Tag Archives: New beginnings

From weeping to leaping..(2)

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Continuing our journey to Hebron…

A place of Redemption (goel) – A City of Refugeredeemed_t_nv

 “So they set apart Kedesh in Galilee in the hill country of Naphtali, Shechem in the hill country of Ephraim, and Kiriath Arba (that is, Hebron) in the hill country of Judah.  On the east side of the Jordan of Jericho they designated Bezer in the desert on the plateau in the tribe of Reuben, Ramoth in Gilead in the tribe of Gad, and Golan in Bashan in the tribe of Manasseh.  Any of the Israelites or any alien living among them who killed someone accidentally could flee to these designated cities and not be killed by the avenger of blood (goel)  prior to standing trial before the assembly.”      Joshua 20:7-9

 If you miss your goal (hamartia – sin), you need a goel!

Redemption is everything. The “avenger of blood” represents the just punishment of the sinner. In God’s gracious economy the avenger is avenged by his own blood – “the punishment that brought us peace was upon him.” The “kinsman redeemer” (see Ruth and Boaz) is another type of Christ, another goel. One emphasizes the buying back of souls, the other the redemption of land and inheritance. Redemption is not just for a future heaven but it includes a bringing in of God’s Kingdom to our present earth.

Christian thought over the years has given us three major currents which interpret the idea of the atonement.

  1.  The “traditional” position of the early church who taught that Christ’s blood paid a ransom to Satan for our redemption.
  2. Writing at the end of the 11th century Anselm was the origin of the “objective” doctrine which teaches that Christ died in order to satisfy God’s justice. It is God who needs to be reconciled to us.
  3. In contrast to Anselm at the beginning of the 12th century Peter Abelard (call him Pierre as he was a Breton!) formulated the subjective doctrine which states that Christ came and died in order to change us, rather than to change God’s attitude to us. It is we who need to be reconciled to God.

In the 20th century the Swedish theologian Gustav Aulén expanded the “traditional” view seeing it as a more “classic”, dramatic idea of the atonement. He stated that the atonement is “a divine conflict and victory” over the evil powers of this world. “It represents the work of atonement or reconciliation as from the first to last a work of God himself.” Indeed Aulén’s work echoes the Apostle John’s words that: “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.”

It is most useful to interpret these three views as being complimentary rather than contradictory. Through the teaching of scripture echoed in the voices of many of the Church Fathers, we glean that Christ is the one who has put us right with God by his death (objective view); whose love for us awakens our love for God (subjective view) and who has won the victory over the powers of evil (classic view).

Spend some time meditating on these different facets of the atonement and apply their truths to your life and prayers. Find your refuge in redemption.

A place of Priests – Ministry and Intercession

 “So to the descendants of Aaron the priest they gave Hebron (a city of refuge for one accused of murder), Libnah,  Jattir, Eshtemoa,  Holon, Debir,  Ain, Juttah and Beth Shemesh, together with their pasture lands–nine towns from these two tribes.”  Joshua 21:13-16

Intercessory-Prayer-Ministry-LogoSee the article ” Big heart, Broad shoulders” for an encouragement to renew our priestly ministry. Recently I’ve been challenged by the notion of “Watchtowers”, “Houses of Prayer”, “Holy Places.” I think that Catholic theology handles these concepts more easily than Protestant views.

A few years ago I was quietly eating some Kimchi with my Korean friends at our ministry base, Le Château Blanc in France, when one of them  began to speak to me in earnest.

“I have come here for a purpose,” he said. “This is a Watchtower place and you must gather intercessors here. You are to especially pray for young people. In fact God tells me that you are to specifically declare that one million young French people are to come to Christ!”

I choked on my Kimchi. Was he mad, presumptuous, a mixture of both …or a man with a prophetic word. I’m still waiting to answer that question, but I do feel deeply challenged to understand more about the place of intercessors together, praying world-changing prayers and yet living in the hands on reality of owning the responsibility and consequences of the prayer.

A place to gather Tribes – Platforms of Ministry and Collaboration

All these were fighting men who volunteered to serve in the ranks. They came to Hebron fully determined to make David king over all Israel. All the rest of the Israelites were also of one mind to make David king.  The men spent three days there with David, eating and drinking, for their families had supplied provisions for them.  Also, their neighbors from as far away as Issachar, Zebulun and Naphtali came bringing food on donkeys, camels, mules and oxen. There were plentiful supplies of flour, fig cakes, raisin cakes, wine, oil, cattle and sheep, for there was joy in Israel.”     1 Chronicles 12:38-40Many tribes

 May the Lord grant us a fresh determination to accomplish His work. Surely this is a time to look to work together with other tribes and ministries. I recently heard a long serving missionary from Egypt say that rather than just pray for Egypt with a bunch of foreigners he wanted to join with the Egyptians who were developing their own powerful prayer movements. This is not to despise the faithful pioneer work of many “foreigners”, but more to encourage a “breaking out” of our talents to humbly serve alongside other streams.

“Plentiful supplies” and “joy” are the fruits of such Hebron gatherings.

We started our journey at a place of weeping with the promise bearer dying. I strongly believe in a God who redeems dreams, so I trust that we can arrive at a place of “leaping” for joy as an honored daughter of Sarah, Mary – the ultimate promise bearer, conceives fresh life at Hebron. Jesus was born at Bethlehem but was he conceived at Hebron?

A place of Joyful Anointing to Conceive New Beginnings

“At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth.  When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.  Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!”      Luke 1:39-45

Many Bible commentators agree that the “hill country of Judea” is a clear reference to the town of Hebron. I’ve included a snippet from Mathew Henry who raises the question of Christ’s possible conception at Hebron:

john the baptist leaps in his mothers womb “…she went to a city of Judah in the hill-country; it is not named, but by comparing the description of it here with Jos_21:10, Jos_21:11, it appears to be Hebron, for that is there said to be in the hill-country of Judah, and to belong to the priests, the sons of Aaron; thither Mary hastened, though it was a long journey, some scores of miles.

Dr. Lightfoot offers a conjecture that she was to conceive our Saviour there at Hebron, and perhaps had so much intimated to her by the angel, or some other way; and therefore she made such haste thither. He thinks it probable that Shiloh, of the tribe of Judah, and the seed of David, should be conceived in a city of Judah and of David, as he was to be born in Bethlehem, another city which belonged to them both. In Hebron the promise was given to Isaac, circumcision was instituted. Here (saith he) Abraham had his first land, and David his first crown: here lay interred the three couples, Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca, Jacob and Leah, and, as antiquity has held, Adam and Eve. He therefore thinks that it suits singularly with the harmony and consent which God uses in his works that the promise should begin to take place by the conception of the Messiah, even among those patriarchs to whom it was given. I see no improbability in the conjecture, but add this for the support of it, that Elisabeth said (Luk_1:45), There shall be a performance; (will be accomplished) as if it were not performed yet, but was to be performed there.”

May we hear a fresh invitation, a Holy Spirit greeting that will spur us to joy and the conception of hope. The journey to Hebron may be tear-stained, but it ultimately crowns Christ King of the nations and Lord of our lives.

                                                                             

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Sacrificing the “old goat”…

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As this month begins, I also begin a year’s sabbatical. I was encouraged to see that this new beginning aligned with the Jewish New Year Rosh Hashanah.

The festival of Rosh Hashanah (“Head of the Year”) is observed for two days. For most Jews this time refers to the creation of Adam and Eve, the first man and woman on the sixth day.

It also makes reference to Abraham’s journey up to Mount Moriah to sacrifice his son Isaac. Many Jews pray on this day that they will step into the benefit of the good action of Abraham who received, on oath, a promise of great prosperity.

When we read about this passage in Genesis 22: 1-19 we are so often rightly focused on the prophetic pointing of Isaac’s sacrifice (and resurrection) to the person of Christ. However, in re-reading this passage I was struck with the person of Abraham himself. It was a major life transition for him.

He had been walking under the desert stars for many years, struggling to come to terms with the greatness of this God who had called him out. He had fought his battles, believed for fecundity in the face of sterility, and now was walking proudly with his “son of promise” Isaac – his only son, (it seems that Ishmael is not counted in here), the one he loved.

What an outrageous request God makes of him! Kierkegaard, in “Fear and Trembling”, even suggests that, in making such a request, God was undertaking a “teleological suspension of the ethical” – the final good outcome somehow allowed for a morally ambiguous request.

While you are working that one out, let’s get back to Abraham. He simply stepped out and obeyed in faith. He told his servants that we will come back to you.”

I think Abraham came back changed.

where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” asked Isaac.

Abraham answered, (no doubt holding back the emotion and gritting his teeth in faith, battling again to see beyond his present reality with teary eyes of faith), “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.”

And the two of them went on together, two generations side by side. Was the older to really sacrifice the younger generation?

Our God doesn’t kill the new generation. He sacrifices the “old man” so that we may live in newness of life.

God, did not in fact provide a lamb (something young and fresh), he set aside an old ram caught by its horns in the thicket. Isaac was unbound and the knife was put to the old ram. It was almost as if Abraham was sacrificing his own troubled past in the ram – but also something of his powerful patristic presence.

The old was sacrificed so that the new generation could be released and empowered. It is interesting to see that Isaac went from the altar of sacrifice to the altar of marriage and future, prayer induced, fecundity.

Something in Abraham died on that day. Father’s need to learn to die! However, it was also a new beginning as this event marked a new season of fecundity for Abraham as well. From a man struggling to have one son he was able to go on and father many more children through a new wife, Keturah – (new partnerships and networks!) Genesis 25: 1-5.

He also released God’s passionate, oath backed promise to bless the nations – a promise which impacts our faith even today.

So don’t be afraid to put the knife to the old! Many family struggles would be resolved more easily if the “entrenched patriarchs” could make some space for the rising sons.

I’m asking that, in this “new” sabbatical year, my own “horns” can be disengaged from the thicket of ministry and reputation, and that my “absence” will release a new generation to fruitful life and ministry.

Rosh Hashanah is followed by ten days of repentance leading up to the Holy day of Yom Kippur. May these next days pour the healing blood of Christ into all our pasts, “…the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17)