God bless you in the name of Jesus Christ the surety of a better testament (Hebrews 7:22).
When I first began teaching Psalms 119, I noted the three deviations from the standard form that I mentioned in yesterday’s email. However, the only thing I had to share about them was that they didn’t fit the apparent form the Psalms followed. I would usually handle my lack of understanding by chuckling and saying, “It just goes to show you that when you think you have His Word figured out, He changes things up on us to let us know we are not as smart as we think we are.”
Then when I noticed that God marked each of the variations as important or emphatic with a figure of speech, I began to consider if there were deeper truths hidden in these exceptions. The first two were obvious and easily noticeable, but the third baffled me for quite a while. Then, one day when reading my Companion Bible my eye was draw to a not Bullinger had placed there which read:
“This is the only verse in this Psalms which has not one of the “ten words,” unless we may include the Living Word Himself, Who is the “surety” for His people.”
The use of “surety” in verse 122 is the figure of speech, type. E.W. Bullinger points out in Figures of Speech Used in the Bible that most things theologians call types should not be. Indeed, he asserts that a type should never be so called but for subsequent revelation that clearly declares it as such. (Which Hebrews 7:22 seems to do.) So perhaps we ought to call this a shadow or an analogy or an illustration rather than a type. But for our purposes here let’s use “type” for simplicity.
Psalms 119, the magnificent Acrostic Psalm of God’s Word, displays God’s Word using 14 Hebrew synonyms and 11 English synonyms to communicate the grand spectrum and immensity of the written Word of God. Certainly, many of these synonyms also apply to Jesus Christ, the Word in the flesh. Jesus is the Word, the logos, in the flesh as the Bible is the Word, the logos, in writing. Jesus also called himself the way and the truth (two more of the synonyms), and he fulfilled every jot and tittle of the law (another one of those synonyms).
As the red thread running throughout the entire Word of God, Jesus is the grand subject that binds together the Word of God from Genesis 3:15 to Revelation 22:21. In Psalms, Jesus is the song. “Song” is put by metonymy for the reason for the song. He is the reason for our song of praise (Psalms 28:7; 40:3; 108:1), our song of deliverance (Psalms 32:7), and the new song in our hearts (Psalms 33:3; 40:3; 96:1; 98:1; 144:9; 149:1).
The only verse in the Acrostic Psalm of God’s Word that doesn’t contain one of the synonymous words for the written Word of God conceals a reference to the Word in the flesh, Jesus Christ. E.W. Bullinger after the note I mentioned in His companion Bible earlier, he references Proverbs 11:15 and Hebrews 7:22.
by so much also hath Jesus become the surety of a better covenant.
Jesus is a surety of our better covenant. He is the guaranteer.
He that is surety for a stranger shall smart for it: and he that hateth suretiship is sure.
Christ became surety for his people who were strangers (like it says in Ephesians 2:12) and he smarted for it. He read from Isaiah what becoming surety would require and the price he would have to pay, but he did it anyway.
For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. 3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. 5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
We couldn’t pay our debt, so our surety paid it for us.
As many were astonied at thee; his visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men:
Since the earliest recording of the written Word of God men have desired the appearing of the seed of the woman, the redeemer, our messiah, the savior from sin. We find Job speaking of his longing in what is likely the first book of the Bible ever written, Job.
For he [God] is not a man, as I am, that I should answer him, and we should come together in judgment. 33 Neither is there any daysman betwixt us, that might lay his hand upon us both.
Job wanted a daysman, a mediator, to intercede for him with God. The hope of the Old Testament believers was the first coming of Christ. Our hope today is his second coming. Just as we long today for his return, they longed for his first arrival.
God bless you in the name of Jesus Christ the surety of a better testament (Hebrews 7:22).
Have you ever been amazed or astonished by the Scriptures? I have. There have been innumerable times when I have been amazed by what I read, particularly when its hunger for the truth that prompts me to open its pages. I so long to know the Author and am astonished that He has made Himself known in this sacred text.
We all need encounters with the Word that have an impact. Whether we read it or hear it preached or taught, the most satisfying interaction is that which captures our heart and imagination. Astonishment can cause us to press the Scriptures to our souls. When God’s Word awakens our affections (Colossians 3:2), it is more likely to find a home in our hearts.
It’s beholding the glory of the Lord that transforms us (II Corinthians 3:18). It’s the brilliance and grandeur of what we see that impacts us with a more satisfied soul. If we want to come away from our time in the Bible refreshed and astonished, we must let it capture our affections. Then it can season our lives with flavors that are sweet and satisfying to our souls. Indeed, God invites us to taste and see that the Lord is good.
The Bible is written specifically for us and to us, but it is not mainly about us. It is about God and His son. We go to the Word primarily to find out about them. Although we want to apply the Word we read, and we want to be “doers of the Word and not hearers only.” Our concern should be more about who we will see not what we must do. As our picture of Who our loving heavenly Father and His only begotten son comes into focus, our days fill with delight.
The great design, the “red thread” of the whole Word of God, is Jesus Christ. Apart from him, the Word of God cannot be understood. He came to make known the Father; the Scriptures testify of Christ. The living Word, Jesus Christ, and the written Word, the Scriptures, cannot be separated in the preaching of the Word. If one is going to preach the Word, he will of necessity need to preach Christ.
And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures, 3 Opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ.
When Paul reasoned with them out of the scripture he opened and alleged about Christ.
Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.
Look at Philip’s excitement. He knew he found Jesus because he knew what the scriptures said about him. The scriptures testify of Jesus.
Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.
Jesus’ own words make the connection clear. The scriptures testify of Christ.
And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. 45 Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures.
As Jesus said, the Word contains the things concerning him. The one subject of the whole Word of God is Jesus the Christ, the Son of the living God. He is the master key to unlock the treasure house of God’s Word.
Once I saw the three notes that formed the chord of Psalm 119 (first person pronouns, second person pronouns and the synonyms for the Word of God), I thrilled at the template that it presented for developing one’s relationship with God. I wondered if Jesus followed the template to develop his own personal relationship with his wonderful heavenly Father. He certainly loved the written Word, and Psalm 119 might have provided Jesus with quite an appreciation of it. Most of the 26 times that the phrase “It is written.” occurs in the four gospel accounts it came from the lips of Jesus, the living Word,
There are three exceptions to the standard form of Psalm 119, and God marks each with a figure of speech. We do not find the chord in:
Verses 1-3 Benediction not written in 1st person and not spoken to God.
Verse 115 Apostrophe only verse after the intro not spoken to God.
Verse 122 Type only verse that doesn’t contains one of the 14 Hebrew synonyms for the written word.
These 14 Hebrew synonyms for the written word, according to the Massorah, occur in every verse except 122. In total, they occur 207 times, and form the foundation on which the Psalmist develops his intimacy with God. He takes God at His Word, does what it says, and builds an experiential understanding that draws them together in such sweet communion.
God bless you in the wonderful name of Jesus Christ who was frequently moved with compassion (Mark 1:41).
I remember standing at a sink at an airport quite a few years ago trying to wash my hands. I had already acquired the soap from the dispenser, but I couldn’t figure out how to turn the water on. I was pondering the situation when someone came up to another sink near me, acquired his soap, and began to wash his hands. He just acted like the water was running and when he placed his hands under the faucet the water came out. I chuckled as I thought, “One more new gadget.” I began to spread the soap and placed my hands under the faucet and, sure enough, the water started to flow.
I no longer hesitate in those situations; I’ve learned to expect the motion sensor to do its job. Not only does the water start when I place my hands under the faucet, but it stops when I remove them. Efficient, economical, simple. I expect it to work, and I proceed without doubt or concern.
That’s what we need to do in ministering situations. As fellowlaborers with God, we do our part, and He does His. If we have clear direction from His Word, we don’t wait on Him before we begin. We do our part expecting Him to do His. When we move our lips, throat, and tongues to formulate words we speak in tongues as the Spirit gives the utterance. We act, and He energizes the utterance. We speak the wonderful works of God and magnify God.
The simplicity that we learned regarding speaking in tongues should be applied to all the manifestations. In all the manifestations we act, and God energizes. We have become quite versatile and confident with speaking in tongues and we can do the same with all the manifestations. Confidence develops with successful experience. If we can learn to trust a motion sensor, surely, we can learn to trust the Lord God Almighty. When it comes to many of the things of God, action precedes results.
When it comes to operating the power of God in your life, you do not need to understand it all before you begin. Just start! When you begin God will energize. Your desire to operate the power of God is much more important than you knowing every detail about how to do it. Don’t let it get complicated. It is all as simple as speaking in tongues.
The power that it took to change Jesus to his exalted, glorious position at the right hand of God is available to each of us, as we believe. God wrought the power when he raised Jesus from the dead and set him at His own right hand. We are seated together with him. We can reign in life with Christ Jesus. God has moved! It’s now our move.
That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge [the full acknowledgment] of him: 18 The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, 19 And what is the exceeding greatness of his power [dunamis] to us-ward who believe, according to the working [energeia] of his mighty [ischus] power [kratos], 20 Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, 21 Far above all principality [archē; refers to the rank, dignity, or jurisdiction of a prince. It refers to the right to rule, to initiate actions and lead the way or champion a cause. It emphasizes the position.], and power [exousia; refers to the authority or liberty to do as one chooses. It emphasizes the authority.], and might [dunamis; refers to the potential power to effect the course of events of your life. It emphasizes the ability.], and dominion [kuriotēs; refers to lordship. It emphasizes allegiances. There is no allegiance of people or evil forces that can now effect you.], and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: 22 And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, 23 Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.
Now that’s power! Do you have the power you need? How does God work within you? “According to His mighty power which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places.” Can it really be that the power that brought Jesus to life and seated him at God’s righthand lives in us? Absolutely!
We need to see the truth with our hearts. Seeing things with our heads gives us information and gives us head knowledge which can puff us up (like it says in I Corinthians 8:1-2) if we are not careful. Seeing things with our hearts adds an emotional element…. It adds a depth of commitment…. It has strength and solidarity behind it. We want God’s Word to sink down into our hearts. We want to acknowledge God and work with God on a heart level, not a superficial one.
Knowing things on a heart level makes it personal, special, and the impact is immeasurably increased. The challenge before us is to open the eyes of our hearts today and see Christ seated at the right hand of God far above all else. As we acknowledge our ability and authority, we will act more resolutely. Being convinced of God’s will, will encourage us to pursue it at all times.
God bless you in the name of Jesus Christ, who is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6).
The biggest danger to our liberty in Christ comes from both those who believe they have license to do anything and legalists who prescribe behavior in detail. Those given to license recruit others to join them in their illicit activity and use addiction to pleasure to control others. Legalists control with rules and regulations designed to breed condemnation and self-righteousness. Both sides attack our liberty, our freedom in Christ. Never let anyone beguile you of your freedom in Christ.
Philippians 3:2: Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision.
“Beware” in the Greek word, bleptō, one of the words meaning “to see.” A more literal translation would be “watch out for,” or “look out for.” In each of the three places in verse two “beware” is a present imperative. That means it’s a command to continue to do something already started. It’s continuous action; so, continue to beware don’t just beware once and then forget about it. The warning is so emphatic because the danger is so great.
There is an element of being “proactive” to it. Think of it like walking in a mine field. If one of them goes off, it’s already too late. Paul is telling them they are walking through a mine field. We must watch every step; we must look carefully at every place we put our feet. We do it ahead of time; we do it proactively. We must continually be aware of the danger and beware as we walk. It has the urgency of an APB (an All-Points Bulletin). “Be on the look out for. . . !” You can look at this as a big dose of preventative medicine.
The Holy Spirit marks out this verse by loading it with figures. There are so many figures that it is difficult to retain them all in translation. Each translation sort of picks and chooses which ones are retained. We will see this as we read some different ones as they come up. This makes verse two very poignant, very pungent.
The repetition of “beware of” at the beginning of each of these phrases is the figure of speech anaphora. This triple play is a very big deal. Of course, the emphasis is on the command “beware.” The shortness of each phrase makes the anaphora even more powerful. The fact that each of the words following “Beware!” begin with a “k” also adds to the intensity. That’s not the proper figure alliteration which is the repetition of the same letter or syllable at the beginning of successive words. However, when combined with anaphora as it is here this is the form it takes by necessity.
In the Aramaic the word “safe” and the word “beware” come from the same root. That’s the figure of speech anadiplosis which is the repetition of the same word at end of one sentence and at the beginning of the next. (Eg. Genesis 1:1-2: In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void. . .” Ephesians 6:13-14: “Take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth. . .”). In the Aramaic it could read “. . .they caution you. Be cautious. . . .”
The use of “dogs” is the figure hypocatastasis. It’s the most poignant of the figures of comparison. Don’t beware of people like dogs. Don’t beware of people who are dogs. Beware of dogs! Do you see how the force of the figures increased as we went through them? It refers to backbiters, vicious gossipers, those outside not allowed into the house. Here it is used of the legalistic Judeans. It was a term of distain used in Jewish culture of the Gentiles. So, for Paul to turn it around and use it on them was deliberate and very powerful.
“The concision” is another figure; it is a play on words. It’s a knock off of the word “circumcision.” “Circumcision” is the Greek word “peritomē.” “Concision” is the Greek word “katatomē.” It literally means a cutting down into and was used of hacking or chopping up sacrificial meat. It was also used in the LXX for the worshippers of Baal who cut themselves in I Kings 18:26. It is a contemptuous word for circumcision (a hyperbole for circumcision) with the connotation of mutilation. Then by metonymy for those who practice such mutilation. Paul uses similar disparaging language in Galatians 5:12.
Galatians 5:12: I would they were even cut off [apokoptō, cut themselves off] which trouble you.
A literal translation of this verse is: “I wish those seditious agitators who want to circumcise you would emasculate themselves.” “Cut off” here is a different word, but you get the idea of how Paul was so dead-set against these circumcision boys who always wanted to go around cutting everybody. But here he takes it a step further. He’s not referring here to just snipping off the end. He wants them to cut back much further. . . take the whole thing off. Later in Galatians 6:13 he says of these people that they desire to have you circumcised, that they may glory in your flesh.
Paul uses this very blunt language in Galatians because they were familiar with it and the religious bastardization of such ritual. Galatia was near Phrygia where they worshipped Cybele. It was the practice for priests and devout followers to mutilate themselves by castration. It’s as if Paul is implying that if you go this way in which circumcision is the beginning, you might as well go all the way to castration like these heathen priests.
Galatians 5:12: [NAS] Would that those who are troubling you would even mutilate themselves.
Galatians 5:12b: [NEB] They had better go the whole way and make eunuchs of themselves.
Galatians 5:12: [Jerusalem Bible] Tell those who are disturbing you I would like to see the knife slip.
Let’s not forget the context in which we find this verse. We just finished reading about the excellent examples of Jesus, Timothy, and Epaphroditus, and they are juxtaposed with these three epithets: dogs [kuon], evil workers [kakos ergatēs], and the concision [katatomē]. Paul commits to Timothy and Epaphroditus, his fellowlaborers, but he warns the Philippians to avoid contact with these evil laborers at all costs.
Just who are these people of whom Paul is speaking… these dogs… these evil workers… these mutilators of the flesh. Paul is not speaking about three different groups of people. These are not distinct epithets; they overlap. In fact, they overlap so much that all three are referring to the same people. This is similar to a hendiatris, where three things are said, but one thing is meant. It could be translated: “Beware of dogs, yes destructively evil-working, mutilating dogs.” Calling someone who prides himself on good works an evil worker is like calling a surgeon a butcher or an opera singer a hog-caller
The Complete Jewish Bible (CJB) drops the anaphora and keeps the hendiatris: “beware of the dogs, those evildoers, the Mutilated!” The NIV retains both by substituting those for beware. That causes one to lose the impact of the warning and shift it to the people we need to beware of: “Watch out for those dogs, those men who do evil, those mutilators of the flesh.” The New International Reader’s Version drops the anaphora, adds the hendiatris and tries to explain the play on words regarding the circumcision: “Watch out for those dogs. They do evil things. When they circumcise, it is nothing more than a useless cutting of the body.” The New Living Translation adds a historic comment to explain the reason for Paul’s disparaging comment: “Watch out for those dogs, those people who do evil, those mutilators who say you must be circumcised to be saved.” That’s exactly what was going on. These circumcision boys were going around saying that in order to be saved they had to be circumcised. This is what was addressed at the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15.
Acts 15:1-2: And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved. 2 When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question.
Paul doesn’t have issues with the Jews in general. He loves them. His heart was so big for them that it got him into trouble by going to Jerusalem when he should not have. He didn’t have a problem with circumcision either or with people wanting to continue to circumcise their sons. I circumcised my son. Not so he would get the blessing of the covenant or so that he could be saved later, but because of health reasons. The people the Gentiles needed to be warned about and prepared to oppose were those who subverted fellowship saying that circumcision and other forms of legalistic practices in the flesh were necessary for salvation.
God bless you in the exalted name of Jesus Christ, the lion of Judah (Revelation 5:5).
Dogs hold quite a difference of status in our current American culture than they did in the Eastern culture of the Bible. In our Western culture “a dog’s life” epitomizes a life of ease devoid of anxiety. However, dogs in the Bible lived in squalor and were forced to scavenge for food. Although they were used as watch dogs (Isaiah 56:10) and for guarding flocks (Job 30:1). Of all the domesticated animals, there was a particular revulsion for them. They are on occasion juxtaposed with swine (Isaiah 66:3; Matthew 7:6; II Peter 2:22) for both were unclean animals whose repulsive behavior was a cause of distain.
To speak of oneself as a “dog” was to portray oneself as insignificant or irrelevant (I Samuel 17:43; 24 14; I Samuel 9:8) or to the miserable treatment one is receiving (I Samuel 17:43; II Samuel 3:8; II Kings 8”13). To refer to someone else as a “dog” is an insult depicting them as among the lowest on the social scale (II Samuel 16:9). Paul also called false apostles “dogs” (Philippians 3:2). “Dog” was also a name the Jews used for Gentiles. Jesus seems to also intentionally echo the same Jewish sentiments to the Gentiles when he rebuffs the Syrophoenecian woman in Matthew 15:21-28 and Mark 7:24-30.
Then Jesus went thence, and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon. 22 And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil. 23 But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us. 24 But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 25 Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me.
This lady was not an Israelite. We will read later on that she was a Syrophenician, a Gentile. She had a daughter that was vexed, held captive, by a devil spirit, and she wanted Jesus’ help. Jesus tells her that he came to minister unto the lost sheep of Israel. How would that make you feel? Under similar circumstances most of us would have given up, but not this woman. First Jesus ignored her; then He said to His disciples, “I’m not here to help her.” Still, she came she and worshipped him, saying, “Lord, help me.” This Gentile mother wouldn’t leave Jesus alone! Jesus seemed to keep putting her off, but perhaps he was waiting for something. He finally responds to her saying:
But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs. 27 And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table. 28 Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.
Jesus told her it wasn’t right to take the children’s bread and give it to dogs. Did Jesus just call her a dog? Most of us would have gone home angry. But look at how she responds to Jesus: “Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.” She was really saying, “Lord, I don’t need the whole loaf. Give that to the children, although most of them won’t take it. Just give me a crumb. I know what your bread will do.”
She was not talking about how much humility or faith she had; she was talking about how powerful Jesus’ bread is! She was saying, “Call me anything you want, but heal my daughter.” Then Jesus told her, “With faith like that, you can have anything you want!” Jesus had taken this woman to the limits, and she’d passed the test. He knew her faith would turn His power loose. We know Jesus had no animosity for this lady, but he knew his mission. His comments to her were designed to build her believing or at least reveal it to him. No one is an inconsequential “dog” in God’s eyes.
Great faith always takes God at His Word, and that’s what this Gentile woman did. It paid to hang on and refuse to give up, because she received the answer she’d come for. Her daughter was made whole! This mother refused to accept anything less, she wanted her daughter to be healed, to be whole, to be clean and she would not stop. She reached Jesus’ heart. He saw the faith, the believing, she had for her daughter to receive it. He just could not deny it. She desperately wanted healing. People have got to desperately want it. Nobody likes to be sick, but do you believe God can do it? If I believe it, I go. Nothing is going to stop me. Tear down the walls, whatever I have to do to get there. That was the heart of this mother.
And from thence he arose, and went into the borders of Tyre and Sidon, and entered into an house, and would have no man know it: but he could not be hid. 25 For a certain woman, whose young daughter had an unclean spirit, heard of him, and came and fell at his feet: 26 The woman was a Greek, a Syrophenician by nation; and she besought him that he would cast forth the devil out of her daughter. 27 But Jesus said unto her, Let the children first be filled: for it is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it unto the dogs. 28 And she answered and said unto him, Yes, Lord: yet the dogs under the table eat of the children’s crumbs. 29 And he said unto her, For this saying go thy way; the devil is gone out of thy daughter. 30 And when she was come to her house, she found the devil gone out, and her daughter laid upon the bed.
Jesus just spoke the Word and the devil was gone because the mother had faith for her daughter. As parents, we have authority for our children. She persevered, and she got it. That is what we have to do whether we are ministering healing or receiving it. We have to persevere when we are ministering, and we have to persevere when we need help. No one is ever too insignificant to help or to deserve help. No one should ever view themselves as unworthy of deliverance. No one ever earns it; it’s bestowed by grace. It only ever takes a crumb of the bread of life. How far are we willing to go to get it?
We’ll do a little bit more on dogs tomorrow.
Word Study Wednesday
God bless you in the name of Jesus Christ whose obedient example we are to follow (II Corinthians 10:5)
II Corinthians 10:4:
(For the weapons [hoplon; the Aramaic word is zaina, armor] of our [Paul & Timothy’s] warfare [strateia] are not carnal, but mighty [dunatos from dunamai: to be able, have power] through God to the pulling down [kathairesis; a destruction or demolition; this is a military term used only in II Corinthians 10:4, 8; 13:10.] of strong holds [ochuroma; literally, a castle, stronghold, fortress; then figuratively of anything on which one relies, particularly of the arguments and reasonings by which a disputant endeavours to fortify his opinion and defend it against his opponent.])
A wise man scaleth the city of the mighty, and casteth down the strength of the confidence thereof.
Proverbs 21:22 is a picture of someone taking a stronghold. A wise person is able to conquer the mighty. One whose strength is his wise, godly character is pictured as conquering another who trusts in physical fortifications.
Strongholds may be individual or collective. Individual strongholds are unique, shaped by personal history and development. Collective strongholds are when thinking patterns permeate and affect people functioning together. Deception and indoctrination spread corporate strongholds. People “buy into” mentalities or ways of thinking which are then reinforced and promulgated. They are more diverse than just legalism and license. Victim mentalities and elitist thinking are examples of corporate strongholds. They become like a snowball rolling down the hill, they often seem to have a life of their own. They are fortified positions used as a base of operation from which people are influenced and to which people are seduced and in which they become comfortable. Both types of strongholds capture minds and rob those seduced of the ability to think freely.
Strongholds, both personal and collective, are formidable obstacles to the healing process, for they are deeply embedded in the mind. They become fortified positions due to relentless repetition over a long period of time or due to traumatic incidents that severely effect the mind and heart of the captive. These fortresses of deception and illogic are not easily demolished, but they can be destroyed. God uses WARFARE as the analogy to communicate the urgency and relentlessness with which they must be attacked and pulled down. The stakes are high and the rewards are great, but it requires obedience to God and His Word and His ministers. Scripture offers us a model for entering into warfare against the automatic, practiced, and habitual ways of thinking that become strongholds that hold people captive, individually, in groups, and indeed even as entire nations.
You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brothers eye.
That’s an example of someone operating from a stronghold of deception. They are wrong, practicing error, and they are not even aware of it. Corporate strongholds are shared ways of thinking. They are practiced and habitual. They form traditions or philosophies that actively control groups, masses, and nations.
Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.
They effectively rob us of rationality and our ability to recognize or contradict them. They consciously and sub-consciously rob us of free will in order to control us, and create tunnel vision. Strongholds take the mind and finally the soul captive. Satan blinds the minds in an attempt to block the word of God. It takes warriors who are a savor of life unto life to bring deliverance.
God knows all about strongholds. He is a stronghold for His people.
Proverbs 10:29: ASV
The way of Jehovah is a stronghold to the upright; But it is a destruction to the workers of iniquity.
Isaiah 25:4: ASV
For thou hast been a stronghold to the poor, a stronghold to the needy in his distress, a refuge from the storm, a shade from the heat, when the blast of the terrible ones is as a storm against the wall.
Jeremiah 16:19: ASV
O Jehovah, my strength, and my stronghold, and my refuge in the day of affliction, unto thee shall the nations come from the ends of the earth, and shall say, Our fathers have inherited nought but lies, even vanity and things wherein there is no profit.
Joel 3:16: ASV
And Jehovah will roar from Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the heavens and the earth shall shake: but Jehovah will be a refuge unto his people, and a stronghold to the children of Israel.
The LORD is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in him.
God knows how to help people build positive strongholds in their minds. He also knows how to pull down negative ones. He’ll tell you how to take the adversary’s strongholds if you are willing to fight. When you come up against a stronghold, do you just want to give up? Are you willing to fight to take the stronghold? Strongholds are captured by people who are willing to fight… people with some resolve… people who can do all things through Christ who strengthens them. The Word of God and the spirit of God will show you how.
II Corinthians 10:5-6:
Casting down [kathaireō; verb form of “pulling down” in the previous verse] imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God [That’s what Paul and Timothy did in Corinth and other places.], and bringing into captivity [aichmalotizō] every thought to the obedience of Christ; 6 And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled.
These two verses establish three important aspects of Paul and Timothy’s spiritual warfare. Next Wednesday we will look at how to use them.
God bless you and greetings in the name of Jesus Christ who can save to the uttermost (Hebrews 7:25).
Psalms 19:16 declares, “I will delight myself in thy statutes: I will not forget thy word.” We don’t easily forget that which we delight in. “Delight is also a great study in Psalms 119. Like the Psalmist, we delight in God’s wonderful matchless Word. Nine times in Psalm 119 it records his delight in the Scriptures (Psalm 119:16,24,35,47,70,77,92,143,174). In verse 92 it says, “Unless thy law had been my delights, I should then have perished in mine affliction.” We can make it through any assault from our adversary when God’s Word is our delight. In Job 23:12 while Job was under such great distress and attack, he boldly declared, “Neither have I gone back from the commandment of his lips; I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food.” Our love for God’s communication of Himself will bring delight to our souls, and keep us from perishing in our affliction also.
Our reverence and esteem for the Word of God demonstrates what we really treasure in life. We want a true and vital spiritual relationship with God, and therefore we want to continue to develop our love and appreciation for His communication of Himself in His Word. When we appreciate what God’s Word provides our resolve to remember is strengthened for as Psalm 119:93 says, “I will never forget thy precepts: for with them thou hast quickened me.” It’s God’s Word that gives us life. It provides the vitality strength and endurance it takes to live for Him.
It doesn’t matter what happens to us. Whatever we go through we still cleave to God and His Word. Like Psalms 119:61 says, “The bands of the wicked have robbed me: but I have not forgotten thy law.” Similarly Psalms 119:109 says, “My soul is continually in my hand: yet do I not forget thy law.” We can be in danger and the most precarious of positions, and our resolve to remember God’s Word will get us through.
There are things that ought to upset us. Like when people disregard or treat God’s Word with contempt and derision. Psalms 119:139 shows us that: “My zeal hath consumed me, because mine enemies have forgotten thy words.” They may even belittle us, but as Psalms 119:141 says, “I am small and despised: yet do not I forget thy precepts.” It doesn’t matter what the world thinks of us. Be we small and despise we still do not forget. Like the psalmist, regardless of our affliction we still resolve to not forget. Psalms 119:153: “Consider mine affliction, and deliver me: for I do not forget thy law.”
Our remembrance of the truth is even more reason for His deliverance. He will pursue and seek us out for the same reason. The very last verse of the Psalm leaves us with great comfort. It says, “Psalms 119:176: “I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek thy servant; for I do not forget thy commandments.”
When Hannah prayed in I Samuel 1:11 she asked God to, “look on the affliction of thine handmaid, and remember me, and not forget thine handmaid.” He didn’t and she gave birth to her son Samuel. God also promised His people that He would not forget them,
Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee.
People are likely to forget, but God is not. He will not forget us.
All this is come upon us; yet have we not forgotten thee, neither have we dealt falsely in thy covenant.
There it is stated clearly again, whatever comes upon us we still never forget. This truth is also stated positively. We remember so that we can do what God asks.
I remembered thy judgments of old, O LORD; and have comforted myself.
I have remembered thy name, O LORD, in the night, and have kept thy law.
I have awakened more than once in the middle of the night remembering something that I needed to do. Usually startled I get out of bed to go do it or, at least, write myself a note so I do it in the morning. Memory is usually more a direct function of the will. We choose not to forget, we decide to remember things that are important to us.
If it’s a phone number or email repeating it a dozen or two times normally allows me to remember it until I can find someplace to write it down. When it comes to Bible verses it generally takes that same repetition repeated consistently over a week or two before I can access it anytime and repeat it word perfect. The way to get things into our heart so they issue in our lives (Proverbs 4:23) is by using our mouths and saying them over and over again.
But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it.
We use our mouths to get the words into our heart. When they get to our hearts, we hold them fast by deliberate decisions of our will. Proverbs 4:4 instructs us to “let thine heart retain my words: keep my commandments, and live.” This is one of the obvious reasons for scripture memorization. Once we have hidden God’s Word in our heart, we can remember it and do it.
The Hebrew word for “retain” means “to grasp, lay hold of, or hold fast.” As Charles Swindoll said in Growing Strong in the Seasons of Life, “Scripture memory gives you a firm grasp of the Word — and allows the Word to get a firm grasp of you!” When God’s Word is in our heart it provides sure footing. We can more easily walk His Word when we know it.
The law of his [the righteous man’s] God is in his heart; none of his steps shall slide.
Let’s get the Word in our heart so that we may do it. As Psalm 119:105 says, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” Letting the Word light our way will make our footing sure and keep us from sliding off the path of God’s commandments.
I want to close with two final passages of scripture which capture my heart for you.
II Peter 1:12-15:
Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth. 13 Yea, I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance; 14 Knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath shewed me. 15 Moreover I will endeavour that ye may be able after my decease to have these things always in remembrance.
I speak great peace unto you who love God’s Word so nothing shall offend you (Psalms 119:165).
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. 2 Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; 3 Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah. 4 There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High. 5 God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early. 6 The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved: he uttered his voice, the earth melted. 7 The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah. 8 Come, behold the works of the LORD, what desolations he hath made in the earth. 9 He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire. 10 Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. 11 The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.
We Will Not Forget God Does Not Want Us to Forget His Word (Part 2 of 3) – Volume 5 – Day 11 – September 11, 2023
God bless you and greetings in the name of Jesus Christ who can save to the uttermost (Hebrews 7:25).
We need evangelists to evangelize, and we need the rest of us to do the work of an evangelist. “Evangelist” is used in the LXX, but the concept was really foreign to Israel. They were the chosen people, and were not called to take the Word to the world. Part of the reason that the Muslims hate them so badly is because they are such an arrogant self-righteous people. If you are a gentile and want to feel like a second-class citizen fly on El Air.
We need to either become an evangelical church or we need to go join one. I praise God for our Messengers For Christ over the years. We can learn a lot in this category. Missionary systems do not work. We cannot buy converts. We have the greatest God there has ever been, and we know His Word. If we will get excited about the things God has set before us, we will see the Word move again like it did in the first century. Are we willing to sacrifice? If so, God is willing to open doors of utterance for us to go through.
Now getting back to the point of my opening comments yesterday. We will not forget. That takes resolve which is a function of the will. To remember and not forget is a decision we have to make. It’s a decision of will. However, more important than our resolve to not forget 9/11 is our resolve to not forget God’s Word. I love the following poem. I don’t know who wrote it.
I Will Not Forget Thy Word’
1 I lift my head from my pillow. 3 Teach me of Your strength, my Father!
Little leaps in my heart are stirred Show me what I’ve read and heard
for today as I walk and breathe and speak for I am committed to live for You
I will not forget Thy Word. and to never forget Your Word.
2 Temptations are always there, I know– 4 Thought by thought and step by step
a whirlwind of thoughts can occur. I’ll stand firmly and assured.
But with my mind set on Your truth Your words are my delight, my life―
I will not forget Thy Word. I will not forget Thy Word.
God does not want us to forget. If we do, it will be to our own detriment.
II Kings 17:34b-39:
…the LORD commanded the children of Jacob, whom he named Israel; 35 With whom the LORD had made a covenant, and charged them, saying, Ye shall not fear other gods, nor bow yourselves to them, nor serve them, nor sacrifice to them: 36 But the LORD, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt with great power and a stretched out arm, him shall ye fear, and him shall ye worship, and to him shall ye do sacrifice. 37 And the statutes, and the ordinances, and the law, and the commandment, which he wrote for you, ye shall observe to do for evermore; and ye shall not fear other gods. 38 And the covenant that I have made with you ye shall not forget; neither shall ye fear other gods. [nor the people that worship them] 39 But the LORD your God ye shall fear; and he shall deliver you out of the hand of all your enemies.
If we fear God, we need not fear anything else. He alone is exalted above all.
Among the gods there is none like unto thee, O Lord; neither are there any works like unto thy works. . . 10 For thou art great, and doest wondrous things: thou art God alone.
Just like Israel, our country has seen God work in wonderful ways to deliver us and preserve our way of life. We need to teach them to our children and our children’s children also.
Give ear, O my people, to my law: incline your ears to the words of my mouth. 2 I will open my mouth in a parable: I will utter dark sayings of old: 3 Which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us. 4 We will not hide them from their children, shewing to the generation to come the praises of the LORD, and his strength, and his wonderful works that he hath done. 5 For he established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children: 6 That the generation to come might know them, even the children which should be born; who should arise and declare them to their children: 7 That they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments: 8 And might not be as their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation; a generation that set not their heart aright, and whose spirit was not stedfast with God. 9 The children of Ephraim, being armed, and carrying bows, turned back in the day of battle. 10 They kept not the covenant of God, and refused to walk in his law; 11 And forgat his works, and his wonders that he had shewed them. 12 Marvellous things did he in the sight of their fathers, in the land of Egypt, in the field of Zoan. 13 He divided the sea, and caused them to pass through; and he made the waters to stand as an heap. 14 In the daytime also he led them with a cloud, and all the night with a light of fire. 15 He clave the rocks in the wilderness, and gave them drink as out of the great depths. 16 He brought streams also out of the rock, and caused waters to run down like rivers.
The magnificent Acrostic Psalm of God’s Word, Psalm 119 resounds with that resolve.
I will delight myself in thy statutes: I will not forget thy word.
That’s where it starts. It starts with an individual, someone, anyone deciding I will not forget. Then someone else joins them. Then because we are in this thing together, it becomes more of us united with that resolve. We will not forget. More from Psalms 119 tomorrow.
We Will Not Forget Developing a Passion for Outreach (Part 1 of 3) – Volume 5 – Day 10 – September 10, 2023
God bless you and greetings in the name of Jesus Christ who can save to the uttermost (Hebrews 7:25).
Many of the 9/11 tributes I’ve enjoyed have expressed a wonderful sentiment of resolve that I appreciate very much. It’s captured with the words, “We will not forget!” or “We will never forget!” I believe this resolve is important. I don’t think the sentiment should be present every waking moment, but it should be persuasive enough that we remain alert to the danger our adversaries pose to us and our way of life. This is much bigger than just a threat to our nation; it’s a threat to freedom to live for God according to the mystery of godliness that has been delivered unto us.
The Muslim threat to our way of life is real. When I taught Philippians to the Fellowlaborers a few years ago I mentioned the importance of Christians regaining our passion for outreach. We need to resolve deep within our souls to advance the cause of Christ.
You can talk about missionary zeal or passion for outreach, and that’s all fine and good. But, it’s not about going to church; it’s about transforming the world. Christianity brought an end to slavery, at least in Christian countries it did. Christianity advanced the equality of the sexes. These are things that our Muslim comrades don’t cherish like we do. If we as Christians don’t get the passion to transform the world again, the Muslims are going to bury us, because they have it, and they will demonstrate the energy of their convictions.
Americans are becoming a laughing stock in many places around the world. The exceptions are places where our military men are fighting. For the most part, Americans are seen as undisciplined and self-indulgent. The workers in the African orphanage where my daughter, Sara, worked couldn’t believe she was really from the U.S. They said she was unlike all the other U.S. volunteers they had seen. Why, because she knew how to work, and she is not self-indulgent. She was there to work and serve and not there to play. (All the others wanted was to do their 3-4 hours, then hit the beach.)
If we don’t seriously recommit ourselves to the vision of Word Over the World, we are going to be overrun by the Muslims, because they have. They are willing to do it peacefully, and they are willing to do it by force. It doesn’t matter to them; they are all in agreement. To them, Islam is the only way of life worth pursuing. . . the only one with commitment and integrity to One God.
They know they will win because Christians have become complacent and compromising, lulled to sleep by the easy life. Too many Christians are non-Biblical and not willing to fight for what they believe. The Muslims have almost already taken over Europe, and they did it peacefully. They just moved in populated the country, and are ready to take over. They are already asking for their own laws in Great Britain regarding marriage and divorce. They do not want to be obligated to follow the laws of England, they want to go by Sharia law. That will probably allow for mistreatment and abuse. They will threaten violence if they don’t get their way, and governments usually back down to them. Do you remember how Spain pulled their troops out of the U.N. forces in Kuwait and Iraq because of the threat of violence?
The Crusades were not one of the nobler parts of the history of western civilization, but you have to applaud the fierceness with which the Christians withstood the encroachment of Islam on European soil. They were willing to fight back then. They no longer have that resolve. If we lose the will to fight, we will become slaves. The Word tells us there will always be conflict. The question really is do we believe it, and are we willing to fight for it. If we will fight with the gospel we will not have to fight with guns and bombs.
For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman. 23 But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise. 24 Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar. 25 For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children. 26 But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all. 27 For it is written, Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not; break forth and cry, thou that travailest not: for the desolate hath many more children than she which hath an husband. 28 Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise. 29 But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now. 30 Nevertheless what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman. 31 So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free.
We do not hate anyone. It will be our love for our Muslim friends that will motivate us to speak the truth to them. Jesus died for each one of them, too. When we lived in San Antonio and my wife was an apartment complex manager. We welcomed Iranian pilots in training and their families into our complex. We had meals with one another. Our children played together. We spoke about the Bible to them. Their understanding of Christianity was very non-Biblical. They were shocked to learn that we didn’t actually eat the body of Christ in communion. They could not understand how Jesus could be God and still die. When we explained the “trinity” correctly they were relieved that we believed in one God also. Two of the highest ranking officers brought their children to Ferne and asked her to bless them before returning to Iran which she was blessed to do.
The United States is a Christian nation, but not a Biblically Christian nation. For the most part Christianity has been redefined into a milk-toast, anything goes religion. Suffering and sacrifice have been taken out of Christianity. When they left so did the passion for outreach, because outreach requires sacrifice. Great outreach requires great sacrifice.
Not only are we not willing to fight, we are not even willing to support those who are willing to fight. (Eg. No body armor for our troops in Iraq.) Edmund Burke correctly said, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” One God is the answer to the problem. Biblical Christianity vs Islam is a no contest. According to Islam, those who worship 3 Gods are infidels and must be killed. Worshipping Jesus and polytheism and Roman Catholic beliefs drive the Muslims in sane. Well, they drive me in sane too.
Our culture is decadent and should be changed. If we don’t change it with the gospel, the Muslims will change it by force. To keep women chaste doesn’t require whips and chains and chastity belts. It requires men willing to be chaste too. . . Men willing to delay gratification until marriage. We must move the Word here by reintroducing the concepts of personal sacrifice, commitment, and dedication to our Biblical purpose. If we won’t move the Word without persecution, then we will endure persecution. It took the persecution in Acts 8 before the first century Church ever left Jerusalem. They were told in Acts 1:8 that, “ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth,” but they never moved out with the Word until they were persecuted in Jerusalem. If we will not do it without persecution, be fully assured a persecution will come.
God bless you in the unparalleled name of our Lord Jesus Christ, who was raised from the dead and makes intercession for us (Romans 8:34).
The apostle Paul was among the best-educated men of his day. He was a Jew with a great pedigree and was part of an elite group within Judaism. He was multilingual, held coveted Roman citizenship by birth and was known for his zeal. Yet his early advantaged life, his vast natural knowledge, and his high social and religious standing meant very little to him. He counted them but dung (Philippians 3:4-8).
What did matter to him, was knowing Christ in a fuller and richer way. His desire was to know Christ and the power of His resurrection. If Paul counted all the privilege of his birth, education and experience as dung there must have been something else very important He wanted instead.
O, that my desire to discover the benefits of the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ matched Paul’s. Since this was so important to Paul it should be as important to me. It’s something I realize I need to go after, to press into. Like Paul, I need an unconditional dedication to Christ. Paul was totally committed and had burned his bridges behind him. Everything that was gain to him, he counted as loss. He had learned an important lesson –– nothing is as important as Christ.
After the Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus, he began to teach the principles of the Kingdom of God and openly demonstrate its power. When it descended it came in the likeness of a dove — gentle, beautiful, and elegant. Once Jesus received it, his ministry began to unfold in all its power. Holy spirit also dwells in us. It empowers us and unites us with God’s supernatural supply and ability.
One exciting Old Testament example of the difference having the spirit makes is when Samuel told Saul what to expect when the Spirit came upon him.
I Samuel 10:6-7, 9:
And the Spirit of the LORD will come upon thee, and thou shalt prophesy with them, and shalt be turned into another man. 7 And let it be, when these signs are come unto thee, that thou do as occasion serve thee; for God is with thee. . . 9 And it was so, that when he had turned his back to go from Samuel, God gave him another heart: and all those signs came to pass that day.
Something dynamic happened that day. Saul became another man just as Samuel had prophesied; his heart was changed! He was empowered to do as occasion served him. We also have been made new creatures in Christ, old things have passed away and all things have become new (II Corinthians 5:17).
The spirit of the Lord also moved mightily in Samson’s life (Judges 14:6 & 16:14). Certainly, if the Holy Spirit could move Samson, it can move us as well! Physically, Samson was no different than any other man in Israel, but he was able to surpass natural limitations because he applied supernatural powers. When he needed the power of God, the Spirit came upon him to provide it. He had an ample supply from God that would make him more than equal to any demand.
If Old Testament believers could walk in such power, how about God’s children today. What we have far exceeds anything available to them. God wrought new, amazing, wonderworking power never before available when He raised Christ from the dead, and it fills us all.
Which [his mighty power v 19] he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, 21 Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: 22 And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, 23 Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.
God’s will for us is daily victory and blessing. It’s ours because of the power He wrought when He raised Jesus from the dead. Let’s look unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith and desire to know him better. Enjoy your day with your eyes set on him, walking in the power of his resurrection.