Thursday, April 19, 2012


And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is, being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? And some of them that stood by, when they heard it, said, Behold, he calleth Elias. And one ran and filled a spunge full of vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink, saying, Let alone; let us see whether Elias will come to take him down. And Jesus cried with a loud voice, and gave up the ghost. And the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom.
Mark 15:34-38

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.
Galatians 5:22-24

Nine is an interesting number in scripture symbolically.  Like the Word of God itself, it is a two-edged sword. On one hand it represents judgment, but on the other hand it symbolizes giftedness and fruitfulness. In the astute work, Number In Scripture: Its Supernatural Design and Spiritual Significance, the author, EW Bullinger, noted of this number that it represented the end of man. "It marks the completeness, the end and issue of all things as to man—the judgment of man and all his works", Bullinger wrote. Looking at the two meanings side by side reveals another important facet of grace and righteousness that God does not wish us to miss.  

Of the many references in scripture of the usage of nine as a number of judgment, the divine use of it in the crucifixion story is most significant.  It was at the ninth hour that the LORD cried the prophetic first verse of Psalm 22.  This was the Psalm of the prophet of GOD who spoke for GOD but was forsaken by the people He was sent to.  It is also the Psalm of the suffering Shepherd/Savior who gave His life for his sheep.  It was in the ninth hour when Jesus succumbed to the wounds He received for our transgressions and the Son of Man died a cruel and horrible death.  Furthermore, it was the ninth hour that the Father judged the priestly system that shadowed Christ.  The veil was rent at the moment our Lord finished the purchase of our salvation.  Such grace!

God spoke clearly when the veil of the temple was torn.  In effect He was saying that the temporary sacrificial system entrusted to the hands of men was finished.  Christ had laid an ax to the foot of the old system, and in 3 days He would raise up the new temple just as He said.  He would take the head of this system as a Priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.  Man's efforts were judged worthless as Christ's work became the only God accepted work.  In doing so, God judged all works, actions, and attitudes of man worthless at the cross as well. That is also the message of the gifts of the Spirit in 1 Corinthians 12 and the fruit of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5.  Paul made it clear to the Corinthians that all believers were to stand before the judgment seat of Christ.  Often referred to as the Bema Judgment, believers will gain reward or suffer loss according to the works that they did.  Were they works of the flesh or works of the Spirit? 

Our love is pathetic, and our goodness is corrupt.  If we strive to please him in selfish acts of flesh, we will be found to be empty, barren, and fruitless; however, God provided a replacement for our worthless fruit.  It is the 9 fruit of the Spirit.  When the substitutionary system based on the blood of animals was judged and ended, God opened up free access to the throne of grace through the person of Christ.  In the same way, God judged man's fruit as worthless and rotten to the core, but He provided a replacement cultivated by faith in Christ and the ongoing presence of the Holy Spirit.  He also judged the ministry works of man and replaced them with the 9 gifts of the Spirit.  The message is clear--the work of Jesus is all that God will accept.  Therefore, barrenness and fruitlessness in our lives is a clear sign that we are not appropriating the gifts and fruit of the Holy Ghost as God requires.  

Speaking of 9 and judgement, in what month did God allow the hedge on America to be pulled down when the Pentagon was hit and the WTC destroyed?  In what month in 2008 did the economic chaos become obvious when the stock market began to fall?  Interesting!  Maybe God is also sending a clear message to "Christian" America?  I wonder if the ninth month of some year coming has more messages for America as well as the rest of the world?  One message is certain--Jesus Christ is Soon2Come!

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences.
2 Corinthians 5:10-11

Monday, April 16, 2012

Is It Really For The Lord?

Then came the word of the LORD of hosts unto me, saying, Speak unto all the people of the land, and to the priests, saying, When ye fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh month, even those seventy years, did ye at all fast unto me, even to me? And when ye did eat, and when ye did drink, did not ye eat for yourselves, and drink for yourselves?
Zechariah 7:4-6

This chapter reminds me of an experience that I had in the late 1980s.  While attending college, I was working for an exterminating company based in Columbus, Ohio.  One day I was sent to the small town of Sunbury which is northeast of the city.  Before that stop, I had a stop on the east side of Hoover Reservoir.  Leaving that stop I began to travel north and knew that if I kept the Reservoir on my left, I would go through the town of Galena and then enter Sunbury north of the lake.  My map lay beside me on the seat as I started out on my trip focusing on keeping the lake to my left as it ran north and south.  I went through Galena and knew I was getting close as I was now on Sunbury Road and the lake was still on my left.  About 15 minutes after that a sign informed me that I was entering the city of Westerville which is south of the reservoir.  Thinking that I was doing the right thing, I traveled in a large circle and was back where I had first started.  I should have used the map!

This is the same predicament that the Jews rebuilding after the Babylonian Captivity are facing.  Thinking they have been doing the right thing for over seventy years, Zechariah informs them that they were not in the will of God.  What a let down.

They had chosen to send a group to the prophet to inquire of the Lord about two fasts that they had been keeping since the deportation began seventy years prior.  One was in the 5th month and it was a time of fasting, weeping, mourning, and remembering of the destruction of the temple by Nebuchadnezzar and the loss of Jerusalem.  The other fast in the seventh month was similar.  It remembered the murder of the mayor of Jerusalem, Gedaliah.  All that time they had been observing these fasts and probably were proud of their service rendered to God.  Now that the temple was rebuilt and the city restored, they were wondering if it was God's will to continue the fast.  God informs them that it was never His will!

God does not see as we can see.  He can see the intentions and motives of the heart.  As a matter of fact, the worst thing that you can say about your service to God is, "Well He knows my heart!"  Yes!  He does. He can see through all religiosity and pretense.  Nothing is hidden from the eyes of who who tries, ponders, and tests the hearts of men.  In essence, God was saying that He wanted more than a shallow religious display from them--He wanted a genuine relationship. No amount of religion can take the place of knowing God personally! 

 "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?" Jeremiah 17:9 
 "He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool: but whoso walketh wisely, he shall be delivered."  Proverbs 28:26

The problem with our heart is that it can make us think all is right when everything is wrong.  This was the problem with the Jews.  He shows them that they are already heading down the path of heartless service and devotion that their parents were eventually deported for.  Like the Church of Ephesus that Jesus upbraids for a lack of love even while they continue in service, Zechariah reveals that their worship was unacceptable.  It was a religious observance devoid of true love for God and others.  Remember, Christians are to operate according to the law of love.  We are to serve God from a heart of love as well as love our neighbors as our self.  We need to hear Zechariah's word as well as Christ's warning to keep our love alive and fervent.  This is even a greater need seeing that Jesus Christ is Soon2Come!

And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.
Matthew 24:12