A Modern Woman's Perspective On The Kingdom of God on Earth

Showing posts with label Resoration. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Resoration. Show all posts

December 11, 2020

Celebrating The Miracles of God

The Jewish holiday of Hanukkah began last night, December 10th, at sundown and will continue through sundown on December 18th. In the Jewish faith, the eight days of this celebration represent the miracles of God in the centuries since their faith was founded... beginning with the miraculous birth of Isaac, through their deliverance out of Egypt, through the continuity of the Jewish people throughout numerous defeats by world empires and subsequent captivities (including the Holocaust of the 20th Century); all the way to the miracle of the rebirth of the State of Israel, including their eternal capital, Jerusalem. 

Although the ultimate miracle of scales being lifted off their eyes [so that they recognize Jesus as their Messiah] has not been completely fulfilled yet, there are tens of thousands of the Jewish faith who have received this miracle in a personal way. And the celebration of Hanukkah holds both an historic and future significance for them.  And since, as Christians, we are grafted into the Jewish faith, the celebration of Hanukkah has great meaning for us, as we look to the Light of the World. And for me, it has particular significance this year.

Here is the historical perspective: In Exodus, Chapter 25, God gave Moses instructions for building the accessories and furniture for the Tabernacle.  Among them were the Ark of the Covenant, a table for the bread of the Presence [of God], and the Golden Lampstand.  This lampstand was to be built out of pure gold and included seven bowls in which only pure, fresh olive oil of the highest quality would be used to sanctify the priests, the tabernacle, and all of its furnishings and sacred vessels.  This lampstand, or Menorah, was a seven-branched candelabra beaten out of a solid piece of gold.  Later, it stood in the southern part of the Temple and was lit every day by the High Priest. In fact, Exodus 27:21 tells us, Aaron and his sons shall tend it from evening to morning before the Lord. It shall be a statute forever to be observed throughout their generations by the people of Israel. 

You see, the olive oil in the lampstand was representative of the Holy Spirit, the One who sanctifies us, fills us, readies us to see [and become like] Christ, and brings us light, joy, and spiritual health. And, as commentator David Guzik tells us, "God never wanted the lamps to lose their fire. Only a continual supply of oil and trimming of the wicks could keep them burning. We can only continue to be on fire for God if we are continually supplied with the oil of the Holy Spirit, and are 'trimmed' by God to bear more light". 

That is a symbolic understanding of the Menorah and its significance.  But there is a real life story of God's miracle in keeping His Light burning... It occurs during that time period when the Roman Empire is ascending and flexing its muscles against the fading Greek Empire. The small nation of Israel finds itself caught in the middle of the battle for power among the Syrians, the Greeks, the Egyptians, and the Romans.  The Jews, in Israel, eventually find themselves under the rule of the Greek leader Antiochus Epiphanies, who came to power with flattering offers of peace.

At the time, the Jewish High Priest was Onias lll, and he was considered the prince of the covenant.  His brother Jason, was corrupt, and wanted to bring Greek culture to Israel.  So Antiochus had Onias murdered and replaced him with Jason, as High Priest. This High Priest (Jason) is soon replaced by another priest (Menelaus) who offers to pay Antiochus huge bribe money to hold this prestigious office.  Jason has heard false rumors that Antiochus has been killed in battle and leads a small army against Jerusalem to get his office back.  This, of course, angers Antiochus and he unleashes his hatred of the Jews in a fury, killing many Jews, selling many of them into slavery, and plundering the treasures of the Temple.

 In the meantime, Menelaus is forcing a false worship system on the Jews and making them accept the Greek culture and worship the Greek idols. Antiochus sends his general Apollonius to occupy Jerusalem and they sacrifice pigs on the Temple altar. The Jews were made to take part in drunken orgies in honor of the god of wine, Bacchus. Jews are also forbidden, on penalty of death, from practicing any form of Judaism including circumcision or observing the Sabbath.

Furthermore, Antiochus had ordered the Jewish Scriptures to be destroyed, and he and his soldiers brought prostitutes into the Temple and there had sex with them in order to defile the Temple. The final outrage for the pious Jews of the land came when Antiochus sacked the Temple and erected an altar there to the pagan god Zeus. Then, on December 25, 168 BC, Antiochus offered a pig to Zeus on the altar of God. (This is a picture of the "abomination of desolation" that Daniel mentions, and which Jesus references as coming again, right before His return).

The apostate Jews listened to the flatteries of Antiochus and left the worship of YHWH.  But God always has a remnant that remain faithful to Him despite persecution.  That was the Maccabee family.  Mattathias Maccabee is angered when he witnesses a priest about to take part in these blasphemies in the Temple and kills him on the altar.  This begins the Maccabean Revolt that we read about in the Book of Maccabees. The Jewish Encyclopedia gives the following account of the Maccebean revolt, which began in 166 B.C. and threw off Syrian/Greek rule:  "Mattathias was already old when the religious persecution under Antiochus Epiphanes broke out. The king's soldiers under Apelles, who is mentioned by Josephus but not in the Book of Maccabees, came to Modin, a small city in Judea. They set up an altar to the heathen god, and ordered Mattathias, as the most influential citizen, whose example would be followed, to sacrifice in accordance with the king's command. But Mattathias said: "Though all the nations that are under the king's dominion obey him, . . . yet will I, and my sons, and my brethren, walk in the covenant of our fathers" (I Macc. ii. 19-20). And when a certain Jew was about to obey the command, Mattathias, who was filled with holy wrath, killed the offender and destroyed the altar, while his sons cut down the king's officer. Thereupon Mattathias called out: "Whoever is zealous for the Law, and maintaineth the covenant, let him follow me." His countrymen, abandoning all their possessions, followed him and hid in the mountains and desert places. Others, who had hidden themselves before, joined them. . . . From his hiding-place he scoured the neighboring districts of Judea, drove out small bands of the king's troops, punished the renegade Jews, destroyed the heathen temples and altars, and brought children, who through fear had not been circumcised, into the covenant of Abraham."

When Daniel says, in Chapter 11, verse 32, that the people who know their God shall be strong, and do exploits, it is a direct reference to the Maccabees.  REMEMBER:  This time period occurs in the Silent Years between Malachi and Matthew.  These events took place in the period after the Old Testament was completed with the writings in Malachi. It was a hard time for the faithful Jews and a period of extreme persecution. It was a time of mixed loyalties among the Jews. Some believed God, and were faithful even unto death. Others rejected Him, believing the lies of Antiochus.  IT WILL BE THE SAME IN THE END TIMES, AT THE TIME OF THE GREAT TRIBULATION. 

At this time in history (just as it will be at the end of history), Antiochus was determined to exterminate the Jewish people. He sent Lysias, the commander-in-chief of the Seleucid army, along with 60,000 infantrymen and 5000 cavalry, to utterly destroy the Jews. This powerful army finally encountered Judas Maccabee, who had a force of only 3000 poorly equipped rebels, in the town of Emmaus, which was just over 7 miles from Jerusalem. Judas managed to gather together another 7000 rebels, but was still terribly outnumbered. He prayed to God for strength and deliverance (1 Maccabees 4:30-33), and God answered! They won a huge victory over the Seleucid army!

 Judas then determined to enter Jerusalem and liberate the city, and also to purify the Temple and re-dedicate it to God. When they entered the holy city, the extent of the destruction which they beheld caused them to be overwhelmed by grief (1 Maccabees 4:36-40). Their grief, however, soon turned to determination and action. They set about the task of driving the enemy out of the city, and also of cleaning up the Temple. On December 25, 165 BC (exactly three years after Antiochus had defiled the altar of God by offering a pig upon it), the Temple of God was rededicated to Him with rejoicing and sacrifices. The celebration continued for eight days. This is the famous "Feast of Lights" (Hanukkah) which is still celebrated by the Jews to this day.

In fact, there are two miracles associated with this religious holiday.  The first is that the small band of Jewish rebels were able to defeat the massive and superior Syrian-Greek army.  The second miracle is that during the re-dedication of the Temple, and upon the priests’ return to light the menorah, they discovered there was only one vial of oil, which should have lasted no more than a day.  But YHWH miraculously replenished the oil so that it sufficed for eight days.

A year later, the holiday of Hanukkah was established and celebrated to commemorate the eight days God replenished the oil. It was a celebration of the weak, threatened with annihilation, yet overcoming the mighty, with God's intervention. Clearly, the holiday of Hanukkah celebrates those miracles that occurred over 2000 years ago.  But it is a reminder today [to those who have faith in Jesus Christ] of the miracle that established Him as the Light of the World.  It is a time to remember that He is our unparalleled hope, and to look for spiritual renewal and re-dedication to our faith.  It is a time to be thankful that His Light shines into the darkness of this world, and that the darkness is receding and will eventually be totally defeated.

This is a holy time that is especially significant in this year 2020. The same spirit of Anti-Christ that existed in Antiochus Epiphanes exists in the world today. It is the spirit that hates God and God's people, and desperately tries to control hearts and minds through false promises of power and prosperity. This spirit endeavors to change the world by extinguishing the hope that is in Jesus. It is a spirit of desecration and persecution, and we are seeing the beginnings of both in our own national chaos. 

But who among us is willing to take a stand like Mattathias and declare, "Though all the nations that are under the king's dominion obey him, . . . yet will I, and my sons, and my brethren, walk in the covenant of our fathers"? Are there those among us who are willing to stand for holiness in our nation, even though we see corruption and bribery and fraud and apostasy all around us? Are we willing to re-dedicate this land to the covenant of our fathers? Because I will tell you, this nation needs cleansing and a restoration. We need to devote ourselves to returning to our godly roots, and we need to remove the influence of the unrighteous and the profane from within our midst. 

I pray that during this season of Hanukkah we might see one more miracle from God to add to His long list of supernatural deliverances for the people who love Him. I pray that the Anti-Christ spirit will be driven from this land by Holy-spirit filled men and women who are willing to stand up and fight alongside the Host of Heaven to save our homeland, just as the Maccabees fought to keep their home from being violated and polluted by evil forces. Let God provide the miracles to turn the light of freedom in Christ back on in this country! Let Jesus, the Light of the World, reign in place of Satan's proxy government and let His Light be celebrated with joy and overwhelming allegiance. Let this nation once again be a lamp to the world that never burns out. Father, illuminate us with a never-ending supply of Your grace and mercy, and let us re-dedicate ourselves and this nation to becoming one with You. Happy Hanukkah everyone!

Psalm 27:1     The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?

March 23, 2020

Our God Is A God of Restoration!

     As we begin a new week, there is much uncertainty in our lives. I sense the first waves of panic subsiding [a little] as people have come to terms that change is on the way. But there is also a  heightened sense of wary anticipation as we await just what that change is going to be. Isolation brings a modicum of hope, but also a consciousness of detachment and a lack of connection. We humans are created for relationship, and that word quarantine doesn't bode well for our souls.
     I am not a prophet and the Lord has not given me any specifics about what it looks like going forward. But I believe that I sense His heartbeat, and I long to be in harmony and rhythm with Him. I know Him as my loving Father, in ways that demonstrate His exalted nature and mercy towards me, one who is so undeserving of such deep love and compassion.
     I know how much the human race has disappointed Him and that He would have every legal right to bring judgment upon the world. But while judgment against Evil will be His ultimate act, He measures His verdict against His children through loving discipline. And then He always restores those who respond to Him in repentance and obedience.
     So, I believe hard times are forthcoming. But I refuse to become a doomsday forecaster. I do not lay this virus, our economic woes, or the state of the world at the feet of God. It is time to be sober and vigilant, because our adversary, the devil, walks around like a roaring lion, seeking whom he can devour. And we must own up to the part we have played in this mess, and then humbly seek His face and His will for our lives from this moment on. God has not abandoned us! And I choose to focus on His promises of RESTORATION.
     Therefore, I have spent the morning combing through Scripture, noting all the ways that God has brought restoration in the lives of people in the Bible. And since He never changes, and Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and just as He will be tomorrow, we can expect that it is Their will to restore us, as well.
     First, there are numerous accounts of God restoring flesh and lives. As the fear of coronavirus sweeps the land, we can rest in the knowledge that just as God exhibited His power to restore Moses' hand in Exodus 4:7, He can restore our bodies back to health from this virus. In fact, we can take much comfort from Psalm 41:3, When they are sick, God will restore them, lying upon their bed of suffering. He will raise them up again and restore them back to health. And here is a prayer to declare over yourself and loved ones: Lord, it is because of these things [Your kindness, mercy, acts of love, goodness of God], that life is given. It is in You that my spirit lives. Now restore my health and give me life again! And let us not forget that Jesus restored the lame, the blind, and the mute. Plus Peter was able to restore the lives of Aeneas, who was paralyzed, and the disciple Dorcas, who had died. It is inevitable that sickness and death will visit this nation and some of our homes. But we do not have to sit back and give in to their threats. We are sons and daughters of the King and citizens of the Kingdom. We can use our power and authority to bring the Light into this darkness and demonstrate the power of God to defeat the tactics of Satan and restore our health.  
     We have also watched the wild fluctuations of the stock market over the last couple of weeks, and  millions of Americans are worried about their finances. Restaurants are closed down, small businesses are suffering, and untold numbers of Americans are out of work. But the Word tells us that God restores fortunes.  Job stands out among those who lost much in the Bible. Scripture tells us "he was the greatest of all the people of the east". Then Satan decided to test the hedge of protection around Job, and it cost this righteous man his wealth and his family, and he is ridiculed by his friends for not renouncing God for his losses. And when Job questions the justice of all that has happened to him, God reminds him of His majesty and His greatness; and then He rebukes Job's friends for misrepresenting Him and blaming Him for the works of the devil. Job confesses that he uttered what he did not understand and repents for blaming God. And the Bible says, And the Lord restored the fortunes of Job, when he had prayed for his friends. And the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before (Job 42:10).
     We must not fall into the trap Job did, of listening to the temptations of Satan to blame God for what befalls us. And we would do well to believe in the promise of the Lord to the captives in Babylon, given through the prophet Jeremiah: For I know the plans I have for you; plans to prosper you and not harm you; plans to give you hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11).
     We know that God restores land and nations and cities and thrones. Throughout the Bible He continued to restore Israel to their homeland, and we are still seeing that coming to fruition today in the Middle East. God is good to give us a picture of the restoration of righteousness in the New Jerusalem, as in Isaiah 1:26: I will restore deliverers [righteous judges] as in former times and your wise counselors as at the beginning. Only then will you be called the Righteous City and the Faithful City! And I rejoice in the hope provided in Acts 15:16, that the true Church will rise up in the knowledge that soon, Jesus will return, and He will rebuild the tabernacle of David that has fallen; He will rebuild its ruins, and He will restore it... that we will experience the intimacy and the trust and the relationship that David experienced with the Father; that we will come out of these difficult circumstances and identify as David, " a man after God's own heart". I want to be real with God, just as David was; feeling free to express my worries and my disappointments; and shouting His praises as He surprises me with miracles in the midst of darkness.
     And there is perhaps no other verse that speaks to my spirit more than Psalm 23:3 ... He restores my soul. I need and want a reset of my soul -- my mind, my free will, and my emotions. I pray that this time of separation from the world will result in a repair and renewal of any wrong thinking on my part. Like Job, I want to believe in my mind and my heart that God can do all things and no purpose of His can be thwarted. I want to question Him, and have Him make His counsel known to me. I don't just want to hear Him; I want to see Him. And I want my will to always reflect His, and my feelings to align with His. 
     So, here's what I do know as we head into this unknown territory ... God restores all things and all things are made new in Him. He showed me that this last Friday, during what will probably be the last "in-person" Inner Healing session Mark and I will do until we get on the other side of this quarantine. A beautiful couple came to us in the midst of the pain from adultery. Both were reeling from the betrayal and breach of trust, and it looked dismal for any chance of reconciliation. As always, we explained that we are not marriage counselors. Our purpose was to show them what Jesus desired. I will tell you it didn't look good when they first sat down. But throughout the session Jesus made His presence and His desire for them known; and when they heard His voice declare that "restoration was already beginning", He showered them with Living Water, washing away all the guilt and condemnation. They left with a vision of a renewed marriage; beginning again and casting away all efforts of the Enemy to destroy what Jesus pronounced as "clean". Mark and I spent the rest of the night praising Him for building something new and beautiful out of the ashes of loss and failure.
     I believe He can do that on a much bigger scale with millions of people in the world. This virus is designed to defeat us. But Jesus and the Father have declared victory and success over us! Believe in Them and trust Them! Talk to the Holy Spirit; know that He and Jesus are interceding for you every day! We are going to face some difficult times ahead, and no one knows for how long. We can choose to curl up in a ball out of fear and despair. Or we can walk as citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven on earth, ministering to others in need, and interceding in prayer for all those suffering on the earth. And above all else, we can walk in confidence in our identity in Christ and believe that RESTORATION is in our future! 

1 Peter 5:10   And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.