EARLY CHURCH HISTORY 101 (Lesson 13)

It happened fast: A loud sound of wind filling the house—A visible Light filling the Upper Room—Division into smaller Lights upon each believer—Speaking new languages by the power of God…

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INTRODUCTION   

Ch 1: LESSON 1   LESSON 2   LESSON 3   LESSON 4   LESSON 5   LESSON 6   LESSON 7

Ch 2: LESSON 8   LESSON 9   LESSON 10   LESSON 11   LESSON 12

LESSON 13

Acts 2:1-4

1 And when the day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all assembled together in one place, 2 when suddenly there came a sound from heaven like the rushing of a violent tempest blast, and it filled the whole house in which they were sitting. 3 And there appeared to them tongues resembling fire, which were separated and distributed and that settled on each one of them. 4 And they were all filled—diffused throughout their souls—with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other (different, foreign) languages, as the Spirit kept giving them clear and loud expression (in each tongue in appropriate words). [1]

THE TONGUE IS A FIRE

The last member of the human body to yield to the Spirit of God is the tongue. The Lord’s brother James held nothing back when writing the following revelatory verses—strong, intense, and filled with spiritual import—explaining this phenomenon:

Now if we put the bits into the horses’ mouths so that they will obey us, we direct their entire body as well. Look at the ships also, though they are so great and are driven by strong winds, are still directed by a very small rudder wherever the inclination of the pilot desires. So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things. See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire!

And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell. For every species of beasts and birds, of reptiles and creatures of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by the human race. But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. [James 3:3-8] [2]

Speech is a powerful force. It is a great gift from our Creator. Humans are hardwired with the ability to speak. Small children gain the use of extremely complicated language skills, grammars, and word dictionaries with no scientific explanation. We take it all for granted but the evolutionists among us are stymied by this otherwise impossible ability possessed by mere babes.

As all things human can be corrupted and have been corrupted, so it is with speech. In the beginning, God spoke creation into existence. Sinful man destroys by the same power. This is yet further proof that every human is estranged from God until delivered from sin and born anew from above. Those who would gain the Lord’s spiritual life must humble themselves and surrender all. It is not an easy process. As illustrated perfectly by James, the tongue is the deadliest and most sinful member of our body. It dies the hardest.

FREEDOM OF SPEECH

It is no wonder then that the Lord chose speech as an outward sign. It is the last to yield to the Spirit of God and the first to break forth in praises to Him. And this is exactly what the 120 did that morning. Like newborn babes who cry at birth, the first significant thing we ever do under our own power and will, so were these new born babes in the Lord crying forth. They had no idea what they were saying. Remember, these believers were disparaged as mere unlearned and ignorant Galileans, most of whom had no higher education or training. They were certainly not linguists. Yet, from the depths of their hearts, enabled by the newly indwelling Holy Spirit, they were all speaking perfectly and fluently in languages they had never learned.

Again, the same inexplicable phenomenon takes place with babies, whose first word is spoken as early as six months. By eighteen months there are multiple word sentences. They are soon communicating with eye-contact and inflection. Though they pick up this ability in part empirically, most arrives miraculously. Language is far too complex for such unaware babes to develop it at such a young age without some unknown, unexplainable ability.

So it was with the Upper-Roomers. Their speech was miraculous. The sign was unmistakable. The hand of God was evident.    

© 2020 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.


[1] The Amplified Bible © 1965 by Zondervan Publishing House. All Rights Reserved.

[2] Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

EARLY CHURCH HISTORY 101 (Lesson 12)

Pentecost was an either-or option. Though most were not aware of this and many refused to acknowledge the possibility, the nation would either get right with God or suffer complete destruction.

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INTRODUCTION   

Ch 1: LESSON 1   LESSON 2   LESSON 3   LESSON 4   LESSON 5   LESSON 6   LESSON 7

Ch 2: LESSON 8   LESSON 9   LESSON 10   LESSON 11

LESSON 12

Acts 2:3

3 And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them.

This was the event prophesied by John the Immerser four years before. He also made a second prophecy that worked in tandem with the first. This was not unlike what the prophet Moses had proclaimed in the early days of the nation. In essence, Moses said that obedience to God equaled blessing and disobedience the opposite. He told the people exactly what would happen to them if they honored the Lord or dishonored Him. The latter was not good.

It may sound as if God was making unfair ultimatums or unreasonable demands, or that He somehow must force people to respect Him. The reality is that God is holy and perfect. He is the Creator. And He knew their hearts. He knows everybody’s heart. He knows those who strive for His morality and righteousness and those who couldn’t care less. The following, as spoken by Moses, is an example of the either-or option:

“All these blessings will come upon you and overtake you if you obey the LORD your God: Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the country…” [Deuteronomy 28:2-3]

“But it shall come about, if you do not obey the LORD your God, to observe to do all His commandments and His statutes with which I charge you today, that all these curses will come upon you and overtake you: Cursed shall you be in the city, and cursed shall you be in the country…” [Deuteronomy 28:15-16]

The apostle Paul said the Law acted as a disciplinarian or schoolmaster before faith came (Gal. 3:24-25). Those who strove to keep the Law in the times of Moses and Joshua were not necessarily gaining salvation through such, since that could only come through faith, but their personal life and society was certainly superior compared to those who did not.

John the Immerser echoed Moses in this regard in that he presented the nation of Israel an either-or choice. Though the Jews had always seen fire as a symbol of the Divine Presence of God, and though it in a sense acts as a purifying agent, fire is primarily presented in the New Testament Scriptures as an agent of destruction. John said this fire was coming soon and would consume entire forests and remaining grain stalks:

“The axe is already laid at the root of the trees; therefore every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clear His threshing floor; and He will gather His wheat into the barn, but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” [Matthew 3:10-12][1]

The Day of Pentecost began this process. Over the next forty years an Israelite Remnant would submit to the Lord Jesus and be saved. The rest would reject Him and choose the same fate as the city of Jerusalem itself—the fiery destruction of their souls. 

The Upper Room was a wheat barn.

© 2020 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.


[1] Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

EARLY CHURCH HISTORY 101 (Lesson 11)

While the Spirit of the Lord continued to move among the believers as an unseen wind “filling the whole house,” a visible manifestation also took place, centered among them in the Upper Room.

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INTRODUCTION   

Ch 1: LESSON 1   LESSON 2   LESSON 3   LESSON 4   LESSON 5   LESSON 6   LESSON 7

Ch 2: LESSON 8   LESSON 9   LESSON 10

LESSON 11

Acts 2:3

3 And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them.

Wind is the movement of air from an area of high pressure to an area of low pressure. Wind fills a relative void. The lower the air pressure in a given location, the greater the onrushing air there is from a high pressure zone to fill it.

The Upper-Roomers had spent ten days emptying themselves. This was done through much repentance, much fasting, much prayer, much worship, and many tears. They were preparing themselves as a bride adorned for her husband (Rev. 21:2). [1] It was a human low pressure zone. No pride. No sin. No spot, wrinkle, or blemish (Eph. 5:27).

UPPER ROOM DIMENSIONS

Although there is no way of knowing exactly, implications in Scripture would indicate that the Upper Room was probably the same size as the Tabernacle (tent) of Moses, which was 10 x 30 cubits. Based on the Hebrew long cubit of 20.4 inches, the Upper Room would have been 17 x 51 (867 square feet).

An interesting thing happens, however, if it was 840. This number is divisible by every number from 1 to 12 except 9 and 11, which are not especially good numbers for an event like Pentecost (9 is the Biblical number of finality or judgment and 11 signifies disorder and imperfection). In order to arrive at this “perfect” number of 840, the cubit would have to be 20.08 inches, completely within the realm of probability. Based on such, the Upper Room would be 16.73 x 50.2 feet. It would contain 134 feet of perimeter wall space allowing the majority to sit on benches along the walls, and overall floor space would allow each person an average of 7 square feet.

THE BIG EVENT

Pentecost was an explosion of spiritual power and truth—the dunamis of God torqued down to a manageable level for reception within humanity but fully concentrated for the work at hand. They were filled with joy! It was both a release and a reception for those fortunate ones in the Upper Room. In a matter of minutes their pain was gone—the pain of the past, of unrealized dreams, of bitter life in a cold world dominated by the devil’s minions. This was the upper hand! The right hand of God reaching down to infuse them with His strength and might! Though they continued to dwell in houses of clay, they became dynamic and demonstrative.

At nine o’clock in the morning they appeared drunk or high on mushrooms. Joy to the nth degree was ensconced on their shining faces and they were each filled with that very agape love of the Lord that He tried to teach them about previously. They were now as He was, filled to overflowing with a power to work miracles and love others without measure, even enemies who may maim and slander.

As the rushing wind of the Spirit continued to swirl around among the disciples, a visible manifestation accompanied the audible. In the middle of the large Upper Room a great energized Light suddenly appeared, seeming to manifest from thin air. The Spirit of God filled the entire space! The Jews had long considered fire to be a sign of God’s presence and purifying energy and here was God Himself as such fire. He did not come to consume, though, but to infill all these who had properly prepared for His arrival. The warm and engaging Light instantly began dividing into many smaller portions and each of these tiny fire-like Lights began moving about in every direction, this way and that, locating every disciple, and hovering over their heads.

120 small flickering manifestations of God’s presence appeared upon everyone there, and then, as all beheld the great miracle, the Spirit of the Lord entered into each disciple and took up residence in their hearts.

© 2020 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.


[1] Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

APRIL 19, 1775: THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION BEGINS

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The Americans of that greatest generation stood for liberty at all costs and created a country. These times illustrate how far America has fallen.

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On the night of April 18, 1775, Paul Revere and William Dawes made their famous rides to Lexington and towns along the way warning of British troops heading in their direction with the intent to arrest Samuel Adams and John Hancock and capture the American armory at Concord.

FROM THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS:

On the night of April 18, the royal governor of Massachusetts, General Thomas Gage, commanded by King George III to suppress the rebellious Americans, had ordered 700 British soldiers, under Lieutenant Colonel Francis Smith and Marine Major John Pitcairn, to seize the colonists’ military stores in Concord, some 20 miles west of Boston.

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A system of signals and word-of-mouth communication set up by the colonists was effective in forewarning American volunteer militia men of the approach of the British troops. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem “Paul Revere’s Ride” tells how a lantern was displayed in the steeple of Christ Church on the night of April 18, 1775, as a signal to Paul Revere and others.

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On April 19, 1775, British and American soldiers exchanged fire in the Massachusetts towns of Lexington and Concord. At Lexington Green, the British were met by approximately seventy American Minute Men led by John Parker. At the North Bridge in Concord, the British were confronted again, this time by 300 to 400 armed colonists, and were forced to march back to Boston with the Americans firing on them all the way. The American Revolution had begun.

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CONCORD HYMN by RALPH WALDO EMERSON (APRIL 19, 1836):

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By the rude bridge that arched the flood,

Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled,

Here once the embattled farmers stood

And fired the shot heard round the world.

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The foe long since in silence slept;

Alike the conqueror silent sleeps;

And Time the ruined bridge has swept

Down the dark stream which seaward creeps.

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On this green bank, by this soft stream,

We set today a votive stone;

That memory may their deed redeem,

When, like our sires, our sons are gone.

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Spirit, that made those heroes dare

To die, and leave their children free,

Bid Time and Nature gently spare

The shaft we raise to them and thee.

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© 2020 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.

EARLY CHURCH HISTORY 101 (Lesson 10)

“Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” [John 20:21-22] 

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INTRODUCTION   

Ch 1: LESSON 1   LESSON 2   LESSON 3   LESSON 4   LESSON 5   LESSON 6   LESSON 7

Ch 2: LESSON 8   LESSON 9

LESSON 10

Acts 2:2

2 And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.

Our author Luke characterized the loud sound from heaven that morning as a strong and driving wind, a bearing breeze “bringing forth.” But rather than the prevalent word for wind he used another—pnoe—which primarily means “breath” or “breath of life.” It had a purpose and destination: It was the holy breath of God.

The first thing we must recall is this:

Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. [Genesis 2:7]

Adam had been formed—created from the element-rich dry soil of the earth—though was in an inanimate condition. He was the highest life form of Creation and made in God’s own image. This is beyond profound. For such a being there could only be one animating force possible. It must be the breath of God.

“The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” [John 3:8]

Though this verse is well known, it is also otherwise well known for containing a subpar translation. In the New Testament, there are a total of thirty-one occurrences of the Greek word for wind—anemos. As in Acts 2:2, this is not one of them. The word “wind” in this verse is from the Greek word pneuma which is translated as “Spirit” in every other instance of its use in the passage. Thus, the Lord never said, “The wind blows where it wishes,” but more like “The Spirit goes where it will.”

Now, let’s try this verse again and see how closely it matches up with Acts 2:2:

The Spirit goes where it will and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” [John 3:8]

And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. [Acts 2:2]

The 120 people in the Upper Room were about to be born again, or born of the Spirit, just as Adam was once literally born of the Spirit, or the breath of God. The Lord specifically told Nicodemus that no one could see (perceive, discern, discover) or enter into the kingdom of God unless he was born again.

“That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’” [John 3:6-7][1]

No one of us remembers our physical birth. Not so with our mothers. It goes without saying, of course, but human birth is a powerful process and unforgettable experience. So is the new birth. It denotes a completely new life and a total transformation. After all, it is the Spirit of God we are referring to here. He is like a rushing mighty wind. There was a sound, a noise. He filled the Upper Room and the entire house with His presence. He would soon fill each person with His Holy Spirit.

He would breathe new life into them just as He did with Adam.  

© 2020 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.


[1] Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

EARLY CHURCH HISTORY 101 (Lesson 9)

Today’s theme is Christian Unity. For those of you who missed Lesson 8 posted Sunday morning, it contains an excellent typology and is a prerequisite for Lesson 9. I am using Acts 2:1 for both. 

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INTRODUCTION   

Ch 1: LESSON 1   LESSON 2   LESSON 3   LESSON 4   LESSON 5   LESSON 6   LESSON 7

Ch 2: LESSON 8

LESSON 9

Acts 2:1

1 When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place.

A few years ago I made a comment to a friend of mine, a Christian book author, which he found quite amusing. He laughed out loud. We were discussing the Day of Pentecost and the Upper Room, as well as the apparent oxymoronic concept of Christian unity. I said the reason there were only 120 in the Upper Room was because it was the maximum amount of Christians the Lord Jesus could possibly gather together in one place that would remain in spiritual unity.

Since that time, of course, Christianity in general has split into roughly a million pieces with segments fighting segments. It long ago became an idiotic display of morons insisting they must adhere to their simplistic revelations of the moment and immediately build fortresses on the spot willing to defend them to the death against all comers.

The worst thing that ever happened in this regard was what the spiritual fruitcake Constantine did early in the fourth century. Some think he legalized Christianity in the Roman Empire. He actually did nothing of the sort. What he did was create a new syncretic form of Christianity based extremely loosely on Scripture that gave major precedent to human control which bypassed completely the sole authority of the Lord Jesus. This is the religion he legalized. It was the one he fully controlled. All other forms of Christianity were declared illegal, including real Christianity! Constantine and his minions certainly achieved unity in his new enterprise, of course, but it was based strictly on forced submission and authoritarian religious control. All Christian denominations and many churches have adopted the exact format ever since.

It was the very opposite in the beginning. The only central authority was the Lord Jesus and no other. He ruled from on high. He was the only King of real Christianity and remains that way. Below Him every real member in His Community is exactly equal. There is no clergy class. There is no laity. There are none who wrest control over others and set up their own fiefdoms. Whoever the Lord places in the forefront must be the greatest servant of the group. Such servant leaders, as the apostle Peter, must be extremely humble and very careful not to take the spotlight from the Lord. This is why the vast majority of those we refer to as “Christian leaders” are mere pretenders. Some are much worse than others.

The only way to gain actual Christian unity is for each individual believer to first gain 100% unity with the Lord. This demands total repentance and total surrender. When two or three who have done this decide to be in unity with each other, the Lord is there and confirms the spiritual union. From this point on, the individual members of the group increase. It is exactly the same as cell division. It starts with one, one becomes two, two become four, etc. Thus, there are only two necessary components:

1. Initial spiritual union with the Lord

2. Lateral spiritual union with each other

Both are based on serving. This is exactly as the Lord taught. But the big boys hate the very idea. How can they rule over others under such a scenario? How can they transform Christianity into a method to gain riches and a good living doing such serving? How can they create their own little domains or immense worldwide religious kingdoms without a ruling hierarchy and top of the pyramid figurehead? Such commandments of the Lord are utter nonsense to them. They don’t serve the Lord and never have. These are the destroyers of Christian unity. They even destroy the possibility.

The Lord Jesus, however, remains the King of His one and only kingdom. It consists only of those who honor Him only, bow the knee to Him only, and invoke only His holy Name above every name and no other. This is exactly what the 120 did on the Day of Pentecost. They set the example for what all Christian meetings should be.

May we all submit to the King.

“The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me.” [John 17:22-23]   

Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity! [Psalm 133:1]

Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all. [Ephesians 4:1-6]  

So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father. [Colossians 3:12-17] [1]

© 2020 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.


[1] Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

EARLY CHURCH HISTORY 101 (Lesson 8)

They had been tarrying for ten days. The relative few who remained for the duration in faithful obedience to the Lord’s final instructions had been fasting, praying, and preparing themselves for the highly anticipated promise of the Father.

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INTRODUCTION   

LESSON 1   LESSON 2   LESSON 3   LESSON 4   LESSON 5   LESSON 6   LESSON 7

LESSON 8 

Acts 2:1

1 When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place.

It was early morning on the first day of the week, fifty days after the Resurrection of the Lord. A second Sabbath had passed. The 120 were gathered together in the large Upper Room, the home of Mary, mother of John Mark. No one knew what would happen. They did know it would be a big event, something that had never previously occurred. Throughout the long age of the Hebrew nation from the time of Abraham nineteen centuries before, God had been preparing His people. And now, millions of Israelites later, they were minutes away.

From the vantage point of the Upper Room, historically located on the city’s high southwestern hill, disciples looked down upon the old city of King David immediately eastward across the valley in the glint of sunrise. The former village of the Jebusites, first secured by Israel in 1003 BC, was ornamented gloriously with Jerusalem’s new temple glittering in the morning sun. There, amid the clatter and bustle of street life below, the temple priests attended to their quotidian duties as they had for centuries on end, ever since Solomon completed the first temple over a thousand years before. Unfortunately, due to egregious national sin and rebellion, his magnificent edifice was destroyed by invading Babylonians in 586 BC. After the Hebrew Captivity a second temple was constructed, being completed exactly seventy years later, fulfilling in part the following prophecy:

“For thus says the LORD, ‘When seventy years have been completed for Babylon, I will visit you and fulfill My good word to you, to bring you back to this place.’” [Jeremiah 29:10] [1]

By the time King Herod began his energetic building projects in Jerusalem fifty years before this historic Day of Pentecost, the substandard second temple, of no comparison to Solomon’s original wonder, was in serious architectural decay. It was five hundred years old and had not only suffered the onslaught of time but also the ravages of several foreign incursions. Herod actually had to rebuild it entirely. This made it the Third Temple. Religious law, however, and the insistence that temple service must be perceived as perpetual, refused to acknowledge this obvious distinction and rendered this third temple as a continuation of the second, a fact somewhat lost to history.

Meanwhile, back in the Upper Room, there was another form of construction in the works. What King Herod had done in the natural with ornamental dressed stones, the Lord Jesus was doing in the Spirit beyond the perception of the shallow minded and dull hearted. He was building another Temple—the Real One—which all relative Old Testament prophecy pointed toward and of which the other temples were mere three-dimensional types and shadows. The real Temple would be a spiritual house composed entirely of Living Stones.

The Chief Corner Stone, the one the builders rejected, was already set.

© 2020 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.


[1] Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

EARLY CHURCH HISTORY 101: Acts Chapter 1 Review

Dear Readers: Now that we have completed Acts Chapter 1, it is a good time to review. Please check to see if you have completed the Introduction and each Lesson. Blessings to all.

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INTRODUCTION : Announcing a new teaching series and discussing format. (March 29)

LESSON 1 : Acts 1:1-3 (March 30)

LESSON 2 : Acts 1:4-5 (April 1)

LESSON 3 : Acts 1:6-8 (April 3)

LESSON 4 : Acts 1:9-12 (April 4)

LESSON 5 : Acts 1:13-15 (April 6) 

LESSON 6 : Acts 1:16-20 (April 7)

LESSON 7 : Acts 1:21-26 (April 9)

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© 2020 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.

EARLY CHURCH HISTORY 101 (Lesson 7)

The lost apostleship of Judas Iscariot had to be restored. The eleven must again become the twelve. The lesson of Judas is that any believer can become a traitor.

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INTRODUCTION   LESSON 1   LESSON 2   LESSON 3   LESSON 4   LESSON 5   LESSON 6

LESSON 7

Acts 1:21-26

21 “Therefore it is necessary that of the men who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us— 22 beginning with the baptism of John until the day that He was taken up from us—one of these must become a witness with us of His resurrection.” 23 So they put forward two men, Joseph called Barsabbas (who was also called Justus), and Matthias. 24 And they prayed and said, “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all men, show which one of these two You have chosen 25 to occupy this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.” 26 And they drew lots for them, and the lot fell to Matthias; and he was added to the eleven apostles. [1]

Even though it was prophesied in the distant past there would be a man who betrayed the coming Messiah, it was never written in stone that Judas must take the course he did. It was a choice, the result of his own will. There were signs all along that there was something wrong with him that needed attention. And then he betrays the Lord with a kiss? How can any man so blessed be such a jackass?

Most of us would consider being one of the apostles as the highest possible honor. Imagine being with the Lord every day, being taught by Him, and being a witness of His majesty. This was the greatest Man who ever lived living an extraordinary life willing to pay the highest price for those He loved. Walking with Him, regardless of the challenges and persecution, would have been an absolute trip.

But Judas was a thief. He ripped off the Lord. He stole money dedicated to ministry. He griped about perceived excess or waste, even though he ended up wasting his own life. There is no excuse for such behavior, not then and not ever. He was a liar, a pretender, and a manipulator. It appears that other apostles didn’t like or trust him. The Lord called him a devil (diabolos), being defined as one prone to slander, vicious gossip, fraudulent accusations, and bearing false witness. Judas characterized an entire group of people. Was this why the Lord chose him? To reveal to His followers what they would face and to thus be prepared? All the apostles were tempted but Judas was the weak link. He refused to discipline himself properly. He never allowed the circumcision of his heart. He chose to oppose.

There had to be twelve. One must be chosen to replace him. It had to be a man who followed the Lord from beginning to end and witnessed His resurrection. The original twelve apostles represented in part the twelve tribes of Israel. Judas had much in common with the progenitor of the tribe of Dan, who was the likely ringleader in betraying Joseph and sending him off to Egyptian bondage. At some point in history this tribe disappeared. There is no record of Dan in the Book of Revelation tribe list. This lets us know what becomes of traitors.

Matthias (gift of God) was chosen as an honorable replacement to resurrect a dead apostleship and restore fullness to the twelve. The thief would be replaced with a giver. It was the highest of honors for one who must have been a thoroughly humble man.

Matthias was an apostolic example of the new birth.

© 2020 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.


[1] Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

THE HEBREW MONTH OF NISAN 2020: ATONEMENT AND RESURRECTION (Part 4)

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I originally began studying the Hebrew calendar with reference to Biblical events many years ago and have written several papers and studies concerning them. The following post begins the republishing of a series of posts I first made in 2012 and then again in 2014. I have done some major updating and also installed the correct dates for this year. Though the spring feasts have been fulfilled, it does not mean these dates do not have current significance. I encourage you to continue studying God’s calendar on your own, and see how this time of year might be applied to a new beginning in your own life.

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THE MONTH OF NISAN

Nisan 14 / April 8, 2020 (Began at sunset on April 7):

Four days after crossing the Jordan River, and exactly forty years after the first Passover in Egypt, the nation of Israel celebrated its first Passover in their new land:

While the sons of Israel camped at Gilgal they observed the Passover on the evening of the fourteenth day of the month on the desert plains of Jericho. [Joshua 5:10]

They had received this teaching from Moses:

“Your lamb shall be an unblemished male a year old; you may take it from the sheep or from the goats. You shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month, then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel is to kill it at twilight.” [Exodus 12:5-6]

Also on this date, the Lord Jesus became our Sacrifice Lamb:

So he then handed Him over to them to be crucified. They took Jesus, therefore, and He went out, bearing His own cross, to the place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha. There they crucified Him, and with Him two other men, one on either side, and Jesus in between. Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It was written, “JESUS THE NAZARENE, THE KING OF THE JEWS.” [John 19:16-19]

We know that the Lord Jesus died on the cross at some point after the ninth hour—about 3:30PM. [1] The time was according to the Hebrew manner of reckoning the hours in the day, which began at sunrise. On that particular day, there were actually about 12.5 hours between sunrise and sunset, and sunrise took place sometime between 6:00 and 6:30AM. However, the Gospel accounts do not say the Lord died at exactly the ninth hour, because other events took place after the ninth hour and before His death. It is safe to say He died somewhere between just after the ninth hour and with enough time remaining to bury His body before sunset.

Also, this particular Nisan 14 was a Thursday, not a Friday. It was the fifth day of the week. Five is the Biblical number of Grace. The Lord did not die on a Friday. He died on a Thursday.

On the equivalent of that Wednesday evening, the Lord and His disciples ate the Passover meal. He then suffered the trauma of Gethsemane. After being up all night, shuttled around to various false trials, and beaten severely, our Lord Jesus had been stripped of His clothes and nailed to the cross at the exact time of the Temple morning sacrifice, which was at the third hour of the day. This was somewhere between 9:00 and 9:30AM.

Over six hours of excruciating pain and suffering later, the Lord died. His body continued hanging on the cross until it was taken down at the request of Joseph of Arimathea, by the light of a full moon just then rising over the Mount of Olives. [2]

If the Last Supper was a Passover Seder, it possibly meant the sacrificial lambs were slaughtered a day before the Sacrifice Lamb. There remains ample conjecture concerning Passover dates because Jewish sects, such as the Essenes, honored different dates. Yet the Lord must have partaken of the Passover since it was commanded in the Torah, and it was during which He instituted the New Covenant by introducing His broken body and shed blood as a memorial.

Could it be that the Lord’s death was progressive? It certainly appears that the “death angel” passed over the Garden of Gethsemane the night the Lord made His final surrender. At some point that night the sins of the world were placed upon Him. This was a legitimate form of death. There was no protection for the Sacrifice Lamb. It would have cancelled out His purpose. Once sin was placed upon Him, the spotless Lamb became sin on our behalf. [3] He continued “dying” until the next late afternoon when He breathed His last, when full payment was made, and when all was finished.

The original Passover in Egypt took place in the middle of the night, when the death angel “Passed Over” each house while looking for the shed blood of lambs upon the door posts and lintels of the dwellings. Whichever family’s house did not display the blood of a perfect lamb suffered the loss of its firstborn son.

Those families whose houses displayed the blood were representative of having the blood of Jesus displayed on their hearts as a substitute sacrificial firstborn Son, who died in place of their actual firstborns, and thus suffered no loss.

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Nisan 15 / April 9, 2020 (Begins at sunset on April 8):

After crossing the Jordan, the nation of Israel ate the produce of the Promised Land for the very first time:

On the day after the Passover, on that very day, they ate some of the produce of the land, unleavened cakes and parched grain. [Joshua 5:11]

This was the first day of the seven-day Feast of Unleavened Bread, Pesach 1, a day of holy assembly, which concluded with Pesach 7, another high holy day on Nisan 21. [4] It was the day after the Lord was slain, the sixth day of the week, and equivalent to our Friday.

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Nisan 16 / April 10, 2020 (Begins at sunset on April 9):

It was on this day that the manna which God provided for forty years during the wilderness wanderings ceased. From that point forward, Israel would only eat the food of their new land.

The manna ceased on the day after they had eaten some of the produce of the land, so that the sons of Israel no longer had manna, but they ate some of the yield of the land of Canaan during that year. [Joshua 5:12]

This was a Sabbath day. Manna never fell on a Sabbath, but a double portion always fell on the day before—the sixth day of the week (Friday morning). Therefore, there was still manna left over from Friday to eat on this day, but it never fell again. In the week of the Lord’s passion and death, this day was also the seventh day weekly Sabbath, which always fell on a Saturday.

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Nisan 17 / April 11, 2020 (Begins at sunset on April 10):

The Captain of the Lord’s host appeared to Joshua:

Now it came about when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing opposite him with his sword drawn in his hand, and Joshua went to him and said to him, “Are you for us or for our adversaries?” He said, “No; rather I indeed come now as captain of the host of the LORD.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and bowed down, and said to him, “What has my lord to say to his servant?” The captain of the LORD’S host said to Joshua, “Remove your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so. [Joshua 5:13-15]

It was also on Nisan 17 that the events of the week culminated in the glorious resurrection of our Lord Jesus.

Scripture says that the Lord was resurrected on the first day of the week, which would have been equivalent to our Sunday. This means He was actually crucified, as stated previously, on Thursday, Nisan 14. That evening at sunset, after Joseph and the others had taken the Lord’s body off the cross, prepared His body for burial, and encased Him in the tomb, it become Nisan 15. This was not only the high holy day of Pesach 1, the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Friday), it was also the day before the weekly Sabbath (Saturday).

Then, after the weekly Sabbath was over and the night had passed, Sunday morning dawned. This was Nisan 17, or the day of First Fruits, which took place after the Passover Sabbath each year. [5] On the agricultural calendar, it was the beginning of the barley harvest, and our Lord Jesus was the First Fruits, the choicest portion. Imagine the scene, then, as all these days and prophetic events played out perfectly, and imagine the shock and delight of Mary Magdalene at the tomb that morning:

But Mary was standing outside the tomb weeping; and so, as she wept, she stooped and looked into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and one at the feet, where the body of Jesus had been lying. And they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.”

When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing Him to be the gardener, she said to Him, “Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have laid Him, and I will take Him away.”

Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to Him in Hebrew, “Rabboni!” [John 20:11-16]

He had been physically dead, just as He said He would be, for three days and three nights:

“For just as JONAH WAS THREE DAYS AND THREE NIGHTS IN THE BELLY OF THE SEA MONSTER, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” [Matthew 12:40]

But on that resurrection morning of Nisan 17, also in keeping with another prophecy, a new Temple was raised by the Lord Jesus Himself that will never be destroyed again:

“Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” [John 2:19] [6]

This is the hope that every real Christian has, to be a living stone, part of the Real Temple—the Body of Christ, that the Lord is currently building with Himself as the Chief Cornerstone, and that one day he or she will also be resurrected bodily just as the Lord was, to spend eternity with Him and one another forever!

© 2020 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.


[1] Matthew 27:45-50, Mark 15:33-37, Luke 23:44-46

[2] Mark 15:42-47

[3] 2 Corinthians 5:21

[4] Exodus 12:18

[5] Leviticus 23:11, 1 Corinthians 15:20-23

[6] Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

EARLY CHURCH HISTORY 101 (Lesson 6)

The 120 were gathered together in the Upper Room. The apostle Peter took his place as spokesman for the group. Keep in mind that this assembly was the entire Early Church, from the Greek Ekklesia, which is defined as “the community of the called-out ones.”

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INTRODUCTION   LESSON 1   LESSON 2   LESSON 3   LESSON 4   LESSON 5

LESSON 6

ACTS 1:16-20

16 “Brethren, the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit foretold by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus. 17 For he was counted among us and received his share in this ministry.” 18 (Now this man acquired a field with the price of his wickedness, and falling headlong, he burst open in the middle and all his intestines gushed out. 19 And it became known to all who were living in Jerusalem; so that in their own language that field was called Hakeldama, that is, Field of Blood.) 20 “For it is written in the book of Psalms, ‘LET HIS HOMESTEAD BE MADE DESOLATE, AND LET NO ONE DWELL IN IT’; and, ‘LET ANOTHER MAN TAKE HIS OFFICE.’

This was Luke’s first recorded post-Ascension message of the followers of the Lord Jesus. They had a safe place at Mary’s house. Though the Lord was no longer physically present in the environs of Jerusalem, His small group of disciples was still considered a dangerous heretical faction. From the limited perspective of the Jewish religious leaders, however, with the Lord finally out of the way, there remained a consensual relief not presently threatened by the existence of His small band. But this would soon change.

Regarding the traitor, the greatest villain known to history, he did have second thoughts. He was assisted in his dastardly deed, however, by the devil himself, along with the murderous and conniving chief priests, which assisted in pushing him over the edge.

And Satan entered into Judas who was called Iscariot, belonging to the number of the twelve. [Luke 22:3]   

One wonders at the arguments Satan may have made that at last convinced Judas to act. It was more than the man’s love of money. In essence, though, he was simply deceived. His bad spirit, bad attitude, constant grumbling and complaining, and refusal to adhere to real discipleship, caused the man’s unregenerate flesh, his sinful human nature, to remain forever on display. This condition is common to all, and without self-imposed restrictions, wreaks havoc. It is why all real Christians must at the onset deal strongly with this spiritual enemy and defeat it if they hope to have any chance at serving the Lord.

When Judas saw the Lord condemned, and that he had been deceived by the priests and elders, he felt great remorse. He tried to return the money but they wouldn’t take it.

“I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” But they said, “What is that to us? See to that yourself!” And he threw the pieces of silver into the temple sanctuary and departed; and he went away and hanged himself. [Matthew 27:4-5][1]

According to tradition, the Field of Blood was located just beyond the southern edge of the old city of David on the other side of the Hinnom Valley.

This had otherwise been known as Gehenna, the allegorical destination of the wicked.

© 2020 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.


[1] Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

EARLY CHURCH HISTORY 101 (Lesson 5)

After watching the Lord rise up before them enveloped by a cloud, the disciples removed from Mount Olivet and returned to Jerusalem per the Lord’s command. It was time to await the promise.

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INTRODUCTION   LESSON 1   LESSON 2   LESSON 3   LESSON 4

LESSON 5

ACTS 1:13-15

13 When they had entered the city, they went up to the upper room where they were staying; that is, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas the son of James. 14 These all with one mind were continually devoting themselves to prayer, along with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers. 15 At this time Peter stood up in the midst of the brethren (a gathering of about one hundred and twenty persons was there together), and said…  

This Upper Room was most likely in the house belonging to Mary, the mother of John Mark, as mentioned in the twelfth chapter of Acts after Peter’s miraculous release from certain execution:

…he went to the house of Mary, the mother of John who was also called Mark, where many were gathered together and were praying. [Acts 12:12] [1]

It was a very large room which, of course, implies a large house. This denotes Mary, a probable widow, as a woman of means. Mark was a cousin of Barnabas, the apostle Paul’s traveling partner, which made Mary his aunt. One can deduce that the respective fathers of Barnabas and Mark were brothers who were wealthy enough to (1) Own a large high end property in Jerusalem with servants, and (2) Send Barnabas, a man of letters with probable training under a rabbi to school. Barnabas was also the most likely writer of the Book of Hebrews.

The Last Supper was held in this same Upper Room, which made the private home a regular place of meeting for the Early Church. In fact, the entire Early Church at that time could take up residence within it. All eleven apostles were there along with possible family members. The Lord’s brothers were there, maybe all four, as was, of course, His mother Mary. Many other women were there, which must have included Mary Magdalene. With all of these together, it came to about 120 people, on the one hand a large group for a house church, but on the other relatively quite small.

After preaching to perhaps hundreds of thousands over a three and a half year period, having a large band of following disciples, and appearing to as many as five hundred after His resurrection, the Lord Jesus only gathered 120 dedicated praying disciples in the Upper Room awaiting the Day of Pentecost.

This should enlighten us to His selection process.

© 2020 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.


[1] Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

THE HEBREW MONTH OF NISAN 2020: THE TIME OF OUR VISITATION (Part 3)

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I originally began studying the Hebrew calendar with reference to Biblical events many years ago and have written several papers and studies concerning them. The following post begins the republishing of a series of posts I first made in 2012 and then again in 2014. I have done some major updating and also installed the correct dates for this year. Though the spring feasts have been fulfilled, it does not mean these dates do not have current significance. I encourage you to continue studying God’s calendar on your own, and see how this time of year might be applied to a new beginning in your own life.

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THE SIGNS OF THE TIMES

The Pharisees and Sadducees came up, and testing Jesus, they asked Him to show them a sign from heaven. But He replied to them, “When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’ And in the morning, ‘There will be a storm today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ Do you know how to discern the appearance of the sky, but cannot discern the signs of the times? An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign; and a sign will not be given it, except the sign of Jonah.” And He left them and went away. [Matthew 16:1-4]

The Majority never noticed anything. Messianic hope was alive and thriving but most were looking in the wrong place. The people had been deceived by a bunch of silly interpretations of Biblical prophecy over the previous half century—interpretations with an agenda that had next to nothing to do with actual prophecy—that which was delivered by God’s actual prophets.

Much of the false prophecies of that time had more to do with making money and grabbing authority. It is no different now. The prophecy preachers took over starting in the 1960s and the vast majority of believers believed just about everything they preached and taught, considering the main themes they all had in common. Money started flowing in, especially after they started writing books and going on television. It was a money-making boon, something no one had ever seen before, and many jumped on the bandwagon. The new-found wealth and authority energized these prophecy preachers all the more.

The inevitable range wars began breaking out as many different teachers taught many different things. They had to fight for the market share they gained and it became a joke when they became much more interested in their point of view instead of the truth. They had to keep up the charade, because to change their interpretations of prophecy meant the money flow might stop. They continued to prop up their stuff regardless of new truth based on solid research and much more valid perspectives that most people, as usual, ignored. They ignored it because it didn’t come from what they viewed as an authoritative source, and most Christians then, like most Christians now, are led around by the nose by those they surrendered their authority to, and thus rejected the truth.

These willingly deceived Christians were told to believe what they were taught and to never question anything, as that would be heresy. But according to the Lord, the real heresy is refusing to take on the mantle of a real disciple:

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. [2Timothy 2:15 KJV]

Real Christians must FOLLOW THE LORD, not the present equivalent of the first century false prophets and fakers. They must do this in order to stay in obedience to Him and stay above deception. Otherwise, “God’s people” become nothing more than useless willing dupes with absolutely no critical thinking skills, no desire to research it all out on their own, and no willingness to rock the boat for the sake of truth.

Again, the exact same thing happened in the early first century and it was why the majority rejected the Lord. It was also why what remained of the Jewish national state was destroyed forever forty years later.

And in our time, as at that time, a point in history arrived when it was too late. Just like in the first century, most Christians of today believe in a very particular sequence of events they firmly believe is actual prophecy, and have no clue they are deceived and deluded. “Official Christianity” in America, that is, the prime movers and shakers that control most Christian wealth, authority, and media (especially television), have adopted what they believe is an orthodox viewpoint of upcoming prophetic events yet are missing it entirely. Because they have supported a false view of Biblical prophetic events, they have brainwashed most believers into believing a false view of Biblical prophetic events.

Real prophecy is certainly coming forth, however, though most Christians are blind to it. The Lord repeatedly warned us of very strong deception. It would be good at this particular point in history to review our beliefs. Perhaps the powerful verses in this post will help us see that which is really happening in “Official Christianity,” and why most within it remain unaware of what is otherwise in plain sight.

Please consider The Signs of the Times.

THE MONTH OF NISAN

Nisan 10 / April 4, 2020 (Began at sunset on April 3):       

When He had entered Jerusalem, all the city was stirred, saying, “Who is this?” And the crowds were saying, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth in Galilee.” And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all those who were buying and selling in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves. And He said to them, “It is written, ‘MY HOUSE SHALL BE CALLED A HOUSE OF PRAYER;’ but you are making it a ROBBERS’ DEN.” [Matthew 21:10-13]

Then they came to Jerusalem. And He entered the temple and began to drive out those who were buying and selling in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves; and He would not permit anyone to carry merchandise through the temple. And He began to teach and say to them, “Is it not written, ‘MY HOUSE SHALL BE CALLED A HOUSE OF PRAYER FOR ALL THE NATIONS?’ But you have made it a ROBBERS’ DEN.” The chief priests and the scribes heard this, and began seeking how to destroy Him; for they were afraid of Him, for the whole crowd was astonished at His teaching. [Mark 11:15-18]

And the blind and the lame came to Him in the temple, and He healed them. But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that He had done, and the children who were shouting in the temple, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they became indignant and said to Him, “Do You hear what these children are saying?” And Jesus said to them, “Yes; have you never read, ‘OUT OF THE MOUTH OF INFANTS AND NURSING BABIES YOU HAVE PREPARED PRAISE FOR YOURSELF?’” [Matthew 21:14-16]

When He approached Jerusalem, He saw the city and wept over it, saying, “If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace! But now they have been hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you when your enemies will throw up a barricade against you, and surround you and hem you in on every side, and they will level you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave in you one stone upon another,

Because you did not recognize the time of your visitation.”

Jesus entered the temple and began to drive out those who were selling, saying to them, “It is written, ‘AND MY HOUSE SHALL BE A HOUSE OF PRAYER,’ but you have made it a ROBBERS’ DEN.” And He was teaching daily in the temple; but the chief priests and the scribes and the leading men among the people were trying to destroy Him, and they could not find anything that they might do, for all the people were hanging on to every word He said. [Luke 19:41-48] [1]

© 2020 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.


[1] Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

EARLY CHURCH HISTORY 101 (Lesson 4)

The Bible records many miraculous historical events. One of the most miraculous, or downright mind-bending if you were there, was the Ascension of the Lord. Some say it defies belief. Believers say He defied gravity.

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INTRODUCTION   LESSON 1   LESSON 2   LESSON 3

LESSON 4

ACTS 1:9-12

9 And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. 10 And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was going, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them. 11 They also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.” 12 Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey away. [1]

Luke reports the event in an understated matter-of-fact manner. The likelihood is strong that he wasn’t there so he must have received the information from those who were. Since he wrote The Acts of the Apostles about thirty years after the Ascension, it is most probable that many of the firsthand witnesses had already passed on. Nevertheless, I don’t believe Luke would have relied on secondhand information, no matter how credible. Who might have provided their testimony? There was a large group there, not only the eleven apostles. Some of them probably later traveled into the far reaches of the Greco-Roman world. The apostle Paul, whom Luke spent much time with, would certainly have known many who were there that day.

Regarding the Lord’s departure, it must have been hard on everybody. Maybe the thoroughly unique and otherworldly method He chose took some of the edge off. He knew He would still be with them, though in spiritual form. But His disciples likely felt that an unseen floor had dropped away. They spent almost every day of the last few years with Him. He taught them everything they knew. They would miss Him terribly. We have all had such heartfelt goodbye moments, sometimes involving those we would never see again.

As they stood there on the Mount of Olives between Bethany and Jerusalem peering up into the sky at the Lord’s strange private rapture, the disciples were enthralled with an event never possibly experienced before, lost in their goodbyes, and momentarily overcome with loss. How would they manage without Him?

Then the two angels suddenly showed up with more of the matter-of-fact narrative as if the Ascension were a mere ho hum event. “Why are you guys still standing there looking into the sky?” With that statement they announced yet another event, one stranger than the first.

He’s coming back.

© 2020 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.


[1] Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

EARLY CHURCH HISTORY 101 (Lesson 3)

In the first century AD, the Israelites continued to be obsessed with the restoration of their kingdom. Other than brief independence under the Hasmonean Dynasty (c142-37 BC), they had been ruled by foreign powers since the Babylonian Captivity six centuries before.

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INTRODUCTION   LESSON 1   LESSON 2

LESSON 3

ACTS 1:6-8

6 So when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, “Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; 8 but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” 

The Lord continued attempting to patiently explain to his disciples that His was a spiritual kingdom. In His Olivet Prophecy, as recorded in Matthew 24 and 25, Mark 13, and Luke 21, He warned them that great tribulation was coming and what was left of the nation of Israel would cease to exist within a generation.

Then He shifted His answer to the immediate future when they would be endowed with a power giving them greater ability to understand. He told them they would become dynamic witnesses of the Gospel message. The Greek word is dunamis and is defined as “strength, ability, inherent power residing in a thing by virtue of its nature, or which a person or thing exerts and puts forth.” This would be an entirely different ballgame. The powerful OT prophets and John the Baptist had the spiritual power of God upon them, but they were not indwelt by the Spirit of the Lord. In fact, the Lord said:

11 “Truly I say to you, among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist! Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” [Matthew 11:11]

How is this possible? John was obviously a great and fearless preacher, the forerunner of the Lord. He had what would otherwise be an impossible objective—to prepare the collective heart of the nation for a soon arriving future. For many, if not most, it would be a future of growing tribulation and destruction. The independence and freedom sought by the Jews would continually diminish just as John had prophesied:

7 So he began saying to the crowds who were going out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 “Therefore bear fruits in keeping with repentance, and do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham for our father,’ for I say to you that from these stones God is able to raise up children to Abraham. 9 “Indeed the axe is already laid at the root of the trees; so every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” [Luke 3:7-9] [1]

smaller percentage of the people did repent, though not enough to save the nation, and it was the Community of this repentant Remnant composed entirely of Israelites that the Lord initially gathered as a spiritual people for a spiritual kingdom. For this, they would have to be like Him and receive His power. They must each be filled with the Holy Spirit.

© 2020 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.


[1] Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

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THE HEBREW MONTH OF NISAN 2020: CROSSING THE JORDAN (Part 2)   

4/3/2020: According to the official Hebrew calendar, Nisan 10 begins tonight at sunset, meaning the anniversary of the Jordan River Crossing is tomorrow, April 4. In reality, however, according to the lunar cycle, it is today. See the above link for historical content.

THE HEBREW MONTH OF NISAN 2020: CROSSING THE JORDAN (Part 2)

BlogPic4220

 

I originally began studying the Hebrew calendar with reference to Biblical events many years ago and have written several papers and studies concerning them. The following post begins the republishing of a series of posts I first made in 2012 and then again in 2014. I have done some major updating and also installed the correct dates for this year. Though the spring feasts have been fulfilled, it does not mean these dates do not have current significance. I encourage you to continue studying God’s calendar on your own, and see how this time of year might be applied to a new beginning in your own life.

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THE MONTH OF NISAN

Nisan 10 / April 4, 2020 Saturday (Begins at sunset on April 3):

Three days had passed since Joshua sent out the two spies. The long-awaited crossing of the Jordan River by the entire nation of Israel into the Promised Land was about to take place. This was a monumental event for the Hebrew people. Forty years after leaving Egypt, they were almost home.

At the end of three days the officers went through the midst of the camp; and they commanded the people, saying, “When you see the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God with the Levitical priests carrying it, then you shall set out from your place and go after it.” [Joshua 3:2-3]

So when the people set out from their tents to cross the Jordan with the priests carrying the ark of the covenant before the people, and when those who carried the ark came into the Jordan, and the feet of the priests carrying the ark were dipped in the edge of the water (for the Jordan overflows all its banks all the days of harvest), the waters which were flowing down from above stood and rose up in one heap, a great distance away at Adam, the city that is beside Zarethan; and those which were flowing down toward the sea of the Arabah, the Salt Sea, were completely cut off.

So the people crossed opposite Jericho. And the priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the LORD stood firm on dry ground in the middle of the Jordan while all Israel crossed on dry ground, until all the nation had finished crossing the Jordan. [Joshua 3:14-17]

Now the people came up from the Jordan on the tenth of the first month and camped at Gilgal on the eastern edge of Jericho. [Joshua 4:19]

The spiritual equivalent of crossing the Jordan River is profound. It compares to a time when training and preparation has ended and a full grasping of what one has trained for begins. Joshua and Caleb were effectively sentenced by the unbelief of the prior generation to forty years in a place they did not really belong. These two stalwart warriors had been ready to take the land forty years before. Imagine how ready they were at this time. They were bursting with desire to take the Promised Land.

Here’s our lesson: When one is given a promise by God one must then prepare for the arrival of that promise. We think it will happen right away, right after receiving the revelation of the promise. But the actual achievement of the promise is often years into the future. It is like a seed that must be activated and generated into a fruit-bearing plant.

The specific promise God has made to each of us is activated by ongoing prayers of faith.

Praying in faith—believing the promise will happen and praying for it to happen—is how it does happen.

One must put in the required effort to show oneself worthy. One must effectively pray it in, call it forth, and walk it out. One must allow for and actively participate in the Lord’s preparation and training for an event that would otherwise be impossible. Our part is to believe and pray consistently so the Lord can continue the preparation.

It is like the development of a baby in the womb. There is a particular gestation period, but the birth of the promise will never happen without one’s spiritual effort. Ceasing to believe and pray ceases the development. Continuing to believe and putting one’s faith into action through consistent faithful prayer, regardless of circumstances or apparent lack of fruit or progress, is what keeps the promise on track.

Though Joshua and Caleb understood this, the prior generation did not and would not. The prior generation was a collection of faithless, complaining gripers always looking back to Egypt (the world) instead of forward to the Promised Land (the kingdom). God would have to use Moses and these two men, Joshua and Caleb, to train and prepare the next generation in belief, so that belief would be established with the nation of Israel, and so that Israel would be victorious when the time of the promise came to pass.

This is why crossing the Jordan is so important.

To attain the promise, one must cross over from the old into the new. But this is not possible without a Sinai “crucifying the flesh / establishment of belief” experience. There are no short cuts.

The next event on the calendar is indicative of covenant. All the men of the second generation, the generation of belief, had never undergone circumcision while wandering in the Sinai. The entire previous generation that left Egypt had died off, except for the faithful and valiant Joshua and Caleb.

After crossing the Jordan, the men of Israel were circumcised on the first day in the Promised Land. This indicates our own circumcision of heart as we enter God’s kingdom.

Their children whom He raised up in their place, Joshua circumcised; for they were uncircumcised, because they had not circumcised them along the way. Now when they had finished circumcising all the nation, they remained in their places in the camp until they were healed. [Joshua 5:7-8]

Also on this date, the Passover lambs were chosen in preparation for the Passover. The following is the account of the first Passover preparations in Egypt forty years before the Jordan crossing, just prior to the Exodus:

Now the LORD said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, “This month shall be the beginning of months for you; it is to be the first month of the year to you. Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying, ‘On the tenth of this month they are each one to take a lamb for themselves, according to their fathers’ households, a lamb for each household.’” [Exodus 12:1-3]

The Israelites were commanded to keep and prepare each individual lamb for the next four days.

It was also on this exact date, Nisan 10, that Messiah Jesus made His triumphal entry into the city of Jerusalem. He was the perfect Lamb chosen by God and made officially public on the exact prophetic date. Though the people celebrated Him as the King Messiah, it was actually the unveiling of the suffering Servant Messiah, the Lamb of God, four days prior to His atoning death.

They brought the colt to Jesus and put their coats on it; and He sat on it. And many spread their coats in the road, and others spread leafy branches which they had cut from the fields. Those who went in front and those who followed were shouting: “Hosanna! BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD; Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David; Hosanna in the highest!” Jesus entered Jerusalem and came into the temple… [Mark 11:7-11] [1]

Beginning this Saturday with the Jordan River Crossing, consider what the Lord may be doing in your life relative to these events over the following four days until Nisan 14 (April 8). There are many important anniversary dates coming up over the next week, but for now, it is almost time to enter the Promised Land.

© 2020 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.


[1] Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

EARLY CHURCH HISTORY 101 (Lesson 2)

The Gospel of Luke is the only one which sets the scene regarding the Lord’s last morning before ascending to heaven. He adds more detail in the opening of Acts. We now continue with the narrative:

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INTRODUCTION   LESSON 1  

LESSON 2

ACTS 1:4-5

4 Gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, “Which,” He said, “you heard of from Me; 5 for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

Many Christians are familiar with the incident in which the Lord appeared to two men on a road west of Jerusalem on the day of His resurrection. That afternoon they were heading to the small village of Emmaus, about seven miles away, when the Lord Jesus approached and began walking with them. Luke is the sole gospel writer to record the full story, though it is also briefly mentioned in Mark 16:12. After an eventful evening the two men quickly returned to Jerusalem and met with the apostles and the others, excitedly telling them what happened. While there the Lord again appeared to all of them and began His final instructions. It was then that we have the only occurrence in the gospels of “the promise” as mentioned above: 

49 “And behold, I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.” [Luke 24:49]

In both books Luke records the Lord’s commandment that His disciples remain in Jerusalem to await the big event. It will happen in a matter of days. Before they can be His witnesses they must receive His power and anointing. He called it an immersion in the Holy Spirit (from the Greek baptizo, meaning “to submerge or overwhelm”). Though the specific terminology “promise/Father” is recorded nowhere else but these two verses to this point, there are several other gospel references. The first time Luke mentions it is in the following when he also pairs the two baptisms:

15 Now while the people were in a state of expectation and all were wondering in their hearts about John, as to whether he was the Christ, 16 John answered and said to them all, “As for me, I baptize you with water; but One is coming who is mightier than I, and I am not fit to untie the thong of His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” [Luke 3:15-16]   

One of the most profound events referencing the baptism in the Holy Spirit is recorded in the Gospel of John. It is in Jerusalem at the temple on the final day of the feast of Sukkot in the fall of the year. From it we can gain a greater understanding of the significance and timing of the baptism:

37 Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. 38 He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’” 39 But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. [John 7:37-39][1]

© 2020 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.


[1] Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

THE CONTROL TEST: PROVING THE MAJORITY COMPLIANT

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None of this would be happening without a predetermined confirmation that the controlled have reached a majority and will readily comply with every directive from upper management.

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HIDDEN THREATS EVERYWHERE ON A DAILY BASIS

When a person ventures into public areas everything he touches has already been touched by many other people. At the grocery store, for example, every item on every shelf has been handled by any number of people by the time it got there. Were any of them sick? How about the last guy to touch the item, the store employee that stocks the shelves, was he sick? One grabs a grocery cart that had been handled by an endless succession of people including the employees who went out and rounded them up from the parking lot. Every item in the produce section was handled by probably even more people on its way there and many of those items have no protective containers. How about the floors? What did people track in? What unseen entity did one step on or in during the day and then track into the house?

At the checkout line one unloads one’s groceries onto a conveyor belt that everybody else has used. Might any of them have been infected with something? If using cash to pay one may wonder how many thousands of people touched that cash on its way in and out of one’s wallet. If paying with a card, one uses a machine that has been touched by thousands who likely left unseen residual reminders of their presence which now transfers to your hands and your card, the latter of which goes back into your wallet infected with whatever. When one breathes, everything in the air around a person goes into one’s nose and mouth, travels to one’s lungs, and possibly enters one’s bloodstream. Not everything breathed in necessarily goes back out when exhaling.

Drinking unfiltered tap water likely does more to promote illness than breathing in possible pathogens. Tap water is loaded with chlorine, ammonia and many other unsafe chemicals. It is basically swimming pool water. Those with knowledge of built-in pools know what happens if one fails to keep the chemical levels correct. The water will turn green due to the presence of all the little unseen life forms that also like to swim and hang out there. They must be killed. Chlorine and other chemicals work very well. The same thing must obviously be done in municipal water systems which have infinitely more extremely serious contaminants than swimming pools. If one tests the water in either, one will get about the same result. Tap water, of course, is said to be safe because the chemicals in it are diluted to the point that they have no detrimental effect on one’s health. Right.

Over the last few weeks, there are suddenly many people who now comply, though not before, with the directives handed down from on high, such as hand-washing, using sanitizers, wearing face masks, donning gloves, trying not to touch their face while out in public, and attempting to keep the suggested proper distance from other people. They are responding very well to control directives. It is obviously good advice, but most never engaged in any of these protective efforts before. Every year hundreds of thousands die from the flu but this is never reported, meaning most people go about blissfully unaware of the danger or are simply too apathetic to act. Perhaps that’s why hundreds of thousands die from the flu.

But some people are already aware of the manifold threats to health out there. They have known most of their lives the great value in washing their hands and using sanitizers. They do their best to steer clear of unhealthy people and avoid those who are infectious. They never drink tap water but only the best purified water available. They have learned the value of organic Vitamin C. Those are the first two items in one’s pro-health anti-getting-sick starter kit. In addition to those one knows to take an excellent organic multiple vitamin, most of which one will never find in the usual haunts. Such vitamins provide a wealth of nutrients for the body starved by the lack of proper nutrients in most food available today. From there one can add additional supplemental vitamins as necessary. Vitamin D, for example, is excellent (among many other things) at defeating viruses. The Creator has blessed us with a wealth of proper foods to keep us healthy and strong.

THE KEY IS HAVING A STRONG IMMUNE SYSTEM

The issue before us then, is not simply obeying control directives from on high during times of crisis that come and go, but being disciplined enough to take care of one’s health on a daily basis regardless of whatever else is happening or where one might reside. Many people have been preaching this for decades. The Creator has already blessed us with immune systems that fight off those evil little entities that cause sickness and disease.

THEREFORE, WHAT ONE MUST CONCENTRATE ON IS TAKING CARE OF ONE’S IMMUNE SYSTEM AND PROVIDING IT WITH EVERYTHING IT NEEDS TO BE AS HEALTHY AND AS STRONG AS POSSIBLE.

This is the real test. It is not principally about being fearful of exterior threats using exterior means but insuring interior protection. It is about being healthy enough to withstand the enemies of our health from the inside out. Those who educate and discipline themselves in this regard have the best chance at staying healthy and avoiding illness.

It is obvious, however, that only a relatively few people do this. Judging by the way many people look and function nowadays it is readily apparent they refuse to address the real problem. Weakness of will, lack of discipline, absence of critical thinking, and wholesale acceptance of authoritarian directives often prove weakness of health, lack of proper information and truth, and gross personal irresponsibility. By throwing caution to the wind and placing all of one’s faith in the medical industrial complex—excellent for many treatments but also a massive earnings-engineered economy in itself in which the profit-incentivized leaders thereof are treated as gods—it is no wonder that the time was ripe for scaring everyone to the point of mass hysterical panic and unadulterated obedience toward their worshipful masters.

Such people continually pass the control test. Rather than doing their own research, being extremely careful about whatever they ingest, and doing their due diligence to steer clear of the causes of illness, one of which is fear, they simply decide to bow down and obey a few effortless orders until the all clear sign is given and then quickly return to their unhealthy lifestyles.               

Their behavior proves the existence of a compliant majority under authoritative control.

© 2020 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.   

EARLY CHURCH HISTORY 101 (Lesson 1)

After writing his gospel, “about all the things Jesus began to do and teach,” Luke begins Acts by recalling the morning of the Ascension when the Lord gave final instructions to His chosen apostles.

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INTRODUCTION

LESSON 1

ACTS 1:1-3

1 The first account I composed, Theophilus, about all that Jesus began to do and teach, 2 until the day when He was taken up to heaven, after He had by the Holy Spirit given orders to the apostles whom He had chosen. [Acts 1:1-2]

Luke refers here to the Gospel which bears His name as the first of a two volume work. Though many accounts of the Lord’s life and teachings had previously existed in various forms and lengths from which to draw, Luke set out to write the definitive gospel. He would attempt to write the story sequentially, “in consecutive order,” fill in any gaps, and put the previous accounts into a workable whole. All agree that he did a masterful job. He would do the same with The Acts of the Apostles, though would also act as his own historical eyewitness on many occasions, which was not the case previously.

The “beloved physician” was a man of culture. As he did in the introduction to his gospel, he refers to an eminent associate named Theophilus, who likely lent his assistance and donated funding for the project. This man, whom Luke refers to in his gospel as the equivalent of “your excellency,” was probably a Gentile believer who held a relatively high office. Acts begins as if a letter to a friend recounting the life of the Lord Jesus until His Ascension into heaven. Luke uses the final instructions of the Lord to His close disciples as a starting point for his second volume, which draws in the reader and sets the tone for an energizing new phase of ministry in which all believers would participate in taking the Gospel to the entire world.

3 To these He also presented Himself alive after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God. [Acts 1:3] [1]

Luke reiterates the vast body of eyewitnesses who experienced the Lord’s living presence for almost six weeks after His resurrection. The apostle Paul said they were at least five hundred in number. These many accounts give conclusive proof of His resurrection as do manifold thousands of Jews embracing Him as Savior and Messiah. He was not a ghost but fully human and able to perfectly relate and communicate as He had before. God became manifest in flesh and remains so today.

© 2020 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.


[1] Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

EARLY CHURCH HISTORY 101 (Introduction)

 

Today begins a new teaching series entitled Early Church History 101. Each post will be based on passages from our only text book, The Acts of the Apostles. Your interaction and dialogue are encouraged.

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INTRODUCTION

Because this is an introductory course, I hope to post on as near a regular schedule as possible and keep the lessons fairly brief, hopefully interesting, and possibly compelling. I suggest engaging in your own research as you see the need.

Our goal is to become better acquainted with the beliefs, practices, and accomplishments of the Lord’s original Community. It served as a prototype and foundation of the Church Age which began at Pentecost in AD 32 and continues to the present. During this almost two thousand year period, the Lord Jesus never taught any subsequent transition or alteration which would negate or change the beliefs and practices of our early forebears. We in the present must therefore respect and seek to emulate their holy and courageous example as they worked in close cooperation with the Lord through the power of the Holy Spirit. The Early Church was sent into an often hostile world with the life-giving Good News in the opening salvos of a spiritual war destined to cover the planet. Their accomplishments were nothing short of miraculous.

The author of The Acts of the Apostles is Luke—Early Church historian, gifted writer, the beloved physician, oft traveling companion of the apostle Paul, and also author of his masterful “first account,” the Gospel of Luke. It is possible that Luke did not originally affix a title to Acts but the title we have is likely correct. However, based on the author’s chosen vocabulary and grammar, he clearly indicates that this historical record is a continuation of the ministry of the Lord, which means it could have been titled The Acts of Jesus. Some have suggested The Acts of the Holy Spirit.

Inserting Apostles in the title, however, serves primarily to indicate the Lord working through His original twelve (minus Judas Iscariot), but certainly was not limited to them. In fact, it was the entire Community through whom He worked, which includes each and every believer, though the apostles were the most spiritually mature at the time. Because they were His initial chosen ones who followed Him throughout His ministry and witnessed the Resurrection, they were the men primarily utilized in the early years. This was especially the case with the apostle Peter, whom the Lord powerfully anointed on that first Day of Pentecost in ancient Jerusalem to set the many authoritative precedents of the Early Church which continue until today.

© 2020 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.

THE HEBREW MONTH OF NISAN 2020 (Part 1)

 

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I originally began studying the Hebrew calendar with reference to Biblical events many years ago and have written several papers and studies concerning them. The following post begins the republishing of a series of posts I first made in 2012 and then again in 2014. I have done some major updating and also installed the correct dates for this year. Though the spring feasts have been fulfilled, it does not mean these dates do not have current significance. I encourage you to continue studying God’s calendar on your own, and see how this time of year might be applied to a new beginning in your own life.

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THE MONTH OF NISAN

According to the ancient lunar-solar Hebrew calendar of modern Rabbinic Judaism, Yesterday, March 26 was the first day of the month of Nisan. Historically, this is a very important month and, coinciding with the season of spring, denotes a new beginning.

Nisan is the first month of the festival, or ecclesiastical year.

It is most often the seventh month of the civil year.

In an intercalary year, when there are thirteen months instead of twelve, it is the eighth month.

The name Nisan is Babylonian, and was named during the 70 year captivity in Babylon in the sixth century BC. In the Old Testament, in the Torah, this month was originally known as Abib (or Aviv) in most Bible versions. The word Abib means, “fresh, young barley ears,” and refers to the time of the year when the barley first becomes ripe.

Each Hebrew month begins and ends with the new moon. But because the official rabbinic calendar is predetermined, technical problems arise. The calendar is not dynamic but fixed to allow for the setting of dates decades or even centuries in advance.

For example, the actual new moon which began the current lunar month took place in the USA this past Tuesday morning, March 24, at 4:28 Central Daylight Time.

However, the official Hebrew calendar did not start the new month of Nisan until Wednesday, March 25 at sunset. This is in part because Hebrew days always begin at evening, in keeping with the account in Genesis 1:5: “And there was evening and there was morning, one day.” This is also due to the static nature of the Hebrew calendar, in that the month should have actually began a day earlier.

So, technically, Nisan 1 began in the USA on Tuesday, March 24 at sunset. You’ll have to check your own lunar cycle wherever you may live in the world to discover when Nisan 1 began in your area.

The following list of dates includes the happenings of this time of year in relation to the days of the ancient calendar of the Hebrews. Since God’s original calendar remains in effect, these days are very important. Each feast day carries prophetic overtones. The spring feasts were all fulfilled two-thousand years ago when Messiah Jesus arrived as our Sacrifice Lamb and Redeemer.

To eliminate confusion, the listed dates are according to the official rabbinic calendar.

Regarding the month of Nisan:

Now the LORD said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, “This month shall be the beginning of months for you; it is to be the first month of the year to you.” [Exodus 12:1-2]

There are several significant events in Biblical history that took place on Nisan 1, the above passage of Scripture being one of them. God still pays close attention to His calendar and His timing for personal events in our lives often involves calendar dates. Many of us are feeling a new spiritual beginning of some sort at this time. What follows is a sampling of important dates to orient us to the beginning of this new season.

Nisan 1 / March 26, 2020 Thursday (Began at sunset on March 25):

It was on this date that the Mishkan was set up for the first time:

Now in the first month of the second year, on the first day of the month, the tabernacle was erected. [Exodus 40:17]

The nation of Israel had left Egypt after the first Passover almost one full year before this event. The people had been in the Sinai since the Exodus from Egypt, and because of their lack of faith, they denied themselves entry into the Promised Land many months before and were destined to wander in the desert a full forty years. In that time the design was revealed, and the elements needed for the tabernacle were built, including the Ark of the Covenant. It was on this date that the tabernacle in the wilderness was set up for the first time in its history.

This is indicative of a new spiritual start and a new beginning. It is indicative of the beginning of a new ministry. Since the Great Awakening in America is on course, though in the early stages, the beginning of a new chapter is undoubtedly taking place now. We are in transition to a greater fulfilling of this process, and individual believers are sensing this in their own lives and walking it out. Many are feeling a strong tug on their hearts to get closer to the Lord, whatever that may involve.

The next section is dedicated to two different eras: (1) The nation of Israel entering into the Promised Land for the first time thirty-nine years after the Mishkan was erected in the Sinai, and (2) The events of Passion Week almost fifteen hundred years later.

The Mishkan had repeatedly been set up for ministry and taken down in various locations as the nation of Israel traveled about the Sinai. At the end of their wanderings, Israel stood at the precipice of destiny. The prophecy was about to be fulfilled. They were now on the threshold of entering the Promised Land forty years after leaving Egypt, and would soon partake of their first Passover in the new land.

Notice the similarity of events when compared to Passion Week, to be discussed in Parts 2 and 3, when our Lord first entered Jerusalem as the officially recognized and honored Messiah. Is there any doubt that God creates new beginnings and fulfills prophecy on a specific timetable according to certain dates?

Nisan 7 / April 1, 2020 Wednesday (Begins at sunset on March 31):

While the nation of Israel was camped on the eastern side of the Jordan, two spies, or scouts, were sent out by Joshua across the Jordan River to Jericho to gather intelligence for the first battle in the conquest for the Promised Land.

Then Joshua commanded the officers of the people, saying, “Pass through the midst of the camp and command the people, saying, ‘Prepare provisions for yourselves, for within three days you are to cross this Jordan, to go in to possess the land which the LORD your God is giving you, to possess it.’” [Joshua 1:10-11]

Then Joshua the son of Nun sent two men as spies secretly from Shittim, saying, “Go, view the land, especially Jericho.” So they went and came into the house of a harlot whose name was Rahab, and lodged there. [Joshua 2:1] [1]

© 2020 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.


[1] Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

CHRISTIANS IN LEAGUE WITH THE ENEMY: THE TRAITOR WITHIN

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There is no effective difference between those in powerful positions on the world stage engaging in mass subterfuge who actively oppose the Lord Jesus, and deceived Christians who support them unequivocally.

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Though blissfully unaware, they are willing accomplices. They will not get a pass. Failing to correct this great wrong before passing into eternity means facing their Creator on the wrong side of justice. They will be shocked by the verdict. The Lord alludes to this outcome in the following:

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’” [Matthew 7:21-23]

You may be wondering what He means by “lawlessness.” On the surface it should be plain to see that He referred to such people as apparently successful users of His Name without knowing the bearer of the Name—they didn’t know the Lord Jesus personally. The Greek word is anomia. Though some Bible versions translate the word as “iniquity” or “evil,” the root of such is actually defined as “without the law, contempt for the law, or violation of the law.” In this case, the word must indicate the violation of God’s law.

How were these people who appeared to be disciples in good standing with the Lord Jesus and therefore keepers of His law actually violating it? Looking further into anomia, we discover that it points to something familiar: One can be violating the law unknowingly. He can be ignorant of it. He can be unaware of its existence. This also portends deception. And, as always, ignorance of the law is no excuse. This is why those Christians who violate their conscience, even to a small degree, open themselves up to blurred spiritual vision and an inability to properly delineate right and wrong.

THIS IS WHY GOD MADE PROPHETS

There is a gross misconception among “prophetic types” and those who follow them that prophecy is one of two things, either foretelling, which is obvious, yet primarily forthtelling. This is not necessarily untrue in that prophecy is not only seeing the future and pronouncing it before it arrives, but also addresses particular actions or steps one may take, for example, to get right with God, prepare for a certain outcome, or partake on a certain course. However, there is a third aspect just as important—correcting those in authority. For example:

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” [Matthew 23:27-28][1] 

In other words, those Christians in authority without proper accountability due to the stature of their office must have a means of receiving correction, not primarily for their own benefit but for those subjected to their authority. And because God knew beforehand that people in authority would attempt to claim accountability by surrounding themselves with sycophants, yes men, and the rubber stamp guild, He determined that prophets must be independent so as not to be compromised by the same egregious false concessions made to maintain illicit authority.

Authority figures who engage in immorality or injustice, or refuse to be accountable to God are compromised, even though they may legitimize their power to their heart’s content barring any uprising by those under their rule. If the ruled over are content to live for less and usually much less than God intended that is their choice. God obviously saw this happening beforehand also. Therefore, the prophet also exists to encourage and strengthen those who refuse illicit religious rule and demand God’s rule and His righteousness. 

CONSPIRACIES EXIST BECAUSE THEY WORK

The murder of the Lord Jesus was the end result of a conspiracy. The plan was carried out in stealth by those who hated Him. They had tried to get Him several times without success but at last succeeded once gaining the valued assistance of a traitor.

They needed an inside man. They needed a dupe they could deceive. Dupes are not necessarily unintelligent but are compromised by a false perception of reality. The false perception arises from believing and acting on lies or propaganda masquerading as truth. All perceived knowledge must be vetted. If not, it entails a lack of discretion and proper discipline, which makes one susceptible to incorporating principles that are selfish in scope and evil at their core, though such evil is rarely perceived. In order to be fooled, that is, to accept the making of moral concessions, they must engage in an effort, however small and seemingly innocuous, to compromise their conscience.

And it is the violation of their conscience—that wonderful entity possessed by all that acts as an arbiter of good and evil—that opens the door not only to potential evil but also to deception.

Rather than reject all sin with the desire to serve the Lord and gain His righteousness, see the world from a positive perspective, do right, treat people right, engage in righteous acts, and attempt to spread goodness and joy, however idealistic such a course may be perceived, the conscience compromisers decide they have no choice, in order to get ahead in life, but to reject the Golden Rule (treating others as one wants to be treated) in areas in which they feel infringements are warranted. They deceive themselves by this practice and insist the bulk of their actions are good, or will have a beneficial end, and that somehow the greater percentage of good they do outweighs the minor amount of bad behavior. Or they may think a certain immoral response or ongoing behavior is justified based on prior maltreatment or perceived wrong. 

THE TRAITOR WITHIN

“A nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within. An enemy at the gates is less formidable, for he is known and carries his banner openly. But the traitor moves amongst those within the gate freely, his sly whispers rustling through all the alleys, heard in the very halls of government itself. For the traitor appears not a traitor; he speaks in accents familiar to his victims, and he wears their face and their arguments, he appeals to the baseness that lies deep in the hearts of all men. He rots the soul of a nation, he works secretly and unknown in the night to undermine the pillars of the city, he infects the body politic so that it can no longer resist. A murderer is less to fear.” [Taylor Caldwell, A Pillar of Iron.]

Like Judas, Christians must be deceived into supporting the enemy and his conspiratorial evil plans, and a great many do. Their lack of insight, spiritual laziness, and a willingly compromised conscience has blinded them to reality. They fail at seeking the Lord with all their heart. Rather than know Him they merely use His Name for their own benefit. As the Lord expressed in the preceding verses from Matthew’s gospel, such Christians appear to be for real but are merely chosen members of a club who all believe the same and therefore support one another in deception. They may practice foretelling and forthtelling but refuse the ultimate truthtelling. The prophetic voice of correction is rejected.

And also like Judas, they have their price.

© 2020 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.


[1] Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

THE CURRENT SHUTDOWN: AN OPPORTUNITY TO DISCOVER AND PRACTICE ORIGINAL CHRISTIANITY

woman doing hand heart sign

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They had no church buildings. They had no New Testament. They had no professional clergy. And still, they turned the world upside down.

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This is a difficult concept to grasp for many Christians. It sounds subversive. It appears incorrect. The reality of the matter, however, is that the early 1st century believers were acting exactly in accordance with the Lord’s teachings. They did just what He told them to do. They taught what He taught. They practiced what He practiced. It is not their methods which were odd and non-Scriptural, but those of today. They were not the rebels but the perfect example. Those who refuse to follow their example or engage in their methods are the actual rebels.

And He wasn’t far away from those early believers in a distant unknown heaven but right there with them bringing forth the spiritual fruit of His Word:

And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them, and confirmed the word by the signs that followed. [Mark 16:20][1]

THE REAL HIERARCHY

Actually, there isn’t any legitimate Christian hierarchy. There is the Lord Jesus, who has all authority in heaven and earth, which of course, is all the authority there is, and then there are His followers who all exist on the same spiritual plane, equal to one another, below Him. He is the only Leader, Master, and King. If such can be described as a hierarchy then it is the only one that exists in His Kingdom.

There is no legitimate middle man group or professional clergy. What there actually is are all Christian believers at various stages of spiritual maturity. Some have reached full maturity but this does not mean they have license to rule over other believers. The Lord made it very clear that all believers were equal with no one ruling over them except Him. He said the more spiritual maturity one gained the more of a servant he must be. Thus, if anything, there should be a reverse hierarchy in which the spiritual giants among us should navigate to lower and more humble stations rather than climb an ecclesiastical power ladder. Rather than a raised platform or stage there should be a hole in the ground. This is merely Christian Spirituality 101. Humility is a door.

I’m not keeping track of how many churches have suspended their services. I assume it is a great percentage. The leaders thereof were given orders to shut down and dutifully complied. One wonders if this would have happened without the internet, because it is largely internet streaming on various platforms keeping many churches going. There is nothing essentially wrong with this but Christians in general are still not seeing the big picture.

BOGUS TALKING HEAD MINISTRY

About a dozen years ago I was invited to a church service by a friend. I had never been there before. We drove up and parked in a large parking lot. We entered a large traditional church building. There were people milling around in the foyer and a central station where one could get some coffee. All normal things. We entered the usual large auditorium with standard pews and found a place about half way down on the right. After getting settled and looking around, however, I noticed for the first time something really odd. After the worship service it became odder. Instead of a pulpit or a preacher up there on the platform there was a big screen. It suddenly came on and there was a guy on the screen. This was the pastor. He was preaching from a remote location. There were three other churches connected to the transmission doing exactly as we were.

It was absolutely weird, and believe me, I am aware of most of the weird things about Christian practices in general, but had yet to experience such a thing. Here was a guy in a small studio somewhere preaching to a camera with the feed going into his four “churches” and everyone in those four churches were dutifully watching him on a screen. I was generally nice to my friend but let it be known that I thought it was a tad strange. In my heart I knew it was absolutely ridiculous but again, I was nice. I sat there and went through the motions with everyone else but the entire time was wondering how all these people could possibly put up with Mr. Big Brother up there in this weird 1984 style “church.” Everyone could have just stayed home and watched it on the net. Or gathered in small groups in homes. There was no need for the four church buildings and the great expenses they incurred. All that money could have been spent on, oh, I don’t know, maybe people?

AN AWAKENING

Which brings us to the present. All over America former church goers have been forced by strange unprecedented circumstances to stay home from church and watch their pastor or maybe a small service of a few online. So far, people seem to be getting what they need and are greatly enjoying themselves. Some states have ordered, from what I understand, only small groups of ten or less, even in private homes. This is actually about the perfect size of a home group. I would think that after several weeks under these circumstances the innovative intelligent Christians out there would figure out a way to minister to one another and take care of one another and soon discover a brand new method for organic Christianity.

Please stick with me here because this will sound really weird. What if Christians simply did their Christianity at home? And among their neighbors? What if they opened up their Bibles and shared with each other? And prayed for one another? And what if they organized a method to meet each other’s needs and the needs of their neighbors? I have seen many reports of people doing very strange things like collecting groceries and supplies and giving them away. One older woman who likes to sew was making surgical masks for the hospitals or for individuals to wear personally. When you start searching out such events it will astound you what is actually going on out there nationwide. There are apparently millions of good hearted people who have suddenly been released into various unofficial ministries more than happy to do whatever they can to help and provide. Rather than suppress ministry the current shutdown has actually promoted it. This is great news.

It is starting to look like 1st century Christianity out there!

© 2020 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.   


[1] Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

NOTE: Please see my friend Barb’s site, My Life in Our Father’s World, for this great post of current ministry in action: A SMALL ACT OF KINDNESS

THIS IS YOUR TIME: GREENER PASTURES ARE CALLING

green grass field under white clouds

 

The Lord needs you to step up. It is time to make a move into greater spiritual maturity and quit being overly dependent on the Christian means and methods of yesterday.

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THINGS WILL NEVER BE THE SAME AGAIN

Churches are shutting down and forcing the use of other ministry options, such as live streaming on various internet platforms. Even those who were reluctant to make such a drastic change, though ostensibly temporary, have faced the facts of these strange days and complied with the overall transition taking place all across the country.

I will reiterate here that the threat is real but on a much lower level than advertised. There are any number of supposed threats at present that can be ginned up and harped on to drive a panic. It is all in the application. The means to drive a narrative have been here for decades and, of course, have been used repeatedly. What you as a Christian must do is discern the difference between legitimate threats and those which are merely hyped to become much more than what they are. If you are used to always obeying authority figures and never questioning them, then this post is not for you unless you may be willing to see things at least a tad bit differently.

Christians often forget that they are supposed to be serving a Lord who can do anything anytime in any circumstance, in that there truly is nothing impossible with God. In that regard He does not merely suggest living by faith, that is, stepping out of familiar comfort zones and entering a realm of miraculous possibility—He demands it. One cannot be a real Christian otherwise. A large part of a Christian’s means of operation must involve the unfamiliar and the unknown, which requires a close walk and willingness to operate far outside the box of conventionality.

There are some I am speaking to here directly. You have had this very sentiment on your heart for a while now. You are wanting to get it right. You are not as comfortable as you would like to be in going forward but you know you must. From personal experience, let me tell you—there are times when you never reach a fully “comfortable” feeling in making such a move. You feel something like a pressure but it is not really that, but more of a personalized directing into something different. You don’t have the full picture but you know you must act. You are not sure how because you don’t have all the facts. Guess what? You will likely never have all the facts. All you know is that you are being somewhat strongly led in a new direction. There is something out there you must do. There is a move to make. It is actually somewhat exciting but such is contained due to a reluctance to leave familiar surroundings. Sometimes it is geographic but it doesn’t have to be.

Many Christians refuse to obey when such a time comes. They would rather stick with sure security and not take a chance on a possible wrong move or upset a current lifestyle. This is not a bad move to make at first. It is the prudent thing to do. If the Lord has us where He wants us then we must be very careful to fend off any “calls” to a new thing somewhere else which has much more to do with one’s own personal desires or those of another, and usually entail running from God or away from Him. We must always test these things. There are times when it seems the Lord is calling us elsewhere or upward but time will tell if it is really Him or not. If it is not Him, whatever initial leadings we may feel will never get to the point beyond mere consideration. But if it is Him it will not stop. The directing will grow stronger. In these cases the Lord is telling us that the fruitful fields of the future are elsewhere, whether geographic or not, and that current fruitfulness is lessening and will continue to slide.

It could be that the Lord is driving both, in that He will no longer bless a current effort because He wants you to have greater fruitfulness and it can only come if you make a move. I will caution whoever may be reading this, however, that it must be by His direction and you will have to be close enough to Him to hear His voice and be sufficiently inclined to His guidance.

There is a surplus of examples in Scripture. Someone was going about his life as always when the Lord, somewhat suddenly, spoke and began preparing him for a move. There will always be a time of preparation. The Lord will initially speak, often with plenty of time beforehand (but this is according to His reckoning and not our own) and it is up to us to hear. After getting the message we must do the next thing which is to obey. We begin preparing. The Lord continues to speak to our spirit in stronger tones. We keep checking to make sure it’s Him. He will bring spiritual verification during the entire time. Things begin working toward the goal. The old begins to fade. He won’t bless it anymore. The new begins coming into greater focus. The blessing is in the transition but will soon be fully in the new. The new becomes more exciting. We reach a point when we want to do it and it cannot come fast enough but we must still be patient. He always does things the right way with no ups and downs or zig-zags.

It’s okay to make a few incorrect moves because He can fix that, but we must stay in touch. What He can’t fix, however, is willful intransigence and disobedience. This borders on outright rebellion. I have no idea how many Christians make these moves the right way or how many refuse to move altogether. But I know a real Christian is bought with a great price. We do not belong to ourselves but to Him. Each of us cost Him His own shed blood. That being said, we know He always treats us well and it is good to “try the spirits” to make sure what we are feeling or hearing is the Lord. He expects us to do that, of course. There comes a time, though, when we cannot allow conventionality, common sense, social pressure, or other elements to hold us back from the greater life the Lord wants to give us. And it is not primarily for our personal blessing but to be of greater use to Him and for others.

It will involve personal blessing, however. And it will involve all the joy of leaving a not so great but okay place in which fruitfulness is harder to come by though we remain in good standing with Him, into a new place filled with fresh new possibilities, opportunities, wonderful people, and increased spiritual fruitfulness. If this resonates with you, make absolutely sure it is the Lord and His direction. You will have to be mature enough to make the final decision and not depend on another to make it for you.

One thing all of us know, or should know, is that we are in the midst of a great change. Forces of evil are pushing a sinister narrative. The world is changing drastically as you read this. But again, the Lord is not surprised. He remains fully in charge. Our destiny with Him remains on course. New challenges may be throwing a wrench in the works somewhat, but His strength, guidance, and anointing will keep us secure and at peace as our mind is stayed on Him.

For some of you, now is the time to move on to greener pastures.

Vaya Con Dios.

© 2020 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.


NOTE: My friend Beverley at Becoming the Oil and the Wine, nominated this site for the Sunshine Blogger Award. Please visit and congratulate Beverley on her nomination and also for her site’s sixth anniversary. Thank you and Be Blessed.

JESUS IS THE ANSWER

climate people street weather

Those in high positions of authority are not revealing all they know. Others in lesser positions may be clueless but will dutifully comply with the agenda and continue to drive the panic.

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BOY HOWDY, THIS GOT UGLY QUICK

From the beginning, back in early January or so, there were a few rational people who saw what was happening, as the few often do, and began warning against the warning. Since then both sides have ramped up their rhetoric, though the rational voice has been completely deluged by now. Once the major media gets on board and begins relentlessly driving the narrative it is case closed. That’s because the majority of Americans are addicted to the major media and treat it like God.

You might have heard me say this before a time or two, but this phenomenon is not unlike what goes on in many churches, in that members have knee jerk reactions in times of such trouble to seek out their leaders and abide by their pronouncements. Mainline Christianity is thus no different than the mainstream media, in that they all say the same thing, never tell their people to not honor them as difference makers, but accept their middle man role and dole out the advice, which not surprisingly sounds exactly like the government’s advice.

I was at the grocery store late last week. It’s a big store, and relatively new. There were loaded and semi-loaded shopping carts and shoppers waiting in a ridiculously long line that snaked all the way along the main drag checkout area to the far end and down an aisle. It was probably that way on the other side of the store also. I had never seen such before in that store. And when a store has about thirty or so check out stands that says something. I didn’t notice how many were actually in operation but it appeared to be most.

While finding my place in line, almost halfway down a central aisle, still somewhat amazed, I did what I always do. I tried striking up a conversation with the man in front of me but he wasn’t very talkative. Another middle-aged woman came by, with a small child, and a young man in a wheel chair with a leg injury. They asked if this was the line. They had to cut across from their direction. I said yeah and she, with a big smile and jovial attitude, and a slight incredulous manner, dutifully lined up behind me. As we got closer to the front of the store the line parted in two, one for shoppers with lesser items. And we waited, and shuffled along. I’m sure many of you have experienced the same thing by now.

I was successful in this particular line in finding someone to discuss the situation with, and we carried on a conversation the rest of the way to the checkouts. Our theme, of course, was this strange happening and the current crisis which suddenly jumped out of nowhere but without what one would normally associate with such a crisis. There were not thousands dead, for example. Not even hundreds. At that time, across the entire country, there were about fifty and most of them were in one specific location in one state.

But the authorities continued saying it was about to get much worse. By that time a national panic was in the works. It was not based on reality, however, but on projected reality. I was not thinking there was not a potential crisis but that the crisis continued to appear overblown. Those voices I told you about back in January, who were saying the crisis showed all the signs of being manufactured? Well, they continued on, some with greater fervor, trying their best to tell the truth of the matter. But as always, you had to search for them. The mainstream media was now in lockstep, all saying the same thing, that the end of the world as we know it is upon us, and for all of you out there who are unprepared, well, you better hunker down, bunker or not.

Even the President was reluctant to get on board. He knew the entire thing was fishy, apparently, but was soon forced to go along. Again, I am not saying there is not a real danger here, but only that it’s been blown entirely out of proportion. Nevertheless, national fear has now set it. It is being taken advantage of to drive an agenda. I tried to warn you with my latest posts. You can gain a lot by reading them. You will have greater understanding of how this crisis was planned and carried out. You may figure out who’s driving it and for what reasons. It gives the PTB a good look into the present American psyche. And it lets them know who the lemmings are.

WHAT ABOUT GOD?

Meanwhile, for all real Christians out there, those who actually follow the Lord Jesus, especially those who have been around a while and are mature disciples, what is presently occurring is not so earth-shattering. They have already been through much worse. When whatever crises that happened to them took place, it wasn’t national news. No one except a very few knew about those occasions. They had to weather the storm though, and do their best to overcome and survive. The world at large didn’t care. It didn’t know. These were private struggles. But the Lord came through for each and every one. He made a way where there was absolutely no other way. They learned all the more to live by faith in their Savior who loves them, and trust Him. They have confidence in Him. They know He does what He says. They learned to not give in to fear and panic, especially when it regards a largely manufactured crisis.

It is good that you can’t find any hand sanitizer anywhere. People know what they need. It is good that the nation is being instructed to wash their hands. Really? That says a lot, that the people of a nation this large and influential doesn’t even know they should wash their hands. A hundred and fifty years ago, no one knew germs existed. They never made the connection between unsanitary practices and conditions with disease and illness, or on some occasions, general pandemics. And then America apparently forgot this knowledge. And America continued to slip headlong into the worst social practices ever when very few understood or cared that such behavior has a massive downside. When the majority practices such the end of that nation is in sight.

So this, again, is a test, on several levels. Doing one’s best to stay away from the virus is good. Taking all the proper precautions is good. Those who do the best in this regard will have the better chance. Maybe this will help the country turn the corner. Maybe Americans will discover that proper sanitation actually works. Maybe they will learn to be more disciplined regarding how they protect their bodies, what they put into their bodies, and what they engage in with their bodies. Maybe more people will get the big idea that the Lord’s instructions along these lines are there to protect us.

But I’ll believe when I see it. I have been teaching whoever might listen about all of these things for several decades now, and have only seen things get worse overall, though there does exist a percentage of the country that pays close attention to healthy lifestyles and nutrition. Most people prefer ignorance and apathy. This makes them easily led. They are then taken advantage of and steered into whatever thinking is desired at the time. They become dense to the truth they need. They make the mistake of being led by the wrong leaders. These wrong leaders, whether civil or religious, don’t really care about people but only their own interests and agendas. When I see it among Christians, however, it is most disconcerting. People think they are escaping an evil world and joining Christianity but are unaware they are often only jumping out of the frying pan into the fire, so to speak. And then they continue to be misled.

Those who refuse anything less than the full truth never stay in a place where they discover the full truth does not exist. They move on. They continue seeking. Perhaps this is why all the spiritual greats mentioned in the Word of God were relatively obscure in their times and associated with only a relative few, especially the Master Himself. Not only did few follow Him, He suffered terribly by this world’s leaders, most of whom never knew Him or appreciated Him.

My advice at this time is the same for any other time: Seek the Lord. None of this is any surprise to Him. And carry on in your work. Never trust those who merely talk the talk but rarely or never walk the walk. You will be led astray. Rather, seek the One who has already walked it out and will even walk a mile with you, or a hundred, or a million.

You can trust a Man who gives His life so you can live.

2020 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.

PANICKED OVER A TRICK PANDEMIC

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Whatever this actually is—a pandemic, yet another disease scare, a hoax, a biowarfare attack, or a government response testthe REAL pandemic remains unacknowledged.

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It’s getting worse. The infection rate continues to rage and rise, in some places exponentially. The worst perpetrators thereof are either too preoccupied to notice or care, or owe their lives to practices which make them vulnerable. If they stop they lose everything and their kingdoms crumble. They built their lives on dirt foundations with no escape hatch and could lose their existence of error when the big one hits. Many are so tied-in to a lesser-based life they will never get free without major disruptions from which they may never recover.

Yet there has always been a way out. Most humans see it, though, as too way out. Their social credibility suffers at the prospect of embracing it. Thus, those with the most invested in the fake world have the most to lose in leaving it, and choose a temp existence over long-term reality. This is why the Master opined on this quizzical matter by saying the worst are often first, in that they are less invested and more free to enter. Their baggage is the kind happily left behind. And besides, they’ve usually been treated like outskirts scum by the success party and denied membership since their résumés don’t add up. But the Master’s door is always open.

The rich man faithless deniers do anything they want with access to anything money can buy but will end up in the hot place with Mr. Dives craving a mere rain drop on their desert palates to no avail, while all the poor little faithful formerly sore-ridden Lazarus’ hang out safely in Abraham’s comfy air-conditioned crash pad. This reversal of fortunes is really cool when you think about it and does justice proud. It proves once again that playing by the rules of a dog-eat-dog world will get you a dead dog death in the long run regardless of manifold plaques on your wall and trophies in your case. None of those sorts of things are transferable to the great beyond.

Therefore, this latest scare we must beware means more effort wasted on things that don’t matter and playing right into the hands of the unseen gear grinders always coming up with more dastardly plans to insure their control and lessen yours. If you can’t see through it you must clean your windshield, change your perspective, and try harder to focus. Maybe take off those dark shades that look so cool. And don’t trust the ones the Master instructed us not to trust but trust Him.

Only He has the cure for the real pandemic.

© 2020 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.

WAKING THE DEAD: THE DOOR

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The Door is not a concept. It is not one more Christian ethereal unreality pontificated upon by dead men in the guise of the living. The Door is real. Until one actually enters it, he is asleep to spiritual reality.

CONSTANT TOTAL AMAZEMENT

“My father says that almost the whole world is asleep. Everybody you know, everybody you see, everybody you talk to. He says that only a few people are awake and they live in a state of constant total amazement.” [1]

This is how Christians should be and would otherwise be if the Lord had His way, but most are asleep and spend their lives sleeping. They even sleep at church. Almost everybody there, in most churches, is asleep. Some are even literally asleep (drool alert).

This is an amazing thing. The greatest Man who ever lived. The greatest story ever told. Reams of historical records of His great exploits and accomplishments. No Man anywhere close to His greatness in the history of the world.

And yet they sleep.  

Now Peter and his companions had been overcome with sleep; but when they were fully awake, they saw His glory… [Luke 9:32]

And there it is.

DEAD CHRISTIANITY

It is the Lazarus Syndrome. Most of Christianity is dead. It is Lazarus all wrapped up in grave clothes, bound and sleeping in a cold dark tomb. The people who promote this are making a mockery of real Christianity. They are dead Lazarus supporters.

Martha then said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.” [John 11:21]

“Lord, if You were here our church would not be dead.”

But what is the Lord to do when faithless disobedient dead Christians insist on barring the Door?

And someone said to Him, “Lord, are there just a few who are being saved?” And He said to them, “Strive to enter through the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. Once the head of the house gets up and shuts the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock on the door, saying, ‘Lord, open up to us!’ then He will answer and say to you, ‘I do not know where you are from.’ Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets;’ and He will say, ‘I tell you, I do not know where you are from; DEPART FROM ME, ALL YOU EVILDOERS.’ [Luke 13:23-27]

The Christian willing dead are evildoers. Those who sponsor and insist upon dead Christianity violate everything the Lord is about. They transform Him into something He never was. This false form of the Lord they created is a perfect example of an absolute violation of the Second Commandment. They have created a god to suit themselves, one which will never convict them of their unashamed sins.

THE DOOR

So Jesus said to them again, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand, and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and is not concerned about the sheep. I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me…” [John 10:7-14] [2]

It is impossible to be shown the Door, enter it, find pasture, gain abundant life, and also be spiritually dead. No one sleeps in His presence but will instead be as lively as the day is long and try to tell the whole world about his great fortune. Such people were rescued from a pointless existence in a graveyard. They found the secret of life.

Why then, do most Christians sleep?

© 2020 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.


[1] © 1990 Joe Versus the Volcano

[2] Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

PHARISEE CONTROL TACTICS: THE SPIRIT OF FEAR (4-Part Series)

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. [2 Timothy 1:7 KJV]

 

March 12, 2020: PHARISEE CONTROL TACTICS: THE SPIRIT OF FEAR (Part 1)

The Lord Jesus came to save His people. But many of His people had already sold out to their religious leaders. They did this in part because they were deathly afraid of them…

 

March 12, 2020: PHARISEE CONTROL TACTICS: THE SPIRIT OF FEAR (Part 2)

Regarding the sinning priest problem, some argue that the Catholic Church is not actually as guilty as claimed, in that such episodes are only rare sporadic events. This is simply more window-washing to minimize the charges…

 

March 13, 2020: PHARISEE CONTROL TACTICS: THE SPIRIT OF FEAR (Part 3)

It all started in Babylon during the Captivity in roughly 600 BC. It continued to develop over the next four centuries. It came to its full fruition with the emerging Pharisee Party two centuries before the Lord…

 

March 14, 2020: PHARISEE CONTROL TACTICS: THE SPIRIT OF FEAR (Part 4)

What I have presented with this four-part series goes beyond surface truth. There is a parable at work here revealing destructive forces. For the few who have ventured thus far, you are ahead of the curve…

 

© 2020 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.

 

PHARISEE CONTROL TACTICS: THE SPIRIT OF FEAR (Part 4)

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What I have presented with this four-part series goes beyond surface truth. There is a parable at work here revealing destructive forces. For the few who have ventured thus far, you are ahead of the curve.

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“He who has ears, let him hear.”

And the disciples came and said to Him, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” Jesus answered them, “To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been granted. For whoever has, to him more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him. Therefore I speak to them in parables; because while seeing they do not see, and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.” [Matthew 13:9-13]   

GIVE HONOR TO WHOM HONOR IS DUE

One will notice several behavioral characteristics of high brow religionists. Perhaps the most noticeable is their demand for respect and honor. They tolerate no dissent. Violators are prosecuted. It is their absolute authority and the forced recognition thereof that holds their enterprise together and keeps them ruling over it. They refuse to express any real humility and only act out a role in that regard. As a final test, consider how they treat the Lord Jesus.

Pharisaical: Marked by hypocritical censorious self-righteousness. [1]

Now, we know how those idiots back then treated Him, which sealed their fate. But a likely majority of Christian ministers, priests, and reverends have treated Him exactly the same since then. You will know them by their fruits.

You will also know them by their absolute refusal to surrender all authority to the Lord Jesus.

It is not His ministry but theirs. It is not His church but theirs. If they were working for Him they would not be violating His teachings and refusing His directives. And American Christianity would not be in such sorry shape filled with Biblically illiterate Christians not knowing what to do, where to turn, or how to fix what is wrong. The predominant understanding such Christians have in common is to fearfully honor religious authority regardless of its behavior or track record. They meld into a status quo, low-denomination crowd of faceless ones, whose only actual apparent purpose is to support an enterprise they know very little about beyond the surface.

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. [2Timothy 1:7 KJV]

Like traditional Catholicism, which traditionally withheld the Word of God or discouraged its members from reading it or acting upon it if by chance a few actually did, the majority of Christians are simply not aware of what the New Testament is, what it says, or what the Lord actually commands them to do. They have instead been indoctrinated to believe that their lives must consist primarily of obeying those in the rule over them with less regard for obeying the Lord Jesus. This is obviously true because if they honored Him they would never honor others in His place. Thus, their “discipleship” is something different from that which the Lord defined in the New Covenant model.

“A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a slave above his master. It is enough for the disciple that he become like his teacher, and the slave like his master. If they have called the head of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign the members of his household! Therefore do not fear them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. What I tell you in the darkness, speak in the light; and what you hear whispered in your ear, proclaim upon the housetops.” [Matthew 10:24-27]   

There are likely millions of obscure “nobody” Christians who do obey the Lord. They strive to get it right. They do their best to do anything He asks. They give much effort toward being good disciples. Their lives are more difficult but also greatly fruitful. They are largely unrecognized. They do not attempt to revert to religious dress, manners, and shallow talking points to be noticed, but the opposite. They do exactly as the Lord and His original apostles instruct them to do, to the best of their ability. They read and study the Word of God to discover what is required of them. They honor ministers of the Gospel but never see them as substitutes for the Lord (vicars of Christ). It is the Lord Jesus who gave His life for them and no one will ever take His place. Therefore, they will not listen to or obey hirelings who do not teach what He taught. These real Christians are the ones to whom honor is due because they are the only ones actually trying and mostly succeeding in doing His will. Most of all, they honor the Lord Jesus as their Savior and recognize Him as God.

“Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? Everyone who comes to Me and hears My words and acts on them, I will show you whom he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid a foundation on the rock; and when a flood occurred, the torrent burst against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who has heard and has not acted accordingly, is like a man who built a house on the ground without any foundation; and the torrent burst against it and immediately it collapsed, and the ruin of that house was great.” [Luke 6:46-49][2]

The Lord taught that every “Christian” enterprise not founded upon the Rock will eventually fail. It will eventually come to ruin. It will eventually be destroyed. Each one will suffer what eventually happened to national Israel, the original Jerusalem, and the Temple in 70 AD. It is only a matter of time.

His Kingdom, on the other hand, will last forever. It is the only Christian Community that will. All the counterfeit ones are temporary and their termination waits.

When He dwelt among humanity, the Lord Jesus was humble and obscure. He didn’t “look the part.” He was not at all like the ostentatious Pharisees or later clergyites, which includes those at present who refuse to serve and honor Him. His was not an earthly kingdom but a spiritual one. His kingdom has none of the outer trappings or dependencies of temporary, worldly enterprises. He never strove for money, position, or the world’s respect but sought only to do the Father’s will.

His followers do the same. They seek not the approval of men but the approval of God.

© 2020 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.


[1] © Merriam-Webster

[2] Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

PHARISEE CONTROL TACTICS: THE SPIRIT OF FEAR (PART 1)

PHARISEE CONTROL TACTICS: THE SPIRIT OF FEAR (PART 2)

PHARISEE CONTROL TACTICS: THE SPIRIT OF FEAR (PART 3)

 

PHARISEE CONTROL TACTICS: THE SPIRIT OF FEAR (Part 3)

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It all started in Babylon during the Captivity in roughly 600 BC. It continued to develop over the next four centuries. It came to its full fruition with the emerging Pharisee Party two centuries before the Lord.

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JUDAIC ROOTS OF UNREAL CHRISTIANITY

In the first century AD, the Lord Jesus called that last generation of Israelites the most wicked of all. Much of the wickedness, though, was being performed by, you guessed it, a few, those few not in the pew. Whether it was the vaunted Sadducees who controlled the temple and worked hand in glove politically with the otherwise hated Romans, or the ultra-casuistic Pharisees who created an entirely new “word of God,” the Oral Torah in which they themselves were the god and which was designed to suit themselves and gain and maintain power, the Jewish religious leaders lived to lord it over the people. The millions of Israelites at that time, whether at home in Judea or abroad, were under the absolute authority of such leaders, most especially the Pharisees, the Separated Ones. This was largely the genesis of rabbinical Judaism.

The people had no say so. They were told what to believe. They were held to extremely strict standards. Those who refused the authority of the Pharisees were utterly despised by them as mongrels and traitors to the commonwealth. What does that tell us? This is why the Pharisees had such disdain for Galileans and utter disgust for Samaritans.

They saw themselves as God’s highest and best. They were so “aware” and “in-tune” they legitimized an unwritten minutia-ridden oral law code that overstepped the Law of Moses and no one knew the finer abstract workings of this code than them.

They created it, taking upon themselves the guise of God, though God had nothing to do with it. And they then browbeat their constituents into compulsory acceptance under threat. This put everyone else on the defensive, both due to ignorance of the law and because one could never know for sure if they had violated it until confronted with the violation. It should be clear then, that Israelites lived on the edge and were often in a state of worry.

Yet the Lord indicated that the scribes and Pharisees inherited the seat of Moses, and He said one must do as they teach. The inference is that one must obey them as it regards the Mosaic Law. He also said, however, that one must not follow their example because they only talk the talk and do not walk the walk.

“But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut off the kingdom of heaven from people; for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in.” [Matthew 23:13][1]

Who else other than the Lord Jesus had the boldness to instruct disciples in this way? Who else dared to use his position of authority to tell Israelites that the Pharisees set a rotten example? We know that answer is next to no one because if one did he would have an ugly fight on his hands in seconds.

It is why the nation was so afraid of the religious leaders. Their entire lives were subjected to whether or not a person was in good standing in the synagogue and only the few at the top had absolute control of their fate. The people thus must make sure they crossed every yod and dotted every tittle or the man would come down on their head. The most successful obeyers developed the worst attitude and became sideways browbeaters in league with the top-down browbeaters. If you kept trying to succeed at this idiocy but couldn’t pull it off (because you were normal), you got it from everywhere. Those who hated the entire insufferable enterprise, however, knew they best keep their opinions and facial expressions to themselves or word would get out. You couldn’t trust anybody. They would out you. You could get ratted out by any number of Judases in a heartbeat.

Here we have another of those amazing traits regarding humanity. Why not rise up? Why not make the attempt to throw off the yoke? There were only a few who fit this category, for one thing. But those who actually did it and meant to make something of it eventually began banding together. Their effort was not necessarily against the religious leaders but for national Israel. They couldn’t see how playing church would oust the Romans. But they were not about to do it God’s way. These were the Zealots. They were otherwise known in the New Testament as robbers. A faction of these, known for hidden daggers in their cloaks to be used on a moment’s notice, was the Sicarii.

The Zealots grew more ruthless over time. They developed a few key leaders who held sway over thousands of Israelites. In the end they would bring forth the Great Revolt that brought down the nation.

Another major sect was the Essenes. These were for the most part monastics that had long before rejected the authority of the corrupt temple priests and created their own highly-controlled aesthetic order. This too, of course, was run by an elevated religious caste.

What was a first century Jew to do? There was little escape from the suffocating lack of personal liberty and freedom in the Lord. Much of everything God did in the very beginning in the times of Abraham and Moses to create a people for His Name eventually got twisted and subverted. It developed into heavy-handed domination by a ruling cabal of autocratic religious despots and political subversives given over to money and power.

Sound familiar?

© 2020 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.


[1] Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

PHARISEE CONTROL TACTICS: THE SPIRIT OF FEAR (PART 1)

PHARISEE CONTROL TACTICS: THE SPIRIT OF FEAR (PART 2)

PHARISEE CONTROL TACTICS: THE SPIRIT OF FEAR (PART 4)

PHARISEE CONTROL TACTICS: THE SPIRIT OF FEAR (Part 2)

Regarding the sinning priest problem, some argue that the Catholic Church is not actually as guilty as claimed, in that such episodes are only rare sporadic events. This is simply more window-washing to minimize the charges.

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It appears that way because it was hidden and much of it remained hidden. Much of it is still hidden. But it’s been going on forever. And for forever they were never caught. They were never caught because it was part of an inner culture. It was part of the deep inner workings separated from public view and oversight. Those who knew were afraid to say anything. Catholics and the general public were never the wiser until victims of abuse began talking. Other victims of abuse had undoubtedly talked in the past but their voices were suppressed. It was not until enough victims of abuse began coming forth that the issue was finally addressed officially. Many Catholics were absolutely shocked. Some spoke out quite forcibly. Most Catholics said very little and would rather the entire issue went away. It was embarrassing.

THE LORD JESUS IS ON RECORD OF KNOWING HOW TO CLEAN HOUSE

But the fact remains that some insiders always knew about it but did nothing about it. They simply covered it up. The cause was never addressed. The house was never cleaned. The corruption was too widespread. It would cause a disruption. They were afraid. When the news was revealed the process began to deal with it and corrective measures were applied. Whether they have worked or are working is a different issue, but the Catholic Church should be commended for the attempt to right a wrong.

Yet, Catholics were taken advantage of and their absolute support with no questions asked was taken for granted. The Catholic clergy knows full well that most Catholics will always remain Catholics no matter what happens. They know this in part because they are well aware of the excellent success rate of their Catholic indoctrination program, which they have been masters at for centuries, and which starts upon the impressionable minds of very young children. So making quick priest transfers to new venues where the people are none the wiser solved two problems at once: The bad guy is gone but still works for us elsewhere.

It is interesting that by comparison, however, you don’t hear as much about the same problem in mainline Protestantism. Could this be due to a possible lowering of standards?

Whatever the case, there is no doubt that everyone knows who wields the power. A minister’s job (and for many that is all it is) and his very life is dependent upon upper management, unless he or she is part of an organization in which church members vote for prospective preachers, in which case he or she is controlled by them instead, because if they can vote you in they can also vote you out. Either way, including in Catholicism, the minister’s salary comes from above and he or she had better play by the rules, which, in essence, means to do what they say. This upper handedness and subtle fear mongering is even extended to the congregation, but rather than career and salary being used to keep one in line, it is the church member’s credibility and reputation. No one wants to be perceived as a deviant or become a social pariah. This is in part why all church and ministry organizations have bylaws. Again, they must protect the enterprise and the enterprise depends on everyone fulfilling their duty.

They create the doctrinal statement they live by, which may extend to book length, and then force all members to toe the mark. If changes to the doctrinal statement happen along the way, including radical changes, it is up to the membership to get in line with the new rules. Some may not like the new rules, however, but are powerless to stop their acceptance. Their only choice is to vote with their feet, though most don’t. The rules and rule changes often descend from on high though some Christian organizations involve a limited vote.

Regarding the selection of church leaders, most churches remain in the dark ages and grant their congregations no voice. These are not democracies. For example, when it comes to selecting a new Catholic pope, the highest ecclesiastical office on the planet, the voting is extremely limited to a small group within the College of Cardinals, which, as of December 2019, consisted of only 223 members. The inner group allowed to vote comprises an even smaller number of cardinals and its members are called the cardinal electors. As of last October there were 128 cardinal electors though there have never been more than 120 during any previous conclave that selected a pope.

These electors are appointed by the pope.

The new pope is almost always a cardinal.

This means that as of October 2019 there are only 129 men in absolute rule over an organization of a billion members worldwide.

The Pope appoints the voters.

The voters choose the Pope.

This is the definition of a top-of-the-pyramid controlling clique.

So again, the hierarchies of Christian organizations, whether Catholic or Protestant or Pentecostal or whatever, know that most of their powerless members will always go along with whatever they pronounce. How is this different from a cult?

It is the very antithesis of the Lord’s real Community in which every single member is an equal, the only difference being spiritual maturity level.

For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise. [Galatians 3:26-29][1]

© 2020 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.


[1] Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

PHARISEE CONTROL TACTICS: THE SPIRIT OF FEAR (PART 1)

PHARISEE CONTROL TACTICS: THE SPIRIT OF FEAR (PART 3)

PHARISEE CONTROL TACTICS: THE SPIRIT OF FEAR (PART 4)

PHARISEE CONTROL TACTICS: THE SPIRIT OF FEAR (Part 1)

The Lord Jesus came to save His people. But many of His people had already sold out to their religious leaders. They did this in part because they were deathly afraid of them.

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Nevertheless many even of the rulers believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they were not confessing Him, for fear that they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God. [John 12:42-43]

Christians more concerned about their church social credibility than serving the Lord Jesus express a faithless fearfulness. At the heart of their infidelity is a refusal to fully submit to the Lord and real discipleship. The origin of their fear is usually traced back to the people in charge. They are the ones who make the rules, one of which is submission to their authority. Yet they subject themselves to no effective accountability. The laity, on the other hand, has little or no authority in most churches and thus represents a lower class. The members thereof must submit to the leadership to be in good standing.

This is similar to a two-tiered justice system in which the elite are shielded from liability. If one is a member in good standing of the higher-ups club, one gets away with anything. If not, one is on one’s own and is vulnerable. And if such a one refuses to obey the Lord, one had better suck up to a substitute leadership group for his own protection and livelihood.

NON-PROPHET ORGANIZATIONS

In this regard, we often see the professional clergy, the upper class ruling over the lower class, projecting the same status. They create a ruling clique and defend it. They institute complex initiation inclusion protocols. They authorize unifying doctrinal statements. They stick together. They never deviate from the script. They go to bat for one another, which is one of the highly desired perks of the profession. This results in career advancement and security. They also protect one another from justice when that need is required. It doesn’t matter if it’s the Roman Catholic hierarchy protecting sinful priests, Protestant officials of most stripes doing the same for their respective ministers who stray into the same sins or others, or the bigwigs in Christian television who never reveal the underhanded goings on in that field of ministry. It’s a shame too, because many Catholic priests, Protestant ministers, and Christian television personalities do not engage in such secret sins.

But the sin just as big is refusing to reveal what would otherwise be the bigger sins. And those who engage in this practice do it for one reason only: Fear. They must protect themselves. They must protect the brand. They must protect the reputation of the enterprise. They must also protect the cash flow. I remember watching Christian television probably a couple decades back and there it was, once again, like so many times before. A Christian television personality caught in serious sin was right back on the air doing his thing. He had repented of his sin, you see. And he was way too valuable to leave off the air.

Remember, it is often the case that the most successful ministers are the greater money magnets. Rather than serve the living God and operate through the power of His Holy Spirit, they operate through the power of worldly wealth and unregenerate flesh, both of which attract demonic influence.

“No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.”

Now the Pharisees, who were lovers of money, were listening to all these things and were scoffing at Him. And He said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of men, but God knows your hearts; for that which is highly esteemed among men is detestable in the sight of God.” [Luke 16:13-15][1]

© 2020 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved. [To Be Continued]


[1] Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

PHARISEE CONTROL TACTICS: THE SPIRIT OF FEAR (PART 2)

PHARISEE CONTROL TACTICS: THE SPIRIT OF FEAR (PART 3)

PHARISEE CONTROL TACTICS: THE SPIRIT OF FEAR (PART 4)

ENTERTAINING ANGELS UNAWARE

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I remember one time, in my first year or so as a new believer, a bunch of us went downtown early one night to do some street witnessing. These occasions were always fun. You never knew what might happen.

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We would break up in a few groups with a plan to get back together in a central area later on. I had done a lot of witnessing in those early days but downtown was always a special time. It was all cold turkey with no set plan, meeting people you never knew. The city was very large but thanks to a thriving tourist trade you didn’t have to watch your every step. It had a small town feel and the downtown area had a long and eventful history. People were generally friendly and laid back. The areas we frequented were well lit and maintained, and not all that crowded.

We walked the streets, handed out tracts, and talked to whoever may listen or wish to carry on a conversation, and attempted to tell them about the Lord. You always had to find the proper balance and recognize open doors. One time, a brother and I were walking up a street and noticed a couple of sailors in uniform stopped at a crosswalk waiting for the light to change. The guy on the right was smoking a cigarette. I approached him and, handing him a tract, said “God wants you to have this.” He looked right at me, got really angry, tossed his cigarette down, and replied, “You can keep your God…” I apparently struck a nerve. This often happens when sharing the Gospel in such a raw manner. One never knows what emotions may come to the surface when innocently touching a past experience or memory. God gets blamed for a lot for things He had nothing to do with.

Later on we all gathered back together at the preplanned meeting area on an active street. Someone might have brought a guitar. We used the term “edified” quite a lot back then. It was a spiritually edifying experience to hang out with your friends who had the Lord in common and enjoyed His work. Everyone was having a great time. We would share stories of the night’s events.

At one point I walked by myself a short ways to a busy corner bus stop. There was a bus parked on the side street with the engine running getting ready to load up. I thought I might try to talk to a few of the people milling around. After just arriving at the spot, I saw in my peripheral vision someone walking toward the bus in my direction. He seemed to appear out of nowhere. As he came into view I turned to face him, hoping to get a word in as he walked up. He was a relatively tall distinguished man dressed well in a light-colored tailored suit. His appearance was different somehow. There was a look about him. I approached, handed him a tract, and told him why I was there. He listened politely, his face never changing expression. Then, in answer to me, he kind of looked off into the distance and said, “Yeah, I’ve been wanting to look into that.” He turned and walked off, getting lost in the crowd. I never saw him again.

Right away, I was struck by what he said because it reminded me of the following verse:

It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you, in these things which now have been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things into which angels long to look. [1Peter 1:12]

And this:

Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. [Hebrews 13:2 KJV][1]

On those downtown streets years ago, in the midst of a curious occurrence, I believed I had just met my first angel.

© 2020 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.


[1] Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

NEED A MIRACLE?

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The Lord Jesus is available. He has never stopped being available. All things are possible with God.

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THE FAUX BROS

The faux brethren are preaching a different Gospel. It brings no honor to the Lord. But it does bring them a living, and that is what they desire the most.

“Christianity” is very different behind the scenes. Once a Christian performer leaves the stage he or she can be seen for what they really are. I remember very well the early days when idealism gave way to reality. While the reality of the Lord was always the same the Lord showed me how the faux brethren change when away from the spotlight. I wondered then, just how a Christian performer is supposed to represent himself in public. There is obviously no way he can maintain the same persona and attitude as the one presented onstage.

Again, these were the very early days of my new Christian experience. Everything was brand new, holy, and pure. I had no reason to doubt anything presented as spiritual reality. The preaching I became associated with was powerful and convicting. It was obviously inspired and anointed.

But I began to realize that I never saw that kind of preaching outside a church venue, unless it was a larger church venue transported to a rented auditorium or something similar. Why did I never see that kind of incredible preaching out on the street in a non-official setting?

THOSE BRUTAL ROMANS

This is how the early believers did it. They had no church buildings. There were in fact no church buildings for almost three centuries and yet those powerful early believers turned the Roman Empire on its ear. One must keep in mind that the Romans were brutal. That is probably the best one word description of their entire culture. They perfected crucifixion, for example. Gladiators fought to the death as entertainment. Massive crowds came to the many entertainment venues to see human beings suffer and die. Once the early believers became more numerous and were seen as a threat, they too were sentenced to die in entertainment venues, often ripped apart by wild beasts. Imagine being one of those early stalwarts of the faith.

Despite all the persecution and barbaric brutality, the early believers actually brought the Roman Empire to its knees. They did it with love. They did it by making themselves vulnerable. They were never two-faced. What you saw was what you got whether they were behind closed doors, in small settings, or out in the public on the street. They learned all of this from the Lord Jesus. It is exactly the way He was and the way He did things. He was always the same and He is still the same.

STAGE PERFORMERS

Official Christianity, however, has been transformed into a stage production. Preaching has become an art form. Yet, such is not close to being new. The Lord called the Pharisees and those like them hypocrites. Though the word has a different connotation now, hypocrites were stage performers. They were actors. The Lord called the Pharisees actors. They were merely acting out a part. Their outward performance was never how they really were. Off the stage and out of their religious costumes, they were the opposite. They were as fake as the day is long.

It should be obvious that without church buildings and professional preachers most Christians would have no clue what to do. Yet again, the early Church never “went to church.” They had no “church” to go to. Today, most Christians go to church in order to have church. Back then, real Christians were the Church. They couldn’t hide once they were out of the spotlight because they didn’t want to hide and the “spotlight” was a 24 hour a day proposition.

REAL CHRISTIANS

There are still Christians that are like this. They are always the same. They can do the will of God wherever they are. However, they are not professionals. They can’t be fake. It is simply not in them. Because of this they usually don’t have an easy time collecting donations. People are so used to having only one out a thousand presenting themselves as worthy “official” ministers that they are conditioned to support them, even though the great bulk of Christian work—99%—is being done by non-supported nobodies who must work closely with the Lord to gain a necessary living doing whatever they must. These are the real Christians. There are a few real Christians on stage and before cameras but are very, very few. You will know they are real because they do not perform. What they are in public is the same as what they would be in your living room or on the street.

It is largely why most of the early Great Awakening is not visible—it is not happening in official venues in churches, on stage, or on television. The controllers of those venues do not want a Great Awakening. They oppose it. It is too threatening to their cushy status quo. Almost all of it is happening out there among the nobodies, the forgotten Christians, the rejected Christians—the ones who never have and never will make the grade to be prime-time players. They are all lousy actors. They can’t make a living that way. But they are real— just like the Lord.

OUR LOVING FATHER

And the Lord Jesus is with them. He is always available. He takes care of them all because they have each presented themselves to Him as a living sacrifice to be used in whatever way He wants. These are true disciples. The one thing they have in common is their pure love and desire to help. Part of that involves believing the Lord for a miracle when a miracle is called for. They KNOW the Lord will always take care of them and one another and they have experienced the Lord’s miracles to that end. The Lord does miracles for them out of love and concern, however. He never does it as part of some twisted religious stage show. He blesses us in this way because He loves us and cares about us and because He can. He wants to meet our needs and if we let Him and obey Him and trust Him He can and He always will.

And sometimes He blesses us with a miracle not because there is a dire need but simply because He just wants to bless our socks off. He’s in love with us. He sometimes just can’t help Himself.

© 2017 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.

THE END OF THE AGE—IN PROPHECY [Part 3]

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It is called The Olivet Prophecy. In response to the questions of His disciples about the End of the Age, the Lord Jesus clearly revealed the signs to watch for that some of them would live to see.

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DAYS OF VENGEANCE

“But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then recognize that her desolation is near. Then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains, and those who are in the midst of the city must leave, and those who are in the country must not enter the city; because these are days of vengeance, so that all things which are written will be fulfilled.” [Luke 21:20-22]

A likely majority of Christians have been subjected to false interpretations of Bible prophecy. There is much confusion and misunderstanding. Most believers get lost in all the detail. But in reality, it is not the Word of God that is to blame, especially in regard to the Last Days prophecies made by the Lord Jesus. Many of His teachings have been taken out of context. Many have been misapplied. Thus, it is not His prophetic content or manner of teaching that is causing the lack of comprehension. It is dealing with the inaccurate interpretations that conflict with the truth.

Truth and error do not mix. Error does not add up. The light of truth exposes dark things and reveals inaccuracies. When one is able to identify error, as tares in a wheat field or masquerading goats at a sheep party, and thus eliminate it from the equation, the truth stands out. It comes out of hiding, so to speak. The truth suddenly becomes visible right there in front of us. And we think, it was always there but for some reason I couldn’t see it. We don’t know such truth exists. We are thus blinded by error because we do not perceive it as such. Sometimes we think error is truth.

How can this happen to Christians who otherwise dwell in the light of the Lord? Where does the obfuscation come from? Many Christians spend their lives in states of cognitive dissonance trying to make sense of the competing doctrinal factoids in their heads in an impossible effort at connecting dots and joining contrary puzzle pieces together. We take it for granted that we have the truth on any given subject but rarely or never subject it to the proper testing as the Lord said we must. Much of this arises from whatever Christian cultural arrangement we belong to. The following is an example:

When I wrote my series on Mary Highly Favored this past December, I included her genealogy from the Gospel of Luke. I noted that her father’s name was Eli or Heli, depending on the translation (See Luke 3:23). In talking to someone about this I was taken somewhat to task over it because the person insisted that Mary’s parents were Joachim and Anna. 

I said that was only tradition. And the New Testament does not actually mention Mary’s mother.

It did not matter what I said from that point forward because this person would not consider the truth. The scary thing about it was that the truth in the Word of God was rejected and a mere apocryphal traditional error which is strongly ensconced in that Christian denomination was accepted. If this attitude is applied to the entire Word of God such people could be hopelessly indoctrinated against various truths in favor of the erroneous teachings of their denominational beliefs regarding anything the Scriptures teach.

It is the same with Bible prophecy. Once a person has chosen to believe a particular interpretation and puts stock in it the odds of seeing it differently greatly diminish. But becoming convinced of something we believe to be true does not make it so. It is in part why the Lord has blessed us with His Word. There must be a final appeal to authority and that authority is the Lord Jesus and the written record we have of His teachings. His Word must be the final arbiter.

And His Word always dovetails together. The same way it works with Old Testament prophecies about the coming Messiah, all the prophetic content in the New Testament about the Last Days comes together into a single comprehensible whole. Of course, since we are dealing with several different books of the Bible which were originally not written by their respective authors as chapters in a single publication (though the Lord meant it exactly that way through His inspiration), it is up to us to do the research and also receive His revelation.

THE OLIVET PROPHECY

In this light, therefore, for those who want the truth of the matter, the Lord’s Olivet Prophecy exists in all three synoptic gospels. These accounts are easily accessible, relatively short, and quite clear. What the Lord prophesies is not all that difficult to understand especially in light of later history, which records exactly what happened up to the final conflagration in 70 AD. You can find the Lord’s prophecies of The End of the Age in the following passages:

         The Gospel of Matthew: Chapters 24 and Chapter 25

         The Gospel of Mark: Chapter 13

         The Gospel of Luke: Chapter 21

Keep in mind that there are no New Testament accounts of what eventually happened regarding the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple. But there certainly are NT accounts written in the 60s AD immediately prior to that time. There are other accounts also, such as those in Paul’s letters written within one to two decades of the end that also clearly point to it as a fast approaching future of prophetic fulfillment.

The Lord left no one unaware. He warned His disciples of what was coming and also gave the specific time frame. He said it would come to pass in their generation and some of them would live to see it. Why would He otherwise warn them? Why did He tell them the specific signs to look for unless He knew some of them would be there and must know when to head for the hills? They were also responsible for telling their children and relations so they too would be prepared. Also, they must not only prepare at the time of the end but gear up for it over the duration of the final forty years from the Lord’s time until it happened. They would have to persevere.

It was not an easy thing to know your entire nation, capital city, and beloved temple would one day soon cease to exist through a horrendous conflagration in which millions of one’s fellow citizens would perish. This is how they did it:

“By your endurance you will gain your lives.” [Luke 21:19] [1]   

© 2020 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved. [To Be Continued]


[1] Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

THE END OF THE AGE—IN PROPHECY [Part 2]

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The early Christians of the New Testament era believed they were living in the Last Days. They believed the prophetic events thereof were being fulfilled in their generation.

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They learned this initially from the Lord, of course. He made it clear in the following passage:

“Now learn the parable from the fig tree: when its branch has already become tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near; so, you too, when you see all these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door. Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.” [Matthew 24:32-34]

He referred to this generation in many passages. He was consistent in describing it as the most evil generation in the history of national Israel. He also said it was the last one:

You serpents, you brood of vipers, how will you escape the sentence of hell? Therefore, behold, I am sending you prophets and wise men and scribes; some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city, so that upon you may fall the guilt of all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. Truly I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation. [Matthew 23:33-36]   

THE TIME FRAME OF THE FINAL GENERATION

It began with the birth of the Lord. It lasted approximately 70 years. According to Scripture, an average human lifespan was 70 (Psalm 90:10). An average generation in general terms was 40 years. The Lord began His ministry at 30 years of age. Jerusalem was overrun and the temple was destroyed in 70 AD. The final generation officially began with the Lord’s ministry.

This approximate 40 year period included both the first generation of the Lord’s expanding worldwide spiritual Community and the final generation of collapsing national Israel.

These two overlapped. The principle participants on both sides were descendants of Abraham. At first, Christianity was seen by the world as a Jewish sect. This was because there were no Gentiles in the Lord’s Community for at least about seven years. It was composed strictly of Israelites. One might thus refer to the spiritual battle of that time as family oriented internecine warfare.

The spiritual war broke out first. The unbelieving Jews were the chief persecutors of the early Church. They were essentially the only persecutors until ten years into the time of Nero the Roman emperor. Nero came to power in 54 AD. He replaced Claudius who was emperor from 41-54. The early believers flourished during the time of Claudius who believed all peoples in the empire should be allowed to practice their religion. Things changed somewhat with Nero in the early going, persecution grew steadily worse due to anti-Christian influence in his court, and then went into overdrive in 64 AD when he falsely blamed the Christians for the great fire of Rome that summer. Many believed he was covering up his own crimes and the Christians were easy targets and scapegoats.

Meanwhile, things in Jerusalem grew progressively worse. The Zealot uprising eventually overtook all voices of relative reason. The great revolt began in the summer of 66. Jews were fighting Jews. The instability and increasing infighting centered on Jerusalem grew so great Rome had no choice but to eventually intervene in an effort to keep the peace and stem the outbreak of greater war. It was all beginning to happen at that time just as the Lord had prophesied and as the apostles had taught in the intervening 40 year period. Great numbers of believers had faced ongoing intense persecution from their unbelieving brethren who were bound and determined to use every weapon in their arsenal to stomp out the Christian upstarts who, in their darkened view, were making a mockery of their religion and heritage. Their hate was intense and continued growing exponentially. 

DESCRIPTIONS AND JUDGMENT OF THE FINAL GENERATION

Then some of the scribes and Pharisees said to Him, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from You.” But He answered and said to them, “An evil and adulterous generation craves for a sign; and yet no sign will be given to it but the sign of Jonah the prophet; for just as JONAH WAS THREE DAYS AND THREE NIGHTS IN THE BELLY OF THE SEA MONSTER, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” [Matthew 12:38-40]       

“The men of Nineveh will stand up with this generation at the judgment, and will condemn it because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and behold, something greater than Jonah is here.” [Matthew 12:41]        

The Queen of the South will rise up with this generation at the judgment and will condemn it, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and behold, something greater than Solomon is here.” [Matthew 12:42]       

“Now when the unclean spirit goes out of a man, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came;’ and when it comes, it finds it unoccupied, swept, and put in order. Then it goes and takes along with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first. That is the way it will also be with this evil generation.” [Matthew 12:43-45][1]

In the approximate 70 year period beginning with the Lord’s birth, a time when all was in relatively good order, the demonic presence within the religious and political controllers began manifesting steadily and eventually increased eightfold, in a violent hate-filled massive counter response to a loving God bringing abundant life to His hurting people.

The chosen chose Him.

© 2020 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved. [To Be Continued]


[1] Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

THE END OF THE AGE—IN PROPHECY [Part 1]

Destruction of Jerusalem by Ercole de' Roberti

        

The prophet Daniel pointed to it. John the Immerser said it was approaching quickly. The Lord Jesus gave the final warning.

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In 70 AD the end came. Jerusalem was decimated. The Second Temple was destroyed. This was exactly as the Lord prophesied forty years before:

“For the days will come upon you when your enemies will throw up a barricade against you, and surround you and hem you in on every side, and they will level you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation.” [Luke 19:43-44]

Many still do not recognize that time of visitation. The Lord warned repeatedly that destruction was nigh, that the people must repent and turn back to Him or lose everything. But not only did they not recognize the times, they refused to honor their Messiah who came to save them. Everything would have been different if they did, but it was not to be. They had reached the point of no return. Though their national sin had not yet reached its complete fullness during the Lord’s time, it was almost there. The nation itself was essentially lost but many who were part of the nation heard the Word. They got the big idea. These were ones who comprised the last days Remnant of the Hebrew people who remained true to God. They recognized God when He arrived. They honored their Messiah. They understood the times. They knew it was the final generation.

“Now learn the parable from the fig tree: when its branch has already become tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. Even so, you too, when you see these things happening, recognize that He is near, right at the door. Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.” [Mark 13:28-30]

THE ANCIENT PRECEDENT

During the time of Abraham, roughly nineteen centuries before the time of the Lord’s ministry, there was a Canaanite tribe known as the Amorites. These were an iniquitous people. They were direct descendants of Canaan, the son of Ham, the son of Noah. God told Abraham (Abram), right after his legendary meeting with Melchizedek, in the immediate vicinity of the city of Salem which would later become Jerusalem, that his descendents would be “strangers in a strange land” but would eventually return after four centuries to this land of promise. In the meantime the Canaanite tribes would become increasingly more evil. The Amorites were especially identified as such:

“Then in the fourth generation they will return here, for the iniquity of the Amorite is not yet complete.” [Genesis 15:16]

God was invoking a spiritual principle. Sin is progressive. The Amorites were wicked and would continue growing more depraved over time. There was no check on this process. Degeneration had already begun and nothing would stop it. It was the will of the people. There may be some who escape but the nation itself was doomed. It was only a matter of time until the iniquity of the Amorite was complete.

Centuries later, after the Exodus from Egypt, we discover their fate. As noted in the Book of Numbers, the nation of Israel was traveling back to their date with destiny but the journey came to a standstill, having been blocked by the land of the Amorites. Israel sent messengers and asked Sihon, the Amorite king, for permission to pass through his land. He refused. He later decided to gather his forces, seek out Israel, and go on the attack.

Then Israel struck him with the edge of the sword, and took possession of his land from the Arnon to the Jabbok, as far as the sons of Ammon; for the border of the sons of Ammon was Jazer. [Numbers 21:24]

This was the end of the Amorite kingdom. Yet, the influence of the Amorites remained. Regarding their destruction and the later final destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans, there is the undying voice of the prophet speaking forth a connection and a clue:

“Son of man, make known to Jerusalem her abominations and say, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD to Jerusalem, “Your origin and your birth are from the land of the Canaanite, your father was an Amorite and your mother a Hittite.”’ [Ezekiel 16:2-3]    

 THE END OF THE ISRAELITE KINGDOM

Of course, the Israelites had no official kingdom since the destruction of Judah, the Southern Kingdom, in 586 BC when the Judaic line of kings ceased. They were ruled over by others after their return from Babylon—Persians, Greeks, and Romans—with a brief time of independence under the Maccabees. The Northern Kingdom of Israel, comprised of ten of the twelve tribes, had ceased to exist 750 years before the time of the Lord. What was left of the nation was the Roman province of Judaea which had already been absorbed into the larger province of Syria. It was a far cry from what had once been. Looking at it from an overall historical perspective, Israel had been degenerating ever since the death of King David in 970 BC. If you want to know why, read the Old Testament. It’s all there: An ongoing succession of rebelliousness and disobedience toward God, the very One who saved them from certain destruction through miraculous means and then ongoing saving and assisting after countless screw-ups and betrayals.

But again, during all this there remained a holy Remnant dedicated to the Lord that remained true to Him and faithful. God was never left without a witness. The genealogical line of the Lord Jesus always remained intact. The ongoing experiment of having a people for His own namesake in a world of evil, treacherous nations that hated Him must prevail. There were times when the percentage of good was almost tapped out. The prophet Elijah pretty much thought it was all over in his time until hearing from the Lord that it wasn’t quite as bad as he thought (though still exceptionally sordid), in that a relatively decent-sized Remant remained:

And behold, a voice came to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” Then he said, “I have been very zealous for the LORD, the God of hosts; for the sons of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars and killed Your prophets with the sword. And I alone am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.” The LORD said to him, “Go, return on your way… I will leave 7,000 in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal and every mouth that has not kissed him.” [1Kings 19:13-15, 18][1]

© 2020 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved. [To Be Continued]


[1] Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

DEFINING NEW WINE (AND EMBRACING ADULTHOOD)

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       The Millennial generation has now overtaken the Baby Boomers. This development parallels the fading dominion of “old wine” Christianity.

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        We are on the threshold of a vast new transformation. The bulk of the coming-of-age Millennial generation, those born between the early 1980s and the late 1990s to early 2000s, likely will not be engaging in anywhere close to the same degree of hands-on, practical, do-it-yourself utility and blue collar work of past generations. In general, while brilliant and exceptional in many areas of expertise, its skill set is lacking in the use of tools and, though gaining, has less aptitude for practical self-reliance.

       As a result, since Millennials number in the 80-90 million range, the home improvement industry is particularly panicked about the upcoming diminishing demand for its products. To remedy the potentially huge future problem, how-to videos and tutorials on an extremely elementary and basic level have been created, such as “How To Use A Tape Measure.”

         Sound familiar? What are the otherwise veiled common denominators of the largely unchurched Millennial generation and traditional church congregations of past and present? How are these alike? Do both share commonalities through no initial fault of their own, such as being adulthood challenged, sheltered, dependency-bred, and subjected to Groupthink? (Traditional church congregations in general are rarely taught to graduate and go on into individual ministry, for example, as commanded in the Great Commission.) These common characteristics indicate far too much “old wine” influence and a dearth of the new.

NEW WINE

        And He was also telling them a parable: “…And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the new wine will burst the skins and it will be spilled out, and the skins will be ruined. But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins. And no one, after drinking old wine wishes for new; for he says, ‘The old is good enough.’” [Luke 5:36-39]

OLD WHINE

         Christians have labored for centuries trying to figure out this passage or trying to figure out why the Lord used it in the first place, since the subject matter causes discomfort in some circles. Yet it remains a classic “eyes and ears” parable of which the true understanding is often missed. Rather than seeing the deeper meaning and making the correct application the Lord is calling for, however, the passage often evokes the prohibition response among those Christians who believe wine is not good. Instead of censoring the Lord Jesus or taking Him to task for NT wine references, of which there are many, perhaps they should try to see what He’s getting at.  

         I say this because immature and out-of-touch past generations of Christians with such an attitude have also missed the boat on other spiritual teachings. Missing the one addressed by the New Wine parable, though, is enormously problematic since it directly regards the pure practicality of reaching the lost without forcing them into largely dead impractical religion and non-spiritual constructs. For example, it didn’t help that for much of the time since it was first published in 1611, many Christians only had a King James Bible with no alternative or were not allowed one that may exist, especially, of course, in England and the English-speaking world. Because the KJV was state-sponsored, it forced millions into accepting every word and punctuation mark therein without question. Yet, on the all-important New Wine and New Wineskins passage, a deeply important parable, the KJV translators got it really wrong by referring to the wineskins as bottles.

         Right. They all had glass wine bottles in the first century. But according to some, those people apparently were not allowed to drink the wine therein anyway. What grandiose minds are these who project their convictions on all prior generations? There is a reason we have better translations today. Yet there remain millions of Christians at present who refuse to use any other Bible and even insist other versions are sinful. This is evidence of remaining endemic authoritative bias which disallows the necessary developmental steps toward gaining maturity. It creates a purposed distance from the Lord’s pure teachings by an agenda-based clergy promoting subjugation to them and their old wineskins.

         Ironically, I guess we may say, the incorrect KJV translation of the New Wine passage proves the gist of the Lord’s New Wine parable.

FERMENTATION (SPIRITUAL EYES AND EARS ALERT)

        The process of fermentation changes mere grape juice into a completely different liquid with different properties. New Wine is wine still undergoing the fermentation process.

         In Biblical times, as fermentation commenced and the juice of the grapes foamed up, somewhat dynamically, the process was allowed to take place only in open vats or containers for obvious reasons. After this initial substantial fermentation the wine was poured into small containers made of animal skins, but it was most important that the skins be new and fresh. Why? Because the wine was still undergoing fermentation and the skins must be new, strong, and flexible to allow for further expansion. It was sometimes the case that the new skins filled with New Wine appeared close to bursting.

         This is why everyone with knowledge of wine-making knew to never put New Wine into old dried-up wineskins because such containers would never be able to handle the ongoing fermentation process. If this principle was violated the old skins would crack or tear and be ruined by the New Wine, which would spill out and be lost. Incidentally, and in light of what I have been addressing in several recent posts, the fermentation process lasted about forty days. This means something. You might want to take a look at those recent posts.

PUTTING THINGS IN PERSPECTIVE

         The parable of the New Wine and New Wineskins appears only in the three synoptic gospels. It is apparent that Matthew and Mark were referencing Luke. Only Luke actually refers to it as a parable. Yet in each occurrence, the parable appears somewhat out of nowhere, especially in Luke, and there is no explanation. No one asked about the spiritual or allegorical meaning when the Lord addressed it. It is just there, and then the narrative moves on. What does it mean?

         We can find a clue simply by looking at the fermentation process. In His teachings regarding new beginnings and the necessity of both a New Covenant and new approaches to spiritual life, the Lord also referred to the absolute necessity of a new birth, meaning a spiritual birth. He is referencing by these illustrations a must-metamorphosis or a transformation from one stage to another, just as we are presently on the threshold of a vast new spiritual transformation. He also claimed that such a personal change, or birth, was both dramatic and all-encompassing.

BECOMING FULLY MATURE

(1) A butterfly lays an egg on a food plant

(2) The egg becomes a larva, or caterpillar, and the caterpillar grows rapidly

(3) When fully developed, the caterpillar enters the pupa stage and surrounds itself in a chrysalis

(4) When metamorphosis is complete, the pupal skin splits and a fully developed butterfly emerges, illustrating the final stage of maturation, and it soon takes flight

       Through the Lord’s mysterious ways, a relatively non-attractive many-legged worm thoroughly grounded and munching leaves and whatnot is inexplicably transformed into a lightweight beautiful butterfly able to escape the weighty hold of gravity. Remember, this is the same creature during all four stages. It merely exists in different forms on the way toward becoming fully mature, or complete.

DEVELOPING INTO SPIRITUAL ADULTS

“Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” [Matthew 5:48]

Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” [Matthew 19:21]

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed (metamorphoo) by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. [Romans 12:2]

I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, have this attitude; and if in anything you have a different attitude, God will reveal that also to you… [Philippians 3:14-15]

[The Greek word translated in the preceding as “perfect” or “complete” is teleios. It is defined as “mature, full grown, adult, or completed.”]

THE PROPER FRAME OF REFERENCE 

         Mere grape juice released through a violent crushing process somehow begins to be instantly transformed into another substance with powerful properties. What does this sound like? What does the Lord mean by New Wine and New Wineskins? Correctly defining these terms means we must first determine the proper frame of reference. The answer would seem to be otherwise obvious, since we have an Old Covenant and a New Covenant. The Old made possible the New, but the New replaced the Old. The New Wine replaces the old wine. It was a fact that due to the wine-making process of those times, the fully fermented wine lasted only so long. Old wine was wine stored for about a year or more, but it sometimes only lasted for about three years before turning into vinegar, though that could happen earlier.

FOR YOUR CHILDREN’S CHILDREN’S CHILDREN

          It follows then, that wine-making must be ongoing. There must always be a new batch of wine on the horizon. (Think Great Awakening.) The Feast of Tabernacles, in the autumn of the year, was an annual time of harvesting the fall grapes. It was a time of great joy. All of these facts are clues.

        The Pharisees and Sadducees represented the old wine that had degenerated into sour vinegar. Those guys could not get any more sour.

         The Lord was bringing forth the New Wine with His new kingdom. The refusing-to-be-transformed religious killjoys hated both. They rejected the new birth as do most “Christians.” Little did they know that they were actually playing right into the Lord’s hands, however, in that by crushing Him they were assisting in the process of bringing forth a brand new vintage, the best New Wine of all time!

DRUNK ON THE HOLY GHOST

         When the 120 were filled with His Spirit in the Upper Room they acted very differently. Their actions were out of the ordinary. What transpired on that morning did not look at all like the standard, dour-faced, traditional, institutional, stuck-in-the-mud, ultra-religious old wine that was “good enough.” Instead, they were all filled with incredible JOY and displayed never-before-seen bright shining faces, dazzling smiles, and much laughter. They were overcome with the Lord’s overwhelming love. Highly concentrated LOVE was all around them and spilling forth everywhere. By their love everybody appearance and manner it looked to outside observers that the Upper Roomers had been swimming around in a giant vat of New Wine:

         And they all continued in amazement and great perplexity, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” But others were mocking and saying, “They are full of sweet wine.” But Peter, taking his stand with the eleven, raised his voice and declared to them:

         “Men of Judea and all you who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you and give heed to my words. For these men are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only the third hour of the day; but this is what was spoken of through the prophet Joel:

         “‘AND IT SHALL BE IN THE LAST DAYS,’ God says, ‘THAT I WILL POUR FORTH OF MY SPIRIT ON ALL MANKIND; AND YOUR SONS AND YOUR DAUGHTERS SHALL PROPHESY, AND YOUR YOUNG MEN SHALL SEE VISIONS, AND YOUR OLD MEN SHALL DREAM DREAMS; EVEN ON MY BONDSLAVES, BOTH MEN AND WOMEN, I WILL IN THOSE DAYS POUR FORTH OF MY SPIRIT…’” [Acts 2:12-18] [1]

       We are on the threshold of a vast new transformation toward real spiritual adulthood.

          “New Wine must be put into fresh wineskins.”

         © 2017 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.


[1] Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

IMPRECISE PROPHETS AND ILL-DEFINED PROPHECIES: WHAT ABOUT THE NEW COVENANT MODEL?

 

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        They rarely get specific. Their forecasts are open-ended. An uttered word here or there or a noteworthy phrase may qualify as fulfillment and might be used for that purpose. Sound familiar?     

MAKING THE GRADE

        Have you ever wondered why certain prophetic ministers have such high credibility ratings regardless of dubious track records? One may think it’s because they are right often enough or were right when it mattered, in that they made an impact at a key time or key event. One may think it’s a matter of perception, in that they have the mere appearance of being right. Or it could be that they reported the future before it happened but something intervened afterwards and changed the outcome. Sometimes some of these ministers actually do get it right but not without explanations of how and why or why certain words and phrases actually denoted this or that. “See? Don’t you understand?” But when perusing the “prophecy” again one notices that some of the things claimed as prophecy were quite a stretch. Oh, so THAT’S what you meant. Okay…

         The main reason these ministers are accepted as such and honored appropriately is largely for the same reason most ministers gain credibility: (1) They have managed to successfully establish a brand in that they have convinced enough people that they are what they say they are and also have the backing of other ministers or ministerial groups to enforce that supposition. (2) They are perceived as perfectly genuine due to the outer trappings of “legitimate ministry” such as utilizing a church building or “ministry center” from which they minister, belonging to a certified minister group, preacher union, or denominational hierarchy, and also have an ongoing ministry income (oftentimes quite large) which supposedly proves God’s blessing and endorsement. (3) Few people ever bother to grade their pronouncements or keep track of them to see if what they said actually came to pass.

         Regardless, once a prophetic minister establishes perceived credibility, it’s just a matter of staying in the public eye and continue doing whatever one may be doing and put forth as good an appearance as possible. The followers they capture become convinced such ministers are for real but most often for other reasons. They may like their outward appearance and “ministerial manner” but fail to recognize the impact of the surface level of such. They may notice an upscale wardrobe but have no idea how much money and work went into it. They like what appears to be a genial quality but do not understand that some of it is a mere put-on utilized for the sake of connecting with an audience. Remember, image is everything. And besides, how can so many followers be wrong?

HOW TO TELL THE REAL FROM THE UNREAL

         Though it has been overly used and has lost much of its effectiveness, the phrase “What Would Jesus Do?” remains an effective question in sorting out legitimacy because it puts the spotlight on Him where it should be. It forces a comparison between His manner of doing things and those of Christian ministers who claim to be sent by Him. Are they teaching what the Lord Jesus taught? Are they doing what He did? Do their prophecies actually dovetail with the Word of God? Since most people who identify as Christians have never read the New Testament (much less studied it), it will be difficult to apply the preceding questions. This means they have no frame of reference when attempting to discover legitimacy. Due to their ignorance they are easily fooled. Due to personal pride they hate being told they lack the means for making correct identifications or properly differentiating the real from the counterfeit.

        But know this: Those ministers who depend on outward adornments to prove legitimacy are deceptive. Some use fairly innocuous means that go beyond simply being well-groomed, which, concerning the latter, everyone should engage in or strive for within one’s means. But as ministers they must appear as somehow better, you see? Other ministers go beyond this, however, and dress themselves up in clergy clothing to the degree that everyone knows they are clergy. They must have the whole lot because their lack of spiritual credentials is such that looking the part must override actually doing the part. They are much better at appearing to function spiritually than actually functioning spiritually. And then, beyond these people, you have those ultra-clergyites who wrap themselves up in the most ostentatious and ridiculous sheep’s clothing imaginable. They transition from clergy clothing to a clergy costume. They traipse around like the religious actors they are, largely letting their masquerading outfits and all-encompassing symbology do the talking for them. (What Would Jesus Do?) Well, for starters, He wouldn’t dress like THAT.

         We can see then, that the more one puts on the act, the more one has something to hide. The more one tries to convince others of one’s legitimacy, the more one is most likely illegitimate.

        Regarding actual New Covenant ministerial credentials, here’s what the apostle Paul wrote:

         And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God. [1Corinthians 2:1-5] [1]

         Returning to our subject then, do prophetic ministers ever admit it when they’re wrong? Do they ever admit that the overall context of their messages, often filled with unspecific renderings or assertions which could be applied somewhat universally, actually proves they don’t really get it very clear very often, or that “what they see” is largely inapplicable regarding meaningful particulars? Are their messages so open-ended that timing does not apply?

         As I wrote in a previous post, the entire overall “last days” prophecy theme of the 1960s and 70s prophecy teachers and book authors was WRONG. See if you can find a record of any single one of them ever admitting it. Some of them continued with the same spiel beyond that time and even into the present, but have been forced to change major aspects of their content because what they had originally prophesied failed and could never happen. They had to keep making a living, you see. They had to keep donations coming in and sell books. They had to keep up appearances. For that they needed their fake exterior and faux content. And by the way, where are the real prophets exposing the fake ones? What happened to them?

THEY WERE REAL BECAUSE THEY WERE RIGHT

         Again, the Lord Jesus is our perfect example. Most Christians do not understand that He was also a prophet. He was and remains the greatest Prophet. Read His prophecies and see what happened later on. You can also look to John the Immerser. He was also a great prophet. He told it exactly as he was shown and got it perfectly correct. There were also prophets in the early Community of the Lord throughout the New Testament period. 

         For example, there was a prophet named Agabus who is mentioned twice in the Book of Acts. The historical record states that he made two brief, direct, and unambiguous prophecies on separate occasions about specific future events, both of which came to pass just as he said:

          Now at this time some prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. One of them named Agabus stood up and began to indicate by the Spirit that there would certainly be a great famine all over the world. And this took place in the reign of Claudius. [Acts 11:27-28]

       As we were staying there for some days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. And coming to us, he took Paul’s belt and bound his own feet and hands, and said, “This is what the Holy Spirit says: ‘In this way the Jews at Jerusalem will bind the man who owns this belt and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.’” [Acts 21:10-11]

         Beyond these, there were the powerfully anointed OT prophets whose dedication and accuracy was legendary. You will notice by their lifestyle and outward appearance that they were all essentially the same. They had to make it on their own. They could not get by through simply gaining the endorsement of a ministry school or preacher group, or possessing a denominational stamp of approval. The enemy was a constant threat and often included their own rulers and fellow citizens. To the world at large their name was mud. They suffered. They did without. They were REJECTED and often hated. The Word of God burned within their hearts and they had to prophesy no matter the cost. They never gave up or gave in.

         And rather than cosmetic surgery to improve their appearance, the real prophets would have otherwise required actual surgery to repair their appearance. Thus, it was never carefully crafted outer images or ill-defined prophecies that exemplified their authenticity.

          It was battle scars and truth.

          © 2020 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.


[1] Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS: HIDDEN PROPHECY AND THE SIGN OF JONAH

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Dear Readers: Due to several cataclysmic events of “Biblical Proportions” taking place throughout the world at present, and the UK’s recent Brexit from the EU, many Christians are of a mind that we are in the last of the “last days.” The evidence is unconvincing, however, and by itself is nothing more than an oft-repeated narrative.

For those of you who are old enough to have been taken in by the false pronouncements of so many prophecy teachers back in the 1970s and 80s, the following article I wrote two years ago will clear up a few things and expose the overall sham for what it was. Those people were relentless in their incessant insistence that the Rapture and the Great Tribulation and the End of the World were just around the corner and essentially imminent. They were wrong.

But not just wrong. They were absolutely positively wrong and ended up with egg all over their faces and leisure suits. Yet they learned to wear the egg very well. This is what happens when you become convinced of a false narrative or buy into it with much cash and careers and your entire reputation rests upon it. It works great for a while as long as there are enough willing dupes but then crashes and burns spectacularly in the end.

Whoever continues to push this false narrative upon yet another unsuspecting generation truly does not have a correct grasp of actual New Testament prophetic content. It is up to every believer in the Lord Jesus to do as He taught, therefore, and:

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. [2Timothy 2:15]   

I highly encourage you to read the following article. It contains historic content regarding the founding of the original European Common Market and how it was utilized by prophecy teachers. Also, please read the comments. You will be blessed and likely enlightened. Some of you contributed, as did my friend Richard in the UK who also reblogged it. Anyone interested in Biblical prophecy or the current prophetic movement should add this post to their understanding of the present. They will gain greater insight toward the truth and a better understanding of both disinformation and incorrect interpretations so that what happened in the past may at last be seen for the trickery it was.

Remember, the Lord Jesus said deception would be so thick even the very elect would be fooled without His direct intervention.  

Blessings to you. Here’s the link:

THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS: HIDDEN PROPHECY AND THE SIGN OF JONAH

© 2020 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.

CATCH A WAVE! The Rise of Righteousness in America

Dear Readers: I wrote the following post over six years ago. Many of you liked it and contributed excellent comments. I feel very strongly that I must share this post at this time.

I came across it while in the process of editing my site. I have about 550 articles here and it is not possible, of course, to remember them all. But when I found this one it resonated in such a way that I knew many of you would appreciate it and be able to draw comparisons to that time and now. Many changes have transpired. Many have moved on. But it is clear that what I wrote then was not only true and confirmed by many of you but has continued to be relevant in the present. I encourage you to read this post again and also read the comments. You will be edified.

It is you, real Christian bloggers for the most part, who have proven my thesis and the thesis of my book. Where many of the official ministers have dropped the ball you have picked it up. You work tirelessly and faithfully every day. You enable the Lord to do His work and reveal His love in a greater way. Keep it up! Thanks for reading. Blessings to you all.

© 2019 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.

Real Christianity

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         But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound… [Romans 5:20]

        I’ve been telling whoever will listen for many years now that America will have a spiritual awakening. Most people have told me they don’t share my optimism.

         I wrote the following passage in the mid 1990’s:

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IS AMERICA A CHRISTIAN NATION?

         The price of compromise has been great. The United States of America is supposedly a Christian nation. Polls constantly show that at least ninety percent of the population refers to itself as “Christian” of some form or another. Yet, there is blood in the streets; there is an increasing number of kids who can’t learn; much of the population has discarded the idea of monogamy and have become so hedonistic in their relations they could learn morality from the example of numerous animal species; and diseases…

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GOD’S GIFT OF GRACE

Real Christianity

        Sometimes I wonder why the whole world isn’t lined up to receive the one thing that cures their eternal ills and reconciles them with God.

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      Though living a real Christian life is not easy, living in a cold, hard world is significantly more difficult and often impossible. We were designed to live for God and with God. We were created to be with Him, not apart from Him, and not lost on some weird avenue leading nowhere but down. Everything about the Lord is upward, and positive. He lifts spirits, He blesses with joy and peace, and He makes a place for the lonely and alone:

           A father of the fatherless and a judge for the widows, is God in His holy habitation. God makes a home for the lonely; He leads out the prisoners into prosperity…

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ONE FRUIT TWO FRUIT GOOD FRUIT BAD FRUIT

Real Christianity

         “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it. Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits.

         “Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruits.” [Matthew 7:13-20]

         The gate to life is…

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THE PROMISE BY FAITH

Real Christianity

         But the Scripture has shut up everyone under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.[Galatians 3:22]   

         The nature of God’s promise is that without faith there is effectively no promise at all. Not only that, but God will often make it difficult for His promises to be fulfilled in order to build our faith. Without faith it is impossible to please Him. Why else does the Lord sometimes wait until the brink of disaster before answering our prayers?

         The Exodus comes to mind. It is a story often cited in Scripture, and for good purpose. Everything was riding on that particular miracle taking place, and without it all was lost. You think you have problems? They were trying to kill the Lord long before He was ever born. Repeatedly, time after time, there arose continued…

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2019 REAL CHRISTIANITY ANNUAL REVIEW AND SUMMARY: ALL POSTS

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       2019 was a year of warning. The enemy, brimming with confidence, showed his hand. I did my best to keep you posted. As we head into the future, your life as a Christian will be more challenging.

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SPIRITUAL WARFARE

      Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

         Regarding trends, 2019 was the year when the attacks on the First Amendment went into overdrive. There are anti-American forces in America that will do anything they can, legal or not, to eliminate Constitutional guarantees of freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and freedom of religion. For example, there are presently very powerful and extremely well-funded forces making their greatest push yet to declare the New Testament “hate speech” with the purpose of eventually eliminating it. While this may sound impossible or even ridiculous to you at present, the people who perpetrate it are relentless and have been going at it for a long time. If you’ve never heard of this movement, like everything else, I suggest you immediately do your own research. You will be shocked. This is only one of many efforts attacking fundamental rights and the liberty to obey the Lord Jesus without concern of reprisal.

         Real Christianity is under attack like never before. Christian persecution is rapidly advancing in the world and is now manifesting very powerfully in America. Most ministers and churches never talk about this. It proves they are either ignorant and unaware or remain a big part of the problem. The Lord does not appreciate Judases, money-firsters, and those who water down His powerful Word for social acceptance, and American Christianity is saturated with these at present. Believe me, it will only get worse.

          2020 will mark a time when you as a Christian will have to make hard choices on whether or not you will continue following the Lord and honor Him first or kowtow to the culture, including unreal Christianity. Great temptation to back off and to compromise is coming. While this temptation has always existed and is why most of what is referred to as Christianity is merely a faux form thereof, the heat is currently being turned up to its highest levels yet. For Christian organizations who have already succumbed to money and the sinful culture, some of which I hope are deceived, their presence will continue to influence others to follow suit.

         Do not take this warning lightly. I predicted in my book, Real Christianity, writing almost a quarter century ago, and seeing it before then, that great Christian persecution was coming to America. Those who remember that time also remember that such an idea appeared impossible, but everything I wrote then has been coming to pass. This has happened and continues to happen for one central reason: Many American Christians have betrayed the Lord for a fake “easy’ Christianity. Unreal Christianity has become the default and official form. This adds pressure to real Christians and allows for “Christians” persecuting Christians. It permits an unholy hybrid in which fake monetary Christianity and geopolitical economic interests join forces. Both of these have a common enemy.  

WE ARE WINNING

       The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous runs into it and is safe. [Proverbs 18:10]         

         So be encouraged. The Lord never leaves His people without the means to stand and continue on. He is always faithful. He always provides. There remains a very powerful spiritual kingdom on the planet where righteousness dwells in which we can have safety and support. We remain in the early part of a coming Great Awakening. It is based on Truth that will bring forth a powerful revelation of the Lord Jesus and His actual teachings along with His Light shining everywhere else. This means lies, misinformation, and disinformation are being exposed for what they are. The lies that hide the truth are being torn away. It will no longer be possible for these to remain hidden and includes exposing the perpetrators, some of which are fake and/or compromised Christian “leaders.”

          And He was saying to them, “A lamp is not brought to be put under a basket, is it, or under a bed? Is it not brought to be put on the lampstand? For nothing is hidden, except to be revealed; nor has anything been secret, but that it would come to light. If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.” [Mark 4:21-23] [1]

          It is vital that we all grow closer to the Lord than ever before. What follows are links to every post I made in 2019 starting in January. There’s a lot of good writing here to further your Biblical knowledge and current events awareness. Take note of the titles.

          Blessings to you.

          © 2019 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.


[1] Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

MARY HIGHLY FAVORED: “BLESSED ARE YOU AMONG WOMEN!” (5)

 

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        Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth. This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. And everyone was on his way to register for the census, each to his own city. Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, in order to register along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child.

        While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

        In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.”

        When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another, “Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us.” So they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger. When they had seen this, they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child. And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart. The shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them. [Luke 2:1-20][1]

        © 2019 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.


[1] Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

MARY HIGHLY FAVORED: “BLESSED ARE YOU AMONG WOMEN!” (Intro)

MARY HIGHLY FAVORED: “BLESSED ARE YOU AMONG WOMEN!” (1)

MARY HIGHLY FAVORED: “BLESSED ARE YOU AMONG WOMEN!” (2)

MARY HIGHLY FAVORED: “BLESSED ARE YOU AMONG WOMEN!” (3)

MARY HIGHLY FAVORED: “BLESSED ARE YOU AMONG WOMEN!” (4)

 

MARY HIGHLY FAVORED: “BLESSED ARE YOU AMONG WOMEN!” (4)

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       There was an unknown circumstance in Mary’s young life that spoke of great humility. We don’t know what this was exactly, and Luke does not elaborate. But there are directive clues. Read on:

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        The following is from Part 1: There is something else here that Luke’s narrative hints at which he does not delve into, possibly because he knew his audience was aware of whatever particulars were involved with Mary and the circumstances of her humble life.

         In the very beginning, after initially being told by the angel Gabriel that she was highly favored and the Lord was indeed with her, Mary became, depending on the translation, troubled/disturbed/perplexed. The Greek says greatly agitated. She wondered where this extraordinary greeting came from and what it could possibly be about. One senses she thought it must be meant for another, that the joyous messenger must have the wrong house.

         In answering a faithful reader’s comment on Part 3 today, who said of Mary, She must have indeed been a highly intelligent, spiritually sensitive young woman, I wrote the following:

         “Yes. A perfect choice. And she had to somehow come to a quick understanding of this fact though her humble nature would otherwise preclude it. She had to look beyond her humble circumstances and do her best to see herself as God saw her. He needed her. He wanted her to be the one. Here we have a good look into the counterintuitive nature of humanity. If Mary had previously thought herself as the best choice she would be disqualified, since that would reveal the presence of sinful pride. But if she thought herself unworthy and could never be persuaded to the contrary she would disqualify herself.”

         Why did she feel so unworthy? And why did she refer to herself not once but twice as a bondslave? I mentioned this in Part 1. The Hebrew word for a female slave is shiphchah. The Greek word used here is doulos, which speaks directly to a slave of the basest order and is used throughout the New Testament. One gets the idea that young Mary was somehow familiar with such status.

         It is also quite interesting that the New Testament never mentions any interaction with Mary’s parents or possible siblings. We know her father’s name was Eli (Heli), from her genealogy in Luke 3:23, but there is never any mention of her mother or her mother’s name. It appears they were no longer around. It is also evident that Mary was an only child. Imagine that. There is also a distinct possibility that Joseph, her betrothed, was her father’s adopted son, as alluded to in the genealogy. This was actually a Hebrew tradition going back centuries for men with no natural male heirs, so the idea isn’t so far-fetched. Any or all of these challenging life circumstances might be the cause of her feelings of unworthiness, but there is yet another, and it is here where we shall gain even greater understanding of the well known verse, “For God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart” (1Samuel 16:7).

        There is a Greek word that only occurs four times in the NT. It only applies to two specific people in the NT. Those two people are the Lord Jesus and His mother Mary. The word is tapeinosis. It is defined as “lowness, low estate, and humiliation.” Regarding the Lord it appears in Acts 8:33 in which the author references Isaiah 53:8. Here are both verses with the translated English word underlined:

     “IN HUMILIATION HIS JUDGMENT WAS TAKEN AWAY; WHO WILL RELATE HIS GENERATION? FOR HIS LIFE IS REMOVED FROM THE EARTH.” [Acts 8:33]

         By oppression and judgment He was taken away; and as for His generation, who considered that He was cut off out of the land of the living for the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due? [Isaiah 53:8]

      Here is the verse that references Mary, again with the translated English words underlined:

          “For He has had regard for the humble state of His bondslave; for behold, from this time on all generations will count me blessed.” [Luke 1:48]   

         The Hebrew word is otser. It is defined as “restraint, coercion.” It is translated primarily as “oppression.” It refers in a sense to prison or being a prisoner. This indicates a form of slavery. Mary did refer to herself as a bondslave. This speaks indirectly of possessing a particular humble state or condition and we now have a better understanding of what that was. Isaiah chapter 53 is an OT prophetic picture of the Lord Jesus. Here is the verse that ties both Son and mother together:

          He has no stately form or majesty that we should look upon Him, nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him. [Isaiah 53:2][1] 

           © 2019 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved. [To Be Continued]


[1] Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

MARY HIGHLY FAVORED: “BLESSED ARE YOU AMONG WOMEN!” (Intro)

MARY HIGHLY FAVORED: “BLESSED ARE YOU AMONG WOMEN!” (1)

MARY HIGHLY FAVORED: “BLESSED ARE YOU AMONG WOMEN!” (2)

MARY HIGHLY FAVORED: “BLESSED ARE YOU AMONG WOMEN!” (3)

MARY HIGHLY FAVORED: “BLESSED ARE YOU AMONG WOMEN!” (5)

MARY HIGHLY FAVORED: “BLESSED ARE YOU AMONG WOMEN!” (3)

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       Prior to her visitation by the angel Gabriel, Mary was burdened by an undisclosed life circumstance. We gain further clues of this by her reaction to Elizabeth’s powerful prophetic message.

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         To set the scene for the next historical interlude which bears upon the foundational Gospel account after her journey to Judea to visit Elizabeth, we must acknowledge the fact that, according to Luke’s account, Mary had yet to speak to anyone about the great news.

         She had left Nazareth in a hurry, almost immediately after she had consented to God’s plan. The Holy Spirit had indeed descended upon her and she was overshadowed with the power of the Most High. A miraculous conception had taken place in her womb! She had told no one, not even Joseph. Her elder relative Elizabeth would be her confidant. As the many repercussions played out in her thinking, Mary had remained amazed but laden with knowledge that no one else possessed.

GOD’S PERFECT TIMING

         In Part 1, we covered Luke 1:26-38. In Part 2, we covered Luke 1:39-45. There are several components of the narrative within these verses to be addressed. The first thing we must do, however, is address the timing of the events. The angel Gabriel had told Mary that Elizabeth was already with child and in her sixth month. The human gestation period is 280 days, which is almost exactly 9.5 lunar cycles. An exact 9.5 moons would be a half day longer. Here is the math: A lunar cycle is 29.53059 days. Multiplied by 9.5 the gestation period would be 280.54 days. Since we know the Bible grants much importance to the number 40, it is not a coincidence that 280 is 40 times 7 (another significant number). Regarding the number of days into her pregnancy for Elizabeth at the time, it was somewhere between five and six months because Luke’s account says she was in her sixth month. She had yet to complete her second trimester.

         I submit that it was exactly five and a half months and during a new moon.

       It should have taken Mary less than a week, probably about five days, to get to Elizabeth’s house in Judea from Nazareth since the journey was at least 70 miles as the crow flies but maybe 80 or more considering the roads and terrain. Luke does not tell us the town or Mary’s specific destination in Judea. This was also during the winter rains though most of the precipitation was in the north. We have no knowledge regarding who may have accompanied Mary on the trip. There is no mention of Joseph. Would she have gone alone? From the narrative it certainly appears that she was alone when greeting Elizabeth.

         Regarding the time of year, my research has long indicated that the Lord was born in the autumn. I believe it was likely on the 15th of the month of Tishrei on the Hebrew calendar, which was the first day of the weeklong Feast of Succoth (Tabernacles / Booths) and during a full moon. In 2019 this day fell on October 14th. We have a hint of this as the Lord’s birthday in John’s gospel. The word “dwelt” in the following verse is from a Greek word meaning “to fix one’s tabernacle or tent:”

         And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. [John 1:14]

         Tishrei was the seventh month of the ancient sacred calendar adopted originally by the Lord during the time of Moses. The spring is the natural beginning of the year and was also the time of the Exodus and the Resurrection of the Lord. It is thus quite clear that the spring feasts are first and then followed by the autumn feasts. Tishrei later became the first month of the civil calendar and begins with Rosh Hashanah, the “head” of the year which is considered the Jewish New Year. This can get confusing, of course, but for the purposes of this study I will number the months as beginning in the spring from the vernal equinox.

         Since the Lord was likely born on Tishrei 15 in the autumn, it would mean the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary nine and a half months before, during a new moon on the 1st of Tevet, the tenth month (if it was a twelve month year, which was most probable). Tevet occurs in Dec/Jan. From this we get a clear timeline of these two miraculous pregnancies of Elizabeth and Mary:

YEAR 1: John was conceived in the summer on the 15th of the fourth month during a full moon.

YEAR 1: The Lord Jesus was conceived in the winter on the 1st of the tenth month during a new moon.

YEAR 2: John was born in the spring on the 1st of the second month during a new moon.

YEAR 2: The Lord Jesus was born in the autumn on the 15th of the seventh month during a full moon.

         After Elizabeth’s greeting and anointed word, Mary responded once again, as she did to Gabriel, with amazement and great humility. It was no insignificant response but revealed a woman of strong intellect, spiritual grace, and much insightful knowledge of Scripture for one so young. Her words reverberate through the centuries illustrating the profound nature of the Lord’s great plan and her own unique circumstances. We don’t hear much from Mary ever again but the following passage is filled with spiritual portent and the faithfulness of God. He has come to His people:

        And Mary said: “My soul exalts the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. For He has had regard for the humble state of His bondslave; for behold, from this time on all generations will count me blessed. For the Mighty One has done great things for me; and holy is His name. AND HIS MERCY IS UPON GENERATION AFTER GENERATION TOWARD THOSE WHO FEAR HIM. He has done mighty deeds with His arm; He has scattered those who were proud in the thoughts of their heart. He has brought down rulers from their thrones, and has exalted those who were humble. HE HAS FILLED THE HUNGRY WITH GOOD THINGS; and sent away the rich empty-handed. He has given help to Israel His servant, in remembrance of His mercy, as He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and his descendants forever.” [Luke 1:46-55][1]

         Luke tells us that Mary stayed in Judea with Elizabeth for about three months after her arrival. The two would have had many long talks. As I stated earlier, Elizabeth was Mary’s only confidant. She was the only one who would have understood her circumstances because she had the same circumstances. These two ladies would have discussed all the implications of what they were presented with and how best to deal with the outcome and responses of others, especially as how it affected Mary. She still had to tell Joseph. She had to tell her parents. How would they react? She knew how everybody else would react and it was a hard pill to swallow. The time with Elizabeth was cherished because she gained the support she would need, to build herself up, and prepare for the coming storm of controversy.

        And Mary stayed with her about three months, and then returned to her home. [Luke 1:56]

         One would think Mary would have stayed for John’s birth. We are tempted to add to the narrative and think she must have stayed, but Luke did not present it that way. With regard to why she left early, the calendar gives us a direct clue: It was now the early spring. The first month of Nisan had arrived. The spring feasts, to which Mary had remained faithful her entire life, were upon the nation. Passover week would be happening very soon, within about a week or so. Did Mary leave a few weeks before John’s birth to celebrate Passover in Jerusalem?

         © 2019 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved. [To Be Continued]


[1] Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

MARY HIGHLY FAVORED: “BLESSED ARE YOU AMONG WOMEN!” (Intro)

MARY HIGHLY FAVORED: “BLESSED ARE YOU AMONG WOMEN!” (1)

MARY HIGHLY FAVORED: “BLESSED ARE YOU AMONG WOMEN!” (2)

MARY HIGHLY FAVORED: “BLESSED ARE YOU AMONG WOMEN!” (4)

MARY HIGHLY FAVORED: “BLESSED ARE YOU AMONG WOMEN!” (5)

 

MARY HIGHLY FAVORED: “BLESSED ARE YOU AMONG WOMEN!” (2)

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      The conventional perception of the mother of our Lord is off. It is way off. She is commonly depicted in religious art, iconography, and statuary as Caucasian, and often northern European.

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         Knowledge of her Hebrew heritage among Christians is largely lost. Even her actual name is mostly unknown. The name Mary derives from the Judeo-Aramaic variant Maryam, from the Greek Mariam, which was derived from the original Hebrew Miryam, the name of the elder sister of Moses and Aaron (which is translated into English primarily as Miriam). New Testament readers know this was a popular name for Hebrew women at that time, as there are several with the name in the Gospel accounts.

      As a young Hebrew maiden of eastern Mediterranean stock, she was likely dark complected with dark hair and Semitic features. Semitic refers to one of the three sons of Noah—Shem—whose descendants predominantly populated the Middle East and still do today. We know from early OT accounts that the ancient Hebrews shared their DNA with many different ethnos of the greater region, including the Canaanite tribes. There were also the two great disruptions to the nation when the ten northern tribes of Israel were deported to the east in 722 BC followed by the Babylonian captivity of Judah 136 years later. The three remaining tribes of the latter—Judah, Levi, and Benjamin—were removed to Babylon for 70 years. They were allowed to return but many chose to stay. The lands of Israel and Judah had been repopulated somewhat by foreigners in the interim, especially the Samaritan region. The land was then ruled by a succession of Persians, Greeks, and Romans. It is therefore difficult if not impossible to arrive at a definitive Hebrew nationality by the first century AD.

         Even so, we do have two extant genealogies of our Lord Jesus from that time, both of which stem from the tribe of Judah and feature the persons of Abraham and David. The genealogy of Joseph the carpenter in Matthew’s gospel descends through King David’s son Solomon, the third and final king of a united Israel. After Solomon’s death the kingdom split into the northern Kingdom of Israel and the southern Kingdom of Judah. Luke’s gospel contains the genealogy of Mary, which also goes through David but by his son Nathan, Solomon’s brother. This family tree divergence took place over 900 years before the Lord’s birth. The last of the Hebrew kings of the Judaic line ceased with the Babylonian captivity in 586 BC. Zedekiah was the last king of Judah, but was somewhat illegitimate in that he was installed by the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar in 597 BC after the siege of Jerusalem. The king before Zedekiah was Jeconiah (AKA Coniah, Jehoiachin), who was carted off to Babylon a prisoner in chains. This is what the prophet Jeremiah said about him:

         “Is this man Coniah a despised, shattered jar? Or is he an undesirable vessel? Why have he and his descendants been hurled out and cast into a land that they had not known? O land, land, land, hear the word of the LORD! Thus says the LORD, ‘Write this man down childless, a man who will not prosper in his days; for no man of his descendants will prosper sitting on the throne of David or ruling again in Judah.’” [Jeremiah 22:28-30]   

         The Hebrew monarchy was thus abolished. There were no more kings. No one could ever again qualify. Joseph the carpenter’s line included Jeconiah and he is listed in Matthew’s genealogy. Nevertheless, it was established that Joseph, the legal stepfather of the Lord, could trace his direct lineage to Solomon and David. Mary’s genealogy could also be traced directly to King David. This means the Lord Jesus had a legal right as king through Joseph and a biological right through His mother. Though the monarchial birthright was essentially revoked by Jeremiah’s prophecy, this did not apply to the Lord Jesus because he was not a blood descendant of Jeconiah. Thus, the only possible way the Davidic line of kings could be restored, even after a six century interval, would be through the following:

       “Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.” [Isaiah 7:14]

GREETINGS FROM THE WOMB

         As described in Part 1, Mary was soon on the road south to Judea to visit her relative Elizabeth. The two women were anxious to share the great news of their pregnancies, both of which were only possible through direct miraculous means. Elizabeth was greatly humbled in her long life of barrenness but maintained her faith regardless. Mary was also burdened somewhat by an undisclosed life circumstance. Here we have the young and the old, both of whom must deal with the inevitable gossip of unbelievers, yet blessed abundantly as major players in the great plan of God for the salvation of Israel and humanity. But besides these two who knew each other well, there were others who met for the very first time:

        Now at this time Mary arose and went in a hurry to the hill country, to a city of Judah, and entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. And she cried out with a loud voice and said,

         “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And how has it happened to me, that the mother of my Lord would come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby leaped in my womb for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what had been spoken to her by the Lord.” [Luke 1:39-45][1]

         © 2019 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved. [To Be Continued]


[1] Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

MARY HIGHLY FAVORED: “BLESSED ARE YOU AMONG WOMEN!” (Intro)

MARY HIGHLY FAVORED: “BLESSED ARE YOU AMONG WOMEN!” (1)

MARY HIGHLY FAVORED: “BLESSED ARE YOU AMONG WOMEN!” (3)

MARY HIGHLY FAVORED: “BLESSED ARE YOU AMONG WOMEN!” (4)

MARY HIGHLY FAVORED: “BLESSED ARE YOU AMONG WOMEN!” (5)

MARY HIGHLY FAVORED: “BLESSED ARE YOU AMONG WOMEN!” (1)

NAZARETH

 

       She was given the opportunity to be the mother of Messiah—the Son of the Most High. She accepted without question, filled with wonder, in humble awe of being chosen.

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         In reading between the lines in the initial Gospel references to the mother of our Lord, we happen upon facts otherwise escaping our notice, primarily, her humble origin. We already know her hometown was not the greatest of places, as none other than one of the twelve, Nathanael Bar Tholmai (Bartholomew) articulated,

         “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” [1]

         The rustic community is never mentioned in any of the Old Testament writings, meaning it had yet to exist then, suffered utmost insignificance, or was known by a different name, one of which might have been “white town” or a variation, named after the ready supply of limestone rocks in the area. Nestled among the lower hills of the Nazareth Range in the ancient tribal land of Zebulun, the city lay about halfway between the seas—the great Mediterranean on the west where sailing ships launched for far-off lands, and to the east, the indigenous, often mysterious Sea of Galilee, loved freshwater fishery of the locals.

         From the little we know, Mary was likely born is this little village by the cliffs in circa 18 BC. This was during the early years of Augustus, who became the first Roman emperor in 27 BC, and the local reign of the ruthless client-king Herod the Great who had gained power a decade earlier. How she or her family arrived in the area is lost to history. Though Nazareth was within the small area originally allotted to the Tribe of Zebulun (the tenth son of Jacob and sixth born to Leah), Mary was actually a distant descendent of King David of the ruling line of Judah. Her connection to the latter tribe is somewhat problematic for a Galilean from the north due to her clear connection to relatives in the territory of Judea south of Jerusalem. The unknown story of her family’s transplantation is an intriguing one.

         We know from the later annual pilgrimages made by the holy family to Jerusalem for the feasts that young Mary likely also made such trips as a child growing up, probably as part of small caravans. She was thus familiar with the territory and probably looked forward to such opportunities to see the great city and visit family. Journeying from the north in Galilee, one would traverse the disparaged Samaria, sandwiched between Galilee and Judea, and venture through the ancient tribal areas of Issachar, Manasseh, and Ephraim in the process, and lastly through the allotment of Benjamin on the approach to Yerushalayim which was located on the southern edge of his tribal land.

         The eastern border between the two famous territories of Benjamin and Judah actually runs north and south along the Kidron Valley. The Kidron divides the city of Jerusalem in Benjamin’s territory to the west from the Mount of Olives in Judah’s territory to the east. The southern border between the tribes is divided by the valley of Hinnom which was immediately due south of the ancient city. Beyond these two natural demarcation lines was the fatherland of Judah and the ancestral land of King David to which Mary and her family sojourned frequently. It was also the ancestral homeland of her new husband Joseph, the strong but tender carpenter, chosen also as she was, and suited well for the calling.

AN ANGELIC VISITATION

         Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. [Luke 1:26-27]

       Luke makes it clear in his definitive account that Mary was a virgin when the angel Gabriel revealed to her the plan of God which would soon go into effect upon her consent. She was betrothed to the carpenter, meaning the marriage was not yet fully contracted, and both were honorable and chaste. It is often not acknowledged that young Mary had a choice regarding the Lord’s plan for her life. We all have a choice, and for everyone there is a plan. Notwithstanding the discipline required to live and work for the Lord according to His will and not our own, any other plan created and chosen by a person is always inferior to His. Mary understood this. It is why she replied to Gabriel with no hesitation in her heart:

         And coming in, he said to her, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was very perplexed at this statement, and kept pondering what kind of salutation this was. The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.”

         Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God. And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age; and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month. For nothing will be impossible with God.”

         And Mary said, “Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her. [Luke 1:28-38] [2] 

         Mary’s use of the word “bondslave” is not without import. It is from the Greek doulos and is defined accordingly as a female slave without any ownership rights of her own. This word, also translated as bond-servant, is used throughout the New Testament denoting the pure servanthood and dedication to the Master by real believers. The Hebrew equivalent for a female servant is shiphchah and has an ancient etymology dating to the book of Genesis. Though we often fail to perceive, in these brief Scriptural renderings, the full connotation and significance of the choice she made, Mary knew exactly what she was doing by deciding in the affirmative. She understood the gravity of the situation, the ramifications thereof, and that is was a lifelong commitment.

         But there is more. Mary alluded to her current state of life before the angelic visitation as thoroughly humble and insignificant. We see this first in her initial reaction to Gabriel’s greeting when he referred to her as “favored one” and said the Lord was with her: But she was very perplexed at this statement, and kept pondering what kind of salutation this was. She was also afraid, probably for the same reasons you or I would be startled at the appearance of an angel. It was more than this, however. She was concerned about what it meant for her life and, in those first few seconds, that she was in no way worthy of such an astounding visitation and calling.

         Why did she feel this way? There is something else here that Luke’s narrative hints at which he does not delve into, possibly because he knew his audience was aware of whatever particulars were involved with Mary and the circumstances of her humble life.

         In Part 2, I will continue delving into such lesser-known particulars. We will look closer at Mary’s upbringing, family, and momentous visit to her elderly but expecting relative Elizabeth, also a chosen woman of the Lord who found much grace in His sight.

         © 2019 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved. [To Be Continued]


[1] John 1:46  

[2] Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

MARY HIGHLY FAVORED: “BLESSED ARE YOU AMONG WOMEN!” (Intro)

MARY HIGHLY FAVORED: “BLESSED ARE YOU AMONG WOMEN!” (2)

MARY HIGHLY FAVORED: “BLESSED ARE YOU AMONG WOMEN!” (3)

MARY HIGHLY FAVORED: “BLESSED ARE YOU AMONG WOMEN!” (4)

MARY HIGHLY FAVORED: “BLESSED ARE YOU AMONG WOMEN!” (5)