Category Archives: Idolatry

The Tribulation and Intercessory Prayer

The Tribulation and Intercessory Prayer

The coronavirus has raised questions as to whether this is the beginning of the tribulation, the last seven years before the return of Messiah. I have been asking the Lord what and how to pray about this scenario—seeking His face and the guidance of His Spirit. I felt He told me to look at the book of Revelation as a model for intercession.

As with the prophecies of the old testament prophets, it seems to me it is not the sin of the lost that precipitates God’s judgment, but rather it is the sin of God’s chosen, we believers, that will precipitate His judgment.

Could it be the book of Revelation in its recording of the conditions existing in the seven churches provides a checklist of the spiritual condition of God’s children, we believers, which in the aggregate, if not repented of, will produce the tribulation described in such detail in the succeeding chapters of the book?

Again, as with the prophets, God sets forth the sin of His children, which if not repented of and turned from will produce the litany of judgments which will befall the world in the seven years of tribulation. We are told judgment begins first with the household of God. (1 Peter 4:17). This household I believe is at the crossroad of God’s Kingdom plan. His Kingdom is coming on earth, one way or another. The Gates of Eden will be reopened.

It seems to me the thinking has been that the tribulation comes because of the sin of the unregenerate and that all the believers are generally spared. If that were so, history seems to record much worse times of evil among the unregenerate in the world than at present and tribulation was not triggered. The question is, has the sin of God’s children reached the tipping point? And that possibility, I believe, should be the heartbeat of intercession today.

Let’s then look at the sin which God has seen as being so sufficiently rampant in His believers that He is ready to pull the plug on His efforts to see His creation, His chosen, bring forth His Kingdom on earth, hence the tribulation.

Let me say at this point, I think the use of the term “church” in the translations of the New Testament is unfortunate. The Greek word generally translated as church is “ecclesia” which refers to a collection of individuals. We confuse the definition today with the structure, organization and hierarchy of “church.” To get the full impact of Messiah’s response to each church—He is really speaking to each believer, individually, and collectively in that particular assembly (ecclesia) of believers.

You can read what is written to each “church” on your own, I have generally used the New King James Version as my text.

To Ephesus. The first believers to receive the call to repentance were doing Kingdom work in their soulish strength, but had let idols into their spiritual life which vied for place with their relationship with God. Revelation 2:4-5: “Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent.” God wants relationship. Works apart from relationship are wood, hay, stubble. If my works, even for Kingdom purposes, come out of my strength, my financial ability, my self-reliance—I have raised up idols.

The lampstand is not the building, it is God’s light around which the Ephesians have gathered in community. The angel who has been assigned to this community is, in my opinion, not the pastor. The pastor quite likely is complicit in the sin of this assembly. The angel is a heavenly messenger who has not been heard by those he is shepherding. If the assembly loses its lampstand, its light, the angel quite likely leaves. If the angel leaves, the assembly has lost the covering of God’s appointed spiritual connection to His Spirit. The assembly, at the least, goes deaf in one ear.

History does not clearly reveal what false doctrine the Nicolaitans at Ephesus had embraced (verse 6). I would not be surprised if this isn’t intentional. This would let Nicolaitans be a metaphor for whatever heresy is at any time not being exposed in the assembly, but is being tolerated and harbored.

A caveat here: the correction of the heresy must be directed by the Lord. He is long suffering and warns against harshly judging and calling one “raca.” It is amazing to me that many believers will stoutly proclaim the law no longer applies, yet are often quick and ruthless in arbitrarily applying it against a fellow believer. Unless we connect with our personal, human spirit to God’s Spirit for guidance and direction we will act amiss.

Since the Ephesus assembly is mentioned first, it seems likely this is the most common and most dangerous condition God finds among His people.

To Smyrna. This is a hard set of facts to read and then try to apply a standard of acceptable faith. The description of the conditions at Smyrna reminds me of today’s persecuted church in Asia and Africa, and manifesting in Europe and here in the United States. Though the believers in Smyrna were a minority and in economic poverty, and persecuted by the majority of unbelievers around them, the Smyrna believers are told to keep faithful, to not despair for they have a hope and a promise—they are rich in faith. Smyrna is the polar opposite of Ephesus in the conditions they find themselves, yet their conditions do not excuse them from God’s standard of conduct, even in the face of an unjust death. How did the devil gain the right to use the unbelieving majority to persecute these believers? Were their eyes closed by their circumstances so that they did not see their sin? Was part of their sin a failure to respond to the early signs of persecution? Where has this sin resulted in the conditions in the political climate of today’s ecclesia?

If you agree with me that Messiah used the cumulative spiritual condition of the seven churches to form the agenda in His call for the repentance by His chosen, what then? Then, if faithfully responded to, the seven years of tribulation could, I believe, be forestalled. There will be tribulation in the process, but not the seven years of tribulation of Revelation. The suffering saints at Smyrna must examine their hearts and souls. This thought all the more challenges me to soberly open up to Holy Spirit inspection and helps define an intercessory agenda.

In the end, Smyrna receives a comforting, encouraging word from Messiah as to the final reward for faithfulness when all of the odds of this world seem against you: “be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.” I believe that faithfulness calls for self examination and repentance. This too, must be Spirit led. Our hearts are deceitfully wicked (Jer 17:9) and trusting in the arm of the flesh is not easy to discern—those works look really good.

Turning to the Pergamos ecclesia, Messiah says it has shown exemplary faithfulness, but they were now harboring those preaching an ungodly, perverted doctrine which would eventually affect the entire body. Think of the sexual deviation so prevalent today. To what extent does that unscriptural condition receive harbor by believers? How is it we have let political decisions be made so that portions of God’s word have become “hate speech?”

To further support my premise of the convicting message of the prophecy of Revelation, I quote chapter 2:16–”Repent, or else I will come to you quickly and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth.”

To Thyatira. Another body of believers who are doing many good works. But, as with Ephesus and Pergamos, are charged with harboring, giving cover to and failing to correct, either an actual woman or more probably a satanic spirit that is loose among the believers. Messiah even promises tribulation as the consequence of unrepented, sinful behavior. Yeshua tells us that it is He who searches the minds (thoughts) and hearts (spirit self)—we cannot hide behind our words.

Harboring, I suspect, is the deceptive sin of the ecclesia that must be discerned, repented of and turned from. Those in sin are called out of their sin. Those not in sin, but failing to deal with the sin in their midst are told to overcome, to get the victory, take some action. If they do, they are qualifying themselves for greater rule in the millennium. As well as pulling their brothers and sisters back into a saving relationship with Messiah.

To Sardis. The NKJV headnotes say, “The dead church.” I would say potentially dead. It seems the ecclesia in Sardis have become preoccupied with things other than God’s Kingdom. There are two words, one in verse two, the other in verse three which let me draw this conclusion: perfect and watch. “Perfect” in the Greek is not perfect, as without fault, but more falling below potential, below the potential of the gifting of the believers. “Watch” in verse three better translates to the idea of being vigilant, keeping awake.

The Sardinians then, were, in my opinion, like much of today’s ecclesia—too involved in the secular and falling far below their spiritually equipped potential in the things of God. They are failing in their vigilance to protect the religious heritage which the founders of the United States sought so diligently to establish—maybe, today’s ecclesia is not dead, but certainly dying.

To Philadelphia. Works open doors. But works are not of our decision, of our design as apparently were those of the Sardinians. Our works must be His, Spirit directed through our individual spirit, as apparently were the works of the Philadelphia ecclesia.

We are told we are not in a works relationship with Yeshua and our salvation, yet to this ecclesia Messiah recognizes their spirit-led works and rewards them with an open door to intimacy with Himself, plus an exemption from “the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.”

The intimacy with Messiah involves His personal involvement in our eternal life—favor in the Kingdom, a name change as Abraham and Jacob received, emphasized identification with Father in the heavenly Jerusalem.

The reward for faithful, Spirit-led work in bringing forth the Kingdom should consume each believer in the time allotted in this earthly life.

To Laodicea. Shock and awe: “I will vomit you out of My mouth.”
Complacency and self satisfaction reign in this ecclesia—self is the idol which so repulses Messiah. Is this not the ultimate deception of harboring? I’m sure the Laodiceans in their works were scrupulous to keep the law—with great self righteousness, probably tithing mint and cumin as well. (Matt 23:23)

Messiah really seems to have a heart and a hope for this ecclesia. He is calling on them to repent and upon their repentance He offers the promise of the intimacy of dining together. He even offers to invite them to share His throne next to Father’s throne. But He is not forcing them—He stands at the door ready to enter when they repent—opening the door.

It is the idolatry of their possessions, their self sufficiency that Yeshua is trying to shake loose—be zealous and repent. Don’t think only of yourself, the goal is bringing forth the Kingdom. Zealous has the idea of becoming enthusiastic, getting excited, grabbing the opportunity—Messiah wants them to break out of their complacency. It seems to me it is the same today, especially in the United States,
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I believe the word to the seven ecclesia and to every believer today is summed up by Messiah seven times—“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” The promise for those who hear and do is summed up in Rev 2:11–”He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death.” (Rev 20:14)

That the seven ecclesia did in fact hear, repent and turn from their sin is demonstrated by history—the foretold tribulation did not occur. We can safely assume there has been a hearing and obeying over the intervening nearly two millennia that has been sufficient to forestall tribulation. The question is will the hearing and obeying prevail today? Hence, the work and goal of today’s intercessor.

A study of the seven ecclesia and a resulting Spirit-led self examination and repentance will equip us for the intercessory role required to turn back the seemingly overwhelming tide of the enemy. We must each become God’s gap filler. (Ez 22:30)

If the tribulation comes, we, as believers, have failed God in the bringing forth of His Kingdom. We are not called to prepare for tribulation, but to be holy as He is holy and actively engage in the role He has given each of us in the bringing forth of His Kingdom on earth. Ironically, this is the best way to prepare, personally, for tribulation. Repentance and intercession are integral parts of our role and identity as believers. Should this pandemic be the beginning of sorrows, there is no better preparation than self-examination, repentance and intercession.
KB 4/28/20

An Awakened Spirit can Avoid a Dead Body

An Awakened Spirit can Avoid a Dead Body

It all started when I got to wondering about the word “profane” as used in the OId Testament. I had a feeling it meant to dishonor. While this is true, as with most Hebrew words there is a range of interpretation. Not only that, but there are two different Hebrew words that get translated as profane: zur and halal. Zur is the most frequently used word—76 times in the Old Testament, while halal is used only 21 times. Zur in the King James bible is almost exclusively translated as “strange.” But in many modern translations zur is translated as profane. Halal on the other hand is almost exclusively translated as profane.

So, you’re probably asking, “what’s your point?” Well, it’s this, my New King James Bible search of “profane” took me to the “profane” fire offered by Nadab and Abihu. How could their incense offering be profane? The offering was described by the Hebrew word zur—strange. Maybe then it was not the offering, but something more spiritually profound to which the Lord reacted.

Let’s revisit the event and see what might have been at play.
Nadab and Abihu, were the two eldest sons of Aaron, Moses’ brother.
Their tragic story is told primarily in the tenth chapter of Leviticus. The chapter opens describing the young men making an offering to the Lord which had not been commanded by God and which resulted in their death.

In acting as they did, Nadab and Abihu assumed a familiarity with God that was totally at odds with the solemnity of the occasion. They upstaged not only Moses, but also their father, Aaron, the High Priest. Their offering was a spontaneous act which they performed at the conclusion of at least seven days of very intense spiritual significance—the dedication of the priesthood.

Aaron and his four sons were each in their respective priestly garments. They were before the altar in the newly constructed Tabernacle. The sons’ father, the High Priest, had just blessed the thousands gathered to observe the event. The fire of the Lord had spectacularly roared forth and consumed the prescribed offering on the altar.

In their youth and in the exuberance of the event they apparently gave no thought as to how presumptuous and offensive their actions would be to God—how they were drawing attention to themselves and away from their father and from Moses. Their actions diminished the sacred impact of the pageantry of the event—Nadab and Abihu were editing the script—all this High Priest decorum wasn’t necessary, two kids with their own censers could define how you approached and worshipped God.

Their actions profaned, made God common, before the people. The judgment of Nadab and Abihu by God was deserved, swift and just. God did not want another repeat of the Israelites’ faithlessness evidenced at His descent on Mt Sinai the year before. It was there, gathered at the base of Mt Sinai, witnessing the awesome power of God, that the nation vacillated. In the intensity of that experience the Israelites opted to exchange an offered intimacy of relationship with God for one of intercession—as one voice they said, “Moses, you listen to God for us.” Now, in this climactic moment of pageantry in the dedication of the priesthood, God had to quickly, decisively restore His position of holiness, His preeminence and His plan for His chosen.

Although the text does not use both Hebrew words, I make the following distinction. The young men offered a strange, zur, offering, however, it was their inappropriate actions in the circumstance that profaned, made common, were halal to God. Nadab and Abihu attempted to define God in their image—to create a god that He is not—an idol god. Their individual spirit did not perceive God’s spirit—resulting in their dead bodies. God is a jealous God.

There is a tendency today to make God a buddy, a big, huggable bear. Let us not forget that although He loves each of us with a passion and is intimately approachable, He must be respected, esteemed, honored and worshipped. It is best to let Him decide how He wants to present Himself to us in any given situation. I may want the big teddy bear, but in His wisdom, I may need the correction of a father.

When my spirit is awake to His Spirit I will always make better choices, resulting in life for my body.

How to Judge a Prophet

How to Judge a Prophet?

Moses, Isaiah, Ezekiel, John the Baptist and John the Revelator to name a few, are all bible prophets. Many of their prophecies are yet to be fulfilled. Then there are those today, men and women, who are referred to as prophets. 

Their admirers have no trouble with the prophet title. Their detractors are very often vehement in the expression of their detraction of the individual and the title. They seek to expose any cracks in the work of the prophet. Triumphantly announcing a particular prophecy did not happen as prophesied and therefore the prophet is a fraud and subject to the Torah prescribed death penalty. 

Forgetting for the moment that not keeping the Sabbath also incurs the death penalty, what might have been the reason for inserting the Torah instruction concerning the “false” prophet? It seems the only time God gets really fired up about this prophet question is just before the Israelites enter the promised land—big pagan territory. Every one of the -ites they will meet has gods, altars, priests, rituals—lots of opportunity to be confronted by “prophets” of a god. Truly a need here to sound the alarm. In the narrative, up until now, the Israelites really don’t have a good track record against foreign gods—remember the golden calf, the Midianite gals?

So, Yahovah gives them two warnings, almost in the same breath, as they are standing at the Jordan’s shore:

Deuteronomy 13:1-5
“If there arises among you a prophet or a dreamer of dreams, and he gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder comes to pass (think of Pharaoh’s magicians), of which he spoke to you, saying, ‘Let us go after other gods’—which you have not known—‘and let us serve them,’ you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams, for the Lord your God is testing you to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. You shall walk after the Lord your God and fear Him, and keep His commandments and obey His voice; you shall serve Him and hold fast to Him. But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has spoken in order to turn you away from the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt and redeemed you from the house of bondage, to entice you from the way in which the Lord your God commanded you to walk. So you shall put away (nice way of saying it) the evil from your midst. (Parenthesis are mine) 

Deuteronomy 18:17-22
“And the Lord said to me (Moses): What they (the gathered Israelites) have spoken is good. I will raise up for them a Prophet like you from among their brethren, and will put My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him. And it shall be that whoever will not hear My words, which He speaks in My name, I will require it of him. But the prophet who PRESUMES to speak a word in My name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die.’ And if you say in your heart, ‘How shall we know the word which the Lord has not spoken?’— when a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the thing does not happen or come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it PRESEMPTUOUSLY; you shall not be afraid of him. (Parenthesis and bold added)

I think the operative word here, particularly in the verses in Chapter 18  is presumes. Let’s take a look at the Hebrew word Moses used that gets translated into English as presumes. 

PRESUMES:  Strong’s h2102. זוּד zûḏ; or (by permutation) זִיד ziyd; a primitive root; to seethe; figuratively, to be insolent: — be proud, deal proudly, presume, (come) presumptuously, sod.
AV (10) – deal proudly 4, presumptuously 3, presume 1, proud 1, sod 1;
Englishman’s  Concordance
to boil, boil up, seethe, act proudly, act presumptuously, act rebelliously, be presumptuous, be arrogant, be rebelliously proud(Qal)to act presumptuouslyto deal arrogantly (with ‘al’)to defy proudly (with ‘el’)

Now, Ill put on my New Testament hat as that’s the expanded Torah standard taught by Yeshua. As Yeshua would say, “It all comes down to the condition of the heart!” Is the prophet speaking from a heart of insolence, pride or anger? We might be on shakier ground than the prophet if we try to compete with God in assessing that heart condition. And, in my opinion, God is looking at the condition of the prophet’s heart more than the words he speaks.

God calls the believers to be a kingdom of priests and prophets. There is also the office of prophet. Unless a person operating in that prophet office speaks arrogantly or is speaking in utter disregard of what God is saying, the lack of perfect hearing is not a sin—for which I’m thankful. 

If a person is speaking for God and not against him there seems to be much more scripture calling followers of Yeshua to encourage, uphold and support one another rather than to be so quick in pointing out fault. We followers are really to be in the world, not of it (or like it). 

If you are a believer and don’t like the way another believer dresses, their accent, their hair style and really even their message, I would caution circumspection in your criticism. You really should communicate your concerns with them directly and not through social media. Praying for them is not a bad option either, but trying to get a crowd to agree with your vilification is not in my opinion WWJD!

DISCLOSURE
All of the stock market “prophets” make a disclosure at the end of their prophesy as to the investment they have, don’t have or intend to have in the security they’ve just touted. 
This is my disclosure:
Over my 44 years as a believer I have invested heavily in harsh judging, criticizing and gossiping about other believers, regardless of their calling. I have never really studied what the word said, until now, especially about prophets. I could always be counted on to pick up a stone. After repenting, I will now be investing heavily in avoiding that critical, judgmental, self-righteous spirit. This will be my long term investment strategy. 

High Places

High Places
The bible chronicles the repeated question:
What will occupy the high places? 
Over and over the high places were given to idols. 
Over and over the righteous would pull down these heathen monuments.

Where are your high places?
What occupies those elevated sites?

Wherever we go, above or below,
One prominence is over the rest.
The brain is every man’s high place.
What idols have you built on that foundation?

Perhaps you have exalted your very brain above God.
Perhaps other idols have found harbor in that high place.

Ask God how He sees your brain; to identify every false god.
Yahovah alone must occupy that lofty position.
Take every thought captive to the obedience of Messiah.
Let no idol formed continue to rob you of intimacy with Him.

Pull down the idols from your high places, especially the eminence of the high place itself!

Kennedy Brown
Gerizim
Sabbath January 6, 2018