What Grace Communicates…

My 21-year-old daughter had to write an essay for one of her classes.  It is so beautifully written (and no that isn’t mom bias!!) that I thought I would share it with all of you.  Enjoy!

THE RADICAL LOVE OF JESUS – WHAT GRACE COMMUNICATES

The most significant transforming truth I’ve come to understand this past year and a half has been the radical love of God. It’s a simple reality that I’ve claimed to know and encounter and yet something I’ve realized is that I knew absolutely nothing about the radical love of our Jesus. We often take the spotlight off of how radical it is and make it about ourselves. We make it about our sin, and our separation, and our need for a bridge back to God. But the crushing reality the Holy Spirit brought me to is that the cross was never about my lack or separation. It was always about a bold display of love. A love that cries out “YES!” to His people, “THIS IS WHO YOU ARE TO ME. THIS IS WHO YOU HAVE ALWAYS BEEN.” Never once was it about a wrath with which I have been taught that my God was bubbling. 

As long as I can remember, I saw the cross as a place where God poured out His judgment, His anger. But how can my God be both consumed by love and also wrath? The two oppose entirely one another! I have been taught that sin was so offensive to this holy, all-powerful God that He could not enter or be near it. How ridiculous is that? How can an all-powerful, strong God not be near something as little as my sin- when Romans describes sin as just ‘missing the mark’! How can such a loving God be offended by my merely missing the mark? That sounds like a sensitive man, a man who isn’t strong at all. I’ve come to learn that isn’t God whatsoever. My earthly father is never offended when I miss it! He embraces me even more, pouring the truth of who I actually am into me. I can’t imagine how much more my heavenly Father does that to me! Not only is He not offended by sin, but I also go as far as to say that He doesn’t even care about it. And I say that because the truth is: He cares about our hearts. The law, the cross- it was all to point out that our hearts were far from Him after the garden, but His was never far from us.

The garden has become one of my favorite stories. Holy Spirit has completely shifted my view of it! I had been so used to hearing an angry God call out to Adam after he had ‘sinned,’ “WHERE ARE YOU?!” When what happened was Adam hid, and a loving, tender Father cried out, “My son? Where have you gone? You are far from me!” All Adam did was miss the mark of his original design! In my relearning of this story, I found the word ‘sin’ isn’t even in it. The word used in the garden story is ‘disobeyed’ which is the word shemah in Hebrew. It’s ‘to listen.’ Nowhere in this story is God angry towards any ‘sin.’ In fact, He is overwhelmed by a passionate, zealous love that says, “I WILL NOT LOSE YOU TO YOURSELF BECAUSE YOU FAILED TO LISTEN.” The Father never separated Himself from humanity out of anger or disgust toward his son’s now presumed ‘unholiness.’ God sought humanity out! God went looking for Adam because the view of the son had not changed. What changed was our view of the Father. Here is where we see a passionate love story unfold.

When I came to these conclusions, my theology as a whole was on tilt. How then did the law, the wild stories from the Old Testament fit in with all this??? For if my God is the ‘same yesterday, today and forever,’ how could He be angry in the beginning stories of the Bible and pure love after a day of judgment toward His son? He couldn’t. So I had to go searching out what wrath and anger meant because those are words used in scripture! Here began my journey of grace- my journey of actually understanding the radical love of Jesus.

As I was reading up on this, seeking out, essentially, who God is- I discovered the meaning behind the word ‘wrath.’ I found the word used most often in the New Testament is the word orge, which means, ‘any strong passion.’ It’s the origin of the English words, ‘orgy’ and ‘orgasm.’ I would say those are definitely not words having to do with anger! I would even say the latter has to do with a response of overflowing love towards another person! I read a book by a man named Steve McVey called Beyond an Angry God. In his book, he describes ‘wrath’ like this: 

‘If a small child picked up a snake and his dad ran toward him screaming, grabbed him up and was slapping his hand, the child would perceive it as anger but in actuality, what he would be experiencing would be “fierce love.”‘

I discovered that the word wrath or orge is a violent love towards anything that harms us- such as sin and death. I called my mom, absolutely undone by everything I was learning. I felt as though I had no idea what the actual purpose of the life of Christ was until this very moment. She shared with me that the root word of orge is orego. It means ‘to stretch oneself out to touch or grasp something.’ This is what Jesus did toward us! The radical love of Jesus stretched Himself out (on the cross) to grasp us! Another meaning of orego is, “to yearn after, to desire, to stretch toward (to pull towards). “The Father in His love for us, desired us and stretched toward us (through Jesus), pulling us to Himself.”

Writing all of this has me wholly undone yet again. I find myself in tears as the reality of the garden married to the reality of the cross comes to settle within my heart. I have come to know the heart of the radical love of Jesus. It’s Hebrews 12:9, “His jealousy over us burns like fire.” It’s Hebrews 2:6, “Somewhere in the scriptures it is written, “What is it about the human species that God cannot get them out of his mind? What does he see in the son of man, that so captivates his gaze?” It’s God leaving the garden with Adam. It’s the radical, “YES! YOU ARE MINE!” of the cross! It’s the law fulfilling the emptiness within itself- crying out for an example of how to actually reach God and thus leading us to the realization we never lost the relationship with Him! 

This long journey has offended my mind and my theology. This truth has unraveled me completely! I feel like Paul, “Overwhelmed by what grace communicates, I bow my knees in awe before the Father.” (Eph. 3:14 Mirror Bible) My heart cry is now, “The secret is out! His cherished love dream now unfolds in front of our very eyes.” (Eph. 1:9 Mirror Bible) Grace communicates my origin. Grace communicates that I am the very dream of the Creator. Grace communicates I never lost right standing with God. Grace is not an excuse for me to do as I please but causes my heart to shemah- to listen and respond to all He is and says. This is grace. This is the radical love of Jesus.

Is God Too Holy? A Look At Isaiah 59:2

Today we preach a gospel that says our sin separates us from God…. and that only those not in sin have a relationship or fellowship with God.  We categorize believers as those not in sin and unbelievers as those still in sin.  The problem with that is that there are plenty of believers who sin just like there are unbelievers who do not sin, who live pretty moral, upright lives.

But Paul preached a Gospel that wasn’t based on our actions but rather on the finished work of Christ.  He preached a Gospel that proclaimed that all mankind had been reconciled back to God regardless of their right or wrong actions.

And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; (19) To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; ~ 2 Cor 5:18-19

We were reconciled back to God not because of anything we believed, or anything we did.   But only because God desired us… desired to be reconciled to us.  So He was in Christ on the Cross and reconciled ALL men back to Himself.

Reconciling according to Webster’s Dictionary means to restore to friendship; to settle or resolve differences;  It also means to change from an enemy to a friend; and to admit into a community;

2 Corinthians 5:19 also says He didn’t impute their sins against them.  Actually, it says trespasses.  Trespasses in the Greek is paraptóma and means to fall away after being close beside;  a lapse from the truth, a slip-up, an error; sin; wrongdoing that can be unconscious or intentional.  He reconciled ALL men without considering their sins… those that were willful and those that were just slip-ups or mistakes.

Romans 5:10 says God did this reconciliation while we were enemies.  An enemy is someone with a deep-seated hatred for another!  Romans 5:8 says this is how God demonstrated His love for us, He did it while we were sinners.  No repentance or confession required on our part….. it was totally His doing.  It says this all happened while we were weak and ungodly (verse 6)… while we were sinners (verse 8).

HE reconciled us…. restored us back to friendship with Him, settled and resolved the differences we had with Him, changed us from an enemy to a friend and admitted us into His community of love.  He did that while we (all mankind) had a deep-seated hatred for Him, while we were powerless, ungodly, and sinners.

That verse in the Greek says “Moreover (on top of all that)… talking about v. 17, which we’ll have to save for another post!  Moreover, ALL are of God who reconciled us to Himself!  It doesn’t say “all things.”  It says ALL are of God!  I love that.  He reconciled ALL mankind to Himself on the Cross and that same mankind is His!  They are the ALL that is of God.  They belong to Him…. believers, unbelievers, sinners, non-sinners…. ALL are of God!  That doesn’t sound like separation to me!

And He did ALL of this on His own without requiring believing, faith, repentance, confession, a “sinner’s prayer,” etc.  It was simply to demonstrate His love for us.  His relentless, passionate, pursuing covenant love…. His chesed!  To demonstrate His resolve to never let go of us, no matter how far we had gone.  No matter how alienated we had become in our own minds toward Him (Col 1:21)!

So, if that’s Truth… if that’s the Gospel, where did we get the wrong idea of separation from God?  That God was too holy to have a relationship with us when we sin?

This concept of separation from God uses the verse Isaiah 59:2: But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.

This verse doesn’t say God has hidden His face from you and can’t hear you because of your sin.  But for years that’s what I thought it said!  I pictured God with His fingers in His ears and turning His head away from me….. because of sin.  How sad!  That must grieve God when we think about Him like that.

Let’s read it Isaiah 59:2 in context…..

Go to verse 1 of Isaiah 59:  Behold, the LORD’S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear:

Thank God for verse 1!  What a beautiful description of God… His hand is not so short that it cannot save!  And His ear is not so heavy (so burdened or dull) that it can’t hear!

That’s our Daddy!!  Always reaching towards us… always listening to us!

Then verse 2 says:  “But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you so that he will not hear.”

Yes, sin caused a separation, a hiding of God’s face, an inability to hear.  But it wasn’t on God’s part… it was on man’s.  Sin consciousness causes men to see and hear God through a lens of condemnation and judgment.  It wasn’t God who was in hiding, it was Adam.

In Genesis 3 Adam sinned but God did not turn His face from Adam, nor was He unable or unwilling to hear Adam. In fact, He showed up ready to fellowship with him just like always.  He didn’t hide His face and plug His ears because of Adam’s sin…. He listens and talks with him.  

It was Adam who hid.  God came looking for him.  Genesis 3:8 says, “And they heard (shema) the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.”  They hid from His face, from His presence.  Hid in Hebrew is chaba and means to withdraw; conceal.  Adam withdrew from God’s face.  Sin consciousness concealed God’s face. 

The word we translate obey is shema in Hebrew and means hearing with understanding, attention, and with a response.   God didn’t close His ears to Adam.  Sin consciousness closed Adam’s ears to God… he could no longer hear with understanding.  His hearing became dull and heavy…. burdened by sin.

God came looking for Adam.  Asking “Adam where are you?”  In the Hebrew, it is an idiom meaning “he is nowhere.”  God wasn’t asking a question; He wasn’t asking where Adam was.  He was crying out “Son, why did you leave My heart?”

This is not a picture of an angry God who is looking for Adam so that he can punish his “disobedience.”  This is not judgmental, condemning God who is hiding His face and closing His ears to His son.  This first look at sin for us is a picture of a caring Father.  One who is full of grief that His son left His heart.  A son who can no longer see and hear Him.

Adam, because of his sin, can no longer see God accurately.  Sin consciousness has hidden God’s face from him.  It is not God that is hiding from Adam because He’s too holy to look on sin!  Adam’s sin has hidden from Adam who God is.  Hidden his true nature from him.

He now sees God through a warped identity, through the lens of sin, guilt, judgment, and condemnation.  Instead of seeing God as a loving Father, he sees Him as judgmental and condemning.  

And it’s not God that refuses or can’t hear but it’s Adam that has a hearing problem.  Oh, he still hears God, but not accurately and not by the Spirit.  Now he hears Him through sin.  Instead of love and affirmation, he hears guilt and condemnation… he hears judgment.

Adam became a man with an identity problem…. no longer seeing himself as a son.  No longer seeing himself as loved and accepted.  Instead, seeing himself separated from God.

Isaiah is not saying that God is separated from man… turning His face and plugging His ears because He is too holy to look at a sinful man. He is saying that God is displeased with the whole situation that sin has caused.  

And what does Isaiah tell us that God does in response to man’s sin?  He doesn’t reject or abandon us.  He doesn’t separate Himself from us!  We must keep reading and not just stop at verse two and form a wrong opinion about God.  According to Isaiah, God springs into action.  He initiates a saving act whereby he rolls up his sleeves and comes to us Himself through his Son.  Through the beautiful incarnation of Jesus!!

And then he tells us that those who turn to God will find that He was ALREADY for them and toward them!  In other words, our repentance does not cause God to come, but rather, God’s grace precedes and even generates our repentance.  Isn’t that what Paul said in Romans 2:4?  That it’s God’s goodness (His covenant love for us – chesed!) causes men to repent, NOT men’s repentance causes God to be good!  He’s ALWAYS good… good is just who He is.  

This is how the New Covenant (announced in Isaiah, Jeremiah, Hosea and elsewhere) works.  Grace to His children who in their sin can no longer see Him for who He is or hear Him.  Thinking He has hidden His face and closed His ears to them! 

Which Law did God write​ on our hearts?

“This is the new covenant I will make with my people on that day, says the LORD: I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.”  ~ Hebrews 10:16

In a Bible study, I recently started attending it seemed like you had only 2 options…. antinomian (against the Law – basically hyper-grace) or a mix of law and grace (saved by grace but relying on the Law to keep us holy – specifically 10 commandments).  I guess if those are my two options, then I must be antinomian.  Though personally, I prefer the term “IN CHRIST” because in Christ we are no longer under the Law (Galatians 3:24).  I am definitely against the idea of following the Old Covenant Mosaic Law as a moral compass.  I tackled that issue in yesterday’s blog post 10 Commandments.    

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I do know quite a few people who believe that the law God has written on our new hearts as believers is the Old Covenant Law, making it easier to walk out.  Why would God write the Mosaic Law on our hearts?  All that the Law did was arouse sinful passions (Romans 7:5).  Also, Romans 7:4 says that we died to the Law through Christ and we are now married to Him.  So, if it’s not the Mosaic Law on our hearts.  Which law did He write?  According to Hebrews 10:16 He wrote laws (plural) on our hearts and our minds.  I’ve found 4 different laws mentioned in the New Testament.

The Law of Love

Under the Mosaic Law, love was commanded in order to receive the blessings of long life, many children and for life to go well for you.  Failure to obey this command of love would obviously result in not attaining those things.  Deuteronomy 6:5 “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.”  This is impossible to fulfill in ourselves!  No one can love God with ALL of our heart, soul, mind, and strength. We try… we give it our best shot… but that is an impossibility in and of ourselves.  But of course that was the purpose of the Old Covenant laws… they were meant to point us to Christ.  To awaken in us the revelation that we in our selves… in our flesh… we cannot walk out or obey these laws… we need a Savior. 

Under the new covenant of grace, Love is given to you.  Out of Christ’s measureless love, we are now able to love others.  It’s out of the overflow of His Love in us.  It’s not something we have to work up in ourselves towards others or even towards God.  Romans 5:5 tells us God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. God abundantly poured His love into our hearts by giving us the Holy Spirit, … the Spirit of Grace.  Jesus said, “As I have loved you” – it’s out of His love that is in us that we are able to love.   Do you see the difference between the old and new?  Under the old, you loved others because you feared punishment…. you feared not receiving His blessings, His promises.   But under the new, you love because the Lover lives in you and His nature is Love.  He can’t be anything else.  It’s not just an adjective that describes Him, it is who He is (1 Jn 4:8)

The law of the Spirit of life

The Old Covenant was a written code no one could keep (except Jesus) and the New Covenant is Christ Himself living in you.  Paul told us in Romans 7:24 that trying to keep the Old Law makes you frustrated and miserable… “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?”  Notice he didn’t say what will rescue me but rather Who… Who will rescue me?  And the answer was….Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Rom 7:24-25a).  The old law is a what but the new law is a Who.  The old law ministers condemnation and death (2 Cor 3:7-9), but the new law of the Spirit gives life (Rom 8:2).  The letter kills, but the Spirit gives life (2 Cor 3:6)  So Who gives life… Who rescued from the frustration of trying to keep the Law?  The Spirit of Christ within you. 

The perfect law of liberty

James wrote that “the perfect law gives freedom” (James 1:25).  In contrast, Romans 7:6 tells us that the law of Moses binds.  What is the perfect law that gives freedom?

It’s Jesus, the living Word who set us free.  The perfect law of liberty describes what Jesus has done (perfectly fulfilled or completed the law) and the fruit He will bear in our lives (liberty) if we trust him.

But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it – not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it – they will be blessed in what they do. (James 1:25)

Look into the mirror of Moses’ law and you will be miserable, for it exposes all your faults… your weaknesses in serving God in the flesh.  It is like putting a veil over your eyes and you are unable to see that Jesus fulfilled it all not just for you… but as you!  Looking into the perfect law, which is Jesus, blesses you because it reveals his righteousness.

But it also says “Don’t just listen but do what it (the perfect law of liberty) says” (James 1:22). In other words, allow the Spirit of Christ to convince you that in Him you are righteous and holy. Don’t walk away from the perfect law and forget who you are in Christ. Fix your eyes on Jesus. Look intently with an unveiled face and be transformed into his likeness.

Law of faith

Romans 3:27 says Where then is boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? Of works? No, but by a law of faith.  God is a faith God.  Without faith, it’s impossible to please God (Heb. 11:6), so our relationship with the Lord is dependent on it. Faith is what brings the things God has provided for us from the spiritual realm into the physical realm (Heb. 11:1). Our faith is the victory that enables us to overcome the world (1 John 5:4). Everything the Lord does for us is accessed through faith.

And He has given to us His faith…. Galatians 2:20 says “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”  We live our lives by His faith.  Paul did not say that he lived by faith IN the Son of God but by the faith OF the Son of God. The measure of faith that Paul had was the same measure that Jesus had. It was Jesus’ faith. If there is only one measure of faith (Rom. 12:3), then we also have the faith of Jesus.

We don’t have to wonder if we have enough faith for something… or try to work up our faith.  He gives us His faith to live by.  How do we access this faith? Romans 10:17 says, “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” We access God’s faith through His Word.  When we hear God’s Word, the Holy Spirit empowers it, and if we receive the truth, God’s supernatural faith enters us.

Galatians 5:22-23 tells us that faith is a fruit of the Spirit.  Faith becomes a permanent part of our born-again spirits.  There is no lack of faith within any true Christian. There is just a lack of knowing and using what God has already given us.  Philemon 1:6 says, “hat the communication of thy faith may become effectual by the acknowledging of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus.” Notice that Paul isn’t praying that Philemon will get something more from the Lord. He was praying that his faith would begin to work as he acknowledged what he already had. The word “acknowledge” means, “to admit, recognize, or report the receipt of.” You can only acknowledge something that you already have. We already have the faith of God, and it will begin to work when we acknowledge this.

Why would we want the Old Covenant Law written on our hearts?  It is a ministry of death and condemnation.  The New Covenant of grace and it’s laws that are written on our hearts is a ministry of life.  The Spirit of Life abides in us and teaches us all things.  He transforms us into the image of the Son.  The Old Mosaic Law was made obsolete…. Hebrews 8:13 When God speaks of a “new” covenant, it means he has made the first one obsolete.  Colossians 2:14 tells us that it was nailed to the Cross.  Ephesians 2:15 tells us that in His incarnation, He rendered the entire Jewish system of laws and regulations useless as a measure to justify human life and conduct.  Hebrews 8:7 says that if there had been nothing wrong with the first covenant there would’ve been no need for a second covenant to replace it.  

We don’t need the Old Covenant Law to show us how to live holy lives.  First of all, we have already been made holy — 1 Corinthians 1:30 God has united you with Christ Jesus. For our benefit God made him to be wisdom itself. Christ made us right with God; he made us pure and holy, and he freed us from sin.  In Christ, we are righteous, holy and free from sin!  That’s good news!  Second of all, Titus 2:11-12 says that grace, not Law is what we need to teach us how to live holy — For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age. Now that Jesus has come, we no longer need the supervision of the law.  So begin today to live a grace-filled life… standing fast in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, not becoming entangled again with a yoke of bondage to the Law and it’s commandments. (Galatians 5:1).  

~ Robin

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10 Commandments – a ministry of death and condemnation

But if the ministration of death, written and engraved on stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not stedfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which glory was to be done away: How shall not the ministration of the spirit be rather glorious? If the ministry that brought condemnation was glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness!  ~ 2 Cor 3:7-9

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A couple of months ago I joined a Bible study at our church and the study is on the book of Romans.  As much as I love teaching, I also really enjoy being a student and learning from someone else…. and I LOVE studying the book of Romans!!  Although I have to admit, this Bible study hasn’t been my favorite.  I love the women in it and especially their hungry hearts to know the Word BUT I’m not a big fan of the type of study we’re doing.  It’s a Bible study curriculum from a well known Bible teacher… but it’s just that a mainstream curriculum is not my favorite way to study the Word.

The past couple of months we have been studying chapters 6, 7 & 8 and because those chapters deal a lot with the subject of the Mosaic Law, our study has mostly centered around the Law and specifically, what place it has in our lives after we’re saved.  I was surprised that although most Christians consider themselves living under grace, they still love having the Law as a guideline for living righteously.  In fact in this Bible study, I attend, the teacher called the Law (specifically the 10 commandments) our moral compass.  And YET Paul said you cannot mix the two…. And if by grace, then it cannot be based on works (law); if it were, grace would no longer be grace. (Romans 11:6)

As believers, we would all agree that following the 613 commandments of the Mosaic Law is not necessary because we are not under Law but under grace (Romans 6:14).  Yet we consider the 10 commandments (which are a part of the Mosaic Law) God’s standard for right living as a Christian and a good thing for us to adhere to.  Our concept of victorious Christian living is to avoid wrong actions and do right ones.

But Paul referred to the 10 commandments as a ministry of death and condemnation in 2 Corinthians 3:7-9.  In this verse, he is specifically contrasting the 10 commandments (tablets of stone) and grace….. “the letter kills”, “the ministry of death” and “the ministry of condemnation” versus “the Spirit gives life”, the ministry of the Spirit … more glorious” and “the ministry of righteousness exceeds more in glory”.  He called it a ministry of condemnation because all who looked upon the holy demands were condemned as law-breakers.

He is not denying the power of the commandments, as evidenced by Romans 7:12, “Wherefore the law is holy and the commandment holy, and just, and good.”  He does, however, deny that the believer has anything to benefit by knowing those commandments.  To Timothy, Paul states, “But we know that the law is good if a man uses it lawfully; knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient…” (1 Timothy 1:8, 9). Notice that the law is not for the righteous man, and you and I are the righteousness of God in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21).

God gave the 10 commandments along with the other 613 commandments known as the Mosaic Law to the Israelites (the Jewish people) not the Gentiles.  We (the church) were Gentiles who were grafted in as believers.  We were never meant to live under any part of the Law but only under grace.  Galatians 3:24 tells us that the Law was a tutor to bring us unto Christ so that we might be justified by faith.  And after faith came we would no longer be under the tutor of Law.  Galatians 3:19 says that the law was given to “shut up everyone under sin so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.”  

But it wasn’t God’s original plan for the Israelites to live under the Law either…. they were always meant to live under a covenant of grace based on faith.  In Exodus 19:5-6 God spoke through Moses to the people and said “Now if you will obey me and keep my covenant, you will be my own special treasure from among all the peoples on earth; for all the earth belongs to me. And you will be my kingdom of priests, my holy nation.’”  The people responded together, “We will do everything the LORD has commanded.”  

Notice God said, “keep My covenant.” What covenant?  In Exodus 2:24 it says God heard their groaning and He remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac and with Jacob.  It was His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

So God gave the 10 commandments along with the rest of the Law to the children of Israel in Exodus chapters 20-23.  And the covenant…. the promise that was given to Abraham was postponed. The children of Israel now entered a new covenant called the covenant of Moses.  A covenant which required man’s participation in the area of obedience… it rested completely on man’s ability to keep/obey the conditions of the covenant. 

The covenant of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob was the covenant that rested totally on what God would do. It was a covenant of pure belief.  It was God plus nothing…. God made the covenant with Himself and Abraham was simply the beneficiary of that covenant.   It was purely a grace covenant… not a mixture of law and grace.  God’s blessings to Abraham’s family was based on His promises alone, not their obedience.  When the children of Israel were in the wilderness, God treated them with grace instead of as they deserved.  They were constantly murmuring and complaining but at every place they encamped in the wilderness, grace was available to them.  In fact, the word encampment in the Hebrew means “grace”…. but that’s for another blog post!

At Mt Sinai everything changed, the people now wanted to participate by doing instead of just “being”.  They said to God “whatever You say we will do.” It sounds like a good response, a right response to a Holy God.  But it wasn’t.  It was a presumptuous response rooted in self-effort, not in faith.  They replaced the covenant of rest with the covenant of laboring.  They opted for a law-based covenant where God’s blessings now hinged on their faithfulness instead of His.  They didn’t want an intimate face to face relationship with God.  They wanted a mediator to speak for them and for God.  They fell from grace!

When Moses came down the mountain with the 10 commandments written on stone, 3000 people died that day!  The Law demanded death for sin… Romans 6:23: the wages of sin is death.  But there was another mountain, Mt Zion, that resulted in 3000 people being saved (Acts 2:41).  It really comes down to 2 mountains.  Which mountain are you on?

When God gave the Israelites the Ten Commandments it was at Mount Sinai, during Shavuot (Pentecost) 50 days after they had celebrated their first Passover and come out of slavery in Egypt.  When God gave the outpouring of Holy Spirit… the Spirit of Grace…. it was during Shavuot (Pentecost) 50 days after they had celebrated the last Passover with Jesus before He went to the Cross and ended 1500 years of slavery to the Law.

Hebrews 12:18-24 highlights the different natures of the two covenants by comparing these mountains — Mt Sinai and Mt Zion. The old covenant given at Mt Sinai emphasized law and the distance between man and God.  The law reminded people of their sinfulness and God’s holiness and of the need for a sacrifice to make one able to stand before God (Hebrews 10:3). Mt Zion, on the other hand, represents the place where God, the King, dwells with His people.  The Spirit of God now abides in us and continually reminds us that we are sons of God (Galatians 4:6).

So, if the Law isn’t our moral compass, what is?  Grace is our moral compass!  Titus 2:11-12 says For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men. It instructs us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions and to live sensible, upright, and godly lives in the present age.  

There is no such thing as grace-based Law.  It’s one or the other.  It’s law or grace.  Which will you choose?

~ Robin

 

 

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God’s great mercy………

So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him;
male and female He created them.  ~  Genesis 1:27

made in his image

That has become one of my favorite verses lately.  It’s our blueprint… our original design.  No matter what mankind may look like on the outside, no matter what sins we may commit, this is truly who we were created to be and how God sees us – because He always sees us according to our potential in Him not as we are at the moment.

The very first man walked in that design, and all mankind afterward were supposed to walk in the same pattern.  But although Adam was created in that design and walked in it for at least a few days, he sinned and introduced sin and consequently death into ALL the world.

SIN DIDN’T MAKE US SINNERS

All men born after him forgot they were born in God’s likeness and image. Adam gave birth to Seth and in the verse the order is reversed… instead of image and likeness it says likeness and image. I believe that reveals man’s distorted view of who they were.  Genesis 5:3 “When Adam had lived 130 years, he fathered a son in his own likeness, after his image, and named him Seth.”  Sin had been introduced into the world through Adam’s disobedience. 

Sin in the Greek is hamartia and means to miss the mark.  To sin is to behave out of tune with God’s original harmony.  It is to believe a lie about ourselves.  It is to miss out on sonship.  Sonship is our blueprint… our true, original, chosen design.  Ephesians 1:5 “He destined us in love to be his sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will…”

God’s timing was absolutely perfect.

He always had a plan to redeem us.  He had found us in Christ before He lost us in Adam!  Ephesians 1:4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.”  He always loved us too much to leave us in such a wretched state…. God never abandoned His creation!  Romans 5:8 “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  God’s great mercy is FAR reaching and ALL encompassing.  Just as it took Adam’s one act of sin to condemn ALL of mankind, it only took Jesus’ one act of righteousness to completely declare ALL mankind innocent.  Romans 5:18  “So here is the result: as one man’s sin brought about condemnation and punishment for all people, so one man’s act of faithfulness makes all of us right with God and brings us to new life.”  Freely acquitted in the sight of God.

Through Adam, we were ALL were condemned and death reigned in BUT through Jesus, we are ALL declared righteous and life reigns in us.

Jesus’ death and resurrection reconciled us back to God (2 Cor 5:19) and to our original design of sonship.  The sin nature has been completely removed and we received a new heart.. a new spirit… His Spirit.  Ezekiel 36:26-27A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will take out of your flesh the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to observe my ordinances.”   

Jesus defeated sin and death ONCE and for ALL.

God did not love us more once we were reconciled.  Reconciliation simply made us free to realize how much He has always loved us and free to enjoy our redeemed original identity — made in His image and in His likeness.  To see ourselves as He sees us — IN CHRIST.  Free to enjoy sonship and all of it’s joys and privileges.  And not just to see ourselves in this new light, but our old ways of seeing others is over as well (2 Cor 5:16).  We are now to see everyone through the eyes of our Redeemer.

He has made us ambassadors or ministers of His reconciliation with the world.  Our lives are now to exhibit the urgency of God to persuade everyone to be reconciled to God — because Jesus took their life to the Cross in exchange for His resurrected life in them.  He did a finished, completed work on the Cross for ALL mankind.

The language of the Old Covenant… of the old written code was “Do in order to become”.  The language of the New Covenant is “Be, because of what has been done.”  It’s simply a matter of saying yes to God through faith in the shed blood and resurrection of Jesus.  It’s simply a matter of the lost awakening to their righteousness… of seeing themselves as God already sees them…. IN CHRIST.  So that then they will be able to say “I once was blind, but now I see.”

God’s great mercy for mankind is seen in the riches of His goodness toward us and His absolute passionate refusal to let us go.  His Covenant love for us is because He continues to hear the echo of His image and His likeness in us.

I love the Mirror Translation of Romans 3:23-26:

Humanity is in the same boat; their distorted behavior is proof of a lost blueprint. (24) Jesus Christ is proof of God’s grace gift;  He redeemed the glory of God in human life; mankind condemned is now mankind justified!  (25) Jesus exhibits God’s mercy.  In His blood conciliation, God’s faith persuades mankind of His righteousness and the fact that He has brought closure to the historic record of their sins (not by demanding a sacrifice but providing the sacrifice of Himself).  Jesus is the unveiling of the Father’s heart toward us.  (26) All along God refused to let go of mankind.  At this very moment, God’s act of righteousness is pointing them to the evidence of their innocence, with Jesus as the source of their faith.

It is the revelation of God’s goodness that leads men to repentance, not our repentance that leads to God’s goodness.

~ Robin

Hebrew month of Tevet 5777 (2016)

god_is_good     Today we enter into the Hebrew month Tevet.  Tevet is the 10th month of the year on the Hebrew Biblical calendar.  10 is a number of divine order … 10 is also 5 + 5… five being the number of grace or in this case, a double grace…. multiplied grace… abundant grace… dare I say it?… hyper grace!  😮

Tevet is a month full of the goodness of God.  The first two letters in the word Tevet is tet and vav.  Tet and vav make up the word “tov” which means good.  The first time the letter “tet” is used in Scripture is Genesis 1:4 …. and God saw that it was good.  The final letter in Tevet is also “tet”…. so the whole word Tevet from beginning to end is a word full of God’s goodness.   A month beginning with goodness and ending with goodness.  

I’m a lover of all things good.  I’m an incurable optimist.  I like looking for redemption and goodness….in people and all things in general.  I do believe it’s a gift from God… I’ve always been like that.  My mom nicknamed me Pollyanna Sunshine when I was little because of this abundance of optimism and hope.  Though, these past couple of years, there have been a lot of personal challenges that would try to produce a critical spirit instead of seeing the good.

Sometimes it is going to require more effort than usual to find the good in something…. thank God for His grace to help in those times.  Especially today when we are inundated with bad news from the media, bad attitudes from people, etc.  It’s a choice we have to make.  And when we make the choice, God will be faithful to open our eyes to see something good… even if it’s just hidden potential…or buried treasure in someone.  Then we get the privilege and joy of co-laboring with Him to pull out that potential and treasure in those around us.  

If I want to be like my heavenly Father then I need to make that choice to look for the good in everything around me daily.  Because He is good… ALL THE TIME!  In fact, good isn’t just a description of Him… it’s who He is.  1 Chronicles 16:34  O give thanks to the Lord, for He is good.  Good in this Scripture is called an absolute noun, meaning it follows another noun forming a single idea. “Good” and God are one single thought. There is no “good” separated from God and then associated with Him. “Good” and God are the same thing (see my blog post on Goodness and Goodness and Grace)

I’ve been teaching weekly Bible studies this past year and I’m always amazed when I teach on the goodness of God, how some people will adamantly argue against it.  They prefer to see God as judgmental, harsh, punishing and while they’ll see Him as sometimes good it’s based on only if they’ve done something to deserve it.  Sadly, their interpretation of Scripture is in light of that perception of God…. and their representation of Jesus and of the Father is also through that perception.

There is nothing I can ever do to deserve His goodness.  He is not good to me because I’m being good and “obeying” His Word (for a definition on obeying see my blog post on No Hebrew word for obey).  Goodness just overflows out of Him in my life because it’s who He is.  He can’t help Himself.  He’s not angry with us… He’s not angry with the sinner who is unsaved either.  That’s the good news of the Gospel.  Jesus satisfied the wrath of God, the punishment we deserved for sin, and He reconciled us to God.

Then He made us ambassadors of that reconciliation (2 Cor 5:20).  It’s going to be hard to be an effective ambassador for Christ if we fail to see the goodness of God in the land of the living (Ps 27:13).  2 Cor 5:19 says “He gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation.” We have been anointed to preach the good news just like Jesus (see my blog post on Jesus is our JubileeThe widow of Sidon and one of my favorites Naaman the Syrian).  No one wants to be reconciled to an angry, harsh, God who is only going to breathe down our necks and punish us every time we slip up….. that’s not the good news of the Gospel.  

This month of Tevet, I encourage you to dig deeper into the Word and find out about the goodness of God… to quote Bill Johnson, “He’s better than you think”.  We have a responsibility to re-present Him correctly.  The more we begin to see Him as good in the Word, the more we will begin to see the goodness in the people around us and in this beautiful world of ours.

Then our co-laboring will be a joy to us and we will become true ambassadors of Christ…. running after ALL people, begging them to be reconciled to God because He is GOOD and wants to overflow that goodness into their lives.  

~ Robin

New Covenant lens….

hebrews

I’ve been studying and teaching from the book of Hebrews for the past 4 months. We are on the last chapter … and I have learned so much.  It was not an easy book to study or teach and has stretched me and challenged me outside of my comfort zone.  But it is definitely a book that has helped me better understand the benefits of the New Covenant more than anything else I’ve read.

Hebrews is such a fitting name for this epistle.  Not because it was written to Jews, but because of what Hebrews means.  The word comes from the Hebrew verb ivri meaning “to cross over”

The very first Hebrew was Abraham and there were 2 ways in which he “crossed over”… first, he crossed over from Mesopotamia into Canaan and secondly, he crossed over from the world of idol worship that was familiar to him and his family to a new realm, one in which the One True God was worshipped instead. In both senses, Abraham became forever an “ivri” – a Hebrew, one who crossed over.

That fits this epistle so well — crossing over.  These Jews had crossed over from the familiar realm of the Old Covenant to life in the unfamiliar but liberating grace-filled New Covenant.  They were under intense persecution and were being pressured into returning to the Old and this letter was to encourage them to remain in Christ.  This letter presented to them a contrast of the old and new covenants — and the supremacy of Jesus and the New Covenant… a far better, superior covenant.

Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge. Let your conversation be without covetousness;  ~ Hebrews 13:4-5

Our study of this book was verse by verse, always keeping it in the context of who it was written to and why.  When I came to chapter 13, specifically verses 4 and 5, it just seemed so out of context to command them to keep the marriage honorable and the marriage bed undefiled with the warning that God will judge the immoral and those who commit adultery.  And then in the next verse, he’s telling them to live free from the love of money and be content with what they have.  Sex and money…. were those the two biggest concerns the writer of Hebrews has for these believers?

Of course, we are to live holy, pure, godly lives.  Of course, we are to be faithful in our marriages and sex is wrong outside of the marriage relationship.  Of course, we are to not be covetous, greedy, or lovers of money.  And of course, we are to be content with what God has given us.

But is that all this verse is saying?

Remember, the book of Hebrews is about the contrast of Old Covenant and New Covenant.  The writer has explained theses contrasts to us for the last 12 chapters and has warned us several times throughout this letter to not fall from grace, to not turn away from Christ (apostasy), to steer clear of idolatry and going back to Judaism, and to enter into the rest of the finished work of the cross.

So, with all of that in mind, we don’t want to look at these 2 verses through the lens of the Old Covenant pattern which is…. if I am not faithful in my marriage or if I sleep around — if I mess up!  If I sin in this area!  If I do those things, then God is going to judge me.  The problem with that “Old Covenant” lens is that He already poured out all of His judgment for my sins on Jesus.  He is no longer imputing my sins against me.

  • Isaiah 53:5: The punishment that brought our peace was upon Him
  • 2 Cor 5:21:  He made the One who did not know sin to be sin for us so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. 
  • Romans 5:8-9:  But God proves His love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Therefore, since we have now been justified by His blood, how much more shall we be saved from wrath through Him!

This letter was written to believers (believing Jews) not unbelievers/unsaved.  Looking at it in that light.  You have to ask yourself how does God deal with believers who have committed the sin of adultery?  Even if I did do those things after I’m saved, God NEVER calls me an adulterer or a whoremonger.  He calls me righteous!  He sees me as I am… not by what I do or have done.  

So who does God call the adulterer and the whoremonger?  Who does He refer to as covetous?

  • several verses in the other epistles mention sexual immorality as a false teaching — Eph 5:3-7; Jude 1:4; 1 Tim 4:1-5; 2 Peter 2:14; 1 Tim 1:3-10; 
  • Jeremiah 23:10 also talking about false prophets and calls them adulterers.
  • Sexually immoral in Heb 13:4 is the same Greek word used in Heb 12:16 to describe Esau as a fornicator.. an idolator.  — The root word is porne which means an idolatrous community.
  • Adulterers in Heb 13:4 is “moichos” which figuratively means an apostate
  • In the Old Testament, whenever Israel went into idolatry, God called it “adultery.”
  • Idolatry is spiritual adultery
  • Col 3:5 Put to death, therefore, whatever is worldly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry
  • 2 Peter 2:3  By covetousness they [the false teachers] will exploit you with deceptive words;

Historically, at the time this was written (and the other epistles), there were false teachers that had infiltrated the churches and were attempting to turn the believers away from the grace of the New Covenant…. away from it’s teachings… away from Jesus alone being enough to make you righteous and holy.  

What were some of the strange, false, demonic doctrines that these false teachers were teaching?

  • There were those who were forbidding marriage, believing celibacy was purity and pleasing to God (1 Tim 4:3)
  • There were those who were perverting the grace of God into a license for immorality (Jude 1:4)
  • Of course, there were the Judaizers who were encouraging them to go back to the Law (which is adultery/idolatry – Romans 7:1-4)
  • All of these false teachers were motivated by greed (covetousness – love of money)

….and be content with such things as ye have:

Be content in the original language is “with the things that are present.”  Present = right now.  So, what was “present” for these Believing Jews the writer was talking to?

  • They had put their faith in Jesus alone for salvation.
  • And because of it, they were suffering intense persecution and the reality of having to flee Jerusalem and everything they had previously known
  • From all that was familiar… the temple, the priests, the sacrifices.. their family and friends.

Remember they were feeling the pressure to return to Judaism and they were being influenced by false teachers.  This is an encouragement to them not to fall back into idolatry (the Law/Old Covenant) but to continue walking free of that because Jesus is enough!

For hasn’t He promised you that “I will never leave you; never will I forsake you”  

1 Kings 8:57 — Part of Solomon’s prayer at the dedication of the temple was that the Lord would never leave them nor forsake them.  He was declaring that God had kept His promises and not one word had failed which He promised through Moses.

What a fitting thing for the writer of Hebrews to remind the people of…. he’s already told them that the New Covenant is far superior to the Mosaic covenant.   Now, he’s encouraging them that if God kept His promises and not one word failed which He promised Moses, they can trust Him to be with them and never leave or forsake them because “Jesus has obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises” (Heb 8:6). 

Then he reminds them that their response because of that… because Jesus is enough…should be “So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do to me.” (Heb 13:6)

When you begin reading the Bible through the lens of the New Covenant you begin to see things in Scripture that you never saw before…. and you truly begin to find the Father’s heartbeat.  This grace filled New Covenant is liberating!

~Robin

Chanukah 5777 (2016)

Chanukah-Picture

Chanukah is on the evening of the 24th of Kislev on the Jewish calendar.. on our calendar this year it begins tonight Christmas Eve.  Our family began celebrating Chanukah 3 years ago as well as the other Biblical feasts.  We celebrate this in addition to Christmas.  Our family loves both celebrations.  Chanukah is the festival of lights and is a beautiful reminder to us to shine in the darkness.  I love Matthew 5:14-16 in the Message Translation “Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.”  Let’s go public with it… shining as such  bright lights in this world.. not keeping God as a secret.. opening our homes, being generous with our lives (being open and giving with others)

As I was preparing my study notes on Chanukah to share with our kids, I decided to study each individual letter in the word Chanukah. I love studying the Bible in Hebrew.. it’s a rich and beautiful language full of layers upon layers of meanings.  The Hebrew letters in the word Chanukah are chet, nun, vav, kaf, hey.  The Hebrew alphabet (or as it’s called in Hebrew alef-bet) is full of meaning. Each letter is not just a letter, but a number and a picture.. with layers of meanings.  I love something Billy Graham said, “The Bible is big–so big that even the greatest scholar will never exhaust its riches.”

Chet, Nun are the first two letters of Chanukah and spell the Hebrew word grace.   Vav is the next letter and the first time “vav” is mentioned in Scripture it is as a word, not just a letter.  It is in Gen 1 “heavens and (vav) the earth.” It is a word connecting Heaven and Earth.  Grace always connects us to the Heavenly realm…. it enables us to live on earth as it is in Heaven.  It is the empowering Presence of Holy Spirit in and through our lives.  “Vav” is also the number 6 which is 5+1… 6 = 5 (grace) + 1… an abundance of grace.  Romans 5:17 tells us that those who receive an abundance of grace and the gift of righteousness reign in this life through Jesus.  That is just the first two letters of Chanukah… grace! An abundance of grace poured out from Heaven upon us.  

The next 2 letters or the 2nd half of the word is Kaf, Hey.  Kaf is a picture of an open hand… an open hand speaks of blessings.  In Ex 33:22, when Moses asked God to show him His glory, God covered Moses with His hand… that word hand is kaf in the Hebrew. Kaf is a picture of God’s open hand, specifically His open hand of blessing.  One of the meanings of Hey is behold!  or revealed.  The 2nd half of this word is speaking of God’s open hand of blessing being revealed (in this season).  

Studying the word Chanukah by breaking it down letter by letter shows us a beautiful picture of what God is wanting to pour out on us in this season… His grace multiplied to us and His open hand of blessing revealed to us.  

John 1:16 (amp version) sums it up so beautifully…  For out of His fullness, we have all received grace upon grace, and spiritual blessing upon spiritual blessing and even favor upon favor and gift [heaped] upon gift.  

Merry Christmas and Chag Sameach!!

~ Robin

Distorted view of the Father

For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost and is found. And they began to be merry.  ~ Luke 15:24

What a beautiful description Luke 15:24 is of the Father’s love for us.  Truly His heartbeat is restoration and His response to our being restored to Him is to celebrate over us!! 

luke 15

Zephaniah 3:17 in God’s Word Translation says “The LORD your God is with you. He is a Hero who saves you. He happily rejoices over you, renews you with his love, and celebrates over you with shouts of joy.”  I love that.  

Psalm 91:15 He says He will rescue us and then throw us a party.  

The more I meditate on His goodness, the more I see Him in this light…. rejoicing over me, renewing me with His love, celebrating over me and throwing me a party!!  I begin to see Him as Love… extravagant, lavish, outpouring, overflowing Love towards me!  This is the picture of the Father that Jesus is showing us in this parable… a picture of a Good, Good, Daddy.. full of chesed (Covenant Love) toward us (for more on chesed see my post Goodness and Grace).. a love that just won’t let us go!!

BOTH SONS HAD A DISTORTED VIEW OF THEIR FATHER

Both sons had a distorted view of their father and therefore a distorted view of themselves…. this identity problem made them unable to walk in the fullness of their positions as “sons” and enjoy the benefits of their inheritance.  They couldn’t see themselves the way their father saw them… accepted, loved and favored.

The Greek word for son is ‘huios’ and means son… a son having the nature of the father; a son representing the father — this is a word of position.  As opposed to the Greek word ‘teknos’ which means child…  meaning one not fully grown or mature, still needing to be under tutors and governors (Galatians 4:2).

God has called us as sons…. Ephesians 1:5  Having predestinated  (in Greek: proorizo…determined our destiny) us unto the adoption (in Greek:  huiosthasia… declaration of sonship) of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will”.  How awesome and powerful is that truth!!  Before the foundations of the world, He determined and established our destiny as His sons… being conformed to the image of the Firstborn Son.  

And he said, “There was a man who had two sons.  ~Luke 15:9

He had 2 sons… both were huios.  We are first introduced to the elder son as a huios (Luke 15:25)…  again meaning having the nature of the father; one representing the father — it’s a word of position.  But his distorted identity was based on works… on what he did for the father instead of who he was.  Verse 29 gives us a glimpse of how this son saw himself.  “But he answered his father, ‘Look, all these years I have served you and never disobeyed a commandment of yours. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends.”  The word served is douleuo which means “to serve as a slave” — slave is “doulos”.  This was the distorted the view the son had of himself.  

He was a son, not a slave but he saw himself serving as a slave…. not as a son!  And the rest of the verse gives his distorted view of the father… not as an extravagant, generous father but someone withholding from him — even something as small as a goat to celebrate.  

The younger son is introduced in verse 12 also as a huios…. again meaning having the nature of the father; one representing the father — this is a word of position.  His distorted view of his identity was based on his inheritance.. what he would possess at his father’s death —  his priority was on his inheritance instead of relationship.  Although even after he leaves with the inheritance, he is still called a “son” (huios).  His position hadn’t changed even though he walked away from it.  

Later in the story, he comes to his senses and realizes he has sinned against heaven and against his father and decides to tell his father he is no longer worthy to be called “a son” but instead a hired hand (with no inheritance).  But the father’s response is one of love and although the son no longer sees himself as a son but a servant, the father sees him the way he always has… as a son… his son. 

HE ALWAYS MAKES GRACE AVAILABLE FOR US

Redemptive grace was offered to both sons to see themselves as they truly were and to see the father as he truly was.  While we know the younger brother repented (changed his mind to align with the father’s) and began to see clearly who he was, sadly we never know if the elder brother repented, if his heart was healed and if he embraced his sonship.  But we do get a glimpse of the condition of his heart in looking further into how the father referred to him.  In verse 31 the father calls him son but the Greek word used is teknos instead of huios;  Teknos means child — a member born into the family but immature; not yet transformed into mature sons who are able to represent the father and administer the father’s house and his belongings.

We are sons of God.  And our Father is a good Daddy to us.  Ask Abba Father today to reveal this truth to you…. begin to see yourself in Christ… as joint heirs with Him, carriers of His glory, made in His image and as a representative on earth of all that He is and all that He is… and then begin releasing that to those who have lost their way!

~Robin  

Iyar — 5776 (2016)

Jehovah rophe necklace    Last night we entered into the Hebrew month of Iyar.  This is one of the three Spring months…. Remember that each month is a progressive blessing of revelation – the blessing of the Spring months are:

  1. Reconfirm your covenant with God at Passover in the first month (Nissan)
  2. So that, He can reveal secrets of His covenant in this second month (Iyar)
  3. And then He will bring you into a whole new level of Pentecost in the third month (Sivan)

Spring is a time to plant…. as you sow this month declare that your harvest is being secured and that every seed will prosper.  Biblically it is the “New year of Kings”… a time of counting the years of the reigns of kings in ancient Israel.  It is also the month when kings go to war (2 Sam 10:1)… This is a time to reign as kings and to use your authority…. to war for your covenant promises.  Zech 10:1 tells us to ask the Lord for rain in the springtime…. this month is a time to ask for the rain of His presence.  

After coming out of Egypt, Iyar was the transition month between Egypt and Mt Sinai.  It was a transition to a new level in their relationship with Him from being one of deliverance to one of covenant.  The rabbis have traditionally taught that this new level was actually a marriage covenant between the Lord and Israel… He became their Husband. During this transition time, He began revealing His covenant secrets to them in the Wilderness.

In Ex 15:26 He revealed Himself to them as their Healer, Jehovah Rophe.  In fact, Iyar is actually an acronym meaning Ani Yahweh Rophe.  In Hebrew, it is spelled:  Aleph, Yud, Yud, Resh….. “Ani Yahweh Rofecha.  Aleph – stands for Ani,  Yud – 2 yud’s next to each other always represent God’s name and Reish – stands for Rofecha.

In Ex 16:12 He revealed Himself as Jehovah Jireh, the Lord their Provider as He sent in quail in the evening and rained down Manna (angel’s food) from Heaven.  Another covenant secret He taught them was the Sabbath (Ex 16:26)… He was trying to teach them to rest in Him, that He would provide everything they would ever need.  His provision was given even in their grumbling (Ex 16:2).  In Ex 17 He revealed Himself as Jehovah Nissi, the Lord their Banner after their victorious battle against the Amalekites.  This battle was only victorious because He was their banner and fought for them…. later after the report of the spies and they are judged to wander in the Wilderness for 40 years, they realize their sin and decide to go up and take the land against Moses’ counsel and are badly defeated by the Amalekites and Canaanites.

In Ex 17 He revealed Himself as Jehovah Nissi, the Lord their Banner after their victorious battle against the Amalekites.  This battle was only victorious because He was their banner and fought for them…. later after the report of the spies and they are judged to wander in the Wilderness for 40 years, they realize their sin and decide to go up and take the land against Moses’ counsel and are badly defeated by the Amalekites and Canaanites.  Our victories are only guaranteed IN CHRIST… Psalm 108:13; Psalm 60:12;   How do we learn His secrets?  Simply when we ask!  Dan 2:21-22, Mt 13:11, James 1:5.

 Iyar is often called the month of Ziv, meaning radiance.  It is linked with light or increased revelation.  It is the opposite of darkness….Isaiah 60:1-3.  This is also the month the disciples were taught many things about the Kingdom by Jesus during the 40 days after His death and when they waited in the upper room to receive the promise from on High.  Just like every year before, as tradition dictated, they spent the night before Shavuot (Pentecost) first taking an offering to the temple and then staying up all night studying the Word.

But this particular year on Shavuot, He fulfilled the prophecy in Joel 2.  He poured out His Spirit upon them and they became changed men and women who went forth changing the world.  This month we are still in the period of what is called counting the Omer.  Omer in the Hebrew is to form and utter speech!  This is a time to speak out the promises of God… releasing words that will help propel us into our destiny and transition us successfully into this new season!

Remember that this is the month of transition for them through the wilderness before Mt Sinai.  In the wilderness they received grace – the word encampments translates “grace was available”.  

This month walk in the abundance of grace that is yours IN CHRIST as you move towards the month of Sivan.  This month begin to learn the ways of God….the secrets of His covenant.  

The tribe associated with Iyar is “Issachar”, this is probably one of my favorite tribes.  Jacob prophesied over Issachar in Gen 49:14-15 and Moses prophesied over them in Deut 33:18-19.   Issachar was the 5th son of Leah…..five represents grace, goodness, and the favor of God.  Issachar was a man of strength that would not hold back from hard work to establish a secure place to rest.  He was a burden bearer… this links the anointing to intercession.  

Men of Issachar were also prophetic people…. they not only had an understanding of the times and seasons but they also knew what Israel should do in those times and seasons… 1 Chron 12:40.  Deut 27:12 reveals that an Issachar anointing understands the timing of God and the government of God, carries the burden of the Lord, and releases the blessing of God into the earth realm at the crossroads of every season.

IN CHRIST we have this same anointing….. to understand the timing of God and of His government…. to carry His burdens in prophetic intercession…. and to release His Blessing into the earth and to everyone we come in contact with.  This month walk in the revelation of the Issachar anointing.  

~Robin