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A Word to the Wise

5-8-2022 – A Word to the Wise – JESUS AND HIS MOTHER

Let me be forthright. The issues surrounding Mary the mother of Jesus must be handled carefully. There is no desire to offend the Lord, or others. However, it is my contention that Mary is human, she is not divine and looking carefully at scripture her humanity is clear. We make a mistake if we expect perfection out of a human, any human.

There are some problems that exist between Jesus and his mother. The scriptures where Jesus is interacting with his mother leaves a far different impression than some in the religious world would paint. It seems to me from the very beginning Mary has a preconceived notion about who Jesus is and what his function will be. The notion has nothing to do with Jesus’ divinity. So, let’s begin with scripture.

Now in the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man whose name was Joseph, of David’s house. The virgin’s name was Mary. Having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, you highly favored one! The Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women!”

But when she saw him, she was greatly troubled at the saying, and considered this what kind of salutation might be. Notice please a reoccurring situation with Mary, she is troubled. I would suppose all of us would be under such circumstances. But anxiety is a reoccurring theme with Mary. I imagined she was just flat frightened. Most certainly she is shocked. The angel then says; The angel said to her, “Don’t be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and give birth to a son and shall name him ‘Jesus.’ While this is unusual, we see a pattern beginning with Abraham and Sarah, (Gen. 18:9ff), Hannah and Samuel, (I Samuel 1:16 ff), Manoah (Judges 13 with Samson), Elisha and the Shunammite (2 Kings 4) and John the Baptist, so thought a rare occurrence it did happen.

Then the angel describes;” He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever. There will be no end to his Kingdom.” Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, seeing I am a virgin?”

Mary is concerned about how this could come about, not the nature of the child she would give birth to. The angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore, also the holy one who is born from you will be called the Son of God. Behold, Elizabeth your relative also has conceived a son in her old age; and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For nothing spoken by God is impossible.” The angel shares with her a comparison that is the parents of John the Baptist in old age will have a son.

Mary said, “Behold, the servant of the Lord; let it be done to me according to your word.” Mary accepts the reality of what is to take place however this does not mean she really understood the reality of the event as we shall see.

Next, we see the birth and the angels; When the angels competed their announcement, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem, now, and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” They came with haste, and found both Mary and Joseph, and the baby was lying in the feeding trough. When they saw it, they publicized widely the saying which was spoken to them about this child. All who heard it wondered at the things which were spoken to them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these sayings, pondering them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, just as it had told them.” Literally, however, Mary kept thinking about these words. What do these events mean?

Here again we see Mary somewhat confused about it all. Exactly what is she pondering? As we shall see her insight about all of this appears somewhat shallow. A few days later we find her in the temple again she marvels at what Simon says about Jesus. Joseph and Mary were marveling at the things which were spoken concerning him, and Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary, his mother, “Behold, this child is set for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which is spoken against. Yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul, that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” Everyone seem to recognize just who he was but not Mary or Joseph

So, we may say at this point that Mary is somewhat surprised by the testimony of the angel, the shepherds, Simon, and perhaps Anna. It is as if she just does not comprehend the import of it all. Twelve years later the next incident occurs which gives further insight into her state of mind.

When Jesus is twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem according to the custom of the feast, and when they had fulfilled the days, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. Joseph and his mother didn’t know it, but supposing him to be in the company, to him, they went a day’s journey, and they looked for him among their relatives and acquaintances. That is most certainly a problem in parenting. When they didn’t find him, they returned after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the middle of the teachers, both listening to them, and asking them questions. All who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. Makes one wonder where the parents were looking.

When they saw him, they were astonished, and his mother said “Son, why have you treated us this way? Behold, your father and I were anxiously looking for you.” I wonder why Mary was not astonished by Jesus’ learning. By 10 or 11 Jesus would have been showing a profound knowledge of the scriptures in the synagogue if nowhere else. They have a genius if nothing else living in their midst yet no awareness of his abilities his grasp of the world, Torah, or other matters. Jesus grew up in a town not five miles from a raging wicked center. Likely him and his father even did construction work there and yet no inclination of what was in Jesus’ heart.

What has occurred during these 12 intervening years? Scripture does not say and yet there are things to know. First there is little doubt in my mind that Jesus was tormented by the other kids. Why? Because Mary was pregnant before her marriage. That condition was a real problem. We have indications of this in Isaiah 53:3” He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.” I have addressed this in greater depth elsewhere. The manner in which Isaiah reads it is apparent that this not his ministry years. Moreover, Mary had other children, brothers, and sister to Jesus. I suspect their rejection of Jesus was a lifelong experience for Jesus and a source of rejection and abandonment.

Notice also in this passage that Mary is more concerned about her state of mind, her anxiety. When Jesus explains they still did not get it. He said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Didn’t you know that I must be in my Father’s house?” Jesus had lived with them 12 years they knew about this aspect of his behavior. They didn’t understand the saying which he spoke to them. And he went down with them and came to Nazareth. He was subject to them, and his mother kept all these sayings in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men. Did his parents notice now?

Let’s pause for a moment. Do we have any idea what the parents thought? I suspect that Mary and probably Joseph has the same idea of the general Jewish population. Here was the future king who would issue in a new era for the Jewish world. It was a popular notion of the day. But divinity? No. That will become even more clear as we proceed.

The third day, there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there. Jesus also was invited, with his disciples, to the wedding. When the wine ran out, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no wine. Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does that have to do with you and me? My hour has not yet come.” Again, Mary is clueless about his work, its purpose when it was to begin and what is appropriate. His mother said to the servants, “Whatever he says to you, do it.” Now there were six water pots of stone set there after the Jews’ way of purifying.”

Surely one may say at this point Mary knew what he would be able to do. Else why ask him? Yet it must be understood there were many miracles’ being done at this period. Josephus the historian of this time period shares some of those incidents. (Josephus, Ant. 14:22-24). Also see Max Kadushin, The Rabbinic Mind (New York: Bloch, 1972). So, Mary would see Jesus as a miracle worker among peers. Thus, Mary and the family at this early time would have believed in his ability to work miracles, just as some other Rabbis of the period. The ability did not mean Jesus was the Son of God to them.

After this, he went down to Capernaum, he, and his mother, his brothers, and his disciples; and they stayed there a few days. Here we find a very positive note about Mary her acceptance of the work of her son and being with him.

However, this ‘mutual affection’ quickly turns and now Mary is leading the group demanding that Jesus be put away because he is crazy. Here, now is the culmination of all the doubt and anxiety. Mary turns on her son. This could have been brought about by the serious problem in Luke 4 where Jesus is rejected in his hometown and no doubt his family as well.

It is in this context Jesus defines the unforgiveable sin and it’s not rejection of him, rather the Holy Spirit. His mother and his brothers came, and standing outside, they sent to him, calling him. A multitude was sitting around him, and they told him, “Behold, your mother, your brothers, and your sisters are outside looking for you.” He answered them, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” Looking around at those who sat around him, he said, “Behold, my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of God is my brother, my sister, and mother.” His family considered him crazy but what did the crowds thing?

The other women who followed Jesus saw him differently. Luke 8 gives us a bit of insight about the feelings of other women and how they support and follow Jesus. His mother, however, offers no support and is not counted as one of his disciples. Neither is the rest of his family for that matter. (John 7:5)

Soon afterwards, he went about through cities and villages, preaching and bringing the good news of God’s Kingdom. With him were the twelve, and certain women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary who was called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out; and Joanna, the wife of Chuzas, Herod’s steward; Susanna; and many others; who served them from their means. However, no Mary.

Now we come to the conclusion of the matter. “But standing by Jesus’ cross were his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. Therefore, when Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing there, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” From that hour, the disciple took her to his own home.”

The last time we see Mary is at the cross. I suspect she is mourning the death of her dream, that her son would be king and rule over the new nation. It finally sinks in Jesus is not who she thought he was. Why do I say that? She does nothing in preparing him for burial, in contrast the women disciples do help prepare him for burial, Mary is not present at the resurrection or any of the post resurrection visits. She had no reason to believe he would be raised from the dead. No mention is made about her after this.

I have no doubt that after Pentecost she was a believer, and she came to understand what it was all about but not in the beginning. Therefore, I think we see the human side of Mary the mother of Jesus. Her doubts, fears, anxieties, family problems and finally after Pentecost the purpose of it all.

In conclusion I wish to add that I do not want to risk the wrath of the Lord by being critical of his mother. However, it seems to me that Mary did not understand the nature of her son’s work until after his death. I am open to correction in this matter.

A Word to the Wise

5-5-2022 – A Word to the Wise – The present war in the Ukraine and Russia reminds us of the need to understand war from God’s perspective.

The Lord’s purpose for war is different from men’s or Satan’s.

Men wage war to avenge, kill, steal, and possess. War is Satan’s goal for mankind: to destroy, manipulate, and possess. But God wars to cleanse, protect, and serve. He uses war to inhibit the growth of evil. Men, in the end, align themselves with whom they wish.

Behavior on the battlefield is different from that on the Sunday-morning pew. The passage “as far as possible live in peace with all men” (Romans 12:18) does not apply to the battlefield. Turning the other cheek and “do unto others as you wish them do to you” are principles not practiced at the gates of hell (Matthew 5:39, 7:12). If one is to march into the very depth of Hades to rescue the perishing, then one best be armed with the finest fire protection available. One must be ready to use every weapon in God’s armory; ready to trade blow for blow with a fierce enemy who shows no mercy. Christian warriors need to understand God’s armory, strategies, and battle plans.

Few understand the depth of the conflict between Christians and Satan. The Enemy’s chief tactic is to blind people to the reality of warfare and the battlefields on which it occurs. Blindness prevents believers from becoming effective warriors. It obscures the battlefield and limits full utilization of God’s armory, tactics, and intelligence-gathering techniques. Offensive and defensive strategies are impossible to prepare under these circumstances.

A strong correlation exists between what takes place in physical combat and spiritual warfare. An understanding of the military campaigns found in God’s Word—how the Lord trained His warriors and the tactics employed—provides much insight into how to approach the spiritual struggles of the present. Often the tactics and training taught for physical warfare by God to ancient Israel apply to spiritual warfare in the present.

The origins of this material began with a lie. Most are aware that both the Lord and Satan place thoughts in our minds. The Lord’s purpose is to guide, test, direct and warn. Satan’s purpose if to tempt, confuse and terrorize. At the time of my marriage Satan planted the thought that my wife would die before we had been married twenty years. I believed it because of the terror of childhood and therefore interpreted life accordingly. Twenty years afterward, God revealed the truth. I was astounded; Satan had pulled a slick trick. How does one defeat such an enemy? My mind was filled with many questions after seeing the disaster he had created in my marriage by a simple believable lie. How does one fight insidious believable untruths? What weapons are available to defeat deceit? The questions continued in a never-ending flood but now with a slight change in direction. What weapons does God, and His warrior angels wield? What divine weapons are accessible to humans?

It is my belief that every Christian ought to examine biblical battles, geography, culture, religion, weapons, and attitudes to discern strategies for conducting warfare today. Principles of yesterday illuminate the paths of tomorrow. Knowledge about our Commander-in-Chief’s purposes and goals provides insight into how God intends to use each Christian in battles with the enemy. Preparation includes understanding the enemy’s tactics and weapons as well as God’s counter tactics. Training for military or spiritual assault is vital to ensuring victory. Passive acquiescence is acceptable for a civilian but deadly for the warrior.

It is important to recognize the strategies employed by the enemy. However, knowledge is of little importance if the skill is not incorporated into our behavior. Believe me, every Christian will at some point in their life find themselves in direct combat with the forces of evil. My marriage is in its 58th year, if Satan had his way it would have ended forty years ago.

A Word to the Wise

4-30-2022 – A Word to the Wise – I have often found gems in scripture that just cry out to be noticed. The story of the Shunammite women heads the list of such jewels. So first let’s look at the passage found in II Kings 4

8 One day Elisha went to Shunem, where there was a prominent woman; and she persuaded him to eat bread. So it was, that as often as he passed by, he turned in there to eat bread. 9 She said to her husband, “See now, I perceive that this is a holy man of God who passes by us continually. 10 Please let’s make a little room on the roof. Let’s set a bed, a table, a chair, and a lamp stand for him there. When he comes to us, he can stay there.”

11 One day he came there, and he went to the room and lay there. 12 He said to Gehazi his servant, “Call this Shunammite.” When he had called her, she stood before him. 13 He said to him, “Say now to her, ‘Behold, you have cared for us with all this care. What is to be done for you? Would you like to be spoken for to the king, or to the captain of the army?’” She answered, “I dwell among my own people.” 14 He said, “What then is to be done for her?” Gehazi answered, “Most certainly she has no son, and her husband is old.”15 He said, “Call her.” When he had called her, she stood in the door. 16 He said, “At this season, when the time comes around, you will embrace a son.” She said, “No, my lord, you man of God, do not lie to your servant.” 17 The woman conceived, and bore a son at that season, when the time came around, as Elisha had said to her. 18 When the child was grown, one day he went out to his father to the reapers. 19 He said to his father, “My head! My head!” He said to his servant, “Carry him to his mother.” 20 When he had taken him, and brought him to his mother, he sat on her knees until noon, and then died. 21 She went up and laid him on the man of God’s bed, and shut the door on him, and went out. 22 She called to her husband, and said, “Please send me one of the servants, and one of the donkeys, that I may run to the man of God, and come again.” 23 He said, “Why would you want go to him today? It is not a new moon or a Sabbath.” She said, “It’s all right.” 24 Then she saddled a donkey, and said to her servant, “Drive, and go forward! Don’t slow down for me, unless I ask you to.” 25 So she went, and came to the man of God to Mount Carmel. When the man of God saw her afar off, he said to Gehazi his servant, “Behold, there is the Shunammite. 26 Please run now to meet her, and ask her, ‘Is it well with you? Is it well with your husband? Is it well with your child?’” She answered, “It is well.” 27 When she came to the man of God to the hill, she caught hold of his feet. Gehazi came near to thrust her away; but the man of God said, “Leave her alone; for her soul is troubled within her; and Yahweh has hidden it from me, and has not told me.” 28 Then she said, “Did I ask you for a son, my lord? Didn’t I say, ‘Do not deceive me’?” 29 Then he said to Gehazi, “Tuck your cloak into your belt, take my staff in your hand, and go your way. If you meet any man, don’t greet him; and if anyone greets you, don’t answer him again. Then lay my staff on the child’s face.” 30 The child’s mother said, “As Yahweh lives, and as your soul lives, I will not leave you.” So he arose, and followed her. 31 Gehazi went ahead of them, and laid the staff on the child’s face; but there was no voice and no hearing. Therefore he returned to meet him, and told him, “The child has not awakened.” 32 When Elisha had come into the house, behold, the child was dead, and lying on his bed. 33 He went in therefore, and shut the door on them both, and prayed to Yahweh. 34 He went up, and lay on the child, and put his mouth on his mouth, and his eyes on his eyes, and his hands on his hands. He stretched himself on him; and the child’s flesh grew warm. 35 Then he returned, and walked in the house once back and forth; and went up, and stretched himself out on him. Then the child sneezed seven times, and the child opened his eyes. 36 He called Gehazi, and said, “Call this Shunammite!” So he called her. When she had come in to him, he said, “Take up your son.” 37 Then she went in, fell at his feet, and bowed herself to the ground; then she picked up her son, and went out.(ESV)

So, lets identify some traits of the woman. First, she appears to be a self-assured leader. She is assertive and decisive, confident and enterprising. Notice how she gives her husband advice and how he obviously follows her lead. (She said to her husband, “See now, I perceive that this is a holy man of God who passes by us continually. Please let’s make a little room on the roof. Let’s set a bed, a table, a chair, and a lamp stand for him there. When he comes to us, he can stay there.”).

This woman is perceptive and principled, two times in these short passages she refers to honesty as opposed to deceit.

Other traits that stand out about this woman. She is wealthy and uses her wealth prudently. Not only did she furnish the room for Elisha but did so generously at her own expense expecting nothing in return. What she proposes is an enlargement to the house with an outside entrance for Elisha. No small, nor cheap task.

The woman is religious. She recognized Elisha for who he was and chooses to provide for him according to the religious customs of the time. When Elisha wishes to repay her, the reply; absolutely not I have no need of anything. Promising her a child she passionately demands honesty of him no false promises when it comes to children. In fact, to the Shunammite it is just not possible she is past childbearing age and her husband is just too old. Moreover, something hidden in the Hebrew is note worthy

According to the midrash the “le-hodfah” of the original language is an abbreviation of two words: hod she-be-yofiyah, the “majesty of her beauty,” meaning she is attractive.

This may explain why originally Elisha did not address her directly. He finds her attractive. Again, the midrash labels her as a relative of Abishag the Shunammite, possibly because of the “Shunammite” appellation they share.

Perhaps seven to 10 years go by. The promised child falls ill while in the field with his father. Probably a heat stroke. The child is brought to the mother and placed in her arms. Shortly thereafter he dies. When the child dies there is only one thing to do. Focused on the only acceptable solution and not deterred by husband or servant. The prophet promised this child and it is now his problem. Let’s go find him.

She is strong willed she heads for Mt Carmel where Elisha is to be found, she makes a round trip of some 30 to 40 miles in one day. No easy task for the strongest of men. But she is driven for time is of essence.

One other Hebrew element when Gehazi pushed her according to the midrash on this section he put his hand between her breast and shoved her. Even under this circumstance her earnestness clothes her she will not be deterred. She falls at Elisha’s feet.

When confronting Elisha, she is dedicated and absolutely determined of the course of action needed. With great courage she confronts Elisha and demands an accounting. I did not ask for this child, you insisted. I demanded your honesty in the matter now the child is dead.

So, Elisha immediately heads for her home. He sends Gehazi before him with instructions. Gehazi get to her house with all haste with the special instructions by Elisha speak to no one, no lengthy conversations with friends or passersby’s. Upon Elisha’s arrival he finds the child is indeed dead. Elisha gathers him up takes him to his room, the very room this woman built for him. Prays and ask the Lord to restore his life, which the Lord does.

Years later Elisha warns her of a coming famine that is to last seven years. She immediately took him at his word gathered up her family and takes them to safety. A very strong-willed woman, wise of heart, and obedient.

Her relentlessness never fades notice upon returning and finding her land misappropriated she goes to the king to demand that it be returned according to the custom of the day. She is tenacious demanding her rights under the Torah law. Her persisting’s pays off. She is granted from the king all that she has lost. Notice in the beginning she needed nothing from the king or other officials, now she does. She expects justice. Under the law of the time the land is still hers and should have been immediately returned.

These biblical stories have a way of working into one’s soul delighting the spirit. Make a habit of reading them often.

A Word to the Wise

4-20-2022 – A Word to the Wise – Because of the season I wish to share two events rarely ever considered taking place April 3, 33 A. D. There are several other events but for brevity’s sake I will limit this to just two.

Jesus, beaten and bleeding hangs on the cross. He has been there 3 hours. It is noon. There are many disagreements about what takes place at this moment in time, but I believe the scripture is very clear. The Lord God Almighty turns out the lights. The sun is turned off, the moon ceases to shine, and the Lord turns off the stars. There is no eclipse. For the next three hours darkness descends on the land. This by the way is according to the prophet Joel some eight hundred years before. (Joel 3:15; “The sun and the moon are darkened, the stars withdrew their light). This according to the prophet occurs on the day of the Lord.

Consider what this means. In a normal full eclipse lasting about half hour the temperature drops about 10 to 12 degrees. The average temperature of Jerusalem on the first of April is 67 degrees. Three hours of darkness means a temperature drop of at least 20 to 30 degrees or more. Jesus on the cross bleeding now begins to experience hypothermia. Death usually occurs within three hours. Look that up please.

The next events take place after the death of Jesus. This again, is my opinion based on a couple of scriptures.

1 Peter 3: 18 Because Christ also suffered for sins once, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring you to God, being put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the Spirit, 19 in whom he also went and preached to the spirits in prison, 20 who before were disobedient, when God waited patiently in the days of Noah, It is my belief that the first thing Jesus did was to preach to the dead after dying. That is what Peter says took place. Must have been a pretty busy day and some sermon.

But that is just the first sermon Jesus preached to the dead. I think there is a second sermon. Matthew 27: 52 The tombs were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; 53 and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection, they entered into the holy city and appeared to many.

The text says they came out after the resurrection. But prior to that Jesus must have talked to them just like he did to the two on the walk to Emmaus opening to these few dead who were to rise from the dead who had previously walked among their friends. Jesus taught them the meaning of the scriptures of old so they could testify to the living the meaning of the Messiah passages of old.

Consider please these interpretations of the passages. These interpretations are mine alone there are no other references where they are mentioned that I know of. So, feel free to question or disagree.

A Word to the Wise

4-11-2022 – A Word to the Wise – WARNING SEXUAL ORIENTED MATTER read no further if upset by this type of material

ZAREPHATH

I have wanted to do this project for some time. For the most part all I am doing is taking scripture and adding some color to the passages. The ‘color’ is strictly mine in an attempt to make the text clear. The text I am using is the WEB translation since this version is not copyright.

1 Kings 17

Elijah the Tishbite, who was one of the settlers of Gilead, said to Ahab, “As Yahweh, the God of Israel, lives, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word.”

2 Then Yahweh’s word came to him, saying, 3 “Go away from here, turn eastward, and hide yourself by the brook Cherith, that is before the Jordan. 4 You shall drink from the brook. I have commanded the ravens to feed you there.” 5 So he went and did according to Yahweh’s word; for he went and lived by the brook Cherith that is before the Jordan. 6 The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning, and bread and meat in the evening; and he drank from the brook. 7 After a while, the brook dried up, because there was no rain in the land.

8 Yahweh’s word came to him, saying, 9 “Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and stay there. Behold, I have commanded a widow there to sustain you.”

First let’s look at the town of Zarephath and see if it produces some ideas about why the great prophet Elijah traveled from a small dry creek bed and came some hundred miles by foot to get here. We place the time about two years into the famine that Elijah had called for and five years before the contest on Mt. Carmel around 874 B.C.

Zarephath is about 50 miles North from Mt. Carmel which may be important when Elijah confronts idolatry in about 5 years.

What is most significant is knowing that Zarephath is a principal city for the promulgation of the worship of Tanit-Astarte. Here in this town were both metal works and other materials used to make these popular idols. The major elements of this idolatry involved child sacrifice, and males practicing self-castration and homosexuality and females involved in cult prostitution.

Whereas Elijah was very familiar with the Baal worship of the day I suspect in this town he received an education about different forms of idolatry. We will return to this momentarily.

10 So he arose and went to Zarephath; and when he came to the gate of the city, behold, a widow was there gathering sticks. He called to her, and said, “Please get me a little water in a jar, that I may drink.”

11 As she was going to get it, he called to her, and said, “Please bring me a morsel of bread in your hand.”

12 She said, “As Yahweh your God lives, I don’t have a cake, but a handful of meal in a jar, and a little oil in a jar. Behold, I am gathering two sticks, that I may go in and bake it for me and my son, that we may eat it, and die.”

Reaching the city Elijah immediately finds who he is looking for. It would appear that this woman lived right outside the city itself because that is where she is gathering firewood. Something else Elijah asks for water, which the woman immediately respond to which leads us to believe that the lack of rain had not yet affected this area. The woman is a widow who cares for her only son. Moreover, she is very poor in fact on the brink of starvation.

Notice that she refers to Yahweh, knows that Elijah worships this God, and even recognizes that he is a prophet. Perhaps by his unique dress. This leads me to believe she was a Canaanite probably married to a Jew who was now dead.

13 Elijah said to her, “Don’t be afraid. Go and do as you have said; but make me a little cake from it first, and bring it out to me, and afterward make some for you and for your son. 14 For Yahweh, the God of Israel says, ‘The jar of meal will not run out, and the jar of oil will not fail, until the day that Yahweh sends rain on the earth.’” 15 She went and did according to the saying of Elijah; and she, and he, and her house, ate many days. 16 The jar of meal didn’t run out, and the jar of oil didn’t fail, according to Yahweh’s word, which he spoke by Elijah

“Go and do as you have said; but make me a little cake from it first,” This simple request spelled death for her and her child yet she was willing to believe. Notice Elijah did not enter her house at this point rather insisted she brings the food to him.

Just as evident in making the dinner she discovered the meal and the oil did not decline. Elijah stayed here probably the next three years until he journeyed to make ready the contest with Ahab on Mt. Carmel.

Elijah had two major tasks in ZAREPHATH. First, he was here to provide for and protect this woman and her son. No doubt by the time he left he had established the foundations of belief in the family and those associated with her.

The second task was far more difficult. This was the center of Tanit-Astarte worship which is about to spread like a wildfire through the Northern and Southern kingdoms.

Up until now Baal worship was the main form of idolatry practiced in these two kingdoms and confronted by the prophets of old.

However, Tanit-Astarte worship was far more radical and deadly. It was practiced in the earlier period of ancient history, in one form or another in the Old Testament period and characteristic of the goddess worshipped under the name of Artemis that Paul confronts. It is the chief form of religion practiced in every century up and including this century. The Shaman’s who practice this worship maybe found in every culture; Middle east, oriental, South America, and strongly among Navajo Indians of North America.

I am not going in detail about the form of worship because it is so sickening yet I need to show the link down through history.

The chief traits which Elijah discovered are three in number and one may find these traits either one or all three from inception until now. First, the belief or attempt to reduce a person to asexual or homosexual, second, the element of self-castration among the shamans, or priest. Third the murder of babies.

The first two are obtained through homosexuality and cross dressing. The death of babies was a core issue in the early centuries and is now being brought about by abortions.

I realize this is very brief but to go into detail is beyond our purpose.

I will admit three or four yeas ago my son dragged me to a special Hebrew seminar in Colorado, the focus was I Kings 18-19, which just happened to be the chapters I struggled with in graduate school under Dr. Lewis. My does the Lord make sure we learn important lessons.

Sorry about the distraction but notice please I Kings 18:28. What was the custom? These were the self-castrations practiced in Tanit-Astarte. Elijah learned of this in Zarephath the center of this worship.

Notice verse 18:40 has Elijah killing the 450 prophets of Baal. The text does not say it but I believe it also included the 400 Shaman or prophets of Tanit-Astarte since I Kings 19:1 says he killed all the prophets and the ones most important to Jezebel were the Tanit-Astarte worshipers.

I have often heard the phrase ‘all sin is equal’. It is not. There are some sins on the Lord’s list which are absolutely terrible.

In Exodus 17 we learn of a nation that the attack Hebrews leaving Egypt. They attack the helpless, weak, sick, the young and very old. The Lord said for their behavior the whole nation was to be destroyed.

Amos 1 gives a brief list of other terrible sin, a people involved taking captives and using them for slave labor. This very sin is going on today in America.

Some would say that homosexual behavior is the same as any other type of immoral behavior. It is not true. The reason is homosexual behavior has its roots in the worship of Tanit-Astarte. That does not make other immoral behavior acceptable it does not. It is just not the same. Jesus, himself expresses this when he says if you hurt one of my little ones you would be better off to have a huge millstone hung around your neck and cast into the sea.

All sin is not equal except all but one is forgivable, but the consequences of sin that is a different matter.

So what is the bottom line? I suspect those who practice homosexual behavior would be surprised to learn that this behavior is the key form of worship in these religions. Any study of Tanit-Astarte, Artemis, the Mystery religions, Gnosticism, even Jung a Swiss psychiatrist, and psychoanalyst who founded analytical psychology brings out this form of behavior and espouses it.

Yet today so many worship at the feet of this man and he is treated like an idol in the field of psychiatry. I remember a conversation with my mother years ago saying the Lord blessed this man with special insight and then he turned it against the Lord. There is a lesson in all that for us with that. Do you misuse God’s precious gifts?

A Word to the Wise

4-1-2022 – A Word to the Wise – PART 3 Let us turn now to the cure for addiction. It should be noted that man has been working desperately to find a cure. For some, the belief is that education is the answer. So in an attempt to stop drug abuse among teens, there has been a dramatic increase in the advertisements aimed at this segment of society. Does education work? The reality is that there has been a tremendous increase in the use of both alcohol and drugs among young people.

Rehabilitation centers are popping up all over the country with magical cures (if you have money or insurance) the chief aim of which is to soothe the panic ridden family that has reached its “wits end.” The ultimate failure of rehabilitation lies in its failure to recognize the basic biblical principle that abstinence is no cure for addiction. The therapies are endless, and the success rate is small. For instance, over 90% of cigarette smokers return to smoking the first year. Even if the abstinence works, nothing has been done about the underlying causes. A new object eventually replaces the present object of addiction.

We understand that certain medicines may affect one type of illness and yet not affect others. Thus, while one type of antibiotic may destroy bacteria in the lungs it has no effect on infection of the kidneys. Just so, the malady of addiction has a specific treatment.

How would you respond, if having pneumonia you went to a doctor and he told you just to take a bath, and you will get well? As if cleansing the outside of the body would cure the inside. Yet, how frequently we try to cure heart problems with cognitive behavior or spiritual problems with radical emotional changes. Addiction is a malady of the heart. Effective treatment means getting to the root of the problem and employing the cure that is most effective with the problem.

Man identifies abstinence as the cure the Lord does not. The Apostle Paul introduces the subject of abstinence and its failures in Colossians 2:20-23. He states that severity to the body such as do not taste, do not touch, while seemingly wise, is actually of no value in checking the indulgence of the flesh.

Attempts to handle addictive behavior with self-control are doomed to failure. True, one may actually give up the behavior; however the character problems remain. The problems are magnified because we focus on a physical desire (being thin) as opposed to setting our minds on Christ.

These principles hold true whether the addiction is to food, chemicals, sex, or any other object man might deify. There is a heavy price to pay for abstinence. Abstinence alerts and shuts down every physical, psychological, and spiritual function. Abstinence, instead of taking the mind off the addiction, focuses and concentrates on it. It is like the child who has chapped lips. You tell them not to lick them, but they do anyway. The hope of the child is the pain will go away. The result is they get worse and the entire focus becomes the lips.

The addictive person is a self-absorbed person. His existence has been centered in “getting” for himself. As anyone who is an addict, or who has lived with one knows the addict pleases only him/herself. Even when doing for others the addict’s actions are motivated by “what can I get out of it.” Nine of the ten lepers that Jesus healed had this problem. Cleansed on the outside, they still bore the attitude of ingratitude, which resulted in little faith.

By changing direction from how much can I get to how much can I give, the covetous person is able to set aside addiction. How does one come to the point where they are willing to give instead of get? By experiencing gratitude. Gratitude is the little golden egg.

The characteristic of gratitude is the central truth by which the addict changes. Gratitude is an inward attitude directed toward the Lord, expressing appreciation for all benefits received from Him. It is experienced in the spirit of man. Gratitude is manifested in an outward expression called thankfulness. It originates in the heart. Giving is a result of the inward attitude of gratitude and an outward expression of thanksgiving.

This change is imperative if the addict is to find peace. Whereas, most treatments for addiction tend to modify the outward behavior or mental imagery, they have little effect on the spirit-soul of man.

The Lord’s approach to treatment is different. The person changes from the inside out. The behavior is not the focus of attention, nor is it the central problem. One of the assignments I give to clients is directed towards acquiring gratitude. It begins by listing everyday 25 things you are grateful for in the past and present.

Gratitude is achieved by choice, never by duty. As one examines the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual gifts that God has bestowed, expresses thanksgiving to God in each of these areas for these gifts, then the gratitude batteries recharge. It is not how many gifts God has given, rather how one feels, what one does, and how one expresses thanksgiving for those gifts received.

Gratitude is not focused on “what is not” but on “what is.” It is not focused on losses, but on one’s gains through those losses. This quality does not focus on one’s afflictions, but rather on the results of those afflictions. The depth of gratitude is determined by humility. The greater the humility, the deeper the gratitude. Levels of gratitude are attained through sacrifice. Thus, the greater the sacrifice, the greater the level attained. By writing out one is grateful for eventual transforms the soul. Not the first day, or month or even six months. After the first few weeks the addict has to get serious about his thankfulness. He has to really dig. It is this process that helps transform the person.

When gratitude is exercised, it acts as a protective cover shielding one from the addictive forces of the world. Gratitude, like faith is dead without works. The works of thanksgiving are charitable, unmerited acts towards others. This is the second part of an assignment. One is required to find widows, orphans, or unlovable individuals and on a daily basis meet a need of theirs. Both searches, the one for things one is grateful for the other finding the unlovable, the ungrateful, those who can not return good and shedding blessings on them is the therapy.

Addiction is not a sin—addiction is the consequences of sin. This explains why one cannot stop the addiction until the root sin is discovered and repentance occurs. If one fights the addiction it becomes stronger, and if perchance one conquers it then it will break out in other areas. Paul tells us in Rom 6:16 “if you yield yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin which leads to death or of obedience which leads to righteousness.” The slavery of addiction—and who would deny the heavy burden of addiction is the result of disobedience.

A Word to the Wise

3-29-2022 – A Word to the Wise – Part 2 Covetousness may be defined as an inordinate desire to have that, which belongs to someone else. In Ephesians 5:5 Paul identifies covetousness with idolatry. For our purposes covetousness is to be seen as having a distinct quality that separates it from idolatry.

The characteristic that identifies the addict as being covetous is a feeling we will call insatiability. In the opening passages of Genesis, we find the roots of addictive thinking and subsequent maladies when the Lord warns Adam and Eve not to partake of the fruit of two specific trees. “But when the woman looked at the tree she saw that it was to be desired, that it was a delight to the eyes and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise”(3:6). The word “desire” is the word that helps us identify covetousness as the problem. In disciplining Eve, the Lord tells her that part of that discipline will be a desire, with the intense form of the Hebrew word meaning “a violent craving for” her husband.

Solomon has much to say about the problem and sheds further light on the source of insatiability. In Ecclesiastes 2:24 Solomon tells the godly person that “there is nothing better for a man than that he should eat, drink, and find enjoyment in his toil. This also is from the hand of God.” Where . . . it is from God . . . “for apart from Him who can eat and have enjoyment?” So the source of pleasure is God, and pleasure is given as a reward. It is, in turn, taken from him who turns to other gods.

Solomon then turns his attention to the insatiability aspect in chapter 6:1, 2 saying, and “this is an evil, which I have seen under the sun and it lies heavy upon men. A man to whom God gives wealth, possessions, land, honor so that he lacks nothing of all that he desires yet God does not give him power to enjoy them.” Why does God take the pleasure? According to the text God takes the pleasure because of covetousness, which is idolatry.

Another passage which reflects on this phenomenon is addressed in Haggai 1:1-11. An appalling situation has occurred, for the people have forsaken God and are only interested in their own pleasures. Haggai tells them, “is it time for you to dwell in your paneled houses while this house—that is God’s house– lies in ruins? Now therefore thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider how you have fared. You have sown much and harvested little: you eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but never have your fill . . ..”(vs. 4, 6) The context of this passage indicates that there was no famine at that time. In fact, the passage mentions that there was some degree of wealth. Yet in spite of this wealth, little is being produced or replenished. The little phrase, “you eat but never have your fill” indicates that though they had the food, it was not satisfying. What is that feeling like?

One client describes the sensation, like this, “I eat and eat and get so full that I can’t hold anymore and yet I feel starved.” The Lord warns of this situation in Leviticus 26:26 indicating that the cause is disobedience. “You shall eat and not be satisfied.”

Jesus in Luke 12:15, warns, “Take heed and beware of all covetousness for a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” These passages are saying that the power to enjoy food is a gift from God, and this power is withheld when a person focuses his attention on something other than God.

What we have been taking about is the driving force behind addictions, where and when that force originated, and how we give it ruling power in our lives. This force accounts for why the cocaine addict never gets enough of his drug, and why he must keep coming back for more. It reminds us of fatal attractions in our relationships, and why we continually return to another person desperate for assurance and affection yet find no satisfaction in his or her arms.

When we turn away from the Giver of pleasure, fulfillment is lost. Once lost, we are doomed to an eternal struggle for satisfaction, which never comes. These principles hold true whether the addiction is to food, chemicals, sex, or any other objects man may deify.

A Word to the Wise

3-26-2022 – A Word to the Wise – Part 1 What causes addiction? There are two basic causes of addiction: idolatry, and covetousness, each cause has a corresponding trait that identifies it. A person may have either or both of these root problems. The identifying trait or penalty for idolatry is compulsive-obsessive behavior. This is total absorption with the object of the addiction.

Compulsive addictive behavior enslaves one to the physical body. Concerns over physical needs choke out one’s relationship with God and with one’s fellow man. Jesus addresses idolatry in one of the sayings from the Sermon on the Mount. Matthew 6:24 says, “No man can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”

This passage is perhaps the most fundamental of all Biblical passages that deals with the root sin of idolatry. In sharp contrast to the self-induced anxiety over the quest for the material, Jesus calls our attention to His demands and rewards.

One of the characteristics we learn of God in the Old Testament is that He is an uncompromising God. The person who is unattached and uncommitted to His Son, can have as many distractions and commitments as he pleases. However, from His servants, He demands allegiance. “I am the Lord your God who brought you out of bondage. You shall have nothing else before me. I am a jealous God.” Then, He threatens to bring His wrath on the third and fourth generations. There is a continuing effect connected with one not making up ones mind in His service. We cannot

serve God and riches, or alcohol, or drugs, or sex, or food.

But if there is anything we are out to pile up for ourselves, it is the material, the perishable, to gain by whatever name and by whatever means the temporal. Jesus says we cannot have it both ways. We cannot go on pleasing ourselves and have a relationship with Him. So, we are warned against attaching our hearts to things of a material nature.

Jesus gives some reasons why our hearts do not belong on the material. One reason is because earthly things are temporary; they steal the heart away. Do you remember that short verse in Luke 12:34 where Jesus speaks about our anxiety? He says, “For where your treasure is there will be your heart also”. If our treasure is in God, our heart is going to be in heaven, but if our treasure is in earthly things whether they are food, drugs, sex or any other addiction, then like Scrooge, we are going to be scrounging around trying to get more. Where the heart is put, the whole self will be. So one type of addiction is rooted in idolatry.

TO BE CONTINUED

A second type of addiction finds its roots in covetousness.

A Word to the Wise

3-13-2022 – A Word to the Wise – ENVY

Matthew 27:18 “For he knew that it was out of envy that they had delivered him up. “

Envy is one of the most devastating of all the sins. It is the sin of Cain, David and Bathsheba, Daniels’s enemies, Joseph’s enemies, Amon, Eli’s sons, Jesus’s enemies, and Gestas.

Wait a minute who is Gestas? That is the person we are going to talk about. Dymas and his cohort Gestas are the probable names of the two criminals on the crosses next to Jesus. What is important is that Dymas ended up in paradise with Jesus and Gestas was lost. Why?

The text gives us a clue, from Gestas’ mouth “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us.” (Luke 23:39). Gestas is only interested in being rescued regardless the cost. Dymas questions him, hey man, don’t you fear God? This man is innocent we are guilty. Out of envy Gestas could not repent, Dymas on the other hand, sinner that he was in the last few minutes of life sought the Savior and his dying mercy. Envy was not at the root of his sinful life, but it buried Gestas, and Judas.

This is the core issue with envy, unlike jealous it has no redeeming factors it seeks what another has and desires to destroy the other person.

My mother sixty years ago pointed out that the root sin of homosexuality is envy. At the time I did not understand her wisdom in the matter. Homosexuals demanding of God that they be different than how the Creator made them regardless of the cost to self, or others, or even to God.

It is imperative that we seek out and make sure envy does not lie at the root of our sins. History has shown this one sin has led to the murder and death of more individuals than any other, from the cause of the Great flood to the death of Jesus on the cross (For he knew that it was out of envy that they had delivered him up. Matthew 27:18) to the manic Herod, Hitler, Stalin, and a host of others guilty of genocide. Envy is the one sin that knows no bounds.

A Word to the Wise

3-5-2022 – A Word to the Wise – There are a few passages which are difficult to understand, interpret, or explain. The section from Matthew 27:51-28:6, is at the top of the list. I would like to offer an explanation. This is my opinion and interpretation of the passage.

51 And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split. 52 The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, 53 and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many.

28 Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. 2 And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. 4 And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men. 5 But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. 6 He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he[k] lay. (ESV)

First note that Jesus died at 3 pm. on the 3rd of April 33 A.D. This period was the only time for several years previous and many years after when these Passover events fell on a Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Passover in that era could fall on any day of the week. To the Jewish world Saturday night is the first day of the week, that is very important if one is to properly interpret the passage.

I want to draw your attention to Mt. 27:52. Here we have the statement that many saints rose from the dead shortly after Jesus’ death and went into Jerusalem.

Many believe that Jesus rose from the dead early Sunday morning, However, the text never says that. In fact, I would suggest that Jesus actually rose probably after the close of the Sabbath which would be Saturday evening to the Jews the first day of the new week.

The angel says he had already risen. If that be the case, what did he do on Saturday night until early Sunday morning? Remember according to Genesis the evening begins the new day.

Beginning with his death and until early Sunday morning I believe two very important activities occurred.

First consider I Peter 3:18-20. “18 For Christ also suffered[b] once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, 19 in which[c] he went and proclaimed[d] to the spirits in prison, 20 because[e] they formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water.

I am suggesting that the first sermon the Lord taught upon his death was to these imprisoned souls while he is dead from Friday night to Saturday morning. I suspect the content was the same as to the two on the road to Emmaus, showing from scriptures God’s plan. I would suppose they had the opportunity to repent.

Afterwards, the second sermon was taught. This lesson occurred after rising on Saturday evening the first day of the week. This audience I suspect were the righteous saint who rose from the dead but did not leave the tombs till Jesus left.

Same sermon different audience for a different reason. These righteous souls were to go into Jerusalem and testify about Jesus and how he fulfilled the predictions from the Old Testament. These saints had to have a purpose and had to testify to something. That something had to be taught to them.

Moreover, I think they are of the time period of Jesus. The people would not have recognized Jeremiah, Isaiah, or other ancient prophets, or figures.

Again, I have reached these conclusions from nearly 40 years of study. The conclusions maybe incorrect I do not think anyone will be lost or saved on these interpretations. However, it does provide us another understanding about the events which scripture does not delve into rather just mentions in passing.