SoulBreaths

Stilled Waters: Modeh/Modah Ani (I Give Thanks)

By SoulBreaths Author [ 10 months ago ]

More than conquerors. That’s what we are in Him. His strength, His power, His love—sealed within us. So when your first morning breath welcomes the return of your soul from God, how should you be before Him? This 17th century prayer helps lead the way.

 

© SoulBreaths.com. All rights reserved.

 

READING TIME: 5 MINUTES.

 

The sun rises. The sun sets. And with God’s immense grace, it begins all over again.

 

With each new sunrise, each morning you awake, He lovingly and faithfully returns your soul to you—a resurrection of sorts, coming forth from the slumber of night.

 

Each morning’s breath is a gift from Him, a reminder of His presence and kingship.

 

There are three revealing Hebrew words used interchangeably in the Bible for soul. One of them is neshama [neh-shah-mah], God’s breath of life.

 

Just as God breathed His divine breath into Adam (nishmat chayim [נִשְׁמַת חַיִּים], Genesis 2:7) to spark and animate the body’s and soul’s dimensions . . . so He has done with you. His holy breath flows through you. How glorious is that?

 

Think of it: God’s initial breath gave you life.

Jesus’s last breath redeemed your life.

 

This 17th century Modeh/Modah Ani prayer—serving as a template, a launching pad for a personal deep-dive with God every morning—helps us remember who He is and what we are, putting things in their rightful perspective from the start.

 

In fact, it’s usually said before even getting out of bed—but you can say it anytime during the morning.

 

We say it because . . . . .

 

Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel
and His Redeemer, the Lord of hosts:
I am the first and I am the last;
besides me there is no God.
—Isaiah 44:6

 

I am the Lord, and there is no other,
besides me there is no God;
I equip you, though you don’t know me,
that people may know, from the rising of the sun
and from the west, that there is none besides me.
—Isaiah 45: 5-6 (verses 6-7 in Tanakh/Hebrew Bible).

 

That’s why when we draw our first breath upon awakening, we can’t help but be . . .

 

Grateful.

 

H

u

m

b

l

e

d.

 

Surrendered to His will and ways, not ours.

 

Acknowledging that nothing is above or beyond or equal to Him. We admit we’re created to praise, glorify, and serve Him in our thoughts, words, actions.
 

So let’s get started by . . .

 

1. Taking a quick stop with the Hebrew and the transliteration—how to phonetically say it in Hebrew. (The English translation is just beneath that.)

2. Then going below the surface to flesh out the deeper meaning tucked within the Hebrew.

3. Next, using the deep-dive reflections as a template to personalize your soul’s words every morning as you greet your King.

 
 

 
 

PIT STOP: THE HEBREW

 

One quick thing: the first two words, the title of the prayer, are Modeh ani (word usage for men) and Modah ani (word usage for women).

 

Modeh/Modah Ani

 

מוֹדֶה אֲנִי לְפָנֶיךָ מלך חַי וְקַיָּם שֶהֶחֱזַרְתָּ בִּי נִשְׁמָתִי בְחֶמְלָה,
רַבָּה אֱמוּנָתֶךָ

 

The Transliteration

 

Note: the kh and ch are guttural, like a hard “k” sound stuck in the back of your throat. The audio for a female is posted below so you can follow along.

 

Modeh (a woman says Modah) ani l’fanekha melekh chai v’kayam

shehekhezarta bi nishmahti b’chemla

raba emunatekha

 

Modah Ani – Female

 

 
 

English Translation

 

I am thankful (I give thanks) before You, living, enduring, sustaining, eternal King [my added reflection on that: King of life, King who sustains us]. You’ve returned my soul within me with compassion. Great is your faithfulness.

 
 

 
 

DEEPER-DIVE WITH ENGLISH

 

Rote prayer isn’t your target. You can move beyond the prayer’s words to a more soul-stirring perspective—one that helps you get still and tap into that special place.

 

I’m talking about His secret place. A protective crevice in Him, our Rock, where the powerful waterfall from His throne rains down on your soul and blesses you with revelation, refreshment, new mercies, and a word from Him, the Creator and Lover of your soul.

 

How my Modah Ani prayer time flows: I say Modah Ani in phrases, pausing in between each phrase to reflect on what it means to me that morning. I also weave in prayer requests at one juncture (just before the final phrase).

 

The template below—broken into phrases with deeper reflections after each phrase—gives an example of how you can personalize Modeh/Modah Ani every morning.

 

Let the Holy Spirit lead you as you consider what’s in your soul at that moment when you think of Him, when you think of you standing before Him, when you think about His immense faithfulness and majesty.

 

DEEPER-DIVE TEMPLATE

 

Modeh/Modah ani: I am thankful (I give thanks)

Deeper reflection: I am awake, my eyes open, and my soul acknowledges and is aware that there is something greater than me—You, God, Ruler of the universe.

 

***

 

l’fanekha: before you

Deeper reflection: I—my innermost self, my soul—is here, before you, shadowed and overcome by your greatness, too marvelous for me to comprehend, too deep for me to fathom. I am stilled by your Name, your character, your might.

 

In this moment, I realize that there’s no need for debate. You are the Glorious King. Period. You who created me.

 

I’m grateful for who you are and what you’ve done for me. I surrender before your Lordship. I am yours.

 

Writing that just prompted my spirit to also share lyrics from a worship song sung in the mid-80s about God’s Holy Spirit, a consuming fire, reminding us to approach Him in humility, in awe:

 

Consume me, consume me with your fire, Lord.
Consume me, consume with your fire.
Consume me, consume with your fire, Lord,
that I might know the power of your love.

 

***

 

melekh chai v’kayam: King, living and eternal (sustaining/enduring)

Deeper reflection: You are here with me in this physical world . . . yet you are on your throne, high and lifted up, holy and just, righteous and merciful, eternal without a beginning or an end. You are too marvelous for me.

 

You are the unseen God that my soul sees and knows. You are the promised author and perfecter of my faith. In You—through our messiah, Yeshua (Jesus)—is life, sustaining, full, complete, good.

 

Your Word is everlasting, relentlessly faithful, forever true—and it lives within my soul, correcting me, leading me, teaching me, refining me, reminding me, hemming me in. Day in, day out. With every soul-breath inhaled, with every soul-breath exhaled. You are there.

 

***

 

shehekhezarta bi (bee): you’ve returned within me (restored)

nishmati: my soul (breath of life)

b’chemla: with compassion (mercifully, graciously)

 

Deeper reflection: You have graced me with another morning. A day to serve you, to speak of your greatness and character, to speak your Name, to share the Good News of salvation through our Messiah, to do whatever you ask me to do this day. Your breath flows through me . . . I am yours.

 

But you didn’t return my soul because of obligation or randomly, without thought. You returned it with intentionality, a purpose . . . and you did it personally—from You to me. Not merely in one fell swoop, generically to the masses. Your love, mercy, grace, compassion rose up from your throne and blessed me with another breath to walk with you on earth and serve you.

 

You alone know the number of days you’ve given to me . . . So please teach me to number my days that I may have a heart of wisdom (Psalm 90:12). Your kindness and love overwhelm me. Thank you, my Lord, my King, my God.

 

***

 

Intercession: If I feel led—and most of the time I do—this is where I begin intercession for critical needs that day for others . . . then I thank Him because I can go nowhere else for help . . . it’s His faithfulness that I’m counting on.
 

***

 

raba emunatekha: abundant/great is your faithfulness

Deeper reflection: Who is like you? Faithful and true, King of Kings, Lord of Lords (Revelation 19:11-16). What am I that you’re mindful of me (Psalm 8:1-4) . . . how vast is your faithfulness, how deep is your love, what breadth, what height (Ephesians 3:14-19), and how mighty are your ways.

 

Guide me today, let me hear your voice in my soul, and please help me to do your will, lifting up your name wherever you send me, becoming a carrier of your presence, conquering by the words of my testimony . . . telling of your goodness, grace, salvation, and faithfulness.

 

***

 

Blessings on you, precious ones in the Lord. May He cover you in the shelter of His wings as you go deeper to seek His face and serve your King.

 
 

CREDIT: Dove photo by Irochka_T purchased 2014 via iStock
(iStock_000012075973)

CREDIT: Wrecking ball basic photo by alphaspirit with my text added on—purchased 2021 from iStock.com (ID:1204137944).

CREDIT: Morning, man praying photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash.com

CREDIT: Women, calm, reflective photo by Artem Kovalev on Unsplash.com

NOTE: Rabbi Tzvi Freeman’s commentary on Modeh Ani (chabad.org) further sparked my morning Modah Ani reflections.

 

God’s Story Lens: Beginnings within Beginnings [Part 1]

By SoulBreaths Author [ 1 year ago ]

 

Genesis 1. God, the master storyteller of truth that your soul needs, delivers factual accounts enveloped within His mystery. From a beginning of beginnings of beginnings to a particular love-fueled purpose behind His creation story.

 

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.

 

READING TIME: 4 MINUTES.

 

INTRODUCTION TO SERIES

 
 

Like any good story, it’s best to start at the beginning. The beginning moment that will lead to or expose a protagonist’s unmet desire. But with God’s masterful storytelling, it’s not always that simple.

 
 

The sheer epic size and generational expanse of His story (the Bible) may appear to be a maximal approach. But in reality, it’s minimalistic, razor-focused on a single, eternally driven thread.

 

We read about what was, what is, and what is to come. But the exactness of time remains hidden. He talks of times but defies time, because He created time and exists beyond this physical dimension . . . yet all the while intersecting and embodying it.

 

He is the ever-present, omniscient “character” in His unfolding story.

 

GENESIS 1:1 INTENT

 

But it’s God’s opening line that gets us, capturing, enticing, pulling us. Those famous first words beg to be unraveled.

 

We sense that they’re the gateway to something immeasurably higher, deeper, beyond ourselves.

 

Rashi, the famed biblical and Talmudic commentator from the Middle Ages, said that those initial [Hebrew] words of Genesis scream for explanation. (Okay, my word choice, but he did say it “calls aloud” for explanation.)

 

The next post in this series more closely explores God’s intro line—but let’s take this step first.

 

Homiletically—per commentary notes in the Stone Edition of The Chumash (an orthodox commentary on the first five books of the Bible)—the first word of this creation process b’reshit can be stated as . . .

 

“The world was created for the sake of [for the things that are called] beginnings.”

 

Stone’s commentary equates that to “God brought the world into being for the sake of things that are of such basic importance that the Torah calls them reishit (ראשית), meaning first or beginning.”

 

That is, the world was created for the sake of bringing forth Torah (the Law).

 

But that for-the-sake-of-the-Law beginning unleashes two other critical “beginnings”:

 

(1) The Law reveals the basics, the reflections, of what is good in God’s eyes while exposing the beginnings of humanity’s self-desire nature .

 

A desire that, from the get-go, will fall short of His righteousness, His holiness—and launch a devastating spiritual rift, a broken bridge, between God and humanity. Because nothing is the same after the Garden of Eden rebellion.

 

(2) But even before the creation process, the impending God-humanity chasm would ache for restoration and grace .

 

So in those beginnings within beginnings, God brings forth another for-the-sake-of layer that trumps all others.

 

An indescribable love-move created for the sake of something eternally driven.

 

The world was created for REDEMPTION—hands down, God’s foundational story thread throughout the Bible.

 

MAJESTY DISPLAYED

 

The first word of Genesis 1:1 creates time and sparks its motion, establishing order and setting the stage for God’s breath-defying, mysterious creation work to unfold, revealing even more of what’s to come.

 

Mind you, that beginning-within-beginnings opening comes . . .

 

#1

 

Before God’s unrivaled, unimaginable might and presence hover over the “astonishingly empty with darkness.”

 

An earth that was “desolate and void” (Hebrew tohu va-vohu, תֹ֨הוּ֙ וָבֹ֔הוּ) with darkness on the “face of the murmuring deep,” a “wonder and astonishment”—that would leave us aghast at the sheer emptiness (bohu) of it , per author Avivah Gottlieb Zornberg (The Murmuring Deep, quoting Rashi and author Stephen Frosh).

 

God’s boundless power—reflected in the peals of thunder, lightning flashes, and deep rumblings around His throne (“the life source of the universe” as Dr. Ed Hindson had called it)—and the immeasurable weight of His glory move over the chaotic, the tehom, Hebrew for depths, subterranean waters, and even suggesting a deep soul-to-soul groaning.

 

It possibly is what Zornberg’s book suggests: God is cutting through the chaotic, the deep murmuring—”primal noise”—to form a “creative silence,” a clearing for His creation words to come forth.

 

We witness a similar process when all of creation groans under the chaotic darkness birthed from sin.

 

At the appointed time, God again arises, His presence now hovering over our souls’ darkness, its chaos, its captivity , to break through and silence our noisy, subterranean murmuring, our aching soul-deep calling unto deep—tehom to tehom, תְּהֽוֹם־אֶל־תְּה֣וֹם ק֖וֹרֵא (Psalm 42 ).

 

The silence He created was witnessed on a rocky hill outside of Jerusalem, two thousand years ago. His deep (His Word) transformed the silence into a glorious work and bore the weight of our chaotic sinful state to bring forth the way, the truth, and the life of God’s redemption plan.

 

#2
And the Genesis opening comes . . .

 

Before His kingship calls forth a curious mergence of darkness and light from His unique environment . . . and separates the two independent entities (darkness/light).

 

Neither elements are “dependent on the lights created on the fourth day” and yet they “exist in hidden places [of the heavens] dedicated to them (Job 39:19-20),” per biblical commentator Moshe Weinfeld.

 

#3
And it comes . . .

 

Before He commands water to separate from water—the puzzling upper and lower waters, placed above and below the sky (heavenly) and earth expanse—creating space and order . . . and before He places luminaries in the sky: sun, moon, stars. God’s light-source timekeepers for seasons, days, years, and signs for appointed times.

 

IT’S ABOUT HIS WORD

 

God created (ex nihilo) this dimension—this beginning of beginnings—with a WORD. Per rabbinical teaching, the WORD God spoke in the creative process performed the creation.

 

What or who is that WORD?

 

The next two posts explore more of the wording beneath Genesis 1:1 and the what/who WORD question.

 

READ THIS NEXT: Beginnings within Beginnings [Part 2]

 
 
PHOTO CREDITS for this three-part post:
CREDITS: Steam Punk Minister w/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:
(1) The Stone Edition Chumash, the ArtScroll, Series, published by Messiah Publications, ltd, September 2005 edition, Parashas Bereishis/Genesis, p 3
(2) Sefaria.org
(3) The Murmuring Deep, Avivah Gottlieb Zornberg. Schocken Books, New York, 2009.
(4) Moshe Weinfeld quote: TheTorah.com

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

ABC Roadmap to Heaven: The ABCs of Salvation

By SoulBreaths Author [ 2 years ago ]

 

It’s true. There is a way—ONLY ONE WAY—for our fractured, earth-driven souls to spend eternity with God in His holy place. Here are three A-B-C steps to follow with a link to recommendations for biblical teaching and growing in the Lord.

 

© SoulBreaths.com. All rights reserved.

 

Suggest reading this first: ABC ROADMAP TO HEAVEN: THE BROKEN BRIDGE

 

READING TIME: 5 MINUTES.

 

The bottom line? Your sin debt (and everyone else’s) has to be paid. Because God is not only MERCY but also JUSTICE—and as a RIGHTEOUS JUDGE he can’t let sin (our crimes against His Law and ways) go unpunished. He can’t go against His own character.

 

Yet God’s love is relentless. Even while humanity was neglecting Him, doing their thing, rebelling and widening that relationship gap with Him, God’s love stepped in.

 

He maintained His righteousness and justice yet made a way—the ONLY WAY—to pay for our sin.

 

That’s what the three A-B-C steps for salvation are about. Accepting His plan—His substitutionary gift, His son Jesus, the Messiah, to pay for our sin—a perfect, holy atonement that wipes our slates clean and restores our relationship with our Creator, the lover of our soul.

 

But the decision to believe, accept, and walk in that LOVE GIFT is up to you.

 

Enter the ABC steps of salvation—admit, believe, confess—once you know who the REAL Jesus is.

 
 

 
 

The facts . . . your eternal life hinges on getting this part right. The truth of who Jesus is—and who He’s not.

 

The world tries to stamp it out, put His truth, His name, under their feet. Worldview attempts to eclipse His glory. Maligning, diluting, convoluting, and conjuring up an amalgamation of cultural, philosophical, and religious babble—as if that could possibly stand up against His truth, His glory, His holy sacrifice.
 

We’re talking about the REAL Jesus—the promised Jewish Messiah
who came from the Father, is one with the Father,
who is the Great I Am,
who fulfilled over 200 messianic prophecies,
is the visible image of the invisible God,
and is the Word of God manifested in the flesh.
He dwelt among us—yet was glorified in the Father’s presence
before the world existed.
The Savior of the world who took on the sin of the world
as the holy, perfect Lamb sacrifice of God,
the only sacrifice required for eternal life.

 

JESUS IS NOT what or who the cults or WOKE culture or New Age or one-world religion mentality says He is.

 

JESUS ISN’T the “first of creation.”

Actually, Colossians 1:15 says Jesus “is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation—firstborn in the original Greek in that text means he held preeminence over all creation.

 

JESUS IS NOT . . .

a “false dream” (sorry, L. Ron Hubbard)

Michael the Archangel (and Jesus didn’t merely “resurrect invisibly as a spirit”)

the spirit brother of satan

one of many gods who were once humans and evolved to gods—nope, you’re not getting your own planet to be a god over . . . God says He alone is LORD

evolved spiritually via good works to become god

a product of spiritual incest or physical incest/sexual relations between a father god and Mary

insufficient and his blood sacrifice/crucifixion isn’t foolishness, unable to atone for sins

“just a man” or a “divine idea”

“just a prophet”

“just a rabbi”

“just a moral teacher”

some iChing element

an astro projection or a magician

an “advanced medium” in the 6th sphere/astrological projection

some guru

a man who “failed” his mission

one of nine world manifestations

reflective of some cosmic consciousness

 

JESUS IS WHO THE BIBLE AND GOD HAS SHOWN HIM TO BE SINCE GENESIS 1:1. THE WORD THAT CAME UP FROM THE FATHER, IS ONE WITH THE FATHER, HIS SON, OUR MESSIAH.

 

John 1:1-4, 14 reveals it clearly,
mirroring that Genesis passage
to show that Jesus is the Word of God
manifested in the flesh:

 
“In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him nothing was made.
In him was life, and the light of men . . .
the Word became flesh and dwelt among us
and we have seen his glory,
glory as of the only Son from the Father,
full of grace and truth
.”
 

And with that, here are the ABC steps to spending eternity with God.

 
 
WHITE ARROW - hello-i'm-nik-on MAgPyHRO0AA-unsplash copy
 
 

GOD’S ABCs of SALVATION: THE JESUS ROAD

 

A.

 

Admit to the Lord that you’re a sinner, falling short of His glory. Honest sorrow leads to true repentance and humility before our righteous God. And that sparks a change within your soul—a new way of thinking, God’s way, not the world’s. A soul restoration is underway.

 

For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of the Lord, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus.—Romans 3:23-24
 

The wages of sin are death, but eternal life is the free gift from God in union with the Messiah, Jesus our Lord.—Romans 6:23

 

It’s the kindness of God that leads you to repentance.—Romans 2:4

 

B.

 

Believe that God sent His son, Jesus (Yeshua, His Hebrew name), to pay the price for your sin on the cross and raised Him from the dead to conquer the sting of eternal death.

 
 

Jesus said, “I AM the Truth, the Life, the Way, no man comes to the Father except through me.”—John 14:6

 

For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.—1 Timothy 2:5-6

 

But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners,
Christ died for us.—Romans 5:8

 

And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation. For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved
through the life of his Son.—Romans 5:9-10

 

C.

 

Call upon the name of Jesus our Messiah to the glory of God, our Father, trusting God’s miraculous love plan: His son Jesus sent as Savior, your holy access to spending eternity in heaven.

 

Believe in the name above all names—Jesus—then tell others and walk in it.

 

If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart, one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved . . . all who call upon the name of the Lord
shall be saved.—Romans 10:9-10,13

 

And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven [Jesus] that has been given among mankind by which
we must be saved.—Acts 4:10a, 11, 12

 

For this reason also God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.—Philippians 2:9-11

 

But as many as received Him [Jesus], to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of a man, but of God.—John 1:12-13

 

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?John 11:25-26

 

Once you receive God’s perfect gift, share the Good News with others and get ready to start your walk with the Lord. Check out the recommendations in part 3 to help support your biblical learning.

 

NEXT READ ABC ROADMAP TO HEAVEN: GROW IN THE LORD.

 
 

THANKS: To Pastor JD Farag for the concept of ABC Steps to Salvation—Admit, Believe, Confess—that he shares after every Prophecy Update teaching.

 

THANKS: To Christian Ministries International for Ron & Jason Carlson’s summary on The “Jesus” of the Cults.
 

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

CREDITS: Truth ticket in stoney dirt photo by Michael Carruth on Unsplash.com

CREDITS: White arrow photo by Hello I’m Nik on Unsplash.com

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

By SoulBreaths Author [ 2 years ago ]

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 union 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.

 

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.

 
 
marija-zaric-wMybzaBOaSQ-unsplash
 
 

RESURRECTION: SNEAK PEEKS

 

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

 

That is, all except one.
The Life Giver . . . and Life Changer.
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

Biblical timeline of resurrection cues and sneak-peek accounts

 
 

Resurrection series initially 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: Bible photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash.com

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

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

 

RELATED RESOURCES

McFarland, Philip (2004), Hawthorne in Concord, New York: Grove Press, p.149, ISBN0-8021-1776-7.

 

Royot, Daniel (2002), “Poe’s humor”, in Hayes, Kevin J, The Cambridge Companion to Edgar Allan Poe, Cambridge University Press, pp. 61–2, ISBN0-521-79727-6.

 
 

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/

 

Book of Acts timeline. https://biblehub.com/timeline/acts/1.htm/

Resurrection, Real or Not: Part 2a—Real-Life Accounts

By SoulBreaths Author [ 2 years ago ]

Three resurrection accounts set the spiritual ball in motion.

 

© SoulBreaths.com. All rights reserved.

 

READING TIME: 4 MINUTES.

 

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

 
 

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

 

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

 

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

 

#1. GENTILE WIDOW OF TZARFAT’S SON

[1 Kings 17:10-24]

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 * * * 

 

#2. JEWISH SHUNAMMITE’S SON

[2 Kings 4:20-37]

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

* * *

 

#3. ELISHA’S TOMB—JEWISH MAN RESURRECTED

[2 Kings 13:20-21]

 

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

 

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

 

READ THE NEXT POSTS IN THE SERIES

Real-Life Accounts Cont’d

The Resurrection Thunderbolt From Heaven

Rabbi Scholars Defend Jesus’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

 

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

 

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

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

By SoulBreaths Author [ 2 years ago ]

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

 

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

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

By SoulBreaths Author [ 2 years ago ]

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

 
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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.

 

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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.

 
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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

 

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

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

 

Resurrection, Real or Not: Part 4—Rabbi Scholars Defend Jesus’s Resurrection

By SoulBreaths Author [ 2 years ago ]

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

 

© SoulBreaths.com. All rights reserved.

 

READING TIME: 7 MINUTES.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 


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


 

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

 

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

 

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

 

And yet, all those resurrection accounts beg the question.

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

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

 

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

 

note: stock photo, not Rabbi Lapide

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 
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THREE FINE POINTS

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 
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JESUS  & JEWISH BIBLICAL SCHOLARS 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

READ THE NEXT POSTS IN THE SERIES

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

Rabbi Scholars Defend Jesus’s Resurrection

 

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

 

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

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

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

CREDIT: Lion photo by Jeff Rodgers on Unsplash.com

Resurrection, 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 . . .

 
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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 . . .

 
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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 [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.

 

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.”

 

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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.

 

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.

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Journey on