Something unusual happened in Babylon during the captivity. After being deported to a faraway land, a clandestine priestly caste laid the groundwork for a new approach toward divine knowledge.
Thus says the LORD, “Stand by the ways and see and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; and you will find rest for your souls. But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’ And I set watchmen over you, saying, ‘Listen to the sound of the trumpet!’ But they said, ‘We will not listen.’ Therefore hear, O nations, and know, O congregation, what is among them. Hear, O earth: behold, I am bringing disaster on this people, the fruit of their plans, because they have not listened to My words, and as for My law, they have rejected it also.” [Jeremiah 6:16-19]
If one reads the gospels looking for similar clues and seeking this particular theme, it is not difficult to find. In fact, the theme jumps right out at you. Certain religious authorities were always questioning Him. They questioned His teachings, His manner, His motivation, the way He went about things, and even His mental makeup. They repeatedly struck out, however, on all their attempts to discredit Him.
SECRET SECTS A-STIRRING
One wonders how those people ever gained their religious authority. How did it happen? Many Christians never seek out the back story, but there was a lot of really weird stuff brewing up in good old Judea in the two centuries prior to the Lord’s arrival. There was also really weird stuff going on in the centuries before then but it started getting concentrated and coming together in an organized manner by that time.
Let’s go further back for even more background, to just prior to the Babylonian invasion of Judah and the first destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in 586BC. Up to this time, the many spiritual departures and vile depravities that began with Solomon and continued through later generations of kings and priests laid a foundation for the destruction. We know of the strange pagan practices they adopted and never completely disavowed. One can only imagine how deep the sin became, but judging by the manifold mentions in OT lore, it was quite extensive. We know the results but little of the conspiratorial underpinnings. By the time of the Babylonian captivity, the degeneracy and corruption level reached a point that demanded judgment.
This was the period of the early origin of obscure precursors, factions, and mysterious esoteric sects that had begun forming behind the pages of OT history that would essentially rewrite it and which later came to full fruition. It stemmed from the ongoing sin and rebellion plaguing the dwindling kingdom of Judah. The failing nation, at intervals, had already become the client state of great world powers and most of her final kings were weak, though King Josiah brought a great reform which sadly failed in the end.
The captivity actually began circa 600BC (many scholars say the first deportation to Babylon took place in 597BC). I will not go into all the particulars, but these early divisions within Judah began to coalesce into distinctive groups and eventually produced the various religious sects, mini-cults, political parties, and whatnot by 200BC and shortly thereafter.
HEADING FOR A SHOWDOWN
This resultant splintering and ongoing four century sorting out process had begun long before the captivity, however, primarily with the first big split—that between the priests and prophets. There was a war simmering beneath the surface for what should be obvious reasons. The priests and associates were always on the scene daily working in and around the temple and this put them in close authoritative proximity with the political rulers and kings. The prophets, however, were often the wild card which those in authority didn’t like. They didn’t like them precisely because they were largely incorruptible (and paid a great price for it), and could never be counted on to go along with the program since they always followed God’s program.
But wait. Were not the kings, priests, and prophets all supposed to be on the same page? Did not God create the priestly tribe in the first place and give them a legitimate function? The answer is, of course, yes, but the priestly tribe would often get weirded out and appeared fixated on a never-ending fight with the other major authority God created, that of the prophets, seemingly because of some strange inferiority complex and disagreement with the prophets’ perceived Wild West manner. And compared to them, the prophets definitely had a Wild West manner.
If Clint Eastwood was involved, for example, he would always be a prophet.
To outside observers (the ruling authorities), the prophets were always flying by the seat of their pants and making crazy unfounded pronouncements, meaning they could not possibly be like God or be in obedience to God because God just wasn’t like that. He would never do that. He was structured and organized and orderly and demanded strict attention to detail and doing things in a set manner on a consistent daily basis. According to those in charge, the wacko solitary head-in-the-clouds eccentrics with powerful and perfect unsettling utterances and fiery eyes scaring everyone all the time and getting in the face of those who ruled and telling them off for all their many peccadilloes and transgressions proved they could not possibly be on God’s payroll and therefore must be stopped.
After centuries of this bickering battle the prophets finally were stopped. The prophetic word ended somewhere in the vicinity of 400BC. The preservative was gone. The lights went out. The priests took over. They got their way. And they relished the moment.
BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR
Over the next two hundred years, from 400BC to 200BC, a sifting and settling process commenced among those vying for the official priestly perspective and narrative. Then, from roughly 200BC and a few decades thereafter, the origin and early beginnings of the later major religious sects emerged. Their beginnings are still historically sketchy, but enough information can be found to follow their trail. These major sects—Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes, et al—wayward and odd, and each with its own agenda, claimed close proximity to God but were truly quite distant compared to the rich relationship with the Lord possessed by the early patriarchs and later prophets.
These new groups came to full flower and strength by the first century AD, just in time to do battle with the greatest of the prophets and His forerunner who was otherwise the best of all time. One wrested control of the people and another wrested control of the temple.
The Pharisees in particular, most of whom were not priests or overtly priestly but certainly not prophetic, had long since undermined the Law of Moses and created their own hyper-sacerdotal encyclopedic answer-all mega index and then orally codified it, meaning it was known only to them and they controlled it. They were thus the holders of secret knowledge. Their illicit work was only possible because there had been no prophet for over four hundred years to stop them. Thus, the Lord obviously knew what He was doing by creating prophets—in part to keep an eye on and balance out those incommunicado priests and kings in authority that seemed to always have a problem with His authority. The absence of the prophets and the clear voice of heaven—the voice of God Himself speaking through the prophets—allowed the priests to create a non-spiritual dimwit faction that took over everything.
After surviving early skirmishes and gaining ever-greater power over a couple of centuries, the Pharisee and Sadducee parties and smaller groups like them were used to having their way. They never had a prophet in their face. They had nothing whatsoever to draw on in all their collective experience regarding how to deal with a prophet. There was never a prophetic correcting voice against them. Squabbling among themselves did nothing regarding correction and only served to foment more hatred and division.
Unlike the prophets, the new religious rulers put their faith not in God but in money, outward appearance, and themselves. They ended up being the epitome of religious spoiled children constantly whining and demanding their way. Every little thing was an offense to them. They were ridiculously easily offended. Everything they said was right—down to the most ludicrous and preposterous detail with little or no bearing on the written Law. They were thus relentlessly pointing out everyone’s errors and tacking on an endless minutia stream of counterintuitive religious do’s and don’ts.
THAT’S WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU QUIT ON GOD
One wonders why in the world the rest of the nation didn’t simply rise up and stomp these idiots out of existence and get them off their backs. Was it part of God’s judgment? Being constantly rejected by His people going back many centuries, was God giving the people what they demanded, the same way He allowed them to replace Him with King Saul a thousand years before?
In searching for the reason why Judea allowed these religious pretenders to gain such prominence and ruin their lives, one discovers the not so secret answer when one acknowledges the results of their sordid rebellion: When the people rejected God they eliminated His strength, power, and anointing within and upon them. They lost their ability to fight spiritual battles. They were thus forced to surrender to the use of their mere natural strength, something demonic forces could easily overpower and much stronger individuals could take advantage of. The people of the nation meekly surrendered, having no wherewithal to overcome their religious oppressors who were intent on control though guised in false light.
It is for the same reason that the exact religious development has transpired in Unreal Christianity. It should look very familiar.
THE RETURN OF THE PROPHETIC VOICE
But the Lord God was not through. He would take it upon Himself to return and restore, and do battle with the demonic pretenders to His throne. He would bring freedom to those sincere ones caught up in the struggle who loved Him and wanted to be free to serve and worship Him. He would come for them. He would fight for them. He would put everything on the line for them. In one fell swoop the powerful voice of the prophets was gloriously restored.
“Woe to you! For you build the tombs of the prophets, and it was your fathers who killed them. So you are witnesses and approve the deeds of your fathers; because it was they who killed them, and you build their tombs. For this reason also the wisdom of God said, ‘I will send to them prophets and apostles, and some of them they will kill and some they will persecute, so that the blood of all the prophets, shed since the foundation of the world, may be charged against this generation, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who was killed between the altar and the house of God; yes, I tell you, it shall be charged against this generation.’” [Luke 11:47-51] 
The evil ones returned fire by doing to Messiah what they did to all those prophets. He returned fire by coming back from the dead and claiming His throne. Like those in Ezekiel’s boneyard, He continues to return fire through every man and woman He raises up from spiritual death, anoints with His Holy Spirit, and sends into spiritual battle.
All glory, honor, and praise to Yehoshua HaMashiach.
© 2018 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.
 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 forty days of repentance and preparation has passed. The Feast of Tabernacles is now upon us. It is the birthday of the Lord.
The seven day Feast of Tabernacles is otherwise known as Sukkot, or the Feast of Booths. After the nation of Israel had entered into and became established in the Promised Land, this feast became associated with the fall harvest and was known as the Festival of Ingathering.
It was the end of the agricultural year. Since the three major feasts of the Hebrew nation aligned with the agricultural calendar, the year began with spring planting and seven weeks later came the grain harvest. These two events took place during the time of Passover and Pentecost respectively. It was at Passover when the Lord gave His life on the cross, planting Himself in death, and on the third day of Unleavened Bread when He arose again to new life. Fifty days later on the Feast of Pentecost the spiritual grain harvest began when all the souls saved by His death began entering into new life and were filled with His Holy Spirit.
Whereas Pentecost referred to the grain harvest, the fall Feast of Tabernacles was associated primarily with the fruit harvest:
“You shall observe the Feast of Tabernacles seven days, when you have gathered from your threshing floor and from your winepress. And you shall rejoice in your feast, you and your son and your daughter, your male servant and your female servant and the Levite, the stranger and the fatherless and the widow, who are within your gates. Seven days you shall keep a sacred feast to the LORD your God in the place which the LORD chooses, because the LORD your God will bless you in all your produce and in all the work of your hands, so that you surely rejoice.” [Deuteronomy 16:13-15 NKJV]
This time of year was especially joyful due to the time of repentance which preceded it. In the five-part series of articles I wrote and posted from August 9-23 of this year I referred to this time and what must be done. It has been a relatively difficult time for the nation. Time will soon tell if America has taken this time seriously, as I referred to in advance just after the forty days began in my post of August 23: At the Crossroads: Will America Repent?
For those who have taken it seriously and fulfilled what the Lord required, this Feast of Tabernacles will without doubt be a time of joy and fruitfulness, and a great ingathering.
THIRTY YEARS OF AGE
It was at this time that the Lord began His ministry.
When He began His ministry, Jesus Himself was about thirty years of age, being, as was supposed, the son of Joseph… [Luke 3:23]
The patriarch Joseph was also thirty years old when he stood before Pharaoh and was given authority over all the land of Egypt. He had suffered greatly for thirteen years prior to that time. One must remember that according to early OT interpretations, there were actually two Messiahs prophesied to come forth. The first would be a suffering Messiah as the “Son of Joseph.” The second would be a conquering King Messiah as the “Son of David.” As it turned out, both Messiahs are actually the same Man.
So all the elders of Israel came to the king at Hebron, and King David made a covenant with them before the LORD at Hebron; then they anointed David king over Israel. David was thirty years old when he became king, and he reigned forty years. [2Samuel 5:3-4]
Then the LORD spoke to Moses and to Aaron, saying, “Take a census of the descendants of Kohath from among the sons of Levi, by their families, by their fathers’ households, from thirty years and upward, even to fifty years old, all who enter the service to do the work in the tent of meeting.” [Numbers 4:1-3]
We know that the Lord’s forty days of preparation, fasting, and temptation began at the beginning of the twelfth month of the civil calendar, or the sixth month of the agricultural or festival calendar. This year, that day was August 21, the day of the solar eclipse across America. The forty days ended on September 30, the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur). This is also said to be the same time period when Moses went back up the mountain for the second time, staying for forty days.
This means the Lord began His ministry in the fall, after the forty days, and most likely after the Feast of Tabernacles. I believe He was born on the first day of Tabernacles and the following scriptural clue bears it out:
And the Word became flesh, and did tabernacle among us, and we beheld his glory, glory as of an only begotten of a father, full of grace and truth. [John 1:14 YLT]
The word “tabernacle” in the preceding verse from Young’s Literal Translation is from the Greek word skenoo. This word is translated as “dwelt” in most Bible versions, and refers to a tent or temporary dwelling, or an exact figure of the temporary shelters (booths, tabernacles, sukkah) the Israelites dwelt in during their time in the Sinai and from which the Feast of Sukkot or Tabernacles derives its name.
THE LORD’S BIRTHDAY
There is also this:
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.” [Luke 2:6-11]
Because the inns were already filled it indicates that it was very late in the day when the Lord’s family arrived in Bethlehem. We also have the very clear clue that because the shepherds were watching over their flocks by night that the Lord was born after sunset and most likely at night, which would have been the exact beginning (after sunset) of the very first day of the seven days of Sukkot, the beginning of what is known traditionally as “The Season of Our Joy.” This was expressed specifically by the angel of the Lord in announcing the Lord’s birth!
Please reflect on all of this as the sun sets tonight and the harvest moon rises. I wish you all a great season of joy.
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] 
Happy Birthday, Lord.
© 2017 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.
 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.
FREEDOM OF SPEECH
If you claim to be a Christian and your voice is not being heard, the odds are good that your words have been censored. Your voice has been silenced. Your speech has been imprisoned.
The first thing the Lord Jesus does with new disciples is free their speech. He encourages people to talk. He did this in His ministry.
In fact, He chose the freeing of voices as the principal sign of Pentecost.
Whenever you read a passage in the Gospels about the Lord healing a mute person, it is a sign for all—a Miracle Parable—that reveals His intention to free the voices of His people. The mute people in the Gospels were not only real people in real time, they were also parabolic types of muted people throughout time—those whose voices have been shut down—those whose speaking has been disallowed.
Now that you know this, look at the real meaning in the following:
They brought to Him one who was deaf and spoke with difficulty, and they implored Him to lay His hand on him.
Jesus took him aside from the crowd, by himself, and put His fingers into his ears, and after spitting, He touched his tongue with the saliva; and looking up to heaven with a deep sigh, He said to him, “Ephphatha!” that is, “Be opened!” And his ears were opened, and the impediment of his tongue was removed, and he began speaking plainly.
And He gave them orders not to tell anyone; but the more He ordered them, the more widely they continued to proclaim it. They were utterly astonished, saying, “He has done all things well; He makes even the deaf to hear and the mute to speak.” [Mark 7:32-37]
YOU ARE WORTHY
First Amendment rights do not apply in many churches. If one’s mode of Christian congregating disallows for communication and spiritual edification through the use of EVERYONE’S voice, then that mode contains a serious flaw. It is a flaw that results in spiritual problems for the congregation as a whole, because it silences whoever has the anointing of God to speak and be heard but cannot, due only to man-made religious conventions that oppose the will of God.
It is no secret that the majority of Christian congregation methods disallow anyone from talking except the chosen few—the very few chosen few. We all know this is true. Christians have been conditioned to keep silent in the churches.
Yet the Lord Jesus says:
“What I tell you in the darkness, speak in the light; and what you hear whispered in your ear, proclaim upon the housetops.” [Matthew 10:27]
(“Just don’t say it in church, okay?”)
One of the reasons Christian blogs have exploded on the internet within the last five or ten years is because many if not most of these Christians had nowhere else to speak. Most were never allowed to speak in church or even in Bible studies. Our entire framework of Christian meetings and congregational gatherings has only ever allowed for the voice of the one percent, which results in religious control rather than free expression, and the consequent dumbing-down of the great majority.
The greatest evil, however, perpetrated by those who buy into this anti-God system that silences the voices of 99% of all Christians, is making them feel completely unworthy, and thus unworthy of speaking.
SUPERFLUOUS STAGE PLAYERS
The Lord jumped all over the Pharisees’ case and kept telling them they were nothing but a bunch of evil actors (hypocrites) pretending to be something they were not who gained and kept control over the masses of people by transforming everything into a stage play with themselves as the only participants, and certainly as the only ones with speaking parts.
So what do many later Christians do? And what do the Christian elite of the present do? They transform everything into a stage play with themselves as the only primary participants, and certainly as the only ones with speaking parts.
In fact, if one were to remove the stages, platforms, and dual-class seating arrangements which always separate the chosen few occupying their positions of control from everyone else, making real fellowship impossible by forcing the 99 out of 100 to focus on the backs of everyone’s head instead of their faces, there would be little “Christianity” left in America. Almost everyone has been conditioned over long decades and even centuries to adopt these strange formats which were never used as fellowship formats by the Lord Jesus or the early community of believers.
Yes, whenever the Lord spoke to large numbers of people, all were focused on Him. But whenever He taught His disciples, He sat down among them in a rough circle using an open and organic format, so they could all see one another as well. This format greatly aids in the development of koinonia in which each person is allowed to contribute and thus develop spiritually as a real disciple. Using one’s voice allows one to mature.
Thus, what they had was dynamic. Everyone was part of the process. Everyone had a voice and was allowed to use it. Real Christianity thus exploded fast and the Gospel traveled fast and MILLIONS ended up in the kingdom of the Lord relatively fast. It happened that way because everyone was being used of God instead of the mere “chosen few” who demand control and their own authority much more than the spiritual interactivity arising from koinonia.
Those real Christians were allowed to use everything they had for the Lord, especially their voice.
So there’s your clue: If you are not allowed to speak in your Christian meeting, it is most likely not the Lord Jesus holding you back. He wants you involved. Your input is needed. Nothing can replace your voice.
COME ALIVE: THIS IS THE JESUS GENERATION
From this we know it is not the enemy from without that is holding back the Great Awakening, since the Lord has given His people power over such enemies. The real enemy is much closer to home. The real enemy is the power vested in compromised Christian leaders and all those who support them in forcing their own personal agendas in part through silencing the voices of millions of believers, and making them what is essentially a quiet collective supporting without question those in control, and rendering all potential Pentecosts absolutely impossible.
IT IS OFTEN THE PEOPLE CONTROLLING THE STAGE, PULPITS, SPOTLIGHTS, MICROPHONES, AND TV CAMERAS WHO DISALLOW THE VOICES OF EVERYONE ELSE.
It is obvious they consider themselves as the only ones worthy and everyone else as unworthy.
“He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but He who is seeking the glory of the One who sent Him, He is true, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.” [John 7:18] 
In order to be the Lord’s celebrity one must be an anti-celebrity.
This is why the Lord often has to do something outside the scope of ultra-organized religion to get anything done. It is why John the Immerser stayed out in the wilderness. It is the only way to overcome the control of the religious leaders with only their own interests and enterprises at heart and not the Lord’s or those of the majority of the people. Whenever such controllers are in authority it inevitably shuts everyone else out, other than, of course, their hand-picked, sold-out, “safe” ones who only speak what they are allowed to speak. Indeed, that which is allowed by them to be spoken is often not of the Holy Spirit, which proves further the deadness of most church services and why the Lord Jesus is not in charge.
Before they silenced the majority’s voice, they silenced His voice.
So again, the Lord’s model for His lively, spiritually-healthy, vibrant, organic Community and also for Great Awakenings involves first the opening of deaf ears and the removing of tongue impediments so that every single one of His people can “begin speaking plainly” as did the mute man, and “speaking the mighty deeds of God,” as did all of those in the Upper Room.
And since all Great Awakenings begin with Great Repentance, one of the first things everyone must do is repent for allowing their great power of speech to be silenced and not made available for the Lord’s use.
SHOUT TO THE LORD
Real Christianity involves ALL of His children and ALL of their voices.
As soon as He was approaching, near the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the miracles which they had seen, shouting: “BLESSED IS THE KING WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD; Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”
Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Him, “Teacher, rebuke Your disciples.”
But Jesus answered, “I tell you, if these become silent, the stones will cry out!” [Luke 19:37-40]
© 2016 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.
People desire that which is real. We’ve been faking our Christianity for a very long time in this country, and it has taken a severe toll. Congregants pine away on pews, though with a stiff upper lip and feigned smile. Most know their hearts are not being touched nor their souls fulfilled but carry on as if their duty is to expect far less than what the Lord promised.
I came that they may have life…
After so many years of going through mere motions and never seeing their heart’s desire, Christians get old and weary in their soul. It’s as if a promise was made in the distant past that never came true and never will, but many still long for it anyway, defeated within but ever-dutiful without.
Do we ever expect another Pentecost? A Great Awakening? A powerful revival that rocks the core of society and thousands upon thousands come to the Lord? Why did such things happen in the past but not now? What did those guys do that was all that different? What are we not doing?
Well, let’s see. They obeyed. They wanted the will of God more than anything else. They had an incredible burden for souls. They travailed and interceded like there was no tomorrow. They were dead serious. They would not be denied.
They hit the devil right between the eyes.
“What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? But what did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Those who wear soft clothing are in kings’ palaces! But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and one who is more than a prophet.” [Matthew 11:7-9]
John the Immerser set the spiritual tone for the Lord’s ministry. He turned Israel on its ear. Even the hoity-toity evil-hearted religionists were coming out to get baptized. They were scared on the inside but remained jerks on the outside. They knew full well that John’s ministry was of God. Yet John refused to have anything to do with them. He never went to their synagogues. He never hung out in their cities. He would remain in the wilderness and not be affected by all their hypocritical garbage. His job was to prepare the way and it was the most difficult of tasks. Therefore, he stayed clean and pure and powerfully anointed. He had absolutely no fear.
Those who would repent made the trek out of societal and religious nonsense. They put forth all the required effort to go out to the wilderness. They heard his great preaching and appreciated his no-nonsense manner. Their spirit rose within them: This is what we need!
“It is he who will go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, TO TURN THE HEARTS OF THE FATHERS BACK TO THE CHILDREN, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous, so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” [Luke 1:17] 
This is what we need. It is what the Lord always supplies if it be the cry of our heart. John was not Elijah, but he had the same incredible prophetic anointing. Such a great anointing always precedes great movements of the Spirit of the Lord.
Look around. Is there a genuine non-counterfeit prophetic anointing indicative of John the Immerser or Elijah the prophet “out in the wilderness” somewhere near you? If so, the Lord will be coming to your place, and maybe soon. It’s a matter of proper preparation and His perfect timing. He always goes where He is welcome, though it seems such welcomes are in short supply…
© 2011 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.