How do we, as Christians, disagree with another person or teacher in Jesus Christ without being disagreeable? This was my question to Holy Spirit over the last few mornings and He’s given me answers that are helpful to me and quite simple. I know it gives me peace and I pray you find it useful as well.
When the information shared is a personal testimony, pray for the person faithfullyand pray the Father would bring people around the individual to disciple them and teach them the Word. If they have a degree of fame, it’s extremely important, because the vultures will come in attempting to “profit”. Satan will not turn loose without a fight and although he can’t determine a person’s ultimate destiny, he can cripple their testimony and hinder their effectiveness for the Kingdom. You do not want to be on his teamin that or any endeavor. If the profession of faith is insincere, allow God to deal with it.
Your responsewill likely make little or no difference to the famed individual, but what about those who are “considering Christ” on the sidelines of a forum you’re in? Based on an unkind response you make about an individual they may look up to, they decide to keep on walking and not risk putting themselves out there. Their thinking, whether correct or not, might go something like this . . . “Wow, if he or she isn’t good enough, I’m certainly not.” Remember, you likely don’t have access to the individual you have a question about to begin with . . . it’s those who are reading and hearing, considering Christ, who will be helped or harmed by your response.
We forget, if we’ve walked with Jesus for a time, how intimidating it can be when you are a new baby and are confronted with questions you don’t have answers for. Even worse, you think you do and you spout off with something you were taught or heard that’s totally wrong, it’s happened to all of us at some point. This is true for every New Believer and even more urgent for those with a measure of fame. After all, at this point all they’ve agreed and claim to know is, “I Believe in Jesus Christ, the son of God and His Death, Burial and Resurrection and so I’m saved and Have Eternal Life” . . . PRAY!
If you have a genuine concern about the authenticity of their faith(that’s a scary plank to walk), after prayer and onlyif you feel led to do soby Holy Spirit. . .speak your opinion in love, making it clear it’s your opinion and only God has all knowledge. If you feel caution is in order, counsel caution in kindness and with specificity . . . not dredging up behavior or statements before their conversion. I shudder to think of the things I said and did before I came to Christ and even when I had fallen away for a time. I certainly wouldn’t do those things now and it also took me some time to clean out those weeds and bad habits out of my life. I’m still working on it over 60 years later. Don’t condemn people for leftover bad fruit . . . wait and see if new fruit takes it place.
Questionable Teaching . . . if you perceive the teaching from another Brother or Sister is incorrect . . . Pray. . . and when or if given release by Holy Spirit . . . approach them privately in kindness and a spirit of Love! If the issue is one of eternal import, stand your ground and do your very best to be persuasive in the Spirit Jesus taught . . . in love. Whether of eternal significance or an interpretation of prophecy, either agree or agree to disagree agreeablywithoutpersonal animus, pride, anger, control, dissensions or divisions creeping in for these are the works of the flesh.
If the issue you are dealing with is a teaching from a well-known person within the Christian Community, yet you realize what they’re teaching is confusing at best and unscriptural at worst . . . Pray! If you have researched the Word and feel led by Holy Spirit, not a personal prideful spirit, offer a counter explanation without Rancor, Pride or Judgementalism about the teaching in the forum in which it is being offered. Leave the personal commentary out if you can’t genuinely say something nice. Make your comments Absolutely without personal accusation or offering your own judgement about someone’s Eternal Life or walk with God.
Perhaps you might consider something like this . . .
My concern is _____ (you fill in the blanks), this specific teaching. Scripture says this (quote the passage and the reference) yet the teaching doesn’t agree with the passages. I’ve gone back through them to be certain I’ve understood thoroughly what has been said and what Scripture teaches and what I find is this __________ in these passages _______. You might want to take a look again for yourself, I think you’ll be enlightened.
Discernment is first knowing the Word, researching the scriptures for yourself and comparing what is being taught directly to the Word of God. Once you’ve done your research, then ask Holy Spirit with a seeking heart to open your eyes anew to a clear understanding of the passage . . . Ask Him to show you truth . . . He will lead you into all truth. This is the process of discernment and practice makes you better, but not perfect in this life. We all have blind spots of our own making and areas in which we refuse to listen to anyone about, including Holy Spirit.We’re being transformedby the Washing of the Water of the Word, but He’s not done with us yet.
We have individual responsibility for what we believe, whether we realize it or not.We must at all times do our very best to understand the Word and assume responsibility for our own understanding, not simply accepting what someone says, no matter their reputation. We must not be swayed by personality, length of service, popularity or how a teaching or individual makes us “feel”. Emotions can be untrustworthy at times and Satan is a past master at utilizing emotion to rope people into falsehood. Check and re-check the Scripture and listen to Holy Spirit. Loyalty to the Word of God must always trump any individual’s reputation as well as our personal feelings about the messenger, whether good or bad. We can all learn from every individual we encounter, even if the lesson we learn is never to behave in such a manner. Eat the Meat and Spit Out the Bones!
Every Believer is responsible for remaining on the Narrow Path Jesus and the Disciplesoutlined in the Scriptures. First, we come to faith by The Gospel to receive Eternal Life by Believing in Jesus Christ and His death, burial and Resurrection. Secondly, we should continue on the path in discipleship and sanctification. It is this second portion of our walk where we gain or lose blessings in this life and rewards in Eternity. It is wonderful to listen to and be instructed by Pastors, Teachers, Prophets and Evangelists for they are gifts to the Body. However, they are human beings just as we are and Holy Spirit resides in us just as he does in them and He Alone is the Source of All Wisdom in our world today.
How do I “check myself” to be certain I’m responding in a Godly way to others within and without the Body of Christ? First, look inside yourself. What am I thinking, how am I feeling – introspection at this point will tell you much. Is your own internal response evidencing the Fruit of the Spirit – Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self-Control?If not and you’re just really angry and want to strangle people, you’re likely exhibiting the Fruit of the Flesh. I know all about the Righteous Anger argument, but be careful with that one, it’s a slippery slope. Yes, Jesus could do it but you’re not Him and neither am I. Stop what you are doing and seek the Father until you can bring yourself into agreement with His Opinionand the correct way to express it, exhibiting the Fruit of the Spirit . . . then respond.
This is not encouragement to accept or condone anything unscripturaland we will likely never agree with everyone on what is scriptural in this lifetime. Nonetheless, you are responsible for Truth and the Word of God in your own life and how you communicate with others both in and out of the Body. No other Brother, Sister, Pastor, Teacher or Prophet will stand with you at the Judgement Seat of Christto determine your rewards . . . yes the Bible is replete with teachings of eternal rewards.
Love and be kind to your Brothers and Sisters, we’ll be together for Eternity.
Thanks for taking time for me . . .
Sherry Driskell Griffin
P. S. If this was a Blessing to you . . . be a Blessing and pass it along!
John 10:22-23 LEB – The Feast of Dedication (Emphasis Mine)
22 Then the feast of the Dedication (Hanukkah) took place in Jerusalem. It was winter, 23 and Jesus was walking in the temple in the Portico of Solomon.
What is Hanukkah? Hanukkah is a joyous, eight-day celebration marking the reclaiming and rededication of the holy Temple from the Syrians more than 2,000 years ago in 164 BC. When the Hasmoneans, also called the Maccabees, liberated the Temple they found only enough pure ritual oil to fuel the Menorah for one night, yet the oil miraculously lasted for eight full days and nights, a miracle indeed. Hanukkah (also spelled Chanukah) is Hebrew for “dedication” and this joyous Festival of Lights memorializes the “Miracle of the Oil”.
WHAT IS THE “MIRACLE OF THE OIL”? After the Jewish victory, it was necessary to cleanse and purify the Temple before worship could be restored. The cleansing was completed and the rededication of the Temple began on the 25th day of the Hebrew month Kislev – late November to December on the Gregorian calendar and this year, 2018, Hanukkah begins at Sundown on December 1st. The Temple Menorah was required to burn perpetually, day and night, fueled by the first fruits of the Olive pressing, prepared specifically in accordance with Levitical law, requiring 8 days of preparation. The flame of the Menorah was lighted and, in a miracle only God could perform, the single cruse of holy oil lasted for 8 full days and nights.
SIDETRACK – Hanukkiah – is the 9 branched candelabrum pictured above and used only during Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights. The Hanukkiah celebrates the “Miracle of the Oil” and the 8 miraculous nights during which the ritual oil burned for the rededication of the Temple. The most recognizable Menorah is the Temple Menorah, pictured below, which contains 7 branches.
Hanukkah is much more than a celebration of victory in battle or even the recovery of the Temple. Israel was given clear, physical evidence Yahweh had also returned to the Temple as well. The Temple, without Yahweh, is merely a building. The Syrians had sought to stamp out Israel’s national identity, their worship of Yahweh, yet had only succeeded in strengthening their resolve. Though the flames burned, the Oil was not consumed, affirming the PRESENCE of Yahweh. Today, Hanukkah is celebrated not only to remember the defeat over the Syrians, the restoration of the Temple of Jerusalem, and the “Miracle of the Oil”, but those who understand the true fuel in the flame also celebrate – the Presence of Yahweh – Yeshua Ha’Mashiach!
HOW IS HANUKKAH CELEBRATED? This holiday is all about the faithfulness and might of God to preserve Israel when they faced overwhelming might and numbers far greater than their own in battle. The 8 days of celebration reflect the 8 days of the “Miracle of the Oil” – God’s provision. The number 8 is also reflective of New Beginnings. The Hanukkah should be lighted just before sunset by lighting the Shamash candle, also called servant candle, and then lighting the first candle on the right only. The second night the servant candle is lighted, followed by the 2nd day candle (left of the one lighted the previous night) and the 1st night candle. Blessings are recited before the lighting on each night and families linger around the Hanukkiah and recite stories of faith and joy for about 30 minutes.
Fried foods are the order of the day, to remind everyone of the Miracle of the Oil. Potato Latkes and Jelly filled Doughnuts are two favorites. Dairy foods are also a star of the show. Small gifts or money, termed Hanukkah Gelt, is given to the children. Oftentimes the gelt is in the form of chocolates wrapped with golden or silver foil and stamped to look like coins.The coins are a memorial to the new coinage after the Maccabean Revolt which celebrated the return of Israel as a nation with its own government and the restoration of the Temple Service. It is also customary to increase one’s charitable giving during Hanukkah as an expression of appreciate for all the material blessings of Yahweh.
Playing games with the dreidel is customary. Each player is given an equal amount of candies or nuts to begin. A dreidel is a four sided top, one spins in a “game of chance” to win . The letter tells the one who spins whether they are to put in or take out candies. The game ends when all the candies are held by one person, or more likely when they’ve all been eaten! Historically, according to 19th century rabbis, the dreidels were used to study Torah since the Greeks did not understand the Hebrew lettering and Torah was taught using the Dreidel.
The spiritual purpose of Hanukkah recalls and celebrates the faithfulness and Blessing of Yahweh to the Hebrew people and the assurance of His PRESENCE for those who seek to know and follow Him. This is termed in Hebrew Tikkun Olam, or standing up for what one believes – Religious Freedom. The purpose of all the “feasts” or “celebrations” to the Israelites has always been to convey the understandings of a faithful God to a new generation. The joy of knowing your place in the Father’s Heart is only compounded when you also know His Son and what He has done for all who accept His Sacrifice on the Cross for our sins.
SIDETRACK– Hellenization – to become like the Greeks. The Hellenistic period covers the period from the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC to the emergence of the Roman Empire in 31 BC. Hellenization is the historical spread of ancient Greek culture, religion and, to a lesser extent, language, over foreign peoples conquered by the Greeks or brought into their sphere of influence following the campaigns of Alexander the Great in the fourth century BC. Hellenization saw elements of Greek origin overwhelm and replace the cultures of the people conquered, thereby assuring their assimilation as “Greeks”.
THE PERSECUTION OF ISRAEL
We must learn to appreciate the present by examining the past! Without the horrors and darkness of the past, there would be no appreciation for the Festival of Lights or ultimately . . . The Light of the World . . . Yeshua ha’Mashiach . . Jesus the Christ!
The Syrian ruler, Antiochus III, reigned from 222 BC to 186 BC over the Syrian-Greek empire, encompassing the land of Israel. Antiochus fought Ptolemy of Egypt and gained Israel by Right of Conquest. Why was Israel ripe for conquest initially? She had forgotten her first love, Yahweh, and prostituted herself with fallen angels masquerading as gods.
Antiochus III was initially favorable and beneficent to the Jewish people, yet when his kingdom was conquered by Rome and levies of gold were demanded, those taxes came from his subjects, including the Hebrews. Upon Antiochus III’s death, his son, Seleucus IV, took command in his father’s stead, further oppressing Israel and demanding greater tribute in gold.
THE ENEMY WITHIN
The systematic Hellenization of Israel was also well under way. The conquerors detested the “otherness” of the Jewish people and their steadfast refusal to assimilate into Syrian-Greek society. Many of the Israelites were delighted to be “set free” from the moral and ethical restrictions of Torah and Levitical Law. They chafed at the restrictions placed upon them by the Rabbis and welcomed the interlopers. These “Hellenized” Israelites sought position with their new rulers, personal freedom to worship pagan idols and enjoyed the idealization of aesthetics and outward beauty. If betrayal of their own brothers brought riches as well, so much the better. Judaism, conversely, taught truth and moral purity with faith in only one God – Yahweh. The real enemy of Israel, as with any country, is its own people.
John (Hebrew – Yochanon), the High Priest at the time, insisted the people steadfastly resist Hellenization and the temptation to indulge in the customs practiced by the pagans. The Hellenized hated those who insisted Torah and the Temple must be maintained and the Jewish people must remain separate and distinct from its captors. To garner favor, the Hellenists gave testimony to the Commissioners of Rome, relating tales of vast amounts of gold held within the Temple, not only in its furnishings, but also in the ½ shekel temple tax given annually by each Jewish male for maintenance of the Temple. The Temple Treasury also contained the orphans’ fund, the inheritance of children whose parents had died, kept in trust until they reached their majority.
This betrayal was valuable to a heavily taxed King Seleucus, who sent his minister, Helyodros, to demand the temple treasury. When Yochanon refused, begging him not to pass beyond the Outer Court and enter the Temple for it was forbidden to Gentiles, Helyodros refused to listen. He entered the Temple Gate, immediately became pale and fainted. Once revived after this encounter, Helyodros never attempted to enter the Temple again. Upon Seleucus’ death in 174 BC, his brother Antiochus IV Epiphanes, became the ruler in his place and Satan had a willing consort in his efforts to destroy Israel.
ANTIOCHUS IV EPIPHANIES
The new king, Antiochus IV Epiphanies, was contemptuous of religion, those who practiced it and any behavior unlike his own. He would later be known simply as Epiphanies (meaning the visible god), surely this presumptuous thought must have come directly from the Old Dragon himself. Polybius, a noted historian, identified Antiochus IV as a madman, a well-deserved epithet for this harsh, cruel king. Epiphanies is the unquestioned Old Testament pattern and type of Antichrist who will persecute Israel and the World during the Day of the Lord. The cruelty of Epiphanies remains unmatched by all the villains of history from ancient to modern times and this world has seen great evil. Surely the accounts of torture and mayhem visited upon the Jewish people by The Madman Epiphanies is overstated, you might suggest, for this world has known Mao Zedong of China, Adolph Hitler of Germany, Leopold II of Belgium and Joseph Stalin of the Soviet Union, to name only four.
To unify his kingdom, Epiphanies forced the righteous High Priest Yochanon (John) out, replacing him with his brother, Joshua, who preferred to be known by his Hellenized name, Jason, as High Priest. Jason was instrumental in spreading more and more pagan customs among the priesthood and into the fabric of Jewish society. Jason was later replaced by Menelaus, another Hellenized Jew, for he promised to bring in even more revenue for the king’s treasuries. When the retired Yochanon protested the increasing Hellenization of the priesthood and people, Menelaus hired assassins and had him murdered.
Antiochus IV was in Egypt, engaged in successful combat to gain their land by Right of Conquest, when he received a message from Rome demanding his immediate return. He did so grudgingly and the battle with Egypt as well as the new land was lost. Meanwhile, in Jerusalem, a rumor spread of Antiochus IV’s death leading to a rebellion against Menelaus, causing him to flee with his followers. Antiochus returned, enraged at Rome for interfering in his battle and powerless to protest the mighty Caesars. When he learned of the rebellion of the Jewish people, he had found the perfect outlet for his rage and ordered his army to fall on the Jewish people, killing thousands.
Epiphanies enacted harsh rules against Israel – forbidding their worship of Yahweh, confiscating the Torah scrolls and burning them. Sabbath Rest, Dietary Laws and Circumcision were prohibited and his rules strictly enforced, under penalty of death. Rabbi Eliezer, a respected Jewish Elder of 90, was ordered to eat pork to entice others to follow his example. When the old Rabbi refused, they suggested he put it to his lips to convince others he was eating it. His predictable refusal resulted in his torture and murder.
With the faithful priests murdered or unwilling to perform any rituals, women circumcised their own sons and were murdered. They were led to the public gallows, their murdered babies hung around their necks for all to see as they died. Epiphanies thought these acts of extreme torture and cruelty would serve as a deterrent, yet they only hardened the resolve of the Israelites.
THE FIRST ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION
On Kislev 25, 167 BC, Epiphanies entered the Jewish Temple, though it was absolutely forbidden under Levitical Law, erecting a pagan altar to Zeus where he sacrificed a pig. This desecration of the holy Temple was the final straw for many and led to the Maccabean Revolt, which would retake Israel from her conquerors and re-establish Temple worship three years later, on the anniversary of this first abomination of desolation, Hanukkah. Coincidence is not a Kosher word.
CHANAH AND HER SEVEN SONS
Thousands upon thousands sacrificed their lives during this time, including the famed Chanah and her seven sons. They were devout adherents to Torah who refused to abandon their beliefs or be discreet in their practice. Epiphanies heard of the unrelenting refusal of the Jewish people to submit to his harsh decrees and returned to Jerusalem, taking a direct hand in forcing their submission. He commanded Chanah and her seven sons be brought to him so he could teach them an object lesson in obedience and humility the rebellious people would never forget. He taught the lesson and, just as he suggested, the Jewish people have never forgotten. The revulsion to Epiphanies behavior led to rebellion.
Chanah and her children were bound and brought before The Madman. When the king sought to reason with the eldest, encouraging him to abandon Torah and save himself and his family, the young man refused with a lofty, determined speech. Antiochus ordered his tongue, hands and feet severed and thrown into the fire while his Mother and six brothers watched his agonizing death.
Epiphanies was certain this would force the family into immediate submission. However, the courage of the eldest sibling and apparent insanity of the madman king served only to strengthen their resolve. They also refused to submit, though members of Antiochus own court begged them to relent. The brothers, one by one, refused, giving meticulous and glowing testimony to Antiochus and the court of their preference for honorable death in service to Yahweh rather than to live a life of luxury and privilege as a cruel tyrant, such as the king and his henchmen, all of whom, they were assured, were doomed to an eternity in the pit.
Throughout the torture of six of her sons, Chanah stood by as silent witness and encourager to her sons until only her youngest remained – a 7-year old. Antiochus besought him with gold and silver to relent and save himself and his Mother. The child displayed the same courage as his brothers, even taunting the king to complete the task and allow him the honor of death for Yahweh, as his brothers had been given. When reading the accounts of Chanah, recall these quotes are taken from the Talmud and Israelites were not permitted, according to man’s tradition, to speak the name of Yahweh or God. Thus, He was addressed as either Adonai when speaking. When written, The Name (Yahweh or YHWH) would not be spelled out, but written as G-D in English or simply The Name. The quotes below honor their source and are offered as printed in the Talmud.
Chanah asked the King for permission to speak to her son, intimating she would encourage him to capitulate. Yet, when she reached the young boy she kissed him and said in the hearing of all in the room,
“My son, I carried you in my body for nine months, I nursed you for two years and I have fed you until today. I have taught you to fear Adonai and uphold His Torah. See the heaven and the earth, the sea and the land, fire, water, wind and every other creation. Know that they were all created by the word of Adonai. He created man to serve Him and He will reward man for his deeds. The king knows he is condemned before G-d. He thinks that if he convinces you, G-d will have mercy on him. G-d controls your life’s breath and can take your soul whenever He desires. If only I could see the greatness of your glorious place where we would be illuminated with G-d’s light and rejoice and exult together.”
Chanah turned to face the king, confidently declaring,
“I was unable to prevail upon him.”
The exasperated king again addressed the child once again with dire warnings, scoldings and inducements only to receive his answer,
“Whom are you seeking to overpower with your words and enticements? I laugh at your foolishness. I believe in the Torah and in G-d Whom you blaspheme. You will remain an abomination upon all mankind, loathsome and far from G-d.”
The Talmud, Jewish rabbinical teaching, is explicit about the King’s outrage. Antiochus gave the boy one final chance to save himself by ostensibly bowing down to retrieve his signet ring, yet the boy again refused. As they seized him, Chanah begged to be allowed to kiss the boy one last time.
As if speaking to all seven children, Chanah said,
“My children, tell your ancestor Abraham, ‘You bound only one son upon an altar, but I bound seven.”
Antiochus ordered the child be tortured even more than his brothers while Chanah looked on.
The grieved Chanah, mother in this world no more, was left surrounded by the mangled bodies of her sons, a prayer exalting Adonai on her lips. The distraught woman threw herself from the roof and rested in the arms of God with her martyred sons.
THE SEEDS OF REVOLT
In the small village of Modiin, 17 miles NW of Jerusalem, Matthew the elderly Priest lived with his five sons. They were called the Hasmoneans after one of their ancestors and would become the ruling dynasty in Israel when she was restored. One day the Syrians rode in and commanded Matthew to make a sacrifice, for they had built an altar in the town square. They commanded the esteemed Rabbi to perform a ritual sacrifice to the Greek gods. Upon his refusal, a Hellenist Jew from the town approached and offered to make the sacrifice on behalf of the town. Matthew drew his sword and killed the Hellenist while his sons and other villagers fell upon the Syrians, killing many and allowing only a few to survive by fleeing. No longer safe in their own village, the rebel Hasmoneans fled to the hills around Judea where they were joined by thousands more who had been displaced, their families murdered and their farms and possessions seized.
This encounter began the resistance, later called the Maccabean Revolt. The revolt was guerrilla warfare from the hills and caves upon the armies of the Syrians. The Israelites were too outnumbered to engage the armies directly, yet the rebels’ numbers were growing with every persecution staged by Epiphanies. Matthew the Elder, directed his son, Judah the Strong, to continue the attacks and lead the revolt to take back their land upon his death bed. The people hailed Judah Maccabee, meaning “Who is like God”. They did not offer worship to Judah, but implied his efforts, strength and success came directly from Yahweh. Under Judah Maccabee’s strong leadership, the Jewish people ultimately defeated three large armies sent separately by Epiphanies, and reclaimed their land as well as the Temple.
SIDETRACK – Mikvah (singular) mikva’ot (plural) is a bath used for the purpose of ritual immersion in Judaism. In Scripture, the word is employed in its broader sense generally meaning a collection of water. Levitical Law specified full immersion in water is required to regain ritual purity after ritually impure incidents have occurred.
Ritual uncleanness resulted from three processes of normal human life. Touching a dead body was the most grievous of all uncleanness and required ritual cleansing with the ashes of the red heifer before they could attend the Temple. Intentionally or not – an individual was deemed ritually unclean for 7 days and required cleansing. All other ritual cleansing was performed by Mikvah – ritual bathing. A woman, during her normal menstrual cycle and for 7 days thereafter, or for a specific period after childbirth was considered ritually unclean and required to undergo cleansing prior to attendance at Temple. A man who had a seminal emission, even nocturnally, was considered unclean, requiring ritual cleansing before he could attend the Temple. The point of the cleansing rituals was the introspection and examination of one’s heart, the ashes and water were the outward evidence of the inner purification.
THIS HISTORY IS DARK – WHY BRING IT UP?
If we do not learn from the past, we are doomed to repeat it. The Miracle of the Oil and the Festival of Lights, not surprisingly, has another level of meaning all Believers in Yeshua should focus on. Israel and many of her people will likely be unable to see this aspect of Hanukkah until after we are gone, but see it they will.
John 8:12 LEB – YESHUA IS THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD (Emphasis Mine)
12 Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world! The one who follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
The Israelites were so focused on ritual purity and observance of the Laws of Moses, they overlooked the lesson in all of their laws which pointed to the heart issue, the holiness of Yahweh and the Person of Messiah – Jesus the Christ (Hebrew – Yeshua ha ‘Mashiach). Not only did Yeshua create the Sun, Moon, Stars and all that is within the universe – He, Himself, IS the LIGHT!
What is the purpose of light? The PRESENCE of light effectuates the REMOVAL of darkness. Darkness does not “battle” with light for supremacy, although we think of it in this way in the Spiritual realm. Darkness can only exist where there is an absence of light. Once light in sufficient quantities arrives, darkness simply vanishes. Walk into a darkened room and flip on a switch – voila’ !
The New Heaven and New Earth will have neither Sun nor Moon, for Yahweh is the light of the whole world throughout eternity. We do not understand it, we cannot truly comprehend it, yet we know it is true for Isaiah spoke of this truth and John the Revelator confirmed it.
Revelation 21:24 CJB – THE SH’KINAH (GLORY) OF GOD ILLUMINATES (Emphasis Mine)
22 I saw no Temple in the city, for Adonai, God of heaven’s armies, is its Temple, as is the Lamb. 23 The city has no need for the sun or the moon to shine on it, because God’s Sh’khinah gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb.24 The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it.
LIGHT BECOMES FLESH AT THE FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS!
WAS YESHUA CONCEIVED AT HANUKKAH?
Many scholars believe Yeshua was conceived in Mary’s womb by Holy Spirit during Hanukkah. What more appropriate time could there be for the Light of the World to come to earth in the flesh than during The Festival of Lights? This is not stated explicitly in scripture, but we begin at the conception of John the Baptist in Sivan (June), based on the established Courses of the Priesthood when Zechariah was foretold of the birth of his own son, as he served in the Temple. Six month’s later Gabriel announces the coming of Messiah to Mary who departs “immediately” or “with haste” to see Elizabeth, the Mother of John. Scripture confirms Mary was already with child and remained there for 3 months. These dates place the conception of Yeshua on or about Hanukkah with Yeshua’s birth some 9 months later in early September, likely on the Feast of Trumpets.
Luke 1:39-45 LEB – THE BABY LEAPED IN ELIZABETH’S WOMB (Emphasis Mine)
39 Now in those days Mary set out and traveled with haste into the hill country, to a town of Judah,40 and entered into the house of Zechariah, and greeted Elizabeth.41And it happened that when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby in her womb leaped and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 And she cried out with a loud shout and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! 43 And why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby (John the Baptist)in my womb leaped for joy! 45 And blessed is she who believed that there will be a fulfillment to what was spoken to her from the Lord!”
Mary’s reply, clearing under the anointing of Holy Spirit, is often referred to in Orthodox assemblies as The Magnifcat and by others as The Song of Mary!
Luke 1:46-56 LEB – THE SONG OF MARY (Emphasis Mine)
46 And Mary said,“My soul exalts the Lord,47 and my spirit has rejoiced greatly in God my Savior,48 because he has looked upon the humble state of his female slave,for behold, from now on all generations will consider me blessed, 49because the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name.50 And his mercy is for generation after generation to those who fear him.51 He has done a mighty deed with his arm (Yeshua is Yahweh’s arm);he has dispersed the proudin the thoughts of their hearts.52 He has brought down rulers from their thrones,and has exalted the lowly.53 He has filled those who are hungry with good things,and those who are rich he has sent away empty-handed.54 He has helped Israel his servant,remembering his mercy,55 just as he spoke to our fathers,to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”
56 And Mary stayed with her about three months, and returned to her home.
Mary remained with Elizabeth for about 3 months. All details in scripture are given for a reason, not simply to fill a page. The details themselves are time markers to determine when one thing occurs in relation to another. The 24 courses of the Priesthood established by King David are well known dating instruments.
SIDETRACK – TWENTY FOUR COURSES OF THE PRIESTHOOD – King David assigned each of the 24 priestly clans to a weekly watch during which its members were responsible for maintaining the schedule of offerings at the Temple in Jerusalem, in accordance with 1 Chronicles 24:3-5. Prior to that time, the priestly courses numbered a mere eight. These “priestly divisions” repeated itself roughly twice each year. Historically, the assignment by ancestry of the priestly courses enables historians to determine the time of service for particular divisions and/or events.
In Middle Eastern culture, the birth date of the child is not nearly as important as the date of conception. Job was troubled when his children drew together to celebrate their “birthdays”, why? Their focus was aligned with “the nations” who celebrated their own birth rather than the Creator’s planting of the seed at conception. Perhaps his fear was linked also to their behavior during these times as well as the focus on birth date rather than conception. Job feared his children’s departure from the ways of Yahweh, becoming “like the nations”.
Wisdom suggests we should focus not on a specific date, or event when Jesus Robed Himself in flesh and came to dwell among us. Rather we should look upon the absolute, historical, scriptural truth He did so . . . HE WAS BORN! What greater cause for celebrating the Festival of Lights than the actual Light of the World?
THE FUEL WAS NOT CONSUMED
The “Miracle of the Oil” of Hanukkah should remind us of another Miracle where God “showed Himself” to Moses, at the Burning Bush. The Fuel, the bush, was burning but was not consumed. It is extremely important to note, Moses experienced The Trinity in this miracle of the Old Testament. He saw the Angel (Christ) and the Fire (Father God) and he Heard (Holy Spirit) from the midst of the bush.
Exodus 3:2-5 LEB – MOSES AND THE BURNING BUSH (Emphasis Mine)
2 And the angel of Yahweh appeared to him (He SAW the pre-incarnate Christ – a Theophany) a flame of fire (the Father was the Flame itself) from the midst of a bush, and he looked, and there was the bush burning with fire, but the bush was not being consumed. 3And Moses said, “Let me turn aside and see this great sight. Why does the bush not burn up?” 4 And Yahweh saw that he turned aside to see, and God called to him (Holy Spirit) from the midst of the bush, and he said, “Moses, Moses.” And he said, “Here I am.” 5 And he said, “You must not come near to here. Take off your sandals from on your feet, because the place on which you are standing, it is holy ground.”
What if Moses hadn’t been paying attention, had not been looking for the small things, the unique and unusual things in life? What if he had been so busy with his own thoughts, he had failed to “turn aside”. Yahweh “saw” Moses had turned aside and THEN, He “called to Him”. Israel’s destiny would not have been different, but perhaps Moses’ would. We must look for God, not only in the huge miracles like the parting of the Red Sea, but also in the small miracles of our own lives when God offers us an opportunity to “turn aside” and “see and Hear Him”. Yes, Yahweh moves in mighty and magnificent ways, but . . . not always . . . sometimes He is in the small bush off the side of the beaten path we are hurrying down.
Yahweh told Elijah, I am not in the Whirlwind, the Earthquake or the Fire, but in the Still Small Voicewhich can only be heard by those who determine to listen. Be on the lookout for the daily miracles, the winks from God, and you will find the profound and earth shattering as well! When you seek Him . . . God’s whisper becomes a Shout!
I pray this peak into the Miracle of Hanukkah brings you to an even greater appreciation of the real Miracle of Jesus Christ, who is . . . THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD!
Thanks for taking time for me . . .
Sherry Driskell Griffin
P. S. If this was a Blessing to you . . . be a Blessing and pass it along!
There is so much more than we’ve understood . . . and now you can know!
What if the most beautiful story of all time, the birth of Jesus Christ, was even more beautiful than you ever imagined? Let us look once again at the clear night of His birth and see the Truth and the Majesty . . . we were never told . . .
LUKE 2:1-7 KJV – (Bold Emphasis Mine)
1And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. 2 (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) 3 And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Beth-lehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)5 To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. 6 And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. 7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
Why is Bethlehem so critical to the story?
We think we know . . .
Both Joseph and Mary were of the bloodline of the House of David and from the town of Bethlehem, giving Jesus the legal and biological right to be seated on the Throne of David.
And although that’s true and important, there’s more . . .
Jacob, the father of the 12 Tribes of Israel, who literally wrestled all night with the angel of the Lord for a blessing, lived in Bethlehem and buried Rachel, his beloved wife, there.
David, the greatest King of Israel and the man after God’s own heart, was born, tended Sheep and anointed King in Bethlehem. Oftentimes, Bethlehem is called, the City of David.
Messiah was prophesied to be born in Bethlehem.
Bethlehem is a frenzied madhouse . . . all those of the City of David have come for taxation by order of Caesar Augustus. The crowds pack the roads throughout Israel and there is no room found anywhere for Mary and Joseph in the inns. The roads and cities are full of travelers. The registration is not only for the City of David, but all Israel. Jerusalem is only 3 miles away from Bethlehem and . . . the crowds are immense.
Why this night . . . Why register everyone now?
The God of Creation moved all heaven and earth as well as the heart of a pagan king to assure prophecy would be fulfilled. Not only fulfilled, but resoundingly so, with lasting memories of where and when this birth occurred. Bethlehem, in Hebrew means the House of Bread . . . and this is the birthplace of Jesus . . . The Bread of life.
THE ANGEL APPEARS
Luke 2:8-9 KJV – (Bold Emphasis Mine)
8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
This angel is no white robed little girl with a gold, garland-covered coat hanger formed into a halo over her head. There are no donkeys braying or cattle lowing. There are no wise men and no gifts . . . not this night.
The pageants of our lives have so reduced the spectacle of grandeur and confused the story, we have conditioned our minds to the normality of the event, we have lost Our Incredulity, Our Wonder and Our Awe.
Let us look again and see if it is possible to . . .
RETURN TO TRUTH AND MAJESTY
Luke 2:10a KJV – (Bold Emphasis Mine)
And the angel said unto them, Fear not:
The Angel of the Lord is a supernatural being of immense height and size. We know this from descriptions of other angelic encounters in Scripture. The first thing any angel speaks is always . . . Fear Not.
Clearly, angels appear . . . fearsome. Think about it, how would you react? You are sitting in a starlit field minding sheep with only the light of a small campfire, no sound save the bleating of the sheep when suddenly . . .
An angel of the Lord appears. The Shekinah Glory reflected from his attendance on God is so bright they cannot look at him directly. This divine being has arrived from the very Throne Room of God Almighty with a message . . . for shepherds.
Response . . . they are sore afraid . . . greatly fearful. Why fear? Angels not only appear out of nowhere and look awesome, they also have a pretty gnarly reputation!
Consider . . .
One Angel appears and 185,000 Assyrians are slain.
Two Angels appear and Sodom and Gomorrah, with all the cities and people of the plains are destroyed.
“Fear Not” . . . is much easier said than done . . . especially when you know your history!
Luke 2:10b-11 KJV – (Bold and Underline emphasis Mine)
“ . . . for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.”
Excellent, the angel brings good tidings of great joy and the shepherds begin to relax.
Most of us relax at this point as well, for we have heard the story from childhood and know exactly what happens next. But, do we really, or have we muddled it? What else did the angel say?
THIS SHALL BE A SIGN
Luke 2:12 – (Bold and Underline Emphasis Mine)
“And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddlingclothes, lying in a manger.”
There it is . . . a sign. There is no mention of a star, no directions of where to go or what they should look for other than . . . a baby.
There are no wise men in this story. Only the shepherds were directed to see Jesus the night he was born. Those wise men with their gifts will not arrive until many months later, when Jesus is almost 2 years old. Did the Star of Bethlehem appear that night? Yes, it did, but neither the Shepherds nor the angels mention it.
Luke 2:13-14 KJV – (Bold emphasis Mine)
13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, 14Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, Good will toward men.
The astonished Shepherds suddenly see not just a single angel, but a multitude . . .thousands . . . as they sing . . .
This night is memorable for many reasons, not the least of which is the spectacular visitation of thousands of angels singing to shepherds in a field. But, there are other events afoot to ensure this night is forever fixed in the memory and history of the world . . . this glorious night and the baby it brings will never be forgotten . . . Our Father in Heaven has made certain of it!
WHERE DO THEY GO AND HOW DID THEY KNOW?
People from all over Israel are packed to the rafters in and around Bethlehem, even sleeping in stables, yet the shepherds know exactly where they are to go based on “the sign” given them by the Angel Messenger?
Luke 2:12 KJV – (Bold and Underline Emphasis Mine)
“And this shall bea sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.”
They were given only three clues – baby, swaddling clothes and a manger. How could they know? What does it mean, this sign?
Luke 2:15-16 KJV – (Bold and Underline Emphasis Mine)
15 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Beth-lehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.
There was no discussion and no necessity to piece the puzzle together. Let us go now! They Knew Instantly, Assuredly and went WITH HASTE!
Why these shepherds? Why a field near Bethlehem? And, how in the world are they expected to find one little “babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger” in the madhouse of this night?
There is clearly more to these Shepherds than we have understood. How are we to understand their knowledge?
It’s Bethlehem and the sheep . . .
BETHLEHEM AND ITS SHEPHERDS
Bethlehem is perfect for grazing and guarding sheep, just as it was in Jacob and David’s day. But, this is no ordinary flock and these are not run-of-the-mill shepherds. Like David – the Shepherd Priests of this field tend the flock of the Temple. These lambs are destined to temporarily remove the sin of the people of Israel, for they are special lambs, especially chosen and cared for by Shepherd Priests of the Temple for they are the sacrificial lambs.
THE TOWER OF THE FLOCK . . . MIGDAL EDER
Migdal Eder, the Tower of the Flock, was constructed long before in the fields outside of Bethlehem. It is a circular tower with a 2nd floor from which the shepherds watch over the sheep. The 1st floor has only one unique purpose, it is ceremonially cleansed and sanctified by the Levitical priests as a birthing chamber. It is made ritually pure and reserved for the lambs of sacrifice placed in the sanctified manger.
When the Mother, the ewe, is about to give birth in the field, she is brought into the chamber and attended by a shepherd priest. Once the lamb is born, it is wrapped in swaddling clothes, torn from the garments of the priest, and placed in the manger to protect it from damage by trampling or thrashing. There can be no spot or blemish on these lambs. For only a spotless lamb can take away sins, even temporarily.
The men in the field before the angels are specially trained as shepherd priests, like David before them . . .
They are trained in Torah and the priestly rites, dedicated to the service of the Temple and its sheep. They know the prophecy of Messiah’s birth is not only specific to Bethlehem, but Micah testified it would happen at Migdal Eder.
MICAH 4:8 NAS 1977 – (Bold, Underline and Parenthesis Emphasis Mine)
“And as for you, tower of the flock, Hill of the daughter of Zion, To you it will come— Even the former dominion will come (Messiah), The kingdom of the daughter of Jerusalem.”
The angels knew exactly where and to whom they should go to proclaim the good news. They knew exactly what they were to say . . . for God had instructed these shepherds their whole life . . . for this night!
Couple the prophecy with their training and . . .
These shepherds on this brilliant night need no further instruction. The sign was to them as clear as though it were emblazoned in pictures across the sky.
They understood instantly, Messiah would be birthed where all sacrificial lambs for Israel enter the world. They hurried to the ceremonial birthing chamber in the base of the Tower of the Flock . . . and . . . Just as the angel had announced . . .
THE SIGN AS PROMISED!
They found the babe, wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger . . . newly arrived in this world, without spot or blemish, the final, permanent sacrifice for the sins of all mankind. This is no lamb of the animal variety . . . but the Son of God, born to a Virgin!
Luke 2:17-20 KJV – (Bold Emphasis Mine)
17 And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.18 And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.19 But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.
And we say with the multitude of angels . . .
Glory to God in the Highest . . . Peace on Earth . . . Good Will Toward Men!
THIS NIGHT IS ONLY THE BEGINNING
So often, at Christmas time, we stop at the birth of Jesus on a starry night. Yet the true miracle only begins there . . .
JOHN THE BAPTIST knew the story . . .
JOHN 1:29 ESV – (Bold Emphasis Mine)
29 The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”
And now we know . . .
The time of Tribulation approaching is called Jacob’s Trouble. It is a time when Israel will be besieged by her enemies and Jerusalem will become a cup of tremblingfor the whole world.
At this time . . . Our High Priest, will return to remove those who believe in His sacrifice for their sins in an event called The Rapture . . . or the Catching Away.
1 Thessalonians 14:16-17 KJV – (Bold and Underline Emphasis Mine)
16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
1 Corinthians 15:52 KJV – (Bold and Underline Emphasis Mine)
52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality
Once those who have trusted in Jesus for remission of their sins have been removed in The Rapture, God will shift his focus to Israel, the unsaved and the sin and injustice of this world. Only then will He reveal his end time identity as The Lion of the Tribe of Judah. He will cleanse the world of sin and evil, all Israel will be saved and He will take his rightful place on the Throne of David as the King of the World.
THE MILLENNIUM BEGINS
Triumphantly, in that day, He will tend the sheep of the world, the faithful of Christ. The heartache of all who love and honor Jesus will be healed. No more tears will flow from Migdal Eder for no more lambs will die. The Shepherd of the World will reign as King of Kings and Lord of Lords . . . Forevermore . . . Amen!
With our new awareness of theBirth of Jesus – may we respond – to the Truth, the Majesty . . . with INCREDULITY . . . with AWE . . . with WONDER . . . And a renewed awareness of His Miraculous Birth . . . and the reality of Our Salvation!
Perhaps you might read this aloud to little children and re-awaken their delight and wonder in the real Story of Jesus’ birth!
Thanks for taking time for me . . .
Sherry Driskell Griffin
P. S. If this was a Blessing to you . . . be a Blessing and pass it along!
What Is A Rapture Watcher? A Rapture Watcher studies all the Signs on the Earth and In the Sky while listening to Holy Spirit, ready to warn the people of God to be prepared for the Imminent Arrival of Jesus Christ for His Church. This event is most commonly called The Rapture!
THE CROWN OF RIGHTEOUSNESS
We are commanded in Scripture to Watch for Jesus’ return. This does not relieve us of the responsibility to occupy until He comes and spread the gospel. There is a Crown of Righteousness, a reward, for those who “love His appearing.”
2 Timothy 4:8 KJV – (Bold Emphasis Mine)
Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.
Let us pray we are found worthy to receive the Crown of Righteousness given to all those who long for His Coming and Welcome His appearing.
AUTHORITY OF THE WATCHMEN
What is a Watchmen? The Watchmen is the sentry, the soldier standing guard to warn of impending events and danger from either the physical or supernatural worlds.
The Watchmen of ancient times were posted on the walls of the city to alert the inhabitants of anything approaching. Their job was to sound the alarm, not to determine what the approach signaled. The same cloud of dust on the horizon might announce an approaching caravan with its welcome goods or a menacing Army’s advance. The roiling cloud could just as easily be a dust storm. The responsibility of the Watchmen was to alert the camp of unusual activity. The penalty for failure to fulfill their responsibility was loss of their own life. The Watchmen could neither hasten the caravan, slow the enemy or stop the dust storm – their responsibility was to sound the alert . . . so the camp could make itself ready!
Not all Watchmen see the same horizon – their strategic placement on the Wall affords each sentry a different vantage point. Only when all reports are viewed together, prayed through and discerned does a clearer picture emerge of what the camp might be facing. Yet with all the strategy and knowledge combined, what the camp is facing remains shrouded in mystery until the event occurs. The position of the Watchmen, both then and now, comes with great responsibility.
Ezekiel 33:6 ESV – (Bold and Underline Emphasis Mine)
But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, so that the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any one of them, that person is taken away in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at the watchman’s hand.
Isaiah 62:6 ESV – (Bold and Underline Emphasis Mine)
On your walls, O Jerusalem,I have set watchmen; all the day and all the night they shall never be silent.
Watchmen must be aware of both realms, the Visual (physical) and the Supernatural (spiritual or the unseen). Oftentimes, the duties combine in one individual, but not always. One sees physical signs on the earth & in the skies, while another sees the face and heart of God for His warning – the supernatural. Some Watchmen, hear the Word of the Lord by the Spirit and alert the people of warnings and admonitions from Father God. Other Watchmen are called to observe the human realm, the tactics of the enemy and the physical signs manifesting in the natural world. Their personal life and training has fitted them perfectly for the job assignment they have been given by Father God. “Before they were formed in their Mother’s womb He knew” . . . they were gifted by the Creator . . . for such a time as this!
Ezekiel 3:17-19 ESV – (Bold and Underline Emphasis Mine)
“Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel. Whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me.
Every Believer is commanded in Scripture to Watch for the Return of Christ to “Catch Away” His Body, the Church. Some Believers are given the specific job assignment and burden as a Watchman by Holy Spirit. Some Watchmen have been given the gift of Prophecy, others the ability to discern the signs, while still others the gift of intercession to seek the face of the Lord in prayer for counsel to His people.
Amos 3:7 ESV – (Bold and Underline Emphasis Mine)
“For the Lord God does nothingwithout revealing his secretto his servants the prophets.
Paul was entrusted with the Mystery of The Rapture, the Harpazo, the Catching Away of the Church and many others. He instructed us, by the power of Holy Spirit, to Watch!Jesus Himself instructed Paul . . . and all Believers by extension . . . to Watch!
1 Thessalonians 5:4-6 KJV – (Bold and Underline Emphasis Mine)
4 But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. 5 Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. 6 Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.
Luke details Jesus’ instructions to Watch and Pray to Escape the things which will come to pass! Pretribulation Believers have been rightly charged with desiring to escape the hard times of the Day of the Lord. Yes, we plead guilty and are commanded to do so. We want to escape the things which are coming on this world, the Day of the Lord – The Tribulation – the Wrath of God and the Lamb known as Jacob’s Trouble. This is not the period of the Body of Christ’ Trouble, but Jacob’s (Israel’s) Trouble.
Make no mistake I do not want to be here for the most horrific time in recorded history and neither do you. Jesus warned His Body to Watch and Pray for this escape, He doesn’t want us here either! How are we accounted worthy? In Christ . . . our Overcomer . . . the Head of the Body of Christ!
Luke 21:34-36 KJV – (Bold and Underline Emphasis Mine)
34And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares.35For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth. 36Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.
CHRISTIANS TOO OFTEN ATTACK THEIR OWN
Watchmen have been given a scriptural mandate. God calls them to do what they do. The worldly Church of Laodicea will denigrate their efforts, challenge their authority and seek to silence them. Many do not want to look at the truth of the soon return of Christ, for they are very comfortable living in Satan’s world. Comfortable in Satan’s world is a very dangerous place to be spiritually!
2 PETER 3:3-6 ESV – (Bold and Underline Emphasis Mine)
3 Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, 4 And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.5For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: 6 Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished:
Do not place yourself in position to fulfill prophecy by being aScoffer and Mocker. Jesus will return for the Church, just as He promised, despite every protest being made to the contrary. When Watchers, who have dared to step out in faith at the risk of personal ridicule, warn . . . they free themselves from the blood guilt of those who fail to listen. The Watchmen’s hands will be clean as they stand before the BEMA. Can you say the same? Look Up . . . Warn . . . Show others the Way to Christ . . . His return is Nigh!
STUDY TO SHOW THYSELF APPROVED
I have not made videos, charts or taught prophecy seminars about any of the ever-increasing signs of the soon return of Jesus. I, like many of you, have been privileged to sit in the “cheap seats” and benefit from the work of others. I did not stake my personal and professional reputation on a heart-felt belief the revelation given was from God. However, many honorable men and women did. Did they get everything right? Absolutely not. HOWEVER, their admonitions and efforts caused me to seek the face of God, to study and learn more about scripture than ever before and I will be forever indebted to themfor their courage and their work.
I have diligently studied Scripture for years and was forced to dig deeper, look harder and question the dogma of man I had been taught my entire life. I am a better person, a better Christian and more prepared to stand before Jesus by the Watchmen’s efforts. We have never seen this time in the Plan of God before with Signs screaming from the Land, Sea, Air above us and the Heavens!
Many who chastised the Watchmen were deeply involved in comments sections on the watchmen videos and blogs – encouraging and agreeing – while they looked forward excitedly to what they, too, believed could occur at any moment. Yet, when the Event did not occur as they had hoped, prayed and believed, they turned viciously on those with whom they had only moments before collaborated and been in agreement. This is shameful behavior which I pray will never be repeated again.
Good men and women, with a heart for their Savior may reach different conclusions, but all should be lauded for seeking to understand more clearly the Signs of the Times.
1 Corinthians 13:12-13 ESV –(Bold and Underline Emphasis Mine)
12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
We live and Watch in the NOW, where we see in a mirror dimly. Only in Hindsight, after the event has occurred, will we know fully as we are known and there will be no need to Watch! Let your heart, prayers and admonitions to those who are watching be anchored in generosity, forbearance and LOVE! Do we disagree if we see error? Certainly. How do we do it? Privately – with Love!
Thank you to the Watchmen who woke many to the Lord’s soon return. I am honored to stand with you as you seek to assemble the puzzle pieces of prophecy, realizing we all have feet made of clay. I pray we all learn from our mistakes, seek the Lord more diligently and attempt even more carefully to Rightly Divide the Scriptures.
2 Timothy 2:15 KJV – (Bold Emphasis Mine)
Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
THE WATCHMEN OF THE CHURCH AGE
Those of us who have been watching with eager anticipation for the past 6-7 years and longer have seen the ever-increasing number of signs pointing to the imminent return of Christ. As exhilarating and soul nourishing as the signs have been, there is also a tendency, if one’s focus is only on The Rapture, to become weary, disenchanted and frustrated.
Holy Spirit has led me to an approach which has given me great Inner Peace . . . what the Scripture describes in Hebrew as Shalom. This Peace I now experience confirms the source is Holy Spirit. I watch as eagerly as before, yet with the realization, the upcoming “high watch” date may be either a Sign or the Event. It is unnecessary for me to know or speculate which it might be. Paul did not say to decide, he said we are to “Watch” and “Alert” others who may be unaware.
IN THE MEANTIME
The Word in my Spirit is to focus on spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ. The signs point only to Christ and His soon return. Be Ready and tell others . . . receive the Blood of Christ as payment for your sins by Believing in His Birth, Death, Burial and Resurrection!
There is no time remaining to bring strife and “argue for your pet doctrine or theory“. Everything is important . . . but none more so than Jesus and Salvation.
If you see those whom you believe are in error, state your points succinctly, with love. If you are led by Holy Spirit to confront the person directly, do so privately – go to them and attempt to understand what they are seeing and explain your viewpoint. If they do not heed your warning, pray for them, do not seek to harm or disparage. If the issue does not directly affect Salvation or could cause unbelievers to become confused or run from the strife – let it go! You’ve spoken or written your disagreement in love, now Walk Away . . . Praying!
Scripture tells us to be Salt to flavor the Body of Christ and Light to shine forth the Truth to the World . . . devastation and destruction is coming and it is our mandate to warn and point the way for our Brothers and Sisters . . . toone person only – Christ!
Matthew 5:13-14 ESV – (Bold and Underline Emphasis Mine)
13 “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.
Pick up your Sword, the Scriptures, and join with us to alert the world of the soon return of Jesus Christ for His Body, the Church.
We are in The End Times . . . Christ’ Return for His Body is Near . . . Read . . . Pass It Along . . . Watch . . . Spread the Word!
Thanks for taking time for me . . .
Sherry Driskell Griffin
P. S. If this was a Blessing to you . . . be a Blessing and pass it along!
Blessings . . . Especially this time of year, I find myself thinking about the amazing people I know and love. For quite some time now I’ve been astute enough to realize that I, like many Americans, am incredibly blessed and I am absolutely thankful to the one from whom all blessings flow – Father God, His Son and the Holy Spirit.
Once I began the journey of stepping back from my life in an attempt to see Blessing objectively, I found that I had recognized the obvious – faith in Christ, family, friends, health, job and home and I am incredibly grateful for them and for you.
Yet I began to realize there was more that I was to see and understand. Sometimes you just sense a nudge from the Holy Spirit that says, “There’s more, look deeper.” So, I began to search the Scriptures to see what Blessings really are. I found ribbons of truth throughout to show us their purpose and effect.
I have always thought of a Blessing as a benefit given by God to His children for a job well done or to fill a need. That is true as far as it goes, but woefully short of the true nature and purpose of Blessing as God meant it to be understood. Once you begin to probe, think and pray you begin to see so much more.
God gave 3 blessings during the creation – one to the living creatures of the sea and air, a second to man and a third to the Sabbath Day itself.
Day Three – Creatures of the sea and air were Blessed to “be fruitful and multiply”. The Blessing was given for a purpose – to equip them for a job they were assigned to do.
Day Six – Living Creatures were created. Man was created “in His Image” . . . “to rule over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air and over the livestock, and over all the earth and over all the creeping creatures that creep on the earth.” This Blessing was a Blessing of Dominion and Authority to Rule over the creation.
Day Seven – God Blessed the Seventh Day – Made it Holy (set apart) and a day of rest to honor the work He had done, to Honor Him and His work of Creation.
Blessings were given to LivingCreatures, to Mankind and to a Day. Clearly these weren’t gold stars being handed out for good work since they had done nothing. Blessing is an equipping for people and creatures. It is also an honor given to mark an event as a remembrance.
With this altered viewpoint, you recognize the real purpose of Blessings – to Be a Blessing – to accomplish a God-Given purpose – to be His Image and to recognize, mark and honor what He has already done in creation.
Go back to Day Six and see that mankind was created “in our Image”. What does that mean? An image is a representation or a likeness. So, we are made to be a representation or likeness of our Creator God here on this earth. We are “like” Him, but we are not Him. As we grow in the knowledge and likeness of Him we are more able to Image Him or to be His representative.
What was Jesus doing in His final act on this earth?
“He led the disciples out as far as Bethany, and He lifted up His hands and blessed them. And while He blessed them, He was parted from them and carried up into heaven.”
He never ended the blessing . . . He is our High Priest . . . He is Blessing Us Still. His Blessing has no limitation, no expiration, no ceasing. It is an unending Blessing! What greater legacy can there be?
He Blessed Us so that we can be a Blessing! Our own culture has diminished that to mean “If I make money, I give money to the church or to a worthy cause and that’s how I am a Blessing”. As far as it goes, that’s okay, but it is only a pale imitation of how we see a Blessing in Scripture.
In the first century the cultural Blessing was of utmost importance. The Blessing of the First Born conveyed property and spiritual authority. The first born son received twice the amount of property as the other sons and the first born received the authority to rule over (guide, guard and protect) the family. So, with the Blessing (inheritance) came Responsibility. Additional property made extra wealth available to care for the needs of other members of the family when it was required. Remember . . . you can’t have privilege without responsibility!
The Blessing of the First Born was so important that Ishmael, born of an Egyptian slave, Hagar, and fathered by Abraham, was not allowed to receive the blessing. That Blessing was bestowed upon Isaac, Sarah’s son. God had a specific purpose for Isaac, and despite the cultural norm of the First Born receiving the Blessing, God elected Isaac. The fallout from that decision still rages today in the Middle East. It is more clearly defined as Judaism and ultimately Christianity versus Islam. Blessings mattered then and they still matter today!
In the 18th and 19th centuries, a Blessing was given by the church and a Father and Mother to children upon their marriage. The young couple sought the blessing of the Body of Christ we think of as “the church” and their parents on the proposed union. Once that Blessing was given it was a “joining” of the family and spiritual community in willingness to come alongside the couple to be available to advise, assist – someone to lean on who has been there and been successful at it, even in their failures. They’ve learned and they blessed the couple with that knowledge and experience.
In the 20th and 21st centuries those cultural constructs have been pushed aside. The tradition is no longer honored and we see unions without Blessing, without support and the aftermath it creates is horrific. We’ve replaced it with moral relativism – “I will do whatever I want, however I want with whomever I want and it’s none of your business”. The focus on ‘Just Me’ has become our god. We’ve become our own idol. We’ve culturally cast aside on the dust heap of convenience and entitlement those things which gave us security and support within a family and spiritual structure.
Be careful of your wishes, they could become reality. You are on your own and your only support system is a blind and faithless government which may give you a fish, but it will never teach you to fish or to become independent. Your dependency conveys your strength and power to the entity upon which you depend.
Our society has arrived at this point, but we don’t have to join the Church of Me, the Gospel of God Owes Me or the Religion of Self-Will. As a nation and people, we have sacrificed our Blessings on the altars of I Will, If it Feels Good Do it and Social Justice.
However, we do not, as individuals, have to agree with society’s choice or their behavior. In fact, we must be willing to SAY NO! We are the image of God and we must choose to reflect His values, His choices by doing what He instructed, by living as He lived. By a willingness to stand up in our land and say, that is not acceptable to me – that is against the teaching of God which I hold true. No – I will not be a part of this. We must require it of our leaders.
How do we begin to turn our life and culture back in the right direction? We begin by Being a Blessing. We learn to heal and not to injure with our own voices. We speak Blessings – not curses.
The Power of Life and Death is in the Tongue. How is that possible? Take a step back and think it through – God created the Heavens and the Earth and all that is within it by SPEAKING it into being. We are created in His Image. We can’t create people, animals or the cosmos but we can certainly wreak havoc in the life of another by our clever, cutting and hateful remarks. Scripturally, those are curses – the antitheses of Blessings.
How many darts are stuck in our own hearts and minds and those of our children from careless, hateful words thrown our way as a child, a teen or an adult? We have felt it and we have done it to others.
If you wore glasses, you were 4 eyes.
If you were afraid of something you were a chicken.
If you were a bit overweight, you were a pig.
If you were too skinny, you were a string bean.
If you raised your hand and offered to answer a question or help in class you were a suck-up and teacher’s pet.
If you offered to do extra work at the office you were seeking brownie points.
If you slipped and fell, you were clumsy.
If you burned dinner, you were a horrible cook.
If you wrecked the car, you were a bad driver.
The list is never ending. Those words spoken were curses. They damaged self-esteem and caused unnecessary harm. Many were simply not true and said maliciously to hurt, others were said out of sheer stupidity – but they caused harm nonetheless.
Now think back again. How many times have you said or done things which hurt others? Whether it was intentional, thoughtless or just to be clever or noticed by the group — it was wrong and you spoke evil into another person’s life.
We are beings of Free Will. We can choose to Image God and be a Blessing or Image our Sin Nature and be a Curse. We always have a choice. The question is WHEN WE MAKE OUR CHOICE. If our choice directly affects only us and we are individually the only person to gain or lose from that choice – it’s ours to make. Any time our choice tramples someone else’s free will, coerces them or binds them to a decision in which they had no choice – you’ve transgressed another’s Free Will.
The choice was given to us in Scripture, God said:
“I have put before you life and death, the blessing and the curse.” You choose. We are no longer under the law, but we have His written instructions – we can choose to come into agreement with God and Bless or come into agreement with Satan and curse.
This is still the choice for each of us today. I choose Blessing and I choose to Be A Blessing, not just receive Blessings. If we have skills, abundance of finance, clothing, food, human kindness or wisdom we become a blessing when we share. We can choose to empower, to enable to achieve, to assist by creating an environment where others learn, grow and achieve. God does not enable in order to control and we must be His Image and do the same.
What about the Blessings in our own life that aren’t so obvious? How can we learn to recognize and be grateful for and utilize those? Here’s a start –
Every problem, crisis, adversity, setback and sorrow will be turned to blessing triumph and breakthrough when you have chosen to walk with God to the best of your current ability. These are blessings in disguise waiting to be realized. How do I know that? Hindsight! Many of the things I believed to be a horrible disaster and unfair to the max proved to be the things which taught me the most. More importantly, God said so –
We typically focus only on the first potion of this verse, but to do so misses the point, the purpose. He does not say all things work together for good. They do not. He says, All things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. I know I love God and I know He called me for His purpose. I know HE CANNOT LIE. Therefore, all things work together for good. Be careful to never lift a verse out of context or to take only the portion of a verse you LIKE.
How I react in each situation will determine when and how much blessing I will derive from it. The first question I’m learning to ask is, “What can I learn from this situation, trouble or problem that I could not have realized without it?” God has allowed it for a reason, therefore, my first response must be to attempt to discern what He wants me to learn, do, see or experience – the things I could not grasp or have not grasped without it. God teaches us by His Word and by our experience. We can choose our preferred method. For me, I choose His Word as my mode of learning since Experience is what you get when you don’t get what you wanted. Experience is a brutal instructor.
Remember, we are created in His Image as a representation and likeness of Him. As we grow in the knowledge of Him we should be a better, clearer more exact likeness of Him. The mirror of Him, our life, should become more clearly like Him. The people around us may not yet be able to identify exactly what it is, but they should be able to see something distinctly different about us, unlike the world and its distortions.
Imaging of God is a process, not an event and how we become more like Him is to learn from this training session called life to respond and react as Jesus did when He was here on earth. We are ALREADY . . . BUT NOT YET . . . LIKE HIM. It will happen – you made that choice when you became His.
How do we make it happen sooner?
Recognize the difficulty as a blessing, an opportunity to grow and progress
Respond as we are directed in His Word, In Love
Take control of that Tongue!
Once we learn to do these things, our time in the midst of the trouble will be lessened. Difficulties are our classroom and once we learn the lesson we can then be a blessing to others, pass the course and move on to another learning experience. If you continue to have the same problem, you didn’t pass the test and you’re repeating the course. Look back, review and change your response. Don’t continue doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. We build our experiences, layer upon layer to become a better Image of God.
We often struggle with the questions, “Why am I here? What could God use me for? Can I make a contribution to the lives of others?” Oftentimes your past difficulties will define your new opportunities – the areas in which you could be the greatest Blessing to others. What you have overcome empowers you to assist others who experience the same struggles. You know what to do, YOU SURVIVED – pass it along and be a Blessing.
Parents who’ve lived through the loss of a child are a Blessing to those who are in that dark valley.
A woman who has survived rape can minister to a rape victim like no other could possibly do.
A Father who is raising his children alone can help another Father who is experiencing this same walk.
The grown child who suffered verbal and/or physical abuse as a child can speak to the broken heart of a child experiencing that pain when no one else can help.
For those who recognize the ashes of their experience contain Blessings, their difficulties can become opportunities and they, themselves, a blessing to others. The mountain which was my problem, has now become my channel of blessings to fulfill my purpose by lifting someone else up.
So many references and examples in Scripture are agricultural. The culture of Bible Times was directly connected to the land and the people could easily grasp the point being made through these references. Think in that cultural time and you’ll get the references and understand the lessons much more easily. The people of God are referred to as Trees, Jesus is a root and branch and branches are broken and grafted back in. Many things happened in a garden so we ought to take a closer look.
Eden was the perfect place where Adam and Eve made the dreadful decision to disobey God and they were banned from that perfect place.
Jesus sweat great drops of blood and was seized in a garden as He prayed, “If it be possible, let this cup pass from me. But, not my will, but Thine be Done”.
Jesus was laid in a garden Tomb after the crucifixion and was resurrected there.
It seems fitting then, that we are pictured as a tree in this garden of life which produces fruit. What fruit are we producing in our life? What fruit is growing on our branches? How do we know what good fruit looks like versus bad. It’s really easy – look in His Word.
Scripture defines the Works (fruits) of the flesh as well as the fruit of the Spirit.
“And the works of the flesh are well-known, which are adultery, whoring, uncleanness, indecency, idolatry, drug sorcery, hatred, quarrels, jealousies, fits of rage, selfish ambitions, dissensions, factions, envy, murders, drunkenness, wild parties and the like . . . “
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, trustworthiness, gentleness, self-control.”
When we are shaken, and we will be, will the fruit that falls to the ground or on someone’s head be the good fruit of the Spirit or the fruit of the flesh? What will come out of our mouth – Blessings or Curses? Out of the abundance of our heart, the mouth speaks. What exists in our hearts? Will we project the Image of God (the fruits of the spirit) or fallen mankind (the works of the flesh)?
It simply means do what He said – Jesus left us with 2 Commandments –
“’You shall love God with all your heart, and with all your being, and with all your mind’. This is the first and great command. And the second is like it. ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’”
So then – What is Love from God’s viewpoint?
Love – pure, absolute divine love is uncaused and unmerited. It exists as God exists, of its own without Cause. God was not created, He has always existed and the love of God has always existed with Him.
God needs no reason to love you. He loves you because He is and because He has chosen to Love You. You can’t Cause God to love you anymore than you can Cause (create) God Himself. Divine Love is without cause, simply because God has made the choice to Love You with . . . no reason or cause.
What does that mean? Since you cannot cause God to love you, neither can you cause God to stop loving you. What a relief – my sins, my failures, my shortcomings and my mistakes cannot separate me from the love of God. I can choose to leave God and His Love (just because I was saved I did not relinquish my free will), but I can never sin enough, mess up enough or make enough mistakes to cause God to stop loving me.
Divine Love is the Greatest Blessing of All!
My Prayer for the Upcoming Year – Abba Father, I confess to you my failures, my shortcomings and my sin. I ask for your forgiveness and a forgiving heart for the year ahead. Lord Jesus, help me to live in constant awareness of the blessings you’ve bestowed on me and the opportunities for blessing others I am being given. Holy Spirit teach me by your Word and not by my circumstances, but when circumstances are necessary help me to be a quick study and a fast learner. Father you’ve created me to produce the fruit of the spirit, but when I allow the fruit of the flesh to fall when I’m shaken – I ask you to forgive me, make me mindful and prevent me from speaking curses to and about others. Make my tongue more quick and sure to Bless and to forgive, not to curse. I choose to Image you and not my fallen flesh, but without your Spirit and the Blood of Jesus it is not possible. Help me to decrease, Jesus, so that You can increase in my life. Let your image be made clearer in me every day.
I speak Blessings of Wisdom, Knowledge, Discernment, Health, Abundance and the Love of Christ to each and every person I know and come into contact with today and every day. Father God, Bless them Indeed!
In Jesus’ Mighty Name and By His Precious Blood I pray – Amen.
Commit with me today to be purposeful as you seek and bestow the Blessings of Almighty God upon those you love, those you meet in passing and especially those whom you see as your enemies.
So . . . Love someone today . . . Encourage someone today . . . Inspire someone today . . . Praise someone today . . . Protect someone today . . . Befriend someone today . . . Sharewith someone today . . . Comfort someone today and every day and . . . you will BecomeThe Blessing you were destined to be!
Thanks for taking time for me . . .
Sherry Driskell Griffin
P. S. If this was a Blessing to you . . . be a Blessing and pass it along!
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