The creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to decay and death into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. Romans 8:21
Our online dictionary includes this definition for the word “Hebrew”:
ORIGIN: from Old French Ebreu, via Latin from late Greek Hebraios, from Aramaic ‛i b ray, based on Hebrew ‛i b rî — understood to mean ‘one from the other side (of the river).’
Abraham’s descendants’ escaping from Egypt and, with divine Providence, rushing across the “parted” Red Sea certainly do come to mind. Hebrew = one from the other side — or, as this is sometimes expressed, “one who crossed over.” The Red Sea is a long, narrow, land-locked sea; in some ways it is more like a river. Further, Joshua would much later lead the Israelis into the Land by crossing the Jordan River near Jericho.
When we visited Israel a couple of years back, we learned that “Bethlehem” means in Hebrew “house of bread.” He who has been referred to as “Panis Angelicus,” Bread of Angels, the ultimate “manna,” the one who illustrated His “body, broken for you” with bread — was born in the House of Bread!
Yeshua’s kind of “bread” differs from the ordinary kind, however. When we eat ordinary bread, it becomes us, so to speak. But when we appropriate Christ, we become increasingly like Him through the new birth.
Jesus spoke of the importance of being “born again” to Nicodemus, who was a Pharisee and had come to Him at night in the hope of not being seen by his own colleagues. When we think about the definition of “Hebrew” meaning essentially “one who crossed over,” the word itself seems to speak of this new birth — in addition to Israel’s exodus. Consider Abraham, Rahab, and Ruth. They left their very different former lives to become Israelis — to “cross over” to a new and unknown life; they somehow summoned the faith to move toward this new life in preference to what was familiar. They sensed something better; they crossed over.
In Isaiah we find the stirring words, “Behold, I am doing a new thing; can you not perceive it?” We find a paraphrase of the first part of this statement in Revelation: “Behold, I make all things new.”
Astrophysicists tell us that more than 200 finely-tuned characteristics of Earth reveal that the universal stage was set in advance for us — for billions of years. And that Earth is in a unique place and time parameter that enables us to observe these exquisite elements of design. A personal Creator had you and me in mind.
Scientists who have also studied Scripture recognize in it a setting forth in several texts — not only in those in Genesis 1 — of the astonishingly-unique process of setting the stage for our world for the very purpose of creating — not suns, but sons.
When He was physically present with us, Jesus often referred to Himself as “the Son of man.” He is described this way in the fiery-furnace story in the book of Daniel in the Old Testament as well. But after the resurrection His description, in the epistles for example, consistently becomes “the Son of God.”
“Dear friends, we are already God’s children, but He has not yet shown us what we will be like when Christ appears. But we do know that we will be like Him, because we will see Him as He really is. And all who have this hope will keep themselves pure, just as He is pure.” (1 John 3:2,3)
The goal that Jesus put before Nicodemus is the same one He puts before you and me — to become citizens of the newer creation that “eye has not seen and ear has not heard.” The one in which weapons will have been transformed into garden tools that facilitate life. In which there will be no more killing or evil or death. No animal predation. No sickness or sorrow or night. The perfect creation — as God would design it.
“You must be born again,” Jesus told Nicodemus, the apparently wise, older man.
“Pursue peace with everyone, and holiness — without it no one will see the Lord.” (Hebrews 12:14)
God’s love and mercy are freely extended to all. He waits as long as He can. His desire is that as many as possible will enter the Kingdom of all things new.
Posted in The Kingdom of God Tagged with: Abraham, bridegroom, children, Christ, creation, daniel, death, egypt, evil, Exodus, freedom, God, Hebrew, holiness, hope, Jesus, Jordan, Kingdom, life, Old Testament, Red Sea, resurrection, Revelation, Scripture, Son of God, yeshua
I was teaching two classes in Manhattan, one on Philippians (as a window into Pauline theology) and the other on God’s love. What I taught on God’s love was apparently irrelevant to one student until we happened upon this verse in the Philippians class:
For God is my witness, how I long for you all with the affection of [Messiah] Jesus. (Philippians 1:8)
Suddenly, the eyes of her heart opened to the nature of God’s love. Ever since, this has been one of my favorite verses.
The most important words from this verse for this exhortation are “long” and “affection.”
Quickly, epipotheo, translated “long for,” means “to pursue with love, to long after.” (Thayer’s Greek Lexicon)
The word translated “affection” is one of those messy words having to do with internal organs, in this case, the intestines. At the risk of a bad pun, let’s mention that applying this to the transcendent and glorified Son of God is “gutsy.” It is not the well thought out concept of a theologian. Instead, it is a word (splangchna) which indicates feeling. This word describes a “visceral” emotion. It is often translated, “compassion.” Louw-Nida (a lexicon used in translation work) puts it like this: the deep, inner seat of tender emotions in the whole personality. That works for me.
Longing for You with Jesus’ Affection
Now, it seems that there are a few possible explanations for this radical expression. If I’ve left something out, please write me and let me know. Meanwhile, let’s take a look at some of our options…
Maybe Paul’s reference to the Messiah’s affection is about his experience of something alien to his own soul. A temple is not the same thing as the God who indwells it. Was he perhaps like a temple and Jesus’ affections like the manifest presence shining from a human holy of holies? Was he, perhaps, like a riverbed and the affections of Jesus, the river?
“Philippians, I am experiencing something that is way more than I could ever have in and of myself. I am experiencing Jesus’ own longing and affection towards you.”
Was Paul overwhelmed by Jesus’ affection, similar to a revival phenomenon of spiritual inebriation? Was this like experiencing a flame of fire, burning over him, which had no relationship to the apostle at all? (Acts 2:3) Sort of like a burning candle? The candle is not the flame.
“Brothers and sisters, I am experiencing the Messiah’s affections for you, not my own.”
Is it possible that this was a spiritual enhancement of Paul’s human affection? Is this a description of Paul and the Messiah’s spirits being united? After all, “he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him.” (1 Corinthians 6:17) Is this what the apostle meant?
“My affection for you is like a glove and the fullness of this longing and affection I have for you is like the hand in the glove.”
Orthodox Churches have a doctrine of sanctification called “theosis.” They explain that a sword in a fire ends up with similar qualities, yet remains a sword. So the human soul which abides in the Lord “may become partakers of the divine nature.” (2 Peter 1:4b) I think of it more like a carton of milk being put in a refrigerator – it eventually shares the same temperature.
“My soul has been in communion with the Son of God so intensely that I have come to share His affection for you. My affection is like His because of His presence in my life.”
Or perhaps it has to do with the quality of Paul’s sanctified and empowered emotional attachment. (Romans 5:3; Galatians 5:22-24) Paul might be saying,
“My longing and affection for you is just like the longing and affection of Jesus. When you experience my longing and affection, you are experiencing that which is analogous (just like) to the Son of God’s heart for you.”
At the risk of wearing you out, we’ll stop exploring these possibilities. One way or the other, Paul is saying something he expected believers to believe: Jesus longs for them; Jesus is affectionate towards them.
Whole, Full, Powerful Longing
It is important to know that the Lord’s emotional life is whole, full, and powerful. This includes “longing” as well as “affection.”
In this instance, Paul is connecting to, and conveying, an emotion which we call “missing.” The reason someone longs for something, or someone, is a sense of incompleteness. When you miss something, or someone, you have a longing – which can become a pining. Paul wasn’t pining away for the Philippians, he was oriented towards knowing Jesus, but in the depths of his heart he longed to see them. Isn’t it amazing that this emotion is paralleled by Jesus’ heart towards us?
“Longing with affection” feels similar to homesickness. Doug Collins, a chaplain in Iraq, wrote (in the Gainesville Gazette, 11/14/08), “…homesickness. It is probably the No. 1 (sic) issue that I deal with here. Homesickness also is the hardest thing to deal with … I have nothing that can take away the longing in the heart to be at home with family and friends…”
In Light of This
There is warmth radiating from this verse that can provide comfort and reassurance. To think that the Lord’s heart is affectionate towards these believers provides emotional and spiritual security. These Philippians weren’t perfect. They had problems with pride and schism which provoked apostolic adjustment. Yet, they warranted affection from the Lord – as do you. Jesus thinks of you with affection; you stir His emotions in the direction of loving affection. He enjoys your company and longs to be with you. In his emotional motivations towards the Philippians, Paul was like Jesus.
In the light of this, let’s close this meditation with Paul’s prayer found in the next verse:
it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of [the Messiah], filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus [the Messiah], to the glory and praise of God. (Philippians 1:9-11)
David Harwood is a prophetic teacher and worship leader, and author of the book God’s True Love.
Posted in Featured Articles, The Kingdom of God Tagged with: affection, compassion, Doug Collins, God's love, Jesus, love, messiah, orthodox, Paul, Pauline, Philippians, Son of God
“…. thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place.” -2 Cor. 3.14
The greatest triumph is not in the establishment of an impressive organization, the saving of my reputation, or the performance of some great spiritual feat before men. The greatest triumph is led by God Himself, and it has to do with wringing out my personality and aura until I am a broken vessel through whom He shows forth “the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place.”
Though I have adapted to the niceties and expected behaviors of Christian culture, though I know how to act around the right people, though I have “stopped doing what I used to do, because now I’m a Christian,” I may yet be bound by self-conscious spirituality. The life of faith does not have to do with conforming to external expectations in relation to the Christian subculture that I’ve been inducted into. It has to do with an ultimate inward surrender to the Lord of history, “who always leads us in triumph in Christ,” over every earthly influence and power. When we are so conscious of the Lord that we are able to love our enemies, resist the lusts of the flesh, and we are no longer moved inwardly to seek glory from men, only then is it evident that we are following the Lamb of God in His holy triumph.
If I am not emanating the fragrance of Jesus Christ, I must still be bound by self-consciousness in some way or another. When the light of heaven shines upon me, it may yet be seen that I am still concerned for my own glorification. The evidence of this is that I am not yet “broken bread and poured out wine”; I am failing to emit the “sweet aroma” of Jesus Christ. When “the least of these” come into contact with me, are they coming into contact with the vitality of the Son of God, or something that smells too much like the work of man?
When we have soulish ties to men, to this earth, or to our own religious ideals and presumptions, rather than a total jealousy for God’s glory, it becomes impossible for us to “triumph in Christ,” and we are incapable of manifesting His “sweet aroma,” which is His very character and nature. His fragrance is always antithetical to our self-conscious attempts at spirituality. I may need to ask myself some questions along these lines.
When challenging or rebuking another saint, am I abiding in the kindness of Jesus Christ? Would the Lamb of God deal as abrasively as I have when addressing that child or that struggling brother? When complimenting or encouraging someone, am I using flattery to gain some end myself, or am I actually expressing His own encouragement? When correcting some faulty doctrine in another brother, am I exhibiting my own knowledge and correctness, or am I speaking out of a true jealousy for the glory of God and the good of that soul?
I may claim to be radical for the Lord, carrying the cross and going against the tide of this age, but am I emitting the very fragrance of Jesus Christ in the process? If I am not, it may well be that the “tide of this age” is still sweeping me away, except that I am blanketed in Christian phraseologies and ideas. The only solution to self-conscious spirituality is God-conscious living, and Jesus has rent the veil that we might abide with Him in that holy place. From there we triumph in Christ, and manifest the sweet aroma of the knowledge of God “in every place.”
You are not required to pass through a religious maze to “manifest” the fragrance of the Lord. There is no puzzle involved, no trick up His sleeve, no riddle to unpack. To experience the depths of Christ, you need only to go down into death, taking up your cross and following the Lamb wheresoever He goes. He will inevitably lead you on paths that will wring out your personality and press His glorious image into your person. You will still be unique as an individual, but you will exhibit the wisdom and power of the age to come, which is “righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.”
We do not triumph in Christ by boasting in a meeting, seeking favor from men, or finding our way onto some platform of religious fame. We triumph in Christ when the power of self is broken from our lives, and the very fragrance of Jesus flows from our being. When He leads us in triumph, we will bring to bear the knowledge of God Himself upon a world that is perishing for want of that great Light.
Posted in The Kingdom of God Tagged with: character, christian subculture, doctrine, fragrance, glory of God, jealousy, Jesus Christ, organization, religion, righteousness, Son of God
Isaiah 9: 6 – 7
For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even forever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.
I’d like to look at a theme that has been burning in my heart for months about the theme of ‘Sonship’. Preaching from the above text, at the beginning of this year the Lord clearly spoke to me concerning this theme, and in regard to something He wanted me to embrace more than ever. Also, I believe that this is a key theme for the Church at large to embrace, as it will be essential in the future move of God.
In the above Scripture, we see the nature of ‘sonship’ in the Son – Jesus. It foretells of His becoming a child, though He is in fact, eternally a Son. (‘A child is born… A son is given…’) And the text clearly shows that because Sonship is something Jesus ultimately manifest in His life, through becoming a child and submitting to the Father, He inherited authority and power. His ‘Sonship’ was set for us to follow, as sons. His Sonship was not only His ‘status’ by name only, but was also experienced. He did not need to enter into the ‘experience’ of sonship (becoming a child) on the one hand, yet did so because He was a Son! Jesus even said in His teaching, that unless we become as a child, we cannot receive or enter the Kingdom.
So as in the natural, sons submit to a father, then later on they receive an inheritance, so it is a type of what is actual in the Kingdom. We are declared to be sons upon being Born-again – if you like a ‘status‘ is given. But then we must enter into the experience of sonship for a greater manifestation of power, and a full inheritance, because we are sons. This is evidenced with Christ in Luke 3 & 4, where Sonship was decreed by the Father at Jesus’ baptism, but then Sonship was experienced through the submission in the wilderness testing / temptation, and the subsequent inheritance of power with God in advancing the Kingdom. Here, Christ came out in the ‘power of the Spirit…’ and He ‘proclaimed the Kingdom…’ But please note: the Spirit compelled Jesus into the wilderness! We have also received the Spirit of Sonship. And by God’s grace we should not reject the dealings of God. They are for our destiny to be realized.
In the above Isaiah passage, this ‘son’ also inherits ‘government… upon His shoulders…’ and He inherits names: ‘Wonderful Counsellor (Supernatural in counsel) Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace…’ etc. So though a son eternally (given) He comes to a place of being just a child (born). This is one of the great mysteries of all time. He in His Sonship becomes nothing, then inherits the Kingdom and subsequent authority!
One more thing of note in the Isaiah passage is that Jesus the Son is called ‘Father’. In Israel the King’s heir when inheriting the throne became a father to the people, not according to age or stature but according to God’s choosing & dealing with the man, and in turn, man’s response to God’s workings. True sonship produces true fathers; true fathers manifest authority in a fatherly way. They in turn raise up and release new sons. This is both seen in the natural and this is how it ought to be in the Kingdom of God.
What then do ‘true sons’ inherit by coming under the Father’s dealings and authority?
1. Sons inherit governmental authority.
A hireling does not understand the dynamics or heart of the Father, nor His house, neither His desire for it. A son however, does, and as a result will actually ‘give himself’ for that fulfilment.
Isaiah 22: 15 – 24 speaks of a situation in which a man by the name of Shebna is steward of over the nation of Israel. The steward was basically a prime minister, under the headship of the King. Isaiah describes a number of assaults on the nation, and always brings a word from God looking for steadfast and faithful leaders to respond to what God is saying. Shebna in this account fails to fulfil the duty of his office, and instead accepts the death of the nation, and only seeks his own memorial to be fixed, rather than caring for the future life of the people. Thus God disposes him from his position and function, and replaces him with a man called Eliakim son of Hilkiah. Look at what the Lord says to Eliakim:
“On that day I will summon my servant, Eliakim son of Hilkiah. I will clothe him with your robe and fasten your sash around him and hand your authority over to him. He will be a father to those who live in Jerusalem and to the house of Judah. I will place on his shoulder the key to the house of David; what he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open. I will drive him like a peg into a firm place; he will be a seat of honour for the house of his father. All the glory of his family will hang on him: its offspring and offshoots—all its lesser vessels, from the bowls to all the jars.”
Note the following:
· The terms ‘my servant’ and ‘son of’.
· How God makes him a ‘father’ to the people.
· The keys of the Kingdom (of David) are given to him. Keys to open, permanently, and shut permanently. (Authority and power)
· This Scripture while historical is also prophetic of Jesus Christ, and is linked in with Revelation 3: 7 – 13. Here the Philadelphian believers may have been excommunicated from the local synagogue, however in their becoming outcasts for His name’s sake, Christ comes to reassure them that they have a place of access and authority in His Kingdom. The day will come when their persecutors will acknowledge what God has done for them and granted to them. As over-comers they can take their place in the Temple of God. Christ in having the keys to the royal household, has given them a place with Him, not those who presume authority.
In other words: Kingdom authority is realised when God’s servants not only enjoy the status of sons, but because they are such, they ‘enter into’ Spiritual sonship. It may be God’s dealings through suffering; it may be a wilderness experience, or it may be demonic attack. Those that learn in those times to come under the shadow of God, experience what it is rely solely upon the Father. He then enlarges their capacity. They then inherit authority in the Kingdom, which is spiritually exercised in a paternal / fatherly way. This is how God expresses Himself.
This is often why when we look around the world those that are persecuted for the faith often carry spiritual riches beyond those in the west. Or those who have done great exploits in the West, have often gone through great wilderness experiences. It is God’s way to bring us into the likeness of the His Son. The Good Father wants His sons to inherit! But He also wants His sons to have His Son’s heart and not take the glory for themselves when endued with such authority in the Lord.
2. Sons are released into Kingdom power.
There is nothing more precious in the sight of God than when a person having gone through the wilderness, comes out in the power of the Spirit, and makes a telling impact in their generation for the Lord.
Moses came into his role as deliverer for Israel after ‘tending sheep’ in the backside of the desert. Previously, he had tried to bring matters into his own hands and bring a ‘judgment’ regarding an issue between two of the people of Israel, and ahead of God’s timing. But upon that mistake, he is thrust into the wilderness where God taught him solitude, brokenness and to see the Divine in the midst of the meaningless. Moses came out with a rod of power that literally delivered an entire people, brought God’s power and subdued an enemy nation.
Paul, previously Saul after his conversion is moved into a similar forgotten place for a season. We don’t need to talk about how God used that man. Sure enough, God’s government and power flowed through him, even when in prison.
3. Sons manifest ‘The Son’.
Just as sons inherit government and power because of submitting to the Father, they likewise begin to manifest the ministries of Jesus: Apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers are the five-fold governmental functions or ministries of Christ in the Church. They serve as headship ministry to the rest of the Body, and cause the Body at large to become as Jesus is. They also manifest something of who He is to a dark world.
I remember a word brought from a brother in the UK once about some mighty men God used at the turn of the 1900s. He said by the Spirit, that they were as they were because they had been ‘Born in the FIRE!’
The fires of revival? For sure. But also the Fires of testing. The greats of yester-year were not just particularly favored, but they experienced ‘sonship’. They went through the wilderness… they humbled themselves as children. As a result they inherited as much as they could this side of heaven. They through suffering and hardship carried a deposit of the Kingdom. God’s government rested on their shoulders! They saw the Kingdom expressed in the power of the Spirit. All because they went the Jesus way of ‘sonship.’
May this be a year when true sons begin to emerge to a place of expression of God’s rule, and become fathers to a new generation of saints expressing the glory of God in the earth.
Posted in The Kingdom of God Tagged with: God's government, isaiah 9, Jesus, Kingdom of God, Scripture, Son of God, sonship, wilderness