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Friday, April 25, 2008

A Serpent's Bite or Bread of LIfe?

Num 21:4-6
4 Then they journeyed from Mount Hor by the Way of the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom; and the soul of the people became very discouraged on the way.
5 And the people spoke against God and against Moses: "Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and our soul loathes this worthless bread."
6 So the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and many of the people of Israel died.

I am using the NKJ version of the Bible to reflect that it is the souls of the people that loathe the manna. The impatient (discouraged) people of Israel called the food God sent from Heaven, "miserable food." This miserable food they called it--the KJV translates it as "this light bread" and the NASB translates it as "miserable food". The meaning is the bread from heaven was lightly esteemed, contemptible, worthless, little valued and unsatisfactory. In other words, Israel didn't see the bread from Heaven as providing all they needed or wanted. They didn't see the bread from Heaven as giving them the life they thought God was supposed to give them. It did not satisfy them. It wasn't enough. They saw it as the bread that was unsatisfactory or worthless.

When studying this, I am mindful that during the 40 years Israel ate this "miserable food" their feet did not swell and there was none feeble (sick) among them (Ps 105:37). The word feeble here signifies weakness, or failing (falling) because of weakness--lack of strength. We know it doesn't mean failing here because Israel failed over and again, so it signifies a physical weakness or lack of strength.

This "miserable food" kept them free from sickness and disease. It was food that descended daily from Heaven and is a type of Christ (John 6:48-50). Jesus said, "I am the bread of life … This is the bread which comes from Heaven that you may eat of it and not die."

It is recorded in this passage of numbers that because the people loathed the gift of God--the form of provision--serpents began to attack them and many died. They loathed--or lightly esteemed--the bread sent to keep them healthy and their healthy bodies died in the wilderness (place of unbelief and trial) because of the serpent's venom. Now, I want to note, that the serpents were not foreign to the wilderness, they were a normal part of it. Serpents are native to the wilderness and dessert. However, prior to the souls of Israel loathing the bread from heaven--they either were not bitten or if they were it did not affect their health. This is important for us to understand and believe for us to receive all Jesus came to do for us.

The cure for the serpent's bite was for Moses to lift a bronze serpent on a pole and for the people to look on it. The bronze of the serpent represents judgment. The serpent itself represents something cursed, and the pole signifies the cross of Christ. Viewing the cursed on the pole would give (or give back) life. Do we view Jesus as being the cursed for us? Do we view Him as taking all that brought the curse of sickness, disease, poverty, or any other curse? Do we view Him as He viewed Himself—as the Bread which came down from Heaven? Can we see ourselves as He paid for us to be—whole, healthy and delivered from all sin brought into the world?

Jesus said, "As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him shall have eternal life. (John 3:14-15). Do we see ourselves as having the kind of life Jesus has? Or do we merely exist, hoping for a better day in the sweet by and by? Israel did not have shoes that did not wear out in heaven—they had them while here on the earth. They didn't have "none feeble among them" in the sweet by and by but in the here and now on the earth—in the wilderness, no less.

Why did Jesus typify Himself with a serpent on a pole? The pole represents the tree--the cross beam--that all who hang on a tree were accursed (Genesis 21:22-23). The serpent represents one who is cursed. Jesus hung on the cross absorbing all our sins and all the curses that came upon mankind because of sin. Jesus bore all our curses so we could be as He is (1Jn 4:17). Jesus became a picture of a cursed creature so we could become the picture of a child (beloved) of God.

All we believe about ourselves (inner man—mind, will, intellect, heart) that is representative of the cursed, Jesus took on the cross. Because of His work on the cross we can see ourselves differently. Remember, it was the "soul of the people" that loathed the manna. It was the soul (inner person-mind, will, intellect, heart) of the people who longed for something else--more specifically what they'd had while in bondage. It was the soul of the people that led them to speak evil against Moses and God. They saw themselves (inner man--mind, will, intellect, heart) as deprived--lacking. They saw not the health and vitality God had provided for them but they saw lack of substance (meat). And that inner view gave entrance for the serpents to attack them. The serpents were already in the wilderness, just as Satan is already here in the earth we dwell in, but the serpents had no power over them until they allowed their souls to become impatient/discouraged and then their mouths followed their souls--speaking what was abundant in their heart (inner man). See Matthew 12:34 and Matthew 15:18. I see a definite connection with what is in our hearts coming out of our mouth—and even more—what comes out of our mouth influencing the life we live in the earth.

The depiction of a bronze serpent was significant because it was an "image" or "likeness" of the cursed. Jesus became the image or likeness of the cursed to pay the way for us to become the image or likeness of God's dear Son! Bronze represents judgment. Jesus took the judgment of guilt we had coming to us so we are free from judgment. All of the wrath of God toward sinful mankind was poured out on Jesus (Isaiah 53:10). Will we allow our souls to be renewed to believe that? Or will we, as Israel did, grow impatient and discouraged and want what substance the world understands? The glory of having a will is we can choose this day (and every day) blessing or cursing—life or death. I choose life. I choose the life Jesus died for me to have. What will you choose?

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Overcoming the Shame of Nakedness

Before the fall, Adam and Eve enjoyed constant face to face communion and unification with God, Creator of all. The more they communed with God, the more they saw themselves as being like God. They were naked before the fall, but they did not experience shame. Why? I believe it is because they didn’t recognize their nakedness because they were covered (crowned – Psalm eight) with God’s glory. God’s glory, being God’s nature, the essence of who and how God is. The more God spoke to them, they more they identified with God’s image and nature and the more God’s glory came into the Garden, the more it covered them. Only when they turned away from God by inclining their ear toward the serpent, did they realize their nakedness. Their shame was not in being naked – they’d always been naked – their shame was in SEEING their nakedness (recognizing, comprehending, being exposed as mere creations of God rather than children of Him). God’s glory no longer covered them. His nature (essence) came with His presence. Their shame was they didn’t anticipate losing their covering when they turned away from God.

The more we are in His presence, the more He covers us. The more He covers us, the more we see His influence in and around us (grace and favor). The more we experience Him face to face, the less we see of us and the less we realize our nakedness. It only makes sense to me that the more we are in His presence by communion and unification by relationship, the less we will see our nakedness and all that nakedness brings. Inferiority. Lack. Inadequacy. The more we are in His presence, the more we will experience and live out of His glory. His nature and essence will cover and surround us (wings and pinions- Psalm 91). Sickness and disease came along with death as a result of sin. But in the presence of God, sickness and disease have no power. Everything bows to God. Everything. Because of the work Jesus did in taking our sin and shame, and giving us His blood to not just cover, but to redeem, reconcile and restore us to the position and relationship Adam and Eve had before the fall, our nakedness can again be covered (crowned) with His glory and the world (those without the understanding and relationship Jesus paid the price for us to have) that so desperately needs to see God’s glory will be able to see it in and on us.

The Church celebrates your goodness, O God! Your Church gratefully comes into Your presence and celebrates Your goodness to allow – even invite us here. And Your Bride adores her Bridegroom. Amen.

Friday, January 4, 2008

World Hunger Satisfied

I told my husband recently that I was so hungry for more of God and what He has promised the Church would be and do. I actually ache to experience the ability to go about doing good and healing all who are oppressed by the devil either in sickness or in other ways. My husband always looks scared when I say things like that. I think he is afraid I am going to go off the deep end and not ever surface again as the sweet, cheery and serving wife he likes having around. He wasn’t ever fond of the super religious person he was afraid I could become. He doesn’t like her because she disrupts his life. She spends more time talking to God than to him and spontaneously does what she “hears” God saying without asking if it seems right to her husband. That person – that religious person – spends money in ways he doesn’t understand or appreciate. She serves the church more and the home less. She wants to study and pray rather than watch tv. So, when I told him I wanted to go deeper and that I hungered for a richer relationship with God, his eyes got big and his mouth tightened. Tension moved into the room to stay that day. It is getting better though.

But I hunger. Whether or not I tell anyone about it, God knows the hunger in my heart for more of Him. Communion, relationship, unification. Those are the promises for those who are His. A few months ago, He called me to spend a month of taking communion as I studied it. It did deepen my relationship with Him. It made me so aware of what He has done to restore me. It made me grateful for His grace in ways I hadn’t understood before His call to meditate on what His blood and body purchased for me. But still, there was more. I know there is more, and I hunger for it.

The Passover communion – taken on that first Passing over of the death angel in Egypt, spoke loudly of God’s desire for people. The lamb, to be without blemish, a male of the first year, was to be slain for each “house” (family). If the family was too small to be able to eat the whole lamb, they were to share it with another family so that none was wasted. The blood, drained from the perfect lamb was to be painted on the doorposts and lintel of each house. When the angel of death saw the blood, it could not enter the home and could not destroy that family. What a thing to meditate on! Immediately the words of Paul to the Philippian jailer came to mind, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you shall be saved, you and your household.” (Acts 16:31). The angel sent to Cornelius, a Roman Centurian, also made this claim to him when he said for him to send for Peter to give him the gospel, “and he shall speak words to you by which you will be saved, you and all your household.” (Acts 11:14). The blood saves whole households of those who believe.

After putting the blood of the lamb on the doorposts and lintel of the home, Israel was then to eat the meat of the lamb. H. Clay Trumball wrote in “The Blood Covenant” that “the flesh of the chosen lamb was to be eaten by the Israelites, reverently, as an indication of that inter-communion {with God}.” The eating of the sacrifice became a way to show unification and communion with God. It was as if God Himself had been slain and mankind was allowed to partake of His nature by eating His flesh. Doesn’t that make what Jesus said so much more understandable to us?

John 6:53
53 Jesus therefore said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves.

The life Jesus is referring to here is the life God breathed into Adam and made him the image and likeness of God. It is the life that went away (you shall surely die) when Adam sinned by eating the fruit God told him not to eat. This is the life that Jesus offered to those who eat His flesh and drink His blood. Only those who do so can have the life He offered. Only those who understand and partake of His flesh and His blood can partake of His nature. Do you hunger for His nature? I do. I want the more, or the greater He promised to those who believes (Jn 14:12). I believe. I believe. To the world and the worldly, it is silly, but I believe. But will it be silly to them when I am filled and I spill out this life onto them? They are hungry, do you see it as I do? They are so hungry for something or someone bigger and better than themselves to hope in. They are starving for God, they just don’t know what to call it. I feel it is my responsibility to fill up on Him and then take Him to the world around me. How can I do less, if I am of His nature? How can I not feed the world if I am of His kind of Spirit (Jn 9:54-55). If I am of His kind of Spirit, I will want to call down love, and all love is and does instead of the fires of judgment and condemnation. I hunger. Oh how I hunger! And I desire to feed the world that I know hungers too. Then I will be in relationship to Him and all He is. Then I will be unified to His Spirit and life.

John 15:4-84 "Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you, unless you abide in Me.5 "I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing.6 "If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch, and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.7 "If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it shall be done for you.8 "By this is My Father glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples.(NAS)

I abide in Jesus, Father, fill me. No matter what it looks like to the people around me. No matter how odd I look, sound or seem – fill me. I hunger for the greater. Amen, so be it to me according to Your word of truth. Amen.