On the Hebrew calendar, the 9th day of Av (Tisha b’Av in Hebrew) is a notorious date of tragedy for the Jewish people. Many major tragedies are recorded in the Bible and continue up to modern history.
The Bible tells us that Aaron died on the first day of Av. Although he was a faithful servant for 40 years, he was part of that first generation that did not get to go into the Promised Land because of unbelief. Later, both temples were destroyed on the 9th of Av, as well as many, many other calamities down through the centuries.
Obedience in our spiritual life is a form of spiritual warfare, because obedience creates an atmosphere that brings righteousness to dark places.
Intuitively we know this. But I want to break it down into practical actions that will make it a continual reality in our lives. The bottom line is, it’s supernatural, it doesn’t make logical sense here on earth. We have to move beyond the natural to even discuss the topic of spiritual warfare.
Have you ever been in a situation in which you wondered what Yehovah was up to? You knew you were in a specific place for a reason, but not sure what it was. Or maybe you’ve felt you were meant for something more than you’re currently doing and have asked Yehovah to open new doors. You’ve prayed and waited on the Lord for your next assignment. But once you realize what it is he’s asking of you, it seems daunting, more or different than you had in mind. You might feel overwhelmed at the prospect, maybe reluctant or anxious.
Take heart, you’re in good company. Joseph, Moses, Noah, Gideon, even Yeshua – they’ve all been where you are.
Have you noticed that the enemy often increases his efforts just as we’re about to approach a victory? We don’t always perceive what’s happening in the moment, but we notice that things get very difficult. Then all of the sudden, there’s a breakthrough in an area where we’ve been struggling or praying for.
Jewish tradition has preserved the festival of Purim for nearly 2,500 years. While it’s not a festival commanded by Yehovah, it commemorates the victory recounted in the book of Esther of the deliverance of Yehovah’s people from persecution and destruction – a story repeated over and over in history and, indeed, continuing today.
Esther 9:26b-28 explains the original intent of the celebration: (more…)
In an earlier post, we reviewed the lifestyle of following the 10 Commandments and the blessings it produces based on Deuteronomy 26:16-19. But God’s blessings go beyond human logic. It’s not only that if you do this, then that will happen. While that is certainly true in the natural realm, when we pursue God’s commands, the spiritual results are compounded beyond what we can imagine. (more…)
“He has declared that he will set you in praise, fame and honor high above all the nations he has made and that you will be a people holy to the Lord your God, as he promised.” (Deut. 26:19)
Those are blessings I’d like to receive! But before we “name it and claim it”, let’s look at the context. (more…)
To many, the account of Abraham offering up Isaac to God in Genesis 22 is one of the hardest stories in the Bible to read and comprehend. You don’t have to be a parent to feel the anguish Abraham must have felt, to question how he could attempt such a heartbreaking act, and even to doubt the goodness of God.
In addition to the emotion it raises, there are several unanswered logical mysteries as well. What did Abraham tell Isaac they were doing? Was Isaac really that gullible? The fact that Abraham had Isaac carry the wood up the mountain indicates that Isaac was stronger than Abraham. How did Abraham wrestle him onto the altar? Furthermore, the surrounding information indicates Isaac would’ve been an adult, probably near 37 years old. Just how did Abraham get him to go along with this preposterous plan? There are enough holes in the report to make us wonder if we’re really hearing the whole story. (more…)
At one point in my career, I had not been demoted, but it certainly felt that way. Our administrative help was let go, and I was asked to take on her work in addition to my own. The new arrangement was working, so there was no hope of it changing any time soon. But I grew restless and sometimes frustrated. It also began to change other peoples’ perceptions of my capabilities and my status in the organization. I considered looking for another job, but in the current economy, this was not the time.
I asked a question I often use to glean answers and direction from God: “Who in the Bible has felt this way, and what did he or she do about it?” Two Bible giants came to mind — Joseph and Moses.
In our review of Numbers 11, we’ve seen how rejection of God’s provision (Part 1) and replacement with their own desires (Part 2) forces God’s presence out of the Israelites’ wilderness camp. But that’s not all. The story includes details that provide clues about something more God had planned.
In His mercy, I believe God hid a blessing in the midst of the incident for those who would pursue the path He laid out. While, there’s no account of any of the Israelites doing so, it serves as a lesson to us today of how God provides us a way to correct our path when we’ve gone astray. It’s a testament to God’s patience and tenacity in His pursuit of us and shows us how to stay in His will and presence. It’s a revelation the Israelites missed. (more…)
In Numbers 11 we read of one of the complaints the Israelites brought against God and Moses during their sojourn in the wilderness. They asked for meat; however, as we discussed in Part 1, they already had meat. Their true sentiment stemmed from discontent and a rejection of God’s provision.
As true today as it was then, when we reject God’s provision, we end up pursuing our own agenda. As a result we are presented with opportunities to either turn back or continue with our own way of living. In this case the Israelites’ choices led them away from the blessing of God and into separation from God’s presence.
Did they realize what they had done and what the implications were? Hindsight is wisdom’s teacher. Based on their experience, I realized I had to change my own course. (more…)
Remember the story of how God fed the Israelites quail – tons of quail – in the wilderness? It takes up one chapter in the Bible but seems to be just another incident in the litany of complaints the Israelites brought against God and Moses.
How was it different from the other incidents? Why was God so angry? Why so many quail? The story almost raises more questions than it answers. Yet there are a few hints that create intrigue as to its deeper meaning. Contrary to my first impressions, I believe it holds some (almost) hidden lessons about God’s mercy and desire to dwell with us and bless us. (more…)
“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14
I found this verse repeating in my head, so I posted it in a place where I’d see it every day, a place where I typically pray for my friends and family as I’m starting my day. I continued my routine of praying for various people, and the verse stayed on my wall for probably three weeks.
I came to understand the power of this statement: (more…)
On a recent vacation, I decided to try rock climbing on the simulated rock wall. I had never done it, but watched several people in front of me, some succeeding to the top and some quitting part way up. With each one I could, I asked how they did it or what stopped them from finishing, trying to learn whatever might help me make it high enough to ring the little bell at the top, announcing my success.
When it was my turn, the attendant, Alex, roped me up and gave me climbing shoes to help me hold on. I took my first few steps on the holds and knobs. “This is pretty easy,” I thought. But like anything else physical, it got harder as I went along. (more…)
“A living sacrifice to God” (Romans 12:1). It’s a familiar term, one that’s always in the back of my mind as my position and purpose in God. Then, I unexpectedly learned a deeper understanding of what that actually means and how I can really live it out.
The idea of sacrifice to us today refers to giving something up. But the audience of Paul’s day at the time it was written would have understood it to refer to the temple sacrifices — animals, birds, oil, grains — which were a major part of their life and had been in their history for nearly 1,500 years.
One of the offerings required was a “whole burnt offering” — the Hebrew word “olah” (referred to repeatedly in Lev. 1-6). This offering was used to symbolize that the worshipper had offered himself in service and obedience to God. But what I didn’t know was that the word “olah” was also used to describe bondservants. (more…)
Have you ever felt God asking you to do something for which you know you’re not talented or maybe not qualified? No doubt Esther felt this way when Mordecai instructed her to speak to the king about saving her kinsman. Esther’s obvious gift was in her beauty, her speaking of political matters with the king was never a thought. In fact she hadn’t even had an audience with him in a month, and then only at his request. A person could be sentenced to death for approaching the king without his summons.