“Incense For Intercession – Num. 7:1-88″ (Part #2)

“Incense For Intercession – Num. 7:1-88″ (Part #2)

As we come to the Newer Testament, 400 years have passed since YeHoVaH has talked through a prophet to His people. Some refer to it as, “The 400 Silent Years” but it is not so silent for Israel and God’s chosen seed. The final message in the Older Testament in Malachi contains the prophecy of John the Baptist’s ministry, the fulfillment of which begins in the Newer Testament. The first thing we find in Luke is his father Zacharias a priest after the order of Abijah, the eighth course I Chron. 24:1 & 10,  offering incense on the incense altar in the Temple on a high holy day. Gabriel is standing next to the altar and tells him his wife Elizabeth is going to have a son in her old age. He will be called John and be filled with the Holy Spirit and turn many to the Lord and be a forerunner for the Christ, Luke 1:5-25. “His lot was to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord.” v.9. “And the whole multitude of people were praying outside at the time of incense.” v.10. (9:00 am and 3:00 pm) The time of the morning and evening sacrifice, a very significant time in the Scriptures, especially, 3:00 p.m. (study it).

David said in Psalm 141:2, “Let my prayer be set before Thee as incense; and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.” The “Passover Lamb” was sacrificed at 3:00 pm; Peter and John were on their way to the temple at, “the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour.” (3:00 pm) Acts 3:1. Jesus gave up His spirit at the “ninth hour” (3:00 pm) that’s why it was so significant and powerful to the early church. Many wonderful miracles in the Scriptures happened at 3:00 pm, check it out. However, 3:00 pm in Jerusalem is 8:00 am on the East Coast, a good time for your ‘Quiet Time!’ Or some intercessory prayer time!

The Scriptures talk about three individuals making intercession; The Son of God, Rom. 8:34, “Who is He that condemns? Shall Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, Who is even at the right hand of God, Who also makes intercession for us?” The Spirit of God, Rom. 8:26, “Likewise, the Spirit helps our infirmity; for we know not what we should pray for as we ought; but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” The Saint of God, I Tim. 2:1, “I exhort therefore, that first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men.” So, we have a “Tri-Unity” of intercession, because the Son ever lives to make intercession for us, and the Spirit is always making intercession for us because we know not what to ask for, so when Believers intercede for others they are in harmony with us. Praise God! In fact the only time you are in total unity with the entire ‘Tri-Unity’ of the ‘God-Head’ is when you pray, because you pray to the Father, through the Son by means of or through the Holy Spirit. In fact when you say, “GOD?” Three Persons, respond, “What?”

Remember that “Gold Spoon” in Numbers seven? In Revelation Five, John is weeping because no one was able or worthy to open the scroll or loosen its seals. Then the Lamb stepped forward, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David and takes the scroll out of the right hand of Him that sits upon the throne. However, before He opens the first seal, something happens in v.8, “Golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of saints,” are ignited and their smoke wafts its way before the nostrils of Almighty God, Who sits upon that throne. Did you see that, “Golden Bowls” just like that “Golden Spoon” in Numbers Seven, and then in Rev. 5:9, they sing a new song saying, “Thou art worthy, Thou art worthy, Thou art worthy, Oh Lord, To Receive Glory, Glory and Honor, Glory and Honor and Power, For Thou Hast Created, Hast All things created, … I’m sorry I just burst into a hymn of praise! I couldn’t help myself, did you join me? Incense and praise go together like a horse and carriage, they are inseparable! What a powerful passage and principle! Amen? That was weak. :(  Brood on this principle for awhile……….

After the seven seals we come to the seven trumpets in Revelation Eight, but before the first trumpet an angel comes and stands beside the altar, probably the “The Altar of Incense.” Note Rev. 8:3-4, “He has a golden censer, and there is given unto him, much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of the saints, upon the golden altar, before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the Angel’s hand.” I hope you are picking all this up, this angel has a “Golden Censer” and he is given “Much Incense” to mix with the “Prayers or Intercession” of believers, the saints, that’s you and me; upon a “Golden Altar” in heaven, in God’s presence, in fact it is sitting “Before His Throne” right now! The “Smoke of That Incense” is mixed with our “Prayers of Intercession” and “Ascends up Before God’s Presence.” Are your prayers important to God? Ask that angel when you see him?

Now watch what happens in v.9, “Then the angel took the censer and filled it with fire from the altar, and cast (ballo) it upon the earth; and there were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake.” Then the seven angels with the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound their trumpets. You see, before God poured out His Seal Judgments and Trumpet Judgments, He poured out much prayer from His saints on the earth first. “Golden Vials or Bowls” and a “Golden Censer” but always in gold. Always, showing the extreme value God puts on your prayers! Notice in Rev. 15 when God is ready to pour out His almighty wrath in His final ‘Bowl Judgments,’ there is no prayer! “Seven golden bowls full of the wrath of God, Who lives forever and ever!” Rev. 15:7b. Can you fathom that? I shudder at very the thought of it, listen to verse eight, “And the temple was filled with the smoke from the glory of God, and from His power; and no man was able to enter into the temple till the seven plagues of the seven angels were fulfilled.” And you wonder if your prayers are of any value to God or man? Shame on you! How is your bowl today, empty or full? If the angel called for your bowl, would God be pleased with it or displeased? Remember, above all else as you enter your prayer closet, enter it with praise and adoration, vanquish your enemy and release your incense! Till next time, I’ll see you, “…Between The Lines…”  

“Incense For Intercession – Num. 7:1-88″ (Part #2)   

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“Incense For Intercession – Num. 7:1-88″ (Part #1)



“Incense For Intercession – Num. 7:1-88″ (Part #1) 3/31/14

In Numbers chapter seven you have the gifts of the 12 tribes of Israel for the dedication of the Tabernacle, the altar and the vessels in the Holy place. Six covered wagons and 12 oxen were given for the service of the sanctuary. Then each prince brought a silver platter which weighed 130 shekels and a silver bowl which weighed 70 shekels, full of fine flour mixed with oil for the meal offering and “One spoon of ten shekels of gold full of incense.” v.14 There were 300 shekels in a pound, so each spoon weighed about half an ounce and they were very small, like baby spoons, full of incense. Can you imagine being the one assigned to carry that spoon with that delicate, white, finely beaten powder in it? Pray there is no wind, no breeze, and don’t cough, sneeze, trip or drop it! The value of the contents in that spoon, not of the spoon itself, but in it was unimaginable! Picture the man marching to the Tabernacle holding it, responsible for the intercession for his tribe by the high priest.

Now this order is repeated exactly the same, twelve times for 88 verses. Most people just get bored after five or six princes and skip to chapter eight. However, they miss v.89 where the LORD, YeHoVaH speaks with Moses from off the ‘Mercy Seat’ on the Ark of the Covenant in the Holy of Holies, we’ll deal with that another time. However, God does not waste ink, paper, parchment or His time so every jot and tittle is important to Him. Therefore, if He said something twelve times in a row, He must want us to read it! Amen? vv. 14, 20, 26, 32, 38, 44, 50, 56, 62, 68, 74, 80.

Now the “Incense Altar” was right in front of the veil before the ‘Holy of Holies’ and it was one cubit square and two cubits high, with horns on the four corners and a rim around it and it was overlaid with pure gold. Even the staves to carry it were overlaid with pure gold. Ex. 30:1-10. The ‘Incense Altar’ was a type of Christ our Intercessor, Heb. 7:25; John 17. Through Whom our prayers and praise ascend to God our Father, Heb. 13:15. The ‘Altar of Incense’ also resembled the ‘Altar of Sacrifice’ but it was overlaid with bronze/brass. In fact everything in the courtyard was overlaid with bronze/brass and everything in the Holy place and the Holy of Holies was overlaid with pure gold.

God gave them instructions that they were not to offer any strange incense only what He had instructed them to make; and no strange fire, only fire from the altar which He started Lev. 6:13; 9:23-24. God starts the fire and we stoke the fire. The Israelites kept the fire burning for over 540 years, even during the Babylonian Captivity, but someone let it go out! In the book of II Maccabees chapter one when they returned to rebuild the Temple and went to the cave and saw the fire had gone out, they found a thick liquid instead called, “Naptha.” So, they took some with them and poured it on the wood of the altar and it “blazed into a great fire.” I wonder what that black, combustible, liquid was from Iran? Too bad your great-grandfather didn’t read and believe II Maccabbes in the 1800’s, or you would be an oil tycoon.

The instructions for making this special “Incense for Intercession” is given in Exodus 30:34-38; they were to use four ‘sweet spices;’ Stacte (Heb. nataph – a drop; an aromatic gum from the Storax tree?) possibly Myrrh extract, says Pliny a Roman historian; Onycha – the scale, shell or lid of the mollusk mussel; (But since that is unclean and un-kosher I will go with the “Rock Rose – Cistus landaniferus which produces, Labdanum a resin”; Galbanum – the rich, fatty milky gum from a tree in Syria (the very touch of it mixed with spondylium or hogweed is sufficient to kill a serpent, it’s used in “Chanel No. 19″ and many high end perfumes; Frankincense – Heb. Laban, white, a fragrant gum spice; Herodotus wrote of the venomous snakes that lived in these trees in south Arabia where they harvested the Frankincense, they had to burn Styrax gum to drive them away. These four spices are to be combined in equal measures and tempered or beaten together into a fine powder like dust, they are to be pure and holy, consecrated unto YeHoVaH and no one else! All of these spices were also used later in the medical field to cure people of certain diseases and ailments and are used today by homeopathic healers.

In Num. 13, Moses sends out the twelve spies into the ‘Promised Land’ and they come back with their report and ten say “NO” and two say “GO!” God judges them for their unbelief, 40 years of wandering for 40 days of searching and everyone over 20 dies! So, they rebel and go to war with the Canaanites and lose. In Numbers 16 the sons of Korah rebel against Moses and he tells them to fill a censer with incense and stand before God in the morning and God will show them who the leader is and God kills them all with their families. The next day the nation rebels and God judges them and Aaron takes a censer full of incense and runs v.46, in the midst of them and stands between them and God and makes atonement for them to stop the plague, but not before 14,700 of them die. Incense was a method of making intercession before God for mankind, for standing in the gap, repairing the breach, and restoring the path. David said, “Let my prayer be set before Thee as incense; and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.” Psalm 141:2. David had a plan for intercession, do you have a plan for your intercessory prayer time? I like the acrostic, “ACTS,” (Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication). It’s simple but it works for me. If you have a better one use it!

Starting off with praise and adoration for YeHoVaH is the only way to start. Prayer stops Satan in his tracks but it doesn’t make him go anywhere, he just stands there and listens to your prayers. He was on the Mt. of Temptation when Jesus was praying listening and in the Garden of Gethsemane when He sweat great drops of blood and cried great tears for us, listening, Heb. 5:7. However, “PRAISE” makes him flee! He can’t stand to be in the presence of praise, as some writers have said, “When Christians begin to praise God the demons fall on one another and bite and devour each other.” In fact Isa. 61:3 says that we are to put on, “The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness,” that’s an evil spirit. So we need to chase Satan and his demons out of our prayer closet and do what the LORD told us to do in Matt. 6:6, “Shut the door!” That’s what Adam forgot to do in the ‘Garden of Eden,’ in the “Gan” the enclosed garden. He left the gate open and Satan snuck in and God had to post Cherubim to guard the ‘way’ (derek – the path, road, pass, or entry). The word incense in Hebrew is (katoreh – sweet fumigation, or perfume, which fills a room and drives out the inhabitants or occupants). I can’t help but wonder, if demons were present in the Holy place and the incense drove them out, wouldn’t our praise do the same thing? So, in a real sense our praise, and our intercessory prayers are like the incense in the “Holy of Holies” of old, wafting its way before the nostrils of God as He sits upon His throne in heaven!

Now you may not have the right incense to offer up to God, but you do have the right praise. Just pick up a hymnal, and sing or read some hymns, if you can’t make a joyful noise, or just worship Him. Adoration means to honor a deity as divine, to regard Him with loving admiration and devotion. Let me give you some words to help you; glorify, bless, exalt, magnify, honor, esteem, extol, eulogize, kneel, love, devotion, worship, etc. Just praise Him for His attributes, His eternal qualities, His gifts, His names, His benefits to you daily, His grace and mercy which are new every morning, His love, etc. The “Incense of Intercession.” Oh, how sweet it is, and oh how much we neglect its privilege. Till next time, we will see you, “…Between The Lines…”  

“Incense For Intercession – Num. 7:1-88″ (Part #1) 3/31/14

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“The Aaronic Blessing” – Num. 6:22-27; Part #3

“The Aaronic Blessing” – Num. 6:22-27; Part #3

On this wise – in this way” you shall bless My people!” v.24. Aaron, or a priest, or a pastor, or a father, or a Christian believer is just an instrument in God’s hands, that’s all! The LORD, YeHoVaH is the One who does the blessing, v.27, “and I will bless them.” We impart, He implants; We speak, He sparks; We’re instruments, He’s the Conductor! You can impart a blessing and even be a blessing but you can never implant a blessing. Be careful, that is God’s job, and He shares His glory with no one! I Cor. 1:29 & 30. What a privilege we have, to impart God’s blessings on those we come in contact with and minister to, unfortunately for many it is a “Lost Privilege.” But we can do no more than to beg a blessing, in the name of the One who commands the blessing, for the ones who are in desperate need of the blessing.

The LORD make His face (Paneh – His presence, His appearance) shine upon thee,” (Or – to be resplendent with light);” To go before you. You can’t help but think of the “Pillar of Fire” by night and “The Cloud” by day, going before them, leading them through the desert. What or who leads you on your daily journey through your desert? The LORD gave me a promise May 22, 1992, when He called me into the ‘Mission Field,’ Isaiah 52:12, and I hung unto that verse with all my might; “For ye shall not go out with haste, nor go by flight; for the LORD will go before you, and the God of Israel will be your rear guard.” That along with Isaiah 52:7, have been my comfort for over 20 years in the midst of my desert journey.

Moses was very concerned about the presence of God. In Exodus 33:15 he said to God, “If Thy presence go not with me, carry us not up from here.” In other words, let us die right here in the desert. Right after this God put him in the “cleft of a rock” v.22 and allowed him to see His back as He passed by. “Practicing the Presence of God” is a principle we all need to work on and one we all need to pray for, for those around us. If God’s face is shining on us then He is pleased with us and He is guiding us and illuminating our paths.

And be gracious (chanan – to have mercy, or pity on someone) unto thee; Grace is getting what we don’t deserve, but mercy is not getting what we do deserve. Most of our commentaries agree that this is referring to forgiveness or pardon for our sins. Jewish tradition shows that the priests blessed the people after the morning sacrifice not the evening sacrifice. This became a pattern for ministers today to dismiss their assemblies but it has been lost to the loss of our people. However, God’s blessings are not dependent upon God’s servants but upon God Himself and a holy, separated individual.

What’s interesting about this blessing is that each part of it is personally directed to each individual. Note the personal, singular pronouns in each verse, “Thee” used twice in vv. 24, 25, & 26. Though this blessing is for the nation of Israel and can be for an assembly also, it must be applied individually, “The LORD bless thee.” Each person must prepare themselves to receive their blessing, then they will find fulfillment and happiness in it. In fact you can put your name in place of “Thee” in each instance, “The LORD bless Roger, Mary, Jim, etc.”

The name YeHoVaH is repeated three times with a different accent in the Hebrew each time. The Jewish scholars think there is some mystical meaning behind this. When we compare it to the formula for Christian baptism, “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit;” Or Paul’s blessing in II Cor. 13:14, we are at no loss to determine what that mystery is. We are blessed with spiritual blessings by the triune God of salvation, “The Father who created us; The Son who saved us; and The Holy Spirit who seals & sanctifies us.”

The LORD lift up His countenance (paneh) upon thee;” This is the same word as in v.24, face, to be resplendent with light. This word appears three times in Psalm 80:3, 7, & 19, “cause Thy face to shine and we shall be saved.” It seems to allude to the smile of a father upon his child or a man on his friend whom he takes pleasure in. The fruits of God’s favor along with salvation are “Protection, Pardon & Peace.” Protection from evil, v.24, “The LORD keep thee;” Pardon from sin, v.25, “The LORD be gracious to thee;” Peace, Shalom, complete happiness, v.26, “And give thee peace;” Isaiah 26:3, “”Perfect Peace” (Shalom, Shalom) peace on the inside and peace on the outside, that’s perfect peace. The only way you can have ‘Perfect Peace;’ is to invite the “Prince of Peace” into your heart to save you, and then He will have to come down and set up His kingdom on earth in Jerusalem and reign as the King of kings, for there to be ‘Peace on earth.’

And they shall put My name upon the children of Israel, and I will bless them.” What a privilege to put His name on His people, this was their honor, their comfort, their safety, their plea and ours as well. What Christ said of peace is also true of the blessing. When God’s people pronounce a blessing, “Peace be unto you” if the son’s of God and the heirs of salvation are there, then the blessing and peace will rest upon those people and that location. Luke 10:5-6.

It is also interesting to note that in all three verses, “The LORD bless thee,” is in the future tense and the nation of Israel seems to have been collectively intended, and the LORD will absolutely bless Israel and all of its people. Now, how any man can possibly read this blessing or the Old Testament for that matter and seriously believe that God’s blessings for Israel were only temporal and that God is finished with Israel is ludicrous. One look at Israel today and you could not help but believe that God is blessing, “the apple of His eye.” Till next time, we’ll see you “…Between the Lines…”

“The Aaronic Blessing” – Num. 6:22-27; Part #3 – 3/24/14

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“Valentine’s Day” February 14, 2014 (Part #2)

“Valentine’s Day – Part #2″

So, what is ‘Valentine’s Day’ to you? A massacre in Chicago Ill.? A wolf’s grotto called Lupercal? A bird call for mating? A ‘Special Person’s Day’ in Hillsboro NJ? A day to buy your wife or sweetheart some chocolates she really does not need? Or a day to remember the greatest ‘Love Gift’ this old world has ever seen? If Jesus was born on December 25th as tradition, history, astronomy, biology, seem to indicate then He was circumcised on January 1st the eigth day after His birth and His mother went to the Temple and met Simeon and Anna on February 2nd 40 days after his birth for her purification just like Lev. 12:2-4  says she should. Just like Gelasius stated in 494, but no matter what you think of this day, the central thought is “LOVE!” Not just love for your wife or her love for you, but God’s love for us and our love for Him and our fellow man!

LOVE! What is love anyway? In Hebrew there is basically only one word for Love (ahab) and the first occurrence is in Gen. 22:2 where God tells Abraham to take his son Isaac whom he loves and offer him as a sacrifice on Mt. Moriah. The ancient Hebrew letter aleph pictured strength, the strong one, and the bet, pictured the house, when combined you have “AB” or Father, the strong one of the house. When you put the ‘H’ or ‘hey’ in the middle to get ‘ahab or ahav’ for love. In Hebrew you get, “the heart of the father.” You see, what God was after was Abraham’s heart, take the son whom you love, “ahav” and offer him as a sacrifice! This was Abraham’s day, it was Abraham’s heart that God wanted on that altar, not Isaac’s! Oh, Isaac’s day was coming; Oh yeah, but not yet! He wasn’t going to let him offer Isaac, the ram was already there caught in the thicket and so was The Angel of the LORD watching!

In Greek we have five words for love and they can only be correctly fulfilled in marriage, in a family relationship! Note I said, “Correctly Fulfilled!” You have ‘Theolo’ love of things, delight; ‘Phileo’ brotherly love, friends; ‘Agapao’ sacrificial love, love worth dying for; ‘Storgos’ natural affection, family love; ‘Eros’ sensual love, erotic (there is no innocent little cupid, sorry). Love may not make the world go around, but it sure makes the trip worth while. Amen? Let me give you the world’s definition of love,”Love is a felling you feel, when you get a feeling, you never felt before!” That is not love, that is a warm bath tub! Now let me give you the proper definition of love, “Love is an unconditional commitment to an imperfect person!” Now go find your spouse or your girlfriend or boyfriend, hold their hand, look them in the eyes and say it out loud.  (GOOD!) Now, do it again without smiling! The world says, “Marry the one you love!” God says, “Love the one you marry!” The Bible tells us in I John 4:8 that, “God is love!” (Theos esti agape) In fact there are over 290 references to God’s love in the New Testament alone. Read I Cor. 13 the love chapter sometime, replacing the word charity or love with the word God, since God is love, it is very revealing and uplifting!

However, I have to tell you this, God’s love demands love! His love is not static nor stagnant! In fact, His love demands our love! That’s right! The love of God cannot be comprehended as a mere noun! God’s Love is a verb and has the dynamic, propelling power of a verb! You see, love must have and demonstrate action or it is not love at all! You say you love me, show me! Prove it to me! Do something to demonstrate it! God demonstrated His love for us on the same mountain Abraham demonstrated his love to God. On the Cross we saw the Heart of the Father, we saw real (ahav). Listen to Rom. 5:8, “But God commended His love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Rom. 5:10 goes even further and says, “When we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son.” I saw a lot of action in Vietnam but I never saw one of our men give up his life for a Viet Cong, NEVER! But that’s what this verse says Christ did! Now that’s a ‘Valentine!’ Jesus said, “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” But for his enemies! That’s a little much, don’t you think? God demonstrated His love for us 2,000 years ago on an old rugged cross, outside of Jerusalem! What more could He have done? What more could He have given? He didn’t do it because it was fun! He did it because it had to be done! He went to the tree for you and for me so we could be free, to live for Him! Now that is LOVE! That’s a ‘Valentine’ I can really appreciate! And give my heart too, what about you? If human love does not carry itself beyond itself it’s not love at all, it’s just emotion with a title. True love is marked by extravagance! True love is unconditional, no holds barred, no save clauses, no loop holes! “God is love!” I John 4:8; Dwell on that thought for a minute; reverse the words “Love is God!” The Song of Solomon 8:6 says, “Love is as strong as death!” God decided to show His creation just how much He loved it, so He took three nails, two pieces of wood and a hammer and demonstrated it on a pile of dirt just outside of Jerusalem. When was the last time you demonstrated to Him or to your spouse just how much you love them? Remember, when you cut that covenant, you cut it with God! “I covenant before God and these witnesses” remember those words, “till death do us part” He does!

A pastor was talking with a young boy in his church and trying to share with him just how much God loved him when the boy said, “That may be true pastor, but I need some love with skin on it!” I John 3:18 says, “My little children let us not love in word, neither in tongue, but in deed and in truth.” (action). There are those all around us that need to see some love with skin on it this ‘Valentine’s Day.’ Will you be God’s ‘Valentine’ to someone this year? Love is a verb and has the dynamic, propelling power of a verb. It is not static, or stagnant, or stuck, it is magnetic, captivating and will attract attention and demand action! You say you love me, show me! Anybody can say, “I love you!” But God said, “Let Me show you how much I love you,” and He nailed His only begotten Son to a tree! I don’t know what you think of on ‘Valentine’s Day’ but the greatest act of love this old world has ever seen, took place on Calvary 2,000 years ago outside of Jerusalem. Why not make Jesus your ‘Valentine’ this year, put His name on your sleeve and wear your feelings where everyone can see them, everyone! Don’t be ashamed of Him, He’s not ashamed of you or to call you His brethren! He wants to see some love with skin on it! “Valentine’s Day,’ the day to remember the lover of your soul, “Jesus Christ!” Why? ‘Because He bought your chocolates!’ That’s why!   Till the next time, I’ll see you, “…Between The Lines…”

“Valentine’s Day” February 14, 2014 (Part #2)  1/9/14

Posted in Cupid's Day, Devotional, Love, Lupercalia Day, Uncategorized, Valentine's Day, Valentine's Day Part #2 | Leave a comment

“Valentine’s Day” February 14, 2014 (Part #1)

“Valentine’s Day”

What comes to your mind when you think of ‘Valentine’s Day?’ Al Capone, Buggs Moran, The St. Valentine’s day Massacre? Chocolate hearts, little angels, roses, cards, an expensive dinner, what? There were seven people in history that seem to be associated with ‘Valentine’s Day,’ “SEVEN!” However, only three seem to have any historical significance; A Roman priest martyred under Emperor Claudius II in 269; A Bishop of Terni martyred the same century; And a man in North Africa we know nothing about!

Most of the evidence seems to go with the priest martyred under Claudius. Rome was very unfriendly towards Christians at this time, very unfriendly! Not long before Claudius, Diocletian went on a rampage to stamp out Christianity. Around 215 ad he burned a church to the ground full of people celebrating the ‘Nativity’ on the 25th of December. Constantine later gave an edict in 313 making Christianity legal and in 381 a state religion, but 50-100 years earlier they were martyred, stoned and burned Christians for kicks.

However, during the reign of Claudius II we have a man named ‘Valentine.’ Claudius gave an edict forbidding marriage, because it hurt his enlistment of soldiers. He said, “Married men make bad soldiers.” He also hated Christians! However, our man ‘Valentine’ continued to help and marry Christians secretly so he was arrested, imprisoned, tortured and sentenced to death! Valentine continued to write to Christians while in prison and would sign his letters, “Remember Your Valentine!” Especially his last one. The prison guard and judge named Asterius had a blind daughter that would visit Valentine for hours and fell in love with him but he was a priest :( Tradition tells us that Valentine prayed for her and that she was healed, so her father and her entire family were converted and later they were all martyred with Valentine!

On February 14, 269 Valentine was given a chance to renounce his faith in Christ, which he bravely refused to do. So, he was stoned but refused to die! Then he was clubbed and still would not die! So, they finally cut his head off outside the “Flaminian Gate’ and then he died! In 469, 200 years later he was canonized as the ‘Saint of Love & Charity.’ He is also the Patron Saint of Epilepsy as he was also afflicted with that ailment. He was dropped from the Roman Catholic calendar in 1969, 1,500 years after being canonized and 1,700 years after being stoned, clubbed, and decapitated for his faith in Christ! (Thank You Very Much!!!) In 494 Pope Gelasius changed ‘St. Valentine’s Day’ to “The Feast of Purification” for the ‘Virgin Mary’ and sometime later the date was changed to February 2nd, forty days after December 25th the traditional birth date of Christ. That is when Mary went to the Temple to present herself before the Lord for purification, Luke 2:21-24. The word “Februa” is where we get the word February from, it is Latin for ‘Purification.’

Now how does “Cupid” fit into all this and what about all the other traditions? Oh, by the way, what are we celebrating on February 2nd besides the ‘Super-Bowl?’ Which wasn’t so super, a ground hog coming out of his hole to tell us its cold out! And they wear a tuxedo for that and jeans for Church to worship God! Go Figure! Well ‘Cupid’ in ancient Greece was ‘Eros’ (erotic) lustful, the son of Aphrodite and the son of Venus and he became the god of ‘Love & Beauty.’ His other name was “Amore” remember Dean Martin, “When the sun, hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that’s ‘amore.’ (love) Or was he before your time?

Anyway, when Valentine cured the jailer’s daughter of blindness, Cupid the love angel or Cherub became blind in her place. (Now is it starting to make sense?) Stay with me… His pleasure now is to bring a similar blindness to his victims and never cure them, hence the phrase, “Love is blind!” But love is not blind, it sees more not less, got it? Think about that for a minute, you’ll get it and then maybe not! Anyway, I never knew God created baby angels, or that angels had babies, did you? You learn something every day, especially on this internet! By the way, the flower for ‘Valentine’s Day’ is not Roses guys, it is the “Crocus! Which is supposed to blossom on or before February 14th. By the way, the 14th of the Lunar Month is also a full moon, so you are moon-struck!

Februa is the Latin word for, ‘Feast of Purification’ and Juno the wife of Jupiter is the goddess of love, is it all coming together now? Actually, we have been duped, guys! (Is there one p or two p’s in duped?)  Now why choose a ‘Valentine’ on February 14th? Tradition says, birds choose their mates on February 14th and that most birds have only one mate for life. By the way, the marriage phrase, “Till death do us part,” is not just for the birds! :)

Now there is a cultic tradition overshadowing ‘Valentine’s Day.’  So, what else is new! The ‘Feast of Lupercalia’ or the ‘Lover’s Festival’ celebrated on February 15th. Lupercalia was the longest running Roman pagan festival we know of. In fact, it was the last Roman festival to be given up, “The Love Feast!” Lupercus was the god of fertility; Lupercalia according to Webster was, ‘An ancient Roman festival celebrated on February 15th to ensure fertility of the people, their flocks and their fields.’ The priests ‘Luperci’ prayed to the wolf deity Lycaeus, at the cave of Palatine to protect their flocks and to make them fertile. Lycaeus was the mother of Romulus and Remus the founders of Rome! (Now is the fog clearing?) Marc Anthony was the master of the Luperci priests during his life and in 44 bc he offered the crown to Julius Caesar three times on February 15th. Speaking of Marc Anthony, he heard Cleopatra died so he killed himself. Then she heard he killed himself so she stuck her hand in an Asp nest and died, now there is a true ‘Valentine!’

A tradition on ‘Lupercalia’ was to put all the young maidens names in a box and the young men would pick one to be their partner during the festival and for the rest of the year. They would buy them gifts and wear their names on their sleeves for everyone to see for a full year, terminated only by death or marriage. Hence the phrase, “You wear your feelings on your sleeve!” This union usually ended in love or marriage, sort of like your girlfriend wearing your class ring around her neck in high school. Later the clergy tried to Christianize this Festival by putting the names of saints in the box to be emulated throughout the year, but it didn’t work! Many others feel that Pope Gelasius in 469 tried to Christianize Lupercalia with ‘St. Valentine’s Day’ and later with the ‘Purification of Mary’ on February 2nd but that never worked either! Today over one billion cards are sent in America alone, so maybe it should be called, “St. Hallmark Day” or “St. Hershey Day” as millions of pounds of chocolate are bought and distributed. In Japan the women buy the men chocolates on ‘Valentine’s Day.’ It must have been the influence of those early male missionaries, what do you think? :)

‘Valentine’s Day’ is all about “LOVE” but what is love? 100 years ago one of our well known encyclopedias discussed the word atom with only four lines but the topic of love took five pages. Today in that same encyclopedia the word atom has five pages and the word love is not even mentioned. We’ll talk about love next time. But until then, we’ll see you, “…Between The Lines…”

“Valentine’s Day” February 14, 2014 (Part #1) 2/8/14

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“The Aaronic Blessing” – Num. 6:22-27 (Part #2 – v.24)

“The Aaronic Blessing,” Num. 6:22-27; Part #2

“The LORD bless thee, and keep thee…” v.24

Israel is still at Mt. Sinai, they have not broken camp yet, and God gives Moses some special instructions for the priests that will endue the people with power for prosperity, success, longevity, fruitfulness and protection. Then Moses instructs Aaron and his sons to ‘Bless’ the children of Israel. This blessing is more than a wish, more than a prayer, its like a promise, a pledge, a vow, an oath, a command, a guarantee based on God’s word and His name! The command to the priests to pronounce the blessing was equivalent to the promise of God to bestow that blessing!

In English the words in the Bible sometimes don’t always carry the same meaning or emphasis that the original words do in the Hebrew, Greek or Aramaic. So, sometimes we might miss a slight edge of the original meaning. For instance, the words ‘bless and  keep’ are kind of abstract words in English, not specific enough, a little vague! However, the ancient Hebrew people were concrete thinkers and related all things to concrete ideas. Paleo-Hebrew, or Ancient-Hebrew was a ‘picto-graphic’ alphabet because they were an oral people, each letter looked like the word it represented.

The Hebrew word for “Bless” (barak) literally means, “to kneel, to bend the knee. A ‘berakah‘ is a blessing, but more literally, it is the bringing of a gift to another on a bended “knee.” So, when we bless God, or another person, we are in essence bringing a gift on “bended knees.” A true king is one who serves his people, one who will humble himself and come to his people on a bended knee. Think of Matt. 2:11, when the wise-men, the kings of the east, found Jesus did they stand or fall on their knees? Did they come with empty hands or bearing gifts?

The Hebrew word for keep is (shamar) which means, to guard, secure, or preserve. A related word is (shamiyr) which means ‘thorn.’ When a shepherd was out in the wilderness with his flock he would build a corral of thorn bushes. Some thorns were 2″ in length, to protect his sheep from predators, thus guarding and protecting (shamar) standing over his sheep and lambs.

Now the first phrase of this blessing comes into focus, “The LORD will kneel before you with gifts and guard you with a hedge of protection.” You also note the word “LORD” all capitol letters for “JeHoVaH or YaHWeH” is used in vv. 24, 25, 26. You only need it once, but you have it three times; First – to emphasize that He is the source of every good and perfect gift. Jam. 1:17; Second – unless such a repetition had been designed to secure some important truth, a single mention of the ‘Sacred Name‘ would have been sufficient. But the object obviously was to impress belief in the ‘Divine Unity’ upon an entire people. This significant repetition did its work in the minds and hearts of the people of Israel.

Note if you will, that in each verse in the K.J.V. the old English word “thee” which is the singular ‘you’ is found twice, giving us a beautiful truth found only in the K.J.V. Matthew Henry comments on this truth, “We may take the blessing to ourselves, (individually) as if our names were inserted.” Think about it, the LORD our God, the Creator of everything seen and unseen, seeks to bless His people and especially, “YOU!” “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above and comes down from the Father of lights with Whom is no variableness neither shadow of turning.” Everything that comes your way, “EVERYTHING” is handed to you by the ‘Nail Scared Hand’ and one day, very soon all in Christ will enjoy the splendor and the glory of His face, and today is a good day! “The LORD bless thee, and keep thee…” Till next time, we will see you…   “…Between The Lines…”

“The Aaronic Blessing” – Num. 6:22-27 (Part #2 – v.24) 1/29/14

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“The Aaronic Blessing” – ‘Num. 6:22-27′ (Part #1)

“The Aaronic Blessing or Benediction” – ‘Num. 6:22-27′

We have looked at two ‘Principles for Prayer‘ in this book of wandering; 1 – God desires to dwell in the midst of His people; 2 – God dwells only among a sanctified, holy people. Now we come to the first recorded prayer in the book of Numbers; and what a prayer it is. I know we have touched on it before, but you can never say too much about this prayer or the ‘Lord’s Prayer.’ The LORD, YeHoVaH says, in Num. 6:23, “In this way you shall bless the children of Israel…” The Hebrew word for bless is (barak) and it is a primary root that means to bless God as an act of adoration, (to exalt, to worship, to praise) or to bless man as a benefit. It is derived from the Hebrew word (berek) for knee or to bow.

To bless God as an act of worship; you mean, we can actually bless God, “YES!” Read the Psalms, we are to do it as a form of adoration. “Blessed art Thou O LORD our God;” “Bless the LORD, Oh, my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name.” Oh, what a privilege we as Christians have in that area. When was the last time you took the time to just ‘Bless the LORD?’ That’s heretical you say, No, it’s Biblical! A privilege vastly neglected. However, the word (barak) also means to bless man as a benefit, to endue with power for success, prosperity or longevity. Isn’t that what Christ did in Luke 24:50-52, “And He led them out as far as to Bethany; and He lifted up His hands, and blessed them. And it came to pass, while He blessed them, He was parted from them, and carried up into heaven. And they worshiped Him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy.” The attitude of our Lord here characterizes His relationship to His people in the Church Age. It is an attitude of fullness of grace; an ascended Lord is blessing a believing people with spiritual blessings, right now.

Where else do we see this in Scripture? Noah, blessed his children in Gen. 9:26 when they got off the Ark. Eliezer, blessed God for leading him to Rebekah in Gen. 24:27. Laban, blessed Rebekah as she left for her new life in Gen. 24:60. Isaac, blessed Jacob in Gen. 27:27. Jacob, blessed Pharaoh and his children in Gen. 47:7. The angel blessed Jacob in Gen. 31. Melchizedek blessed Abram of the Most High God and he blessed The Most High God in Gen. 14:88 ff. However, it was God who first started to bless and give a blessing. Let me remind you of a rule of Hermeneutics or interpreting Scripture, it’s called, “The Law/Rule of First Mention.” You could refer to it as, “The Science of Etymology” if you don’t like, “The Rule of First Mention.” Anyway, “The first mention of a Bible truth usually summarizes any further development of that same truth or principle.” (Dr. A.T. Pierson). So, lets look at our first mention of the word (barak) and it was by God in Gen. 1:22, “And God blessed (barak) them saying, be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters and the seas, and let the fowl multiply in the earth.” Gen. 1:28, “And God blessed (barak) them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.” Gen. 9:1, “And God blessed (barak) Noah and his sons, and said, be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.”

“Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth;” that is the bottom line in asking a blessing upon physical, living creatures; mankind in general. “Be Fruitful and Multiply!” Which means, to endue with power for success, prosperity, longevity and fruitfulness. “The Prayer of Blessing!” Do we do this, my friend? Do we invoke blessings upon our families, our churches, our friends, our nation, the Jewish people? Are we multiplying and filling the earth? If every person in this world went to Jacksonville Florida, all 7 billion of us, we could all stand there on 2.5 square feet at one time, all of us! Are our people and families blessed by our partaking of this principle of prayer? Or are we guilty of, (LISTEN) “The Principle Of Lost Privilege!” Like the generation that is about to, in the desert, in the book of Numbers in the next 40 years because 10 people didn’t believe God! Let’s take a look at this, “Prayer Of Blessing,” this “Prayer In The Desert,” and learn the “Principle of Lost Privilege,” and hopefully claim it again for our people, our families, our churches and the Jewish nation of Israel. Let me say this before I begin, I believe this is probably the most powerful and yet the most neglected portion of Scripture in the Older Testament, second only to Matthew 6:9-13 in the Newer Testament. Now, praying Scripture back to God is a very powerful principle but when you do it you must do it prayerfully. There are books on this principle, you may want to study up on it before getting your oar wet.

Before we go into this, “Prayer of Blessing” let me set the stage; The instructions are from the LORD, YeHoVaH, the Self-Existent One, He That Is Who He Is, therefore, The Eternal I Am! That is Who is instructing Moses, to instruct Aaron to bless the children of Israel. “On this wise, – In this way, – Like this, – you shall bless (barak) the children of Israel…” God is giving specific instructions here, just like He did for building the Tabernacle; or obeying the the law, or offering sacrifices. He wants this done in a very particular way. “The LORD bless thee (barak) ” to endue with power, for success, prosperity and longevity; to multiply and to be fruitful. In I Chron. 23:13 it says that Aaron and his sons were separated, or sanctified by God, to sanctify the holy things, to burn incense (a picture of prayer), to minister unto the LORD, and to bless in the LORD’s name. Listen, we are sanctified by God in I Cor. 1:30 also, to sanctify holy things, to worship, to pray, to practice ordinances, preach, etc. To burn incense – Pray (Rev. 5:8; 8:3) To minister to the Lord, Acts 13:2; And to bless in God’s name. How did Paul close his epistles? “The Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Grace be with you. Amen” II Tim. 4:22. How did he begin them? “Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father  and Christ Jesus our Lord.” II Tim. 1:2. etc. Check out a few more. “The LORD bless (barak) thee and keep (samar – keep, watch, guard) thee.”

Who? Num. 6:23, “The children of Israel,” the Jewish people, God’s chosen people. Do you know what the word Israel means? Way back in Gen. 32:28 we have the first mention of this word in Scripture, “Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed.” Jacob is wrestling with ‘The Angel of The LORD’ and Jacob says he won’t let the Angel go unless He blesses him. Gen. 32:24 says, “And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day.” Israel means, ‘He who strives with God’ or ‘God strives or God rules.’ Are you striving with God? Have you ever wrestled with an angel all night in prayer or with God? “Thou hast power with God and with man and hast prevailed!” He struggled and wrestled and strove with God all night for a blessing. Question? How desperate are you? He was persistent, he was desperate, he was scared, he was alone, he was on his face; God hears and answers that kind of prayer and he blesses it! Num. 6:23 says, “In This Way You Shall Bless The Children Of Israel…” On this wise; In this manner; After this example; You shall bless God’s chosen, covenant people! But who is really blessing? Who is causing the multiplication? Who produces the fruitfulness? Aaron, Roger, You? No, v.27 says, God will bless them; Though pronounced by the lips of man, it derived its virtue from God Himself, “I will bless them.” But mankind must first pray and invoke the blessing. “Man invokes, God provokes!”

I tried to do it every morning and evening as a pastor, it was called the ‘Invocation’ in the bulletin, the prayer of, excuse me, (Blessing). But we are afraid of this privilege, why? Because it’s to liturgical, it’s to religious, to (R.C.). So, we lose the privilege, and our families and people lose the blessing and God loses the glory. Just remember it is God who actually does the blessing not man he is just an instrument for God and there are basically three divisions in this blessing which we need to look at but it will have to wait for another time. So, until then, we will see you, “…Between The Lines…”

“The Aaronic Blessing” – Num. 6:22-27 (Part #1 Revised) – 1/29/14

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