Wednesday, November 24, 2010

An Inner Vow

Matthew 9:20-21 … "And, behold, a woman, which was diseased with an issue of blood twelve years, came behind him, (Jesus) and touched the hem of His garment: For she said within herself, If I may but touch His garment, I shall be whole."

This is an example of "an inner vow" … faith that flies in the face of the normal outward confession using words. This woman did not confess her great faith with her mouth; as far as is recorded, she didn't say anything out loud. "She said within herself" … within her heart, within her soul, right where faith battles rage.

Some have said that she had a reason for not crying out to Jesus in public. Her issue of blood made her ceremonially unclean by Jewish law, (Leviticus 15:25) and kept her from going to the house of God for prayer as we can; but it did not stop her from approaching the Lord Himself.

Notice she said within herself … "If I may but touch His garment, I shall be whole." She knew by law she would not be allowed to touch His person. So, trying her best to obey as much of the law as she could, it would have to be enough then to just touch the hem, the lower border or "fringe" of His garment.

So this woman, with a condition that made her actions in effect … a sin; out of modesty, afraid and unwilling to make a personal plea to Jesus in public knowing she would bring attention to herself, came up behind him, fearing if her physical problem was made known, she would be sent away by the people before reaching Jesus.

She could not take such a risk. She took what looked like her last opportunity of contacting Jesus … in a crowd. The more people that were present, the more likely she was that she would be concealed and unnoticed. Her faith was strong; there was no doubt in her heart for she had made that "inner vow" … that by just touching the hem of His garment she would obtain from Jesus the healing she so desperately needed.

But why did she think such a thing? Touching His clothes? Where did this thought come from? Or does it matter? She believed it … she had heard the stories of the healing power of Jesus.

One could say that she was planning to sneak up on Jesus and steal her healing from Him thinking He would not know it and would never miss it. After all … as the Son of God, did He not have the power of God with Him, around Him and in Him? He gave healing to others all the time anyway. He will never know.

But she was wrong in her thinking. She must have reasoned in her mind that this healing power that Jesus had just flowed forth out of Him like an emanation … such as how a flower emits a beautiful pleasant fragrance.

But healing did not always proceed from Christ like the odor of a flower, otherwise all who touched Him would have been automatically healed without faith … and that is not to be. Of all the many people in the crowd that were touching Him, only this one woman received healing. Why is that? She came in faith.

In Mark 5:25-34 we get a little more of this story …

"When the woman heard of Jesus, (that He was there, she) came in the press behind, (into the crowd from the rear) and touched His garment. For she said, (within herself) If I may touch but his clothes, I shall be whole. And straightway the fountain of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of that plague. And Jesus, immediately knowing in Himself that virtue (healing power) had gone out of Him, turned Him about in the press, and said, Who touched my clothes?"

Yes, someone had touched Him … the whole crowd were pressed up against Him, many were touching Him. Most were carried along by the crowd, caught up in the moment, bumping into Him … all involuntarily … but only one touched Him with the conscious, voluntary, dependent touch of faith, reaching forth her hands expressly to make contact with the hem of His garment.

Mark goes on … "And He looked round about to see her that had done this thing. But the woman fearing and trembling, knowing what was done in her, came and fell down before Him, and told Him all the truth."

Luke 8:47 adds … "And when the woman saw that she was not hid, she came trembling, and falling down before Him, she declared unto Him before all the people for what cause she had touched Him, and how she was healed immediately."

Both Mark and Luke say that the woman, fearing and trembling, came and told Jesus all the truth in front of the people, including the impure nature of her disease. Perhaps she feared that Jesus would be offended that a person deemed unclean by the Law touched Him as she had.

"But Jesus said unto her, Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole … "

Notice Jesus didn't say that He healed her. Yes; it was the power of Jesus that healed her; but that power would not have been exerted had it not been for her … faith … drawing it out.

Her confession of faith was within herself; she made an inner vow in her heart.

May I add one more observation? As I have already stated, her actions in public in her condition under the law would be considered a sin. So how could God honor and grant such a favor while in the commission of a sinful act?

I submit that she was no longer under the Law, nor was Jesus … for (a.) He fulfilled all the Law and introduced Grace; and (b.) according to Matthew 11:13, Jesus said … "For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John." (the baptist) … meaning when John started preaching to repent and later proclaimed … "Behold the Lamb of God" … the dispensation of the Law came to an end.

This is why Jesus could legally perform healings and other acts on the Sabbath that would have previously been against the Law. Jesus fulfilled the Law and thereby abolished the hand written ordinances that was against us … meaning the Law.

You may say that Jesus had not died yet. True.

But there was a transitional period involved here. Sometime during the three and a half years of the ministry of Jesus, the dispensation of Law transformed into the dispensation of Grace. Call it a gray area if you like. This allowed for all those who believed on Jesus, even before He died, to be counted as saved, born again, having their names in the Book of Life. Jesus speaking to His disciples said in Luke 10:20, "… rejoice, because your names are written in heaven." Even before He died.

So, for whatever reason, this woman was able to pull out of Jesus (with or without His knowledge) the healing she needed. I'm going to go with what Jesus said to her … "Thy faith hath made thee whole."

It was His power that healed her … but only because of that "inner vow of faith" she made within herself.

Comments welcome.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Giants and Fallen Angels … Part II

Genesis 19 … This chapter is the continuation of events in the preceding chapter.

The same two angels who had accompanied Jehovah to Abraham's tent are now sent to Sodom on the evening of the same day. "There came two angels to Sodom" … Lot seeing them (still in the physical form or likeness of natural men) invited them to stay the night in his house. They agreed; he gave them bread and … "they did eat."

The men of Sodom called unto Lot … "Where are the men which came in to thee this night? Bring them out unto us, that we may know them." (Have sex with them.)

But Lot refuses to let the Sodomites take the two men, (angels) and when they try to take them by force, the angels … "smote the men that were at the door of the house with blindness." (Proof that they were angels sent from God to lead Lot and his family out of the city before He destroyed Sodom.)

These two accounts, as well as a third one in Genesis 32 … where God met Jacob at night and wrestled with him till the breaking of day. God was in the form of a man; not a created man, but as the "the Angel of the Lord," a visible physical manifestation of the invisible God. These scriptures and others have convinced me that both God and angels can assume physical bodies and operate like men in the natural realm.

I also contend that "in the past" it was possible for "fallen angels" to also manifest themselves physically as man for evil purposes. It falls under what I call … "spiritual laws" … if God's angels have the right to operate physically in the natural realm; then the fallen angels would also have the right and that same ability to do so.

This leads to the next question … "What are demons and where did they come from?"

The Bible only gives us "hints" to the answer of this question … nothing we can make doctrine out of. You may ask … "Then why is it important?" It may not be important to you, but demons are real and we need to understand their role in spiritual matters. I believe it was John Wesley who said … "The spiritual world is dark unto us, but we lie open to it."

I have heard some people say that Satan created demons. No … I don't think so. John 1:3 (speaking of Jesus states) … "All things were made by Him; and without Him was not any thing made that was made."

So, if demons are real and Scripture agrees that they are; and if Jesus made all things, are we saying that God created demons? The answer must be … yes. But He did not create them as the evil demonic creatures they are now.

"Demons" are "disembodied spirits." What is that? Disembodied spirits are "fallen angels" who have had their angelic bodies taken away from them by God because they left the spiritual realm they were created in and crossed over into the natural physical realm of man when they produced the un-natural race of giants.

I have tried to show in this discourse that the fallen angels had the ability to operate in this physical world, not as men, but just like normal human men. I refer you back to Genesis 6:2"they took themselves wives from whomever they chose."

I believe the following two verses speak to this sinful act of the fallen angels that produced the giants that was on the earth.

Jude 1:6"And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day."

2nd Peter 2:4"For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment … "

The word hell in this verse is the Greek word … "Tartaros" … and is used only here. Its meaning in Greek is, "the deepest abyss of Hades." It is not the same place normally referred to as hell. The key to understanding what Jude and Peter spoke about are in the almost identical phrases they used … "chains under darkness" and "chains of darkness."

I have always tried to keep my personal opinion separate from the truth of the Word of God. My opinion is just that … it's my opinion. But I always base such opinion on what I believe I find in the Bible. The following is in theory one explanation of how and why demons came to be … but it's still just an opinion.

"When the fallen angels, (the sons of God) came in unto the daughters of men, and they bore children to them (Gen. 6:4) they crossed the line with God. As both Jude and Peter stated, God "delivered them into chains of darkness" by taking away their angelic bodies, leaving them after that with the ability to operate only as a spirit being. The term now used for them is … a disembodied spirit.

The easiest way for me to explain why they are in darkness is simply because they no longer have a body, and no longer can reflect light. It's like they are in the darkness of outer space. The universe is dark except when solid objects, planets, moons, space shuttles, etc. reflect the light of the various suns. A spirit cannot reflect light because it is intangible; it lacks substance, being incapable of being touched or seen.

Being unable to operate and express themselves in this natural physical world as disembodied spirits, they need to gain control and take possession of some physical body made of flesh; preferably a human being, but even animals will do. Remember the man called Legion in Luke 8:33 … "Then went the devils out of the man, and entered into the swine …"

Because these disembodied spirits are under Satan's control they are … demonic.

What reason would Satan have for his fallen angels to create a race of giants? To start with, I don't believe Satan knew they would be giants … he's not that smart.

The main reason for the fallen angels to leave their first estate, their own habitation (their spiritual realm) was to pollute the bloodline of the woman, (Eve) because of the declaration (really more of a promise) God made to Satan in Genesis 3:15 … "And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel."

The seed of the woman … Jesus … was to come by the woman, and by her alone, without the man. Therefore the fulfillment of this promise is not dependent on both Adam and Eve and their seed; but to Eve alone in that Jesus would be born of a virgin.

This is what is implied to Satan in the promise of the seed of the woman (Jesus) bruising the head of the serpent.

Therefore Satan, after hearing God's promise of the seed of the women, tried to pollute the bloodline of the women so that there could not be a pure bloodline for Jesus to be born from. If this theory or supposition is correct … then Satan almost succeeded in his plan. Notice the following verses …

Genesis 6:8 … "But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD."

Why did Noah receive grace out of all the masses of people on the earth? What made him so special? The answer is in the next verse …

Genesis 6:9 … "These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God."

Notice the phrase … "perfect in his generations." He didn't find grace because he was sinless or better looking than anyone else. It wasn't because of wealth or even his work ethic. It wasn't anything he did to earn it. It was because the history of his family bloodline could be traced back to Adam … making him pure in his generations.

The word perfect in Hebrew is "tamiym" and means … entire, without blemish, and undefiled. In other words, Noah was pure in his bloodline.

Again I say, this is only a theory, but it makes sense … it seems plausible. It has been suggested that Noah and all of his family going back to Adam and Eve were perhaps the only ones left that had not been polluted like a mongrel race by the fallen angels and the Nephilim … the giants. Satan came that close to stopping the pure bloodline in which Jesus could be born.

Is this theory true? Maybe. I don't have a clue except for these two or three hints given in the Scriptures. Does it matter? Probably not … except it shows to what extent Satan tried to go, to stop the only one who could bring his kingdom down.

And that one was … Jesus.

Comments welcome.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Giants and Fallen Angels … Part I

The first time I read about the controversial subject of giants on earth I just assumed they were like the fables in Greek mythology. But I was wrong. Through further study, including the Holy Scriptures, I found out there was much more to it than just a myth.

During the Summer Olympics that were held in Greece a few years ago, I remember seeing on ABC Sports some of the national antiquities preserved in museums; real physical objects made of iron and stone that Greece claimed were from the original ancient Olympic games dating back a couple thousand years or so.

Some of the items shown were claimed to have been used back then by the athletes … huge shot put balls so heavy that it would be impossible for the normal athletic man to throw; an iron javelin about 20 feet long with a 4 or 5 inch diameter shaft which would have been too heavy and too large for the average man's hand to grip. I also remember seeing what looked like a really big sledge hammer with a short handle that was supposed to be used in a throwing contest, but it weighed 50 or 60 pounds, hardly the normal hammer throwing instrument.

After careful study, I am of the opinion that these Olympic items could have only been used by the type of men the Bible calls in Genesis 6:4"mighty men of old, men of renown." I therefore conclude that Greek mythology could be based on stories of these giants or "Nephilim" in Hebrew as they are called in Numbers 13:33 that Israel had to contend with. Of course in Greek mythology, the stories were exaggerated to the point where they became gods like Zeus and Apollo.

One of the first stories children learn in the Bible is about David and Goliath found in 1st Samuel 17:4-51. Although the calculation used for the length of a cubit varies, most manuscripts show this giant to have been nine feet, nine inches tall. The shaft of his spear was compared to a weaver's beam; his spear was 21 feet long and weighed 37 pounds. His armor is estimated to have weighted just under 300 pounds.

The size of Goliath and the weight of his weapons of war as given in the Bible correspond exactly to the size and weight of the preserved Olympic antiquities in Greece. So, if I am to accept what is recorded in the Bible as accurate; shouldn't I also conclude that giants played in the ancient Olympic Games several thousand years ago?

The question now becomes … who were these giants?

To find the answer to this question, I decided to go to the original Word of God, the … "Torah" … the Jewish Bible. I wanted to compare what it said with two that I use; the K.J.V. and the Amplified Bible.

Genesis 6:1-2 in the Torah reads … "Man began to increase on the face of the earth, and daughters were born to them. The sons of God saw that the daughters of man were good, and they took themselves wives from whomever they chose."

Notice the clear distinction given between "sons of God" and "the daughters of man." The meaning of the daughters of man is obvious. Even I can understand that. But who are the sons of God?

In the Mechon Mamre English Version of the "Torah" … there are footnotes explaining the meanings given for some of the original Hebrew words and phrases.

The phrase … sons of God … in verse 2 above had this reference: "These were the fallen angels" … (See note on Genesis 6:4 below.)

Continuing in the Torah … Genesis 6:4 … "The titans were on the earth in those days and also later. The sons of God had come to the daughters of man and had fathered them. The titans were the mightiest ones who ever existed, men of renown."

Note: the Torah's reference on verse 4 stated, "The word … titans … is Nefilim in Hebrew, meaning literally … fallen ones. They were called this because they were the sons of the fallen angels. See Numbers 13:33."

(Numbers 13:33 is the report from ten of the twelve spies relating to an order given by the Lord, to send one man from each of the twelve tribes into the land of Canaan, to search and spy it out.)

Numbers 13:33 from the Torah … "While we were there, we saw the titans. They were sons of the giant, who descended from the original titans. We felt like tiny grasshoppers! That's all that we were in their eyes."

Compare Numbers 13:33 in the Amplified … "There we saw the Nephilim [giants], the sons of Anak, who come from the giants; and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight."

Both … the Jewish Bible (Torah) and the Christian Bible (Amplified) plainly teach that there were a race of giants on earth that came from a union between the fallen angels and the daughters of men. The Nephilim (the giants) were not the fallen angels. They were the offspring, the children born from this union.

This is why even the King James Bible states in Genesis 6:4 … "There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bore children to them, the same (the children) became mighty men which were of old, men of renown."

The children became the giants of Greek mythology, and "also after that" which I believe included the giant named Goliath that David killed.

And now the big question … but how is this possible?

May I try and explain using Scripture?

Many people say that it would be impossible for the fallen angels to mate with human women and produce children since they are in a different realm … meaning the spiritual realm vs. the natural realm. On the surface that looks right. But let's look a little deeper.

I want to look at three things in this two part study …

1.) The manifestation of God … physically.
2.) The manifestation of Angels … physically.
3.) What are demons and where did they come from?

I want to start in Genesis 17 … When Abram was ninety-nine years old the LORD appeared to him and said, "I am the Almighty God … I will make my covenant with thee." Abram fell on his face and God talked with him, saying … "Behold, my covenant is with thee … neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham."

In chapter 17, it's recorded that the LORD … "appeared" … to Abraham. (The LORD being Jehovah, the self existent or eternal God.) In the original Hebrew, the word for appeared is … "raah" … which means to see literally; and is implied to behold, to gaze upon, to show self.

How much time Abraham had with God is unknown, the scripture is silent on that point; but it must have been long enough for Abraham to recognize Him again the next time the Lord came calling. Notice what he does in chapter 18.

Genesis 18 … "The LORD appeared unto him as he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day … he lifted up his eyes and looked, three men stood by him: and when he saw them, he ran to meet them and bowed himself toward the ground and said … My Lord … "

Abraham is sitting in the door of his tent when two angels and the LORD (Jehovah) appear before him. Whenever God as the (Angel of the Lord) or angels themselves appear in scripture they always appear in the form of man. I believe that when the Angel of the Lord appeared, it was always a manifestation of Jesus … because after Jesus is born of Mary, the Angel of the Lord never again appears in Scripture.

So … in both of these encounters, did Abraham really see God and the two angels manifested physically or was it only with his spiritual eyes in the form of a vision?

Let's read on … Abraham gives them water to wash and refresh themselves and then sets food before them … "and he stood by them under the tree, and they did eat." The Bible makes one point real clear about these three visitors that looked like physical men with the words … "and they did eat."

How did they do that? Aren't angels supposed to be in a different realm than man? These angels washed like men, rested under the tree like men would have; they even ate the food given them like men. To the natural mind the physiological process of angels eating material food is incomprehensible.

Therefore the only plausible explanation of how this could happen is that angels can and do operate as men in this natural realm the same as we can. The following scripture seems to be in agreement with this …

Hebrews 13:2 … "Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares."

The Amplified says it this way … "Do not forget or neglect or refuse to extend hospitality to strangers … for through it some have entertained angels without knowing it."

In Part II … we will discuss more on this, including fallen angels.

To be continued

Comments welcome.

Friday, November 5, 2010

It Was the Father's Word

I've been thinking again, this time about all that transpired in the story of the Roman centurion and his sick servant that's found in Luke 7:2-10. Somehow the centurion heard of Jesus and sent some Jewish elders to request that He come and heal him. The elders evidently thought he was more than just another Roman soldier to them, and as such they begged Jesus to come, telling Him that this centurion was worthy of Jesus doing this for him.

Jesus didn't hesitate and started walking with them to where the centurion lived; but before they arrived at the house, the centurion sent some more friends to Jesus with this message … "Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you under my roof, neither did I consider myself worthy to come to you."

One thing I find interesting is how this Roman centurion had the Jewish elders in their summons of Jesus address Him as … Lord. One would think that this soldier, as most Romans did, would have believed in many gods, but this one must have been different, a good man, one with integrity and character, a proven friend to the Jewish people since he even built them a synagogue.

This centurion evidently believed what he had heard about Jesus and His power to heal or he wouldn't have thought Jesus could heal his servant. The Holy Spirit may have been working on this Roman by showing him who Jesus really was, and perhaps put a conviction in his heart that he was a sinner. His statement … "I am not worthy" … might refer to his personal feeling of unworthiness; a feeling that he was so unlike the Savior, that he was not suitable for the Son of God to come under his roof.

A second reason the centurion may have felt Jesus might not want to come inside his home was knowing that the Jews didn't like to enter a gentile's house; so not wanting to take the chance that Jesus would hesitate and not come, he gave Him a way out by adding … "just say in a word, and my servant shall be healed."

We don't know exactly what Jesus said, the actual words spoken. It really doesn't matter what He said, it was enough, and the servant was made whole. But we do know that the words of the centurion … "say in a word" … really means … "to command by a word alone."

Notice the centurion does not ask Jesus to pray for healing. There's nothing wrong with prayer. He only asked Jesus to … "command it done and it shall be done." We should learn a lesson from this. We must acknowledge our need of God's mercy and grace, and our own inability to help ourselves.

I also noticed as far as we can learn from scripture, Jesus didn't even know this Roman centurion nor had they ever met before. I can't remember anyone ever asking Jesus to heal from a distance like this before now.

Could this be one of the reasons or the reason Jesus said of him … "I have not found such great faith in all of Israel."

Usually Jesus was able to look into the eyes of those He healed, speaking words of life and healing into their bodies or lay His hands on them and with just a touch healing was imparted. But here Jesus did none of these things. He never made it all the way there; He was stopped on the road before He arrived.

This should give us hope. Even though Jesus is seated at the right hand of God which is undoubtedly a great distance from us; the distance doesn't matter to God. We ask, He responds and sends His healing word.

As far as we can tell, the centurion, his servant and Jesus never did meet in person. The scripture leads us to believe that Jesus just passed right on by on His way to the next town, by referring only to those who were sent to Jesus as the ones who returned back to the centurion's house to find the servant healed.

Have you ever felt as though God Himself was talking to you?

Some time ago, I had been praying for several months asking the Lord to heal a young child that had cancer. I felt like the Lord was telling me, that He was looking … no that's not the right word … He was waiting for someone with the same type of faith as this centurion had, the kind of faith that for some reason you just believe and ask Jesus to come and heal. Day after day the Lord spoke to my spirit, "Why do you think I am telling you this? Why don't you step up and become the centurion I'm waiting for?" But Lord … why me?

So now here I am … I'm asking the Lord Jesus Himself … to send His word just like He did for the centurion's servant. I've taken on the role, what else could I do? A couple of days later, while I'm mowing my yard, God shows up … not the Lord, not Jesus … I mean God Almighty Himself.

I have felt the anointing of the Holy Spirit before. I have also felt the presence of Jesus with me before. But this day was different … this was God Himself calling on me. As He started talking to me I felt the "weight" not only of His presence but His words. You talk about heavy … I didn't know what heavy was; it was as if some of my strength was taken to make room for His words.

He told me that I was asking … "the wrong one" … to send the Word. I had been asking Jesus. "But the centurion asked Jesus" was going to be my reply, but I didn't get that far. God the Father, very lovingly said the centurion asked Jesus because Jesus was there in person to show and do the "will" of the Father. Everything Jesus said and did was the will of the one who sent Him.

It was "the Father's will" that sent Jesus, the living Word to earth in the first place. In Heaven before He became flesh, Jesus was The Word of God. That's what that means … Jesus was the spoken words of God.

Now here is where it got real heavy for me. Since Jesus was doing the "will" of the Father on earth, it was the Father's "will" that the centurion's servant should be healed; and because Jesus … "IS" … the Word of God, the "word" that Jesus spoke to heal the centurion's servant … CAME FROM THE FATHER … not Jesus. It was only spoken through Jesus, who was speaking and doing what His Father told Him. In fact, Jesus said that … He came in His Father's name, representing His Father, Almighty God.

So when God spoke to me and said, "You are asking the wrong One" … in less than ten seconds total time He explained it all to me. That very hour I started asking God the Father to send to this child with cancer … the same healing Word that He sent thru Jesus to restore the centurion's servant.

I remember that Jesus told His disciples the same thing when He said something like … "after He goes to Heaven; they were to ask Him nothing; they would have to ask the Father in His name." (My translation)

Am I splitting hairs about who to ask? Maybe, but I don't think so.

I felt like I had to be obedient. That's the only thing I learned through this whole confrontation with God … to be obedient no matter what. What I am unsure of is whether or not I ever arrived at the same level of faith that the centurion had.

The child died two days later … and I'm still at a loss.

And yes, I do know God's voice.

Comments welcome.