke-broeksema-UdTV56iEjIw-unsplash
 

SHORT VERSION: SOUL-BODY DILEMMA

the need for a re-alliance

 

Your soul is knitted (so to speak) to your body while in the womb.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Per the Hebrew in scripture, there are three words used interchangeably for soul that shed light on its nuances: breath of life (neshama), spirit/wind (ruach), and life force/self (nefesh).

 


That last one is enmeshed with the body, making a way for the soul to join the body in a human experience while in this worldly dimension.

 

But the purpose of the God-breathed soul is upward: Elevating the soul-body relationship, surrendering to the will of God, accepting the yoke of heaven. Meanwhile the body is drawn downward, tethered to the things of this world because it came from the earth, drawn to earthly things. Think dust to dust.

 

So the push-pull is on. And if the soul/spirit follows the body’s earth-minded drives vs. the call upward, the soul-body union can become . . .

 

Flooded with spiritual darkness, doctrines of demons.

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

Compelled by the things of this world.

Defiant, resisting the yoke of heaven.

Dissonant, clashing with God Himself.

 

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

 

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

Raised. Recalibrated. Renewed.

 

Here’s how: read the next and last post in this series: HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS CAN BE YOURS.

 
 

HAVE YOU READ THESE POSTS IN THE SERIES?

What God Revealed

Real-Life Accounts

Real-Life Accounts Cont’d

The Resurrection Thunderbolt From Heaven

Rabbi Scholars Defend Jesus’s Resurrection

Why A Bodily Resurrection

His Righteousness Can Be Yours

 

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

 

Photo Credit: Resurrection/Tomb photo by jchizhe, purchased on iStock.com (Stock photo ID:1243063771)

Photo Credit: Shakespeare by Jessica Pamp on Unsplash.com

Photo Credit: Bear Running by Zdeněk Macháček on Unsplash.com

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

Soul Remodeling: A Wilderness Hero [Sarah]

By SoulBreaths Author [ 6 years ago ]

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

 

© 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.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

BACKSTORY: WHAT’S NOT SAID

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

It was as if God were saying . . .

 

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

 

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THE DAYS IN BETWEEN

 

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

 

Sarai had her questions, maybe her doubts.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 


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

The Two Trees, W.B. Yeats


 

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PHYSICAL JOURNEYS MIRROR THE SOUL’S INNER JOURNEY

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Promises from God were still sitting on the table.

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

 

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

 

Enter stage left, Hagar.

 

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

 

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

GOD’S PLAN MOVES FORWARD

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Read all the Soul 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.

 

RESOURCES & CREDITS

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Article created July 26, 2015.

Soul Remodeling: A Wilderness Hero [Joseph]

By SoulBreaths Author [ 6 years ago ]

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

 

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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. The earth-focused body/vessel is pulled to things of this world—and its old habits die hard.

 

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

 

CASE IN POINT: GENESIS 40

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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TRUST: FAITH BECOMING REAL

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Joseph may have been thinking, enough already.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Trust is faith in action. It would take his soul-body dynamics to move and work 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.

 
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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: A Wilderness Hero [Moses]

By SoulBreaths Author [ 6 years ago ]

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.

 
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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.

 

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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.”

 

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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: A Wilderness Hero [Jeremiah]

By SoulBreaths Author [ 6 years ago ]

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.

 

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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.

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